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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 31, 2014

Date published:
March 31, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Late crash ends Greipel's hopes at Gent-Wevelgem

    A frustrating end to Gent-Wevelgem for German champion Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) who crashed with 8km remaining.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 19:45 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Broken collarbone rules German out of Flanders and Roubaix

    The dashboard cameras at Gent-Wevelgem were designed to add colour to the television coverage by capturing the animated instructions of directeurs sportifs, but in the end it was the impassive face of André Greipel that left the day's most lasting impression.

    On the run-in to the finish, Greipel must already have been picturing himself atop the podium. He had comfortably survived the final cull on the Kemmelberg and still had four Lotto-Belisol teammates for company in the 50-strong leading group as it trundled towards Wevelgem.

    The terrible beauty of the Classics is that nothing is ever certain, however, and Greipel was felled in what seemed the most innocuous of circumstances, hitting the ground when Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) crashed in front of him with 8 kilometres to go. Immediately, it was clear that his race was over. Soon afterwards, it was apparent that his Classics campaign was, too – Greipel sustained a suspected broken collarbone in the crash.

    Greipel was helped into the passenger seat of the team car, where he sat devoid of expression, still wearing his helmet. "Just take me to the finish, please," Greipel said quietly when told that he needed to go to the hospital. Later, the dashboard camera showed Greipel's disappointed reaction as his fellow countryman John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) claimed victory in the sprint. "It's not normal. F**k," he said, to himself as much as to directeur sportif Herman Frisson, who drove on wordlessly.

    The mood was sombre, too, at the Lotto-Belisol team bus past the finish line, where there was a metaphorical drawing down of blinds. After Greipel climbed aboard, team manager Marc Sergeant emerged to confirm that his spring Classics campaign was at an end. "His collarbone is definitely broken, it's swollen up like this," Sergeant told...

  • Démare satisfied with Gent-Wevelgem podium result

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won a tight final sprint at Gent-Wevelgem ahead of Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 20:30 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Young Frenchman gets confidence boost ahead of Flanders, Roubaix

    A sprinter is never content with a second place finish, but almost an hour after the end of Gent-Wevelgem, Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) was beginning to put his second place finish into perspective.

    By that point, Démare had been through the podium ceremonies and a series of television interviews by the finishing line, and he had time to mull over his narrow defeat to John Degenkolb. As he soft-pedalled alone towards his team bus, Démare told Cyclingnews that the glass was half-full rather than half-empty.

    "I'm very happy because second place in Gent-Wevelgem isn't nothing," Démare said. "I'm very satisfied even if there's also a little bit of frustration because you can never be happy when you finish second. Still, I'm happy with my form and I'm happy with the team, who did great work."

    On Vanackerestraat, a pair of well-lubricated locals – their glasses completely empty but doubtless soon to be refilled – did a double take and shouted out Démare's name in recognition as he passed.

    "There were still some very good sprinters in there at the end, so I was pretty wary," Démare said of the sprint, where – like Degenkolb – he delayed his effort until the last possible moment.

    "Still, I had good legs and I believed: a sprinter always believes in his chances until he crosses the line. The circumstances played out the way they did, but I believed right until the end."

    Such was the tumult in the finale that Démare had no idea that André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) had been forced out by a crash with 8 kilometres to go. "Really? I didn't know that, I'm just...

  • Boonen denied fourth Gent-Wevelgem win in chaotic finale

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma Quick Step)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 21:15 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian frustrated with 5th place finish

    A very frustrated Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) crossed the finish line in Wevelgem after finishing fifth in the bunch sprint at Gent-Wevelgem. Boonen missed the chance to win the race for a record fourth time, concluding a miserable week in which he had to deal with the aftermath of the miscarriage of his partner Lore and an injured thumb due to a crash at Friday's E3 Harelbeke.

    Boonen featured in the large group that entered the final kilometre and was in the company of several teammates, including Zdenek Stybar and Matteo Trentin. At 450 metres to go several riders crashed as the pack swerved from right to left. As a result Boonen and his teammates got boxed in, lost momentum and saw the top-3 speeding away.

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) sprinted to his first win in Wevelgem ahead of Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Boonen didn't sit up after losing speed and fought back to a fifth place just behind compatriot Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin).

