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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 6, 2014

Date published:
April 06, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • NCC: Watch Sunny King Criterium live on Cyclingnews

    The Sunny King Criterium podium: Sergio Hernandez (Predator), Carlos Alzate and Karl Menzies (Unitedhealthcare)
    Article published:
    April 05, 2014, 22:44 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Pro women, men start at 6:20 CDT

    Watch the opening race of the 2014 USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar live from Anniston, Alabama here on Cyclingnews.

    One of the best-produced live streams in the USA, the Sunny King Criterium features multiple cameras around the fast, four-corner course. You can catch all the action starting at 18:20 CDT (7:20PM EDT/0:20 CET) with the elite women, followed by the elite men's field an hour later.

    Who will earn the first leader's jersey of the NCC? Defending women's champion Erica Allar will be a hot favourite with her new Colavita squad, while last year's race winner Coryn Rivera will be freelancing as the only UnitedHealthcare rider in attendance.

    The UHC team will have a number of riders in the men's event, however, with last year's race winner Carlos Alzate and NCC winner Hilton Clarke at his side. Can anyone stop the "blue train"? Tune in for the races in the box below. The live stream will include amateur races leading up to the pro events.

  • Van Dijk aiming for victory at Tour of Flanders

    World Champion, Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands), happily shows off her gold medal
    Article published:
    April 05, 2014, 23:27 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Dutch rider happy in new team

    Ellen van Dijk will be part of a two pronged attack for the Dutch Boels Dolmans team in the third round of the World Cup, at the Tour of Flanders. Van Dijk’s past performances there make her an ideal candidate for the win, but she believes that her teammate Lizzie Armitstead could be an equally strong prospect.

    Armitstead is the current World Cup leader, after a strong start to the year, while Van Dijk is looking to kick start the season with her first victory. “I think that people will name me, but I think that they know I am not the fastest in a sprint. With my team, I have a really strong team and we have different cards to play. For sure Lizzie is in top shape at the moment and hopefully we can help her to a good result,” Van Dijk told Cyclingnews.

    The reigning world time trial champion finished second last year, losing out to compatriot Marianne Vos in a sprint. Vos will not be defending her title this season, but Van Dijk is still expecting to have a big battle on her hands before the can step onto the top of the rostrum.

    “Normally girls are looking at her, but she hasn’t been racing with us this spring. That won’t change so much. It means that, for other girls, there are more opportunities to win,” said Van Dijk. “There are lots of girls who can win this race and lots of girls who are targeting this race. You can feel it in the bunch that lots of people are excited about this race. It’s one of the biggest for us and that’s why everybody will be at their best.”

    Van Dijk didn’t have the perfect build-up to the new season, after being forced to spend three weeks off the bike in January due to illness. She hasn’t enjoyed the same success in the early stages of the year, as she did in 2013 – perhaps an after effect of the big year she’s just had.

    The Dutch rider took 20 victories throughout the season, including the team and...

  • Rui Costa to lead Lampre in Vuelta al Pais Vasco

    World champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) finished in second place for the second straight day at the Volta ao Algarve
    Article published:
    April 06, 2014, 8:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    World champion searching for first win in 2014

    World champion Rui Costa will lead Lampre-Merida in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which starts next Monday.

    The 2013 world champion has just returned from a stint of altiitude training and is still looking for his first win since claiming the world title in Italy last year. He moved to Lampre from Movistar at the start of this season and has picked up six second places, including second overall in last month’s Paris-Nice.

    He will also be looking to use the Vuelta al Pais Vasco as a warm-up for the Ardennes Classics before targeting his main objective, the overall in the Tour de France this July.

    “The selection for Vuelta al Pais Vasco is very competitive: it's a World Tour appointment and this means that it will be important to score some points, not forgetting that this race is also an interesting passage towards Ardenne classics,” said team manager Brent Copeland.

