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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 29, 2011

Date published:
August 29, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Mollema shines but Freire abandons Vuelta

    Bauke Mollema (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    August 28, 2011, 10:12 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Mixed fortunes for Rabobank riders on stage 8

    Bauke Mollema of Rabobank finished third on stage of the Vuelta a España to move up to ninth place overall.  The Dutchman crossed the finish line in San Lorenzo de el Escorial only nine seconds behind stage winner and new overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

    “I was hoping for victory,” Mollema said on the Rabosport website.  “I started well in front, but unfortunately I couldn't follow Rodriguez at the very steepest part.  But in the last hundred-two hundred meters, I was a bit faster and could still pass two men.”

    The final kilometer was very hard, the 24-year-old said. “You only come across such steep roads once a year and there were some cobblestone sections. It was really crazy, but this kind of explosive work is good for me.”

    His result made him optimistic for Sunday's mountain stage, which he called “the first real mountaintop finish.  The Sierra Nevada was not steep enough, there we arrived with thirty men."

    Freire abandons with breathing problems

    Rabobank will have to without sprinter Oscar Freire for the remainder of the Vuelta, however.  The Spaniard came into the race with  breathing problems, which had seemed to improve, as he finished third in Friday's sprint.  However, the difficulties returned on Saturday and he was forced to abandon, and will miss out on two crucial weeks of racing miles ahead of the world championships.

    “On Friday, he finished the stage with breathing problems and fatigue, but this morning it seemed that he had recovered and we all...

  • Nibali expected to lose time to Rodriguez

    Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) en route
    Article published:
    August 28, 2011, 10:56 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Scarponi riding into form at Vuelta

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) admitted that he expected to lose time to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the steep finish to stage 8 of the Vuelta a España at San Lorenzo de El Escorial on Saturday.

    While Rodriguez duly fulfilled expectations by bounding clear on the climb’s most vertiginous slopes to take the stage and the red jersey, Nibali’s performance was below his own usual standards. The Sicilian failed to stay in contact with the strongest chasers, and came home 32 seconds down on Rodriguez in 23rd place. He explained afterwards that his cause hadn’t been helped by his positioning at the red kite.

    “It was a hard stage. In the finale I had to make a big effort and I also got a little bottled up,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But that’s ok, I had expected to lose something to Rodriguez on finishes like this.”

    Nibali was a faller on the previous stage to Talavera de la Reina, injuring his right shoulder blade and hip, but he was reluctant to blame Saturday’s sub-par showing solely on his injuries. He now lies 4th overall, 45 seconds down on Rodriguez.

    “Maybe it has to be taken into account a little, but I don’t want to look for excuses,” he said. “For the time trial [on Monday – ed.] I’m counting on being 100 percent again.”

    Scarponi shows his hand

    While Nibali struggled to find his rhythm on the sharply-pitched haul to the finish, his fellow countryman Michele Scarponi enjoyed his best day on the Vuelta to date. The Lampre-ISD rider was the first of the contenders to strike in the final kilometre, anticipating Rodriguez with...

  • Offredo challenges Gilbert at GP Ouest France-Plouay

    Yoann Offredo (FDJ)
    Article published:
    August 28, 2011, 12:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Frenchman on missing out on cobbled classics

    Yoann Offredo (FDJ) lines up at the GP Quest France-Plouay on Sunday looking to make amends for his injury-hit spring classics campaign. The young Frenchman impressed at Het Nieuwsblad and Milan-San Remo, but a finish line crash at Gent-Wevelgem ruled him out of the remainder of the classics.

    “I had reconnoitred the routes in Belgium, everybody spoke of nothing else but those races, and then I couldn’t even do them…” Offredo told L’Équipe. “In the beginning I thought I’d done all of that for nothing, but you never train for nothing. I’ve progressed mentally, I learned about myself.”

    Such was Offredo’s disappointment at missing out on the main targets of this season that he was unable to bring himself even to watch the cobbled classics on television. “I didn’t watch cycling or talk cycling during the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix,” he said. “Sometimes, I’d crack and switch on the television for two seconds before pulling myself together.”

