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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 16, 2012

Date published:
April 16, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Riders protest wintry conditions in Vuelta Castilla y Leon

    A snowman holds a sign along the race route on Highway 89 after stage one of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California from South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe was cancelled
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 21:15 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Rabobank breaks stalemate, but Sanchez loses race to Moreno

    Riders of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon staged a protest against starting the final 173.5km stage in Segovia today, afraid that snow on the higher elevation climbs would make the roads unsafe.

    Among those leading the strike were Linus Gerdemann (Radioshack-Nissan), Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches-Onfone) and Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), but, according to Marca.com, after the officials tried to call the race start, only an order from the Rabobank director Adri van Houwelingen for race leader Luis Leon Sanchez and his team to roll out broke the stalemate.

    Van Houwelingen said the organisers made the correct choice to continue with the race. "The first ascent was the worst, but the snow was alongside the road and not on it," he said according to Rabosport.nl. "In addition, the descent faced south, which made it all passable.

    "At -2 degrees on the top it was indeed very cold, but it was safe, and it was the same with the other climb."

    Jamis-Sutter Home director Sebastian Alexandre agreed that the weather was extreme. "The weather was very bad, but definitely do-able. It was OK in the town, but the issue was up on the mountain," he told Cyclingnews. "There were times that my car showed -4 Celsius, it was almost impossible. But do-able, and the riders participated on an epic day."

    Rabobank might have preferred the race to be cancelled, because Sanchez's teammates and then the race leader himself were unable to hold on as the peloton broke apart on the final climb. Sanchez was isolated and tried to give chase, but ended up losing almost five minutes by the end of the stage, which was won by Yeiko Gomez of Caja Rural, and Movistar's Javier Moreno took the overall...

  • Amstel Gold Race marks return to form for Gilbert

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team)
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 22:25 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian champion expects to battle along for Liège victory

    Philippe Gilbert’s (BMC) engine had failed to start so far this season but when the Ardennes week kicked off on Sunday the Belgian champion was on the mark. Last year he won all three of the one-day classics, and at the foot of the Cauberg on Sunday, Gilbert put in a concerted effort to win Amstel Gold Race but fell short.

    BMC did the work early on, and Gilbert took over to lead the sprint up the Cauberg in pursuit of Oscar Freire (Katusha) and Niki Terpstra (Omega-Pharma QuickStep). Though falling short to achieve a third victory in a row in Amstel, he was pleased with the outcome.

    “It was important because it pleases me to ride at a competitive level again and also because these are my home races. With Freire and Terpstra up front I had to go from far out. Everybody was watching me and we wouldn’t catch them. There was a tailwind so I thought it might work out. My legs hurt too much though and I had to sit, then it was over. I know that on this climb you have to wait because on the last meters you can make up a lot of ground and make the difference.”

    Long before the final climb the BMC team lost their co-leader Cadel Evans and a little later they moved forward to control the race. Gilbert was extremely pleased with the efforts of his teammates.

    “Everybody worked incredibly hard but in the finale especially Santambrogio and Van Avermaet. Greg pulled off a big number.”

    With his eyes on the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and especially Liège-Bastogne-Liège next Sunday, it seems like Gilbert will once again play his role in the finale. “I think I’ll be OK. They always say that the top 10 from Amstel...

  • Video: Howes animates proceedings at Amstel Gold Race

    Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda) at the start line
    Article published:
    April 16, 2012, 0:10 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    American off the front until closing kilometres

    "Amstel tomorrow. I think that's pretty damn cool." That was how Alex Howes heralded his Amstel Gold Race debut on Twitter on Saturday evening, and the 24-year-old American went on the animate the race as part of a break that endured all the way to the final run-in to the Cauberg.

    "It was pretty cool," Howes laughed as he sat on the steps of the Garmin-Barracuda team bus afterwards. "It was the biggest race I've ever been in and I wanted to show that I could have an impact on the race. It was incredible up there; I had a really good time."

    Initially not slated to start Amstel Gold Race, a combination of his strong 6th place finish at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday and Sep Vanmarcke's crash at the GP de Denain the next day saw Howes get the nod.

    "I was on reserve and then I had a good ride at Brabantse and Sep had a fall at Denain so they put me on," he said.