    “Rui Costa has shown in the first part of the season that he always approach the races with a competitive spirit, this is
    very good for the team, that will also rely on Cunego, who's in good condition and is willing to repeat the amazing performances he realized in Vuelta al Pais Vasco in the past.”

    Joining Rui Costa on the startline will be Damiano Cunego, Jose Serpa, Kristijan Durasek, Jan Polanc, Nelson Oliveira and Chinese Xu Gang, who will be making his WorldTour debut.

     

  • Gallery: On the start line of the Tour of Flanders

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) looks calm before the start
    Article published:
    April 06, 2014, 11:34 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sagan, Boonen and Cancellara do battle

    After almost two weeks of beautiful sunshine, the rain arrived for the start of the Tour of Flanders. No doubt there were a few smiles among the riders as the heavens opened but, for the inexperienced, trepidation may have been the overwhelming feeling.

    Donning their rain jackets, the riders wound their way through the huge crowds that lined the road between the team buses and the presentation stage, negotiating the already slippery cobbles as they went.

    All were greeted with claps and cheers, but the biggest were reserved for the Belgian Omega Pharma-QuickStep team. Led by home hero Tom Boonen, along with Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar, the noise raised several decibels as they walked onto the stage. The team come to the race with a strong group of riders and are likely to dictate much of the race strategy.

    There were plenty of other big names on show for the second monument of the year. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) are two of the big favourites to take victory today. Earlier this week, Cancellara said that the pressure was on the Slovak to win. Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Gent-Wevelgem victor John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) are also on hand, and could be dangermen if the race comes back together on the run-in to Oudenaarde.

    Click here for the start line gallery.

  • Specialized and FMB team up for Flanders tires

    Specialized and FMB have formally joined forces for team tires at this year's cobbled classics. The hybrid tubulars use FMB's ultra-supple handmade cotton casings and Specialized's Gripton rubber compounds and tread patterns
    Article published:
    April 06, 2014, 17:06 BST
    By:
    James Huang

    FMB casings plus Specialized treads

    Whereas in previous years Specialized-sponsored teams would race on rebadged FMB tubular tires, the two companies have now formally paired up for this year's spring classics campaigns. The new tires use FMB's ultra-supple handmade cotton casings – widely regarded as among the finest in the world – with Specialized's own Gripton rubber compounds and tread patterns.

    "This year at the spring classics we have tires that blend the famed FMB cotton casings and our Gripton compound," said Specialized tire product manager Wolf VormWalde. "Omega Pharma-QuickStep raced them already in some run-up races to the classics campaign. Saxo and Astana have them, too."

    VormWalde told BikeRadar that the two companies actually started cooperating last spring but the final tires are only just recently making their debut. Our own experience with Specialized's latest clincher tires and FMB's tubulars suggests that the pairing could indeed yield a phenomenal hybrid with an ultra-fast roll, outstanding traction, and unmatched suppleness – exactly what's needed for attacking and surviving the cobbles of Belgium and northern France.

    Specialized and FMB have made the tires available to team riders in 26, 28 and 30mm widths. VormWalde said a "limited quantity" will be sold to the public, too. Pricing hasn't been announced yet but interested buyers should certainly be prepared to pay a pretty penny.

  • Thomas frustrated with performance at Tour of Flanders

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) on the Paterberg
    Article published:
    April 06, 2014, 20:01 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Crash spoils his race

    A battered and bruised Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) crossed the line in eighth place at the Tour of Flanders to gain his career-best finish in the race. He should have been delighted with the result, but the usually smiley Thomas looked sullen as he made his way to the team bus for a well deserved rest. The day was tinged with frustration after an early crash hampered him for the rest of the race and left him wondering what he could have done.

    "I was having a drink, everyone slammed on and I hit a central reservation and landed on my face about 50km in. It proper shook me up. It's really frustrating, because I pulled something in my back and I just felt terrible all day. I managed to hang on in there and went away in that group in the end," he told Cyclingnews moments after crossing the line. Through his obvious disappointment, Thomas was still able to see the silver lining in it all.

    "Considering how I felt, I can be happy with that. It was just a stupid crash."

