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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 25, 2013

Date published:
February 25, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Vandenbergh and Boonen swap leadership roles at Omloop

    Tom Boonen in the bunch
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 12:16 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders analyse their race strategy

    Due to Tom Boonen's difficult build-up to the season, Dutch champion Niki Terpstra was the designated team leader Omega Pharma-Quickstep team leader for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday.

    Maybe it was the pressure, or maybe the freezing temperatures and cold wind but eventually Terpstra had an off-day. The team didn’t collapse as teammate

    However with Terpstra suffering in the cold, Stijn Vandenbergh suddenly found himself as team leader along with Sylvain Chavanel. The Frenchman used his energy with several solo moves and so Vandenbergh ended up in a duel with Luca Paolini (Katusha). There was nothing the lanky Belgian domestique could do in the sprint against the experienced Italian but he earned praise from Boonen, who was pleased with his own modest performance.

    "It’s great to see Vandenbergh do this. I’m happy for him. I knew that Stijn was able to do this. Actually this was quite normal because sometimes he’s doing much crazier stuff but it often goes unnoticed. He’s an underrated rider. He’s very strong but doesn’t have the acceleration to win here from a killer like Paolini.”

    The key to the Belgian season opener and many of the April Spring classics is the Taaienberg climb. Terpstra wasn’t able to go with the best on the climb when the race. He refused to look for excuses.

    “It’s quite simple. I didn't ride very well. It was tough and sadly enough I didn’t have super legs," Terpstra said.

    "Usually you punch up these short climbs but I was climbing them. Maybe it was the cold but apparently the first ten today were able to punch up these climb, so I’m not going to use the weather as excuse. They were in the lead group because they were the strongest in the race.”

    “Luckily we had Stijn and Sylvain up front....

  • Cancellation of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne costs the organisers dearly

    BMC's Manuel Quinziato had this view of the snow
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 14:03 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    No insurance taken out against cancellation

    The 66th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne was cancelled after the police and organizers couldn’t guarantee the safety of riders and followers due to the snow-covered Flemish roads.

    The race traditionally follows Omloop Het Nieuwsblad -the opener of the Belgian cycling season but just as in 1986 and 1993, the weather put a stop to the weekend of racing.

    The cancellation of the event is both an emotional and financial blow for the organizers.

    “Next year we’ll be back for the 66th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. This is not the end of our race,” Jos Callens, spokesman of the organization said on the start podium after the decision to cancel the race was confirmed.

    The decision to cancel Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne didn’t come as a major surprise. In the days before the race the organizers had expected and planned for bad weather, making a plan B without the hill part of the race route. On Sunday morning more snow than expected fell in Flanders, leaving no other option than to cancel the race.

    “The impact of this decision is mainly emotional. It’s not a disaster as there are no casualties – maybe because we cancelled the race – but emotionally it’s hard. Changing the course was no option because then you have to move people around to other spots to secure the course and that could have resulted in chaos,” Callens said.

    Before the outcome of the meeting where the cancellation was decided Callens stated that the loss of this year's race would not have severe financial repercussions.

    “Of course there are some money we will not be able to claim back. Much depends on the agreements with the sponsors. Part of the deal is made before the race with visibility through pre-race advertisement. We have a good relation with our sponsors too,” Callens said.

    “There’s also VIP-hospitality and that’s not cancelled. There are...

  • Greipel-Cavendish sprint will have to wait for Tirreno-Adriatico

    Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) salutes from the podium.
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 15:50 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Sergeant and Lotto Belisol accept decision to cancel Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

    Kuurne's town hall played host to a conclave of sorts on Sunday morning as organisers, police and team management assembled in an upstairs room to discuss whether Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne could go ahead after a night of heavy snowfall.

    The decision to cancel the race arrived shortly after 11 o'clock and the news was signalled to the journalists gathered downstairs not by white smoke, but by a shake of the head from Lotto Belisol manager Marc Sergeant as he emerged from the meeting.

    "The decision came pretty quickly," Sergeant said. "The organisation and the police said that they couldn't guarantee the safety of the riders and the other people around the race, including the spectators."

    Snow is a regular menace to Belgium's opening weekend: Sunday marked the third time in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne's history that it had fallen foul of the weather after 1986 and 1993, while Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (then Het Volk) suffered cancellation in 2004 and 1986.

