- Article published:
- May 12, 2012, 23:34
- Pat Malach
2011 KOM champion Pat McCarty on upward track after illness
Canadian Pro Continental squad Spidertech Powered by C10 returns to the Amgen Tour of California this year with a bolstered squad from previous editions, but 2011 KOM jersey winner Jonathan "Pat" McCarty will have a tough row to hoe if he wants to repeat his 2011 result.
McCarty is recovering from a long bout with mononucleosis that held back his training and racing prep coming into the California race.
"We're hoping Pat can be the same old Pat he was last year," team director Steve Bauer told Cyclingnews Friday. "But our expectations are a little bit softer, obviously, because he's on an upward track. He's getting fitter and feeling better every ride he does, but again, we know the game here and you have to be on top really to pull that off. So we have to play it by ear with Pat to see how his form is and play it day by day. Maybe we can pick off a breakaway, and who knows, maybe go for a stage."
The addition of a former Saxo Bank Tour de France veteran, Denmark's Brian Vandborg, will lend some experience to Spidertech, which also features two Canadian U23 riders who will race in California for the first time.
"Hugo Houle is going to get some valuable experience from this race," Bauer said. "He and David Boily are both talented young guys under 23 who are hoping to show some of their stuff."
The squad in California also includes Ryan Anderson, Guillaume Boivin, Lucas Euser and Caleb Fairly. Bauer said the team will likely join the fray of squads hoping to make it into the breakaways and onto the live TV coverage.
"Everybody wants to play that role, but we have to be a part of it," he said. "We want to be aggressive at the right moment and be in some breakaways that count.
"On the big climbing stages we have to hold our own and see if one or two of our riders can really follow the top guns on general classification, which is never an easy ask at this level, but our guys have made great progress and we're looking for a great race. They're ready and we'll play our best cards everyday."
Spidertech powered by C10 Amgen Tour of California roster:
Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA), Ryan Anderson (Can), David Boily (Can), Guillaume Boivin (Can), Lucas Euser (USA), Caleb Fairly (USA), Hugo Houle (Can), Brian Vandborg (Den)
- Article published:
- May 13, 2012, 01:10
- Jean-François Quénet
Hesjedal in leader's maglia rosa, Stetina best young rider
It was a day of celebration for Garmin-Barracuda at the Giro d'Italia as one day after the team surrendered the maglia rosa to Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), Ryder Hesjedal reclaimed it for the US ProTeam with his fifth place result in stage 7. Additionally, Garmin-Barracuda's Peter Stetina claimed the maglia bianca jersey of best young rider as well as moving into fifth place overall, 26 seconds behind his Canadian teammate.
"That was our double goal: for me to take the white and for Ryder to take the pink and we were able to capitalize on that," Stetina told Cyclingnews. "We're happy with today."
Stetina began the stage in second place on the young riders classification, led by maglia rosa wearer Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), but wore the white jersey during the stage since Malori sported the pink jersey. At the conclusion of the stage, however, Stetina became the rightful owner of the white jersey as Malori faltered on the mountain finish and finished more that 11 minutes off the pace, paving the way for Hesjedal to take the race lead as well.
Stetina spoke about Garmin-Barracuda's strategy on the summit finish at Rocca di Cambio, particularly their concern that Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) could derail their ambitions for the pink jersey.
The 25-year-old America, riding his second Giro d'Italia, also discussed the importance of the team's results regarding the upward trajectory of professional cycling in North America.
- Article published:
- May 13, 2012, 02:19
- Pat Malach
Bissel veteran set to take advantage of local knowledge
When the Amgen Tour of California rolls out of Santa Rosa on Sunday for stage one of the 2012 race, Ben Jacques-Maynes will also be
marking a rather unfortunate anniversary.
The Bissell Pro Cycling veteran crashed during the race last year, breaking his collarbone and then contracting a serious infection that knocked him out of racing for the rest of the season. Now he's back and ready to confront his demons at the California race.
"I'm pretty confident that my body is kind of back to where it needs to be," Jacques-Maynes told Cyclingnews. "Now my fitness and
mentality sort of needs to get picked up again, and that just takes time. I've been looking forward to this week with anticipation and excitement, but also some trepidation. I've been basically in pain for a year straight, so it wears on you and you think about it. But if I can get through this next week healthy and whole and finish the race, I'm looking forward to a big mental boost from that."
Beside looking forward to jumping over the hurdle that has been in his path for the past year, Jacques-Maynes has other reasons to be excited about the seventh edition of the Tour of California. The stage two route from San Francisco to Santa Cruz relies heavily on roads that are in the California native's current backyard and it finishes in his hometown. Jacques-Maynes, who helped with the fundraising efforts to bring the race to Santa Cruz, hopes to reward the local residents with a good performance there.