    The day had started with so much potential for Thomas. His recent performances at E3 Harelbeke – where he made the podium – and Gent-Wevelgem made him a real contender for the podium. In spite of the crash, Thomas was able to hang with the main group for most of the race but was eventually distanced on the Taaienberg with around 36 kilometres remaining.

    It’s likely that the words "I give up" don’t exist in Thomas’ vocabulary. After seeing the big favourites ride off up the road he kept a tight hold on the group that he was in and managed to regain contact, before finding the energy to have his own little attack. However, he believes that he could have finished higher up, if he hadn’t made a tactical error near the finish. “I learned a lot today....

  • Boonen not good enough in Flanders, eyes Roubaix

    Tom Boonen chasing with Niki Terpstra
    Article published:
    April 06, 2014, 21:04 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Team falls short as Cancellara wins

    Belgium's favourite fell short to accomplish a fourth win in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was in doubts as to where his form was after spending some time off the bike two weeks ago. A steady ride in Gent-Wevelgem gave him hope but in the Ronde he fell short when top favourite Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) attacked on the Oude Kwaremont. Cancellara went on to win and equal Boonen's record of three wins. Afterwards the Belgian star said he would have been surprised if he had featured in the finale.

    "It was quite realistic I guess. It's clear that before the race I would have taken the opportunity to head to the finish with three men, but I fell a percentage short. That's all, really. I felt good until 230km and then my light started to fade so I had to watch what I did. I managed my race well but fell short on the Kwaremont, but managed to bounce back. I think I can be satisfied that I'm better than last week, a lot better."

    "Now the focus is fully on next week," Boonen said while sitting in the doorway of the team bus, referring to next week's Paris-Roubaix. Team manager Patrick Lefevere was on the same line as Boonen.

    "In the final kilometres Tom got better again but on the tough climbs you see that the few days that he was out are taking its toll. He's got a week to win another race," Lefevere said, putting the pressure back on Boonen's shoulders.

    When asked about the team tactics Boonen referred to a lack of communication late in the race, but mainly the failure from himself and Nikki Terpstra to go with the big moves on the Oude Kwaremont climb at 17km from the finish. Teammate Stijn Vandenbergh defended the team colours in the lead group but finished fourth in the sprint. Terpstra finished sixth, with Boonen winning the sprint for seventh...

  • Cancellara: To repeat at the Tour of Flanders is to make history

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) drags the race winning move along
    Article published:
    April 06, 2014, 22:06 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Trek rider wins third Ronde

    At one point in his career, Fabian Cancellara seemed to be trying to conjure up a performance for the ages every time he pinned on a race number, yet he risked ending up with a palmarès that did not properly reflect how he had marked his own era.

    Cancellara won plenty of plaudits for his buccaneering displays at the 2011 Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, for instance, but when the dust settled on that spring, his running total of monument victories remained at four. A tally beyond the reach of the vast majority of riders, certainly, but hardly commensurate with Cancellara’s endeavours on the cobbles either.

    Cycling folklore reserves its longest chapters for the grandest gestures, but over the past two years, Cancellara has gone about ensuring that his name will survive in the record books too. Last April, he won his second Flanders-Roubaix double, and on Sunday, he equalled the record for Ronde wins by claiming his third.

    Cancellara had soloed to his previous Tour of Flanders victories, dropping Tom Boonen on the Muur in 2010 and Peter Sagan on the Paterberg in 2013, but this time around, the Trek rider was focused purely on the winning the race rather than looking to add the strongest man contest to boot.

    After attacking with Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) on the Oude Kwaremont, Cancellara bridged to Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) on the Paterberg, before seeing off the Belgian trio with a powerful sprint finish in Oudenaarde.

    “Of course I was dreaming and preparing to come to the finish line alone. It didn’t happen but on the end what counts is that you win,” Cancellara said afterwards. “I’ve won two times solo, but winning like this in a sprint is not something I’ve had on my palmarès so often.

    “In...