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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, March 2, 2014

Date published:
March 02, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Phinney: I’m a little bit heartbroken for Van Avermaet

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) rehydrates
    Article published:
    March 01, 2014, 18:49 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    American finishes 7th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    When a muddied and weary Taylor Phinney rolled to a halt outside the BMC team bus in Ghent’s Sint-Pietersplein on Saturday afternoon, he was greeted with a handshake from manager Allan Peiper in recognition of a job well done.

    There was disappointment in the BMC camp that Greg Van Avermaet had been denied Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory by Ian Stannard (Sky) in the two-up sprint, and concern that Thor Hushovd had crashed out midway through the race, but Peiper felt there were positives to be drawn from the afternoon, not least from Phinney’s performance and 7th place finish.

    The 23-year-old was to the fore on the final climb of the Molenberg and then led the pursuit of the escapees Lars Boom, Niki Terpstra and Edvald Boasson Hagen on the cobbles that followed, helping to bring Van Avermaet back into contention.

    “Phinney rode an awesome final for Greg, he’s come of age,” Peiper told Cyclingnews. “He was riding intelligently, riding on the front for Greg and pulling back that group that was away with Boom, and then blocking behind when Greg was off the front.”

    After showering and changing Phinney emerged from the bus and sat into the passenger seat of a team car parked outside, picking at his post-race meal of microwave rice and mulling on a wet afternoon of racing in Flanders.

    “I was really happy with the way the race unfolded for Greg and I. It’s unfortunate that we lost Thor so early and some of the other guys were suffering I think coming from Oman straight to the cold and rain,” Phinney told Cyclingnews.

    “I saw that Greg was super, super strong in front and I tried to take care of him in moments that he needed to be taken care of, and also to be attentive and aware for little breakaways and...

  • Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Vanmarcke laments lack of aggression from others

    Niki Terpstra (Team Omega Pharma - Quickstep), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin-Pro Cycling Team) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    March 01, 2014, 19:58 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belkin leader finishes off the podium

    Two years after beating Tom Boonen in a sprint at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Sep Vanmarcke came close on grabbing a second win in Ghent on Saturday. The Belgian rider from the Belkin team attacked with 60km remaining and from there he never stopped throwing in accelerations.

    A first breakaway attempt fell short, then Vanmarcke became restless behind a breakaway with teammate Lars Boom and once everything came back together at 17km from the St-Peter's square.  Two men then escaped: eventual winner Ian Stannard (Sky) and eventual runner-up Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

    Vanmarcke tried to get back to them together with Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) but they fell short. Vanmarcke finished fourth.

    "I was close to repeating my win. I certainly felt really strong, one of the strongest in the race. I said I wasn't in peak form just yet and that was correct. I was good, but I'm disappointed," Vanmarcke said.

    "Our team was super and they did a super job in delivering me in the finale. I was impressed by what they did and it was up to me to continue that effort. I wanted to go flat out and race. Apparently nobody's keen on racing flat out. Everybody's just waiting. It's sad. If nobody's taking the initiative then nothing's going to happen. Everybody is just trying to save energy instead of racing flat out," Vanmarcke said.

    While talking to Cyclingnews right after the finish, Vanmarcke started to shake from the cold. Possibly Vanmarcke didn't realize how much the other riders were already suffering from the cold during the race, due to the rain that started to come down 70km from finish town of Ghent.

    "At a certain moment, we were gone with 15 riders after the first hill zone. Four of five men from Quick-Step, two from our team, two...

  • Pressure off Guardini after Langkawi victory

    Andrea Guardini wins stage 3
    Article published:
    March 01, 2014, 20:38 GMT
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Italian delighted to end win drought

    Andrea Guardini (Astana) let out a huge roar as he crossed the line at the end of stage 3 of the Tour de Langkawi, a noise that symbolised the releasing of the pressure he had been under over the last season.

    Since signing for Astana, the wins that had once come in abundance all but dried up, leading some to think the move was a mistake. His sole win for the Kazakh team came at this race, but he couldn’t follow it up with another. He hopes that it will be different this time.

    “It is one year that I didn’t win. This is the first and I hope to win again in a few days,” he told Cyclingnews just before he stepped onto the podium to receive the applause from the crowd who had been almost as happy as he at the victory.

    He admitted that it hadn’t been easy for him and he had to leave it late in the day before he made the call on whether he would contest the sprint. “In the first part of the stage, I had a lot of pain in my foot, but after that my legs and condition got better,” he said. “I thought that I could sprint with 20km to go, after the climb, I had good legs. I wanted this win, because Kuala Lumpur is special for me.”

