- Article published:
- May 11, 2013, 22:48
- Cycling News
Live stage coverage every day
Cyclingnews will be delivering live coverage of the entire 2013 Amgen Tour of California, starting on Sunday, May 12 with the opening stage in Escondido.
You won't want to miss a moment of the action as the peloton tackles two mountainous routes in the first two stages. The first stage features Palomar Mountain and Cole Grade, which will form the first selection of the overall contenders, and then on the second day a very hot and difficult uphill finish in Palm Springs will drive a wedge into the gaps.
Three unpredictable stages could favor the escape artists or sprinters, and then the overall contenders will face the San Jose time trial and its torturous uphill finale.
Mt. Diablo caps off the seventh stage where the final overall winner will seal the victory before a short, fast stage from San Francisco to Santa Rosa completes the week.
Cyclingnews' live coverage will start at the following times:
Stage 1: Escondido - Escondido, 11:15am
Stage 2: Murrieta - Palm Springs, 10:20am
Stage 3: Palmdale - Santa Clarita, 11:20am
Stage 4: Santa Clarita - Santa Barbara, 12:35pm
Stage 5: Santa Barbara - Avila Beach, 11:00am
Stage 6: San Jose (ITT) - , 1:00pm
Stage 7: Livermore - Mt. Diablo, 11:35am
Stage 8: San Francisco - Santa Rosa, 8:15am
- Article published:
- May 12, 2013, 00:53
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Defending champion now 2:05 behind race leader Nibali
Ryder Hesjedal and Garmin-Sharp believe they will be able to build on his sixth place general classification position in the mountainous stages to come at the Giro d'Italia. The 32-year-old Canadian now lies 2:05 back on new maglia rosa holder Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), but there are a lot of stages that will play in the defending Giro champion's favour yet to come.
"We're going to see a very different kind of race from here on," Charly Wegelius, Garmin-Sharp's sports director, told Cyclingnews.
Although 18th in the time trial might not appear to be a standout result as compared to this year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège to the Giro last year against Joaquim Rodriguez and even back as far as his breakthrough summit victory at Velefique in the 2009 Vuelta a España, Hesjedal's strongest rides have almost always come on hilly and mountainous terrain.
"It was a hard test, but I think I did all right. There are a lot of strong guys here, I think it's very tight at the top of the classification and I'm satisfied," Hesjedal - who had no mechanicals or other problems - said on Italian television.
"He was very positive about it all, solid all the way through and technically he was excellent," Wegelius added to Cyclingnews. "There were no dips in his performance. Perhaps looking back he could have started a little bit quicker but that can be a huge mistake in a time trial as demanding as that. If I see how spent he was at the end I think he timed his effort right, it was a solid performance."
Wegelius recognised that the time trial course as complicated and above all as long as the 54.8 kilometre course - with that sort of distance, it is possible to include almost every kind of terrain - was bound to produce some unexpected moments.
"I won't lie to you, when I first heard [Vincenzo] Nibali's time check at 26 kilometres I was a little bit concerned, but then I reasoned with it a little bit and I didn't think that was a sustainable effort and in fact, as it turned out, he suffered at the end. Over a ride as long as that, you're taking risks, but [Vincenzo] Nibali made a huge gain today and congratulations to him, too."
Looking at the race overall and the prospects for his fellow-Briton Bradley Wiggins, Wegelius says that "he's not in the situation he'd have expected after the time trial. But this is the Giro and things can change from one day to the next, really fast. Either way, I think it's going to be a different race from now on."
- Article published:
- May 12, 2013, 02:11
- Laura Weislo
First time back for 2010 champion
The only former Tour of California winner in this year's race, Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff), is back in the USA for the first time since he took home the overall title in Thousand Oaks in 2010, and he is looking to get some good results after an up and down two years spent with Team Sky.
"I'm happy to be back: since I've won I haven't done the race. I was out with illness in 2011 and last year the team didn't do it. It's nice to be back, and it's nice to be in some sunny weather for sure. It's been a long winter," Rogers told Cyclingnews.
"It's one of my favorite races of the year. I think the people really enjoy having the race here, and all the riders enjoy coming here. There's a bit of jet lag with the traveling and what not, but we got here a few days early and I'm starting to sleep properly again."
Since his last trip to the States, Rogers has battled some insidious health issues: first with a relapse of the Epstein Barr virus, an illness with which he's struggled three times, and then from repeated bouts of tonsillitis that cropped up after the London Olympic Games. The latter issue led to the decision to undergo a rather risky adult tonsillectomy last October.
