- Article published:
- March 3, 2012, 12:22
- Daniel Benson
Still going strong at 39
He may be closing in on retirement but Robbie McEwen (39) proved that he’s still got form after claiming his first win for GreenEdge at the OCBC Cycling Criterium in Singapore.
McEwen is set to retire this May after enjoying a professional career dating back to 1996. Since then the Australian has won multiple races in every year.
“It’s my first win of the season and first for me at GreenEdge. It’s nice to get win in my last season,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve won at least one race in every year in my career and this was a nice race. It was really tough; the roads were wet and a technical, fast course.”
McEwen puts his longevity and success down to hard work.
“You just keep putting in the work every season. Even when I broke my leg in 2009 and came back the next year and still managed to win races the next year in 2010 so to keep that level of consistency is something that I’m really proud of.”
McEwen will now take a breather before his next scheduled race at the Tour of Turkey in April, although he admitted that if he can find some racing between now and then he may compete. However he’s still on track to finish his career at the Tour of California in May, where a stage win in the final stage in Los Angeles would be the dream send-off.
“My next race is going to be the Tour of Turkey. I was scheduled to ride in Belgium towards the end of the month but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen now, so I think Turkey will be the next race unless I find something to ride in the meantime. I’ll try and find something in between but I’m looking at what the options are.”
- Article published:
- March 3, 2012, 13:40
- Jean-François Quénet
Confirmation expected at the Giro d’Italia
While it took three participations for Graeme Brown to reach a total of nine stage wins at Le Tour de Langkawi (in 2002, 2003 and 2005), Andrea Guardini became the new record man in the 17th edition of the Malaysian race – and all within only his second year as a professional cyclist.
“To bag ten victories here in only two years is special to me”, said the Italian after winning stage 9 in Kuala Terengganu. “Le Tour de Langkawi is special to me because that’s where I started my pro career last year and I won straight away. It’s also where I’ve started winning this year.”
Guardini has remained unbeaten in the five bunch gallops so far. He’s has a serious chance to become the first rider to win six stages in the same edition of the Malaysian event as the grand finale in Kuala Terengganu suits him at perfection.
“I’m now equal on points with [Astana’s Valentin] Iglinskiy in the points classification, so the blue jersey isn’t definitely mine yet but my priority on Sunday will remain to win the stage”, Guardini said.
“I don’t want to use energy and my teammates for the hot spot sprints.”
After the crash of Rafael Andriato on stage 2, Farnese Vini was reduced to five riders but the Drapac team gave them a big hand to catch the four-man breakaway made of Anthony Charteau (Europcar), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Barracuda), David McCann (RTS) and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka).
Guardini dedicated his fifth stage victory to his sponsor. Valentino Sciotti, the CEO of Farnese Vini, followed the race in the team car with directeur sportif Stefano Giuliani. As he was on a business trip between Singapore and Tokyo’s wine exhibition, he made an enjoyable detour on the east coast of Malaysia.
“He’s got a great passion for cycling and he makes a lot of sacrifices for us to ride”, Guardini said. “It’s the right time for me to thank him.”
The 22-year-old from Verona knows that the world of cycling already expects him to confirm his Malaysian achievements in Europe against a stronger opposition. “I already demonstrated last year that I’m able to beat some of the big names of the sprint,” said Guardini who outsprinted the likes of Andre Greipel and Alessandro Petacchi at the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
“I didn’t manage to get a win in my first three stage races of this year (Tour of San Luis, Tour of Qatar, Tour of Oman) but since I started in Argentina, my form has kept improving. For sure, it’s been an advantage for me in Malaysia to have done those three races before.”
Guardini will make his debut in a Grand Tour at
the Giro d’Italia starting on May 5 in Denmark.
- Article published:
- March 3, 2012, 16:31
- Neil Browne
Race wins and team camp part of pre-season
Like many teams, Kenda/5 Hour Energy presented by Geargrinder headed to a warmer climate for their pre-season training camp – Tucson, Arizona for eight days of training.
Before camp had even started the Kenda/5 Hour Energy team had already racked up a win with John Murphy in the time trial at the Valley of the Sun stage race. Unfortunately, the next day a car was directed onto the road during the stage and Murphy crashed into the suddenly stopped vehicle. The result was bruises and a broken hand. Murphy's teammate Chad Hartley took revenge with a win in stage 3's criterium.
Another Kenda/5 Hour Energy rider to stand on the top step of the podium is Phil Gaimon. He has already taken two wins this year: the Race for Humanity road race and the following day's criterium.