    Guardini looked like a future sprinting superstar when he was riding for the Farnese Vini-Sella Italia team, even beating Mark Cavendish to a stage victory at the Giro d’Italia. Enamoured by his success Astana were quick to sign him for 2013. Since then he has struggled to match his past victories.

    While at this year’s Tour de Langkawi, Guardini has been visibly down, not helped by the huge crash he was involved in on stage 2. He was taken to hospital after the stage, but didn’t receive stitches for the hole he had gotten in his foot. After a lot of gel and plasters from...

  • Stannard picks his moment well at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad podium with Van Avermaet, Stannard and Boasson Hagen
    Article published:
    March 01, 2014, 22:51 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Sky rider out-sprints Van Avermaet in Ghent

    Long recognised as one of the peloton’s strongmen, Ian Stannard (Sky) married poise to that power when he outmanoeuvred Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) in the two-up sprint that decided Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

    The pair had escaped with 17 kilometres to go, and they quickly formed a smooth working alliance on the run-in through the flatlands of East Flanders. As the towers of Ghent drew nearer and the chasers fell away, however, their coalition began to crumble, and a tentative approach to the finish line at Sint-Pietersplein ensued.

    “I was quite confident once we got away. I could feel he wasn’t as strong as me,” Stannard said. “I knew there were three guys chasing us, they were ten seconds back at one point but coming into the last kilometre I could see they had dropped away.”

    Inside the final kilometre, Stannard managed to usher Van Avermaet into first position, but even from that situation, the Belgian would have expected to win in a sprint. Indeed, BMC manager Allan Peiper insisted afterwards that his rider had not made any errors in the finale, but pointed out that a sprint after 200 kilometres across cobbles and hills on a drab and wet Flemish day is as much about energy as it is about pure speed.

    “I think he panicked a little bit and put me in a really good position for the sprint,” Stannard said. “I knew at 300 metres I needed it wind it up a bit but not super fast. It worked out well: it was a bit uphill as well so I was able to get a gap. I was just waiting for him to look the other way and then hit him hard at that mark. I got the gap and it worked out well.”

    Stannard crossed the line without raising his arms but it was not because he was overwhelmed by his achievement. “No, I just wanted to make sure I got...

  • Motorbikes and cold ruin Omloop for Quick-Step

    Tom Boonen suffered in the cold and rain
    Article published:
    March 01, 2014, 23:20 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Flandrien Boonen affected by cold temperatures

    The Omega Pharma - Quick-Step troops led by Tom Boonen entered the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Ghent as big favourites, but they left the Belgian town empty-handed. With Boonen, Zdenek Stybar and others struggling with the cold, Nikki Terpstra took over the reins. In the absence of race radios, the Dutchman missed a clear chance for the podium, opting to stick to the original team tactics and await a return of teammates. After the race, both Terpstra and team manager Patrick Lefevre were fuming about the wall of motorbikes which affected the race for them.

    "It'll sound like we're bad losers, but the race was falsified by the motorbikes. Edvald was smart enough to attack behind four motorbikes while I was dangling on the cobbles in the wind. A little later, those two [Stannard and Van Avermaet] attacked and there's a huge amount of motorbikes again. I would not have won regardless, but something has to be done," Terpstra said shortly after the race while standing in the doorway of the team bus on the St-Peter's square in chilly Ghent.

    Terpstra featured in the three-man lead group with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Lars Boom (Belkin) while enjoying a 45-second lead over a large group at only 30km from the finish. "I didn't co-operate because I thought my teammates were coming up. I had no information. When we were caught by a group of 20 riders, only Stijn Vandenbergh was there and not Tom Boonen. I thought, "F*ck, what did I do, why did I give so much away and not take some pulls'. It probably looked stupid. From there, my motivation was gone," Terpstra said.

    "Then again, our tactic was clear: only the win counted. If we were not 100 percent sure, then we would wait for Tom because he's in top form. Edvald is a...

  • Van Avermaet: I thought I would be stronger in the sprint

    Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) at the finish
    Article published:
    March 02, 2014, 8:08 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    No broken bones for Hushovd in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad crash

    Under normal circumstances, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) would have expected to beat Ian Stannard in the two-man sprint that decided Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but there is precious little that is normal about riding for 198 kilometres across cobbles and hills, and racing for almost five hours in the rain and cold.