As a result, his start to the season has been less than ideal, as complications from the surgery left him fighting back from anaemia. "I had a lot of complications and had a lot of blood loss from internal bleeding. But over the last few months I'm starting to get back to full health again. Over the last couple of years my health has been a real sore point for me, and it's starting to hopefully turn things around, physically. I feel like I am anyway."
Rogers is hoping that having his tonsils removed might solve the problems he's had with the Epstein Barr virus, an illness he first fought in 2001, then again in 2008 and 2010. "[The tonsils] could be the cause of my ill health for the past five years. Ever since I had them out I haven't been sick once.
"But it's a tough road back. You have three or four months out the sport and you're so far behind. When you start off already on the wrong foot at the start of the year, it's hard to progress and to catch up again. I'm slowly getting there. Hopefully for the Tour I'll be back to my usual self."
Even with the slow start to the year, Rogers is hoping to recapture some of the form that led him to the overall Bayern-Rundfahrt victory, a second place in the Critérium du Dauphiné and a third overall in Critérium International last year.
"It's not just a building block for the Tour de France," Rogers said when asked about his goals. "I'd love to do a good result here. I'm pretty confident that I'm riding well, I'm certainly not at my best, but I'm slowly getting there."
He expects the first two stages to be tough, having experienced Palomar Mountain back in 2009 and knowing that the finale in Palm Springs involves a steep ascent, but it is the San Jose time trial that is top in the mind of the three-time world champion in the discipline.
His depth of experience may well prove to be decisive, as the power-based flat section combined with a steep and rather lengthy climb at the end of the course will take perfect planning, pacing and plenty of strength to yield success. Some riders might still be mulling over whether to swapping bikes for the climb, start with a lightweight climbing bike or just hammer through on their time trial machine, but Rogers has already decided.
"We thought about it, we sat down and time-wise I divided it all up into percentages, and I think it's way more beneficial to use a time trial bike."
- Article published:
- May 12, 2013, 04:38
- Laura Weislo
American squad looking for aggressive race
The Garmin Sharp team will hope to transform David Zabriskie's four second-placed finishes overall with its first ever victory in the Amgen Tour of California this week, and is standing behind the reigning time trial champion even if this year's course is a bit more difficult than previous years.
"He's in great form again, and he trained very hard for the race," Van Bondt told Cyclingnews. "I think we have a very good chance for him to win this race. Then we have Tyler, who skipped the Giro this year and is focused on the Tour of California. Our objective is to win a minimum of one stage and then try to win the overall with Zabriskie.
Last year Zabriskie's 34-second lead after the time trial was wiped out on the climb to Mt. Baldy, when Robert Gesink rode away to gain more than a minute on the American. But Garmin directeur Geert Van Bondt thinks that the climbs in this year's race suit Zabriskie a bit better.
"Last year when he was second and we went up to Mt. Baldy, and that was not an easy climb, and he was still second in GC. We had a very good Gesink last year, and he's not here. So I think Zabriskie can be good on the Palm Springs stage as well."
The stage 2 finish in Palm Springs ends atop the Tramway, a 3.7-mile ascent that is quite steep, but Van Bondt thinks its consistent grade will be better for Zabriskie than Baldy's steep ramps. "Zab has more problems when it gets steep, but this climb is very consistent. It's long, but it's 10% all the way up. I think the race maybe suits him better than last year."
What Van Bondt doesn't want to see happen is for Garmin to miss an important breakaway and waste its precious resources having to chase down gaps. At the USA Pro Cycling Challenge last year, the team went on the attack instead, and was able to dominate the race, winning three stages and the overall classification.
"I think we have to race pretty aggressive. If you see the first two days - Sunday is already a hard stage, and that's the difference between this and last year. Last year we had a few flat stages at the beginning and then the climbs, but Sunday it goes directly to 1600m on a really long climb. It's going to be difficult to control the race. We have to be aware that if the breakaway goes, we have to be in there, so we don't have to close the gap. That's the worst scenario because then you have to sacrifice so many people."
He tipped Alex Howes, Rohan Dennis and Caleb Fairly as the riders to mark the moves on the early stages, but expects the opening stage to be hard to control, as the Continental teams look to get into the early breakaways to have a chance to don the first leader's jersey.
"I think they will race aggressive as well - for them it's difficult to hang on the climbs, if they make a move they have to make it before the climb, and it's a very long one.
"All of the teams will be trying to do the same thing ... but what I learned from my experience is if you race aggressive, then every time you're in a better position."
If Zabriskie can hang on the climbs, then Van Bondt expects that his skill and experience as a time trialist will be key in the San Jose stage.
