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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 3, 2011

Date published:
April 03, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Gilbert believes anything is possible in Tour of Flanders

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto)
    Article published:
    April 02, 2011, 13:02 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Cancellara's rivals cannot wait until finale to attack

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has said that he and the other Tour of Flanders contenders cannot afford to wait until the closing stages of the race if they wish to deny Fabian Cancellara victory on Sunday. While the Belgian acknowledged that Cancellara is the favourite, he believes that anything is possible in De Ronde.

    “Cancellara is a very clever rider,” Gilbert told L’Équipe. “He’s capable of letting a little group go as though it were nothing and then letting his rivals tire themselves out before catching us out when he feels that we’re all dead.

    “It’s a real game of poker with him. You have to play with your cards to close to your chest and try to be more intelligent than him. We know that if we wait for the finale, we’re beaten. He would only be too happy to put two minutes into is.”

    Cancellara’s status as favourite means that Gilbert does not expect to be as tightly marked in Flanders as he was at Milan-San Remo a fortnight ago. He also believes that the prospect of beating the highly-fancied Cancellara is an additional motivation for a number of riders in the race.

    “In one sense, I will have more freedom because he can’t watch everybody,” Gilbert said. “It’s up to him to assume his responsibilities and he’ll have to earn this Tour of Flanders.

    “We know that we have a big challenge, which is not only to win the Tour of Flanders, but also to beat Cancellara. The winner on Sunday will be spoken of more than would normally be the case if he beats a rider like him. I imagine that I won’t be the only one drawing motivation from that challenge.

    "I believe that everything is...

  • Pozzato looks to respond to critics at Tour of Flanders

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha)
    Article published:
    April 02, 2011, 17:34 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Tchmil tensions mark beginning of the end at Katusha?

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) will go into the Tour of Flanders with a point to prove after being criticised by sectors of the Belgian media and by his team manager Andrei Tchmil for his tactics in the finale of Milan-San Remo. Pozzato used his efforts in the final kilometre to chase down Omega Pharma-Lotto's Philippe Gilbert and missed out on the final podium.

    While the Italian is aware that he will be in the spotlight when he rolls up in Brugge on Sunday morning, he was keen to sound a defiant note.

    “A Belgian journalist wrote that the public here hates me because I chased Gilbert at San Remo, and that he will buy a beer for anybody who supports me,” Pozzato told Gazzetta dello Sport. “So maybe on Sunday I should go on the signing-on platform in Brugge with a crate of beer for whoever supports me, namely my friends.”

    Pozzato has failed to chalk up a win so far in 2011 and finished 5th in Milan-San Remo after a lacklustre sprint. He admitted that he is not riding as well as twelve months ago, when he fell ill shortly before the Tour of Flanders.

    “Last year I was going very well and I had to pull out because I was ill,” he said. “This year the sensations are not as I would like, I don’t feel super. And yet it might be the right time. It’s a s**t moment in my career. To get out of it, I need to win. I’ll risk to the end.”

    As well as facing external criticism, Gazzetta reports that there are tensions within the Katusha camp that could see Pozzato leave at the end of the season, and L'Equipe suggests Lampre-ISD as a possible...

  • Nygaard confident ahead of Tour of Flanders

    Brian Nygaard is the team boss
    Article published:
    April 02, 2011, 20:18 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Leopard Trek boss believes team is on course

    Brian Nygaard is confident that his Leopard Trek team has arrived at the Tour of Flanders well prepared and ready to perform in one the major objectives of its maiden season.

    The Dane greeted the team’s successes in Harelbeke and the Criterium International last weekend by tweeting “And to the critics we go: shhhhhhh,” and he explained that he felt his team had been prematurely criticised in the season’s opening weeks.

    “We’d been second so many times, and there were certain people who were saying that ‘yeah, maybe they aren’t as strong as they said they’d be’ but I knew we were going to be strong for the big races,” Nygaard told Cyclingnews in Kortrijk. “I knew that we would be good in these big races and that’s where I expect us to perform and I expect us to take home a couple of wins over the next week if we do everything right.

