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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, May 11, 2012

Date published:
May 11, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Urán upbeat after handling difficult start well

    Rigoberto Uran (Sky)
    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 15:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky rider well placed after four stages at Giro

    After four stages at the 2012 Giro d'Italia where in theory he was on the backfoot, Sky’s main overall contender Rigoberto Urán has found himself to be one of the best-placed overall contenders. But is that so surprising?

    A reasonable opening short time trial ride, coupled with a below expectations but far from disastrous team time trial for Sky (compared, say, with last year’s opening TTT at the Vuelta, where they finished third last after a series of crashes all but wrecked their line-up) has ensured the Columbian is pretty much exactly where he wants to be overall as the race heads towards its second weekend.

    That was far from being guaranteed. Quite apart from two time trials - not his favourite speciality - as a strong climber Urán is no fan of the flat, open Classic-like terrain which predominated in Denmark either. But rather than lurking in the lower regions of the overall classification after four difficult opening stages, as might have been predicted, surprisingly Urán is one of the best placed overall contenders and quickly losing his previous status as an outsider.

    Whilst most of the media attention is directed towards Sky’s Mark Cavendish, over the last few days, his team-mate Urán has been slowly but steadily rising up the Giro GC. He’s currenly placed in 53rd postion, less than a minute behind leader Ramunas Navardauskas, and of the pre-race favourites, only Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) lie ahead.

    “The team time trial went fine, I’ve also recovered from my crash in the Ardennes Classics” - where Urán needed stitches in one leg after crashing out of Fleche...

  • Kasputis: Navardauskas has a great future

    Giro d'Italia race leader Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) gets the VIP treatment on the start line.
    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 16:19 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Lithuanian national team boss lauds Giro's pink jersey holder

    Lithuania’s national coach Arturas Kasputis has witnessed first hand his country’s first Grand Tour leader’s jersey in his capacity as sporting director for AG2R-La Mondiale at the Giro d’Italia. 24-year-old Ramunas Navardauskas wore the maglia rosa at the start of stage 5 in Modena, something that no cyclist from the Baltic state has ever done before.

    “Not many of us [Lithuanian riders] have ridden the Giro but all of us have performed,” said Kasputis, who opened the history books when he came third in the prologue in Nice in 1998. Tomas Vaitkus won a stage in 2006 riding for AG2R, while Ignatas Konovalovas won the closing individual time trial of the centennial Giro in 2009 in Rome. In the meantime, Raimundas Rumsas finished sixth overall in 2003 - but he is more remembered for a doping scandal at the 2002 Tour de France when he finished in third place.

    Kasputis was one of the first two heroes of Lithuanian cycling when he took the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the team pursuit. Under the banner of the Soviet Union, alongside Viatcheslav Ekimov and Dimitri Nielubin, there was another Lithuanian, Gintautas Umaras, who also won the individual pursuit and became the first cyclist from his country to turn professional with Alfa Lum in 1989. Umaras retired after one season with Coor’s on the US scene and became a Member of Parliament when Lithuania took its independence in 1991 after 52 years of Russian sujugation.

    Kasputis, 45, has fond memories of cycling at the time of communism. “We had a lot of bike races”, he recalled. “With our respective Dynamo clubs, we travelled to a lot of events. Now in Lithuania, there’s only one race for Elite riders: the national championship. Last year, a race for...

  • The Phinney show goes on in Italy

    Race leader Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) chats with former maglia rosa wearer Taylor Phinney (BMC).
    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 18:35 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    One more crash for first Giro d'Italia's first maglia rosa

    In five days at the Giro d'Italia, Taylor Phinney (BMC) has had incidents in every road stage and the team time trial stage. Only during the inaugural individual time trial did he get through without touching the ground.

    In stage 2 and stage 3, he dealt with crashes. Then during the stage 4 team time trial, he rode off the road around a bend, but fortunately re-established his balance and avoided crashing, although afterward he still had to slow down and pick the grass out of his drivetrain.

