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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, April 11, 2014

Date published:
April 11, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Paris-Roubaix more open than Tour of Flanders, says Thomas

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) on the Paterberg
    Article published:
    April 10, 2014, 22:54 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Welshman ready for 'one more big hit' on the pavé

    Geraint Thomas' spring has run a little more smoothly than his ill-starred classics campaign of twelve months ago, but the Team Sky rider has not been entirely free of bad luck either. He lined up for Scheldeprijs on Wednesday with his chin still bearing the scars from his 8th place finish at the Tour of Flanders, where an early crash had threatened to end his race prematurely.

    In the circumstances, Thomas could be satisfied that he at least salvaged a top 10 berth from his afternoon, but considering his form entering the race – he impressed in finishing 3rd at E3 Harelbeke the previous week – he harbours understandable regrets that he was unable to get closer to the Fabian Cancellara-Sep Vanmarcke tandem when they went clear on the Kwaremont.

    "I was obviously disappointed with Sunday. I was taking a drink and everyone slammed on. I only had one brake so I hit the kerb and I landed on my face," Thomas told reporters in Antwerp on Wednesday. "I felt terrible the rest of the day so I guess to get 8th was nice after all that but I was hoping for a bit more."

    While for Thomas personally and for Sky as a whole, this current Classics period has been more successful than in 2013, he is well aware that such campaigns are judged primarily on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. The Ronde showing was a step in the right direction after last year, but he is hopeful for more on the pavé this coming Sunday.

    "It's a different race really but I think Roubaix suits our team as a whole better. Luke Rowe, Bernie, they probably prefer Roubaix to Flanders. Obviously Brad as well. I think it’s one...

  • Rinaldo Nocentini crashes out of Pais Vasco

    Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) after hitting the deck
    Article published:
    April 10, 2014, 23:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Left scapula fracture for Italian

    Ag2r-La Mondiale's Rinaldo Nocentini is out of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco having crashed during Stage 4 injuring his shoulder.

    The 36-year-old Italian fell heavily on his left side and as a result, suffered a complex left scapula fracture. Nocentini will now undergo medical examinations in his home country.

    The team announced that the findings of the examinations will determine whether surgery is required for the injury.

    The former yellow jersey holder at the Tour de France started his season at the Tour de San Luis and had since raced a handful of one-day races and the Tour Méditerranéen and Tirreno-Adriatico.

    Nocentini raced Milan-San Remo placing 47th before heading to the Basque country for the stage race. The best result Nocentini has had at La Primavera was seventh in 2008.

  • Rasch hoping to go out with a bang at Paris-Roubaix

    Gabriel 'Gabba' Rasch
    Article published:
    April 11, 2014, 1:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky rider to transition to directeur sportif after Sunday

    Gabriel Rasch is hoping to bring his professional racing career to a close with a big result when he competes in his final race with Team Sky at Paris-Roubaix.

    The 38-year-old Norwegian announced last October that he would transition from rider to directeur sportif with the squad after the Spring Classics, but admitted to that he expects Sunday to be an emotional day, but the prospect of a new role brings excitement.

    "Of course, it will be emotional after the race on Sunday, and I think if I'd quit cycling straight after retiring, it would have left a big hole in my life, but now I have new goals to motivate and challenge me," he said.

    Rasch hasn't hung up his wheels just yet, and is hoping for that magical perfect race to achieve his best ever result in his sixth attempt at Paris-Roubaix.

    "I know if everything goes my way, and I am really lucky, that I can be up there at Paris-Roubaix," he said. ""First and foremost, I'll be looking to help our team leaders, but I'd still like to be competitive myself and hang in there for as long as possible. If you've got the form on the day, you'll always have a chance because it's such an unpredictable race.

    "I think my strengths as a rider suit this type of race but everything still has to run perfectly. The Classics are the hardest and best races in the sport in my opinion – and Paris-Roubaix is the biggest of them all. It has so much history and so many people turn out to watch it. I love everything about it and I'm pleased I've got the chance to ride it one last time." 

    Although Rasch won the Norwegian road race title in 2003, he was a relative latecomer to the upper echelons of the sport, making the step up to ProTour level at the age of 32 with the Crédit...

  • BMC triumvirate threating the overall at Pais Vasco

    Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador finish up stage 4
    Article published:
    April 11, 2014, 2:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Evans, Sánchez and van Garderen within one minute of Contador

    While BMC Racing Team has been making headlines thanks to Greg Van Avermaet's second placing at the Tour of Flanders, in Spain at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco the team has three riders ensconced within the top 15 on GC.

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) has lead the race since winning stage one but after Stage 4, Samuel Sánchez, was third behind the day's winner Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), has moved into the top 10, while Cadel Evans, seventh on the stage, climbed one spot to fourth in the overall standings. Evans is 36 seconds off Contador, Sánchez 56 seconds and Tejay van Garderen is at 58 seconds.

    "The team did a real great job. We kept a good classification with our GC leaders and the option to win the stage with me. That was a pity that I didn't, but the real important thing is our team is working at its best," said Sánchez after the stage who, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), attempted to catch Poels after his attack on the final climb of the day.

    "Cadel, Tejay and I are feeling good and tomorrow we can try to look for a stage victory before the final time trial on Saturday." 

    Sport Director Valerio Piva was...

  • Poels claims most important win of his career in Spain

    Wout Poels (Omega Pharma) after his stage 4 win in the Basque Tour
    Article published:
    April 11, 2014, 4:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutchman puts crashes behind him with Pais Vasco stage win

    For Wout Poels, his career could have been ended after the 2012 Tour de France when involved in the mass pile mile that took place on Stage 6 between Epernay and Metz.

