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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 25, 2013

Date published:
March 25, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Sagan has 'broken the ice' for next Classics win in Gent-Wevelgem

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) exhausted after his solo effort
    Article published:
    March 24, 2013, 18:08 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Cannondale rider to prepare for Flanders in De Panne

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finally landed his first major classics win on Belgian soil with a commanding display in Gent-Wevelgem.

    The 23-year-old used the full repertoire in his armoury to join the race defining group and then made tactical use of teammate Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale) as the 14-man move established a lead of 1’30 over the peloton.

    With last year’s winner Tom Boonen crashing out and Fabian Cancellara pulling out at the feed zone, Sagan’s chances of the win rose considerably but he still had considerable work to do as the peloton bore down on the break inside the final 5 kilometres.

    Sagan patiently waited for the fragile camaraderie to evaporate and when Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) strung out the break Sagan was launched an unstoppable counter attack.

    After finishing second at Milan-San Remo and E3 Harelbeke, Sagan landed perhaps the most important victory of his already impressive career.

    "The classics are my first goal of the season," he said in his press conference, repeating a mantra he has been issuing since the start of the year.

    "I wanted to win in Milan-San Remo but now I’ve found this victory and it gives me and my team real satisfaction. Now I’ve broken the ice for the next win."

    The ice was already thin for last year’s winner Tom Boonen who already looked short of form coming into the race. A crash just after the feed zone saw the Belgian retire and now Sagan is undoubtedly Cancellara’s main challenger for next Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

    "This might not be a win as big as San Remo or Paris-Roubaix but it’s an important race and I’m really happy but hope to continue now," Sagan added.

    Gent-Wevelgem wasn't a one-man show...

  • Tour of Flanders run in jeopardy for Boonen after crash in Gent-Wevelgem

    Boonen bravely gets back on his bike, but the peloton is long gone.
    Article published:
    March 24, 2013, 19:35 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian champion might race Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde

    The build-up from triple Tour of Flanders winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) received a new knock on Sunday afternoon during Gent-Wevelgem. The Belgian champion crashed at high speed in the peloton when there were just under 70 kilometres left to race and hurt his right knee, He eventually abandoned the race, while rival Peter Sagan (Cannondale) went on to win the Belgian spring classic. With both Sagan and Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack) in top form it seems highly unlikely that Boonen will be able to rack up a fourth win in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Boonen will probably start in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde to get more kilometres done ahead of the upcoming big races.

    Tom Boonen didn’t talk with the media after his crash. At the team bus after the race team director Wilfried Peeters also offered little insights on the situation of the Belgian star. Peeters didn’t want to go into details about the injury and didn’t say how Boonen reacted.

    “I’m not a doctor. How can I make a diagnosis after half an hour? We will communicate about it. It’s not fun that’s for sure,” a slightly agitated Peeters said after the race at the team bus. “While moving up in the group somebody jumps on the bike path and he touches Boonen’s front wheel. It’s a stupid crash at a bad moment. We tried to get him back on the bike but by then it was already over. We have to look at it tomorrow and then we’ll see.”

    Having an injured team leader one week ahead of the Tour of Flanders and two weeks ahead of Paris-Roubaix blows the team’s ambition for these cycling monuments. After a troubled build-up due to an infection in...

  • Bozic grows to like Gent-Wevelgem with second place finish

    Borut Bozic (Astana) on the podium at Gent-Wevelgem
    Article published:
    March 24, 2013, 20:25 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Slovenian racks up another strong result in Belgium

    Borut Bozic (Astana Pro Team) continued his fine spring form with second place in a hard-fought Gent-Wevelgem. The result marked the Slovenian’s second runner-up spot in less than a week after he finished in the same position in Dwars Door Vlaanderen last Tuesday.

    "I’m very happy with my sprint today. I've made some mistakes this season, but today I did everything right."

    The foundations for Bozic’s success in both Belgian races have been Astana’s dedicated support as well as the 32-year-old’s own form. Today the Kazakh team rode a tactical race similar to the one they produced in Dwars Door Vlaanderen, positioning a rider in the early break with Assan Bazayev helping to form a three-man move in the middle of the race.

    Bozic moved across to the leaders in a larger 14 man move that included eventual winner Peter Sagan and although Bazayev faded, Bozic was able to pick up second place in the bunch sprint after Sagan had taken the win.