    While the snow had held off for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this time around, the word in Ghent after the race on Saturday evening was that the organisers of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne might not be so fortunate. As soon as the curtains were drawn back in the Lotto Belisol hotel on Sunday morning, Sergeant and his riders realised that the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Belgium.

    "Our motivation was sub-zero," Sergeant said with a wry smile. "This morning when the riders woke up and looked out the window, they realised it would be difficult for the race to take place today....

  • Chicchi shows his rivals how its done at Langkawi

    Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 18:12 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Vini Fantini sprinter takes important first win of 2013

    The fast and straight run into the finish on stage 4 at Tour de Langkawi proved ideal for Francesco Chicchi to get his first win of the season for his new Vini Fantini - Selle Italia team. Chicchi celebrated his unmatched turn of speed with a 'this is how you do it' salute, gesturing he was playing the violin while hauling past the photographers lined metres from the finishing banner.

    The Italian sprinter signed for Vini Fantini at the end of 2012 after having spent two successful years at Omega Pharma - Quick-Step. A change in teams and environment can present its own challenges but Chicchi appears completely at home with the Professional Continental squad.

    Last year Chicchi took his first sprint scalp at the Tour de San Luis while riding alongside Tom Boonen, but this time around he failed to make an impact at the Argentine race with his best result seventh place on stage 2.

    Taking the win in Langkawi, in what is his first time racing in Malaysia was made all the more important given his Vini Fantini squad has accumulated 11 stage wins in just two editions with its former rider Andrea Guardini - who he narrowly beat to the line on. His salute was his way of expressing the significance of the victory.

    "It's a bit difficult for me to explain in English but it means buona fortuna," Chicchi told Cyclingnews.

    "Every victory is a new emotion but this victory is fantastic because it is the first one for my new team Vini Fantini," he said.

    "I'm very, very happy. This victory, for me is not just one victory but two."

    The move to the smaller UK-registered team, which is essentially an Italian squad may have seemed like an odd move for Chicchi who racked-up five wins at Omega Pharma in 2012 but the 32-year-old is passionate about the team he has been with all but a couple of months.

    "I moved to a smaller team but all the riders are great friends. When the team is a group of friends it's...

  • Blanco's Boom comes up short in Omloop

    Lars Boom (Blanco) at the team car
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 19:38 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Teammate Wynants features in lead group

    Before the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, a lot was expected from Lars Boom (Blanco-Giant). The 27-year-old Dutchman led his team at the traditional opener of the Spring Classics season together with last year's winner Sep Vanmarcke. In the end, it was Maarten Wynants who saved the team's day by featuring in the lead group on Saturday. Wynants finished ninth in Ghent, Belgium, more than a minute behind winner Luca Paolini (Katusha).

    In the races leading to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, it was clear that Boom was doing well. He led the Tour Méditerranéen for two days after winning the time trial and won a stage in the Tour du Haut Var.

    "That was a bit overrated. We just raced well in France. The build-up went well," Boom said.

    On the race day, Boom was the first rider to sign the participation list at a well-crowded St-Peter's square in Ghent. Boom was ready for a good race and tackling the cold elements. In the end, Boom was a no-show.

    "This is the first of the Classics, and it's always nervous. I wasn't riding like I wanted to and Sep also I think. I joined the moves a couple of times but I didn't feel that I had the legs I wanted to have. I could follow up to a certain level but not further. I wasn't very good today and then it ended. You know it happens between the Taaienberg and Molenberg and so it did today. There were a lot of attacks. Each time one of us was in it, and eventually Maarten was the man in front. All the big teams had a man up front. Some teams were still riding but there was no organization and you don't ride behind your own man," Boom said.

    For Wynants, it was an uncomfortable situation to be in. He was in the front group but ended up riding behind stronger riders. "I was willing to chase them down,...

  • Omega Pharma-Quickstep's Wilfried Peeters supports Kuurne cancellation

    Tom Boonen in the bunch
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 21:57 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Cyclo-cross as alternative suggested for Stybar and Cavendish

    The cancellation of the 66th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne was the only right decision, according to Wilfried Peeters. The director sportif from the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team said his riders had one day less of racing while emphasizing that racing in this weather would harm the riders more than boost their form.