    The crash, caused by Lampre's Davide Vigano, brought down the peloton on what appeared to be a nondescript section of road. Poels got back on his bike and managed to ride 10km from the scene of the crash before abandoning. He was diagnosed with a ruptured spleen and kidney, as well as three broken ribs and bruised lungs and would later be transferred to a Maastricht intensive care unit.

    The now 26-year-old has since recovered and signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step after Vacansoleil decided to end the sponsorship of the team at the end of 2013 and repaid the faith place in him by the team by launching an impressive late attack on Stage 4 of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco which was helped by teammate Michal Kwiatkowski disrupting the efforts of the chasing group.

    "It was a long, difficult stage," Poels said. "From kilometre zero until the finish the pace was really fast. But, the team worked really well and they controlled the race. The goal today was to try and move up a bit in the GC and, why not, see if there was a...

  • Lotto-Belisol going with youth for Roubaix

    Stig Broeckx (Lotto Belisol)
    Article published:
    April 11, 2014, 7:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Roelandts forced out with injury

    Lotto-Belisol has decided that in the absence of Jürgen Roelandts, who hasn't recovered from injuries sustained from a crash at the Tour of Flanders, the team will give opportunities to its younger riders at the 111th edition of Paris-Roubaix this Sunday.

    Three neo-pros in 24-year-old Vegard Breen, 23-year-old Stig Broeckx and 20-year-old Boris Vallée have all beengiven a starting berth for 'The Hell of the North.' For Broeckx and Vallée, it is the first time either rider will encounter the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix having never ridden the race as juniors or U23.

    Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Belisol, explained the selection that the team made regarding its emphasis on youth."It's not the moment to put specific pressure on the riders in the selection or put forward an exact result. We start exceptionally with the thought that nothing is obliged and everything can happen." Sergeant said.

    "That could turn out positively, it offers opportunities to each of our riders. Our men have to join a breakaway. They have to animate the race and be prepared to die. Everybody is keen to ride on Sunday."

    For Boris Vallée, the race is about learning for the future. "Because of the circumstances of the past weeks – crashes and injuries – I got my place in the selection. That's a very nice opportunity and I will get to learn for the future. I don't know what to expect. The recon did give me a good feeling.

    While the Belgian is more familiar...

  • Report: Brailsford to quit British Cycling role

    Dave Brailsford made an appearance at the start
    Article published:
    April 11, 2014, 8:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Updated: Set to concentrate on Team Sky

    Dave Brailsford has stepped down from his position as the performance director at British Cycling in a move that will see him devote his full attention to Team Sky.

    The Guardian broke the news in the early hours of Friday morning with Brailsford later confirming the situation. He told the BBC, "It's a big step but the right decision for the team and for me. My role at Team Sky will mean we'll still work closely and support the aims of British Cycling."

    "I'd like to thank all the great staff who I've worked with, and of course the amazing athletes who ultimately deserve all the credit for their success."

    "I have some extraordinary memories - not just from Olympic Games and World Championships but also just day-to-day, seeing cycling go from a fringe activity to a mainstream sport.

    "I've always said that, more than any of the medals, the transformation of cycling in Britain is the single thing I'm most proud of having helped achieve."

    Brailsford's position at British Cycling had faced scrutiny after the weak showing of British Cycling athletes in February's World Track Championships round in Cali, Colombia.

    After the track event, British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton leaped to Brailsford's defence, telling The Times, "Dave has been the greatest leader for GB going back to Clive Woodward and the Rugby World Cup. Dave's not here. The accountability of these performances rest totally with me, not Dave."

    "We weren't having this conversation twelve months ago when Dave wasn't there. For people to start pointing the finger at him is unfounded," Sutton said. "I, as head coach, need to accept responsibility for that. I think any criticism of Dave would be unfounded. This guy's been the greatest leader in British sport history. His legacy will go on and on."

    Shane Sutton has now become technical director for rider performance ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

    Brailsford joined...

  • Video: Top 10 riders to watch in Paris-Roubaix

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek) handily defeated Greg Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke to win Tour of Flanders
    Article published:
    April 11, 2014, 11:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Can anyone stop Fabian Cancellara?

    On Sunday morning the pro peloton will line up for the start of Paris-Roubaix in Compiegne, France. The best one-day classics specialists will lock horns over 257 kilometres, with 51.1 of those packed with the cobbles that make the race so unique and hard to win.

    The clear favourite is once again Fabian Cancellara, who will become the first rider to win back-to-back doubles in Flanders and Roubaix if he crosses the line first. Should he win he will also equal Tom Boonen’s record of four Roubaix wins.

    After such a commanding performance from the Trek leader in last weekend’s Flanders it’s easy to overlook some of the potential challengers but they are there and a Cancellara win is a far from a foregone conclusion.

    Sep Vanmarcke and Greg Van Avermaet played different race strategies in Flanders and both came close to winning their first monuments, while Taylor Phinney and Edvald Boasson Hagen both have the potential to make a significant impact on the proceedings.

    And what of Boonen, who has so far looked a couple of percent off his best form despite Omega Pharma QuickStep’s strength in number during most of the cobbled season? The three-time winner knows how to win Roubaix, his last crown coming 2012, and he can’t be ruled out.

    In this exclusive video Cyclingnews picks 10 riders to watch in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Whatever the result, the race promises to be a mouth-watering event. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews on Sunday, with complete start-to-finish coverage from the race.

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