As expected, dialing in the new equipment and meshing the new riders with the returning ones are goals during the camp. And, of course, putting in the training miles is a big part of the agenda.
"We've been going out for four to five hours. At times we've split the team into groups to do some hard paceline training and some race simulations on a climb," explains director sportif Frankie Andreu. "We'll ride easy, but at three different points during the day we'll actually do some hard stuff for 30 to 40 minutes."
Off the bike, the riders have been getting a different type of training. In this modern day of instant news, Facebook and Twitter posts, the riders have had presentations regarding social media and how best to manage it.
"We've had a couple of professors from the University of Arizona talk about social media," said Andreu.
"One of the biggest questions teams have is how do you balance the personality and originality of the rider with the image of the team?" says Andreu. "No one likes to read boring tweets and we like the fun of it, but we need to keep it decent - that's the balance the team is striving for."
The Kenda/5 Hour Energy squad has some new members for 2012. In addition to Murphy, Andy Jacques-Maynes joins the team from Bissell.
"I'm super excited to get him. He's a really consistent rider, which is a plus for us," said Andreu of Jacques-Maynes. "One of the reasons we brought him on was we needed more horsepower. He's a very good time trialist and descent in the mountains, but he can also do what's needed in the criteriums. Being that versatile appealed to us."
Jacques-Maynes describes how he became part of the Kenda/5 Hour Energy team.
"I was looking to stay with Bissell last year and wanted to stay with them, but they told me I needed to look for something else. It wasn't my choice, but it's not something I'm upset about either – it was time to move on," Jacques-Maynes says philosophically.
"I can't fault them, they didn't have the room to keep the same number of guys and I was on the short end of the stick. It happens in any industry, whether it's a job or bike racing. It happens, but I was lucky to find a ride with Kenda/5 Hour Energy and I'm pretty happy with that."
Andreu remarked how lean Jaques-Maynes looked at camp. The reason for this race-ready look was his participation in a 24-hour mountain bike race in October.
"To finish off last year's season I did the 24-Hours of Moab, solo, on a dare. I won it and that laid me flat on my back for a month, which was perfect as it was my normal off-season break."
After recovering from such a grueling race Jacques-Maynes discovered that he was a couple of steps up aerobically from where he had been before.
"I give credit for that due to the huge effort at the mountain bike race." That effort equaled over 400 kilometers on a mountain bike in a 24-hour span.
Jacques-Maynes calls central California home and his location is ideal training for the upcoming Amgen Tour of California.
"Stage 2 is 100 percent on home roads. I don't need a map – I know every inch of it, so I got that one dialed in. The other stages I've either ridden on training rides or as part of the (Amgen Tour of California) stages. This is a home race for me and I'd be thrilled to race it."
Of course, all domestic teams want to be invited to the Amgen Tour of California, a race whose stature on the international calendar has grown significantly. Kenda/5 Hour Hour Energy is no different.
"We're motivated and want to go, but we still don't know what's going on yet," says Andreu. "We're going to continue to prepare for the season, which includes the Amgen Tour of California and try to win some bike races early on."
John Murphy is returning to a domestic based team after two-years with BMC. The broken hand was only a temporary set-back for the former US pro criterium champion. He had been out on the bike wearing a cast with an extra wrapping of handlebar tape around the bars for the first days of camp. Fortunately the cast has since been removed.
"That's a big get for us too because of his sprinting ability," explains Andreu. "Also his leadership abilities will play a big part of that too."
The team will officially kick off their season at the Old Pueblo stage race in Arizona and then continue west for the San Dimas stage race and the Redlands Classic, both in California.
- Article published:
- March 3, 2012, 19:40
- Daniel Benson
Wins RadioShack's first race in 2012
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) got his team’s season off the mark with a memorable win in Strade Bianche on Saturday but admitted that he’s still short of his best form as he takes aim on another spring classics campaign.
The Swiss rider was arguably the strongest rider during last season’s spring classics but missed out on a big win. He was also roundly beaten by rival Tony Martin in the majority of their time trial battles but his Strade Bianche performance has laid down a marker for the Classics and Cancelllara believes that his form is moving in a positive direction.
“I always ride to win,” he said in his winner’s press conference.
“Last year maybe I was missing a little bit but you can’t do anything about it. I gave it 100 percent in training and even this winter I said I’d gave 100 percent and even if I don’t win races I’ll be satisfied. If you make mistakes you can’t be happy but today it all went perfect and thanks to work of the team and especially Daniele Bennati I won.”
