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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 10, 2010

Date published:
April 10, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Millar on form for Paris-Roubaix

    David Millar (Garmin - Transitions) ascends the Kapelmuur in the Tour of Flanders.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 18:35 BST
    Richard Moore

    Flanders ride a breakthrough for the Briton

    For David Millar last Sunday's Tour of Flanders represented a breakthrough. The Garmin-Transitions rider was a late attacker, and at one stage a challenger for the podium, but, five days on and on the eve of Paris Roubaix, he finds himself looking back rather wistfully, with a mixture of satisfaction and regret.

    "I'm split," said Millar. "I'm over the moon at the ride and what I did, but I can clearly see the lessons I have to learn. I was badly placed for forty of the critical kilometres, when I kept chasing back on. I walked up the Koppenberg, and was never really at the front until the very end, when everyone else was knackered.

    "I hadn't done any reconnaissance," continued Millar. "I didn't have time, because I was too tired after [the Three Days of] De Panne (which he won). So a lot of those climbs were new to me. I'd never done Paterberg, Koppenberg, Molenberg... and it became shockingly obvious how important it is to know the course intimately. Added to that, I wasn't getting enough bottles - I kept losing them.

    "Those are the negatives," added Millar. "The positives are that I was one of the strongest there. I had no problem picking through the groups, and when Philippe [Gilbert] countered behind Tom [Boonen] and Fabian [Cancellara] in the crosswinds, I was at ease; I was able to follow and watch.

    "I was just waiting for the perfect moment to go. And when I went, it was on a section of road that, oddly enough, I knew really well - I'd done it twice in De Panne - and so I knew the next climb [Tenbosse]. Which only goes to show how important the rece' is - the one bit of road I knew, I attacked on."

    When Millar was joined by Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), he "became aware I was racing for the podium. The guys behind weren't going to catch us. It was an amazing experience. I thought, I'm in the finale of the Tour of Flanders. If you'd told me that last year I'd have thought you were...

  • Ravard proves his worth for Ag2R-La Mondiale

    Points leader Anthony Ravard (Ag2R La Mondiale) wins the final stage, his second victory of the race.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 19:37 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    French sprinter wins Circuit Sarthe finale, second victory of race

    Anthony Ravard from Ag2r-La Mondiale collected his second stage win at the Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire in Sillé-le-Guillaume on Friday. Despite many breakaways and a very difficult finale with a steep and narrow climb where no team car was allowed to drive, the short sprinter who was hired by Vincent Lavenu from Agritubel proved himself to be worth a spot in the pro peloton.

    "It's always useful to have a sprinter in a team," Ravard said. "I hope this win gives confidence to my team to work for me and to Lavenu to select me for the races I want to take part in. Some team managers think it's not worth hiring a sprinter because Mark Cavendish is the best in the world but there are many races without him and still ending with bunch gallops.

    "At Paris-Nice, there's space for about three sprints. William Bonnet proved this year that it's possible for a French sprinter to win a stage. I don't think that I'm less fast than Bonnet. Today there was a 400 metre long steep climb and I managed to resist and be there for the final sprint. I almost did it yesterday as well."

    Confidence is the key for riders like Ravard to win. He was led out by Christophe Riblon who just returned from Copenhagen where he collected the silver medal for the Madison race with compatriot Morgan Kneisky. "Christophe did a fantastic job for me today and the team was great," Ravard said. "When I passed the Colnago-CSF riders, I heard a crash behind me. I think I have improved both speed and endurance. I've worked a lot on my speed at home recently and I have completed the Tour of Flanders which makes me resistant all the way even where there are hard climbs in the last kilometres of a race."

    Ravard promised he won't be satisfied with two stage wins at Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire and he'll keep going with high ambitions. "On Sunday I'll do Paris-Roubaix and I hope to make the early break," said the former Bouygues Telecom and Agritubel rider....

  • Crash drops Gesink from third to eighth in Pais Vasco

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 20:16 BST
    Cycling News

    No bones broken for Rabobank climber

    A crash on the penultimate descent in the fifth stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco dropped Rabobank's Robert Gesink from third to eighth place overall. Early worries of a broken hand bone did not hold up, and the Dutch rider is expected to be at the start of Saturday's closing time trial.

    Near the end of the stage, the peloton climbed the very steep Alto de Aia twice, and Gesink went down on the descent between climbs. Earlier former stage leader Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) went down on the same spot, and a number of other riders crashed there later.

