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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 5, 2011

Date published:
September 05, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Wiggins makes valiant defence of Vuelta leader's jersey

    Sky teammates Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome finish 5th and 6th on stage 14 and put time into their GC rivals.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2011, 20:35 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Sky captain faces Angliru test on Sunday

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) became the number one favourite to win this year's Vuelta with a valiant defence of his leader's red jersey on stage 14 to La Farrapona Lagos de Somiedo. The Sky leader distanced all his main rivals on the gruelling mountain stage to solidify his position on GC as the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) both lost time.

    "I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record but my team were great again and I wouldn't be in this position without them," said Wiggins. "We are another day closer to the end now but tomorrow is a very hard stage. We will continue to fight all the way until the end and hopefully that will be enough to win this red jersey.

    "I'm feeling good and I felt strong on the climb. It still hurts of course and it's certainly not easy but everybody else is hurting as well. This race is about who can suffer for the longest."

    Wiggins went into the stage as the race leader but with a host of challengers within touching distance. The expected show down between the 31-year-old Briton and the likes of Nibali looked perfectly set as the group of favourites landed at the foot of the final climb.

    At one point Wiggins and his super-domestique Chris Froome looked isolated as first Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) slipped clear. However, those attacks simply dislodged Nibali, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) from the lead group.

    Froome took over the pace setting as the leading group thinned out even further.

    While Cobo managed to gain time, and move to within a minute of Wiggins, only Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) managed to remain with Wiggins as every other GC rider struggled.


  • Kroon out of Vuelta after high-speed crash

    Karsten Kroon (BMC) at the front of the early break.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2011, 22:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Vanmarcke fell into ravine with BMC Dutchman, but finished stage

    Karsten Kroon (BMC) and Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervelo) crashed out of the winning 18-man break on the high-speed descent of the Puerto de La Ventana, approximately 111 kilometres into the 173.2km 14th stage at the Vuelta a Espana. The BMC Dutchman and Garmin-Cervelo Belgian both hit a guardrail and plummeted into a 30 metre-deep, wooded ravine alongside the race route.

    Kroon broke his arm and abandoned, while Vanmarcke, visibly shaken as he was assisted out of the ravine, re-joined the race and ultimately finished the stage in 176th place, 30:20 down on stage winner and breakaway companion Rein Taaramae (Cofidis).

    BMC's Directeur Sportif John Lelangue, who was following the breakaway but several cars back in the caravan, said no one saw the riders go off the narrow road. "We understand it happened in a curve, a left one, which was looking dangerous," Lelangue said. "In fact, I informed [BMC Racing Team assistant director] Rik Verbrugghe it was dangerous. So I remember well passing there. There was nothing on the ground – no bike, no bottles and no spectators. So no one could inform us that something had happened."

    Kroon's injuries are limited to a fractured left forearm, BMC's team doctor Giovanni Ruffini said. For Kroon, it was his second broken bone of the 2011 season as earlier this year he broke his left collarbone in a crash at the Tour of Flanders.

    Kroon said he doesn't remember much about the crash because he lost consciousness. "I remember two guys who more or less attacked on the descent," Kroon said. "They both crashed and I think I came around the turn and they were there, or somebody was there. I don't remember."


  • Vanmarcke determined to finish Vuelta despite horror crash

    Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervelo)
    Article published:
    September 04, 2011, 8:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Cervelo rider calls riding end of stage "a crucifixion"

    Sep Vanmarcke is determined to finish the Vuelta a Espana.  Not even falling 40 meter down a ravine is going to stop him.

    The Garmin-Cervelo rider, along with BMC'S Karsten Kroon, went over a guardrail on the descent of the Puerto de la Ventana on the Vuelta's fourteenth stage.

    They were riding with Lampre's Daniel Righi when “suddenly there was a sharp left. We could not really see that coming,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.  “The Lampre rider pulled in front of me and I could not avoid him. We almost flew along at high speed over the guardrail into the abyss.”

    “I kept floating through the air.  That's it, I thought.  The buck stops here.  It's over for me.”

    “I crashed twice on the ground, with several trees involved, and suddenly I was on the ground. Just before the river. I scrambled right up and heard nothing and nobody. I tried to climb the hill, but it was too steep. The pulled me up with branches.”