Cancellara will use Tirreno-Adriatico to fine tune his form ahead of Milan San-Remo but an ominous omen for his rivals lies in the fact that his previous triumph in Strade Bianche came the same year as his win in la classica di Primavera, back in 2008.
“I hadn’t raced since Oman and today felt there was something missing: the race rhythm. I don’t know where my form is at the moment. It’s not 100 percent. I’m on the way to improving. That’s important. It’s important to stay relaxed.”
Cancellara added that his win today was as due to his own mental fortitude and strength as much as his pure talent. Having lost his uncle just a few days ago, he used the grief to spur him on in.
“A lot of things came to mind during the race: winning, but also about the sacrifices we have to make. I also thought about my uncle, who I lost a few days ago. I won thanks more to my mental strength than my physical strength,” he said.
“Life is short, even if I’m still young. You learn more about life and how short it is when you lose people. You understand that you have to be happy with your life and with things like family and find quality in your life. That’s the most important thing. Today I managed to transform my pain into something positive.”
- Article published:
- March 3, 2012, 21:36
- Jane Aubrey
Australian looks to build form ahead of Ardennes Classics
Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) knows the benefits of using Paris-Nice as a stepping stone towards his second major goal of the 2012 season, the Ardennes Classics in April.
Gerrans has a solid history at the races in Belgium and Holland, finishing third at Amstel Gold last year and also boasting top 10 finishes at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2009. For the past two seasons, Paris-Nice has laid the foundations of his assault.
"It's such a hard week of racing and as long as you come out the other side of the week healthy, you come out at a much stronger level and you sort of gain a few per cent throughout the week," Gerrans told Cyclingnews. "It's just a great stepping stone on the way to the Ardennes."
An added bonus for Gerrans is the timing of the eight-stage race, the second on the WorldTour calendar following the Tour Down Under which Gerrans won for the second time in January.
Gerrans began the new year with his new team in tremendous form to win the Australian Road Championships at Buninyong and then the general classification at the Tour Down Under with the GreenEdge line-up depleted through injury. The first two boxes of their debut season had been ticked for the WorldTour neophytes straight up. Clearly on-form, Gerrans then took his feet off the pedals slightly and only raced the Tour de Haut Var mid-February. With the Giro di Sardegna cancelled due to budgetary problems, Gerrans' program underwent a slight reshuffle but the highlight was wearing the national jersey for the first time in Europe.
"There were so many European guys that I've been racing with and against for my entire European career," Gerrans explained. "It was pretty nice for those guys to come up and acknowledge you, give you a pat on the back and say well done, you've finally won an Aussie title. As much as I was rugged up, it was nice to have the jersey on."
With the past few weeks about re-building his momentum, Gerrans is confident of being able to start Paris-Nice on Sunday "at a pretty good level" however he is clear that he is using the race to intensify his form.
"At the same time it looks like there's going to be plenty of good opportunities in the race to try and go for stage wins," he concedes.
GreenEdge sports director Matt White says there is "no interest at all" in Gerrans targeting the general classification, and the 31-year-old says that it's a decision based on where Paris-Nice falls within his program.
"Looking at the parcours I think if I was hitting it in my peak form and not using it as a stepping stone, and kept things going from Tour Down Under, I think a top 10 finish at Paris-Nice would be quite realistic," Gerrans explained.
Regardless, top 10 would be Gerrans' limit in this edition of Paris-Nice with the rouleur likely to lose enough time on stage 5 to Mende with the explosive climbers set to dominate on the Croix-Neuve as the 178.5 day nears its conclusion, and then also on the Col d'Èze time trial. He is confident however, that GreenEdge will be in the mix on most days.
"It's a pretty well-rounded team with the objective being stage wins. Obviously we don't have a GC rider but that's going to be the case for most of the season, I think. We've got some guys who are very good opportunistic riders like Simon Clarke and Michael Albasini as well as myself there who really suit this Paris-Nice parcours," Gerrans said.
"There's a couple of uphill finishes which should be quite selective and there's a couple of days which look like they're going to lend themselves to breakaways. There's probably one day there which looks like it will be a pure sprint stage – we've got Jens Keukeleire and Aidis Kruopis for that."
Robbie McEwen may have won the OCBC Cycle Singapore Criterium on Friday but the pressure is on GreenEdge to get their first win in Europe. Gerrans is confident that Paris-Nice could be the race where is happens.
"On a results front we've been pretty quiet since January but that's all part of the bigger picture," he admitted. "You can't expect to go out and win every race you go to, especially with a brand new team but I think we're pretty much on track at the moment."
