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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 26, 2012

Date published:
March 26, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Video: On the startline of Gent-Wevelgem with Mark Cavendish

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) before the start of Gent-Wevelgem.
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 12:07 BST
    Daniel Benson

    World champion aiming to bounce back from Milan-San Remo

    Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) has a strong chance of making history and becoming the first British rider since Barry Hoban in 1974 to win Gent-Wevelgem. On the start line in Deinze he talked about his childhood memories of watching the race on television, adding that this is one of the most historic races any rider can win.

    Cavendish will be hoping that the race stays together and that a sprint will decide the outcome. He’s not the only sprinter in the race with those aspirations but Cavendish’s condition will be key to his chances.

    After an off-day in Milan-San Remo and a crash in Dwars door Vlaanderen – which he is still feeling the effects of – Gent-Wevelgem will be another true test of the World champion’s credentials.


  • Video: On the startline of Gent-Wevelgem with Taylor Phinney

    American Taylor Phinney (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 13:01 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American BMC starlet lines-up for semi-classic

    Having missed the entire Classics campaign in 2011 through injury, Taylor Phinney (BMC) was amongst the starters at Gent-Wevelgem.

    The second-year pro has been earmarked as a Classics star of the future, having won the under-23 Paris-Roubaix twice in his early years.

    Now with BMC, Phinney has a number of Classics stars to look to for guidance but today he’s aiming to remain at the front, and possible slip away in an early break.

    In this exclusive video with Cyclingnews he also talks about the possibility of being a leadout man for Thor Hushovd should be survive until the final stages of the race.


  • Gent-Wevelgem: Kemmelberg descent leaves Cavendish disappointed

    Mark Cavendish (Sky) enjoys racing in Belgium.
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 17:45 BST
    Daniel Benson

    World champion gapped off, finishes out of contention

    Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) will have to wait another year before he gets a chance to win Gent-Wevelgem. For the second year in a row the British rider was ruled out of contention before the sprint, but unlike last year when a crash put paid to his chances, this time he was distanced on the descent of the Kemmelberg.

    At the finish in Wevelgem Cavendish said that it wasn’t a matter of poor legs but that a rider ahead of him couldn't hold on, creating a gap that became insurmountable in the closing stages of the race. Having crested the top of the Kemmelberg in the top 30 riders today’s result will be seen as missed opportunity for the Sky leader.

    “It’s just that usual thing. You happen to be on the one wheel that loses a wheel in front,” he told reporters at the finish.

    “We turned left on the descent of the Kemmel and it was one line. It wasn’t that hard to be honest but when you’re head down it’s quickly 30 meters and you can’t get across.”

    “It would have been better to be nearly the front but I was in the top 25 and thought I was laughing but next time I’ll have to be top 10.”

    Cavendish’s group were just 25 seconds down on a group that included eventual winner Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma QuickStep), Peter Sagan (Liquigas) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack) but with no assistance from other teams the advantage quickly grew to over a minute.

    There was a brief show of defiance as Cavendish attacked in the closing kilometres but by then the race was already lost and the world champion must now focus on the rest of his season’s targets.

    Scheldeprijs is a provisional date in the calendar but his defense of last...

  • Cancellara tests recovery at Gent-Wevelgem

    Eyes on the prize: Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) can lay down a marker at E3 Harelbeke.
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 18:38 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Swiss rider ready for Flanders passion play

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) delivered yet another show of force at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday but again came away empty-handed as Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) triumphed in the group sprint in Wevelgem.

    The Swiss rider flexed his muscles on the final climb of the Monteberg, powering up to the remnants of the early break in the company of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). Boonen kept a watching brief, however, and after his teammates helped to bring back Cancellara's group with a little over 20km to go, he showed the greatest nous in the finale to take his second consecutive victory in the race.

    "I had something in mind to see how the legs are and to see if on this really special parcours today if everything could split up a bit," Cancellara said of his sortie as he emerged from the RadioShack-Nissan team bus to talk to reporters at the finish.

    Cancellara had made a similar attempt to put the cat amongst the pigeons at E3 Prijs Harelbeke on Friday, but his rally was undone by a puncture and then a crash. Gent-Wevelgem's less selective finale meant that it was always going to be a big ask for Cancellara to make his latest move stick, and his main intention seemed to be to gauge his recovery ahead of the Tour of Flanders.

    "I think for sure it's ok. I had good treatments, they took really good care of me," said Cancellara, who also praised the efforts of teammates Daniel Bennati and Tony Gallopin. "The team was more ready than in Harelbeke. Besides Daniele's puncture, we had a bit more luck and I think that's the way to build up to next...

  • Sagan shows off twin talents at Gent-Wevelgem

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 20:15 BST
    Barry Ryan

    First classics podium place for Slovak

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) showed off his twin talents as a strongman and a sprinter en route to second place at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. After a breakaway attempt in the company of Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) was snuffed out, he simply dusted himself down and went toe to toe with winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in the finishing straight.

    Slugging it out with Classics royalty at the tender age of 22 augurs well for Sagan’s future as a contender on the cobbles, but the Slovak may also be left wondering if his rally off the front cost him the energy that might otherwise have brought him a maiden Classics victory.