    Finally back on the road, he – of course – got back on the bike and rode on. Not that it was easy. “It was a crucifixion. Everything hurt. I was in shock. Two hours on a stretch on my bike crying."

    Teammate Andreas Klier helped him up to the grupetto, and then he still had to face the grueling final 16km climb up La Farrapona, with the help of teammate Andreas Klier and Stijn Devolder. “I will remain eternally grateful. They literally pushed me upward. Without them I would not have made it.”

    Once the stage was over, he was taken to hospital in Oviedo. Late last night he was given the good news that although his back and neck are bruised, and with...

  • Cobo becomes Vuelta GC threat

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) finshed second on the stage and moved up to fourth on general classification
    Article published:
    September 04, 2011, 10:07 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Geox climber puts Nibali to the sword

    Geox-TMC may lead the teams classification at this year’s Vuelta but the squad is now one of the closest threats to Bradley Wiggins’ red jersey.

    The Spanish outfit placed second and third on stage 14 to La Farrapona Lagos de Somiedo, with Juan Jose Cobo and David De La Fuente, and Cobo now sits 4th on GC, 55 seconds behind Wiggins.

    “For us this was a good day,” Cobo said after the stage that saw defending champion Vincenzo Nibali lose ground.

    De La Fuente placed himself in the day’s early break and broke clear with stage winner Rein Taaramae before the final climb. Cobo on the other hand bided his time and reacted to Daniel Moreno’s final surge, using it as a launch pad to distance the favourites.

    The move caused chaos behind as a number of GC pretenders wilted under the pressure.

    “Everything went according to plan. In the final when I saw Moreno attack I understood that it was the right moment to try to go long, so I did,” Cobo said.

    The move sparked De la Fuente to surprisingly sit up and wait for Cobo.

    “De la Fuente was exceptional in putting himself at my service and helping me, but I also have to thank all my other teammates, we all raced really well. Menchov did a great job on the second-to-last climb, which was also fundamental. We didn’t win the stage but with this move I managed to get away from Wiggins and gain a few valuable seconds in the classification.”

    Depending on his recovery, Cobo could well be Wiggins’ closest challenger. With Nibali over a minute down much will come down to Sunday’s battle on the Angrilu where riders are often separated by minutes rather than seconds. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) sits 36 seconds down on...

  • Taaramae came back from illness to win in Vuelta

    Rein Taaramae wins stage 14 of the Vuelta
    Article published:
    September 04, 2011, 12:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Cofidis rider considered abandoning earlier in the week

    Rein Taaramae felt bad enough to drop out of the Vuelta earlier in the week, but decided to tough it out. He was rewarded for his effort by winning atop La Farrapona Saturday in the fourteenth stage.

    The Cofidis rider, only 24 years old, was part of the break which got away only minutes after the stage started. He attacked with about 40km to go, with only David De La Fuente (Geox) able to go after him. The two rode together until De La Fuente stopped to wait for teammate Juan Jose Cobo.

    “When I was first with David De La Fuente, I thought it would be difficult against the Spaniard,” Taaramae said to the Belga news agency.

    “When he apparently had to wait for his team leader, I accelerated with two kilometers from the summit for the most beautiful victory of my career.”

    It was the Estonian's first win since taking a stage and the overall title at the Tour de l'Ain in August 2009, apart from his national time trial win this year. “But after a series of beautiful top placings at several highly regarded races and finishing twelfth in the Tour and being runner-up as best young rider there, it was about time to win.”

    It almost didn't happen. He rode Monday's time trial with a sore throat, finishing nearly 10 minutes down on winner Tony Martin. He spent Tuesday, the rest day, in bed with a 39°C fever.

    “Wednesday I was hopelessly behind on the stage to La Covatilla. I only made it thanks to the support of team leader Stephane Auge. And look, today I am winning,” he concluded happily.

  • Kessiakoff suffers with illness at Vuelta

    Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) tries to limit his losses to Wiggins on the final climb.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2011, 15:47 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Swede ready to fight on

    Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) suffered on stage 14 of the Vuelta to La Farrapona Lagos de Somiedo. The Swede went into the stage just 9 seconds off the race lead but spent the night suffering from gastroenteritis, and ended up losing over a minute to his GC rivals. He now sits in 6th place, 1:23 down on race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky).