    Gesink's front wheel slipped away, and he went down on his elbow and hip. He received four stitches in the elbow. He also complained of pain in his hand, which was slightly swollen, but team doctor Peter Essveldt said that there was no fracture.

    The 23-year-old had gone into the stage in third place overall, only one second behind leader Alejandro Valverde. He managed to finish the day only 1:07 behind winner Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and is now in eighth place overall, at 54 seconds.

    Other than the crash, “everything went according to plan,” directeur sportif Jan Boven said. “We don't blame anybody. He rode well and if you look at the place where Robert crashed and more riders also went down, then you can just say it was plain bad luck.”

  • Brailsford returns to Sky at Paris-Roubaix after track worlds focus

    Sky manager David Brailsford
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 21:43 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Sky manager balances road and track commitments

    David Brailsford joined the Team Sky camp on the eve of Paris-Roubaix, in Belgium today. The team manager had spent the last few months focussing on the Track World Championships in Denmark with Team GB but ahead of Roubaix called on his team to perform to their best ability in the squad's first ever 'Hell of the North'.

    "From a team's perspective what do we want from this weekend? We only ask for one thing and that's that the lads do their best and if they give their best we're happy with their best. That will be enough to make them competitive. If every one of these guys gets off their bikes and says I couldn't have done any more that's success and the rest will follow. That's genuine and that's how we try to work," he said.

    "In terms of the actual riders and the performance so far, if we take the past as a predictor for the future, and you look at the recent results, you'd expect a very strong performance at the weekend. That makes us very happy."

    Sky has had a successful start to their debut season within the professional ranks. They've been victorious in eight races and last month won a wild card place in the Tour de France, where they'll hope to propel Bradley Wiggins to the top of the overall.

    "From my perspective if we take a broader look at things in this moment in time we're very happy and I know that our partners are very happy with the progress of the team and the performances and the results. To that end I think we're going into this weekend in a really good place," he said.

    "I think across the board everyone has committed themselves really well. It's been about the riders, trying to give these guys voice, to try and make it a team for them and while its a very easy thing to say it's a difficult thing to do. So we're working hard to try and stick to our values."

    Balancing track and road

    Team GB was beaten into second place during the recent world championships, although the...

  • Cancellara looking for Flanders and Roubaix double

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) speaks to the press on Friday afternoon.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 21:55 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    War of word with Boonen continues

    Fabian Cancellara is the favourite for Paris-Roubaix but he insists the pressure is on his rivals' shoulders and believes that could help him take a rare Flanders and Roubaix double.

    Cancellara achieved the first major goal of his season last Sunday by dropping Tom Boonen on the legendary Kapelmuur and winning the Tour of Flanders alone.

    Boonen has pointed out there is no Kapelmuur climb on Sunday's route, hinting that he won't be dropped, but in a growing war of words, Cancellara reminded everyone that he had already dropped Boonen on the flat when he won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke.

    "After the victory I think a few things have changed in Belgium," Cancellara said with a hint of malice at a final pre-Roubaix press conference in Belgium on Friday afternoon.

    "I've won a lot of races but so many people asking me for autographs in the street here was a new thing for me. My goal was Flanders, I got it, but Roubaix is one of the five Monuments, so I want to win it again. Me and the team have to honour the race by giving our all.

    "The pressure is on him (Boonen) now, and for sure his team, but it's also on the rest of the peloton too. Not on us. If you look how we've been riding since Waregem, with Matti so strong, with the whole team strong, we showed what we can do. Now maybe we can risk a bit more than other teams because our pockets are quite full. But we're still hungry and looking forward to Sunday."

    Motivation for a rare double

    Cancellara is already looking forward to a break from racing and is perhaps mentally tired after a successful but intense spring. But becoming one of the few riders to win the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix has given him the extra motivation to keep going.

    "My biggest...

  • Sanchez follows in Indurain's footsteps

    Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) won the Circuit Cyclist Sarthe general classification.
    Article published:
    April 09, 2010, 22:52 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Spaniard downplays Tour de France chances

    Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) claimed his fourth win of the year with the overall classification of the Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire on Friday, adding to his stage 5 victory in the Santos Tour Down Under, the time trial at the Tour of Algarve and the opening stage of the French stage race held in the Loire valley.

    The Murcian was no stranger to this event as it was one of the first races of his pro career back in 2004 with Liberty Seguros. "I remember it very well," Sanchez said with a large smile. "I always tried to win a stage but I realised I had a lot of work to do to become a successful pro rider."

