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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, March 9, 2013

Date published:
March 09, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Who won the chance to ride in the fi’zi:k Granfondo?

    Article published:
    March 08, 2013, 12:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    Competition winner announced

    Cyclingnews and fi’zi:k are happy to announce the winner of our Facebook competition to ride in the fi’zi:k Granfondo in Italy on 28 April, with flights, accommodation and entry fee all paid for.

    The competition was open to anyone in the world and our winner, Hans van der Elst, hails from Switzerland. He will be flown to Venice on 27 April, where he'll have the choice of a gentle ride or a rest before dinner in the Marostica Castle. The Granfondo takes place the following day with two options: a 100km ‘short course’ and more demanding 154km parcours.

    The Granfondo starts in Piazza Castello, the main square known for the live chess game, and in a few kilometres reaches the first climb: Salcedo. This is a panoramic street that crosses cherry trees in full bloom. After the descent the course follows the Valdastico until the village of Pedescala. Here, the racing action will start with the long climb of Castelletto di Rotzo to get to the Altopiano di Asiago.

    Just before the final descent there's the split between the long and short courses – the latter will keep to the left and the Granfondo will follow right and go through the tricky downhill of Laverda. The long course then climbs Monte Corno. After the summit the course crosses the Altopiano before the final descent to the Piazza Castello.

    For more information about the fi'zi:k Granfondo, visit the official site:

  • Brian Holm: I like it when Cavendish speaks out

    Mark Cavendish could only manage 5th on the stage but kept his overall lead
    Article published:
    March 08, 2013, 14:53 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Omega Pharma riders clear the air after sprint mix-up

    Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team started stage Friday's third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, wrapped up against the rain and ready for another day in the saddle, with the problems of Thursday's sprint mix-up and Cavendish's public criticism of his teammates forgotten about after a post-stage meeting.

    Cavendish said he was disappointed with his lead out after being left too far back with just a kilometre to go in the sprint. He eventually finished fifth but said that he would be having 'words' with his teammates.

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step directeur sportif Brian Holm confirmed that the riders talked about the sprint and cleared the air. He described the meeting as constructive.

    "We know what Cav's like. Nobody had a perfect lead out yesterday but nobody said much except Cav. But I actually like it that he speaks out. There's no bollocks with Cav," Holm told Cyclingnews.

    "What Cav said wasn't negative, he wanted to be constructive, to help everyone learn and improve. We had a meeting but it was a good meeting. If we'd pretended that everything went well and it wasn't a big deal, there's a risk we'd start believing it ourselves. It didn’t go right, so we have to admit we messed it up, discuss it and do it better next time."

    "As we say in Denmark, 'to fight you have to be good friends'. That means that if you wouldn't argue and fight if you didn’t care."

    Positioning and protection was vital in the high-speed run to the finish in Indicatore. However the Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders struggled to help Cavendish after racing for 232km in the rain. Orica-GreenEdge...

  • Cavendish upbeat despite being beaten by Sagan

    Kisses on the podium for Tirreno-Adriatico leader Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
    Article published:
    March 08, 2013, 18:19 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Manxman insists he can't win Milano-Sanremo

    Mark Cavendish was disappointed to be beaten by Peter Sagan in the Tirreno-Adriatico sprint in Narni Scalo but was able to find several positive aspects to yet another hard day of racing in the rain.

    It was the first time that Sagan had beaten Cavendish in a head to head sprint, but the Manxman showed that he is on form by surviving the fast pace the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team set on the final climb.

    His Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad also bounced back after under performing on stage two, dragging Cavendish up into position in the final kilometre after risking a late crash.

    "I think we can take a lot of good stuff from today," Cavendish said despite being unhappy about losing.

    "It was a difficult climb to be fair. Cannondale went hard and I lost a lot of position, I was just happy to hang on. The team went well considering the conditions and we can be happy with how it went, though obviously not the result."

    Cavendish explained that Tom Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling) disrupted the Omega Pharma-Quick Step train as they tried to move up to contest the sprint.

    "The guys stayed with me and did an incredible job, just like yesterday. I think it was misinterpreted that there wasn't 100 per cent commitment. There was and I was in a lot better position today," he explained.

