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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, May 28, 2012

Date published:
May 28, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Freddie Rodriguez looking for fourth US Championship

    Fred Rodriguez on the descent.
    Article published:
    May 27, 2012, 15:42 BST
    Pat Malach

    38-year-old American dreams of Olympics

    Team Exergy's Freddie Rodriguez, a three-time winner of the US Pro Road Racing Championship, has high hopes for a good result heading into this year's 185km race in Greenville, South Carolina, on Monday.

    The 38-year-old, who retired from racing in 2009 after 12 years of competing in the US and in Europe, signed with Team Exergy in 2011 and has had his best season in years so far. He was the top American in the bunch sprint ending stage 1 of the Tour of California with a third-place finish, and he followed it with a respectable 29th-place result on the difficult Mt. Baldy stage as the first pure sprinter to make it up the climb.

    “I'm going into (nationals) with a very positive attitude coming out of the Tour of California, which was very good for me because the harder the racing is the better,” Rodriguez told Cyclingnews Saturday evening. “The competition is going to be hard. There are a lot of guys who want the jersey, but I'm not nervous about it. I've won three of them already, so I have a good feeling.”

    Although all of his US Pro wins came on the former course in Philadelphia, Rodriguez said he has raced the Greenville course “three or four” times and knows how the tactics in South Carolina generally evolve.

    “It's a course that I know well, and I think I understand it,” he said. “Looking back at it, I've always liked Philly better, but I think I understand how this race plays out and what needs to be done to be up there. The Greenville course, basically it's all about getting over that last climb with the front group, and then it's a little bit up in the air because there are so many attacks and it's a little bit undulating up and down. Moves go away that sometimes don't look threatening because the contenders...

  • Video: Phinney talks about completing the Giro d'Italia

    Taylor Phinney (BMC)
    Article published:
    May 27, 2012, 18:24 BST
    Cycling News

    American rider finishes grand tour in Milan

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) made it through to finish his maiden Giro d’Italia, finishing 16th in the final time trial in Milan. The American would have finished higher on the stage, but was led off course by a race motor bike.

    Still Phinney was more than content with his performance over the last three weeks. After having won the opening time trial in Denmark, he defended the jersey until the team time trial. The next phase of the race was about supporting his team and surviving all the way to Milan.

    In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Phinney talks about his Giro experience, his weight loss throughout the last three weeks and how he feels after completing his first grand tour.

  • Video: Hesjedal talks about winning the Giro d’Italia

    After three weeks of racing Ryder Hesjedal walks away with the Giro
    Article published:
    May 27, 2012, 19:50 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Canadian rode for three weeks without thinking of victory

    The overall victory of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) at the Giro d’Italia shocked a few but showed that cycling fans have to get used to seeing new faces on the podiums of the Grand Tours, even though they aren’t exactly young anymore.

    In the space of one year, Michele Scarponi went on stage at the Giro in Milan at the age of 31 last year; Fränk Schleck made the top three of the Tour de France in 2011 for the first time at 31 and Bradley Wiggins was also 31 when he finished third at the Vuelta a Espana, behind Juan José Cobo, 30. At the age of 26, Chris Froome was a young face in a business where people were used to seeing champions coming through age at around 23, like Bernard Hinault.

    Sunday's final podium of the 2012 Giro d’Italia is totally made of newcomers: Hesjedal, 31, Joaquim Rodriguez, 33, and Thomas De Gendt, 25.

    “Cycling is getting very exciting,” Hesjedal said after being asked about this matter. “I’ve had a long career. I’m happy to be in the sport at this time.”

    The Canadian, who looked unaffected by the pressure of winning a grand tour, was finally caught up by emotions at the end of the time trial in Milan.

    “With 5km to go, I’ve believed that the Giro victory was mine,” he said. “It’s hard to describe this feeling. It’s a dream come true. When I lost the pink jersey [on two occasions], I only thought of getting it back. I took some risks during the time trial but I had to. This is the result of a life of hard work. I couldn’t be happier.”

    Hesjedal added what he could see as a secret behind his victory. “I got the opportunity to focus on this Giro. It’s not often that you have the...

  • Rodriguez narrowly misses first Grand Tour victory

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the podium
    Article published:
    May 27, 2012, 21:07 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    WorldTour's top ranked rider looks ahead to Dauphiné

    Just 16 seconds separated Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) from remaining in the the lead of the Giro d'Italia at the end of the closing time trial on Sunday. Not a time trial specialist, he rode the best time trial of his career and scored the 26th best time. It was an improvement from 40th place in one year, but not enough to keep Ryder Hesjedal from taking the maglia rosa although he did win the points competition by one point over Mark Cavendish (Sky).

    "My directeur sportif Valerio Piva supported me greatly during the time trial," said Rodriguez. "The time checks he gave me were a question of seconds, so I took all the risks until the last corner as I knew that Hesjedal also had to take risks."

    "Anything could happen. I had the illusion that I could win until the last moment. I learned from my masseur that I had lost. That makes it even harder."

    Rodriguez, who crashed against barricades during his warm up but with no major consequence, was highly disappointed to lose the Giro d'Italia. However, he was a proud father when he brought his children Pablo and Elsa on the final podium with him.

    He refused to consider where and why he lost the Giro. "It's destiny," he said. "Mistakes have been made, but if we had worked on dropping Hesjedal during the first week Ivan Basso might have won the Giro. I could have won the overall classification if time bonuses were allocated on all the stages, including the top mountain finishes, but I prefer to leave with no regret."

