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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 27, 2012

Date published:
February 27, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Gilbert: I didn't have the legs

    Philippe Gilbert comes in far behind the winners.
    Article published:
    February 26, 2012, 11:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian decries lack of information at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    Philippe Gilbert’s first appearance on Belgian roads as a BMC rider ended in disappointment as he was unable to make an impact at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday.

    While he admitted that he didn’t have the legs to compete for the win, Gilbert believed that a lack of information about the gap to the winning break frustrated BMC’s efforts to bring the race back together in the finale.

    Twice a winner of the Omloop, Gilbert’s hopes of adding a third triumph disappeared at the foot of the Taaienberg. When winner Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) hit the front, Gilbert was poorly placed in the heart of the peloton, and a subsequent puncture on the Eikenberg definitively ended his challenge. He went on to finish 41 seconds down in 31st.

    “I wasn’t in the race,” Gilbert told “I was there without being there. I didn’t have good legs. I was always fifteen or twenty places too far back and in these conditions, you can get caught up in a crash or puncture…”

    While his teammate Thor Hushovd had initially succeeded in following the winning move sparked by Vanmarcke and Boonen, Gilbert complained that information was hard to come by in the absence of radio earpieces.

    The BMC riders in the peloton were unaware that Hushovd had been dropped from the lead group, and they only began to organise their pursuit inside the final 15 kilometres.

    “Racing without earpieces doesn’t bother me, but it’s not normal not to have any information,” he said. “I only saw the chalkboard once and it was only with 15km to go that John Lelangue was...

  • Startline Gallery: Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

    Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) arrives to sign on
    Article published:
    February 26, 2012, 11:52 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Cavendish, Farrar, Boonen and Greipel set for battle

    After the excitement of Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Belgium’s stellar weekend of racing continues with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday.

    While Omloop came down to a break of three with Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) stealing the show, today’s race is expected to come down to a bunch sprint with all but a handful of the fastest sprinters not lining up for the 200 kilometre race.

    Mark Cavendish (Team Sky), who is competing in the race for the first time, will be able to count on last year’s winner Chris Sutton to help him but the team boasts a number of alternative options with Ian Stannard and Juan Antonio Flecha also on the team.

    Should the race indeed come down to a sprint Cavendish will face-off against some of his biggest rivals. Andre Greipel who has won almost as many races this year as he did in the entire 2011 season, is in fine form.

    Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) will be looking for his first win in his new team colours, while Tyler Farrar, Greg Van Avermaet and Tom Boonen can’t be discounted.

    The race climbs the Oude Kwaremont, Kruisberg, Kanarieberg and the Tiegemberg, making it a real semi-classic and a taste of what is to come in April.

    Cyclingnews has live coverage of the race here and there will be a full race report, photo galleries and rider interviews from the finish.


  • Training crash for Bontrager-Livestrong

    Connor O'Leary and the Bontrager Livestrong team
    Article published:
    February 26, 2012, 15:52 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Avis and O'Leady the worst affected

    Several riders from the Bontrager-Livestrong development team took an unexpected trip to a California hospital Friday after crashing during a training ride outside of Solvang with team director Axel Merckx and owner Lance Armstrong.

    Armstrong and Merckx avoided the wreckage, but team riders Ian Boswell, Lawson Craddock, Connor O'Leary and Charlie Avis hit the deck hard and needed medical attention. O'Leary separated his shoulder, Avis broke the scaphoid bone in his wrist, Boswell required several stitches on his elbow and Craddock suffered bruising and inflammation to a knee. A guest that was riding with the group also suffered a separated shoulder.

    “It was probably the highest casualty rate of any crash I've ever seen as far as people being severely injured,” Boswell said after returning from another team ride Saturday afternoon. “Out of the six people that went down, four went to the hospital. I've never seen a crash where so many people were injured.”

    The pile-up occurred about four hours into the day's workout as the group of about 15 riders geared up for an approaching three kilometre climb. Riding about halfway back in the bunch, Boswell and O'Leary got tangled up, starting a chain reaction that took out the four riders immediately behind.