    "Gert (Steegmans) brought me up in the last 500 metres. I tried to get on Greipel's wheel but Peter did a really good job of fighting me back for it, so I went on his wheel. But the road was narrow, just seven metres, and so...

  • Sagan savours his first win against Cavendish

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) salutes as he crosses the line
    Article published:
    March 08, 2013, 19:13 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale team confident as Sanremo looms

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) racked up another first of his impressive career by beating Mark Cavendish in the rain-soaked sprint of Tirreno-Adriatico's third stage to Narni Scalo. The Slovakian admitted he had the courage to rub shoulders with the Manxman to defend his position on Andre Greipel's wheel.

    Cavendish tried to secure the sweet spot in the lead out, knowing it would be difficult to come past in the narrow finishing straight. He bumped Sagan but the 23 year-old Slovakian didn’t blink, enjoying mixing it with the world's best sprinters.

    "It's the first time I've beaten Mark in my career. The conditions were difficult with the rain and the cold, and so I'm happy to have won," he said in the post-race press conference.

    "Mark didn't have men at that point, so he tried to get on Greipel's wheel. We were fighting for Greipel's wheel."

    Asked what he did to defend the wheel, Sagan said: "I put my hand out to stop him. No, I'm kidding. We rubbed shoulders, but nothing major."

    Sagan talked about the sprint as if it had been a walk in the park. But yet again he made winning look easy, completing the work done by his teammates.

    "We decided to do the climb hard to tire out the sprinters and I think it worked. Then on the decent Orica lead us down to the finish and I got on Greipel's wheel."

    Despite another impressive performance, Sagan refused any idea that he could an overall contender at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    "Have they cancelled the (mountain) finish?" he joked, hinting that would be the only way he can win. "I just hope it's good weather, so it'll be a rest day for me…"

    "Well see how...

  • Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis announces 2013 line-up

    The 2013 Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis riders and staff assembled at their home base of Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    Article published:
    March 08, 2013, 20:15 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    US Continental squad adds road racing horsepower to crit foundation

    US Continental squad Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis has just concluded its week-long pre-season camp at its base in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and with an expanded 15-rider roster the program is ready to undertake an increased stage racing component in addition its rock steady presence on the USA Crits and National Criterium Calendar (NCC).

    Returning for 2013 are Thomas Brown, Jon Hamblen, Shane Kline, Travis Livermon, Chris Monteleone, Clay Murfet and Adam Myerson. New for this season are two-time Olympian and multi-time track champion Bobby Lea, reigning Canadian criterium champion Ben Chaddock (from Team Exergy), a pair of returning program alums in Isaac Howe and Jackie Simes who spent previous seasons with Kenda-5 Hour Energy and Jamis-Sutter Home respectively, sprint stalwart Frank Travieso, second-year pro Curtis Winsor (from Kenda-5 Hour Energy), neo-pro Chris Uberti, plus Great Britain's Daniel Patten, who spent the previous three seasons based on Oudenaarde, Belgium racing and winning on the kermesse circuit following his pro debut in 2009 for the team.

    In a domestic professional climate in which the number of Continental teams decreased from 12 to eight, team captain and manager Adam Myerson appreciates the opportunity afforded to he and his teammates.

    "We're lucky in that we have two really strong, supportive sponsors in SmartStop and Mountain Khakis who are stepping things up where other teams are going away," Myerson told Cyclingnews. "It allowed us to get better guys, it allowed us to stay within our budget and it shows the stability and longevity of our program after seven years that we can survive that kind of correction, let's say, in the market.

    "USA Crits and now the NCC has always been our focus and both of those series are six-rider rosters. So in a time period where you can only send six guys to race it may seem strange that we're growing up to 15 riders, but we're...

  • Porte ready to return to support role after Paris-Nice

    Richie Porte (Sky) celebrates his Paris-Nice stage win
    Article published:
    March 09, 2013, 10:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian moves into lead at Montagne de Lure

    While Richie Porte impressed in moving into the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice on Friday, the Australian is set to return to a supporting role at Team Sky immediately afterwards, as he rides in the service of Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.

    Following his stage victory at Montagne de Lure, Porte is well-positioned to seal final overall victory at Paris-Nice in Sunday’s concluding time trial at the Col d’Èze, but he stressed that success would not alter his status in the team for this season’s Grand Tours. He will line up in support of Wiggins at the Giro d’Italia in May.

