- Article published:
- March 31, 2013, 21:45
- Daniel Benson
Boasson Hagen best-placed in 17th
Team Sky endured a disappointing day at the Tour of Flanders with Edvald Boasson Hagen finishing in 17th after Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) had blown the race apart on the on the final ascents of the Kwaremont and the Paterberg.
When the Swiss rider attacked he was swiftly followed by his expected challenger, Peter Sagan (Cannondale), with Boasson Hagen the best of the rest as the Norwegian tried to remain in contention.
However, the Sky rider was unable to keep the pair in sight on the Kwaremont and eventually helped formed the chase group that would decide the minor placings. Sky's co-captain, Geraint Thomas, crashed before the second climb of the Kwaremont and although he regained contact with the peloton, was unable to respond when Cancellara threw down the gauntlet. The Welshman eventually finished in 41st place, 2:49 behind Cancellara.
"I think everyone did what they could but Cancellara was really strong and he took more than a minute in the last 12 kilometres. Edvald was there on his wheel but Cancellara was just going too fast," Sky's team director Servais Knaven said at the finish.
Sky's marginal gains approach to the sport of cycling has seen them take a number of unorthodox approaches to training and racing. From dedicated warm-downs, weather pattern strategies for prologues, their "guru" Tim Kerrison, to the less orthodox position of simply signing riders with a larger check book than most teams.
However, this winter they made the unique decision of basing their Classics squad in Tenerife for long periods, and despite promising results in the races leading up to Flanders they were left empty handed. The island has been typically used by grand tour riders.
Mat Hayman, who finished on the podium at Dwars door Vlaanderen, came down with a bug on the evening before the race and Bernhard Eisel started the race after recovering from the same symptoms.
"We had some bad luck with Mat Hayman who got sick last night and Eisel who was sick the night before. We don't know what it is but it was for one day and then they started to get better," Knaven said.
When the peloton swung onto the Kwaremont for the final and decisive time, Sky was running out of options. With Thomas trailing, Boasson Hagen bravely attempted to follow Cancellara and Sagan as they pushed clear. The Norwegian had raced the perfect race until that point, staying near to the front but out of trouble, and he initially looked comfortable as Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel hung onto his coattails.
When Cancellara and Sagan turned the screw, Boasson Hagen had no response with Chavanel forced to come around the outside and lead the fruitless chase.
"Edvald is going really well but maybe we have to admit that at the moment Cancellara and Sagan are better. Our captains, Thomas and Edvald, are in good shape but when you're in the wheel and they drop you, they're better."
Sky's performance perhaps merited a slightly better result than 17th and the team will be hoping for a far more impressive return for next Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. Cancellara will return to the pavé as the undoubted favourite to seal his second double but with Sagan now holding back for Amstel and Tom Boonen out of the picture Sky still has something to fight for, if not their pride.
"There are more favourites for Sunday and we're not going to worry. We believe in the team and they believe in themselves and Sunday is a totally different race. We'll have good morale for Sunday again," Knaven said.
As for Sky's Tenerife experiment, Thomas explained before the race that it may take time for he and his teammates to find a winning formulae, pointing to the trajectory of success the team's Grand Tour unit has enjoyed in the last 18 months.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it [success] didn't happen straight away either. I think if we podiumed, it would still be a good result. If you look at the Grand Tours, they're obviously flying now and they're doing really well. But we started in 2010 and it took us two years for that to get going. We might win on Sunday but it will take a year or two because even with this training, we've only started being specific for the last three months. It's the first time I've ever concentrated on the road specifically as well."
- Article published:
- March 31, 2013, 22:35
- Cycling News
RadioShack rider in the US after treatment on his knee
The Radioshack-Leopard team has named its line-up for the Vuelta al Pais Vasco that starts on Monday, confirming that Chris Horner will miss the race due to a knee problem.
The 41-year-old American pulled out of the Volta a Catalunya two weeks ago, revealing via Twitter that he had 'tweaked something on the steep climbs in Tirreno.' In a press release, the RadioShack-Leopard team said Horner was suffering with suffering with an iliotibial band friction syndrome.
He traveled to Basel in Switzerland last week for treatment and is now recovering at home in Bend, Oregon. He is expected to be back in training next week and is likely to focus on being at his best for the Amgen Tour of California in May.
