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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, May 12, 2014

Date published:
May 12, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Matthews remains in Giro d'Italia lead despite crash

    Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    May 11, 2014, 21:28 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Australian will now lead race on return to Italy

    Michael Matthews' first full day in the pink jersey of Giro d'Italia leader was hardly uneventful, after he was entangled in a crash with 80 kilometres to go and then had to handle a split in the peloton in a very technical final kilometre. 

    In both situations the Orica-GreenEdge pro came through well, finally crossing the line 16th of the 32 riders in the front segment of the bunch. His lead on Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) of eight seconds remains intact, although the veteran Italian is now second overall after Matthews teammates did not find themselves on the right side of the split in the finish.

    "The crash happened with about 80 kilometres to go when the road went from three lanes to two lanes," Matthews commented in a press conference. "The guys started moving around, things got a bit hectic because the wind was starting to pick up."

    "Unfortunately I was just behind it [the crash] and I ended up over the top of it."

    For most of the rest of the day, he was able to enjoy wearing his pink leader’s jersey and show it off to the crowds in slightly better weather than on stage two. "They were amazing, everybody was screaming for me. And I'm so happy I will be wearing the leader's jersey when the Giro reaches Italy on Tuesday."

    Asked what he thought of his chances of outpowering Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) in the bunch sprints to come, if - following his strong defence of his lead during Sunday’s stage - there had been any rising speculation that Matthews might at some point be able to outgun the German, the former U-23 World Champion was quick to puncture it.

    "When it starts to get a bit hilly it may take away a bit of his top end power, but on a flat stage he's pretty unbeatable at the moment. He's the fastest man in the world," Matthews said...

  • Giro d'Italia: Swift looks to hillier stages to unseat Kittel

    Ben Swift (Team Sky) lunges for the line
    Article published:
    May 11, 2014, 21:52 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sky rider takes second place in Dublin

    Nothing to be done. When Ben Swift looks back over the finale of stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia in Dublin, he will find little cause for recrimination. The Sky man hit all of his lines but simply came up against a virtuoso performance from Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

    After drawing the benefits of the Cannondale train’s efforts in the final two kilometres, Swift’s teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen hit the front on the last chicane into Merrion Square and strung out the bunch still further as the drag to the line began to bite

    Swift, meanwhile, was tucked in third wheel, just behind Elia Viviani (Cannondale), and once Boasson Hagen swung over, he opened the throttle and moved clear. With Kittel lagging in tenth position and seemingly out the running, the scene was set for Swift and he looked to have timed his effort well. Certainly, he didn’t seem to tie up in the closing metres, but even so, he was overhauled at the death by Kittel, who had somehow retrieved the situation in the final 150 metres. Nothing to be done.

    Even after coming so close to landing the win, Swift was admirably sanguine about his performance when he spoke to reporters immediately on crossing the line. “I’m pretty happy,” he said. “Obviously it would have been nice to win. To lose so close to the line… It just shows how quickly he was coming because he beat me by almost a bike length in the end.”

    Bernhard Eisel was the man charged with shadowing Swift through an often rainswept stage that brought the Giro peloton from Armagh and through County Louth before finishing in the Irish capital. Once in the streets of Dublin, where, mercifully, the rain had held off, it was Boasson Hagen who piloted Swift to the front.

    “The guys did an absolutely brilliant job, Bernie was protecting me all...

  • Urán heads GC contenders as Giro d'Italia returns to Italy

    Is Purito letting Rigoberto Uran know where he's going to attack on the Zoncolan?
    Article published:
    May 11, 2014, 22:13 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    2013 Giro runner-up lying ninth overall

    Rigobert Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) will sit on the Giro d’Italia’s transfer flight back to Italy on Monday as the best-placed contender for the general classification. A very encouraging start for the Colombian, then, who finished second in the Giro d’Italia last year and whose maiden experience as sole gc leader for a top team in a Grand Tour could not have got off to a better start.

    “It’s all going very well, particularly thanks to the team time trial,” Urán said to a small group of reporters at the stage three start - which he completed lying ninth overall, at 19 seconds on Giro leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE). “So for the moment it’s all going as well as can be expected.”

    He was adamant that it was no real shock that Omega Pharma-Quick Step could do so well against their rivals in the team time trial - finishing second, two seconds up on BMC Racing and an impressive 50 seconds clear of Movistar and Nairo Quintana - pointing out that “we’ve won the World Team Time Trial Championships for two years running.”

    “Perhaps getting such a big difference was a little bit of a surprise, but we were very mentalized to do as well as possible. It’s a good advantage and the idea is to keep it for as long as possible.”

    The persistent rain in Ireland, he said, had not been a major issue for him - and indeed in last year’s Giro, which was affected by very bad weather, Urán had no problems whatsoever.

    “This is the Giro d’Italia, it’s what you expect. I think if it’s tough, it’s tough for everybody, particularly the mechanics and hopefully it’ll get better in Italy.”

    “I’ve ridden four Giros, and three of them have started in...

  • Viviani: I thought I was in a head-to-head with Swift

    Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) beat Swift and Viviani to the line
    Article published:
    May 12, 2014, 1:45 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Little to be done against Kittel, says Italian

    Bunch finishes at the Giro d'Italia are frenetic affairs and the post-race declarations are often every bit as heated as the sprints themselves, but there has been precious little polemica about the two road stages to date –— Marcel Kittel's superiority has brooked no argument.

    For the second day running, Elia Viviani (Cannondale) had a close-up view of Kittel's force in the finishing straight. After taking fourth place in Belfast on Saturday, he moved up to third in Dublin, but he admitted afterwards that there was nothing he could have done to deny Kittel.

