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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, May 21, 2012

Date published:
May 21, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Video: Hesjedal down but not out at Giro d’Italia

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin - Barracuda)
    Article published:
    May 20, 2012, 20:40 BST
    Barry Ryan

    “We’ve got quite the little battle shaping up here”

    A tired Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) reached the summit of Pian dei Resinelli 39 seconds down on Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) but he remained upbeat about his chances in spite of losing the maglia rosa on stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia.

    The Canadian was defending a narrow 9-second lead overall coming into the day’s stage, a testing 171km into the heart of Tour of Lombardy country that was made all the more difficult by constant rain and treacherous roads, including the descent of the Valcava.

    While Liquigas-Cannondale succeeded in controlling the tempo of the pink jersey group most of the way up the final climb above Ballabio, the racing ignited inside the final three kilometres, as first Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and then Rodriguez attempted to jump clear.

    Mindful of his own qualities as something of a diesel, Hesjedal understood immediately that the best option was to continue at his own pace rather than attempt to match the ferocity of Rodriguez’s acceleration.

    “I can’t get sucked in to trying to accelerate with those guys, especially today as I didn’t feel that good,” Hesjedal told reporters shortly after wheeling to a halt beyond the finish line. “But if today was my bad day then I can be happy with that.”

    As Hesjedal covered up his mud-splattered pink jersey with a jacket, Rodriguez was preparing to mount the podium to accept a pristine version. However, with just 30 seconds separating them and with a 30km time trial still to come in Milan, Hesjedal was bullish about his chances of staying in the hunt through the Dolomites.

    “It was a good finish for him again today, very explosive at the...

  • Rodriguez rewrites the script at Pian dei Resinelli

    Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha Team) took the maglia rosa back with a swift attack
    Article published:
    May 20, 2012, 21:36 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Spaniard surprised to be in pink with a week to go

    A sharp acceleration just under two kilometres from the summit of Pian dei Resinelli was enough to put Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) back into the overall lead at the Giro d’Italia, a position he insisted that he never expected to occupy at this point in the race.

    Wary of the opening flat stages in Denmark and the team time trial in Verona, Rodriguez was prepared to enter the Giro’s final days trying to figure out how to go about recouping his losses, but instead finds himself 30 seconds clear of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) and 1:22 ahead of Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale).

    “I’m surprised because before the Giro I expected to be behind coming into the first rest day,” Rodriguez told reporters after he descended from the podium, once again ensconced in pink. “I thought at this point I’d be assessing how much time I needed to take back on the climbs in the last week, but now everything changes for me.”

    A strong showing from Katusha in Verona meant that Rodriguez approached the opening climbs of the Giro on more or less level pegging with his rivals, but the lead he has eked out since has been a product of a tightly-controlled race in which nobody has had room to wind up for a potentially decisive blow. The terrain has instead favoured those who can land a number of quick jabs, and the punchy Rodriguez duly obliged by careering away from his rivals at Assisi and again in the wet and cold of Pian dei Resinelli. “Now we’ve reached the last week and I have the jersey and a nice bit of time on my...

  • “Rambo” Rabottini wins epic stage at Giro d’Italia

    Article published:
    May 20, 2012, 22:59 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Farnese Vini team rewarded for aggressive tactics

    Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia has been one of those epic stages in which an unknown rider went away early and got rewarded for his courage. Matteo Rabottini rode away from the bunch under the rain after only eighteen kilometres into stage 15 – initially with Frenchman Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who didn’t persist. Rabottini crashed on the downhill preceding the final ascent to Piani dei Resinelli and was caught by Joaquim Rodriguez in the last 200 meters. The Spaniard who already won a stage win at Assisi and rode back into the overall lead, nicely gave him the way to cross the finishing line in first position, as it appeared like a well deserved victory for the 24-year-old from Pescara.

    “I came to the Giro with the hope of winning a stage and I made it”, an emotional Rabottini said after crossing the line. “This is the most beautiful day of my life. I owe it to my directeur sportif Luca Scinto and my friend Valentino Sciotto.” The owner of the Farnese Vini wine producing company has been instrumental in his career. He first opened the door for the young Rabottini, an Italian champion in the U23 category, to be a trainee with the Lampre team that he co-sponsored in 2010 prior to become the title sponsor of the team previously known as ISD-Neri with Scinto at the helm.