"Everyone's been telling me they'll see me in the breakaway on Monday," he said. "I don't know if that will actually happen, but I know every inch of the road and I'd like to have a good performance, whether that's ride the break and get the exposure or a jersey at the end of the day. If not, if I'm in the pack, then I'll climb as hard as I can to get over those climbs and help out the sprinters at the finish. I think it will be a pretty decent-sized bunch if it's a sprint finish, so hopefully we'll have some of the fast guys there and I can help them, or I'll take my own chance."
Jacques-Maynes added that he believes his extensive knowledge of the roads will reduce his stress about the course, allowing him to focus 100 percent on the racing at hand.
"That kind of stuff adds up, where you're better informed and you're less stressed out," he said. "You know people are talking about the difference in percentages that make a difference between winning and losing, well a lower heart rate from less stress, lower cortisol levels from less stress and being able to tune into the attitudes of the other racers and really know like now's a good time to hit them because they're suffering, as opposed to paying attention to your own suffering and wondering where the top is, because you know where the top is."
He has been riding the stage two route through the Santa Cruz mountain at least twice a week all spring, fine tuning his already considerable knowledge of the area.
"I've made sure that I know that course like the back of my hand," he said.
And, of course, being the local pro has advantages that reach beyond knowledge of the route. Jacques-Maynes said he will be able to stay at home for a few nights and will also have friends and family all along the stage 2 route to boost his motivation.
"You definitely gain confidence from that," he said. "These people are coming out to see me, so I want to do something special for them. So you dig in a little bit more. When you've got a group of friends chanting your name right when you're suffering the hardest up a steep climb, it definitely lights a fire under you."
And having the biggest bicycle race in the US take over your hometown isn't so bad, either, Jacques-Maynes said.
"You're riding on these roads that you ride everyday for training, and instead of riding in the middle traffic and being stuffed over to the side, you're in this parade, and the roads are closed, the streets are lined and people are cheering for you. It's a very special feeling. It's something that I haven't experienced with anything else, and it's something to cherish. However the actual result happens, just coming through town and kind of taking over the town, it's awesome."
- Article published:
- May 13, 2012, 03:56
- Cycling News
Stage 2 crash injuries prove too painful for Belgian
The mountainous parcour of the across the Apennine ridge proved too much of a hurdle for Lotto Belisol stage victory hope, Gianni Meersman. The Belgian was forced to abandon Stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia after 70 kilometres of racing on Saturday.
Meersman had crashed on stage 2 in Herning and had been able to cautiously ride through the following days over the competitively flat roads. But as the Giro began to head skywards, the 26-year-old was forced off his bike.
"Pain in my back and my knee forced me to abandon," Meersman said in a team statement. "Obviously this is a big disappointment for me. Right after the crash I thought the damage was minimal and during the flat races, I was alright. But when it first got hilly yesterday, it was a real struggle to keep following the bunch. I went to the limit and my osteopath did everything yesterday to make the pain go away, but 12 hours of recovery were insufficient. Due to the injury on my hip joint, I sat crooked on my bike, causing more pain in my knee," he explained, referencing the injury which ruled him out of Fleche Wallonne or Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
"It was no use to continue, things could only get worse, followed by a longer period of inactivity," Meersman continued. "I now hope it will be limited to only a couple of days, time you don't get in a big tour. I'd rather saw this end another way, because giving up is the last thing you want to do as a rider. Now it's important to get rid of the disappointment and make new goals."
- Article published:
- May 13, 2012, 05:14
- Pat Malach
High stakes for Rabobank this week
Rabobank is returning to the Amgen Tour of California this year with pressure to perform, bringing a strong team that should be in the mix for stage wins, jerseys and general classification results.
Robert Gesink, three-time winner of the best Young Rider jersey, and Laurens ten Dam, sixth overall last year, will lead the team along with twice Romandie stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez and sprint specialist Michael Matthews. The stacked roster should provide the team with plenty of options for snagging the results its sponsor is banking on.
"Rabobank is becoming a bigger bank over here," Gesink said. "So they really want to express themselves, and that's why we're here with a really strong team. So we want to try and do some really good results and win stages here."
Despite naming the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France as his main targets this season, Gesink told Cyclingnews that he is "dying" for a good result after recovering from a broken leg suffered in a training accident last September. To that end, the 25-year-old is coming off 11 days of altitude training at Lake Tahoe and is hoping the extra time spent acclimating to the US pays off.
"I've been struggling since my broken leg last year," Gesink said. "So I am dying to get a result, of course, because that's what you become a cyclist for – you want to win races. So I could really use a good result."
He arrived in California early enough to squeeze in some training in the San Jose area before going to Lake Tahoe. Now Gesink wants to test his form against the highly motivated field at the Tour of California, where he raced in 2007, 2008 and 2009 but missed the past two years.
"Of course, it's always a question of where you are exactly in the race," he said. "But if there's a chance in this Tour of California I'll take it. From the beginning you have to not lose any time, and then see how it goes in the two uphill finishes. That could be an advantage being off 11 days of altitude. Both of those finishes are at 2,000 meters, so that's a good thing."