    Sagan was the quickest to react when Cancellara tested the waters with by accelerating over the top of the final climb of the Monteberg, with 33km still to race.

    "After the last time we did the Kemmelberg, I tried to get away in a break with Cancellara," he said, as though hitching a ride with the Swiss locomotive were as straightforward as catching a bus.

    Indeed, Sagan did far more than just jump aboard, and his consistent turns on the front helped them push clear of the group of favourites. After Milan-San Remo last weekend, Cancellara will surely have been pleased to have found so willing an accomplice but the pair ultimately had few collaborators when they bridged across to the stragglers from the day’s early break.

    "As you saw they didn’t want to pull with us, and a group came back on behind," said Sagan, who then returned to the role of sprinter when they were swallowed up with a little over 20km to go. Although well piloted by Daniel Oss in the finale, Sagan had to be content with second place behind Boonen, who judged his effort best into the headwind in the finishing straight.

  • Freire left empty handed in Gent-Wevelgem

    Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team)
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 21:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Spanish sprinter takes fourth in finale

    For the second time in a less than a week Oscar Freire (Team Katusha) was left frustrated in a bunch sprint finish, taking 4th place in Gent-Wevelgem. Three days prior to today’s result, the Spaniard had come out second best to Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma QuickStep) in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke and once again it was the Belgian who made the trip to the top step of the podium in Wevelgem.

    And just as in Harelbeke, Freire was a victim of his own mistimed sprint. In E3 he had left it too late before a final surge for the line almost had Boonen relegated to second.

    This time around Freire was too aggressive, jumping out from the wheel of Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) in the final 200 meters but tiring in the headwind finish. Boonen came through for the win with Peter Sagan (Liqugas-Cannondale) and Matti Breschel (Rabobank) picking up the final podium places.

    “There was a lot of headwind. I was in front and started to sprint but from too far out,” he said at the finish.

    “Today I didn’t have really good legs like two days ago.”

    “Boonen was strong and raced really well. He and his team saved a lot of energy and in the end he was the strongest but did my best today, I just couldn’t win.”


  • Boonen: Cancellara is the man to beat in Flanders and Roubaix

    Tom Boonen holds up the trophy from Gent-Wevelgem
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 22:00 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian wins Gent-Wevelgem but says rival is the favourite

    At the end of the 74th edition of Gent-Wevelgem the flowers were once again awarded to Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), just as they had been in Friday’s E3-Prijs Harelbeke. The 2005 world champion continues his impressive demonstration of form and confidence which started early this season in Argentina’s Tour de San Luis.

    In contrast to the superhuman Boonen from 2005-2006 this version is one is more economical. Despite winning two classics in a row he didn’t waste too much energy and now arrives fresh at the most important cobbled classics, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    Top favorite for the win in Gent-Wevelgem was world champion Mark Cavendish (Team Sky). Many sprinters have put their name on the illustrious palmarès of Gent-Wevelgem with former sprint legend Mario Cippolini being a triple winner. Despite being regarded as the fastest man in the peloton Cavendish hasn’t been able to leave his mark on the race in the last couple of years. For men like Boonen it was their primary task to keep the Manx Express at a distance after the race’s hilly zone which ends 30 kilometers from Wevelgem.

    At the start Boonen already had a plan in mind to maneuver the race in his direction and hold off Cavendish. “I’ve got a plan but I’m not going to tell it. What I can say is that one of the factors will be the distance. Quite often it is hard for riders to come back to the front once they get dropped,” Boonen said.

    Six hours later it was clear Boonen’s plan had succeeded.

    “I was good but not completely recovered from Friday [E3-Prijs Harelbeke]," Boonen continued. "With the Kemmelberg being so...

  • White left with mixed emotions over GreenEdge's Gent-Wevelgem result

    Matthew Goss (GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    March 26, 2012, 0:08 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Goss cruises but left rueing "messy sprint"

    GreenEdge may have missed out on the win at Gent-Wevelgem with Matthew Goss finishing 12th in the bunch sprint but team manager Matt White praised the team's commitment and efforts in the race.

    Coming into the race Goss was one of a handful of sprinters with a genuine shot at victory. Having come 3rd in 2009 and with his form steadily improving the Australian told Cyclingnews on the eve of the race that he was confident of picking up his first win of the season.

    The Australian WorldTour team were the first squad to take control of the race with team captain Stuart O'Grady marshalling the team on the early climbs. Their efforts were enough to splinter the peloton, and along with Sky - who were working for Mark Cavendish - they controlled the race before the first trip up the Kemmelberg.

    Once the race eventually split on the second ascent of the climb Goss was strong enough to make the lead group and with Sebastian Langeveld the pair geared up the sprint. However with a tricky headwind, a crash and a number of riders in unfamiliar surroundings in the sprint and alleged punches thrown it became an unpredictable battle in the closing kilometre.

    "It was a messy sprint but Gossy was cruising today," White told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    "We saw on all the climbs that he was the 5th or 6th guy over the Kemmelberg, both times, so although the result is disappointing I'm really pleased with how the team rode today. They took race by the scruff of the neck and everything went right until 400 meters to go but that's sprinting."

    "It was a messy sprint, and there were a few guys hitting each other. One rider punched a guy from Vacansoleil with 400 meters to go. Goss was sandwiched between Boasson...