"It's going to be different - Zabriskie could take a 20 second advantage [in the time trial] last year, but with the uphill it is going to be important to pace it correctly. You don't want to be a bloc when you hit the climb. You need experience to do it right, and Zabriskie has that."
Garmin Sharp's team for the 2013 Tour of California: David Zabriskie, Rohan Dennis, Caleb Fairly, Tyler Farrar, Alex Howes, Lachlan Morton, Jacob Rathe, Johan Van Summeren.
- Article published:
- May 12, 2013, 06:39
- Cycling News
Four riders in the top-20 for Blanco in Giro ITT
The Giro d'Italia Stage 8 individual time trial proved to be a good day for the Blanco team, with four riders placing inside the top-20, led by Stef Clement in fifth place 32 seconds off the pace of Alex Dowsett (Movistar).
Meantime, Robert Gesink moved into third overall with his effort, now 1:15 behind GC leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) as the Giro moves into a fascinating second week of racing. Young gun Wilco Kelderman was 35 seconds behind Gesink in 14th place while Juan Manuel Garate was 19th for the day.
Sports director Jan Boven was not giving too much away, despite the results.
"It was another good day", he said. "Every day is important in a Grand Tour but this one a little more so. In the time trial it is about minutes and seconds and then you simply have to be at your best and that we were today. We actually did better than we even hoped for. Today is a good close to the first week but we can't forget that there are two more weeks to go. We have to stay sharp. Our goals have been set for a three week tour."
Clement was able to overcome a missed turn early on in the 54.8km chrono, when he had wanted to overtake another rider on the road. It contributed to him being unaware that his time was as good as it was.
"From there on I was a bundle of nerves on the bike," the 30-year-old explained. "That also affected my descent. On top of that, it's not easy to stay balanced and spread your energy effectively over 55 kilometers. But I am well pleased with this fifth place result."
Gesink, while pleased with his performance and his third place overall, will be taking nothing for granted.
"A time trial such as this is always brutal but I think I can be very pleased with the result," the Dutchman explained. "It felt good right from the start and I was able to maintain my revolutions at a good pace. The first week has gone well. We've been up front as a team at the right moments and like the rest of the lads, I am in good form. In a Grand Tour, I take it day by day. For the moment, it's going well and I hope it stays that way.
Kelderman now holds a 43 second lead in the young rider classification, having moved into the maglia bianco ahead of Rafal Majka (Saxo - Tinkoff). The stage was not all plain sailing for the 22-year-old who crashed following an issue with a rear wheel.
"To wear the white jersey in my first Grand Tour is super. After I took the youth classification in the Tour of Romandy, I harbored the idea that I might repeat it here, but to actually do it is very cool. For the time being, I am focused on supporting Robert and time will tell if I can hold on to the jersey."
- Article published:
- May 12, 2013, 10:05
- Pat Malach
41-year-old German rooms with 20-year-old Luxembourger teammate
Chris Horner's last-minute withdrawal from RadioShack Leopard's Amgen Tour of California roster may have helped create cycling's own version of the "Odd Couple", as 41-year-old Jens Voigt will now be rooming with 20-year-old neo pro Bob Jungels throughout the eight-day race.
"Together we're 31," Voigt told Cyclingnews Friday after the opening press conference. "So that's a good age for a cyclist. It's funny how he sometimes reminds me of my son, because my son is turning 18 this year. [Jungels] is only like 2 ½ years older. He's actually closer to my son than to myself, so I want to believe it keeps me young."
As far as Jungels is concerned, the two teammates may be separated by more than two decades, but Voigt's often-times playful attitude helps bring them together.
"I feel pretty comfortable with him because he's over 40 years old, but in his head he's like 25," Jungels said. "So it's pretty cool. We talk a lot together, and if I have any questions he's always there answering everything you ask him, and that's just great to have someone with you who has so much experience. It's kind of relaxing. You feel comfortable and secure, and I think it helps you for the races also. You have no stress or no pressure, and he confirms that."
Jungels comes to California for the first time after having already won his first pro race this year, the UCI 1.1 GP Nobili Rubinetterie in Italy. He also ran second during the time trial stage of the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe in France, finished sixth during the stage 6 time trial at the Tour of the Med and was seventh during stage 2 of the Criterium International.
"For the whole year I have no pressure at all," Jungels said of his position within the team. "At the beginning of the year I said, 'OK, my big goal is just to get as much experience as possible'. Now I already have one win and a second place, so I'm really happy. For the rest it's just a bonus if I can get more results."