    Armstrong mentioned the crash to on Twitter, writing “Had a good (and bad) ride with the @BontragerLS team today. Was going great til a massive pile up after 4 hrs. Carnage.”

    Both Avis and O'Leary left the California team camp, which is scheduled to end March 29, to head for home and start recovering. O'Leary described the crash and injury as a “small setback.”

    “I find out Monday what the quickest way back on the bike will be, whether surgery or just letting it...

  • Cavendish pleased with Sky train's perfection

    Mark Cavendish (Sky) wins Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
    Article published:
    February 26, 2012, 17:23 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Armchair ride to Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne win after Oman troubles

    When Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) wins, and it's a regular occurrence, you can bet that the first words to come from his mouth will be praise for his team. And today was no exception - except for an expletive on live Belgian television - when the world champion swooped to win Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne at the first attempt.

    The Manxman rode a faultless race, unseen and protected throughout as his teammates set about lining him up for the win. Frankly this season could become a cakewalk for Cavendish if things continue in this vein, so apparent was his dominance in an event he'd never raced. While he talked about the race for the win his rivals were left discussing their attempt and fight over who would be on his wheel.

    "But I can't take any credit for that win at all," he told reporters in his post-race press conference.

    "I didn't do anything except for with 270 meters. I think I even made it harder for them. I was vomiting the whole day and didn't feel well until about 50 to go. I even said to CJ be prepared you may need to sprint."

    In the end CJ Sutton was prepared, the defending champion leading Cavendish out and delivering him to a winnable position.

    "I always had guys with me at every stage," Cavendish added.

    "I was always in the top ten going into every climb and didn't have to look at the wind. A group went and we had three guys in the front so we were secure. The rest of the guys stayed around me."

    The only moment Cavendish's chances looked in the balance indeed came when a formidably strong group broke clear on the Oude Kwaremont. Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma QuickStep), Alessandro Ballan (Team BMC) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin- Barracuda) were amongst the rebels but without any cohesion they failed to...

  • Video: Farrar left behind by Cavendish at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda)
    Article published:
    February 26, 2012, 19:51 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    American on Oude Kwaremont move and sprint finale

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) was left empty handed at the finish of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, crossing the line in 18th place.

    The American found himself out of contention after the peloton came through the last corner of the race, and was unable to mount a challenge as Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) went on to win the race.

    While Cavendish made his single and most significant play inside the final 300 meters, Farrar had ridden a far more aggressive but ultimately unsuccessful race.

    Having latched onto a dangerous move on the Oude Kwaremont, Farrar found himself in a strong position. With teammate Johan Vansummeren for company and Omega Pharma-QuickStep, BMC and Rabobank well represented, the move looked more than troublesome for the sprinters left behind.

    However, a lack of cohesion, thanks in part to the presence of three Sky riders, meant that the group never gained much more than a minute on the peloton.

    "I played my cards a bit on the Oude Kwaremont and took my chance in the front group there," Farrar told Cyclingnews.

    "And it looked good for a little while and I was hoping it would stay until the end but it didn't and then the sprint didn't really go my way. I got boxed in and that was it."

    In this exclusive video interview with Cyclingnews Farrar talks about his race, the move on the Oude Kwaremont and his sprint finish.

  • Funds lacking for Pais Vasco and San Sebastian

    The hat is a pretty cool memento for Luis Leon Sanchez' Clasica San Sebastian win.
    Article published:
    February 26, 2012, 20:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Basque races under threat of extinction

    The Tour of the Basque Country (Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco) and the Clasica San Sebastian are in danger of disappearing along with past races in this mountainous region of Spain due to a budget shortfall of 150,000 euros, it was reported this week.

    If the Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi cannot come up with the funds by March 5, the races could join the Euskal Bizikleta, which disappeared in 2009, and the Subida a Urkiola which ended in 2010 as formerly great but now extinct Basque races.

    The reason for the lack of funds is the economic crisis which has reached Spain. "There was an agreement which the Basque regional government - until this year the main race sponsor - cannot fulfil because of the economic situation. We're waiting for a solution, but right now, we've got nothing," said the organisation's president Jaime Ugarte, according to Reuters.