    In Thursday's stage 5, as the second best young rider of the Giro, he wore the white jersey for the last time after another crash put him back in the laughing group which finished on the Adriatic coast at 12:02 behind winner Mark Cavendish (Sky). Phinney was wearing the maglia bianca because the best young rider Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) was busy wearing the maglia rosa of the overall race leader.

    With 37km to go, Saxo Bank's Lucas Sebastian Haedo went down after touching the back wheel of Stefano Locatelli as he was chatting in the bunch with John Gadret from Ag2r-La Mondiale. "The crash occurred in front of me, and I didn't see it", Phinney said after crossing the finishing line with Theo Bos, Romain Feillu, Sébastien Rosseler and Alex Rasmussen, who were clearly suffering after giving it all yesterday for Garmin-Barracuda in the team time trial.

    "I don't know what my problem is", Phinney said. "Crashes and bad luck...

  • Cavendish celebrates Giro stage victory with family

    Mark Cavendish brought his daughter Delilah on to the podium to share in the celebration for his stage victory in Fano.
    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 19:44 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Briton takes win watched by baby daughter Delilah

    Mark Cavendish's ninth Giro stage win of his career, and 32nd Grand Tour victory, could hardly have been more special given it was the first time that his baby daughter Delilah had been at the finish line when the world champion held his arms aloft in victory.

    After a big hug and kiss for girlfriend Peta Todd, Cavendish took his daughter with him onto the winner's podium.

    And as the Sky rider said afterwards, "No feeling in the world is better than holding your baby [daughter] in your arms, and the only one that comes close is holding your baby [daughter] in your arms after you've won a stage of a race. I'm happy and proud to have her and Peta here."

    The victory itself, too, came at the end of a faultless sprint lead-out train and teamwork in the closing kilometres of the stage. And despite Cavendish being visibly tired since Monday's big crash, the Briton finished off the job as expected.

    "Usually we control the stage from kilometre zero, but today because I was tired and not at 100 percent, we let the other teams know I wasn't bothered if it was a sprint or not.

    "That left us more teammates for the finale and we took control. The Colombians have never been part of a sprint team before, but they were a lot stronger, the whole team was incredible. And there were times when I was sitting there thinking ‘Oh my God we're going too fast'.

    "But it was a textbook finish, although the last 600 metres before I started my sprint, I was fiddling with my gears to see which was better."

    Cavendish then took off with 200 metres to go for what he says "was not such a fast sprint, there was a block headwind. I could see [rival] Matt...

  • Video: Alex Rasmussen discusses Giro TTT victory

    Alex Rasmussen (Garmin - Barracuda)
    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 20:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Barracuda to defend maglia rosa as long as possible

    The start of the 2012 Giro d'Italia was special for Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) as the opening three stages took place in his native Denmark. Rasmussen placed third in the opening time trial and was well-placed to take over the maglia rosa during the stage 4 team time trial, but unfortunately the 27-year-old Dane fell off the pace on a climb and was dropped by his teammates.

    Garmin-Barracuda, however, was able to put Ramunas Navardauskas into the pink jersey with their stage victory on Wednesday, which was a relief to the Dane.

    "I'm happy we won the team time trial, I'm disappointed I didn't stay with the team," Rasmussen told Cyclingnews. "It was a comfort for me that we won it because I felt that I let the team down yesterday."

    Rasmussen told Cyclingnews that the team's goal is to retain the Giro d'Italia leader's jersey as long as possible, and the team is well-positioned with Ryder Hesjedal near the top of general classification to take over the maglia rosa once the terrain gets hillier.

    Rasmussen has personal ambitions late in the Giro as he hopes to go one place higher than last year's result in the final stage time trial where the Dane finished second to David Millar by six seconds.

