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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, September 10, 2011

Date published:
September 10, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Anton makes up for disappointing Vuelta with home win in Bilbao

    Igor Anton Hernandez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) wins the stage
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 22:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Euskaltel rider takes a special win as Vuelta returns to the Basque Country

    Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) made up for a disappointing overall performance in the Vuelta a Espana with an emotional victory in Bilbao at the end of stage 19, in front of thousands of cheering Basque fans.

    The Vuelta was back in the often troubled region after a 33-year absence and Anton was the perfect winner to turn any possible tension and risk of protest into a celebration of Basque cycling. He comes from Galdakao, on the outskirts of Bilbao and even closer to the Alto El Vivero climb that was covered twice during the final 50km of the stage.

    "It's difficult to understand what I've done. To win here, in front of my fellow Basques and my friends is extraordinary," Anton said in an emotional voice after getting a huge cheer from the crowd packed into the finish area, many waving Basque flag.

    "I'd hoped to do well in the GC at this year's Vuelta and perhaps even be in the red leader's jersey when the race came to the Basque Country. That didn't happen but winning here is very special."

    "I know the climb like the palm of my hand, I must have ridden it hundreds of times. I felt good and wanted to take advantage of a special day. I wanted to do something for my friends who were out on the climb. It was crazy to have so many people cheering me so close up."

    Anton made sure he was part of the break of the day and had the advantage of teammate Gorka Verdugo in the four-rider move. He attacked on the second ascent of the Alto El Vivero. Bruseghin tried to stay as close as he could but Anton was cheered to the summit of the climb and then hung on the run-in to the finish in central Bilbao, to win by 41 seconds.

    "It's the first time I've won from a...

  • Cobo expects more attacks during Saturday's stage to Vitoria

    Race leader Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Geox-TMC)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 22:30 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Geox-TMC leader to mark Froome closely

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) looked relieved to have made it to the finish in Bilbao at the end of stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana with his race lead intact and is convinced Team Sky will keep the pressure and try and attack him during the race's second stage in the Basque Country on Saturday.

    The 30-year-old Cantabrian said he was impressed by Froome's big attacks on the Alto El Vivero climb, and that he could only use one tactic to keep the Briton from getting away.

    "I had to stick to him like glue on the climb and that's what I did," he said after pulling on the leader's red jersey yet again.

    "I knew he was going to attack. It's been very tough but at least I could respond and it all worked out perfectly. This was a very big step forward, and our plan worked perfectly because the breakaway took most of the time bonuses."

    Saturday's 20th stage is a tough 185km of hilly racing in the heart of the Basque Country. It includes four climbs before a flat 45km run-in to Vitoria. The Vuelta ends in Madrid on Sunday with a 95.6km parade stage.

    "We'll have to see how Team Sky plan the last two stages, I imagine they will go on fighting. The Urkiola (a first category climb mid-way through tomorrow's stage) is very tough and I am sure that will be a key moment. But I'll have to watch Froome again," Cobo said.

    "They've got two options, they can go for it on the climbs early on in the stage or try for the time bonuses. Froome is my big rival, but he's not the only one. And 13 seconds is hardly a huge margin. A technical problem at the wrong moment could cause everything to go wrong."

    "I'm not going to breathe easy until I cross the final finish line in Madrid. And I...

  • “Mission accomplished” for Gilbert in Quebec City

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) wins in Quebec City
    Article published:
    September 10, 2011, 9:52 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Belgium National Champion leads UCI world ranking

    Belgium National Champion Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was the odds-on race favourite to win the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and that is exactly what he did. The victory came with a cherry on top, enough points to move him into the lead of the International Cycling Union (UCI) world ranking ahead of Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).

    “I was under pressure because I had to get six points and they were six difficult points to try and get,” Gilbert said. “As the race went on and the scenario evolved things got better and better for me because the peloton got smaller and there were only 10 of us at the end.”

    Gilbert made several strong attacks during the final two laps of the 16-lap, 201.6km race. A group of 10 riders emerged that included rival Robert Gesink (Rabobank) along with Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), Rigoberto Uran (Sky Pro Cycling), Fabian Wegmann (Leopard Trek), Simone Ponzi (Liquigas-Cannondale), Simon Clarke (Astana), Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) and Bjorn Leukemans and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM).