    It's not often the Belgian star shows his disappointment about a lost sprint and the scene after the finish line was punctuated by a loud, four-lettered expletive from Boonen who then headed for the team bus. Shortly after Boonen headed back out on his bike and rode to the nearby Kennedy hotel.

    Director sportif Wilfried Peeters acknowledged that Boonen not often shows his disappointment.

    "No, it's really exceptional. It's a long time since I've seen such a disappointed Tom Boonen," said Peeters. "Much more was possible but it's a positive stimulant for next week.

    ...
  • Bad day for Team Sky at Gent-Wevelgem

    Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 22:00 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Stannard and Sutton off to hospital

    Gent-Wevelgem proved to be a tough day out for Team Sky as almost all of their riders were involved in a crash at some point during the race's 233 kilometres, with only Luke Rowe managing to keep his nose clean until the finish.

    At the team bus, team directeur Servais Knaven was at a loss to explain why there had been so many tangles in the bunch. "It's hard to explain. I think it was a pretty easy race and everybody is pretty fresh and everybody's really nervous for all the important moments. Everybody is fighting for a spot and trying to move up, which makes it really dangerous at some moments."

    Of the team's eight riders, Ian Stannard and Chris Sutton came off the worst in the various dices on the cobbles. Stannard was launched into a ditch with 67 kilometres to the finish, after what looked like a touch of wheels. But for his bike lying prone on the tarmac it would have been easy to miss him. He was eventually assisted out of the grassy ditch by his team and, unsurprisingly, abandoned the race. It is the second race in a row that Stannard has had to take an early leave. The Brit also took a tumble at Friday's E3 Harelbeke and hit his head. It remains to be seen what effect these crashes have on the rest of his Classics campaign.

    Sutton was felled around 25 kilometres after Stannard, coming down with Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida). The Australian was on the ground for some time and soon followed his teammate to the hospital. The team has yet to announce the full extent of either riders' injuries.

    Geraint Thomas looked like he might be able to salvage something from the wreckage, as he hung onto the lead group. However, with around eight...

  • Sagan pleased with Gent-Wevelgem performance

    Peter Sagan congratulates John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) for his Gent-Wevelgem victory
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 22:41 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Slovak follows E3 win with 3rd in Wevelgem

    Before the start of Gent-Wevelgem, Cannondale manager Roberto Amadrio noted wryly that, much like Mark Cavendish, it is almost as though Peter Sagan can now only lose races, such is the weight of expectation heaped upon him, and he pleaded for some restraint when it came to judging the 24-year-old's performances.

    Afterwards, Sagan showed that his own sense of perspective, at least, remains very much intact when he declared himself pleased with his third place finish behind winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) after a keenly-contested bunch sprint.

    Sagan admitted that he had opened his sprint a little too early in the finishing straight on Menenstraat, but after banking an intelligent victory at E3 Harelbeke on Friday, no rider can come away from the first of three successive weekends on the cobbles more pleased than the Slovak champion.

    "I think today it was important not to fall and then I managed to do a good sprint with good sensations but I went early and Degenkolb was on my wheel, I think," Sagan said afterwards. "It was just us and Giant who were pulling together [to bring back Stijn Devolder's late move]. Third is a good result and I think I can be happy with that."

    Seven days ago, Sagan faced some criticism after he could only manage 10th place in the group sprint at the end of Milan-San Remo, where Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) emerged victorious. No two races are ever the same, however, and this time around, it was Kristoff who faded to 11th, having mistimed his effort.

    "Kristoff won San Remo but he started the sprint too early today and he stopped...

  • Sky meeting soon to decide on Porte's Giro participation

    Richie Porte (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 23:50 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Australian still due to ride Trentino prior to Giro d'Italia

    Team Sky management have said that for now Richie Porte will continue to lead the British team at the Giro d'Italia but that a definitive decision will be reached within the next ten days.

    A report in the Sidney Morning Herald last week said that Porte's possible Giro participation was "under a cloud" after the Tasmanian-born rider suffered from gastroenteritis in Tirreno-Adriatico, abandoning on stage five, then quit the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya mid-way through stage two.