    "He was sick all night, he suffered from gastroenteritis that kept him from sleeping and before he took the departure we feared that he might pay for it on the road today, "said Astana’s doctor, Andrea Andreazzoli.

    Kessiakoff remained with the leaders up until the final kilometers of the last climb. However, once Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) attacked it sparked a frantic chase from Sky. The 31-year-old Swede was unable to match the pace set and began to lose ground.

    "At the departure of the stage, I was fearing not having a strong enough shape to follow the rhythm today, but I felt good in the first climb and then I began to feel fatigue in the second climb. In the last few kilometers there were attacks, which I preferred not to respond, while taking the risk to lose too much strength for the last week coming,” Kessiakoff said.

    Despite the setback the Vuelta continues to be a breakthrough race for Kessiakoff. The former Fuji and Garmin-Transitions rider had a disastrous 2010 season and was released half-way through his two-year deal with the American team.

    Astana swooped in for the former mountain biker and signed him on a two-year contract and despite missing out on the Tour de France, Kessiakoff has shined in recent weeks.

    With a tough stage up the Angliru to come the Astana leader will do well to keep his top ten place on GC but he knows that it could all come down to how he recovers...

  • Vuelta: Cobo in pole as Wiggins cracks

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC)
    Article published:
    September 04, 2011, 22:18 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Geox-TMC show of force on Angliru

    Despite taking a firm grip on the Vuelta a España's red leader's jersey on the Angliru, Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) has warned that the race is far from over. The 30-year-old Spaniard danced away from all his GC challengers to take a memorable stage win and in doing so established himself as the favourite to win the 2011 race, pushing former race leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) into third place overall.

    “I'm thrilled, this is without a doubt the most fantastic day of my career," said Cobo in his post-stage press conference.

    "It wasn't a climb well suited to my skills but right from the very first kilometres I felt like my legs were spinning well and so I decided to try the attack. I didn't know if I would be able to stick it out for the entire climb, the inclines on Angliru are gruelling, but metre after metre I felt my lead increasing and I gained confidence and found new energy to make it all the way to the finish line.

    “I don't know how the Vuelta is going to end, we still have another week of racing ahead and the road to Madrid is still long. Tomorrow will be a rest day, it will be important for recuperating some energy. In the mean time I want to enjoy this victory, which was very important for me and all the team, and the joy of wearing the red jersey."

    Cobo was aided by an experienced team on the stage. First, former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre attacked on the penultimate climb, before launching another solo bid on the lower slopes of the Angliru. It was more than just a tactic born out of pure pragmatism. Sastre's brother-in-law José María Jiménez won on the climb in 1999 but passed away several years ago. It was a rare moment of sentimentality in a stage that will...

  • Albasini joins GreenEdge in an "easy decision"

    Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad) wins stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana in Ponferrada.
    Article published:
    September 05, 2011, 1:51 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Bannan says 30-year-old is "good at just about everything"

    Fresh from his win on the 13th stage of the Vuelta a España last week, Michael Albasini has been announced as the latest signing for GreenEdge which is bidding for a UCI ProTour licence.

    The 30-year-old joins the Australian project from HTC-Highroad which is folding at the end of the current season, and is the first of several riders from Bob Stapleton's outfit expected to join GreenEdge.

    Albasini said via a GreenEdge press release that it was the first time that he had been approached by a team.

    "When you're in the peloton you always hear rumours and I heard so many good things about GreenEdge, which got me interested. But they called me.

    "This means GreenEdge values me as a rider and has confidence in me. This is important because I am a rider who needs the confidence of the team," he continued.

    "But that's not the only reason I'm joining the team. Once I looked at the people involved and the infrastructure already in place it was an easy decision."

    Albasini's win, after dominating the sprint of an escape in Ponferrada on Friday, was his third for the season having won a stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt, and the GP Kanton Argau. The Swiss rider also won the mountains classification at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The previous two seasons have been highlighted by overall classification victories at the Tour of Britain (2010) and the Tour of Austria (2009).

    He says that he hopes to carry his current form into his first season with his new team.

    "It was near the end of the second week of a big tour and that was my third day in a row of trying to get in a breakaway and going full gas so it gives me the confidence that I can do it again," Albasini said.

    "Before the stage we were talking about just surviving the stage so to win such a difficult day like that...