    "Purito" leaves the Giro with the status of World's number 1 as the new leader of the WorldTour with 404 points ahead of previous leader Tom Boonen who has 366. Rodriguez won that ranking in 2010.

  • Video: Pinotti ends Giro with time trial victory

    Marco Pinotti (BMC) on the podium in Milan
    Article published:
    May 27, 2012, 21:46 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Italian hopes victory will help him get picked for Olympics

    Cyclingnews' blogger Marco Pinotti (BMC) let his legs do the talking when he won the last stage of the Giro d'Italia in a convincing manner with an advantage of 39 seconds over Geraint Thomas (Sky).

    In his first blog in Denmark, the five-time Italian time trial champion said that the final stage in Milan was the most important for him, as he was eying the selection for the Olympic Games. After reaching his goal, he didn't consider his ticket to London a done deal.

    "I'm not presumptuous," he said. "There is a difference between time trials during Grand Tours and at the Olympics or the world championship, where all the specialists are. At the end of the Giro, it's more a fight between survivors. I want to gain my spot on the Italian team for the road race. One of the five riders will also ride the time trial in London. I don't consider my spot guaranteed."

    In his blog during the last week of racing, Pinotti also said that his teammate Taylor Phinney was the hot favorite for the time trial in Milan. "I've followed him during his race in order for me to have an even clearer view of the course," said the Italian. "He missed a turn because a motorbike went straight in front of him. He lost a few seconds, but it affected his race. He was the favorite, but fatigue must have weighed on him."

    Whether Pinotti will participate in the Tour de France is currently under discussion inside the BMC Team.

  • De Gendt delighted by Giro performance

    Thomas De Gendt is the first Belgian to finish on a grand tour podium since Johan Bruyneel in the 1995 Vuelta
    Article published:
    May 28, 2012, 10:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Third place overall for Belgian rider "yet to sink in"

    While Canada's Ryder Hesjedal took the glory and made the history by clinching overall victory in the 2012 Giro d'Italia yesterday, there were plenty of people left open-mouthed by the performances of Thomas De Gendt on the final weekend of the race - including, it seems, the man himself.

    The Vacansoleil-DCM rider was the most impressive performer as the Giro reached its conclusion, winning the penultimate stage in the mountains on Saturday, which was the biggest victory of his career to date, and then proving his versatility by finishing in fifth on the final day time trial. It was enough to secure the 26-year-old third place overall, and represents the first time a Belgian rider had finished on the final podium since Johan Bruyneel did so at the 1995 Vuelta a Espana.

    "This hasn't sunk in yet," an emotional De Gendt told the press afterwards.

    "My legs weren't good in the time trial as I was still feeling the effects of Saturday. We had raced 219km in the mountains but then it was the same for all of us. Three weeks ago I would never have dared to dream that I would be in this position and that I would even reach the end of a grand tour. But now I know that a pretty good rider lurks within me.

    "I know now that I don't have to be scared of the steep mountains. I wasn't anonymous before this race but now people will sit up and take notice of me even more."

  • Video: Geraint Thomas reflects on Giro performance

    Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    May 28, 2012, 12:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky man says he's getting stronger as season progresses

    Cyclingnews caught up with British rider Geraint Thomas shortly after he finished his time trial in the final stage of the 2012 Giro d'Italia on Sunday afternoon, and the Team Sky rider reflected on his performance overall and his progress throughout the season.

    Thomas has been splitting his time between road and track this year as he prepares for the London 2012 Olympics and has had an extremely busy couple of months. He reveals that he is looking forward to going home and having two weeks off before the final six-week puish towards the Games.

    Thomas was in first place at the time of the interview. In the end his time was bettered by BMC's Marco Pinotti but the Briton finished second on the stage. He also praised the work of his teammates in leading out red jersey runner-up Mark Cavendish and their efforts in helping Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran into the top ten in the overall GC. Canada's Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) was the overall winner of the race.

  • Vacansoleil basking in Giro d'Italia glory

    The 2012 Vacansoleil team
    Article published:
    May 28, 2012, 13:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Stage win and third overall caps perfect weekend

    Dutch team Vacansoleil-DCM are coming off the best weekend of road racing in their history after Thomas De Gendt won stage 20 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia at the top of the Stelvio on Saturday and then produced a good display in the following day's time trial to clinch third spot in the overall GC ahead of last year's winner Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD).

    General manager Daan Luijkx is still coming to terms with the excitement of it all and what it means to to the team, who were founded in 2008 and only became a WorldTour team in 2011. De Gendt had already proven his form this season with a stage win at Paris-Nice earlier in the spring, but his efforts here far outweigh anything achieved by a rider in team colours to date.

    "When Thomas was four kilometers below the summit [on stage 20], I had boarded the plane [to Italy]," Luijkx told De Telegraaf. "The purser had to come and tell me that he had won the stage.

    "It was the most beautiful thing. And in Italy it was obviously important that we were on our Bianchi bikes with a sticker that referred to the performance of their hero Fausto Coppi, who won the Giro and Tour using the same brand.

    "Beforehand [ahead of the final stage time trial] we were more than satisfied that the fourth place was good. Thomas had Scarponi ahead of him on the podium, for whom it was death or the glory. And the day before the leaders had not to kicked a lot.

    "But I want to stress that the success is not just down to Thomas. Three-and-a-half years ago there was nothing, just some promising riders plus some older ones because we had no history. Now we have. The whole staff deserve a big compliment."