Horner won the 2010 edition of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and was second in 2011. In his absence, Andreas Kloden, Maxime Monfort and Haimar Zubeldia will lead the RadioShack-Leopard team in the six-day race.
Andy Schleck continues his slow comeback from his 2012 injury and personal problems by riding the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Completing the RadioShack-Leopard team are Matthew Busche, Laurent Didier, Ben Hermans and Jens Voigt.
Kim Andersen and Josu Larrazabal will share directeur sportif duties for the race that begins on Monday with a 156km road stage around the town of Elgoibar.
- Article published:
- March 31, 2013, 23:55
- Jane Aubrey
Orica GreenEdge Dutchman 10th, but hoped for more
Sebastian Langeveld's 10th place at the Tour of Flanders was bittersweet. It was an improvement for the Orica GreenEdge Classics specialist with regards that unlike last year, he finished the race. In a dramatic crash, Langeveld hit an onlooker when riding on the bike path next to the road, colliding at full-speed. However, given his solid form in the lead-up to the second Monument of the 2013 season, there was no doubt that he had hoped for more.
"Top-10 isn't too bad," Langeveld told Cyclingnews. "I think condition-wise and form-wise I deserved a better result. Top-10 is better than nothing."
Heading into Flanders last year, Langeveld had the form but not the confidence to go with it. That all changed, though, given his recent performances where he'd finished in 23rd at Milan-San Remo and then fifth place at E3 Harelbeke after having ridden in the front group of riders that were off the back of the efforts of eventual winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard).
Orica GreenEdge knew that to have any chance, they would need numbers in the three-lap finishing circuit and to some extent they succeeded, with Baden Cooke and Fumiyuki Beppu sticking with Langeveld until late in the proceedings.
"Jens Keukeleire had a flat tire in a really bad moment, just before the first time up the Kwaremont I think, but in the end that doesn't make a big difference to the result," the 28-year-old Dutchman said. "I'm really happy with the performance of the team; they helped me where they could...Everybody played their role and did their job. Jens Mouris helped me in the beginning. Mitch Docker was really aggressive in the start watching the big attacks."
While there had been speculation that given this would be the second year that the Tour of Flanders would be raced with the finishing circuits that teams would approach them differently and not wait for the final lap to make the defining move, it didn't eventuate with Lotto Belisol only really taking the peloton to task. According to Langeveld, it would have taken more than just the Belgian team to have an impact.
"But you also need other teams - BMC, Sky - in a big strong group and maybe they could make the race a little bit harder in the end," he said. "The strongest guy won today. There's no doubt about that."
Still, Langeveld took his chances, and when Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) made his move the last time up the Oude Kwaremont, he quickly found the wheel of Sylvain Chavanel with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team having a number of options if that race came back together.
"Cancellara went, Sagan followed and Chavanel and me weren't able to follow," Langeveld said. "That was the end of the story."
Langeveld's conviction surrounding his form remains intact and he will now focus on Paris-Roubaix, after a few days to re-group.
"I can go to Roubaix in good shape and with confidence," he said. "I had some strong teammates today so I'm looking forward to it. That's how you need to take this race. You raced it, did it, got a good result at the end - maybe you could have finished a little bit better - but you close the book and look forward.
"Roubaix is actually a race which suits me really well. I've had a couple of good races there and also one year I had some bad luck, I was in the final breakaway and I crashed. With this condition, I'm looking forward to it and we'll see what happens."
- Article published:
- April 1, 2013, 09:30
- Cycling News
Cycling federation to meet this week to discuss possibilities
The Tour of Austria is facing a possible cancellation, due to financial reasons. Race organisers face a shortening of the race, a one-year pause, or could decide to hope for the best and carry it out as usual. A lack of sponsors and the increased costs of security and television coverage are causing the problem.
The UCI 2.HC race is scheduled to be held June 30 to July 7 this year. The course for the eight stages has not yet been announced. The Austrian cycling federation is scheduled to meet on Thursday, April 4, to discuss the race's future.
“From the organizational side, certain costs keep getting higher, things over which we have no influence, and on the other had, it keeps getting more difficult to find sponsors,” said race director Ursula Riha.
Security has become an expense problem, she said. “We ride more than 1000 kilometers all across Austria and last year we had at least 1000 people involved whose only job was to take care of blocking the roads. This assignment has come to take a large percent of our budget. Our sport is held on public roads and that doesn't make things easier.”