    Howes infiltrated the break of the day after 60 kilometres in the company of teammate Raymond Kreder. After gaining a maximum lead of 13:30, the peloton gradually set about whittling down their advantage, and when the gap closed to almost a minute inside the final 30 kilometres, Howes took the chance to go clear in the company of Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

    "When we went I thought we would be gone for 5k and it ended up being 15 or so," said Howes. "I think we were both kind of looking back thinking 'man when are they going to catch us so we can sit on.'"

    Howes was ultimately only swept up after the penultimate climb of the Keutenberg with a little over 8 kilometres to go, and he reached the top of the Cauberg in 30th place, as the leading group fragmented on the final haul to the line.

    Depending on how he recovers from his exertions in the Netherlands,

  • Another big win for Hosking in Europe

    Hosking takes victory for Specialized-lululemon at Halle - Buizingen
    Article published:
    April 16, 2012, 3:11 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Teutenberg delivers "perfect lead-out"

    Specialized-lululemon's Chloe Hosking won her second big race of the year on Sunday in Halle-Buizingen. After a hectic race and some serious work from her teammates, Hosking took out the 40-person bunch sprint.

    The team had six riders in the lead group of 40 before an escape group of nine rode clear with Amber Neben the only representative for Specialized-lululemon.

    "I wasn't very happy with that so I asked the girls to bring it back," explained Sport Director Ronny Lauke.

    "The girls were amazing," said Hosking. "They chased hard for 35km and then backed it up and gave me a perfect lead-out

    "The three 12k finishing laps had a couple of hard climbs near the finish line," Hosking explained. "Amber controlled the front to give the girls a break from their big chase and also keep the pace steady up the climb. Then at the perfect time, Clara [Hughes], Ellen [Van Dijk] and Ina [Teutenberg] came to the front and set it up for the lead-out. Clara and Ellen took turns until 450 to go and then Ina launched and I was able to leave it until 150m to come around.

    "It was definitely an advantage having a leadout like that," Hosking, 21, continued. "The finish was fairly technical with a big cross wind. The girls gave me the perfect line and Ina hugged the fence so I had just enough room to come around.

    "It was a hard day but a great day. I felt great and it feels really good to be able to finish off the hard work."

    Sunday's result follows Hosking's victory at Drentse-8 early last month. The Australian began her international season at the Ladies Tour of Qatar where she finished fifth on the general classification. It followed an appearance at the Jayco Bay Cycle Classic for the Total Rush – Hyster outfit where Hosking won the opening stage and finished third overall.

     

  • Sanchez seventh in Amstel despite chain problem

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    April 16, 2012, 4:42 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Olympic champion unsure about Liège participation

    Bad luck struck Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) when the finale of the Amstel Gold Race got underway. The Spaniard bounced back right in time to mix in with the uphill sprint on the Cauberg and eventually finished seventh.

    Right after the finish Sanchez clearly worked hard to achieve the result he got.

    "My chain broke and we had to switch the bike. I chased long but I came back in the front group right in time to mix in for the sprint. I'm pleased with my seventh place."

    Originally Sanchez didn't plan to ride the Amstel Gold Race, hoping to enjoy a long break after his first-ever win in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco last week. With the knowledge that this season has the accent later in the year for Sanchez due to the importance of the Tour de France, the Olympics and the world championships.

    "The team asked me to be here in order to get WorldTour points and I'm glad with the outcome."

    On Saturday Sanchez said he was heading home after the Amstel Gold Race to take a break and only return to Liège-Bastogne-Liège next week if his legs felt good enough. Right after finishing the Dutch one-day classic Sanchez made clear that he didn't know yet if he would return.

     

  • Crash ends Cunego's chances of posting a result at Amstel Gold Race

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) and Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) hit the deck 300m from the line at Amstel Gold
    Article published:
    April 16, 2012, 6:37 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian's focus moves to Giro del Trentino before Liège

    Lampre-ISD's Damiano Cunego was making his way through the lead group heading towards the finish line at Amstel Gold Race when he hit the tarmac with just 300 metres left to race. Cunego also brought down Sky's Lars-Petter Nordhaug with the pair left to animatedly wonder what might have been at the race left them behind.

