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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 8, 2010

Date published:
March 08, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Tough route for Giro Donne

    The competition winners line up for photos : Mara Abbott (Team Columbia) (mountains), Claudia Hausler (Cervelo Test Team) (overall) and Lizzie Armitstead (Lotto Belisol) (young rider)
    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 8:44 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Organisers reveal high-altitude racing for wome's Giro

    The 2010 Giro Donne again looks set to be the toughest stage race in women's cycling with organisers including a high-altitude finish on the Passo Stelvio and other testing stages during ten days of racing.

    The route of the women's equivalent of the Giro d'Italia was recently unveiled by organiser Giuseppe Rivolta, who will have extra organizational support from the newly formed EPINKE ASD Association, which supports and organises women's racing in Italy.

    The route for the ten-day race stays totally in the north of Italy this year, but sweeps from east to west before the central mountain stages and a finish in Monza, north of Milan, with several laps of the Formula 1 racing circuit.

    The race begins in the eastern city of Trieste with a short road stage replacing the usual evening prologue time trial. The 59km stage covers several laps around the Pasta Zara factory in homage to one of women's cycling major sponsors. The finish is in the centre of Trieste and will surely see the sprinters take the first honours and the first maglia rosa of this year's race.

    The Giro Donne heads to northern Veneto for stage two with a 130km stage from Sacile to Riese Pio X, near the heart of the Italian cycling industry. Stage three from Caerano S. Marco to Biadene is a 16.9km individual time trial that will suit the specialists and create the first major shake up of the overall standings.

    The race  heads south towards Rovigo for a sprinters' stage in Lendinara before a transfer west to Novara and stage five between Orta San Giulio and Pettenesco around the Lake Orta shores. Stage six visits the Varese area, near where the Cittiglio World Cup race is held, while stage seven visits the hills near Como, including the legendary Ghisallo, which is likely to split the race, just as it did in 2004 when Nicole Cooke set up overall victory.

    With no rest day during the race, stages eight and nine in the mountains will be especially...

  • Boom surprises himself with Paris-Nice prologue win

    Boom in yellow
    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 10:18 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Dutchman faced nail-biting wait to see if his lead would hold

    No one was more surprised that Lars Boom won the Paris-Nice prologue Sunday than the Rabobank rider himself. “I felt great today, but I must admit this surprised me,” he said, after collecting the first yellow jersey of the French stage-race.

    The 24-year old started about an hour and a half before final rider Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) took off, and his ride was followed by a long and tense wait for him on the Rabobank team bus. “I never counted on it. Yes, I had a good feeling and rode well, and I gave everything,” Boom said on his team's website.

    “But there were so many top guns still to come. The top-five were very good, but to my amazement first place was still a possibility. Jens Voigt came closest, and I was still expecting [Alberto] Contador, [Levi] Leipheimer and Luis Leon [Sanchez]. But all this waiting, I was grinding my teeth.”

    Boom covered the eight kilometre course in 10:56 minutes, one of only two riders to break the 11-minute mark. “I immediately went full out,” he said. “The rhythm was very good.”

    It was the young Dutchman's first win of the year, and his second major win with the Rabobank ProTour team. Last September he won the 15th stage of the Vuelta a España, which “is still very special to me.”

    Despite victory in his national Cyclo-cross Championship in January, Boom's 2010 road season got off to a slow start. However, he said things had begun to turn around at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last weekend.

    “I felt good at Omloop, not really good, but better than before,” Boom said. “That feeling continued [today]. Although, of course, an eight kilometre time trial is something different from a 160 kilometre or more race.”

    Boom will do his best to hold on to the leader's yellow jersey, but knows that his main rivals over the next few days will be the sprinters. The peloton's...

  • Double Olympic champion Lapebie dies aged 93

    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 11:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frenchman finished third in Tour de France

    French cyclist Guy Lapebie has died at the age of 93. He won two Olympic gold medals and finished third in the Tour de France.

    Lapebie won gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin in the 4000m team pursuit and the team road race. He won silver in the individual road race.

    He returned to racing after World War II, winning on both the road and the track. His most successful year was 1948, when he won stage three of the Tour de France and finished third overall. He won another Tour stage in 1949.

    Lapebie concentrated on Six Day races in the late 1940s and 1950s, winning the Six days of Paris and Berlin twice each, as well as the races in Saint-Etienne, Hannover and Berlin.

    His older brother, Roger, won the Tour de France in 1937.