    Gilbert made his winning move over the final short ascent with roughly two kilometres to go. Gesink followed by roughly five seconds and tried to close the gap but was unsuccessful, leaving Gilbert with the race victory. “I knew that with the 10 riders in the end I could finish fourth or fifth and get those points secured,” Gilbert said. “In that sense I could relax and concentrate on victory because I knew that with only the 10 guys at the end I had already met my goal of getting those six points.”

    He started the race placed second in the UCI world ranking due to victories at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold, La Fleche Wallone, Clasica de San Sebastian, Strade Bianche, Brabantse Pijl, along with...

  • McEwen lines up for final Paris-Brussels

    Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) wins stage four at the Tour de Wallonie.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2011, 10:51 BST
    Cycling News

    Australian looking for sixth win in classic

    Five times a winner of Paris-Brussels, Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) lines up for his final tilt at the Franco-Belgian classic on Saturday. Although he will ride for the new GreenEdge set-up for the 2012 season, the 39-year-old is set to hang up his wheels halfway through the campaign and join the team’s staff as a tactical advisor.

    While McEwen acknowledges that André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is rightly touted as favourite to win Paris-Brussels, he believes that he can have a major impact in the race, where he last triumphed in 2008. On that occasion, he took his fourth consecutive win in the event. His first Paris-Brussels success came in 2002.

    “Agreed, André Greipel is the big favourite, and I also have a few other guys like Galimzyanov, Kruopis and Van Hummel to contend with, but if I have a good day, I can still compete with the best,” McEwen told Het Nieuwsblad.

    McEwen has won just one road race this season, a stage of the Tour de la Région Wallonne, and he said that it was a welcome boost to his morale midway through a difficult season.

    “That win gave me renewed confidence in late July,” he said. “I can still do it. Besides, Paris-Brussels suits me as the finale has a slightly uphill finish.”

    McEwen’s year had begun on an ill-starred note, after the Pegasus team collapsed on the eve of the new season. While he was quickly snapped up by RadioShack on a one-year contract, McEwen had little opportunity to showcase his talents in the Grand Tours.

    “I’ve had my share of bad luck since the start of the season,” McEwen said. “Then, the Giro was so tough that there were almost no chances for the sprinters, and I wasn’t selected for the Tour.”


  • Veilleux well received at hometown GP de Quebec

    Canada's David Veilleux (Team Europcar)
    Article published:
    September 10, 2011, 12:26 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Quebecois hopes to continue with Europcar in 2012

    David Veilleux (Europcar) received gracious applause from his hometown fans at the start of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec on Friday. He was the third-placed Canadian on the day, finishing 22nd behind his fellow countrymen Michael Barry (Sky Pro Cycling) and Dominique Rollin (FDJ).

    “I’m really from this area and I’ve trained a lot on these courses,” Veilleux told Cyclingnews. “I brought the guys on my hometown roads. This was a big deal and I was really excited just to have the chance to race at this level in my hometown. In any sport, for any athlete, this is the wish, and I had the chance to do it so I am pretty excited.”

    The UCI WorldTour Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal made their debut to the North American circuit last year. Veilleux competed in both events for the Canadian National team and is hoping to improve on those performances this weekend.

    “The level is really high here and the level is really strong,” Veilleux said. “If I can do a top 15 or a top 10, that would be great. It will depend on a lot of things and we are going to have to see how it goes.”

    Veilleux joined the Professional Continental outfit at the start of this season. Coming from the US-based Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth program the previous year, he made a dramatic entrance into European racing at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, both in April.

    “Paris-Roubaix went pretty well but it’s tough to race at that level,” Veilleux said. “They were certainly a level higher, like these two races this weekend, where riders are looking for big points and wins.”

    Veilleux has based himself at the Europcar team headquarters in the Vendée in France and is...

  • Video: Nicolas Roche talks about his Vuelta

    Ireland's Nicolas Roche (Ag2R La Mondiale) put in a good performance on stage 16.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2011, 18:04 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Irishman finding some form in final days of the race

    Nicolas Roche was finally satisfied with his Vuelta a España after finishing with the GC contenders at the end of the tough stage to Bilbao on Friday. He was also in the break of the day on Saturday to Vitoria and seems to have found some continuity and form after suffering earlier in the Vuelta.