    "It's been a while, I can't even describe in a precise way what really happened," Cunego said in the team media release post-race. "I know that's an enormous pity since I was pedaling very well. When Gilbert attacked, I waited for few seconds since I thought he started too early; then, when I chose to follow him, I crashed with Nordhaug."

    Nordhaug was left with a bruised hip but is likely to be available for La Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday.

    The 2008 winner of Amstel Gold Race had been gradually building his form with top ten finishes at both the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Basque Country and was confident of a good performance on Sunday.

    With Liège - Bastogne - Liège still on his agenda next weekend, Cunego's focus now shifts to the Giro del Trentino beginning Tuesday.

    "Yeah, it's good training for Liège, plus when I did Trentino in 2006 I had my best Liège, when I came third," he told Cyclingnews last week. "I've done Flèche the other years and I never got to Liège in good condition as a result of it. It doesn't do me much good to be holed up in a hotel for days the week of Liège, it suits me better to race."

     

  • Vanendert under the spotlight after Amstel result

    Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team )
    Article published:
    April 16, 2012, 9:42 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian primed for leadership opportunities

    Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) showed he has the ability of one day winning a spring classic in the Ardennes week by finishing a close second behind winner Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas-Cannondale) in the 2012 edition of the Amstel Gold Race. Beating uphill sprint specialists like Sagan and former winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC) came as a surprise to many but not to Vanendert.

    "I've never said I wasn't explosive. I'm not quite as explosive on flat roads but uphill it's different, especially after more than 250 km. I think that if you beat men like Sagan and Gilbert, and finish so close to Gasparotto, then you didn't do a bad job.

    With this result Vanendert claims the team leadership in the remaining Ardennes Classics, although he realizes that he's not the natural-born leader like Philippe Gilbert.

    "I figured I was able to do this but being a team leader is more than riding results. It's also about how to deal with a team. There are a lot of different characters in the team and I'm not someone who knocks on the table straight away and tells how we're going to do it. Once you deliver the performances it's easier to get the team along with you, not by knocking on the table. I think I proved that I've got the capabilities and I think it'll automatically become that the team will believe in my abilities a bit more. It's not to put Jurgen [Van den Broeck] on a step below me. I think he'll automatically help me. He'll feel that by helping me he comes more to fruition."

    Coming into the Amstel Gold Race, Lotto-Belisol had three leaders due to the departure of Gilbert last season. Due to the financial limits of the team they didn't attract a new top gun for the Ardennes and Vanendert didn't mind.

    ...
  • Fränk Schleck declares himself one of the strongest at Amstel Gold

    Andy and Frank Schleck share a joke
    Article published:
    April 16, 2012, 10:48 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Says brother Andy is improving

    He may have finished 12th at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, but former winner Fränk Schleck was satisfied with his own performance, where he was the best placed of the RadioShack-Nissan team.

    "I had a bad position going into the Eysenbosweg but there was really no attack there," the 32-year-old said, having celebrated his birthday at the race. "So it ended up being a big group at the end. I felt good, my legs were in good shape. In the sprint I had a little cramp so I didn't have the punch I needed but it was good for my confidence and I think I was one of the strongest riders today."

    Team director Kim Andersen said that given the overall result for the team - Ben Hermans 70th, Maxime Monfort 74th, Christopher Horner 82nd, Andy Schleck 91st, Jan Bakelants 118th, Laurent Didier DNF, Joost Posthuma DNF – said that it wasn't an "exceptional" day given the plan had been to get on the podium.

    "With that in mind, we were in the front when the break went away," Andersen explained, with Posthuma and Laurent Didier patrolling the front of the chase. "We only used two guys, saving six others. But as the race unfolded we saw only Fränk was super strong today. It was weird to see so many sprinting for the victory at the end. I'm happy about Fränk's condition. He wanted to be in good shape and we see that he is looking good. We don't expect more from Andy at this point."

    Fränk Schleck added: "Andy rode to protect me all day and he did a really good job. His shape is definitely improving. In fact all of the team worked hard all day and there was great teamwork here. I am looking forward to next week. Joost and Laurent worked so hard. Whatever Laurent had for breakfast, I want to have the...