  • Rogers and Cavendish recon Sanremo finale

    Michael Rogers (HTC - Columbia) powers away on Tuscan dirt roads.
    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 11:07 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    HTC tune up for Italian Classic as Rogers builds on strong start

    After finishing Montepaschi Strade Bianche on Saturday HTC-Columbia riders including Michael Rogers and Mark Cavendish began a two-day reconnaissance of the course for this month's Milan-Sanremo.

    Rogers and Cavendish were joined by Marco Pinotti, Bernhard Eisel, Lars Bak and Peter Velits. On Sunday the group rode over the final seventy kilometres of the Milan-Sanremo parcours, and today they plan to ride the crucial three climbs that come before the finish. The two-day excursion will play a key role in Mark Cavendish's defence of his Sanremo crown.

    “It’s just for a bit of refresh on how the race works,” Rogers told Cyclingnews.

    “The majority of the guys here will ride Sanremo. Most of the guys from Tirreno will ride Sanremo in fact; it’s an ideal kind of lead up.”

    Although Cavendish won Sanremo in a thrilling sprint last spring, much of the work in the lead-up was done by his Columbia teammates, who kept the bunch together in the event's latter stages. Many of the riders in that successful combination have since left the team, with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lövkvist, George Hincapie, and Michael Barry switching squads, while Mark Renshaw is ruled out this year through illness, leaving Columbia with a new line-up for this year’s race.

    “We haven’t really talked about specific roles yet,” Rogers added. “We’ll do that after Tirrreno. We don’t have the big names from last year, but I believe that everyone is at a good level and if we can ride with a specific goal and everyone accomplishes that then we can get it down to a sprint where Cav can do his thing.”

    With Rogers’ proven endurance and ability to ride tempo on the climbs he could be a valuable ally for Cavendish on the late-race ascents of the Cipressa and Poggio, where peloton-splitting attacks often take place.

    “I may have to wait...

  • Millar bounces back in Paris

    David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) rolls down the start
    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 11:58 GMT
    Jonathan S. Brand

    Garmin rider pleased with return to form in tricky Paris-Nice prologue

    In his last time trial, the fifth and final stage of February’s Vuelta ao Algarve, David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) crashed hard on a turn, took himself out of contention and ended the race on a sour note.

    On Sunday, rested and recovered, the British rider returned to form in the Paris-Nice prologue, where he finished seventh, just 11 seconds off the pace set by surprise stage winner Lars Boom (Rabobank).

    Battling freezing temperatures and high winds in Montfort L’Amaury, a small village 20 kilometres south-west of Paris, the 2007 Paris-Nice prologue winner took off in the late afternoon and came across the line in the top-five, only to be bumped back by superior efforts from Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) and Jens Voigt (SaxoBank).

    "It was all about pacing today because of the course. We had real cobbles, which are really tough on a time trial bike, and then the last part was uphill into the headwind," he said.

    The cobbles, which came just after an uphill start and lasted for approximately 200 metres, were one of the wrinkles thrown in by the race organizers for the prologue, perhaps as a nod to the upcoming Classics season.

    "It was really like the Classics today," said Millar. "And you see the results of the Classics, too, with the big boys like Lars [Boom] and Jens finishing high."

    But Millar’s performance today showed that he too can hang with the peloton’s best, in any condition, and have fun doing it.

    He was particularly struck by the layout of the course, which started at the base of Montfort L’Amaury, went up the Category 3 climb of Côte de Boursouffle and then finished with a small uphill gradient at the top of the town.

    "I really enjoyed it today, it was a beautiful race compared to the...

  • Armstrong may add Sarthe to race schedule

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) time trials to an 8th place finish.
    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 13:07 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    RadioShack prepare to tweak pre-Tour calendar after Murcia performance

    Lance Armstrong may add the four-day Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire to his pre-Tour de France race calendar, after he recorded a seventh-placed finish at the Vuelta a Murcia on Sunday.

    “Worried would be too strong of a word. I'm aware of [my performance in Murcia], but not too stressed,” Armstrong told AP.

    The 38-year-old is looking to win his eighth Tour de France this summer. In Murcia, he finished seventh overall, 1:23 down on winner Frantisek Rabon (Team HTC - Columbia).

    The RadioShack rider also finished 33 seconds adrift of Tour rival Bradley Wiggins (Sky), losing much of his eventual deficit in the race's stage four time trial. “My position on the bike was good, but the power was not,” he said.