    "I think after three weeks I can be satisfied with about 15th overall on GC but when I was expected a top ten, I can't say it's great," Roche said, reflecting on his Vuelta in a video interview with Cyclingnews.

    "It's been much tougher than I expected and I was hoping to be in better shape. There were various things: the course has not been quite as suited to my style of climbing, I'm not in the same form and the other riders are strong. It it’s a combination of those things that has meant I wasn't able to perform the way I wanted to."

    Roche is currently 17th overall, 10:31 behind race leader Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC). Despite his disappointment, he could find some positive aspects to his three weeks in Spain. He intends to return in 2012, with his season again built around the Tour de France and the Vuelta.

    "There were some good aspects too: there were the two really hard finishes where I got seventh and eighth, then two top fives. I've been competitive and enjoyed some days but there were other days like Angliru, where I was out of the rhythm," he said.

    "I enjoy riding the Vuelta. The Tour is the Tour, but the Vuelta is one of my favourite races. I came here with a lot of motivation and so I think I'll ride two grand tours next year too."

    Worlds, Beijing, Lombardy and a book launch

    Despite having two grand tours in his legs, Roche intends to race on into October. He is also keen to use his racing as a way of promoting his new book.

    "I've got the...

  • Froome laughs off sprint mistake at the Vuelta

    Chris Froome (Sky)
    Article published:
    September 10, 2011, 18:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Team Sky rider concedes it is now virtually impossible to beat Cobo

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) was able to laugh about how he mistook the 20km banner for the last intermediate sprint during stage 20 of the Vuelta a España to Vitoria.

    He suddenly jumped away as a climb eased and sprinted to the banner. Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) was up the road but Froome thought he was sprinting for a four-second time bonus. He only realised he'd made a mistake as he went under the banner and was told by his team.

    "I was told over the radio that the sprint was coming and I saw a banner around a corner and thought it was a sneaky place. Everyone else looked a little relaxed and so I thought I'd go for it, while I can," he told said with a slightly embarrassed smile.

    "I took off thinking it was the bonus but Cobo was ready for it too. I had a red shadow today and he never left me alone."

    The intermediate sprint had been moved to closer to the finish of the stage and the real sprint was contested a few kilometres after Froome's mistaken attack. However, he missed out on the time bonuses, with Barredo taking the six seconds, late attacker Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC) taking four seconds and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) picked up two seconds.

    Difficult to dislodge Cobo in Madrid

    Froome remains 13 seconds down on Cobo in the general classification of the Vuelta. There are still two intermediate sprints during the final circuits of the centre of Madrid, where 6, 4 and 2 bonus seconds are awarded, with 20, 12 and 8 seconds award to the first three riders on the stage. Froome knows it will be almost impossible to dislodge Cobo on the final parade stage.

    "There's honestly not much more we can do. He's ridden a fantastic race," he said sportingly. "We've kept the pressure on him all the time...

  • Bennati confirms he is back to his best

    Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) on the podium in Vitoria.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2011, 20:16 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian sprinter proves he's ready for world championship leader role

    Daniele Bennati's stage victory on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España is far more than just another result on his palmares.

    Bennati needed a win to secure a leadership role in the Italian team for the world championships, he needed a big win for his own morale after making a comeback from serious injuries in the spring and Leopard Trek needed some success after the announcement of the merger with RadioShack for 2012.

    Despite the hilly stage profile, Leopard Trek believed in Bennati and rode for him all day. He was happy to dedicate the win to them in reward.

    "This is an extremely important victory for me and for my team," he said. "We've been going through challenging times lately, and this is our reward for hard work despite the disruptions around us. I want to dedicate it to them because we all deserve a bit of this victory.

    "This morning I didn't honestly think I'd be able to win. At the team meeting we said that I had to stay relaxed and then see how the race was after the climb. It was a hard race stage right from the start at one point there was a group of 20 going away, without us in it, so I jumped across.

    "I knew I'd struggle on the Puerto de Urkiola and so rode carefully. We were only 50 seconds clear on the climb and so I rode the climb as if I was in training and listened to my body. The bunch eventually caught me but that meant I was there for the sprint. The guys then did an amazing job leading me out and I had to finish it off with a win."

    Ready to lead for Italy at the world championships

    It was Bennati's seventh career stage win at the Vuelta but only his fifth sprint won of the 2011 season. With him struggling to win sprints at the...