    When he won his first race as a pro at the 2011 Presidential Tour of Turkey in Fethiye, Rabottini already dedicated his victory to Sciotto who came and visit his team at the Giro at the start of stage 15 in Busto Arsizio. This time, he mentioned his girlfriend and their baby girl whose birth is expected in two weeks time. He’s the son of Luciano Rabottini who won the 1986 Tirreno-Adriatico, also for a team sponsored by a wine producer (Vini...

  • Is the Bruyneel - Schleck amalgamation imploding?

    A happy Frank Schleck (Team Radioshack Nissan)
    Article published:
    May 21, 2012, 0:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Mixed messages after Fränk's Giro d'Italia abandon

    The relationship between Johan Bruyneel and the Schleck brothers appears to have reached a new low when the RadioShack manager questioned whether Fränk Schleck's injuries had been sufficient enough to pull out of the Giro d'Italia.

    Schleck pulled out of the Giro after less than 30 kilometers of stage 15 with a shoulder injury and Bruyneel could not hide his feelings at the finish, telling reporters he was 'disappointed' in Fränk Schleck.

    According to Bruyneel added: "I can not say much ... but I am surprised and disappointed by his statement. This morning I had hoped that he could finish on the podium, I was convinced that his condition was good enough to finish among the best."

    Bruyneel also denied that Schleck had earlier sought to abandon the Giro in order to prepare for the Tour de France in the company of his brother Andy. On Sunday morning Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Bruyneel, Schleck and Kim Andersen held a meeting on the matter on Saturday night at the RadioShack-Nissan hotel in Cerro Maggiore, but Bruyneel said the story did not have substance.

    At the start of stage 15 Bruyneel said, "As far as I'm concerned, his physical condition is good. There is an injury. It will probably be a problem sometimes to stay with the best guys but it's definitely not an injury to consider an abandon."

    Schleck's decision may have serious ramifications on his Tour de France place. Asked if the Giro abandonment would affect any selection for the Tour de France, Bruyneel would only add that 'nothing had been decided.'

  • Amgen Tour of California organisers laud peloton

    Peter Sagan reflects on winning 63 percent of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California stages.
    Article published:
    May 21, 2012, 2:55 BST
    Laura Weislo

    How to top "toughest ever Tour"?

    AEG and Medalist Sports, the organisers of the Amgen Tour of California, closed the book today on what they called the "toughest Tour to date", but what was also the most seemlessly run and successful race as well. Not a drop of rain fell on the peloton in the race, which last year saw stage 1 and 2 affected by a late-season snow, and in previous years had riders brutalized by the cold rain of winter storms when the race was held in February.

    "We're excited we had beautiful weather, a beautiful backdrop for California," said AEG's Kristin Bachochin, the race organiser. "For being the toughest course to date and having a world class field, everybody rose to the occasion and it was a dramatic week - it was great preparation not only for Tour de France but for Olympics as well."

    The only criticism of the race came because of the sheer dominance of Peter Sagan, a rider who not only managed to get over every hill with the front group except on Mt. Baldy, but was also able to out-kick everyone in the bunch in five of the six stages which came down to sprints. Had Sylvain Georges (AG2R-La Mondiale) not held off the peloton at Big Bear Lake after an heroic 40km solo attack, Sagan would have won six stages as he was first from the chasing bunch.

    Does the race need to be harder to unhinge a rider like Sagan? Or was it so hard that the overall contenders were saving their energy and holding back on attacking the early hills?

    "I've been riding around a lot in California and I think you can make the course even more difficult, but in the end it's the riders who make the race," said overall winner Robert Gesink. "We saw in the stage with Bonny Doon to Santa Cruz [county] - it could have been...

  • Going deep pays off for Vennell in California

    Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) leads the break.
    Article published:
    May 21, 2012, 5:15 BST
    Pat Malach

    Bissell Kiwi this year's most aggressive

    Bissell Pro Cycling's Jeremy Vennell is the most aggressive racer on what was arguably the most aggressive team at the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. But it took a tiny six-month-old named Charlotte to really make the 31-year-old Kiwi who lives in Santa Rosa appreciate his job.