    "Nobody could go with Sagan, he was too strong. All year he is always the strongest in the race. But I knew I could sprint for the podium after Sagan, and when we turned into the wind for the finish I waited and waited and waited until the right moment. I am very happy with my sprint today. I have made some mistakes this season, but today I did everything right. After five years of doing this race, I finally like it!" Bozic said.

    Bozic consistency has been a surprise this spring. While he has picked up wins in a number of smaller Belgian races in recent years, he hasn’t shone in races of such high calibre as Dwars and Gent-Wevelgem.

    The team puts this down to several factors,...

  • Haussler frustrated in Gent-Wevelgem breakaway

    Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling)
    Article published:
    March 24, 2013, 21:28 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian just off the podium, but back on form

    If any residual trepidation remained for Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) on the Gent-Wevelgem start line in Deinze, given the freezing weather conditions, it was swiftly forgotten: he attacked today's race in his best showing in a Classic of this caliber since 2009, but finished a frustrating fourth.

    Perhaps it was the realisation that he'd gotten so close to the podium, or maybe it was raw adrenaline, but Haussler didn't hold back when asked for his reflections on the shortened 75th edition of the race as he arrived back at the team bus. The 29-year-old was not hiding his disappointment.

    "Yeah, I'm fucking mad," he told Cyclingnews. "I used so much energy just to get back to the front group... Fucking hell, it was a hard race. Especially, the whole time I was just by myself.

    "The bloody wankers just sit on and go: ‘no, no, we've got a guy at the back and all this bullshit.’"

    Haussler was part of a 13-man move that came together in the final 50km, race winner Peter Sagan, his teammate Maciej Bodnar, two Astana riders Borut Bozic and Assan Bazayev, and eight other singletons.

    Asked at whom he was aiming his criticism, Haussler would only say: "Half the guys at the front. Bloody wankers. But that's just racing, that's what it is."

    Haussler had not been happy on the start line, doubting that what was about to occur was in the name of sport, given the icy conditions and with the rest of the classics in mind, but the immediate calendar was enough of a carrot for the Australian to put his head down and go. Caught in the third group on the road and chasing an all-star line-up of 15 riders which included Boonen, Cavendish, Sagan, Eisel, Hayman, Oss and Phinney Haussler's effort had him "sweating like a pig" despite...

  • Goss unlikely to risk racing Paris-Roubaix with Giro ambitions

    Goss (Orica GreenEdge) gets warm after the stage
    Article published:
    March 24, 2013, 23:20 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Orica GreenEdge hope unlucky as Howard continues to shine

    Having targeted Gent-Wevelgem for Matt Goss, Orica GreenEdge's one bright spot on the results sheet was Leigh Howard in 25th place, with his compatriot failing to finish in the highly selective race along with the rest of the team.

    In summation, Goss explained that Sunday's shortened 75th edition of Gent-Wevelgem "wasn't an ideal day."

    Caught out on the first ascent of the Kemmel and without a representative in the breakaway, Goss, Howard and Sebastian Langeveld made it back to the front group just ahead of the second ascent but for Goss, the energy expenditure on trying to get back on had come at a cost.

    "I'd thrown away my jacket with all my food in it so I ended up chasing around everyone for food most of the day and I ran out of gas a little bit at the end," he told Cyclingnews.

    "It's always tricky a race like this, especially the way it started with no neutral and the cross-winds," the 26-year-old Tasmanian continued. "Everyone has the same idea. There are 180 bike riders and you have to be in the first 20 or 30 guys there and if you weren't then your race is over pretty much straight away."

    With Grand Tour ambitions again on the horizon for the sprinter, where this year he'll be aiming to add to his two Giro d'Italia stage victories and finally claim his first stage win at the Tour de France, the next steps for Goss need to be carefully considered. Already lucky to escape a more serious injury having crashed in the cold and wet at Milan-San Remo last week, plans to race Paris-Roubaix in a...

  • Perseverance pays off for Sulzberger at Tour de Taiwan

    Finally, Bernie Sulzberger is a winner at 29
    Article published:
    March 25, 2013, 1:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Drapac Professional Cycling claim back-to-back overall titles

    Proving to be one of the most consistent finishers at this year’s Tour de Taiwan, Bernard Sulzberger achieved his greatest victory to date - in what has been an up-and-down few years - to claim the overall title as the bunch rolled across the line of the final day around Taipei City.