In addition, there is the cost of providing televisin coverage, as the international sponsors “demand complete live coverage,” Riha said. “We aren't in a stadium, where you can just put up a camera and go. We ride from Point A to Point B and need motorcycle and helicopter cameras, as well as other planes, relay stations, and so on.”
The Austrian cycling federation will meet on Thursday to decide whether to shorten the race to five stages, hold it as usual or cancel it for this year. Riha said that she was “clearly for holding it as planned. Shortening it by several days wouldn't save us a lot of money. And a cancellation would have wide-reaching effects for cycling in Austria – especially for the teams and sponsors who would thus lose their international stage at the presentation.”
- Article published:
- April 1, 2013, 10:47
- Brecht Decaluwé
Two-time winner helps Cancellara to his second win on Easter Sunday
If there’s one rider in particular that 2013 Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack Leopard) should thank then it’s probably his teammate Stijn Devolder. Cancellara’s triumph on Sunday means that he joins Devolder on two wins in Vlaanderens mooiste.
After some rough years in which Devolder struggled to keep up the level he reached in winning De Ronde in 2008 and 2009, the Belgian moved back to his roots by joining the RadioShack team of his mentor Dirk Demol. On Sunday afternoon, Devolder rode an incredibly strong race. He bounced back from an ill-timed puncture and went on to pace the peloton alone for about ten kilometres ahead of the final approach to the Kwaremont, keeping them within touching distance of the breakaway move, which paving the way for Cancellara’s eventual victory in Oudenaarde.
“It’s the most beautiful race in the world and arriving here solo is great,” Devolder said. After crossing the finish line, the 33 year-old was a happy man. For once he didn’t have to hide away from the press after yet another lacklustre performance. A two-year spell at Vacansoleil-DCM didn’t bear any fruits and Devolder went through hard times after being confronted with the death of his friend Wouter Weylandt. This season, however, Devolder has shown glimpses of his talent and after last week’s training camp in Spain he came back to Belgium and rode an impressively strong Tour of Flanders.
“It’s the first time I’ve finish the race on this new course. Last year I had to abandon after a hard crash. I’m happy that I could play my role in the finale of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Is it my resurrection on the highest level? Yes, I think so. I’ve ridden a good spring season so far. I had a very hard crash in Qatar and today I showed I’m back in front of the race,” Devolder said.
When comparing it to the form he had when he won the Tour of Flanders himself, Devolder acknowledged that he was riding better back then. “I’m not back at that level just yet but I’m coming back and that’s important,” Devolder told Cyclingnews.
Though himself a two-time winner of the Tour of Flanders, there was no doubt about the hierarchy in the RadioShack Leopard team. Devolder said that everybody was confident that their leader Cancellara was the man to beat.
“Already in Harelbeke it was obvious he was the strongest. The E3 Harelbeke is always the last rehearsal for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and if you’re the strongest there then that’s often the case here too,” Devolder said.
“The whole team worked hard for Fabian. Others made us do most of the work because they knew Fabian was the man to beat. It was very hard for us. We knew he would go on the Kwaremont and Dirk was constantly reminding us to keep riding. Everybody gave all they had.”
From there it was up to Devolder to put in the spadework for Cancellara and so he did, in spite of that puncture just as the race reached its endgame.
“At a very bad moment I flatted and it took a long time before I had a new wheel. Due to the new rule from the UCI to add more safety to the wheels it took ages before I got my wheel back on,” Devolder said. The rule which the UCI enforced this season adds tabs at the bottom of the fork, forcing the user to re-adjust the tension when switching wheels. “I wasted a lot of energy to get back in the peloton after my flat tyre. Once there I did everything I could for Fabian until the Kwaremont. Then he was clearly the strongest and finished it in a fantastic way.”
Next week in Paris-Roubaix, Cancellara will once again lead the Radioshack team while Devolder will gladly settle for a role as lieutenant. Even during his best years he never managed to get on the podium in Roubaix. The Belgian does have personal ambitions later on this season, however. “I’ve always said that I want to ride the finale during the Spring classics. Personally I hope to be in top form during the Belgian national championships in La Roche-en-Ardenne. That’s where I want to ride for myself,” Devolder said.
- Article published:
- April 1, 2013, 12:11
- Brecht Decaluwé
Omega Pharma-QuickStep will have to anticipate Cancellara at Paris-Roubaix
Patrick Lefevere has quite a record when it comes to racing the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix and the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team manager was doubtless hoping for a record-breaking fourth win in the Ronde for his team leader Tom Boonen.
