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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, May 18, 2012

Date published:
May 18, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Bak makes perfect move to get first solo Grand Tour win at Giro

    Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) on the descent to the finish
    Article published:
    May 17, 2012, 21:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Veteran Dane claims crafty success in Giro's hilly stage

    Lars Bak (Lotto-Bellisol) scored a superb lone stage 12 win in the Giro d'Italia today, blasting away 1.7 kilometres from the finish line in Sestri Levante for his first-ever individual Grand Tour victory at 32.

    Bak was part of the HTC squad that won the team time trials in the 2011 Giro and the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, but today was the first time he was able to soak the limelight up in a Grand Tour in his own right.

    Riding the 155-kilometre stage as if it were a one-day Classic,strength and strategic timing both played their part in netting the former Tour du Porvenir winner and triple national time trial champion Lotto-Bellisol's first Giro success of 2012.

    "I tried to save my energy right until the end, because I knew this breakaway was going to make it to the finish, the climbs weren't so hard," Bak said afterwards.

    "I could see that [Sandy] Casar (FDJ-Big Mat) was the strongest of the other breakaways, he was always closing down the attacks, and he'd won stages in the Tour de France, so I knew I had to watch him. And [Jan] Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan) is also fast."

    "The attacks [by the break] were brought back three times, and then I came from behind and went for it. I got 200 metres, then 300 metres. They hesitated a bit, then a bit more, but then I was away, I'd taken my chance."

    As Bak pointed out, he's not a climber or a sprinter so he has to get in breakaways. However, he is a good time triallist, and after getting away, he certainly exploited that skill to the full in the crucial last part of the run-in to the finish.

    "I've maybe won 10 races in my career, but I've almost always won them from late attacks," Bak said. "So I knew what I had to...

  • McEwen's career comes full circle - from Tour DuPont to Los Angeles

    Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge) dropped back to the team car for a chat.
    Article published:
    May 17, 2012, 22:19 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Orica GreenEdge rider fighting for Amgen Tour of California finish line

    Robbie McEwen is in his last race as a professional at the Amgen Tour of California, and after kicking off his experience in the pro peloton in 1995 at the Tour Dupont he hopes to make it to Los Angeles to finish his career on the opposite coast. Yet the looming mountains will provide a formidable obstacle for the three-time Tour de France green jersey winner.

    "I'm trying to get to that last stage in L.A. Today shouldn't be a problem," he said of the time trial, "It's a 25 percent time limit, but the two days after this are seriously hard. There are big mountains, small time cuts, and it is a very hard race."

    McEwen will transition from a racer to a technical advisor for the Orica GreenEdge team, with his first big focus being the Tour de France where he will fine-tune the sprint stages and lead-out for Matthew Goss.

    "Once this race is over, I think first I'll go home and enjoy some time with the family, and not having to get up early and get out and smash myself on the bike to make sure I'm in good enough shape to get through the races."

    McEwen began his career back on the east coast in 1995 at the Tour Dupont when he was still an amateur racing with the Australian national program. "That was the first big race where we got to race the big name pros. I think they called it a Pro Am just so we could race. The rest were all pros, and we were up against it. We had a great time, and that was my first ever trip to the States. I haven't been back since 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics. It's been a long time in between there."

    It was only coincidence that led him to end his career in the same country in which it...

  • Amgen Tour of California shakes out in Bakersfield

    New race leader, Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) takes the spoils on the podium
    Article published:
    May 18, 2012, 3:30 BST
    Laura Weislo

    General classification begins to take shape in time trial

    After four days of bunch sprints, the general classification is finally starting to evolve in the 2012 edition of the Amgen Tour of California: the race lead has been assumed by time trial winner David Zabriskie but his 34 second lead over second placed Tejay van Garderen and even the 2:50 he has on last year's winner Chris Horner may not be a big enough buffer when it comes to the Mt. Baldy mountaintop finish.