    “It’s nice to look at rankings in January and February, but the rankings end in October and that’s what I want to be measured on. Obviously we will be good in the classics, we’ll be extremely good in the Tour and of course we want to do well on the whole season, but I don’t think it’s fair to judge a team on the first couple of months of racing and then have an opinion on whether we’re good or not.”

    One potential cause for concern from last weekend’s racing was that Daniele Bennati was Leopard Trek’s only finisher in Gent-Wevelgem. However, Nygaard explained that as the remainder of the team had participated in the previous day’s E3 Prijs, it was only to...

  • 2011 Giro Donne to take in Mortirolo

    The Giro Donne jersey holders (l-r): Marianne Vos, points leader; Mara Abbott, race leader; Tatiana Guderzo, best Italian.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2011, 21:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Route announced in Monza

    The route for the 2011 Giro Donne was unveiled in Monza on Saturday, with a scenic start in Rome and a first ever crossing by the women of the fearsome Mortirolo as the highlights of a testing route.

    The ten-day race gets under way in Rome on July 1, and will cover 962.1km on the road north to San Francesco al Campo, just outside Turin. In travelling between the nation’s current and first capital cities, the race seeks to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian unification.

    “It’s a women’s Giro d’Italia that will carry the values of cycling in terms of its challenge, tenacity and the sense of belonging to the larger family of women’s racing,” said Giro Donne director general Giuseppe Rivolta. “In this way, it also pays homage to the anniversary of Italian unification.”

    After leaving Rome, the race heads through Castel Gandolfo, site of the Papal summer residence, en route to Velletri. Stage two in Abruzzo could see the race break up on testing terrain around Pescocostanzo, before the race pays tribute to its ambassador Marina Romoli with a stage on her home roads in the Marche.

    A few days for the sprinters follow, with finishes in Forlì, Verona and Piacenza, where world champion Giorgia Bronzini will be looking to win in front of her home fans.

    The following day, however, comes the tappone, the queen stage of the Giro. With 122km and the climb of the Mortirolo facing the riders on the road to Grosotto, this could well be the race’s decisive moment. “It’s the battle of battles,” Rivolta said. “An extraordinary stage that recalls a different era of cycling.”

    The climbing continues on stage 8, with a summit finish at Valdidentro sure to break up the classification still further. The penultimate day to Ceresola Reale includes the race’s final climb in the Gran Paradiso national park, with slopes of 14%...

  • Craddock shows talent with Triptyque time trial win

    Lawson Craddock racing with the US national team in Belgium
    Article published:
    April 02, 2011, 21:31 BST
    Laura Weislo

    US national team shines in Belgium

    American Lawson Craddock demonstrated the strength of his country's next generation of professional racers, winning the 8-kilometre time trial on stage 2a of Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, while his teammate Larry Warbasse of Traverse City, Michigan took third.

    Craddock, 19, a multi-time national champion at the junior level is continuing to enjoy success in his first year in the espoir ranks. He is on loan from his UCI continental team Trek-Livestrong to race with the national team in Belgium.

    "So far it's been an awesome step. It's been a great trip for us so far. I'm really happy with the win in the time trial. The winds picked up a bit-good for me, not so great for the other guys."

    On a double-stage day, the team tried to go two for two on the 120km stage to Mont de l'Enclus. Coming into the finale, the team pulled the breakaway back just before the final climb, and then Craddock led his teammate Ryan Eastman, the best placed on GC, for the sprint.

    "Lawson and I were solo off the front," said Eastman. "He led it out with 1k to go and put me in perfect position. I think I probably had 10 or 15 seconds on the group and he just screamed 'go' and I went all out to the finish. One guy came around me with 300 meters to go and then a couple of guys came around in the sprint and I held on for fourth."

    The proximity of the team's base to the day's route helped in the end.

    "Just last week I think we did this climb three times, and the week before I think another three times. I know that climb really well so its great living here in Izegem."

    "They did a super job; I'd say it's one of the best moves I've seen from Under 23s," said Marcello Albansani, USA Cycling men's U23 team director....

  • Astarloza set to return to injury-hit Euskaltel-Euskadi

    Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the podium after his stage win.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 0:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Ban for EPO ends June 26

    Euskaltel-Euskadi's injury crisis could pave the way for the return of Mikel Astarloza with the banned rider's sanction coming to an end on June 26.

