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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 23, 2012

Date published:
March 23, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Redant pleased with UnitedHealthcare’s Coppi e Bartali showing

    Rory Sutherland again heads up the GC squad for another season.
    Article published:
    March 22, 2012, 23:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sutherland fights his way into second place on Stage 3

    UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team scored their best result of their European season to date in 2012, with Rory Sutherland finishing runner up to Diego Ulissi (Lampre – ISD) on Stage 3 of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.

    While the ProContinental outfit has had good success to date in 2012 with multiple podium finishes at the Tour de San Luis, Le Tour de Langakawi, South Africa Nationals and the OCBC Cycle Singapore Pro Criterium, early season racing in Europe hasn't been as kind. Although Boy van Poppel placed third in Nokere-Koerse last week in Belgium, the team has experienced a short run of bad luck in Europe.

    With Sutherland's result and a little over a month remaining in their European campaign before returning to the United States, UnitedHealthcare will be hoping that this is the start of a reversal of fortunes.

    Team Director, Hendrik Redant said that while it was a relatively short stage at 151km, it was still challenging.

    "Our goal for today was to get in the break on this hard circuit. Right from the start we saw lots of attacks from several teams several times, but our guys covered them.

    "Further into the finale, our guys really worked well together and kept Rory in the front of the bunch and in good position for what was a tricky, dangerous and uphill finish. But the uphill finish is something well suited for Rory. He had to fight for his position and did a great job getting on the podium."

    2011 Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali winner Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) was part of the day's early break, which also included Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana) and Marco Frapporti (Team Idea). The trio were on the attack for more than...

  • Dean keen to keep riding despite latest hurdle

    Julian Dean (GreenEdge) was diagnosed with a broken leg from his collision with a parked car.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 0:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Plates, screws required for broken leg

    It's been revealed that Julian Dean (GreenEdge) suffered a double fracture to his leg when he crashed into a parked car at the Volta a Catalunya on Wednesday.

    The stage race was Dean's first back following a fractured shoulder suffered at the GreenEdge training camp in the Australian Alps in early December. Wednesday's accident took place just 10 kilometres into the shortened queen stage. Dean was swerving to avoid riders who had crashed ahead of him on the slippery road, following horrific weather conditions in the Pyrenees, when he collided with a parked car.

    The result was two severe breaks, but in some positive news, an MRI scan revealed that no soft tissue damage had occurred.

    "The breaks will need to be plated and screwed but the good news is there's no other damage, that would have been a totally different ball game," Dean's wife Carole told Fairfax Media.

    "He's pretty good morale-wise, looking forward to getting it [surgery] over and done with and getting on with rehabilitation."

    Thirsty-seven-year-old Dean, speaking to the Daily Post from his hospital bed in Valencia, explained that the injury would not necessarily result in his retirement.

    "I want to keep going ... a big part of me doesn't want it to end this way but you can't make any rash decisions now. We have to take it step by step."


  • Vanmarcke happy to handle Flemish expectations

    Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda)
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 2:51 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Garmin-Barracuda rider in action at E3 Harelbeke

    Sep Vanmarcke's assured victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month was one of the standout performances of the early season, but the Garmin-Barracuda rider is keen to keep expectations in check as classics fever clicks into gear in Belgium. After setting Flemish hearts aflutter once again with an aggressive showing at Dwars Door Vlaanderen during the week, he lines up among the principal contenders for victory at E3 Harelbeke on Friday.

    "The expectations are obviously there, but that doesn't make me worried or give me a lot of stress," Vanmarcke told Cyclingnews. "I hope I can play for the win again."

    Still only 23 years of age, the clinical manner of that Het Nieuwsblad triumph was a further indication of the promise he has shown over the past two seasons. Outnumbered in a five-man break by a brace of riders from Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep respectively, Vanmarcke launched a smart attack to whittle the group down to three, before calmly disposing of Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha in the sprint.

    "I expected to be in front and ride for the podium and hope that I could fight for the win, but I didn't expect to beat Boonen in the sprint," he said. "Only a few guys can do that and I didn't think it would be me."

    While some suggested that Boonen's surprise defeat was explicable by the fact that his main objectives come in April, Vanmarcke quietly noted that he, too, has focused his campaign around performing at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    "It was only my sixth race, and my first after Algarve, so it was also the case for me that Harelbeke, and mostly Flanders and Roubaix were the most important races I...

  • GreenEdge heading for another WorldTour win with Albasini?

    Race leader Michael Albasini (GreenEdge) digs deep on the last climb.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 4:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Stephens says team won’t give up race lead without a fight

    GreenEdge went into the Volta a Catalunya earlier this week with a modest goal – stage victories however, it's looking more and more likely that the WorldTour neophytes could ride away with yet another overall victory with Michael Albasini holding into the race lead with three stages remaining.

    The team had a few nervous moments on Thursday's fourth stage with the Swiss rider isolated the second time up the Alt de Les Paumeres. Just prior to the summit Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) attacked from the lead group. Olympic champion Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) bridged across with an elite selection in tow and the hard-driving Spaniard would be the first to crest the summit. A six man break then consolidated their lead early on the descent, comprised of Sanchez, Leipheimer, Szmyd, Rigoberto Uran (Sky), Denis Menchov (Katusha) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis). The group was eventually caught with around 400 metres left to race with Rigoberto Uran (Sky Procycling) taking the stage win ahead of Dennis Menchov (Katusha) and Szmyd.

    Albasini meanwhile, finished safely in the bunch, 24th man across the finish line to maintain his 01:32 advantage over BMC's Steve Morabito.