    While Zabriskie has twice claimed second overall here, he didn't feature last year when the key stage finished on Mt. Baldy, coming in 14 minutes behind Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner. He admits that the important gap is not the 2:50 Horner lost, but the gaps between all of the climbers. However, last year he was in a very different position coming into the Mt. Baldy stage, and he's not giving up on the idea that he can win the overall, although he won't give his odds.

    "Definitely. I'm not going to lie down and give it away," Horner stated. "David Zabriskie is going to fight until he's lying on the ground almost dying. I can't give you a percentage number because I don't like math."

    Zabriskie's director Jonathan Vaughters said the performances of the other contenders won't affect his team's tactics. Robert Gesink is 38 seconds behind and a notable climber, Van Garderen, who is also strong on the climbs and who held Garmin's GC rider Tom Danielson to 28 seconds on Mt. Baldy last year, and Peter Velits of Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Levi Leipheimer are 49 seconds and 1:44 back. Additionally, Vincenzo Nibali is at 1:52 and as the only Grand Tour champion in the race, he is always going to be a threat in the mountains.

    "You sort of forget about one guy and have to focus...

  • Video: Durbridge steps into Young Rider's jersey with ITT top 10

    Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) takes the best young rider jersey.
    Article published:
    May 18, 2012, 4:29 BST
    Laura Weislo

    World under 23 champion talks to Cyclingnews in Bakersfield

    Luke Durbridge finished 0:01:01 back on David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) not only finish 7th at the Amgen Tour of California's fifth stage, but also charge up the general classification and take a firm hold of the lead in the young rider's classification on Thursday.

    The Orica GreenEdge Australian who is reigning under 23 time trial world champion, as well as national senior champion, had targeted the stage and did not disappoint. Earlier this season, Durbridge finished eighth in the time trial at the Three Days of De Panne then went on to win the chrono at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire on his way to overall victory.

    "I think in every time trial you go into you always want to go for the win, but you don't really know until you get out there how you really feel," the 21 year-old told Cyclingnews.

    Durbridge said that the heat not only provided a physical challenge but also a mental challenge.

    "I gave it everything to the line but, Dave Zabriskie's a class bike rider," he surmised.

    Durbridge will now dedicate himself to the services of general classification hope Cameron Meyer.

    Watch more of Luke Durbridge's interview by clicking on the video below.

  • Video: Double win for Zabriskie in Amgen Tour of California

    David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) blitzed the Bakersfield course
    Article published:
    May 18, 2012, 5:27 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Time trial win nets Garmin-Barracuda rider race lead

    David Zabriskie took advantage of the hot and windy conditions in the Bakersfield time trial to claim the stage win and overall lead in the Amgen Tour of California on Thursday. The course was well suited to the Garmin-Barracuda rider, benefitting those who can put out plenty of power: fairly flat, no technical turns and new pavement that sapped the speed of lesser men.

    "It was a very hot, very windy, very desolate part of California, but it is the kind of course I like. I was very happy to get this stage, to win it, get it done, I've been waiting for it."

    Zabriskie was beaten at the first time check by BMC's Tejay van Garderen, but ended up 34 seconds ahead of the younger American. "You gotta go out hard and you have to finish hard," Zabriskie said. "I was happy I didn't blow up. Some of that is just concentration.

    "This was a really good course for me. Any course where I don't have to get out of the of the aero bars is to my advantage," he said later in the press conference. "My position is pretty good in the wind so I was welcoming the wind."

  • Salas goes on the defensive to retain California's KOM jersey

    The day's break included Sebastian Salas (Optum Pro Cycling), Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes) and Jeremy Vennell (Bissell).
    Article published:
    May 18, 2012, 9:01 BST
    Pat Malach

    Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies rider living the dream

    When the Amgen Tour of California rolls out of Palmdale Friday for the 186.3km stage ending with the climb to Big Bear Lake, 25-year-old King of the Mountains leader Sebastian Salas will get to spend at least one more day living his dream.