The promising rider from Luxembourg came to the WorldTour this year from Radioshack Leopard's development program, the Continental-ranked Leopard-Trek team. As a 19-year-old development rider last season, Jungels won the Paris-Roubaix espoirs race and claimed the overall win at le Triptyque Monts et Chateau. He won the individual time trial and the overall at the 63rd Fleche du Sud, as well as the Luxembourg national time trial championship. He was also second in the time trial at the European Cycling Championships.
The power rider who excels at the race against the clock would like to collect some "bonus" results in California this week, but he's also realistic about the competition.
"I will try to follow in the mountains, and maybe in the time trial I can make a good result," he said. "We had a similar [time trial course] at the beginning of the year in France, so I know a little bit where I am standing, but I have no pressure. I just go.
"But I think there are a lot of strong riders from strong teams here," Jungels continued. "So I think first of all, we have no real leader for the team, so it's pretty open for us and we can try something. Everybody can do something. Of course, I would be really happy [to get a good result], but I'm there for the team also. For me, it's not just the victory that counts, but if I can show myself a little bit and show my skills a little bit, that would be nice for me."
Voigt, winner of multiple stages in California and one of only a handful of riders who will have competed in all eight editions of the race, is also hoping his young protege can show himself and grab some spotlight this week.
"He's a pretty good time trialer," Voigt said. "He's young and he's hungry, so I believe he's going to create some attention."
Starting Sunday, Jungels will have eight days to do just that. In the meantime, he's simply trying to relax and enjoy his first trip to the US.
"California is a different mentality," he said from the team hotel in Escondido. "It's so much more relaxed than in Europe, and now with the good weather, it's amazing. The landscapes when we went training are just awesome. We rode the first stage, and in the hills it's really beautiful. I like the lifestyle, even if it's really different than Europe."
And what is the Luxembourger's first impression of the Golden State?
"Everything is a lot bigger," he said. "If you go from the cups in McDonald's or Starbucks and until the roads. Everything is just bigger. And the people have been just so friendly and great, we're having a good time."
- Article published:
- May 12, 2013, 12:37
- Cycling News
Three inside top ten but Nibali in control
Bradley Wiggins said he got the best out of himself in the second half of the stage 8 individual time trial at the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, but rued a puncture that may have cost him the stage victory.
Wiggins finished second behind grand tour debutant Alex Dowsett in the individual test to Saltara, and moved into fourth overall. However the time trial marked a key area in which the Tour de France champion was expected to distance his GC rivals. He only managed to put 11 seconds into maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali, leaving him 1’16 behind the Astana leader. Cadel Evans and Robert Gesink all remained above Wiggins despite the Brit clawing back some of the time he’d lost after a stage 7 crash.
At the finish in Saltara Wiggins once again declined to talk to the press but he later posted his thoughts on Team Sky’s website. “There are two weeks to go. The last week’s going to be very difficult and the time gaps are relatively small still. A minute and 16 to Nibali still with all the problems yesterday isn't that bad it’s all to play for. It’s not easy to defend a Grand Tour lead so it’s not a bad position to be in,” he said.
"We’re still here and we’ve got three guys in the top 10 now. We’ve got a few cards to play.”
Sergio Luis Henao lies in 7th with Rigoberto Uran in 10th but Wiggins' performances in the first weeks will mean he must go on the offensive in the mountains and take on Nibali on the Italian’s favoured terrain.
“I think there was some initial disappointment because I wanted to win the stage. It’s been a challenging few days with the crash yesterday and then to come back up. It wasn’t an easy course. I’ve said all along that it wasn’t one of those ones where you could take three or four minutes out of people because it was so technical at the start.”
- Article published:
- May 12, 2013, 15:10
- Cycling News
Former Sky man links up with US team
BMC has hired former professional Bobby Julich as a consultant on a short term contract. Julich was released from a similar role at Team Sky last season after confessing to doping during parts of his racing career. Sky has attempted to operate a zero tolerance policy towards doping and in the wake of the USADA investigation concerning US Postal, Julich chose to confess.
On Sunday BMC announced that, “Bobby Julich has been hired to consult for the BMC Racing Team in the areas of training, individual coaching, equipment testing and overall performance strategies.”
Julich will work closely with BMC’s Team Performance Manager Allan Peiper, with a view towards a permanent position a possibility.
"We are excited to have Bobby join our performance team and look forward to working with him," said Jim Ochowicz, who was Julich's manager at Motorola in the 1990s.
"I love the sport of cycling and feel I have a lot to offer," Julich said. "I'm really happy and excited the BMC Racing Team is giving me an opportunity to pass my experience along."