March 28, 2013, 16:50 GMT
Stybar to make debut in Brugge
Omega Pharma-Quickstep and RadioShack-Leopard teams will be supporting two of the main favourites for the Tour of Flanders: Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara, with teams named today.
Boonen's well-balanced squad contains two strong back-up leaders in Sylvain Chavanel and Niki Terpstra, both of whom have shown good form in the recent Belgian races.
The team will also have Stijn Vandenbergh, runner-up from the
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and one of the riders who has spent the most kilometers in breakaways so far this season.
Gert Steegmans, Iljo Keisse and Michal Kwiatkowski will provide powerful engines to control the race for their captains, while former cyclo-cross World Champion Zdenek Stybar will make his debut in the race as a potential wildcard contender.
Boonen's rival Fabian Cancellara will be well-supported by former race winner Stijn Devolder, Yaroslav Popovych, who took 9th in Gent-Wevelgem, and domestiques Danilo Hondo, Markel Irizar, Gregory Rast and Hayden Roulston. The team's young rider Tony Gallopin, 24th in last year's edition and a part of the main chase group behind Boonen, will get a chance to improve upon that result.
March 28, 2013, 17:48 GMT
2010 Ronde champion a perennial favourite
Fabian Cancellara ( RadioShack Leopard) will line up for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders as a red hot favourite to win his second Ronde. The 32-year-old’s career has been built on a combination of time trialing domination and one-day success, with the Tour of Flanders providing him with both agony and ecstasy.
Cancellara’s first Tour of Flanders came in 2003 but his first top-ten would have to wait until 2006. In 2009 he famously snapped his chain on the Koppenberg and was ruled out of contention but he bounced back a year later
to take a memorable win, mercilessly dropping Tom Boonen on the Kapelmuur.
A year later and despite being in a similarly rich vein of form he was forced to settle for third place as Nick Nuyens used brains over brawn to
capture a thrilling victory.
crashing out of Flanders last year with a broken collarbone, Cancellara is back for revenge and after his startling win at E3 Harelbeke he's poised to be one of the most important animators in the race. Win or lose, there’s little doubt that Cancellara will leave his mark on Flanders once again.
In this exclusive video with
Cyclingnews, Cancellara describes why the Tour of Flanders is such a special race and what a rider needs to win one of the most demanding races in cycling. VIDEO
March 28, 2013, 19:55 GMT
Repeat De Panne champion wants to hold form through Paris-Roubaix
After putting on a stunning demonstration of raw power to win the final time trial of the
Driedaagse De Panne, overall champion Sylvain Chavanel was quick to play down himself as a favourite to win Sunday's Tour of Flanders. The Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider will be just one of his team's main options in Belgium's biggest Classic.
"I have 48 hours to recover after this double victory and be ready for the race on Sunday," the Frenchman said following his win.
Chavanel was the one rider who was strong enough and alert enough to quickly mark Peter Sagan in his attack on the
opening stage of De Panne. That moment, and his performance in the final time trial, which he won by a 19-second margin over Katusha's Anton Vorobyev, is just one indication of his better-than-ever form.
So far this year Chavanel has been at the front of every race he entered: solid results in the Tour de San Luis and Volta ao Algarve preceded a seventh place finish in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In Paris-Nice, a strong time trial, a stage win and the overall points classification presaged his strong result in Milan-San Remo, where he was one step off the podium.
Chavanel hopes to carry this run of good form through Paris-Roubaix, but said he is not a favorite for Flanders.
"Last year I had a few little problems with my health during Paris-Nice. This year everything went good and normal so far. I'm in good condition. My objective is to maintain this form until Paris-Roubaix," he said. "As for the Ronde, I'm not one of the favorites. Sagan is strong and also [Fabian] Cancellara, but we have a strong, united team.
"We are experienced...
March 28, 2013, 20:50 GMT
Irishman now sets his sights on Ardennes Classics
It's been one week since
Dan Martin ( Garmin-Sharp) prevailed in the queen stage at the Volta a Catalunya, taking both the stage victory and leader's jersey atop the Port Ainé-Rialp summit finish after spending most of the day on the attack, and four days since he wrapped up the general classification victory this past Sunday, and the magnitude of his biggest career win is still very much palpable for the 26-year-old Irishman.
"It's kind of sunk in a bit now, but it's funny in cycling how you have to move on really quick," Martin told
Cyclingnews from his home in Girona, Spain. "It's still pretty incredible. I've got the trophy sitting here and I've been stunned by the reaction both in Ireland and Girona as well. I can barely walk down the street without being recognised now."
Martin's stage victory on last Thursday's queen stage was his first win since taking a stage in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, and on Sunday he earned his first stage race victory since the 2010 Tour of Poland. His palmares have plenty of near misses, however, and Martin was proud to return to the top step of the podium once again.
"It's a great feeling to in some ways realise my potential, finally," said Martin. "I've won Poland before but I've had so many seconds, thirds and fourths in WorldTour races, that to finally get a win under my belt is quite a landmark. Hopefully we can keep going from here and I look forward to a more confident and successful season."
"Racing on instinct"
While victory at the Volta a Catalunya was particularly sweet for Martin as the WorldTour stage race is effectively a home race for...
