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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, March 25, 2012

Date published:
March 25, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Tooth infection the root of Gilbert problems?

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is hoping that his season takes off in April.
    Article published:
    March 24, 2012, 14:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian abandons Harelbeke

    Philippe Gilbert’s travails continued on Friday as the Belgian champion was forced to abandon E3 Harelbeke after 143km. The BMC rider withdrew after being distanced on the climb of La Houppe, shortly after the midpoint of the race.

    “Everything was going well up until then,” Gilbert told “All of a sudden I didn’t have any power. I saw that the race was kicking off and I would have loved to have been in front, but I wasn’t able. I was empty, without energy, as though I had the knock, but it wasn’t that.”

    After a remarkable 2011 season that saw him rack up 19 victories, Gilbert has endured a wretched opening to the current campaign, in which he and his new BMC team are still without a win. He abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico citing fever, and was also suffering from dental problems in the run-up to Milan-San Remo.

    “It’s a bit hard in terms of morale, especially as I don’t have any explanation,” he said.

    BMC team doctor Giovanni Ruffini believes that Gilbert’s tooth infection may well lie behind his current malaise, and on the eve of E3 Harelbeke, Gilbert admitted that his diet was still limited after his last dental treatment in Milan last week.

    “With this tooth infection, Philippe has had to go into his reserves,” Ruffini said. “He hasn’t been able to eat properly. He’s lost weight, he lost another kilo in the last few days. We’re going to look to work on that in the next few days. I think he can only improve.”

    Gilbert is set to...

  • Breschel hopes for a wind of change in Flanders

    Matti Breschel (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    March 24, 2012, 17:11 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Rabobank rider still not back to his best

    After a troubled 2011 season due to a knee and hand injuries Danish classics specialist Matti Breschel (Rabobank) is back in the peloton and riding the races he loves. Two years after making his breakthrough victory in semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen and being one of the protagonists in the Tour de Flanders he’s back in business.

    After tackling the semi-classic E3-Prijs Harelbeke it is clear that the 27-year-old from Ballerup is back at a high level although it seems like he lacks the final edge to keep up with the best on the key obstacles. Nevertheless he’ll be a man to take into account for the upcoming Monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    In the finale of the E3-Prijs Harelbeke there were three Rabobank riders present, Breschel, Lars Boom and Dennis van Winden. TV images showed that Breschel received a hand-swing from a teammate in the final kilometer which eventually only helped him up to eleventh place at the finish line in Harelbeke.

    “I f*cked it up. I was too far behind,” Breschel said.

    Much earlier on the Taaienberg where it is known that Tom Boonen tends to test his legs, Breschel wasn’t among the group of riders that joined the eventual Belgian winner.

    “I didn’t fight enough for my position. I was just a few places too far behind. We closed the gap. In the beginning you think it’s over but you have to keep up the morale and let the race come to you,” Breschel said.

    Eventually the Taaienberg didn’t prove to be decisive and a large peloton arrived at the foot of the Oude Kwaremont. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) set the pace in front at first with Boonen,...

  • Motorcycle accident interrupts Volta a Catalunya

    Volta a Catalunya leader Michael Albasini (GreenEdge) can add a new trophy to his collection.
    Article published:
    March 24, 2012, 18:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Race delayed 38 minutes after incident

    Stage 6 of the Volta a Catalunya was delayed for 38 minutes after a collision between a police motorcycle and another car.

    The incident occurred while the race was 70km into the 169.4km stage from Sant Fruitós de Bages to Badalona, at a time when a breakaway containing Mikael Cherel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Cédric Pineau (FDJ-Big Mat) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis) had a three minute lead on the peloton.

    Both the motorcycle driver and the occupant of the car were injured in the head-on crash, and the race was stopped while the medics could attend to the motorcycle driver.

    The race officials re-established the gap once racing was safe to resume, and the finish was 45 minutes behind schedule when Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) claimed the stage victory.

    There has been no word on the condition of either victim of the incident.

  • Broken scaphoid for Hinault from E3 Prijs

    Sébastien Hinault (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    March 24, 2012, 18:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    AG2R-La Mondiale rider out for undetermined period

    Sébastien Hinault will be out of competition for a not yet determined amount of time after fracturing his scaphoid bone in his left wrist in a crash at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke yesterday.

    The AG2R-La Mondiale rider was caught up in the crash along with David Millar (Garmin-Barracuda), who broke his collarbone in the incident, Jens Mouris (GreenEdge), Koen De Kort (Project 1t4i) and Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis).

    The 38-year-old Hinault also suffered scrapes and bruises on both knees, needed stitches in his shin and injured his shoulder.