    "We were really on the rivet the second time up the climb," admitted GreenEdge sports director Neil Stephens. "Throughout the stage, I had to hold the guys back a little. They're extremely excited and eager to help Michael – maybe a bit overexcited and overeager. We could have assisted Michael more in the finish if we hadn't done so much early on. Tomorrow we'll remember we need to help a little less early on so that we're...

  • Armitstead, Cooke bury the hatchet after world championship spat

    Previous Champion, Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) was fourth
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 5:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Copenhagen war of words comes to an end

    Reigning Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke has revealed that she has forgiven British rival Lizzie Armitstead for her comments made following the women's road race world championships in Copenhagen. Armitstead accused her Great Britain teammate of "riding for herself and never working for a teammate" after Cooke finished in fourth place and Armitstead in seventh.

    The two met up at a team training camp earlier this month.

    "Lizzie is the one who sparked it off so if she wanted to address anything the onus was on her to call me," Cooke explained to Wales Online.

    "Lizzie is young and ambitious and she came out with those things.

    "I have forgiven her and we have moved on."

    Cooke, who initially was on lead out duties at the championships, said at the time that when she realised Armitstead wasn't going to make back after the crash 1.5km from the line, she readied herself to go for the win.

    "Over the top of the hill, I didn't do any attacking because we wanted it to come to a bunch sprint," she said at the finish in Rudersdal, north of Copenhagen.

    "Lizzie was going to call the shots. The team got her up to the front in position, I arrived a bit later and was ready for her, but she never came because she got caught behind that crash, so I had to ride for myself.

    "I heard the crash and you keep looking - you know she's got the team supporting her to get her to me, so it should be doable. She wasn't there, so I then had to do the sprint for myself."


  • No pressure on BMC, says Ballan

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) is still riding.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 7:58 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian ready for Harelbeke battle

    While Philippe Gilbert held court with the press at Kortrijk's Hotel Broel on Thursday afternoon, his BMC teammate Alessandro Ballan was discreetly setting about preparing for a short training ride.

    The quiet man of BMC's classics line-up flew in from Italy on Thursday morning and took the opportunity to turn his legs over for an hour or so in solitude on roads that would be filled with the tumult of E3 Harelbeke scarcely 24 hours later.

    Remarkably, the team is still on the hunt for its maiden victory of the season, but Ballan was adamant that there was no tension in the camp on the eve of battle. "No, at the moment, I don't feel any pressure," he told Cyclingnews. "It's logical that people might have expected more but I think that you need time to make sure that everybody has a good understanding between them, plus we've also had a lot of misfortune with crashes and illness. We just need a bit of patience."

    In spite of the rainbow bands on his sleeves and the Tour of Flanders title on his palmares, Ballan has perhaps never seemed wholly comfortable in the skin of an outright leader. The 33-year-old, who has previously acknowledged that the rainbow jersey had proved too much of a burden, has long appeared happy to serve as a foil to others, and he had no qualms about welcoming Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert into the fold during the off-season.

    "I'm happier to have them in the team, it actually gives me a bit more space," he admitted. "In the finale of a race, where people are watching them closely, I can have more of a chance to get away."

    The biggest victory of Ballan's career, the 2008 world championships in Varese was a case in point, as he powered clear in the finale while his...

  • Evans returns to France for Criterium International

    Cadel Evans and his young son
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 10:14 GMT
    Cycling News

    First race on French soil since epic Tour win last summer

    BMC rider Cadel Evans is to return to road racing in France this weekend for the first time since his epic and emotional victory at the Tour de France last summer. The 35-year-old Australian is set to be on the start line for the Criterium International, which runs on Saturday and Sunday on the French island of Corsica.

    Evans will be looking to build his form and will also be aiming to help his team improve their results, which have been disappointing in the early part of the season. BMC made several high profile off-season signings including Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd. But they are yet to post a victory despite having a squad to rival any in the world.

    The Criterium International is a three-stage race that takes place over two days. Saturday sees an 89km stage followed by a 6.5km individual time trial, and the race concludes on Sunday with a 179km stage.

    "Coming back to France has another significance now, but I still have another Tour to do and Criterium International is another step towards that," Evans said. "It's usually a short, intense stage race. Of course the individual time trial and the hilltop finish will be important for GC."

    BMC team for Criterium International (24/25 March): Brent Bookwalter (USA), Yannick Eijssen (BEL), Cadel Evans (AUS), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Marco Pinotti (ITA), Tim Roe (AUS), Danilo Wyss (SUI)

  • Video: Graeme Obree on his landspeed record bid

    Graeme Obree is looking to make history at the age of 46
    Article published:
    March 23, 2012, 11:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Legendary Scottish rider returning to the saddle with homemade bike

    At the age of 46, Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree is preparing a bid to break the world landspeed record on a bike in the USA later this year. As this video shows, he is busy "obsessively" building a bike at his home from recycled components which he hopes will help him make history.

    Obree won the individual pursuit at the track world championships in 1993 and 1995, and has held the world hour record twice. His accomplishments before his retirement were achieved on a homemade bike that he named "Old Faithful" and built out of an old washing machine.

    In 2006 a feature film called The Flying Scotsman was released, which chronicled his well-documented personal struggles and his rivalry with fellow Brit Chris Boardman in the 1990s. Now, after battling bravely to overcome those personal problems, he is returning to riding to try and write the most unlikely chapter yet in a remarkable life story.

    Keep a lookout on Cyclingnews for the second part of this video interview, courtesy of Humans Invent.