After a troubled build-up, the Belgian champion quickly crashed out of the race, sustaining injuries which also sideline him for Paris-Roubaix. The team’s second leader Sylvain Chavanel wasn’t able to take over the reins in Boonen’s absence. Despite showing excellent form a few days ago by winning the Three Days of De Panne, the Frenchman was blown backwards when eventual winner Fabian Cancellara attacked on the Oude Kwaremont.
“The team rode well but once again it was proven that you have to have team leaders who can finish the job and other very good riders. The guys didn’t ride badly but I think Sylvain is our first man in thirteenth place. Well, thirteenth equals zero [WorldTour] points. At the end of the year those points weigh in massively. These are the races in which we have to do it,” Lefevere said, calculating his loss.
Lefevere didn’t hold back and figured Chavanel would have been better off anticipating the attack from Cancellara by going along with an earlier breakaway move which included Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), who eventually went on to finish third.
“I haven’t spoken with him yet but I think he got the most out of it. If those two take off then you have to be on their wheel and not two or three spots further back in the group,” Lefevere stated. “Sylvain would have been better off by accompanying Jurgen Roelandts in his move, but then again, with the excellent form he showed in the De Panne, there was little chance they would let him ride away just like that. Jurgen Roelandts hasn’t been in the picture too much this year so they allowed them a bit more space. Also, if you see how Cancellara made the selection. Roelandts isn’t a nobody and bluntly riding Sagan off your wheel... Well, there’s not much to say.”
While it’s far from sure that Boonen would have been able to keep up with Cancellara on the Oude Kwaremont or later on the Paterberg climbs, it was still obvious that the team struggled in his absence. Lefevere quickly realized his man would be out for Paris-Roubaix, not only because of his injuries but also because of the mental setback.
“There’s not only the crash. He’s been behind schedule and chasing the opposition since December. He’s been working hard and fighting to make up for the lost time, but each time when he seemed to be back there’s been a crash or something else. That will be extremely tough now,” Lefevere said. “The latest I heard from Yvan Vanmol is that there are four stitches in his right knee and a mega-haematoma on his left hip. We have to wait at least 24 hours before making any assumptions.”
Later, it was confirmed that team doctor Vanmol had ruled out Boonen’s participation in Paris-Roubaix. “We decided that he isn’t riding Paris-Roubaix,” Vanmol told Sporza on Sunday evening. “He rode into a pole at 60 km/h. He’ll have difficulty in walking for the next 4 to 5 days and if all goes well he’ll be able to ride his bike by the end of the week but there’s no way he can participate in Roubaix.
“We can’t tell him that this would be possible. The inflammation on his left hip worries me. He also crashed hard on the same left knee which underwent surgery two years ago.”
Regarding team tactics for next Sunday in Paris-Roubaix the team manager concluded there were few possibilities left other than to anticipate the acceleration from top favourite Cancellara.
“We shall see. It’s always tough to carry the weight of the race but as the French say it in such a beautiful way: ‘L’équipe est à la hauteur du leader.’ The team is at the level of its leader, and that’s what we’ve seen with the team of Cancellara. We’re currently without a leader but the rest all are strong riders, each one of them. We’ll have to anticipate.”
- Article published:
- April 1, 2013, 14:29
- Daniel Benson
Belgian pleased with progress of recovery from knee injury
Sep Vanmarcke will try and take the positive aspects of his Tour of Flanders ride into next weekend's edition of Paris-Roubaix.
The Blanco leader has been chasing form and fitness since crashing out of Tirreno Adriatico last month. The Belgian escaped surgery on a knee injury but time off the bike during his recovery meant that he has been playing catch up in recent weeks.
He told Cylingnews last week that the swelling in one of his knees was so bad that he had to cut a hole in his leg warmers in order to ride but he made it through a set of warm-up races to eventually finished the Ronde in 29th place, 2:49 down on winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard).
"I'm happy with my level now though and I'll get better by next week," Vanmarcke told Cyclingnews at the finish line in Oudenaarde.
Vanmarcke's race was not without incident. He crashed on the lower slopes of the Valkenberg and his race briefly looked over but a frantic chase saw him back with the peloton.
