For both riders, the day was an uplifting turnaround: for Sanchez, the win made up for the team's inattention on stage 2 when crosswinds split the peloton and they all missed the move.
"We started here with a good team and we are all in good condition, but we weren't paying attention that day," Sanchez said. "That was our own fault and a big mistake. I'm really happy that I've now be able to put things right. This tour has ended up being a good one for the team as a result."
Sanchez briefly threatened overall Paris-Nice leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky), who was 3:51 ahead of him at the start of the day, when the breakaway gained over four minutes. "It was a killer of a day, but I wanted to go to the limit, because we still had much to make up for," Sanchez said.
While Sanchez won a stage of the Tour de France and his national time trial championship in 2011, he has otherwise been lacking in results since moving across to the Dutch team from Caisse d'Epargne. Team director Adri van Houwelingen was impressed by what he saw today from the Spaniard....
“He’s getting better and he’s back on the bike,” manager Johan Bruyneel told L’Équipe. “His programme has changed. His next race will be the Volta a Catalunya [March 19-25 - ed.] and not the Critérium International, but that doesn’t change anything in his general preparation.”
Bruyneel insisted that he was not worried by Schleck’s state of form and said that the Luxembourger could have been a strong performer at Paris-Nice had it not been for his illness.
“It’s early. He was in quite good condition – not at his peak, but enough to do a good Paris-Nice. When you’re sick, there’s nothing you can do. There are plenty of riders in the peloton who had the same problem. The goal is to recover as quickly as possible.”
Bruyneel also sounded an optimistic note on the likelihood that his charge would be ready to mount a challenge for the Ardennes classics in April. Winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2009, Schleck has hinted that his focus will be trained ever more intently on the Tour de France this year.
“They’re still a long way off, in mid-April. Just because you’ve been sick doesn’t mean that you lose everything you did beforehand,” Bruyneel said.
Mark Cavendish will be flanked by Edvald Boasson Hagen in a strong Team Sky line-up at next weekend’s Milan-San Remo. Unsurprisingly, the squad for La Classicissima features seven riders currently competing at Tirreno-Adriatico, where Sky has already taken two sprint victories.
World champion Cavendish’s victory on stage two into Indicatore was an ominous portent for his rivals ahead of Milan-San Remo. After his impressive win at Kuure-Brussel-Kuurne two weeks ago, it was a further warning that he is the man to beat in the event of a bunch finish on the Lungomare Italo Calvino.
The following day, the sprinting duties were handed to Boasson Hagen, and the multi-talented Norwegian didn’t disappoint as he outkicked André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) in the finishing straight at Terni.
Boasson Hagen was a teammate of Cavendish’s when the Manxman triumphed at Milan-San Remo in 2009, and two other survivors of that HTC-Columbia squad also line up for Sky next week – Bernhard Eisel and Thomas Löfkvist.
Mathew Hayman, Jeremy Hunt and Ian Stannard, who have formed a key part of the Sky lead-out train at Tirreno-Adriatico, will also be on hand at Milan-San Remo, while Christian Knees will travel to Italy after he completes his duties at Paris-Nice this weekend.
Team Sky also outlined its line-ups for the remainder of the March calendar, where Cavendish, Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha will divide leadership duties in three cobbled Belgian races. Flecha will look to be to the fore at Dwars Door Vlaanderen on March 21 and he will then be joined by Boasson Hagen the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen two days later. Mark Cavendish will assume the...
Omega Pharma-Quickstep captain suffers three crashes on stage 7
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) started stage 7 at Paris-Nice in third overall, just 10 seconds down on leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky), but by the finish a trio of crashes had eliminated any hope of overall victory with only tomorrow's Col d'Èze time trial remaining. The 38-year-old American, accompanied by three of his teammates, crossed the finish line 16:50 down on solo stage winner Thomas De Gendt and more than nine minutes in arrears of the peloton which contained all of Leipheimer's general classification rivals.
Leipheimer suffered bruises on his right knee, hip and arm while his teammate Dries Devenyns was forced to abandon following the third and most harrowing incident, involving a collision with a parked motorcycle on a blind turn.
"On the first crash, there was a corner with gravel and I dropped my vest into my front wheel because everybody reacted," Leipheimer said. "I was holding my vest but had to let go to brake and it went in the front wheel. By the time I crashed I was going slow so it was not such a big deal. I hit my wrist, which is swollen, but it was OK.
"I got on my spare bike, but I did the Col de Vence climb and wasn't feeling as good on my bike. I wanted to get back on my other bike, back on the first bike. On the downhill, I was right there at the front with Bradley Wiggins and Alejandro Valverde. I was fine, I was paying attention, but someone from behind wasn't and they hit me hard and broke my bike at the same time as Movistar attacked."
