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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 15, 2012

Date published:
April 15, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Several goals for Sanchez in Amstel

    Stage winner and overall Pais Vasco champion Sammy Sanchez celebrates with some champagne.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 21:38 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Spaniard opts out for two remaining spring classics

    Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is not a favorite for the win in Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, according to the 34-year-old Spaniard. Sanchez has come seemingly unprepared to the Netherlands and is likely to skip Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Sanchez originally wasn’t scheduled to race the Dutch one-day race either but the WorldTour points at stake, the similarity of the Amstel-parcours with that of the world championships and his splendid form, decided differently.

    “We changed plans and we decided I would ride on Sunday. I’ve got good legs and yes, it’s good for the team too,” Sanchez said.
    The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider showed his good form last week at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, where he won two stages and came second in two others, to take the overall title ahead of Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha). It was the first time in his long career he was able to win his home race.

    Despite that win, Sanchez didn’t agree with a role as one of the favorites coming into Amstel Gold Race. When someone said Sanchez was at least fourth or fifth among the list of favorites the likeable Spaniard seemed caught by surprise and started laughing out loud. “Rodriguez showed in the Pais Vasco that he’s got more power. There’s also Valverde, Sagan, Nibali, Evans… I’m not the favorite.”

    Surprising new Amstel finale

    Cyclingnews learned that Sanchez nor his team didn’t know about the new finale of the Dutch race. This year organizer Leo van Vliet reduced the distance between the steep Keutenberg and the finish on the Cauberg by a couple of kilometers. In the past, the riders reached the top of the...

  • New time trials for Cascade Classic

    The women making their way through the rollers along the back side of the course.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 22:51 BST
    By:
    Pat Malach

    Full route description of 2012 NRC stage race

    The Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon will unveil two new time trials for the 33rd edition the National Race Calendar event that runs six days in July, organizers announced this week.

    The race opens Tuesday, July 17, with a brand-new five kilometer opening prologue time trial course on the slopes of new development by the Tetherow Golf course on the southwest edge of town. The short loop, with a limited amount of climbing, was previously used as part of the 20km time trial course for the 2009-10 elite nationals and will set the pecking order for stage one. The men start at 6 p.m. and the women follow.

    "It's got just a couple of teeny, teeny rollers on it," said race director Chad Sperry. "It's actually a really, really nice course. It will be the best prologue we've done in years for Cascade."

    The stage 1 McKenzie Pass Road Race on July 18 is back for the third-consecutive year. Both men and women will tackle 123 kilometres with two significant climbs starting about two-thirds of the way through the race. The first ascent brings riders from about 1,800 feet to nearly 5,400 in just over 20 miles on a road that's closed from November through July and which prohibits large trucks and motor homes because of the tight switchbacks near the top.

    The stage continues onward through massive lava flows between the Three Sisters and Mt. Washington peaks before plunging into Sisters and then climbing to 5,400 feet again for the finish. RealCyclist.com's Cesar Grajales won the men's stage last year, while Kristin McGrath (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12) took the women's race.

    Thursday's Stage 2 offers up another new time trial course as the traditional Skyliners route west of town has been scrapped for a 33km out-and-back test that parallels the scenic Crooked River starting at Prineville, approximately 40 minutes northeast of Bend. The same course will be used for the masters national championships in September.

    "It's...

  • Race organiser encourages Amstel Gold Race attackers

    Philippe Gilbert wins his second Amstel Gold Race in 2011
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 10:05 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Modified parcours puts Cauberg closer to previous climbs

    For the first time since 2003 Amstel Gold Race has changed its finale. Back then the finish of the Dutch spring classic was moved from the Maas river banks in Maastricht to the top of the Cauberg in Valkenburg. This year’s change is not quite as dramatic as the 2003 switch. It can’t be compared to what happened with the Ronde van Vlaanderen either which left out some of its crucial climbs. Due to the modification, the Cauberg remains important as the final climb but the precluding climbs are now closer to the Cauberg.

    Dutch radio NOS journalist Gio Lippens told Cyclingnews that the course is actually not new but rather a return to the old course, explaining that the roads were also used for the world championships of 1998 in Valkenburg when Swiss rider Oscar Camenzind finished solo ahead of Peter Van Petegem, World Cup winner Michele Bartoli and Lance Armstrong.