    Vennell and his wife Anita are new parents, and Vennell said becoming a father has completely changed his outlook on and off the bike.

    "It does motivate you," he said of parenthood. "You realize it's not all about yourself anymore. And when you go home you don't get any sleep, so when you're on the road you really appreciate it, and you feel very privileged to be doing what you're doing. I think that's the biggest change, that I feel very lucky to be riding my bike and have a family, and actually live the dream. It's not going to last forever, so you gotta go out there and make every day count."

    Vennell and his Bissell squad made every day count at the California race, sending riders up the road in breakaways on well over half of the road race stages. Vennell got away on stages two, three and six, spending more than 480km off the front during the eight-stage race. He stayed out front to the closing kilometers on stages three and six before the field finally reeled him in.

    "[Stage six] was a super hard day, and I went very, very deep," Vennell said. "I was very worried about going up the mountains, but you just know it's going to be over eventually – so you go for it. You've got to go and not have any apprehensions about not making it."

  • Gadret saves Giro d'Italia GC hopes thanks to teammate

    AG2R's John Gadret crosses the line on stage 15
    Article published:
    May 21, 2012, 9:34 BST
    Cycling News

    AG2R rider almost out of contention in stage 15

    French climber John Gadret was lucky in Sunday's stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia, leading up to the Pian dei Resinelli. The AG2R La Mondiale team leader, who finished third overall at the Italian grand tour last year, was able to save his general classification objectives on what was a hard mountain stage, made even more difficult by the wet and cold weather conditions.

    Gadret, who had been with the group of favourites all day, punctured at the most inopportune moment during the finale. This could have been the end to his hopes of repeating a high GC result this year, but luckily his teammate Hubert Dupont was at his side and did not hesitate to help his team leader.

    "Hubert gave me his rear wheel when I punctured in the descent, with 20 kilometres to go. Thanks to him, I was able to catch up with the favourites' group at the foot of the last climb. Without Hubert, all my objectives at this Giro would have been crushed and I really want to thank him," Gadret said after the race.

    The Frenchman finished ninth, 29 seconds behind stage winner Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini), losing only a few seconds to overall favourites Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Michele Scarponi (Liquigas) and Ivan Basso (Lampre). He now lies 15th overall, at 3'24" off the new maglia rosa Rodriguez.

    Gadret has had a difficult start in this year's race however, notably losing 1'45" at the team time trial in Verona on stage four. However, as the Giro enters its final week, the most demanding stages are yet to come and the Frenchman looks up to the challenge.

  • Duggan might have more than domestique duties in his future

    Tim Duggan signs autographs at the start for his fan club
    Article published:
    May 21, 2012, 10:45 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Liquigas-Cannondale rider puts on display of strength in Amgen Tour of California

    Timmy Duggan staged an impressive feat of strength in the Amgen Tour of California: together with his teammate Ted King, the Liquigas-Cannondale rider was key in controlling the race in order to set up Peter Sagan for his five stage victories. Duggan rode at the front every day, went into a breakaway on stage four to Clovis and then set a blistering pace on the stage to Big Bear to try and bring back the lone escapee. That ride earned him the Most Courageous jersey award.

    Duggan will be relieved of his domestique duties next week for the US Pro Championships in Greenville, South Carolina. He hopes that he and King can repeat their performance of last year where King placed third, and maybe even Duggan himself can land on the podium this time around.

    "I'm certainly shooting for that and confident about it," Duggan told Cyclingnews. "Ted and I did a good result last year with him on the podium and just the two of us, hopefully we can replicate that this year.

    "It's kind of a chaotic race, and Ted and I are only a two-man team, and we're fighting teams that might have 10 or 12 guys. You just do your best. I hope it's a hard, hot race. It's a race that suits me with a hill, but not a finishing hill. We'll just try to play our cards right and see what happens."

    After years of working for others, will Duggan, 29, one day have his chance to be the star rider?

    "Maybe someday. You take it step by step: right now I'm focusing on being the best domestique I can be. I don't have the best sprint and I'm not the best climber, but I'm pretty good all around otherwise. I can be on the front all day and get through a lot of stuff. I just don't have that kick at the end.

    "I'm still young, and I think that's something that can come...