Horner suffered a broken nose, cracked ribs, concussion and a blood clot in the lung as a result of his crash on stage 7 of the Tour last year, and was forced to bring both his race and his season to a premature halt. The ongoing Tirreno-Adriatico, which began on March 7, would be Horner's first race since last year's Tour and his performance through the first four stages has indicated a return to form.
His RadioShack-Nissan team opened their Tirreno-Adriatico account with a second place finish in the team time trial, and Horner was well-positioned on general classification heading into today's decisive stage 4, culminating with an arduous climb to the finish in Chieti.
Horner finished in fifth place with the same time as stage winner Peter Sagan as part of the five-man group which escaped in the finale to contest the victory. Horner took over the race lead from Matt Goss (GreenEdge) and holds a seven second advantage over stage 4 runner-up Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and a 13-second lead on third-placed Cameron Meyer (GreenEdge).
"I'm sure many people doubted my fitness after my embolism but it shows today that...
The 2012 USA Crits Championship Series gets underway on Saturday, March 10, with the Delray Beach Twilight criterium, and you can follow all of the action with live streaming video on Cyclingnews.com.
Grid qualifiers take place on Friday at 7PM eastern standard time. For race day, the pre-race broadcast will begin at 6PM, eastern standard time, with the women's race beginning at 7PM and the men at 8:15PM.
Delray Beach Twilight live streaming (Saturday, March 10)
The race is the first of 11 events for the 2012 series, and the first-year event is packing a big prize purse of $50,000 between men and women.
The race is part of a three-day festival of events that will also include amateur races, The Eye Run 5K, the Bicycle Generation 50 Mile Gambler fun ride, an extensive Tai Chi program, and the DogHouse Twilight Grid Qualifiers.
Now in its sixth year, the USA Crits Championship Series specializes in bringing the high-speed, technical discipline that is criterium racing to the downtown districts of various US cities.
In addition to Delray Beach, this year the series also includes new stops in Tucson, Arizona (Old Pueblo Grand Prix), Lake Bluff, Illinois (Lake Bluff Twilight Criterium) and Vail, Colorado, which will be the host city for this year's grand finale at the Tour of Vail.
Longtime favorites returning for 2012 include the Presbyterian Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, North Carolina, the 33rd Terrapin Twilight Criterium in Athens, GA, St. Louis' Tour de Grove, the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic in New York City, Cincinnati Ohio's Hyde Park Blast, the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and the Exergy Twilight Criterium in Boise, Idaho.
Nibali had attacked inside the final 500 metres, and looked set to take stage honours and pick up a 10-second time bonus for his troubles when Sagan sparked the charge behind. With a powerful acceleration, the Slovak ripped out of the chase group with Roman Kreuziger (Astana) in tow, and swept past Nibali to take his second win of the season.
The Liquigas-Cannondale team tactic beforehand had been to try and win the stage with Sagan while simultaneously managing Nibali’s general classification ambitions.
Mission accomplished? Not quite.
“He passed me at twice the speed, I should have been protected,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. The Sicilian had been careful to praise Sagan’s win after the finish, but hinted that the youngster had respected the wording of the team tactic rather than its spirit.
“The agreement was clear: stage win for him, the GC for me. But when I was in front and I was going for the win and Tirreno-Adriatico, he should have respected me and not brought Kreuziger back up to me,” Nibali said. “He should have defended me. And let’s hope that those seconds don’t cost me the race.”
Third place on the stage was enough for Nibali to gather four bonus seconds, but Sagan’s effort ensured that he would make no further gains on new race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan). Nibali now lies in 8th place, 34 seconds down on the American.
“For me going out on the bike and suffering is part of my system,” Cipollini told gazzetta.it. “I’m not the classic ex-cyclist who retires from racing and puts on a belly and who likes to have a glass of wine or whatever. I still have a way of life and diet that means that I still have good sensations when I make an effort on the bike.”
“I said that because the team is sponsored by my bikes but I seem to understand that the management would not welcome this, so I’m putting myself on the market a bit,” Cipollini explained during a broadcast of Tirreno-Adriatico. “If there’s someone who wants to take a punt on Cipollini, I’m here. Who knows what will happen, but if the world of cycling will allow me to present myself at an important race like the Giro d’Italia, I would be the happiest man in the world.”
Cipollini denied that his touted comeback was motivated by financial concerns, and pointed out that he had repeatedly resisted overtures from the producers of an Italian reality television show in recent years.