Says U23 team has no allegiance to RadioShack-Nissan
Team director Axel Merckx rejected the idea Thursday that his Bontrager-Livestrong team would be working for the interests of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek at this year's Amgen Tour of California, saying the U23 development team had done everything it could to become independent, and would be focused on its own ambitions during the May 13-20 tour.
Race organiser AEG's decision to invite Bontrager-Livestrong to this year's race raised some eyebrows among people wondering if remaining allegiances to the RadioShack squad, its former WorldTour parent team, would give defending champion Chris Horner a leg up by essentially putting two teams in his corner.
Despite having taken steps to legally separate itself from Radioshack-Nissan this season after that team merged with Leopard-Trek, questions remained about the young American squad's allegiance to the Luxembourg WorldTour team's remaining RadioShack staff or to riders like Horner and former Livestrong teammate Ben King.
"I don't know what more we can do and say," Merckx said from Belgium, where he's preparing half the Bontrager-Livestrong team for the Tour of Normandy in France March 19-25. "But you know what, the facts will be the facts, and let's just wait for the race and I'll show everybody that they're wrong. We took a different path this year, and RadioShack took a different path by developing a Continental team in Luxembourg, which is totally fine. We're competitors. The only thing we have in common is that we ride Trek bikes."
Merckx likened the current relationship with his former parent team to that of many others in the peloton between past teammates and staff who now ride or work for different organizations.
"I have as many friends on QuickStep as I have with the RadioShack people," he said. "I've raced with those teams. I've...
The Belgian looked in good shape for most of the race, constantly near the front of the peloton at key sections and looked set to compete in the finale of the Italian Classics.
With the peloton just a handful of seconds behind the trio of Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge), Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) on the descent of the Poggio, Boonen was caught behind a crash, and unable to regain contact with the chase group. He eventually crossed the line in 22nd place.
"I had really good legs, maybe the best legs ever in Milano-San Remo," Boonen said. "It was always under control and the team did a really good job for me. They kept me in the first 10 to 15 positions in all important moments of the race. Then on the Poggio I was 7th or 8th when we took the corner to go downhill.
“I was really good, the team was with me, and we were in good position ready to fight for victory. Then, in the first part of the downhill a rider crashed, and I was just behind him. I had to brake, and lost 100 meters.
“Because of that it was impossible to come back.”
Despite the setback, Boonen and his teammates will look to regroup ahead of the remaining spring classics, where the Belgian will hope to feature in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“In any case I am in good shape and I am ready to fight for the next races in the coming weeks."
It takes the head and the legs to win bike races, and never was the old adage more pertinent than on the Lungomare Italo Calvino on Saturday afternoon, as Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) zipped past Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) to win Milan-San Remo.
It was Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) who sparked the winning break with an attack on the Poggio, but it was Cancellara who grabbed a firm hold of the reins on the descent, and his efforts on the sinuous plunge down into San Remo ensured that the trio stayed just clear of the chasers to divide the spoils among them.
But in an echo of last spring’s monuments, while Cancellara’s show of force produced plenty of shock and awe, the winner’s bouquet went to the rider who best engaged his grey matter in the finale.
Gerrans took two turns on the front. The first, before the top of the Poggio, added momentum to Nibali’s attack. The second, in the streets of San Remo, seemed merely a token effort to appease Cancellara’s signal for help.
“Without question Fabian was the strongest, I can’t deny him that. He was going like a motorbike,” Gerrans admitted in the post-race press conference. “Really, he followed Nibali and myself on the Poggio and then he drove it across the top. He’s one of the best descenders in the peloton and he drove it down the descent. I was losing the wheel coming out of the corners each time.”
Last year, Cancellara famously warned his classics rivals that they would have to fasten their seatbelts such was the ferocity of his attacking. Gerrans and Nibali duly buckled up as the road flattened out over...
Without a victory since his high-profile switch to BMC in the off-season and forced out of Tirreno-Adriatico through illness earlier in the week, many were looking to the finale of Milan-San Remo for signs of a Gilbert recovery, but the Belgian was felled by a crash near the summit of the race’s penultimate climb.
“It was Dominique Rollin from FDJ who was maybe on the limit and taking a lot of risks,” Gilbert told reporters outside the BMC team bus after the finish. “He made a lot of riders fall around me. I was afraid because there were cars passing on my right. I slid on my back and then other riders crashed into me from behind.”
Although Gilbert was able to remount and continue, he rolled in to San Remo almost eight minutes down on winner Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge). In spite of his ill fortune, Gilbert was confident that he had not sustained any lasting injuries in the crash.
“I just have some burns, so we’ll see tomorrow,” he said, casually lifting his leg to show a series of scrapes across his calf, and then laughing joylessly. “Rollin is my bête noire for crashes…”
The BMC squad had put four riders working on the front on the approach to the Cipressa, but Gilbert himself came to the front and appeared to tell his teammates to relent their efforts.
“John [Lelangue] was saying on the radio that we should stop riding on the front, and just keep a rider or two up...
There appeared to be no serious injuries resulting from the various crashes in Saturday's Milan-San Remo. Even the most ominous crash, that of Carlos Quintero of Colombia Coldeportes, turned out to be not nearly as serious as it first appeared.