    Long noted for his relative detachment from the allure of the Tour de France, Offredo admitted that he has revised his opinions slightly after witnessing the impression this year’s race had made on the French psyche in July.

    “This year, I felt the impact of the Tour more than ever. There was this feeling that everything stopped for three weeks,” Offredo said. “For now, my priority is the classics, where I have a lot to win and a lot of progress to make. But if I win Het Nieuwsblad and the Tour of Flanders next year, then I’ll go and do the Tour! It’s an indisputable rite of passage for a...

  • Basque racer Pierre Cazaux fitting in perfectly at Euskaltel-Euskadi

    Pierre Cazaux (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    August 28, 2011, 13:53 BST
    By:
    Pierre Carrey

    French escape artist plays the role of domestique

    Frenchman Pierre Cazaux is so well assimilated in the Euskaltel-Euskadi team that he is racing the Vuelta a España with a Spanish flag on his number.

    "It's a bit annoying," said Cazaux, laughing. "The organizers made a mistake, and I asked them to correct it. As everyone in the peloton looks at the others' numbers to see what their name is, some people will really think I'm Spanish!"

    Technically, Cazaux is something other than simply French or Spanish, however: he is Basque. Based in Cambo-les-Bains, the little town at the foot of the Pyrenees where a stage of the 2006 Tour de France started, he moved to the Basque team from FDJ last winter.

    In Euskaltel's roster, the 27-year-old rider is one of two Frenchmen, alongside former under 23 world champion Romain Sicard, who was forced to skip the Vuelta due to a muscular disorder. "My work is to be a domestique and I quite like it," Cazaux told Cyclingnews.

    In a team of climbers, he is of the very few to support his leader Igor Anton on the flat sections. Iñaki Isasi and Amets Txurruka, an uphill expert who is recovering from injury, are also devoted to that role.

    Cazaux has two characteristics, therefore, that are not typical of an Euskaltel-Euskadi rider: his nationality and his skills as a rouleur. The team uses him both to reinforce and open itself. For his part, the rider suits the Basque mould through his shy, loyal and humble attitude, his mastery of Spanish, and the job he does so scrupulously.

    Cazaux says he's literally a water-carrier for the team. “The heat has been very strong since the first day of Vuelta, so I go to the team car about seven or 10 times a day to collect bottles for everyone”.

    Although Anton has struggled...

  • Wiggins hits time trial mode on La Covatilla

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) sets the pace on La Covatilla.
    Article published:
    August 28, 2011, 19:46 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Englishman looking forward to Salamanca test

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) explained that he went “into time trial” mode near the summit of La Covatilla as he put time into red jersey Joaquim Rodriguez and many of his overall rivals on stage 9 of the Vuelta a España.

    The British champion moved up to 13th overall after finishing in fourth place behind Ireland’s Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo), and was hugely impressive in setting the tempo at the front of leading group in the closing kilometres.

    “Today had originally been about me trying to limit my losses as much as possible to guys like Van den Broeck and Rodriguez but I surprised myself,” Wiggins admitted afterwards. “I didn’t think I’d be as good as that as it was the first all-out summit finish I’d done since the Dauphiné. Obviously Sierra Nevada came earlier this week but everyone cancelled each other out a bit on there.”

    After teammate Chris Froome’s pace-setting pegged back Dan Martin and reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) with 2km to go, Wiggins himself took over at the front and succeeded in dislodging Jurgen Van Den Broeck from the leading group. In the finishing straight, Martin cleverly picked his moment to slip clear and take the stage, while Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) assumed the overall lead after finishing second.

    Wiggins lies a minute off the Dutchman's red jersey, and will be expected to make further strides in the general classification in Monday’s 47km time trial around Salamanca.

    “I’m delighted with how things went and once I saw people were in difficulties behind I went into time trial mode and tried to take as much time off them as possible,” Wiggins said. “Tomorrow is where I...

