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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, March 30, 2014

Date published:
March 30, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Barguil satisfied with rising form in Catalunya

    Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Shimano)
    Article published:
    March 29, 2014, 20:50 GMT
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Frenchman 9th overall, on the attack on Pyrenean stages

    With just one day's racing to go in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, up-and-coming French rider Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) is lying ninth overall at 42 seconds to race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and looks to be well on track for what will be his first ever top 10 overall result in a WorldTour stage race. But that's not the only reason Barguil can come away satisfied with this year's Volta a Catalunya.

    Still only a second year pro, Barguil was nonetheless able to attempt a breakaway on the race's toughest stage to Vallter 2000, storming away on the final climb. That was despite the high pace laid down by Sky's David Lopez at the front of the shrinking pack, although Barguil's strong ride was unfortunately impossible for fans to see because the rough weather destroyed any chance of TV coverage.

    It was another promising result for the young Frenchman, already the winner of two stages in the Vuelta a España, including one in the Pyrenees at another Spanish ski station, Formigal, when he outgunned fellow breakaway rider Rigoberto Urán.

    Discussing his ride to Vallter 2000, Barguil told Cyclingnews, "I had had a puncture on the previous climb and a teammate gave me a wheel, but that wheel change came just at a point when the peloton was accelerating and I had to spend a fair bit of energy trying to get back into the race.

    "Then on the last mountain, people starting looking at each other and I took advantage of that to move away, maybe 10 kilometres from the summit."

    He had seen the climb on TV when watching the previous...

  • After Milan-San Remo victory, Kristoff takes aim at Gent-Wevelgem

    Alex Kristoff (Katusha)
    Article published:
    March 29, 2014, 21:30 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Norwegian on Makarov’s yacht and Harelbeke sprints

    Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) warmed up for Gent-Wevelgem in Harelbeke on Friday, although not by riding 200 kilometres over cobbles and hills.

    The Norwegian opted not to clash with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) at E3 Harelbeke but the race organisers, eager to have the Milan-San Remo winner on show, made him a late addition to their associated sprint challenge.

    The challenge, which saw groups of four riders battle it out in a knock-out series of one-kilometre races in the finish area, was designed to keep the masses in Harelbeke’s Markt entertained as they awaited Boonen, Cancellara et al. As so often the case in such events, the star attraction Kristoff duly won the challenge.

    Kristoff has been in Belgium since Monday evening and he will remain here until Paris-Roubaix.

    “I won’t see my family until then, it’s like a Grand Tour,” he explained.

    While he enjoyed his cameo in Harelbeke, his thoughts were already on the more serious business in hand on Sunday.

    “It was my choice to skip E3 Harelbeke,” Kristoff told reporters.

    “At Harelbeke it’s normally a small group at the finish so to make a good result there I have to really be at 100 percent, whereas at Gent-Wevelgem it’s normally a bigger group and more of a chance to be in front. Maybe next year I will try to do both.

    “I hope to be there to fight for the win on Sunday. I don’t expect to win but then I didn’t expect...

  • Gallery: On the startline at Gent-Wevelgem

    Defending champion Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 10:29 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sprinters take on the Classics stars

    With its flatter profile Gent-Wevelgem marks a rare opportunity in for the sprinters to shine in the Belgian Classics, although they’ll have to hang onto the coat tails of the classics men who will do what they can to get rid of them.

    For many, it will also be the final indicator of form ahead of next Sunday's Tour of Flanders and there were plenty of big names on the start line in Deinze that we captured for this special start line gallery. 

    Fresh from his victory at E3 Harlebeke on Friday, defending champion Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is the hot favourite to do it again today. Tom Boonen will be the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team leader after Mark Cavendish pulled out due to illness. He will have the back up of Zdenek Stybar.

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was present and correct. The Swiss rider was dropped by Sagan on Friday and won’t want it to happen again. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) will be looking to get on the rostrum again, after he took second at Dwars door Vlaanderen earlier in the week. Pure sprinters such as Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Andrea Guardini (Astana) were also there, hoping to get a look in if it comes down to a bunch sprint.

  • Démare ready for Gent-Wevelgem bunch sprint

    Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) awaits the start
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 12:37 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Positioning the key to the Kemmelberg

    Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) is one of the big sprinters present at Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem, and his teammate Nacer Bouhanni’s victory in the opening stage of the Critérium International in Corsica on Saturday will surely motivate Démare to chase down a win himself.

    Démare felt confident when talking to Cyclingnews on Sunday morning in sunny Deinze before taking the start in the Belgian one-day classic. “There are a lot of teams who want a bunch sprint. In the sprint there’s [John] Degenkolb and [André] Greipel. I’ve already beaten Greipel and with Degenkolb it’ll be mano a mano. I go for the win,” Démare said.

    The Frenchman doesn’t fear the double ascent of the Kemmelberg and stated that being well positioned was the key to the climb. He also warned that the predicted bunch sprint wouldn’t come about in and of itself. In his two participations to date, Démare has ended up sprinting for a place outside the top 10.

    “It can be a sprint of fifty riders but the two times I’ve been here there’s been a group of ten riders ahead. We have to make sure there’s no group ahead of the peloton. We put a lot of our cards on me but if a group of 10-15 guys goes, we have to be there too. We need to be attentive on the key points.”

    After Milan-San Remo the French sprinter Démare didn’t race Dwars door Vlaanderen or the E3 Harelbeke. The dreadful weather conditions in the Italian classic took its toll on many riders and as a result Démare needed more time to recover.

    “But we can put on sun cream today,” he smiled. “It’s a big difference compared to San Remo. We all suffered a lot in San Remo....