    "It's a logical decision if you look at the weather circumstances. Only the main roads are cleared. The police could not guarantee the safety. The complete cancellation of the event was the only solution. Leaving out the hill zone was another option, but the organizers ruled that out after talking with the police. There's still too much snow," Peeters said.

    Peeters felt the situation was not the same, like three years ago when Bobbie Traksel won the donkey race in stormy weather conditions. "Then there were snow showers during the last hours of the race. Now there's already snow before the event. The security of the people is much more important than the race itself," Peeters said.

    On the eve of the race, the team had already opted not to have Tom Boonen at the start. Due to a troubled winter, the Belgian star needs as many races as possible to be ready for the Spring Classics season, but riding through the cold didn't fit into that plan. Boonen himself stated right after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday afternoon that he would probably ride in Kuurne but shortly after that, the team stated that would not be the case.

    Peeters explained how the decision was made. "If it would've been 7-8 degrees [Celsius], then we would've let him ride. Now the risks are too high to skip a step by making him race in Kuurne. Tom asked me if we wanted him to race, but I didn't want to...

  • Renshaw earns another victory for Blanco

    Mark Renshaw (Blanco) celebrates as he crosses the line to win Clásica de Almería 2013
    Article published:
    February 24, 2013, 23:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Second win for Australian since transitioning from lead-out man

    Mark Renshaw (Blanco Pro Cycling) has claimed his first victory of the 2013 season, 10 months and one day shy of his last stage win. The Australian took out the Clásica de Almería in Spain, ahead of Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Team Argos-Shimano) and Francesco Lasca (Caja Rural).

    It was at last year's Tour of Turkey that Renshaw earned his first win since transitioning from Mark Cavendish's lead-out man, signing with Rabobank in what proved to be a frustrating season. He went on to earn eight podium placings but admitted to Cyclingnews earlier this year that 2012 did not live up to his expectations.

    Renshaw however was full of praise for his teammates following the win on Sunday.

    "Today was again a collective victory," the 30-year-old said, the team's eighth victory for the season.

    "During the team meeting we agreed to try and keep it together for a sprint. The whole day I had Juan Manuel Garate and David Tanner who protected me. On the climbs were always Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema, Wilco Kelderman and Laurens ten Dam, who ensured that there were no attacks off the front of the group. Stef Clement responded constantly to escapes. It was impressive to get help from these men."

    Sunday's win capped off a successful weekend for Blanco, with Mollema claiming second place in Saturday's Vuelta a Murcia behind Daniel Navarro (Cofidis).


  • Sulzberger pleased with late call-up for Tour de Langkawi

    Haas takes third on the line
    Article published:
    February 25, 2013, 0:41 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Orica GreenEdge with two-pronged attack for Genting

    After a relatively quiet start to the year Wesley Sulzberger was pleasantly surprised to find himself sitting in fourth-overall after the first hill-top stage at Tour de Langkawi. Sulzberger hadn't planned to be in Malaysia for the 10-day race but is content with his form and excited about his GC prospects ahead of the critical stage to Genting Highlands.

    The Orica GreenEdge squad, like a number of the other teams at Langkawi, has more than one rider sitting in contention for the overall title with Pieter Weening in seventh on GC just two-seconds behind his Australian teammate.

    Sulzberger has the experience of having raced Langkawi twice in the past and while he hadn't intended to be fighting amongst the other GC riders, he now finds himself in with a chance if he can remain with the best climbers up the Hors Category Genting Highlands climb - which comes on Stage 5.

    "I wasn't originally meant to be doing Langkawi," said Sulzberger who replaced Thomas Vaitkus in the six-man squad.

    "It's worked out well as it's pretty cold in Europe at the moment. I've done this race twice before in 2007 and 2008 and I sort of now how the terrain is. Genting is going to be pretty solid from how I remember it," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I was a little bit surprised yesterday with how good my legs are with not that much racing. I did the racing in Mallorca and the national championships in Australia. I'm happy with how things are going and would like to get up there and give it a good go on Genting.

    "I haven't had a lot of racing but judging off yesterday if the break hadn't been away I would have finished second and would be in second overall at the moment."

    The final outcome atop Genting Highlands will be highly...