    Most of the Amstel Gold Race parcours remains the same, with the tiny twisting roads and 31 climbs all still featuring in the 256,5 km long race. After 245 km of riding loops through the hills of the Limburg region the riders reach the top of the Keutenberg after which they ride on a plateau for several kilometers. Following this plateau the riders dive towards the town of Valkenburg where the finish lays on top of the Cauberg. The 2012 modification was made between the plateau and the foot of the Cauberg. Instead of turning left after the plateau the riders now take the Daalhemerweg straight down to Valkenburg where they no longer have to ride a loop through town. The result is that the distance between the top of the Keutenberg – which includes an incredibly steep section with a gradient of 22 per cent - and the foot of the Cauberg diminished to less than ten kilometers.

    Race organizer and course designer Leo van Vliet explained to Cyclingnews that he modified the course to...

  • LeMond guest of honor at Tour of the Battenkill

    Greg LeMond in attendance at the 2012 Tour of the Battenkill
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 11:29 BST
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    Three-time Tour champion opines on development of future US talent

    Three-time Tour de France champion and American cycling legend Greg LeMond is on-hand in Cambridge, New York as an invited 'guest of honor' at the eighth annual Tour of the Battenkill taking place his weekend in upstate New York.

    More than 3,000 amateur riders competed throughout the day on Saturday, April 14 in 38 different races, ranging from the day's first event, the Category 1 men, to 14 different Category 5 heats on the challenging 100km route featuring a mix of dirt and asphalt roads. "The only limit to the amount of races we can do is daylight," said race organiser Dieter Drake.

    Sunday, April 15 features the marquee 200km Tour of the Battenkill Professional Invitational, comprised of 29 teams from North American and Europe, including two UCI Professional Continental and 10 UCI Continental squads. Sunday's invitational event is the first UCI-sanctioned race in the United States for the 2012 season with the 1.2-rated event part of the UCI Americas Tour. The marquee race is also the second of 11 rounds of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC).

    Preceding Sunday's professional invitational is the Greg LeMond-led, non-competitive Bike Marathon-Battenkill, a 22-mile ride on parts of the professional invitational course. LeMond will be attending the event in support of his foundation - 1in6 - whose mission is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. Partial proceeds of the ride will go to 1in6 along with other charities including the Wounded Warriors Project and area youth programs.

    At the press conference, and later in an exclusive conversation with Cyclingnews, LeMond spoke about what attracted him to the Tour of the Battenkill and...

  • Battaglin gears up for Giro d'Italia

    Enrico Battaglin and Ben Spies at the Yamaha Giro d'Italia launch.
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 14:47 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian hope launches official motorbike

    After a striking start to life as a professional at the tail end of last season, Enrico Battaglin is gearing up for his Giro d’Italia debut next month. The Colnago-CSF rider, who underscored his credentials by winning the Coppa Sabatini in October after just two months as a professional, is aware that expectations are rife as to what he can achieve in the years to come.

    “I’m living it quite calmly myself but I know that there’s a bit of anticipation from the tifosi,” Battaglin told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Still only 22 years of age, Battaglin explained that his primary aim for this year’s Giro is to gain experience, but the punchy rider will be looking to sniff out an opportunity to take a stage win in the second week.

    “It’s certainly an objective to gain a lot of experience and I’ll look to save my energy for a couple of stages in particular where I look to do well,” he said. “I’m not ashamed to say that I’m going to the Giro to do well and I’ll look to seize the moment on the stages that are best suited to me.”

    Although Battaglin has yet to get off the mark for 2012, the youngster was in fine form at the recent Settimana Coppi e Bartali, and is confident that he can translate such performances into wins of real substance between now and the end of the season. “It’s been a positive start to the season. I haven’t won but I’ve been up there,” he said.

    Battaglin was speaking as the guest of honour at the launch of the official motorbike of the Giro d’Italia at Yamaha Racing Team headquarters Gerno di Lesmo – proof, if it were needed, of the...