    He referred to stage 2 of the 2004 Circuit de la Sarthe from Vallet to Montreuil-Juigné where he went away with Ukraine's Yuriy Krivtsov - who was the king of the mountain this year while Sanchez claimed the yellow jersey - after only 20 kilometres into the 198km long race. With 35km to go, Krivtsov dropped him.

    "He was riding at the limit of his capacities, it's admirable how much he has progressed since," Krivtsov (Ag2r-La Mondiale) told Cyclingnews at the start of the final stage at the Abbey of Epau in Le Mans.

    A double stage winner of the Tour de France and the current world's number of the UCI ranking, Sanchez could have taken the Circuit de la Sarthe as a training ride. "Initially I came here for training for the Ardennes classics," the Spaniard said. "I didn't want to remain for too long without racing. But I happened to be in the lead after stage 1, then I was happy to honour the competition. But it was hard. I want to give big thanks to my teammates. The race was very difficult to control and they've done a great job."

    Following an early three-man break containing Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Maxime Médérel (BigMat-Auber 93), two riders of the next move were a threat for Sanchez's lead: French champion Dimitri...

  • Rock Racing on Vuelta Mexico Telmex start list

    Rivals help Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing) celebrate his overall win.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 0:55 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Sevilla doubtful team still exists

    Rock Racing is registered to compete in the Vuelta Mexico Telmex as an amateur Mexican-based team, listing a roster of eight riders including Oscar Sevilla. However the Spaniard says he will not be competing with his former team and hopes to find an alternate squad for the eight-staged race.

    The Vuelta Mexico Telmex is set to kick off on April 18 in Veracruz and conclude on April 25 in Reforma.

    “For Mexico, I’m enrolled with Rock Racing but I don’t believe that I will race with them,” Sevilla told Cyclingnews. “I believe that Rock Racing does not exist anymore. I’m hoping to race but with another team there.”

    Rock Racing registered eight riders with Sevilla, Francesco Mancebo from Spain, Glenn Chadwick from New Zealand and Víctor Hugo Peña from Colombia. The four riders renewed their previously existing contracts with the team for 2010 before it was denied a professional license from the International Cycling Union (UCI)

    The roster also includes Carlos Alzate from Colombia and three Mexican riders Ignacio Sarabia, Luis Fernando Macias and Juan Pablo Magallanes

    Rock Racing was a US-based Continental team during 2007-2009. Team owner Michael Ball made several attempts to upgrade the squad to Professional Continental status however, his request was denied by UCI for the final time last month. The team was also denied a Continental license.

    Ball announced the squad would continue at an amateur level and hoped to compete in as many events as the down-graded status would allow. Since then, Sevilla has sought after a new team to race with but has not found a contract yet.

    “I’m doing very well, training hard and I have really good physical condition right now,” he said. “Now I hope to find a new team for this season in Europe or in the USA. I hope to race many more years because cycling is my life.”

    The 20...

  • Devolder hopeful of dry day in northern hell

    Stijn Devolder (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 0:58 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian pleased media storm has blown over

    Quick Step’s Stijn Devolder is looking for dry conditions at Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, having never contested the event in wet conditions previously. Devolder joined his team on a reconnaissance of the Paris-Roubaix route on Friday in preparation for team-mate Tom Boonen’s bid for a third consecutive title.

    "Hell was dry, and it'll be the same on Sunday but more dusty,” he predicted. “The wind directions will be very important. For now it's a headwind but that'll turn slightly into a crosswind. I'm checking the weather forecast regularly these days. I've never raced Paris-Roubaix in the rain so I hope it stays dry.

    "My legs are better than last week,” he added. “Today it was important to develop good sensations on the cobbles and actually those sensations were better than last year."

    The 30-year-old received a lot of criticism before the Tour of Flanders, but he answered those with a strong performance in support of Boonen. On Friday afternoon it seemed like the storm surrounding Devolder’s performance, which many felt had deteriorated after his 2009 Tour of Flanders win, had blown over.

    "I hope that I can pull off a grand performance on Sunday,” he said. “I'm relaxed now after the media storm that struck me going into the Tour of Flanders; a lot was coming my way that last week. Of course I didn't enjoy that but storms always come to an end.

    “Now it's time to focus on the race and I'll be riding it like I did during previous editions,” he said. “I hope to win but if that doesn't succeed my world isn't coming to an end. It's the last race of the spring Classics season, but not only for us. These races are our goals but not every year can be like the one before."

    Devolder admitted the Quick Step team could end up without a major win at the spring Classics this season. Devolder kept the pressure away by pointing to other teams without...