"In the beginning everything was going well and then on the Valkenberg I was taking off a layer of clothing and I crashed. I couldn't move it and I felt it swelling. Then after a couple of minutes I was able to get back on the bike and I tried to make the best of it."
After remounting and chasing back to the bunch, Vanmarcke linked up with his Blanco teammates with Lars Boom also keen to be factor in the race finale.
"I just made a little mistake before the last time up the Kwaremont. I sprinted to the front and I was on my maximum level when I started the climb. Then Cancellara went full gas and for 200 meters I was really weak. I couldn't follow."
With 260 kilometres in his legs and no setback to his recovering knee, Vanmarcke can now look ahead to Paris-Roubaix, although he admitted that with Cancellara in such dominant form he may well racing for the a place on the second two podium spots.
"Ever since my crash in Tirreno we were already thinking that Paris-Roubaix would be my only realistic goal for me. Here I was a lot better but still a bit too weak to go with the best. I hope that next week will be a lot better.”
- Article published:
- April 1, 2013, 17:10
- Barry Ryan
New Flanders course inhibits attacking, says Frenchman
There is something of the stoic about Sylvain Chavanel and he bore a resigned grin when he emerged from the Omega Pharma-QuickStep bus to talk to reporters after Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
Chavanel had been tipped beforehand as perhaps the man most likely to upset the Fabian Cancellara-Peter Sagan duopoly, but the law of the strongest prevailed. When Cancellara and Sagan powered clear on the Oude Kwaremont, Chavanel was unable to follow and ultimately finished 13th in the main chase group, some 1:39 down.
“I don’t think I have much to regret about the way I rode today,” Chavanel said. “The two strongest riders went away. I was on Edvald Boasson Hagen’s wheel when they went away and I was left behind, but they were the two strongest riders in the race.”
Moments earlier, Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere had told reporters that he would have preferred if Chavanel had looked to anticipate Cancellara and Sagan’s move by going on the attack before the final circuit over the Kwaremont and Paterberg.
“Could I have attacked sooner? No, because people talk about me a lot now and they’re less inclined to let me get away,” Chavanel said and then laughed hollowly: “I have to accept this position.”
Chavanel added that attacking from distance [as he did en route to his second place finish in 2011] has become rather more complicated since the introduction of the new course the following year. With its three circuits over the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, the Oudenaarde finish seems to reward raw strength but leaves little room for ingenuity.
“On the parcours, it played out exactly the way it did last year. The circuit is so hard that in effect it blocks the race,” said Chavanel. “I think that the same scenario is going to repeat itself [in the future]. But I like this circuit too. It’s a grand show for the media and public, and that’s part of modern life.
“There was nothing that unfavoured me really. Against Cancellara and Sagan, you just needed to have their legs to follow them. I wasn’t missing a lot – I came over the top of the Kwaremont in 4th position, so that means I was going well.”
Defending champion Tom Boonen’s race was ended by a crash inside the opening hour of racing, but Chavanel said that the absence of his teammate changed little about his tactical approach. “I don’t think so, because on this course, it’s all decided late on,” Chavanel said. “If he hadn’t crashed, he would have been up there with the best of course. Unfortunately, that’s part of the race, as we saw last year with Cancellara.”
Fabian Cancellara’s show of force in the finale of the Tour of Flanders – not to mention the absence of Boonen and Sagan – means that the Swiss lines up at next Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix as the overwhelming favourite for victory. Chavanel acknowledged that Cancellara is not going to be matched for strength on the rocky road to Roubaix.
“Cancellara will be hard to beat at Paris-Roubaix, but you can’t go into a race thinking you’re beaten already,” Chavanel said. “It will certainly take strategy to beat him. Today, we didn’t see a race with a lot of attacking or with a lot of his rivals off the front, but that was also because he had a very solid team and that allowed him to manage the race very well.”
Paris-Roubaix has never been especially kind to Chavanel, whose best finish in the famous old velodrome was 8th in 2009, but he tried to strike an optimistic note as he left Oudenaarde on Sunday afternoon. While the Tour of Flanders was locked in something of a stalemate until the finishing circuit, Chavanel believes the Hell of the North will be a more open race.
“If you’re very strong at Paris-Roubaix, the selection makes itself naturally,” Chavanel said. “In Flanders, you have to fight for position a bit more as the roads are more narrower. In Paris-Roubaix, the pavé sectors are quite long so the selection comes about more quickly.”