    The Omloop is ostensibly the first race of the Flemish spring, but the seasons turn reluctantly in this corner of Europe. More often than not, the peloton faces the final onslaught of winter on Opening Weekend, and so it proved on Saturday.

    The temperatures were not as low as last year, but the continuous rain exacted a similar toll from tired bodies. Although Van Avermaet had the legs to go clear with Stannard with 16 kilometres to go, his teeth were already beginning to chatter in the cold and his strength ebbed away before the sprint in Ghent.

    “During the final, I was really cold, but I thought I could be my best in the sprint," Van Avermaet said afterwards. "He surprised me and took two metres. My body didn't react anymore as I thought it would react. It is a disappointment because I thought I would be the strongest in the sprint.”

    Van Avermaet was far from the only rider to suffer in the conditions and indeed he fared better than most. Pre-race favourite Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), for instance, finished almost four minutes down on what he described as probably the coldest day of his career.

    “I’m shivering, but mostly with disappointment,” Van Avermaet told Sporza as he waited forlornly to mount the podium. “I left a great opportunity behind me. If we did that sprint ten times, I would win nine times. In my head, I had already won the Omloop.”

    ...
  • Sergeant calls Omloop het Nieuwsblad an off-day for Lotto

    Andre Greipel and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) celebrate the win.
    Article published:
    March 02, 2014, 10:31 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    All behind Greipel in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

    Marc Sergeant has criticised his Lotto Belisol team after what he called an ‘off-day’ in Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Jurgen Roelandts was the team’s best performer, finishing in 13th place with Lars Bak the only other rider from the team to finish inside the top 35.

    "The team hasn't lived up to the expectations. The goal was to finish high with Jürgen Roelandts. We should have been stronger collectively in the final. We're disappointed,” Sergeant said in a team press release.

    For his part Roelandts raced aggressively, and was an active member of the chase once several threatening moves formed in the final 60 kilometres of racing. However, with little support he was left isolated.

    Bak and Jens Debusschere moved to the head of the peloton in a bid to support Roelandts on the Kruisberg but when Belkin decimated the field on the Taaienberg, the Belgian squad had little answer.

    "The moment that Boasson Hagen, Terpstra and Vanmarcke responded to the attack of Stannard and Van Avermaet I hesitated,” Roelandts said.

    “I should have gone with them. Sep Vanmarcke obviously was the strongest man in the race, he was impressive. On the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat I had a good feeling and thought everything was still possible. It was a race in which the circumstances were changing all the time and that's why it was hard to assess the situation. I was indeed alone in the final. It would have been better if I had the support of teammates in the section of the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat so I could have done less efforts myself. I'm disappointed about the result, I had hoped to perform better. It didn't turn out as I expected."

    Roelandts will start Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and with Andre Greipel in the team the squad has a realistic chance of making amends for Saturday’s...

  • Sky count on collective strength at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    The podium included Ian Stannard (Team Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    March 02, 2014, 12:59 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    We don't have Boonen or Cancellara but we have a strong team, says Knaven

    Sky directeur sportif Servais Knaven hopes that Ian Stannard’s victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday can serve as something of a template for the team throughout the classics campaign.

    Edvald Boasson Hagen, who finished the day in third place, laid the groundwork for Stannard’s win by bridging across to a dangerous move from Niki Terpstra and Lars Boom in the finale, while Luke Rowe was also active in the front group on the run-in to Ghent.

    “We had more riders in the final and we could play more with tactics, and that’s how you win a bike race. You cannot do it on your own. You have to do it together,” Knaven told Cyclingnews in Ghent. “For me that was the most perfect, perfect teamwork I’ve seen from us in these races in a long time. Always when there was a counter-attack, we had someone there.

    “This is how we can win bike races. We don’t have Tom Boonen or a rider like Sagan or Cancellara, but we have really strong riders and together they are as strong or maybe stronger than one single rider.”

    The trick now, of course, is to repeat Saturday’s performance in April, and winning the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix is no straightforward task in the era of Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara. In the eighteen editions of those races since 2005, all but three have been won by Boonen, Cancellara or their teammates - the 2007 and 2011 Tours of Flanders (Alessandro Ballan and Nick Nuyens, respectively) and the 2011 Paris-Roubaix (Johan Vansummeren).

    Last year, Sky’s approach to that conundrum included withholding their classics unit from Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico in favour of a collective training camp on Mount Teide. Although that idea has been shelved this time around, Knaven said that it was not the root cause of their meagre return in one-day races in 2013.

    “It was not about preparation last year, the preparation was...