    "I gave 100 percent like my team but unfortunately against this Kittel, there wasn't much to do," Viviani said. "The final kilometres were very technical and my teammates managed the sprint perfectly. They did exceptional work and I'm just sorry that I couldn't finish it off."

    While Kittel's lead-out train was partially derailed in the technical run-in to the finish, the lime green jerseys of Cannondale commanded affairs at the front of the bunch, and Viviani entered the final 200 metres in between Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen and Ben Swift.

    When Boasson Hagen swung off, Viviani and Swift fanned across the road and looked set to contest the win, only for Kittel — who was almost ten places back entering the finishing straight — to emerge from the swirl of bikes behind and sweep past them within sight of the line.

    "When the sprint was launched with Swift, I though we were in a head to head and then I saw Kittel come past," Viviani said. "He came past at twice my speed. Like yesterday, in those last 150 metres, he's intimidating. But...

  • Danielson hopes for a third podium finish at the Tour of California

    Tom Danielson still has dreams of a top five finish in a grand tour
    Article published:
    May 12, 2014, 3:00 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    American recovered from recent staph infection

    American Tom Danielson has been on the podium at the Tour of California twice, and he's hoping to make it a third on May 18 in Thousand Oaks. He may not be the main race favorite for the overall title, but he's optimistic that he could show strength in the event's key stages.

    The Garmin-Sharp rider is feeling recovered from a recent patella tendon injury and staph infection suffered just a few weeks ago. He also says that he's begun the process of moving forward from USADA's Reasoned Decision that was made public at the end of 2012, in which he provided testimony about past doping practices, allowing him to focus more on his job this year.

    "I would really like to ride well here," Danielson told Cyclingnews. "I was on the podium during the last two years and would like to be there again. Many riders go through problems with injuries, illness and stuff, we just have to manage everything the best we can. I've come here in the best form that I could, considering."

    Danielson came into the season targeting the Volta Ciclista a Cataluyna and Pais Vasco in March and April, however an injury to his patella forced him to take some time off. He later wound up with a staph infection via an open wound sustained during training camp in Spain's Sierra Nevada range.

    "My immune system might have been down from training," Danielson said. "I probably got it from the complex I was staying at. I got sick but kept training. The Tour of California [overall] was a big target of mine. I was focused on doing really well, but I was thrown a curve ball with the staph infection. I had to take a lot of antibiotics to treat it, but since...

  • Tao Geoghegan Hart nets young rider jersey in California

    Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell) goes into stage 2 wearing the best young rider jersey
    Article published:
    May 12, 2014, 3:50 BST
    Pat Malach

    Youngest rider in the race enjoyed his day in the breakaway

    Bissell Development Team's Tao Geoghegan Hart, a UK rider who only recently turned 19, spent the majority of his first day in "America's Greatest Race" off the front of a peloton packed with some of the best riders in the world.

    Geoghegan Hart joined a breakaway of six riders that escaped the Tour of California bunch just 8km into the 193km stage that traversed the hills and valleys surrounding Sacramento. Geoghegan Hart joined Belkin's Tom Leezer, UnitedHealthcare's Issac Bolivar, Optum Pro Cycling's Eric Young and Jamis-Hagens Berman's Matt Cooke in a move that animated most of the day's racing.

    "There were a couple little skirmishes going on," he said of how the breakaway formed. "There was one in front of me, so I just went with it, and that was the break that stuck. So then it was just all about trying to get the most out of the day as possible and use my energy in the best way."

    Geoghegan Hart made the most of his day's effort by finishing second in two intermediate sprints along the way, grabbing four seconds in time bonuses and eventually boosting himself into the jersey for best young rider.

    He also attacked the breakaway briefly and got a small gap on the way to the day's only KOM. Although that effort fell short, it proved the young rider was up for a battle on any terrain.

    "I was just having little look, having a test in the water really," he said. "I was just seeing what the reaction would be like. Nothing too committed."

    The breakaway eventually succumbed to the chase by an elite group of about 20 riders that contained eventual stage winner Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma teammate Tom Boonen, Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky, Taylor Phinney and Greg van Avermaet of BMC, and Matthew Goss of...

  • Phinney eyes Tour of California time trial win and the yellow jersey

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) rode the front today
    Article published:
    May 12, 2014, 5:00 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    BMC rider to help Stetina after race against the clock

    BMC Racing's Taylor Phinney has big goals for the Tour of California Stage 2 time trial, where he plans to win the stage and take the overall race lead away from Omega Pharma-QuickStep sprinter Mark Cavendish — and his chances of success are pretty good.

    "I've thought about this time trial for a while because it is a really good opportunity to get in the yellow jersey, if I'm able to win the stage." Phinney told Cyclingnews. "The time trial is my big goal. It's my second time here but I've never won a stage of the Tour of California, so I would like to perform."

    The Tour of California time trial is held on a relatively flat 20.1km course in Folsom on Monday. Phinney is qualified to be one of the race favorites, a multi-time track world champion and time trial specialist with has a win under his belt from the Dubai Tour's individual time trial. Last year, he won a stage at the Tour de Pologne and Tour of Qatar. The year before that, he won time trials at the Giro d'Italia and the USA Pro Challenge.

    Phinney placed 10th in the opening stage sprint in Sacramento and goes into the time trial 10 seconds behind Cavendish, who took the initial race lead. He wants to add the Tour of California time trial win to his list of accolades. "It's always nice to race in America and try to win here," he said. "And anytime you're able to pull on a leader's jersey that's very special."

    Phinney faces strong opposition from 2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic time trial gold medalist

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    Article published:
    May 12, 2014, 6:15 BST
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