  • Criterium International riders ready for l'Ospedale

    Cadel Evans (BMC) back in yellow, this time at Criterium International
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 0:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Evans, Rogers and Rolland prepared for fireworks

    As was hoped by race organisation ASO before the start of the Criterium International, the three-stage race is still with all to play for ahead of the race's difficult hilly finale that will climax on the Col de l'Ospedale.

    A crash-marred bunch finish on stage 1 won by Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Schuller), followed by the afternoon time trial won by Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC) has done little to separate the major contenders, and some 40 riders are still in with a chance to take out the race GC on Sunday.

    Evans, who sits on equal time as compatriot Michael Rogers (Sky) said that the sensations were good today, but tomorrow would be a whole different story.

    "The old engine was taking a while to warm up," said Evans. "But it's a good sign of things to come. I wasn't as far behind in my preparation as I thought. Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is where the race is won or lost."

    Sky's director Marcus Ljungqvist, who will be trying to put Rogers into the top spot on GC said that things would be a challenge for any one team to control.

    "It’s going to be a hard start with four climbs in the first 80km," said Ljungqvist. "It will be a tough day but they’ve changed it a little bit compared to last year - now we have that tougher start but then it eases off a bit which means the chances are a bigger group will come to that final climb.

    "But that's when it will really be 'game on'; the guys are in good condition so we’ll try with everything we have."

    Though no longer in the contention for the general classification after yesterday's stage Pierre Rolland (Europcar) says he still wants to...

  • Illness rules out Petacchi from Gent-Wevelgem

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - ISD)
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 4:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian still not back after flu at E3

    Alessandro Petacchi's cobbled classics' campaign may have to wait till Scheldeprijs, with the Italian ruled out of Gent-Wevelgem due to illness. The Lampre-ISD sprinter has been struggling with a flu since Milan-San Remo, and missed last Friday's E3 Prijs for the same reason.

    The team will now focus their efforts on supporting their other fast men, Gregor Bole and Danilo Hondo.

    "Gent-Wevelgem is a tough race but it's one of the few classics that you can really hope for a sprint," said Lampre-ISD sporting director Fabrizio Bontempi. "Missing Alessandro is a loss, but we have other options and we'll be trying for success with Bole and Hondo."

    Lampre-ISD are yet to win a race in 2012, though they have come close with Petacchi who recorded two top-3 finishes in January at the Tour Down Under.

    The Lampre-ISD team for Gent-Wevelgem is: Grega Bole (Slo), Vitaliy Buts (Ukr), Davide Cimolai (Ita), Massimo Graziato (Ita), Danilo Hondo (Ger), Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukr), Davide Viganò (Ita)

  • Video: Goss confident ahead of Gent-Wevelgem

    Matthew Goss (GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 6:48 BST
    Cycling News

    GreenEdge leader the night before the race

    Matthew Goss (GreenEdge) lines up for Gent-Wevelgem with an opportunity to win his first individual race of the season but with so many class sprinters in the field the Australian is well aware of how tough the task will be.

    The GreenEdge leader has finished 3rd in Gent-Wevelgem before (2009) having been part of a large break that survived until the finish. However unlike conditions that day, when rain and blustery conditions decimated the field, Goss and his competition can expect bright skies and relatively little wind.

    It all points to the strong possibility of a bunch sprint and should Goss make it over the climbs and to the run-in to Wevelgem he says he’s confident of coming away with the win.

    In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Goss talks about his form, his preparation and his rivals.

  • Startline gallery: Gent-Wevelgem

    Oscar Freire (Katusha) shares his thoughts before the start of Gent-Wevelgem.
    Article published:
    March 25, 2012, 11:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Cavendish, Freire and Cancellara line up in Deinze

    Belgium’s annual festival of cycling moved on to Deinze on Sunday for the start of Gent-Wevelgem, where the sprinters will hope to be to the fore later this afternoon. After E3 Harelbeke saw a larger than anticipated group come to the finish together, however, the fast men may not have it all their own way over the 235km course.

    That said, with the likes of Mark Cavendish (Sky), Oscar Freire (Katusha), Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i), Matt Goss (GreenEdge), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) all lining up, there will be no shortage of teams looking to keep things under control on the flat run-in to the finish in Wevelgem.

    Defending champion Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won E3 Harelbeke on Friday, and looks to be in great form ahead of next week’s Tour of Flanders. Gent-Wevelgem is another important stage in his preparation for De Ronde, and he will once again clash swords with his eternal rival Fabian Cancellara, whose RadioShack-Nissan team also includes the dangerous Daniele Bennati.

    Much attention will also be paid to the performance of Philippe Gilbert, who has struggled with illness in recent weeks. The Belgian champion does not fancy his chances on this course, but he will be looking for significant signs of improvement with the Tour of Flanders just one week away. For today, his BMC team’s efforts are likely to be focused on Greg Van Avermaet and Thor Hushovd.