American sprinter avoids crashes but loses contact on the Poggio
Tyler Farrar arrived at the Garmin-Transitions bus next to the finish straight of Milan-San Remo with his face covered in grime and the fatigue of racing much of the 298 kilometre event on wet, greasy roads.
While the top-ten was packed with the names of the most of the best sprinters in the world Farrar's name was missing. He finished 42nd, 1:40 behind winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank) after losing contact with the leaders on the descent of the Cipressa and then on the climb of the Poggio.
He finished in the main bunch, just a few places ahead of Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia), George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan (BMC). But that was of little comfort. Unlike Tom Boonen, he was not satisfied with his race.
"I felt good today and so I'm pretty disappointed not to get a result," Farrar told Cyclingnews.
"Unfortunately a gap opened on the descent of the Cipressa and that cost me something. I had Johan [Van Summeren] and Dave [Millar] there to help me and we came back but then they started the Poggio and it was all over after that. I think the weather made it a pretty hard day for everyone."
Farrar perhaps used up his San Remo luck earlier on the on the Passo del Turchino. On wet, slippy road numerous riders crashed as the peloton went through the very narrow, unlit tunnel that leads to the Mediterranean side of the Ligurian hills.
Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) was one of many riders to lose control of his bike on the slimy mud that coated the tunnel floor. Somehow Farrar stayed up. It meant he was in the front part of the peloton, while other riders, including Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) had to chase for almost 100 kilometres along the Italian coast. However, despite avoiding the chaos of the Turchino tunnel, Farrar's luck turned on the race's later ascents.
"There was a terrifying crash in the tunnel at the top of the Turchino," he said. "It was just so dark because it’s such a narrow old...
After two years competing abroad, American racer opens season with domestic contests
After spending two years racing abroad, Mara Abbott feels at home with her new US-based cycling team Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 and is scheduled to race the nation's toughest stage races. The Boulder native hasn't given up on her European racing aspirations targeting Tour de L'Aude in France and the Giro Donne in Italy, both with the US National Team.
Abbott had a breakout year in 2007 when she won the US National Road Championships and placed second at the Montreal World Cup to Italian Fabiana Luperini. Both results came when racing with the Webcor Women's Professional Cycling Team. Her achievements turned heads and she was soon racing in 2008 and 2009 for one of the world's most renowned outfits, presently called HTC-Columbia.
Abbott achieved success in her two-year stint abroad with a stage win at the Giro della Toscana in 2008, and she placed second overall in the Giro Donne in 2009. Despite those accomplishments, she struggled with the challenge of being away from her home, friends and family in the US.
"I love my home, and I love my community," Abbott said. "It is so important for me to involve myself fully. I felt that going back and forth between America and Europe made it really hard to have communities and involve myself in anything other than cycling. Not necessarily because I was away from home for that long at a time but because I couldn't reliably commit to being at home. That was challenging for me."
This year, Abbott has returned to her home-base in Boulder, Colorado, and will compete in a predominantly US-based race calendar with Peanut Butter & Company TWENTY12 under the guidance of current World Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong, who has retired from professional bike racing.
"Something that is really cool about this team is that they are taking people as individuals and trying to shake something out of that individual," Abbott said. "I feel like that gives me a lot of freedom of expression...
Mark Cavendish had the consolation of being greeted by his girlfriend Fiorella after Milan-San Remo and it quickly helped him put the problems of the race and his troubled start to the season behind him.
Last year Cavendish broke down in tears after winning Milan-San Remo at the first attempt. This year he finished 89th, more than six minutes behind Oscar Freire.
He was disappointed but not angry because he had ridden well, despite having to chase the peloton on the Turchino after a wheel change, a crash on the descent of Le Mànie and then being dropped on the Cipressa.
Indeed, he even managed a laugh as he colourfully explained how one problem after another wrecked any chance of him going close to a second consecutive win.
"When we started off I didn’t feel too bad, then at the bottom of the Turchino, as we were fighting for position, I got three spokes ripped out of my wheel," he explained to gazzetta.it in a video interview.
"I had to do a wheel change at the bottom of the Turchino. I chased and right at the top I got back to the peloton but then there was a crash in the peloton on the tunnel. I started the descent and normally I'm a good descender. The peloton was in ten groups down the descent and I went through all the groups, boom, boom, boom, and into the second group but I think there was already 40 up the road."
Cavendish's voice only showed a hint of anger when criticised the Katusha team for attacking when he was struggling after having his wheel change.
"Katusha knew that I had problems and went. I don’t really think that's good sport to be honest," he said.
"They went full gas when I had mechanical problems. My team chased and chased and chased. They did an incredible job and we nearly caught them on the Manie. I suffered and suffered over the top but then I crashed on the descent. I went from the front to the back and so chased, chased again."
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) was one of the big favourites to win Milan-San Remo but he finished the race anonymously in the main peloton, 6:12 down behind the front group of 26 riders that contested the sprint.
Despite only being 22 and having only ridden the race once, last year when he worked for Mark Cavendish, Boasson Hagen was given four stars for his chances by Saturday's edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport. Only Tom Boonen was given five stars, while eventual winner Oscar Freire was also given four stars.
Team Sky's tactics had been built around the quiet but hugely talented Norwegian. However, Boasson Hagen suffered with stomach cramps mid-way through the race and was in so much pain he was dropped on the Cipressa. The problems probably affected his food intake and left him empty for the final part of the race.
Juan Antonio Flecha and Thomas Lofkvist then took over as team leaders and were in the front group that formed over the Poggio, but neither has a great sprint finish and they were no match for the sprinters. Flecha finished 18th and Lofkvist was 27th.
