Taylor Phinney will be back in action at the Volta a Catalunya (March 21-27) and still hopes to ride Paris-Roubaix despite a pre-season knee problem and a recent training crash.
The hugely talented American was due to ride Paris-Nice after getting his season back on track at the Tour of Oman. However he suffered mild concussion in a training crash and was forced to miss the French stage race.
He has now been cleared to race again by BMC team doctor Max Testa and has been training hard for his return. The Volta a Catalunya is a testing seven-day World Tour race but will give Phinney a vital block of racing just a week before the Tour of Flanders and two weeks before Paris-Roubaix.
Phinney won the Under 23 Paris-Roubaix in both 2009 and 2010.
Phinney has described the start of his season as a ‘rocky’ one, but is now keen to get back to action.
"I am very excited and anxious to get racing again," he said in a team statement. "I have been training well and building not only base in the legs, but my confidence as well.”
“Catalunya is necessary for me if I wish to fulfil my classics ambitions this year and I am hoping it will give me the boost I need after the setbacks I have endured these past months. I have to thank the BMC Racing Team, my family, my girlfriend and, most of all, my fans for putting up with me in both high and low times."
Directeur sportif John Lelangue predicted Phinney would benefit from seven days of hard racing in Catalunya.
"He was disturbed a bit in training camp due to some problems with his knee, so he needs good volume and good intensity," Lelangue said.
"There are some really hard stages in Catalunya where he'll be suffering, but this is the best way to get volume...
“With a long time trial, this race was made for me”, Martin admitted after pulling on the yellow jersey in a rainy Nice on Sunday afternoon.
“There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders before Paris-Nice. Now I’ve won the race, I feel good. It’s the biggest success ever in my career. I’m so happy but I need some time to take it in. I’m just thrilled to win now.”
“The bad weather wasn’t really to my advantage. I can ride in the rain but when you wear the yellow jersey, you’re always afraid of crashing. I was not afraid about freezing. I was only afraid of crashing. I prefer to race in dry conditions. However, I’ve showed this week that I can be the team captain. I’m definitely stronger than last year.”
Martin was known as being the world’s second best time trialist after finishing behind Fabian Cancellara several times. He was the runner up to the powerful Swiss rider in both the Tour de France prologue in Rotterdam last year and in the closing time trial from Bordeaux to Paulillac. But he didn’t live up expectation in the mountains and finished a tired and empty 137th overall in Paris.
“I’ve learned from my mistakes last year”, Martin insisted. “The Tour de France is my next goal. In July I’ll try to go for GC again.”
Thomas Voeckler will be 32 in June but proved that he is not slowing with age or losing his nerve by winning two stages at Paris-Nice with daring attacks.
“I thought I was too old for racing this way but this is the kind of bike racing I am,” a delighted Voeckler said after winning the final stage in Nice on Sunday with an audacious attack on the descent to the finish.
Last year he lost the final stage at Paris-Nice in a two-rider sprint against fellow Frenchman Amaël Moinard but insisted there was no feeling of revenge.
“It wasn’t revenge for 2010. Moinard was smarter than me that day. For a long time I’ve felt bitter about missing the opportunity to get my first ever stage win at Paris-Nice but not now,” Voeckler said.
“To be honest yesterday, my moral was affected by the crashes, notably the one of Martijn Maaskant, who wasn’t moving at all when he was on the ground. As I’d already got a stage win at Paris-Nice on Wednesday, I wasn’t ready to put my life and my career in danger today but it’s always worth taking risks when the victory is a possibility. I didn’t expect I would be able to do what I did today.”
Great start to the season
The Europcar rider is having his best early start to the season, with two stage wins at Paris-Nice following on from victory on the first stage at the Tour of the Mediterranean and overall victory at the Tour of Haut-Var. As national champion, he is now the best known and most cheered rider in France.
“I give 100% of myself for my job. But I’m logical too and never get too ambitions. I know that I won’t be able to drop Andy Schleck at the top of the Tourmalet for example,”...
Astana rider heads home to Croatia after horrible Paris-Nice crash
Astana's Robert Kiserlovski spent one night at the hospital before flying back home to Rijeka, Croatia, after a terribly spectacular crash he had at Paris-Nice in stage 7 on Saturday. TV footage showed him lying on the ground under a parked truck on a slippery downhill.
"I have nothing broken, but I got eight stitches in my face and have pain everywhere, all over my body," said Kiserlovski to Cyclingnews by phone during his layover at the Paris airport.
"This was not a good experience. I've never been in such a situation before. I had such a fright that I didn't remember where I was. After half an hour, I remembered that I was somewhere in France."
He recalled the circumstances of his crash. "I was riding normally on the descent. I wasn't going too fast or anything. I didn't feel like it was slippery, but an incredibly strong wind took me out from behind as if it came from the top of the climb. I don't know what happened. Maybe my back wheel was too light for that wind?
"I took the corner normally, but I lost control of my bike after the corner. I saw that truck and I said to myself: Oh, God! This is no good, it's going to hurt."
"I still can't believe what speed I had picked up. Now I have to take a good rest at home."
The Croatian was supposed to take part in the Istrian Spring Week with his national team, but he has cancelled that appointment. "I also believe that I won't be able to ride the Criterium International. I know this would have been a good race for me, but I probably can't do it."