    “I’m happy to be on this team and ride for Brad and Chris,” Porte said, according to Biciciclismo. “I’ll be ready to step up, not this year but maybe next year. We’ll see what we do in the Giro. I like the Giro, I took the pink jersey as a neo-professional and I have good memories of it.

    “When I sat down and talked to Dave Brailsford about coming to Sky, it was clear that it was to help Brad and Chris, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. Sky is shaping the sport, and it’s really not a problem to work for Brad and now for Chris.”

    Porte now holds a sizeable 32-second buffer over Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) at the head of the general classification, with Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) in third, 42 seconds back. A strong climber and time triallist, Porte can also rely on some local knowledge of the Col d’Èze, but he warned that the race is far from over.

    “I’m not a bad time triallist and Col d’Èze is near where I live [in Monaco – ed.] But there’s still tomorrow [Saturday], that could be a difficult stage. We have a good team and some smart guys on the team. But it’s not over.”

    While Porte stands on the verge of overall victory at Paris-Nice, he also recalled the more difficult moments he had...

  • Hayman refuses to discuss Geert Leinders

    Matt Hayman (Sky) on Checker Hill.
    Article published:
    March 09, 2013, 11:16 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Formerly of Rabobank and now at team Sky

    Mathew Hayman (Team Sky) has refused to discuss Dr. Geert Leinders, the physician at the centre of Rabobank’s doping programme. Leinders has been accused of doping several of the riders on the Dutch team, including Michael Rasmussen, Levi Leipheimer and Thomas Dekker.

    Hayman rode for the Dutch team from 2000 to 2009 before signing for Team Sky, where he has positioned himself as one of their strongest Classics riders. Leinders was later hired by British squad at the start of 2011 but his contract was not renewed at the end of last season after his name was raised in suspicion of past doping involvement. Sky denied the non-renewal was due to its zero-tolerance policy on doping and stated that they were unaware of his past despite a screening interview carried out by their resident psychologist Steve Peters.

    Last week Michael Rasmussen lifted the lid on his doping practices at Rabobank, at one point telling that he and Leinders would hide doping products on the team bus at the 2003 Vuelta a España. Rasmussen finished seventh overall in the race.

    Hayman was also on the Rabobank squad for the Vuelta and shared the team bus with Rasmussen for the entire three weeks. When asked about his memories of that race in relation to Rasmussen’s claims, the Australian said, “One, I don’t remember anything like that. I’m not aware of this because I’ve been cut off from the rest of the world for the last week. I don’t remember anything from that Vuelta in particular. I have no comment.”

    Hayman is currently at a Sky...

  • Prati di Tivo could prove decisive at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) wins alone atop the Prati di Tivo climb.
    Article published:
    March 09, 2013, 12:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    Nibali, Rodriguez and Moser assess the summit finish

    The overall contenders at Tirreno-Adriatico face a potentially decisive day on Saturday as they tackle stage 4 from Narni to the summit finish at Prati di Tivo. The 173km stage brings the peloton from Umbria high into the Apennines near the Gran Sasso d’Italia and promises to dramatically alter the look of the general classification after successive bunch finishes.

    The climbing gets underway early on with the ascent of the Forca di Arrone and the bunch also takes on the uncategorised haul up to Rocca di Corno after 90km. The principal difficulties come in the final 50 kilometres, however, with the 10km climb to the Passo delle Campanelle preceding the 15km final ascent to the finish at Prati di Tivo.

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won atop Prati di Tivo this weekend last year and set himself up for final overall victory in San Benedetto del Tronto. The Sicilian is hoping to repeat the feat this time around, although he acknowledged that he is not in the same form as he was twelve months ago, given that he is building towards the Giro d’Italia rather than the classics.

    “It will be a very important day that could decide the overall classification. There’ll certainly be a battle on the final climb and I have great memories of that from last year,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. The Sicilian was coy about his own chances, however. “I don’t know, we’ll see on the road. I feel quite good – not like last year but I’m here to fight. The weather will play a big role too.”

    Indeed, with rain forecast during the afternoon and with snow banking the roadsides atop Prati di Tivo, it could be a particularly dramatic day of racing in central Italy. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) won the Tour of Lombardy is horrid conditions...