    Sulzberger was rarely off the pace during the race and came agonizingly close to taking up a stage win, picking up three podium placings and two additional top-ten results before moving into the lead at the end of Stage 4. The 29-year-old was supported by his powerful Drapac Professional Cycling squad throughout the remaining days before finally allowing himself a sign of relief at the end of the final stage.

    "Great to win Tour of Taiwan, could not of done it with out great team mates support @DrapacCycling #thankstaffthisweekaswell," Sulzberger tweeted.

    "It was a gallant effort from the entire team all week to look after Bernie who has kicked off his 2013 season in great form and started the teams Asia Tour campaign in the best possible way," said a team release.

    Sulzberger’s rolled across the finish line for the final time in Taipei City tucked safely into the bunch on what had been a drizzly day to finish 24-seconds clear of Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay (MTN-Qhubeka) with Stage 1 winner Kirill Pozdnyakov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) a further one-second behind the Australian.

    "This is definitely the biggest win of my career", said Sulzberger. "This is a massive win for myself and for my team that has been 100% committed from when I had the jersey.

    The Tasmanian signed for the Australian Continental squad Drapac Professional Cycling at the end of 2012 after a relatively successful one-year stint in...

  • Van Garderen outshines Evans at Critérium International

    Tejay van Garderen (BMC) had to settle for third overall and best young rider
    Article published:
    March 25, 2013, 3:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC take home third-overall while former winner falters

    BMC's Tejay van Garderen has continued to showcase his talent following his fine fourth-place earlier in the month at Paris-Nice by stepping onto the podium at the Critérium International. The aspiring Tour de France leader finished the race with a 54-second deficit to overall winner Chris Froome who produced an impressive one-two victory for Team Sky with Richie Porte taking second.

    One of the most significant results for the BMC squad was not just van Garderen's but that of last year's overall winner at Critérium International, Cadel Evans, who failed to feature in the general classification standings. Evans would eventually be placed into domestique duties after the time trial and finished nearly 16 minutes down on the overall winner Froome.

    Evans had come into the race with intentions to improve on his disappointing result at Tirreno-Adriatico however, after finishing the Stage 2 time trial in 74th-place it became clear who the team's leader would be on the final day to the summit of the Col d'Ospedale. Such was Evans' performance in the 7km individual test that he failed to beat the time of Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) - who has been struggling to return to form following his fractured pelvis sustained last season.

    For van Garderen, the podium place was just another race ticked-off ahead of his season's biggest objective at the Tour de France. The two-day Critérium International may not have been a huge objective but it was an important one. This would be the first and only time the young American and former Tour winner Evans would race alongside each other before the Grand Départ in...

  • Best friends Froome and Porte one-two at Critérium International

    Chris Froome (Sky) celebrates his stage win
    Article published:
    March 25, 2013, 5:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Paris-Nice winner with no hard feelings after teammate takes overall

    There were no ill feelings in the Team Sky camp at the end of the final day at Critérium International but there could have easily been reason for some post-stage words between Richie Porte and the day's stage Chris Froome. Froome's attack on the day's final climb saw the recent Paris-Nice winner Porte lose out but unlike a certain moment in last year's Tour de France where Froome supposedly attacked Bradley Wiggins, this was all part of the strategy and it was executed to perfection, according to both riders and team director Nicolas Portal.

    Porte begun Stage 3 from Porto-Vecchio to Col de l'Ospedale resplendent in yellow and appeared on track to follow-up from his victory at Paris-Nice however, the Australian would end the day in second-place both on the stage and the final classification after Froome stole the show in the final five kilometers of racing.

    Despite missing out on his second overall victory of the year Porte appeared satisfied with the result. The team walked away with a one-two victory and claimed two of the three stages. The entire race couldn't have gone any better according to eventual winner Froome. A sentiment echoed by his teammate Porte.

    "The stage panned out more or less how we expected. The plan was to control the race throughout the day. It was a huge job and we really put pressure on the other teams," said Froome on his team site.

    "Richie and I didn't have to make any big efforts until right at the end there. The team did that work for us and all we...