    "It has compromised my Giro preparation," Porte told The Sydney Morning Herald, "I'm not sure. I will have to make a decision with David Brailsford and Tim Kerrison."

    Cyclingnews spoke to Dario Cioni, set to direct Team Sky at the Giro, before the start of Sunday's stage seven of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya to obtain an update about Porte's situation vis-a-vis the Giro. Porte is due to lead Team Sky for the first time in a Grand Tour at the Giro before going on to play a support role in the Tour de France for Chris Froome.

    "As always we will be previewing and reviewing the situation, it's in constant motion, and next week we will sit down as a group, us coaches, to assess where we are. Of course our goal is to keep the rider in the best condition possible," Cioni told Cyclingnews.

    Asked to be a little more specific, Cioni said "Abandoning a race is never ideal and for Richie, at Tirreno he showed he was where he needed to be because he rode hard on the first tough mountain stage and got back up to Alberto (Contador - Tinkoff-Saxo, when...

  • Breschel happy with Gent-Wevelgem performance

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) in action at Gent-Wevelgem
    Article published:
    March 31, 2014, 2:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé & Sadhbh O'Shea

    Dane recovered from being hit by a mattress

    After a solid performance in Sunday's Gent-Wevelgem, Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) is feeling confident that he will soon be back in form.

    The Dane crashed at the Tour of Oman, leaving him with serious injuries. He came back at Paris-Nice, but eventually abandoned on stage four. Breschel was able to stay with the group of favourites until the second ascent of the Kemmelberg and rolled in only 27 seconds back on the leading group.

    "I'm better now. I am happy to be back. It is my first race quitting Paris-Nice, so my hand today was a big problem for a long time, but now it's ok," he told Cyclingnews at the finish. "The legs were ok, I felt that I missed a few races so after Kemmel I thought that maybe I could try and do something, but then after 200km I cracked. I need the races, but hopefully I can get some motor pacing this week and be a little bit better."

    Breschel will not race until the Tour of Flanders in a week's time, but will stay in Belgium as he continues to build his form. He is still suffering the effects of the crash at the end of February, but Breschel believes that he can make enough progress in the coming days to put in a solid performance at de Ronde.

    "A lot of things can happen in a week. As long as you train well during the winter, it's sometimes easy to come back. Of course, realistically, I'm probably not up there for the victory. I hope I can do a result and something to be proud of."

    As accidents go, Breschel probably suffered one of the odder ones to have ever occurred to a professional cyclist. The Danish rider was

  • Bad luck ruins Goss' Wevelgem bid

    Matt Goss has Gent-Wevelgem in mind.
    Article published:
    March 31, 2014, 3:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Australian challenged by allergies, crashes and change of bike

    At the Belgian one-day classic Gent-Wevelgem, sprinter Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) was pursuing his first European win of the season. As if it was a bad comical movie, Goss was unfortunate twice. First the 27-year-old Australian had to jump on a much bigger bike on the steep cobbled Kemmelberg climb after being hit by Spanish sprinter Francisco Ventoso (Movistar). Then a team-mate lost his Ventolin pump which he needed against his allergies. Goss didn't finish the race.

    "There was plenty of crashes and plenty of action to watch on TV I guess but it wasn't our best day. [...] There was a crash through the feed zone where Ventoso crashed right next to me," Goss said. Goss said he realised that the Spaniard hit his bike but not that he wrecked his rear derailleur.

    "We hit the Kemmelberg the first lap and I put it on the small gear. He obviously hit my rear derailleur and ripped it straight off. Unfortunately it was the only part of the race where the cars don't follow. I jumped on [Michael] Hepburn's bike which is a little bit big you can say," Goss smiled about the uncomfortable position he was in.

    Team cars are not allowed on the steep cobbled climb since several serious crashes marred the passage over the Kemmelberg. Goss rode the bike over the Kemmelberg and when arriving back at the foot of the Belgian climb he found the team car and a spare bike that fitted him better. Goss explained that he was way back at that point and wasted a lot of energy in chasing the pack.

    TV-cameras then showed Goss in difficulties at the back of the peloton but that was caused by allergies. Luck wasn't on his side as...