  • Evans struggles with illness ahead of Flèche Wallonne

    Former world champion Cadel Evans (BMC)
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 17:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    BMC rider dropped out of Amstel

    2010 Flèche Wallonne winner Cadel Evans is fighting an infection, and struggled in Amstel Gold Race. The BMC rider dropped out with 65km to go having missed a split in the peloton ahead of the Cauberg.

    "I'm a bit disappointed I'm not on the front with the guys," Evans said after heading to the team bus before the race finished. "I've been having a little trouble with an infection and didn't know if I'd be good here or not. Evidently I'm not good enough to be competitive and am not able to help the guys in the final today."

    The Australian Tour de France champion is hoping to get healthy ahead of his next target in his preparation for July, the Tour de Romandie, which begins on April 24.

    "It's hard to [get well] in these weather conditions and with this hard racing. Hopefully I will come around maybe for Flèche Wallonne or Liège, and at least be useful for the team. and for me personally to be good for Romandie."
     

  • Gasparotto draws on experience to win Amstel Gold Race

    Enrico Gasparotto (Pro Team Astana) takes the win
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 18:18 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    First Italian classic victory since 2008

    Experience is so often the crucial ingredient at the business end of the classics, and Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) used all of his nous to take a surprise victory at Amstel Gold Race.

    The devil is in the detail of the final haul up the Cauberg, and Gasparotto had the lessons of his third place finish in 2010 etched on his subconscious as he stole past Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) in the closing metres.

    Though just 800 metres in length, and not as steep as the more storied Mur de Huy, there is a beguiling subtlety to the Cauberg, a climb that so often calls out to riders like a siren only to leave them shipwrecked and floundering within sight of the line.

    “I know that I don’t have the same kind of power as Peter, so I used the 39 on the steepest part and I just tried to stay on the wheels of the others. Then just when the road flattened out for the last 200 metres, I put it in the 53 and it was just those final 20 metres that allowed me to come past Peter,” Gasparotto said afterwards.

    Wincing with cramps as he gingerly descended the dais after his post-race press conference, Gasparotto opted to sit on the steps to continue dissecting the race with reporters. Stretching out his legs, he smiled as he pointed to his thighs. “I don’t have a big muscle mass, so you when you’re like me you need to use the head a bit. I think that was the key to the sprint.”

    Gasparotto admitted that he had been powerless in the face of a fearsome acceleration from a “super Gilbert” on the Cauberg two years ago, but he still harboured regrets about allowing Ryder Hesjedel come past him for the second spot on the podium.

    “I was second up until the closing metres just like Peter was in front today, but the last 10...

  • Video: Freire's last tilt at Amstel glory falls short

    Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha Team) races towards the final climb
    Article published:
    April 15, 2012, 19:36 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Spaniard attacks alone before Cauberg

    Even with first Niki Terpstra and then Philippe Gilbert leading the chase behind him, there was still plenty of encouragement for Oscar Freire (Katusha) from the throngs of Dutch and Belgian supporters huddled on the slopes of the Cauberg at the end of Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.

    Freire had surprisingly clipped off the front of the peloton with 7 kilometres to go, an unusual move from a sprinter but somehow entirely fitting for what might prove to be the final Amstel Gold Race of this most atypical rider's career.

    He had 13 seconds in hand over the chasers as he began the final haul up the Cauberg, and enthusiastic cries of ‘Oscarito' began to gain purchase among the crowds watching proceedings on the big screen at the top as he maintained his advantage on the early slopes.

    Unfortunately for Freire, while Philippe Gilbert's fearsome acceleration behind petered out as the road began to flatten, his effort saw three riders, including winner Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) sweep past the veteran Spaniard in the final 200 metres.

    "Sometimes you just have to have a go," Freire told Cyclingnews of his foray off the front. "I thought that today I could go all the way, it's just a pity that in the end I was missing just a little bit."

    Already a top ten finisher at Amstel Gold Race on five occasions, including three previous times on the Cauberg in the colours of Rabobank, Freire clearly felt that if he were ever destined to win a bunch sprint on the climb, he would have done so before the ripe old age of 36.

    "You never know [what will happen] if you come to the finish all together in a group," he said. "I just saw that I was going well."

    With Joaquim...