"My main goal for the first part of this year is the Giro d'Italia with Roman Kreuziger, so I have to focus on that only. I might resume...
American will get his own changes at the Tour of California
Tejay van Garderen crashed heavily on a downhill during stage 7 of Paris-Nice on Saturday but he got back on his bike afterward to assume his duty as an HTC-High Road team player defending Tony Martin's yellow jersey. Martin would go on to keep the jersey until the end of the "Race to the Sun", thanks in part to van Gareren.
"It was slippery and dangerous," Van Garderen said on the start line in Nice on Sunday, remembering the previous day's stage. "After the crash, I felt a little bit of a pain in my knee, but it's no problem. I can race today."
In the middle of Paris-Nice, Van Garderen had said HTC-Highroad's ambitions were for Martin and himself to make the final podium. "One of us, if not both us, has to make it," said van Garderen to Cyclingnews. But his personal aspirations vanished toward the end of stage 5, when the American sacrificed himself for his German teammate.
"Tony took the initiative to be the leader," Van Garderen said. "He put me on the front on the mountain stage." The 27km time trial scheduled the following day made Martin an obvious number one choice at HTC-Highroad. The German confirmed what everyone expected after his win at the Tour of Algarve.
However, Van Garderen, who is only in his second year pro, showed that he is a great stage race rider in the making as he took 10th place in the time trial. The 22-year-old, who finished third in the Dauphiné last year behind Jani Brajkovic and Alberto Contador, completed his first Paris-Nice in 31st position overall, but he might...
Jonker to manage team to compete in Australian National Road Series
Former professional and two-time Olympian Patrick Jonker will manage Australia's newest men's professional team, Eclipse Pro Cycling (EPC) which is set to compete in 2011 in the Australian National Road Series.
The team has the backing of sponsors Jayco and 2XU, and will race as Team Jayco-2XU. The team's mission is to provide a pathway for young, talented athletes to develop and progress all the way to the highest levels in the sport.
Speaking about his role, Jonker said, "This is a great concept and an exciting opportunity. Australia's cycling stocks are overflowing right now, but that's no reason to be complacent. This initiative will be key in the future success of Australian cycling – and I'm looking forward to helping unearth new talent, develop the careers of young riders, and provide them with guidance and knowledge they need to go all the way to the top."
Team Jayco-2XU's roster is an exciting mix which combines proven experience with youth and potential. Headlining the roster are multiple Australian Mountain Bike Champion and road racing powerhouse Chris Jongewaard, former Junior World and Australian Madison Champion Glenn O'Shea, and Olympian and 2006 World Teams Pursuit Champion Mark Jamieson. These riders bring experience to the roster and will help guide and nurture the development of the next wave of Australian cycling talent which includes former triple Junior World Track Champion Luke Davison, Brendan Brooks, Nick Dougall, Rhys Gillett and James Hepburn. The mix of youth and experience is certain to be a key factor in underwriting the team's success.
The EPC project has been recognised by GreenEDGE Cycling, whose Manager Shayne Bannan said, "Eclipse Pro Cycling's project...
Team Sky neo-pro builds on strong start to the 2011 season
After a strong start to his professional career with Team Sky, Alex Dowsett was in London at the adidas showroom on Friday for the launch of the team’s replica kit range.
The 22-year-old was fifth in the time trial at the Tour of Oman but backed that up with an impressive fourth at the Tour of Murcia time trial where he topped the leader board until the final three riders nudged him down. The stage and race were eventually won by Spaniard Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank).
“I was pleased in the end but gutted at the time. I had been leading all day and ended up going to the podium, ready to go up and then just watched as the three riders came in quicker than me,” he told Cyclingnews.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews, Dowsett lays down his targets for the rest of he the year, discusses leadout duties for Team Sky and looks ahead to the national championships and 2012 Olympic time trial.
In-form Belgian heads to Milan-San Remo "without pressure"
By snatching the victory from Wout Poels (Vacansoleil) in stage five of Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday, one week before the great Italian Classic Milan-San Remo, Philippe Gilbert has demonstrated that he is in top form ahead of the event. The Omega Pharma-Lotto leader explained that his current success is due in part to experience, saying that "in the past, I would have done exactly what Poels did."
Gilbert took the stage win with a last-minute effort after the Poels had caught the remaining breakaway riders in the last kilometre - a harsh outcome for the strong Vacansoleil rider but a tactical masterpiece from Gilbert.
"It's all down to experience," he told Sportwereld. "In the past, I would have jumped under the flamme rouge just like him and gone home empty-handed. But I knew that there were two turns in the final kilometre. I had to wait, stay out of the wind, and make a final effort at the right moment. That's timing, and you need patience for it. And a bit of luck, too."
The victory was finally decided by just a few centimetres. "It was close," Gilbert smiled. "But close is also enough."
After having taken a similar win at the Strade Bianche race ten days ago - outsprinting Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre) in the very last metres to the finish - the Belgian has an excellent basis both physically as well as psychologically upon which to launch another attempt at the upcoming Milan-San Remo.
Third in 2008, Gilbert hopes for at least another podium placing at the 'Classicissima', and with three victories already in his...