- Article published:
- March 4, 2012, 09:33
- Cycling News
Another change near Denain could add too many kilometres
Two sections of the Paris-Roubaix route are in question for the running of the race on April 8. The famous cobblestones in the Arenberg Forest must still be cleaned as they are still too dangerous to be ridden.
"We had a meeting with the General Council of the North,”Jean-Francois Pescheux, sports director of the race, said Friday, according to AFP. “The General Council and the associations concerned have agreed to clean up.”
He added that “everything depends on the decision of the DREAL”, the Regional Directorate of Environment, Physical Planning and Housing. That is the local environmental agency, which must first approve the plan.
The cobblestones are covered with moss and other plant growth, which makes riding very dangerous. Peschaux had already announced in January that if the cobblestones are not cleaned, the race course would have to be changed.
Another change may have to be made, which may be more difficult. The race may not be allowed to ride on the CD 40, near the northern French town of Denain. The road goes too close to the Valenciennes oil warehouses, a large fuel storage depot. Organisers say that rearranging the route would add too many kilometers to the race, pushing it above the 260 km allowed by the UCI.
Last summer the local government banned all gatherings, demonstrations and events near the oil warehouses, including sports events. Peschaux said that he hopes to be granted an exception.
"We will await the final position of the prefecture. It's not a comfortable situation two months before the race.” He said at the CD 40 is an important passage which would be difficult to replace.
“We studied many alternatives, but the entire route would be extended 7 km. And I can not afford it.” The race is currently 257.5km.
Peschaux said that his target date for an answer on this section of the route is next Tuesday.
- Article published:
- March 4, 2012, 10:33
- Daniel Benson
Solid ride in Murcia but bigger goals lie ahead
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) put in a solid performance on stage 1 of the Tour of Murcia, finishing 7th, just under a minute behind stage winner and race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team). It was further confirmation that although the Dutchman has yet to hit top form, he is well on his way to a full recovery from a broken leg that wrecked the tail end of his 2011 season.
Gesink was unable to follow all but a handful of climbers on the Cat 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo and set his own tempo, riding with Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez for the first few sections. Sunday’s second and final stage is a 12.3 individual time trail, giving Gesink another chance to gauge his form.
“My form is improving all the team and it’s a surprise every day that I’m able to do so much with my legs,” he told Cyclingnews after stage 1.
“I was 7th and I’m happy that I can ride in the peloton and go with the best on the climbs again. I know that this is only Murcia and it’s also not my biggest goal of the season but I’m happy with what I’m doing and I’m not complaining abut the situation.”
Gesink is embarking on perhaps his most important season to date. On the one hand he will be looking to demonstrate that his 6th place finishes in the Vuelta in 2009 and the Tour de France in 2010 were stepping stones towards a tilt at overall titles in both.
Along with grand tour pressures, the 25-year-old will also be looking to perform at the Worlds later this year, with the course located in Valkenburg, Holland.
“It’s a huge goal. I’ll do the Vuelta before, which is also a big goal, but the Worlds in my own country is a huge prospect. For the Dutch guys you hear your name being screamed during the entire race at Amstel Gold Race so you can only imagine what it will be like at the Worlds. Also the parcours suits me pretty well.”
- Article published:
- March 4, 2012, 16:39
- Cycling News
Sky leader second and Tony Martin falters
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) put himself in strong position for the overall battle at Paris-Nice with a commanding display on stage 1. The British rider finished second to Gustav Larsson in the 9.4 kilometer time trial but the one second deficit only told part of the story with the Sky rider having to battle wet conditions throughout his test. Larsson, who signed for Vacansoleil-DCM at the start of the season, had dry conditions during his run.
"I didn't take any risks in the corners but I knew in a straight line I was flying,” Wiggins told the BBC.
"I wasn't willing to find out whether it was slippery so I never really pushed it as hard as I could have done in the corners," added Wiggins.
"I'd already slipped on the ramp coming off the start, so straight away I had one mind on safety in the corners. Fortunately there weren't so many corners so it wasn't as decisive."
The 31-year-old has started the season in good form, winning the time trial at the Volta ao Algarve, and finishing third overall.
His performance came in stark contrast to defending Paris-Nice champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) who raced in the same conditions as Wiggins but finished 25 seconds down on Larsson.
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) finished third on the stage, with fellow American Tejay Van Garderen picking up fourth and the white jersey as the best young rider.
Monday’s stage two will see the peloton race 185 kilometers from Mantes-la-Jolie to Orléans.