  • Cycling News HD issue 2 on sale now

    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 21:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Next edition of weekly magazine for iPad available

    Issue two of Cycling News HD, the weekly digital magazine for iPad, is available to download now.

    Featuring an in-depth look back on the Giro d'Italia's visit to Denmark, it also focus on this week's stages back on home soil in Italy. The issue features an interview with the dominant rider of the spring campaign, Tom Boonen, and looks ahead to the upcoming Amgen Tour of California.

    Featuring world class photography, in-depth reports, analysis and opinion, your issue of this week's Cycling News HD is out now. Click here to get your copy.

  • Former Astana manager Sanquer back on the road at Giro with FDJ-BigMat

    Yvon Sanquer with the FDJ-BigMat team
    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 23:00 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Sanquer convinced that Contador rode 2010 Tour de France clean

    FDJ-BigMat is competing at the Giro d'Italia under the guidance of Martial Gayant, who has been a directeur sportif with team manager Marc Madiot for 12 years, and Yvon Sanquer, who was last active in the world of professional cycling as a team manager for Astana in 2010. Sanquer parted ways with the Kazakh team at the same time Alberto Contador left for Saxo Bank.

    "I've always remained in touch with Madiot," Sanquer told Cyclingnews in Verona. "Returning to the WorldTour, FDJ-BigMat was in need of some extra staff, so Marc asked me to join for the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia. Marc and I share the same passion for cycling, and we have common ideas. We have also been strongly involved in defending and promoting French cycling in the past two decades."

    Madiot has been running the FDJ-BigMat team, which has been backed by the national lottery since 1997, while Sanquer has had different roles since he used to coach amateur cyclists at US Créteil: he created the promotional [the equivalent of continental] team Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne, he co-directed the post-1998 Festina team with Juan Fernandez, he ran the French professional league and managed Astana after the departure of Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong following the 2009 Tour de France.

    "It's a great pleasure to work with FDJ-BigMat," Sanquer said. "This team has great potential with different talented young riders. We've already seen it here at the Giro d'Italia. Arnaud Démare has made the top 10 in all the sprints in his debut at the age of 20. Geoffrey Soupe's third place in stage 2 proved that we are collectively strong. FDJ-BigMat has cards to play in different parts of the game with those who aren't currently...

  • Howe and Atkins dispute events after Speed Week crash

    Isaac Howe (Kenda/5 Hour Energy)
    Article published:
    May 10, 2012, 23:30 BST
    Peter Hymas

    USA Cycling to investigate alleged deliberate take down

    Isaac Howe (Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling) entered the fourth event of USA Cycling's National Criterium Calendar (NCC), the latter three rounds of USA CRITS Speed Week, on a high as he held second overall in the standings following his victory in Anniston, Alabama's Sunny King Criterium. Last Saturday afternoon, however, the 26-year-old pro crashed heavily in the early laps of Anderson, South Carolina's Electric City Circuit, fracturing his collarbone, in an incident he and his team claim was a deliberate take down by a competitor.

    The rider accused of causing the crash is Jonathan Atkins (Beck Janitorial), a 48-year-old Georgia resident and former pro now competing as an amateur. Atkins, however, has a far different account of the incident which he insists was an accident and not an intentional act.

    The Electric City Circuit took place on a course within the confines of Whitehall Park and the men's pro-am race was comprised of 50 laps of a wide open circuit on which the pavement transitioned into grass on both sides of the road. A tail wind propelling the riders down the start/finishing straight became a strong crosswind after the racers made the first turn, a 90-degree left hander, and it was along this stretch of the course after the first turn that several encounters between Atkins and Howe took place, culminating with Howe's crash.

    Only several laps into the race, as riders jockeyed for position along the right side of the road to seek shelter from the crosswind, Atkins was forced off the road into the field along the course.

    "All the riders were trying to half wheel the wheel in front of them to the right hand side of it to get into the draft and what was happening was everyone was getting guttered," Howe told Cyclingnews. "What he...