It was not a great day for Team Sky in their first monumental classic. Greg Henderson crashed during the first feed zone on the Passo del Turchino and Chris Sutton was also in pain as he climbed off his bike outside the Team Sky bus. Henderson suffered a deep wound in his left knee. It was bandaged during the race by the doctor but he later revealed on twitter that the cut needed stitches.
"Edvald told us he had some problems during the race. We tried to help him get through it and convinced him to keep trying but it affected his race," senior directeur sportif Scott Sunderland said to Cyclingnews.
Boasson Hagen had a more succinct explanation. "Shit happens. There are a lot of other races coming up so I'm not that disappointed. The team was working really hard and that was the good about the race."
Australian joins roll-call of current and former cycling champions
Reigning World Champion Cadel Evans was officially presented with the 2009 Mendrisio d'Oro by the Velo Club Mendrisio in Switzerland last week.
The BMC rider joined an impressive list of riders to receive the annual award. Past recipients include Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong. As a resident of Mendrisio during the racing season, Evans was also afforded the unique privilege of receiving the award from his local mayor.
"Winning the Mendrisio d'Oro is a great honour for any cyclist, just look at the list of past winners," Evans said.
"For me personally, to be presented such an internationally-recognised award by the mayor of my local town is an even greater honour."
Mendrisio was the site of Evans' World Championship victory last September, when he staged a late-race attack to claim his, and Australia's, first elite road race world title.
Evans succeeded Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who won the award on two occasions, in 2006 and 2008.
Omega Pharma-Lotto leader satisfied with condition after Milan-San Remo
Aware his chances would be slim in a sprint finish to Milan-San Remo on Saturday, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) staked his claim for the title on a late-race attack at the race's famed Poggio.
“I gambled and lost,” he told Belgian news agency Belga of his ill-fated move. “With Oscar Freire and Daniele Bennati in the group, a sprint duel was not a good idea, so on the Poggio I went for all or nothing. It was nothing [in the end], even though I got away with Filippo Pozzato.”
On the descent off the Poggio Gilbert was able to come together with others, including Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) and Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank). However, the high-quality group were caught as the roads flattened out for the run into the finish.
“There was too much tailwind and the speed was too high to be able to get away,” Gilbert explained. He ultimately finished in 19th place, with the same time as winner Freire.
Gilbert was satisfied with his performance, saying, “I do not see why I should be disappointed. I did everything that lay in my power, and it didn't work.”
Like many of his Belgian compatriots, Gilbert was quick to highlight positive signals for the Classics that will shortly commence in their home country.
“If I learned anything, it is that there is not much more to improve on my condition for the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège."
RadioShack manager expects Armstrong to be recovered from illness
Johan Bruyneel is looking forward to the Critérium International next week, when Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong will race against each other for the first time since last year's Tour de France. The RadioShack team manager said he expects Armstrong to be sufficiently recovered from the illness that kept him out of Saturday's Milan-San Remo in order to ride the race on the island of Corsica next weekend.
Armstrong came down with “gastrointestinal symptoms” on Thursday after training, “but it's nothing to worry about,” Bruyneel told the Belgian website Sporza.be. "[His participation in] the Critérium International shouldn't be compromised."
Earlier this month, Astana captain Contador changed his racing schedule to add the Critérium International, scrapping his previously planned appearance at the Volta a Catalunya. "I don't know why Contador has changed his program, but it is interesting," said Bruyneel.
However, Bruyneel expects the Spaniard to do better in the race than Armstrong. "I think that Contador has the upper hand at the moment. We'll see how it goes. Lance does not have super form but he is now on track," he said.
The Critérium International is a three-day race, which will, for the first time, be held on the French island of Corsica. Stage one is a 175.5 kilometre mountain stage featuring five categorised climbs, including a mountain-top finish. The second stage is a flatter, rolling stage of only 75 kilometres, to be held on Sunday morning. The race ends that afternoon with a relatively flat 7.7 kilometre individual time trial.
The past three editions of the race have been won by Saxo Bank's Jens Voigt. However, the German
Katusha rider gives it all in final efforts at Milan-San Remo
With his aggressive performance in Milan-San Remo, Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) blew away the cliché that he is never willing to give his all to try and win a bike race. He still missed out on victory as the sprinters again dominated the results but as the Italian media begins the count back to the last Italian Classics win (518 days since Cunego won the Giro di Lombardia in 2008) and talk of a crisi nel ciclismo Italiano, Pozzato can hold his head high as he refects on his ride at Milan-San Remo.
He knew he would have little chance in a sprint against the likes of Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank), and so his Katusha team rode an aggressive race, with the aim of splitting the peloton and dropping as many sprinters as possible before the finish in San Remo.
Katusha rode hard on the Turchino, set a leg burning tempo on the Manie climb and then tried to get rid of the sprinters on the Cipressa and the Poggio. Serguei Ivanov and Alexandre Kolobnev sacrificed their chances and went on the attack to split the leading group. Pozzato waited on the wheels and then made his own move, following Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) at the top of the Pioggio and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) on the descent.
When that didn't work, his final card was a lone attack in the final three kilometres. Perhaps inspired by his team manager Andrei Tchmil, who escaped the peloton to win Milan-San Remo in 1999, Pozzato took off with three kilometres to go as the bunch came back together on the Aurelia coast road after the descent of the Poggio.
He got a gap, flew past Nibali who'd had the same idea, and for a few second must have started thinking he had a chance of a second San Remo success. Most of the sprinters in the front group were isolated and on their own, so Pozzato could have benefitted as they hesitated. However Liquigas had Daniele Oss alongside Daniele Bennati and the...