March 29, 2013, 0:06 GMT
NetApp – Endura Australian says it’s not enough just to ride The Ronde
Zak Dempster (NetApp-Endura) has never been one to hold back and it's a trend he'll be looking to continue on Sunday when he makes his debut at the Tour of Flanders. The German-based ProContinental outfit, having earned a wildcard for the classic, have a mountain to climb against their more established rivals, stacked with big names and budgets to match, and Dempster's attitude is the same that his teammates will carry into the 256km Belgian epic.
"Hopefully I can make some sort of impact on the race, whether that's in an early break ... the main thing is to finish and get the experience - that's what it's all about," the 25-year-old Australian told
Cyclingnews with the aim for the team to be visible.
"Paul Voss has been riding pretty well, [Daniel] Schorn's good. It's a strong team. Hopefully we're all firing."
Having previously lived in the region, Dempster is familiar with the testing parcours.
"The Oude Kwaremont's pretty cool," he grinned. "I used to do laps of the Kwaremont and laps of the Koppenberg in training and always hoped that one day I'd be competitive at Flanders.
"It's an achievement when you get to the point where you get to race the Ronde van Vlaanderen but it's also not enough for me. I don't expect to be fighting for the top five but I want to be involved.'
In the week leading into Flanders, Dempster rode the
Three Days of De Panne, finishing second-best of the NetApp-Endura team in 69th overall, 12:32 down on the winning time of Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) with Blaz Jarc just outside the top 20. Ideally, Dempster would prefer to be in better form having been slowed down by a cold at the back end of Tirreno - Adriatico. So determined has Dempster been to hit the ground...
March 29, 2013, 8:07 GMT
Stannard, Eisel emphasize the importance of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix
The Spring Classics: one day, one winner, and one chance to get it right. It's the essence of the
Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix and what brings millions of spectators to the roadsides to witness the unfolding drama. Team Sky's Classics men share their thoughts about the races, what they mean, and what makes them so difficult to win.
Watch this video and hear from Ian Stannard, Mathew Hayman, Luke Rowe and Bernhard Eisel, and from the team's mechanics on what kind of equipment choices they make for the cobbles.
As Eisel says, "The joke you always make about the Classics is, if it's good weather, there's going to be half a million people on the roads. If it's is bad weather, there will be a million on the road."
For Stannard, each year's Classic is a harsh reminder: "Every year you finish and you think **** I'm never going to do that again! You get a week down the road and you go, 'bring on next year'!"
March 29, 2013, 9:14 GMT
Former pro respects Sørensen's results
It was hardly surprising when earlier this month
Rolf Sørensen admitted to the world that he used drugs during his career. The former winner of the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège released a statement stating that EPO as well as cortisone were regular staples of his regime.
Three Days of De Panne fellow Dane Brian Holm, now a director at Omega Pharma-QuickStep, told Cyclingnews that despite the admission he still respected Sørensen as a rider.
Both men rode together during the stimulant-heavy 1990s, while Holm admitted to his past drug use in his 2002 autobiography.
During the 1990s Danish cycling was on the march. Sørensen, Holm and Jesper Skibby were household names, forging careers in mainland Europe when Scandinavian riders were forced to relocate to Spain and Italy in a quest to turn professional. Bjarne Riis sent the nation into raptures in 1996 when he became the first man from his homeland to win the Tour and Holm was a Telekom teammate.
The Danish contingent was nicknamed the ‘Danish Coffee Club', first by Phil Anderson, and their numbers grew to roughly half a dozen. They would ride together at the back of the bunch together and despite riding for different teams, they would often celebrate each other's wins as if they wore the same jerseys. On the bike camaraderie would extend to off the bike situations, too. Mess with a member of the Coffee Club and you'd find six angry Danes on your case or on your back wheel the next day.
"It's dead now. It doesn't exist any more. It's history," Holm told
Cyclingnews at De Panne.
Unlike most of the Danish riders at the time...
March 29, 2013, 10:03 GMT
Gerolsteiner manager, doctors knew of practices, German claims
Stefan Schumacher has confessed to doping during his career, naming EPO, growth hormone and corticosteroids. He also laid blame on his former team Gerolsteiner, saying team manager Hans-Michael Holczer knew what was going on, and that the team doctors actively helped.
tested positive for EPO at both the 2008 Tour de France and the 2008 Olympics, and was subsequently given a two-year ban by the German Cycling Federation. Until today he has consistently denied ever having doped.
However, in the German news magazine
Der Spiegel, he said “I used EPO, also growth hormone and corticosteroids.” He started doping in his early twenties. “I went along with the system. I am not proud of it, but that's the way it was.”
Schumacher rode for Team Gerolsteiner from 2006 to 2008, when he brought in his major victories, including two stages each at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, and time in the leader's jersey in both races. He also won the Amstel Gold Race in 2007.
Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer was not as innocent as he claimed, according to Schumacher. “He was aware of what was going on around him,” the German rider said. In addition to Schumacher, his Gerolsteiner teammates Bernhard Kohl and Davide Rebellin also tested positive for EPO-CERA in 2008; Kohl at the Tour and Rebellin at the Olympics.
“The allegations concerning my connivance with Schumacher's practices are totally baseless," Holczer told
The Gerolsteiner team doctors was actively involved in the doping practices, Schumacher said. “Anybody could just take most of the things right from the medicine...