    "All these guys I've seen over the last couple of years winning some of the biggest races in the world, and I'm up there beside them," said the second-year pro for Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies. "It's just unbelievable."

    Salas jumped into the day's major breakaway on stage 1 and then grabbed the polka dot jersey from Spidertech-C10's David Boily on stage 3 when he got into his second breakaway of the race. He currently leads Boily, a fellow Canadian, by just eight points in the KOM battle. Garmin-Barracuda's Alex Howes is 24 points back.

    "Coming into the race, I had some good performances at Joe Martin and the Gila," Salas said. "So I knew I had some good climbing legs coming in. Getting into that breakaway on the first stage was instrumental in getting the necessary points to get this jersey."

    And now that Salas has the jersey with only two stages remaining that offer KOM points, he and his Optum team will be putting their all into keeping it for him through Sunday's final 72km jaunt from Beverly Hills to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

    "Right now it's going to be a little bit more of a defensive game to try and get some more points tomorrow and the next day," he said. "My teammates have been so helpful 100 percent of the time, covering stuff and making sure I'm in position in case something goes up the...

  • Piva: Rodriguez has a 50 per cent chance of winning the Giro d'Italia

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    May 18, 2012, 10:03 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Directeur sportif on Katusha leader's chances of victory

    Former HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Valerio Piva has found a new role at Katusha: rather than targeting stage wins with the likes of Mark Cavendish, he now directs Joaquim Rodriguez in defence of the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia. With nine days to go in the corsa rosa, he gives his Spanish protégé a 50 per cent chance of winning the overall classification in Milan.

    During stage 12 to Sestri Levante, Piva and Rodriguez discussed tactics with 65km to go and decided to let Sandy Casar take over the lead for a couple of days but the Liquigas-Cannondale team made the opposite decision. With the excuse of keeping Ivan Basso out of trouble by racing at the front of the peloton, they maintained the pressure on “Purito” who has to attend podium ceremonies, TV interviews, doping control and press conference every day that he’s in pink.

    “But every day, Joaquim’s confidence is increasing”, Piva told Cyclingnews on the Italian Riviera.

    “He’s living nice days of his life with the pink jersey. However, the real tests will be on Saturday and Sunday when the Giro will hit the mountains. I haven’t seen anything yet. All the favorites have done their best to hide themselves so far. The only one who didn’t is Joaquim but it’s normal that he came out in a stage that suited him so well [stage 10 to Assisi]. I don’t know who is likely to go well in the climbs or not. We haven’t raced in the mountains yet this year. On Sunday, we’ll have a clearer picture about who is declining and who is improving.”

    Piva added that Rodriguez has a 50 per cent chance of winning the Giro d’Italia...

  • Gesink pleased with fourth in Tour of California time trial

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) turned in a 4th place ride and moved into 3rd overall.
    Article published:
    May 18, 2012, 11:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Rabobank rider “exuberant” over results and good form

    Robert Gesink of Rabobank is better known as a climber than a time trial specialist, so finishing fourth in the Amgen Tour of California left him feeling “exuberant”. The Dutch rider is now third overall, 39 seconds behind race leader David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda).

    “I had long been eager for a good result, and when it comes in a time trial, the feeling is even more exuberant,” Gesink said on the team website. Coming into the stage, “I knew that my form is in order.” The winds on the second half along the “long boring roads” was more difficult, but “I had a good feeling after I finished about what I had done.”

    It was his best result after breaking his leg last September in a training crash. “It's just a nice feeling when you have worked hard and you  can also see the result. It is very smooth on all fronts. Uphill the old feeling  came back a bit.

    “I'm not there yet, but it is smoother than earlier this spring. Now it also shows that the way back to the top is a long one. It takes time after a broken leg. Longer than I hoped, but not longer than I expected.”

    He admitted that maybe he was too impatient, “but I'm an athlete. I do a lot. Cycling is my life.”