  • Gilbert still second in UCI rankings chase

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) celebrates victory
    Article published:
    August 29, 2011, 1:17 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Gerrans collects valuable points for GreenEdge

    Philippe Gilbert's bid to become the world's number one rider by season's end was dealt a blow with his 57th placing at Sunday's GP Ouest France-Plouay, with Grega Bole (Lampre-ISD) prevailing in the 248.3km race.

    In order to overtake Tour de France winner and rankings leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), the Belgian was chasing a finishing position of at least ninth in the Brittany event. The individual rankings of the top 27 riders remain unchanged with Evans (574 points), Gilbert (568) and Alberto Contador (471) making up the top three. Evans will not ride in another WorldTour race this season.

    Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) was the big mover with his fourth placing in Plouay, the reigning world champion moving up 16 places to 28th. Australia's Simon Gerrans (Sky), who is bound for fledgling outfit GreenEdge in 2012, collected valuable points with his runner-up finish to Bole – collecting 50 points and moving from 70th position to 33rd.

    Spain remains at the top of the country rankings with 1311 points, with Australia (1082) now ahead of Italy (1041) and Belgium (998). There was no changes to the teams ranking with Leopard-Trek still leading on 949, BMC on 874 and Omega Pharma-Lotto on 855.
     

  • Versatile Vaitkus leaves Astana for GreenEdge

    Tomas Vaitkus (Pro Team Astana)
    Article published:
    August 29, 2011, 2:17 BST
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    Lithuanian looking for more individual opportunities in 2012

    Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus is the latest signing for GreenEdge, with Shayne Bannan explaining that the 29-year-old will be more than just one of the team's key domestiques.

    Vaitkus joins GreenEdge from his second stint at Astana, having previously ridden for the Kazakh outfit 2008 and 2009. He turned professional with Landbouwkrediet in 2003, and rode for Ag2r in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 Vaitkus rode for Discovery Channel before joining Astana before one season with Team RadioShack.

    While he hasn't tasted individual success since 2008, Vaitkus says he's looking forward to more opportunities in 2012 despite the satisfaction he gets out of being a team player.

    "People normally just look at me as one of the workers on a team, which is a role I really enjoy and will be a big part of what I do at GreenEdge," he explained in a statement released by the team. "But I also look forward to the prospect of getting a few opportunities to look for my own win even though I get as much satisfaction out of helping a teammate cross the line in first place."

    Vaitkus, 2002 Under 23 world time trial champion, brings just two UCI individual ranking points to the table for GreenEdge, which has been vocal in its goal of recruiting well enough to be placed in the top 15 ProTour teams.

    "Without knowing exactly 100 per cent what other teams are doing I believe that we're tracking to be in the top 15," team general manager Bannan told Cyclingnews last week, while confirming that 90 per cent of the 28-rider roster has been secured.

    Meantime, Bannan believes the triple Lithuanian time trial champion is "more than capable of winning in his own right."

    "Look at the races he's won when given the chance," he explained. "He's...

  • Leipheimer fueled by misfortune for USA Pro Cycling Challenge victory

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) happy to be in yellow again.
    Article published:
    August 29, 2011, 5:59 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    American says he still has grand tour ability

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) won his third overall title of the season at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The American admitted that a mixture of unfortunate injuries and near-wins played a role in fueling his motivational fire for success at the seven-day event that concluded on Sunday in Denver, Colorado.

    "This victory means so much to me," Leipheimer said. "The team rose to the occasion to defend this jersey against a super motivated hometown team in Garmin-Cervelo. It took every ounce of our energy to pull it off."

    The USA Pro Cycling Challenge leader's jersey jumped around during the first half of the seven-day event. Patrick Gretsch (HTC-Highroad) was the first rider to top the overall rankings following his win at the opening prologue. Leipheimer moved into the race lead following his stage one victory at Mt Crested Butte. However, he lost the jersey the following day during the ‘queen' stage two to youngster Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad). He took back the leader's jersey during the stage three uphill time trial in Vail; a race he narrowly won ahead of Christian Vande Valde (Garmin-Cervelo).

    Leipheimer maintained the race lead during the final three stages, which produced bunch sprints won by Italian duo Elia Viviani and Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale). Upon the conclusion of stage six, race organizers crowned him the overall winner, 11...