  • Sagan not certain to leave Cannondale says Amadio

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) takes the win
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 13:38 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Contract talks hinge on finances

    Peter Sagan's agent has claimed there will be no formal contract negotiations until after Paris-Roubaix but that has done little to dampen the speculation that has grown around the Slovakian's destination for 2015.

    Sagan's contract with Cannondale expires at the end of this season and since the turn of the year, he has been variously linked with moves to Tinkoff-Saxo, Fernando Alonso’s planned new team and Astana. Former sprinter and lead out man Giovanni Lombardi is Sagan's agent and is charged with obtaining the best possible deal for the next chapter in Sagan's career.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews at the start of Gent-Wevelgem in Deinze on Sunday morning, Cannondale manager Roberto Amadio insisted that there was still a chance that Sagan could stay with the team for 2015.

    “Yes, we’re talking, we’re negotiating, so the possibility is there,” Amadio said. “Journalists have been asking where Sagan is going and criticising the team at every race but we’re not affected by it. We’re not looking at Gazzetta, L’Équipe or anywhere else. We’re looking within our team and we’re looking to win races.”

    Sagan has raced for Cannondale since turning professional in 2010, and while his level of support in the Classics may not be on a par with that enjoyed by Tom Boonen at Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Amadio said that the 24-year-old is happy with the team on a sporting level.

    Economically, however, the situation is somewhat more complicated. Some reports have suggested that Lombardi is seeking a contract worth in excess of €3 million per annum for his client, and – having already lost Vincenzo Nibali to the deeper pockets of Astana at the beginning of last season – it is unclear if Cannondale can compete with the resources on offer elsewhere.

    ...
  • New sponsor for Charlotte Criterium

    Hilton Clarke is expected to return to Charlotte this year to defend his 2013 title
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 15:32 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Novant Health sponsors Charlotte-Belmont Omnium opener

    The state of North Carolina will play host to two rounds of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar next month, when the April 12 Charlotte Criterium, with new sponsor Novant Health, is joined by the Belmont Criterium the following day to create the Charlotte-Belmont omnium.

    Professional men and women will share the stage on Saturday in Charlotte with a new race for amateurs, the Amateur Shootout. Riders can qualify to compete on the same course as the pros during the morning's Dilworth Criterium, also in Charlotte. The top finishers will compete at 5:00 PM before the pro women's race.

    The women will compete over 25 miles for $20,000 in prizes, while the men race twice as long for double the money.

    2013 defending champions Lauren Stephens and Hilton Clarke are expected to return this year to race.

    Those racers who run out of luck in Charlotte will now have a second chance for glory at Sunday's Belmont Criterium, just west of Charlotte, where men and women will each race for $7500. An additional $1000 will go to the men and women with the most points collected in the two races.

  • Degenkolb puts San Remo disappointment behind him at Gent-Wevelgem

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) beat Demare and Sagan to win Gent-Wevelgem
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 17:24 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    German coy on chances at Tour of Flanders

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) came through a crash-filled finale of Gent-Wevelgem to out-sprint Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) for the victory.

    Just when Sagan looked like he had the legs to take his second consecutive Gent-Wevelgem and that the German and his team had miscalculated things, Degenkolb found an extra gear to overhaul the Cannondale rider. Through the joy, there was also an element of relief to have just made it to the finish.

    "The final was very hectic. There was a big crash with 8km to go, when Farrar and Greipel were there. I just saw Farrar lying there, with his hands protecting his head. I could just come through the crash, I was lucky not to crash," Degenkolb said after the race.

    The Giant-Shimano rider found himself behind one of the many crashes, which took out Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), but some hard work from his teammates saw him back in contention for the final sprint. "We had to close a gap. In the end, we could catch back the breakaway, they were strong and holding the gap. Koen de Kort dropped me on Sagan's wheel.

    "Today, everything went 100 percent better for me than last week. I am very happy to win this race."

    Degenkolb has been on very good form this season, with four victories already and the points classification at Paris-Nice. However, this win seemed to be a big monkey off his back. His teammate, and lead-out man, De Kort was acutely aware of the significance of the victory for Degenkolb. "I think that this is a little bit of revenge for Milan-San Remo, because if he didn't have the puncture then who knows what could have happened," he told Cyclingnews at...

  • Rodríguez savours second Volta a Catalunya triumph

    For the second time in his career Joaquim Rodriguez has won the overall title at the Volta a Catalunya
    Article published:
    March 30, 2014, 19:00 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Katusha veteran holds off rivals for narrow win

    Sipping on a cup of hot chocolate in the press room as he reviewed the last week's racing, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) recognised that securing his home race, the Volta a Catalunya, for a second time in his career had been anything but straight forward. With a victory margin of just four seconds over Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and seven on Tejay van Garderen (BMC) there was no respite from the tension for Rodriguez until the main bunch of some two dozen riders, including the Catalan and his main rivals, powered over the final stage's finish line in a rain-lashed Montjuic Park on Sunday afternoon.

    Asked to compare this win with his previous overall victory in the Volta back in 2010, Rodriguez said, "This was harder. The weather was worse and the last stage in 2010 [finishing on a motorbike circuit] was a lot easier, this time round" - with eight ascents of the third category Montjuic Park climb - "anything could happen right up to the last metre. A crash or a puncture at the wrong moment could have been decisive.

    "This hasn't been at all easy. There was a big crash early on in the stage today and if I'd been caught up in that it could have been all over.

    "The team were really good, though, they were with me all the way to the last minute. And I have to thank the [Volta] organisation, too. They changed the route [of the descent, cutting out two dangerous corners because of the heavy rainfall] and that was something I was glad about, it was something they did for our safety and very few [race] organisations would have done that for us [riders]."

    Asked about his form and how sure he had felt when the race kicked off in...