    Astarloza tested positive for EPO a little over three weeks before his stage win in Bourg-Saint-Maurice at the 2009 Tour de France. The result of the positive test was not revealed until after the Tour. In May last year, he was handed a two-year ban by the Spanish cycling federation.

    Euskaltel-Euskadi's team manager, Igor González de Galdeano, told Basque daily El Correo that there was a place for Astarloza in the depleted squad.

    "A couple of months ago I asked him and, as we had the whole team it was not possible [for him to return]," he explained. "But then we've had problems with injuries from crashes. Mikel is a person much-loved in Guipúzcoa and also among the Basque fans. And he's a good rider. Because of all that, we are now planning for him to return to the team."

    Astarloza maintained his innocence throughout his ban.


  • Injured Breschel can't go past Cancellara for Flanders

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek)
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 5:42 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Rabobank rider might be sidelined, but he's not sitting on the fence

    He may have been ruled out of the Spring Classics with injury but Matti Breschel (Rabobank) has kept a watchful eye over his rivals ahead of Sunday's Tour of Flanders.

    The 26-year-old has missed most of this season but like many within cycling has pointed to last year's podium of Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert and Tom Boonen as the men most likely for Flanders but singled out his former teammate Cancellara as the top favourite.

    "I expect a hard race but we've seen all the favourites already in the build up races show their form. Gilbert, Cancellara, and Boonen, who was surprisingly strong in Gent-Wevelgem are the guys to watch. I would have to put Fabian ahead of the rest though. He's the best one-day rider in the world and if you give him ten meters you're never going to catch him back," Breschel told Cyclingnews.

    Asked if Cancellara had a weakness, Breschel struggled to find answer but finally pointed to the Swiss rider's sprint and gave his own insight into how he would try and beat him.

    "Does he have a weakness? Not when he's that good. He has the confidence and the morale to back his power up. He can have some bad luck but otherwise he's the best."

    "I would just try following and see what he can do. It's all about hiding but still being near the front. That's what makes it so stressful but you have to be there when the top riders hit the Oude Kwaremont."

    "Cancellara has a strong team and it's all for Fabian this year. The last few years they've played different cards but now it's all for him. He's so good at using his teammates and getting the most out of them so he's never in the wind or wasting injury. As for a weakness you have to look at his sprint. That's where someone like Boonen has the edge. There's just the small matter of staying with him the entire race."

    "The most important section is from the Oude Kwaremont. From there the race starts and if you're off the pace and just off the front...

  • Team Sky's Hayman throws caution to the wind on and off the bike

    Matt Hayman (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 6:49 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Bravery in surf rescue recognised by Australian Governor-General

    His selfless exploits on the road have been well-documented, his response to do whatever needs to be done automatic, but Mathew Hayman's efforts don't just stop when he gets off his bike at the end of the day.

    Flashback to December 11, 2008 and the Australian is enjoying a summer holiday at the beach "like so many other Australians" on the New South Wales south coast. The conditions aren't the best and the water at Mollymook beach is running in all directions. It's windy and unseasonably cool.

    Two clearly fatigued boys struggle out of the surf and further out, Hayman can see someone else still in the water.

    "There's a place in my head that said ‘you're not supposed to go into a rip,' but I had a board and I had a wetsuit," the Team Sky rider told Cyclingnews from Belgium. "I'm not a surfer by any stretch of the imagination and I'd only had it [the board] for a day or so but I was pretty confident that with both of those things that I could stay afloat. If something needs to be done I tend to just jump in and do it. Try to lead by example. I like to take control and be in control."

    Hayman followed a young local woman into the dangerous surf and together, they dragged the unconscious father of the two boys onto the cyclist's board and brought him back to shore. The man had entered the water trying to save his sons from a dangerous rip. He was, sadly, unable to be revived.

    "I still think about what if I'd made the decision a couple of seconds quicker, or I'd run a bit faster up the beach - things could have been different but at the time I did everything I could," Hayman said. "Every bike race you can go back and look at it and it can come down to one decision or 10 seconds where ‘what if I had of held on there,' or if only I'd done things differently."

    This week, it was announced that Hayman along with the young woman he assisted in the rescue, will be awarded the Commendation for Brave Conduct by...