Omega Pharma-Quick Step young climber inspired by Purito
Carlos Verona is one of the new faces of cycling. The 21-year-old Spaniard riding in his second year for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, remains in contention against mountain biker Jack Haig of UniSA-Australia for the best young rider title ahead of the decisive stage of the Santos Tour Down Under up to Willunga Hill. He showed a piece of his talent as he took the white jersey on day 1.
“The Tour Down Under has been good for me so far,” he told Cyclingnews in Adelaide. “But sometimes your body doesn’t react as well as you want. When I see how Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans perform, it reminds me that I have to progress step by step into my career. I hope to reach their level one day but I’m not there yet.”
Hailing from the steep slopes of San Lorenzo del Escorial overlooking Madrid, a town where Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez won a spectacular stage 8 in the 2011 Vuelta a España, Verona was born a climber. At the age of 18, soon after exiting the junior ranks, he finished third of the queen stage of the Tour des Pays de Savoie in the Alps behind Romain Bardet and Nikita Novikov. He was already a professional with Burgos-BH.
"That’s when Omega Pharma - Quick Step, via their soigneur Johan Molly, asked me to join them for a training camp," he explained. “I started working with them and signed my contract in 2012.”
“So far, my best result is eighth of the Japan Cup”, he added. “I’m following a planned progression. We’ll see where it takes me but I already know that I prefer the long races. The Vuelta a España is definitely my favorite.”
Verona doesn’t hide the fact that his idol is Purito....
Although the overall win may have been beyond him, Richie Porte (Team Sky) threw down an early season performance of some muster to win atop Willunga Hill on stage five of the Tour Down Under.
The Tasmanian attacked on the final ascent of the stage and despite being briefly joined by rival Cadel Evans (Team BMC) the Sky captain was strong enough to dispatch the veteran and hold on for the win, with Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) taking second and third.
Gerrans made up enough time to regain the race lead over Evans and with one stage remaining looks on course for a record breaking third win in the race.
However with both Evans and Porte set to battle it out at the Giro d’Italia with Joaquim Rodriguez and Nairo Quintana, Australian cycling looks to be in rude health.
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews Youtube channel, click here.
Although Tom Danielson was looking quite comfortable atop the Mirador del Sol, and felt he could have battled for the stage win against eventual winner Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing), Tour de San Luis leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and local hero Sergio Godoy (San Luis Somos Todos), the Garmin-Sharp rider instead opted to be a good teammate to second placed-overall Phil Gaimon.
Danielson hauled Gaimon to the top of the stage 6 finishing climb, limiting his fellow American's loss to just 14 seconds to the stage winner, and more importantly, only nine seconds to Quintana.
"Today I felt like I could have won the stage and I thought for a minute 'I'm going to attack'," Danielson said, "but I looked back and Phil was just behind and I thought 'F**k yeah Phil, you're with the best guys in the world' after putting in a big effort, and I'm going to ride with you all the way to the top. I kept tagging him onto the first guys and that's an experience that Phil has never had before."
Gaimon emerged as the team's unexpected leader for the Tour de San Luis when he made the winning breakaway on the first stage, and profited from the stalemate between the sprinters' teams, netting over four and a half minutes' lead over the rest of the general classification favorites.
That lead evaporated to just four seconds on the stage 4 finishing climb to Alto del Amago when Quintana rocketed away on the 10km climb, and it then turned into a 26-second deficit after the stage 5 time trial. However, with more than a minute and a half on third placed Godoy, Garmin was determined to keep Gaimon in second place.
Former Argentinian road race champion died from injuries
The young and promising Argentinian cyclist Emanuel "El Chino" Saldaño has tragically died from injuries sustained in a traffic accident after the van he was travelling in turned over on the outskirts of El Encon, 100km south of San Juan, Argentina. Saldaño had several wins to his name including a stage and overall at the 2010 Giro del Sol.
The 2011 Argentinian road race champion was taken to Rawson Hospital following the accident with Ernesto Fernandez who had been driving the van. Saldaño died overnight from his injuries in hospital while Fernandez had been admitted to hospital with multiple injuries.