    RadioShack Team Manager Johan Bruyneel said that Armstrong would probably add another race to his schedule in order to hone his form for July. However, the Belgian also indicated that relative to Armstrong's past performances in Murcia, there were positives to be drawn.

    “In Lance's case, he needs more competition. His physical fitness overall is okay, but he just needs to get the speed and acceleration," said Bruyneel. "Looking at the Vuelta a Murcia in the past, he’s probably a bit ahead of what he was then.”

    Armstrong's additional race may be the Sarthe-Pays de la Loire from April 6-9. It would be the second time he will have competed in the event. He finished 25th overall in his previous participation, in 2001.

    His next race this season is expected to be Milano-Sanremo, on March 20.

    Armstrong will fly this week to South Africa for a charity race this weekend. He hopes to meet there with Nelson Mandela, calling it...

  • Henderson rules in Contres

    Greg Henderson (Sky) wins stage 1
    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 17:46 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Sky continue successful season at Paris-Nice

    Greg Henderson (Team Sky) described the opening sprint in Paris-Nice as a “slow motion” finish but there has been nothing slow about his season so far, with the sprinter picking up his third win of the year today in Contres, France.

    Today’s result came after a hard day of racing in winds with many crashes and a fifteen-man split in which many of the favourites lost time.

    “I took the first win for Team Sky [the Down Under classic in Adelaide preceding the Tour Down Under] but it’s even more beautiful to win for Sky in France. Paris-Nice is such a prestigious race,” Henderson said after the podium ceremony.

    “I don’t know what gear I had for the finish, probably 52x12, but it felt so big. I was lucky enough to be in the front. When I saw the move from Caisse d’Epargne and the yellow jersey [Lars Boom] jumping, I fortunately had the legs to go across with 15km to go. I also had the legs to win the sprint.”

    Henderson enjoyed his third win for this year. However today’s victory marked his first UCI win - the Bay Crits in Melbourne and the Down Under criterium are not on the international calendar.

    The 33-year-old is obviously a pro in form but his progression as a sprinter over the last few years has taken time. He had to wait until his thirties before he started winning at the highest level, after he bagged a stage in the Vuelta last year. Now he knows no objective is too high for him in the world of the sprinters.

    The Tour Down Under left him a taste of unfinished business as he came twice second, including on the last day behind his Australian teammate Chris Sutton who was leading out the sprint for him but stayed ahead on the finishing line.

    That led Henderson to comment on twitter: “ouch. just been informed if I won 2day I would have been 2nd overall at TDU. Takes a little of the gloss off to be honest.”

    In the lead group...

  • Vacansoleil and Skil-Shimano mark each other

    Brice Feillu looking chippper before the start.
    Article published:
    March 08, 2010, 18:16 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Dutch squads attack at Paris-Nice as fight for Tour wild cards heats up

    Dutch teams Vacansoleil and Skil-Shimano have shown that hunting season is well and truly open as Pro Continental teams chase a wild card invitation to the Tour de France.

    It took little more than three kilometres in the opening road stage of Paris-Nice on Monday before a rider from Vacansoleil, Romain Feillu, attacked. The Frenchman, who was riding on roads close to Vendôme where he grew up, was quickly joined in the escape by Albert Timmer from Skil-Shimano.

    The two Dutch squads are candidates for an invitation to ride the 2010 Tour de France, a race that will start in their home country, in Rotterdam on July 3. While Skil-Shimano will benefit from the positive precedent set at their debut Tour participation in 2009, Vacansoleil will rely heavily on their recruitment of the Feillu brothers - Romain and 2009 Tour de France stage winner, Brice - to seduce the race organisers.

    "There’s nothing going on between our two teams," said Iwan Spekenbrink, Team Manager of Skil-Shimano. "But it’s not a coincidence that we’ve seen these two teams on the attack today: we have the same objective. We both want to attack for the same reason."

    Timmer denied he went to the front to simply prevent Vacansoleil from reaping maximum exposure from the escape attempt. "The first attack was a good one," he said. "I saw Romain [Feillu] going and nobody followed him, so I went as well. 140 out of the 150 kilometres we rode in the front were with tail wind. We talked and worked well together. If it was a rider from another team, I would have gone as well. It was my duty to go on the attack today."

    "Everytime there is a Vacansoleil and a Skil-Shimano rider in the front of a race, of course, the selection for the Tour de France is in our mind," said Romain...