Quintero crashed on the descent of La Mamie. The crash was not shown on television, but viewers could see the gathered ambulances and emergency workers tending the injured man, laying motionless near a stone wall. He was apparently knocked unconscious, but came to again and spoke with his directeur sportif before being transported to hospital.
After the race, Colombia Coldeportes was happy to announce, “only a broken left collarbone for Quintero. Carlos feels pretty good, and already talked to his family in Colombia.”
Two of BMC Racing's captains crashed during the race, with Philippe Gilbert involved in one near the top of the penultimate climb of the Cipressa. "I was feeling good, but I had bad luck with the crash," he said. "A rider from FDJ-BigMat made a move and he crashed and involved some other riders, including me. That's part of the game.” He was not injured and immediately resumed racing.
His teammate Greg Van Avermaet was not so lucky. He and Alessandro Ballan were chasing the leading trio on the descent of the Poggio when another rider crashed on the final curve, sending the Belgian into another stone wall. "My left side is not feeling too great but I can still move," he said. "I'll get X-rays and hopefully it will be OK.”
Matteo Trentin of Omega Pharma-Quick Step crashed in the sprint finish, within site of the finish line. He had waited for captain Tom Boonen, who was, coincidentally held up by...
The 2012 USA Crits Championship Series continues on Saturday, March 17, with the Old Pueblo Grand Prix, and you can follow all of the action with live streaming video on Cyclingnews.com.
Live coverage from the second criterium of the series in Tucson, Arizona runs from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm PST.
After winning round 1 in Delray Beach, Flordia, Ben Zawacki (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop) and Erica Allar (RideClean/PatentIt.com) lead the series.
2012 USA CRITS Championship Series Mar 10: Delray Beach Twilight, Delray Beach, FL Mar 17: Athlete Octane Old Pueblo Grand Prix, Tucson, AZ Apr 14: Presbyterian Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, NC Apr 28: Terrapin Twilight Criterium, Athens, GA May 12: Tour de Grove, St. Louis, MO Jun 1: Lake Bluff Twilight Criterium, Lake Bluff, IL Jun 19: Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, New York, NY Jun 30: Hyde Park Blast, Cincinnati, OH Jul 7: Iron Hill Twilight Criterium. West Chester, PA Jul 14: Exergy Twilight Criterium, Boise, ID Sep 30: Tour of Vail, Vail, CO
Another classic, another pyrrhic victory for Fabian Cancellara. The RadioShack-Nissan rider made all the running in the final, frantic kilometres of Milan-San Remo on Saturday, but he comes away from the Riviera laden with compliments rather than prizes after he finished second behind Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge).
Second in Milan-San Remo last year, third in the Tour of Flanders, second in Paris-Roubaix and now second again in La Classicissima, Cancellara’s recent run of classics results has been as frustrating as it has been remarkable. From monument to monument, the sequence of events has seemed to follow a set formula: Cancellara wins the strongest man contest but somebody else rides off with the race itself.
On this occasion it was Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) who sparked the winning move when he forged clear on the Poggio with Gerrans for company, but approaching the summit, it was Cancellara who muscled his way to the front and powered the trio down into San Remo.
Such was the intensity of his effort that Gerrans later admitted that he was struggling to keep up as Cancellara accelerated out of the corners that litter the famous descent of the Poggio. Indeed, at times Cancellara seemed to ride as though he were utterly unaware that he had two such high-quality rivals sitting (albeit not always comfortably) on his back wheel.
He eventually waved Gerrans through to take a rather cursory turn on the front in the streets of San Remo, but Cancellara again took up sole responsibility in the final kilometre, fearful of the chase group behind. A Milan-San Remo victor must know how to gamble; perhaps mindful of his weakness in the sprint, Cancellara opted to play the percentages and ensure at least a...
Swiss rider late signing to German Professional Continental team
Marcel Wyss is happy and relieved to have found a new team at this time of year, and is looking forward to helping Team NetApp - hopefully at the Giro d'Italia. The Swiss rider is ready to not only share his experience from two Giro participations, but also to play an important role in the team time trial.
Wyss, 25, is only one of four riders on NetApp with Giro experience. “I have ridden it twice, and as a helper for (Denis) Menchov and (Carlos) Sastre, learned a whole lot. This experience was extremely important and the more experience a team has, the better,” he told Cyclingnews.
“But I am also valuable because of my time trial abilities. I will surely be a big support at the team time trial on the fourth day in Verona.”
He admitted that he usually doesn't come into form until the end of April, at which point he can be seen at the front of stage races. “I want to do that for the team as well.” But he is not thinking only of his own chances. “If a teammate like (Leo) König or (Bartosz) Huzarski need my help at the Giro, I will be at their side.”
Not that the Giro is a certainty, though. “Because it always taks a while for me to get in form, the decision won't be made until the final preparation races. But if I do ride, then I want to improve myself over 2010 and 2011.” In those two years he finished 33rd and 38th.
His NetApp debut will be at the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali next Tuesday. “In April I will ride Limburg, Pino Cerami, Rund um Köln and Brabant. Then another stage race with the Tour of Turkey.”
Wyss rode for Scott-American Beef in 2008 before joining Garmin-Cervelo for two years. In 2011 he was with the...