The 28-year-old was also a talented track cyclist and well known in his home country. A moment of silence was held in his honour at the start of the Tour de San Luis's sixth stage in Las Chacras.
"If Adelaide will have me back it that would be so cool for this to be my last racing appearance," said an exhausted Evans. "Don't be so sure this will be my last Tour Down Under.
"We are all getting older but I don't think I am too old just yet to race and be competitive," continued Evans, who was making his first race appearance since 2010 when he was ninth overall. "It was a different Tour Down Under than any I have ridden before and that showed in the performance I could do."
Evans, who captured his first ochre leader's jersey on Stage three before surrendering it – along with eight seconds – two days later after being outgunned by Gerrans on the infamous Willunga Hill on Stage 5.
While German sprinter Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) celebrated Australia Day by claiming his second stage win of the this year's and 16th of his career – the most of any other cyclist in Tour Down Under history – a retrospective Evans talked humbly of...
Only five seconds made the difference from a repeat podium from the Australian men's National Road Race Championships held earlier in the month in Ballarat where Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Cadel Evans (BMC) and Richie Porte (Sky) made it a 1-2-3 finish. This time, Porte would finish fourth in the six-stage race behind Gerrans, Evans and Italy's Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).
In talking about Gerrans' victory in Ballarat, Porte said: "Simon showed he is pretty quick – I mean, he won a bunch sprint here, too. It's always going to be hard to beat him here and he had a great team around him as well."
Porte gave Gerrans full credit on the win and said that Australia's 'big three' can't be ignored in any race on the WorldTour calendar.
"I think he deserves the win," he said. "[Gerrans] fought hard, and Cadel winning a stage as well and me winning a stage, I guess it showed the three guys on the [nationals] podium there in Ballarat were here to fight."
Porte, a pre-race favourite, and his Sky teammates, which also included Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas from the both Bradley Wiggins and Christopher Froome's Tour de France-winning squads, had remained relatively quiet during this year's race until the stage five's Willunga Hill on Saturday. "It's a little bit disappointing to be fourth, so close to the podium," said Porte, a 28-year-old Tasmanian who came of age by winning Paris-Nice...
Australian Adam Hansen odds on favourite as heir apparent to Jensie
While cycling legend Jens Voigt (Trek) lavishly soaks up the accolades and well wishes on what will be his swan song year in front of the more than 766,000 fans who lined the roads of the Santos Tour Down Under in South Australia, Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) is quickly building a fan base to rival the German known as 'Jensie.'
Hansen spent the week capturing valuable King of the Mountain points and ended the race as the only rider to wear the green polka dot jersey also finishing ninth in general classification just 37 seconds behind three-time race winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).
"It's been very good for our team," Hansen told Cyclingnews immediately after teammate Andre Greipel outsprinted the field on Stage 6 – his second of the week and 16th of his career to extend his lead of stage wins at the Tour Down Under. "We've got two firsts, two seconds and a fourth, and I finished in the top 10 on GC. It's been a good week for sure."
With exceptional talent, a charming sense of humour and an engineering education, it's no wonder fans of cycling are flocking to the 32-year-old Queenslander who has made a specialty of conquering all three cycling Grand Tours in the same season which he has done for the past two years.
"It is better I do stage races than single day races," said the 2013 Giro d'Italia stage seven winner. "I have very good recovery so it works out well. I like being in repetition. Mentally it is very simple, you just go out there and race, race, race and then go home, relax, chill and start over again. I like it like that."
The former mountain biker-turned-roadie, with two Crocodile...
Having won his third Tour Down Under crown, taken out stage 1 and spent three days in the leader's ochre jersey, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) is the first leader of the 2014 WorldTour. With Daryl Impey placing seventh overall and having claimed the team classification, Orica-GreenEdge also lead the team category of the rankings.
To complete a clean sweep of the rankings after the first WorldTour race of the year, Australia in part due to Cadel Evans and Richie Porte, has a commanding lead in the nations ranking.
The next WorldTour race of 2014 is Paris-Nice which begins on March 9 and finishes on the 16th.