    Both races are currently listed on the UCI's WorldTour calendar, a compilation of all of the sport's most important events. The País Vasco has existed since 1924, while San Sebastian emerged in 1981.

    Despite the high profile of the events - Andreas Klöden won the Basque Tour last year and Philippe Gilbert won in San Sebastian - the organisers are pessimistic of being able to raise the kind of money needed before the self-imposed deadline of March 5.

    "Nobody earns a single peseta here, not even the men who put up the barriers at the starts and finishes," Ugarte said of his all-volunteer organisation.

    "If a moment comes where you have to say 'we've enjoyed the experience, we've lived through it, and it's over', then that moment comes.

    "But right now, in any case, I don't enjoy it, I spend too much time wracking my brains working out how the...

  • Freestyling Renshaw caught in Spidertech's web

    Matti Breschel and Mark Renshaw will lead Rabobank
    Article published:
    February 26, 2012, 23:04 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Rabobank sprinter unhappy with final kilometres at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

    Mark Renshaw is still hunting for his elusive first win in Rabobank colours after drawing a blank in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday.

    The Australian had been perfectly placed on Mark Cavendish's (Team Sky) wheel as the bunch sped into the final kilometre.

    "Some guys from Spidertech, they just don't care and they take risks. That's the way the peloton is right now there's not much respect and everyone wants Cavendish's wheel," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I had it with 1km to go and then I got knocked off the wheel and from then it was finished. Up until then all our guys were tired in the final so I just had to freestyle."

    Renshaw ultimately finished in 15th place but until the final kilometre chaos had ridden a successful race by keeping out of the wind and staying near the front to avoid crashes.

    "Until then I was feeling really good. That's why I'm pretty angry to miss an opportunity like that, especially because it's a race that finishes in a sprint and it's one that suits me. I'm really happy with how I felt but I just lost the wheel in the final."

    Renshaw signed for Rabobank after several seasons leading out Mark Cavendish at Highroad Sports. A fine sprinter in his own right his move to the Dutch squad has given him further opportunities to stamp his own mark in field sprinting but despite seven top 10 finishes in 2012 he has yet to win a race.

    As with bike racing and especially sprinting, the next opportunity is just around the corner and Renshaw will take his good form to Paris-Nice before targeting another major goal, Milan-San Remo.

    "Generally I'm really happy with the form and how things felt today. I'm just not happy...

  • Greipel left frustrated in Kuurne

    Andre Greipel (Lotto)
    Article published:
    February 27, 2012, 1:13 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Cavendish rival runs out of space

    The 2012 edition of one-day semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne resulted in a first win - and the corresponding donkey trophy - for world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling) at the sprinter's festival. Arch-rival André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) was in a perfect position to bring his first win home in Kuurne but in the end the Gorilla got boxed in and was left behind with nothing but frustration on a missed opportunity to beat Cavendish.

    "I would have beaten Cavendish for sure," Greipel stated.

    The German strong man was showing his good form throughout the race, even putting in an acceleration right after tackling the Nokereberg, the last climb of the day.

    "After my wins at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Oman I had a lot of confidence. Also today I felt good, powerful. Only on the [Oude] Kwaremont I struggled a bit because I was too far," Greipel said. In the final 50 kilometers Sky Procycling, working for Cavendish, took control of affairs and dominantly led the peloton towards a bunch sprint. "It couldn't have been better. The team worked hard for me and I was perfectly on the wheel of Cavendish. At 300 meters from the finish line I knew I would win," Greipel said. In a fraction of a second that ideal situation turned around and a few seconds later Greipel rolled over the line in 10th place.

    "I saw them coming on the right. Then [Kenny] Van Hummel swerved from right to left. I didn't have any more space and my sprint was over. I waited two seconds too long to accelerate and got boxed in. It's all decided in a fraction of a second. I should've gone earlier," Greipel concluded.

    After a third place last year, Greipel once again fell short in Kuurne and the 29 year-old will have to wait another year...