Ten Dam finished third on the difficult Mt. Baldy stage last year on his way to sixth overall and hopes to repeat or better his performance this year. But he said that with the team's strong roster he could end up in a support role.
"Last year it clicked into place for me, and this year I hope it's the same," Ten Dam said. "For sure I can play my roles in the race, if it's top three or top 10 or if I have to assist Robert [Gesink] and get out of GC. I'm just here with the team to perform as well as possible. It's always that way at a race. People are unsure of their form compared to others riders. After a few days you can say, 'yes it's there' or 'it's going to be difficult.'"
Ten Dam said the changes to this year's race, with only one true summit finish and a longer, flatter time trial, may not play into his favor in the GC battle.
"The Mt. Baldy stage is good for me," he said. "But I think the Big Bear stage, compared to last year, is maybe less chance for the GC riders to make differences. For example, last year on Sierra Road we were already quite time gapped. Between the first 15 riders were reasonable gaps. So this year may be better for the time trialists. My TT is not that good compared to Zabriske, Leipheimer, Tejay [Van Garderen]. So for me it's more or less I'd like to be good on the mountain stages, and then in the TT we'll see how it goes with the GC."
The Dutch rider, who made headlines last year after finishing a stage of the Tour de France with his faced wrapped in bloodied bandage, said the team sponsor is excited for results at the race and has thrown a little extra support behind the squad's efforts.
"It's an important race for the team," Ten Dam said. "Normally the race organization pays for the plane tickets, but Rabobank California paid for an upgrade to business class, and it makes a huge difference in your fitness level when you arrive in San Francisco, you know, 12 hours relaxed in business class. So it was pretty nice from the bank, but it also shows the importance of the race for the team. They want to see us win races this week, so we hope we can deliver that."
But he also said that despite the extra support, the Tour of California has gotten bigger and more competitive every year, especially with the many motivated American riders and teams looking to score a big victory on home soil.
"This year, for example, Zabriske and Talansky from Garmin, and Danielson, so they've got a really strong team here," Ten Dam said. "I don't know how Tejay [Van Garderen] is after his crash at Romandie. Then you've got [Chris] Horner and Levi [Leipheimer]. So it's going to be big, but we've got a good team here and we've got confidence."
- Article published:
- May 13, 2012, 09:43
- Cycling News
Italian loses 21 seconds to Scarponi
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) was unable to follow Michele Scarponi’s acceleration in the final kilometre of stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia, on a finale which the Italian said was not suited to his characteristics.
The 19km ascent to Rocca di Cambio was tackled at high speed but the shallowness of its slopes meant that the leading group did not fragment until the closing 500 metres, when Scarponi and stage winner Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) jumped away. Basso came across the line 9 seconds down in 8th place.
“It’s not that I chose not to respond, it’s that I wasn’t able to respond,” Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport. “It wasn’t a finish that was very suited to my characteristics. The finale was quite technical before the final ramp in the last kilometre.”
When time bonuses were factored in, Basso conceded 21 seconds to Scarponi and 14 seconds to Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), although he finished just ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD). He now lies in 8th place overall, 40 seconds off the maglia rosa of Ryder Hesjedal.
“For me, it was ok to lose a few seconds even if it would have been better if it had been the contrary,” Basso said. “I managed to stay with the rhythm of riders who are more explosive than me for as long as I could. Nothing really happened, we’re just talking about a few seconds that in a day can be won or lost.”
Indeed, after a difficult start to the season which saw him consider forgoing the Giro altogether, Basso could allow himself a spot of gallows humour. “I’m happy that It's my first placing of the season,”
Although Rocca di Cambio was the first summit finish of the race, Basso felt that the nature of the climb meant that it was never likely to give any decisive indications of form. “It was a strange climb and you went up it at 30kph, so it’s not like you take many conclusions from it,” he said.
Nonetheless, Basso was impressed by former CSC teammate Frank Schleck’s display. The Luxembourger was a late addition to the RadioShack-Nissan team following Jakob Fuglsang’s withdrawal through injury, and he was present and correct in the closing stages on Saturday.
“Frank Schleck went well and that’s not a surprise for me,” Basso said. “I always thought he could grow in form here and become a very dangerous rival, because of his experience. But we’re all still there.”
- Article published:
- May 13, 2012, 11:02
- Cycling News
Van Winden pulls out on road to Lago Laceno
Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) has withdrawn from the Giro d’Italia due to illness. The Tuscan did not take the start of Sunday’s stage from Sulmona to Lago Laceno, citing a fever.
“Daniele had fever after the stage yesterday and his temperature didn't go down in the evening and the night, on the contrary,” said RadioShack-Nissan doctor Nino Daniele. “It's not wise to race with fever, so there wasn't really another option but to withdraw."
After finishing 3rd in the bunch sprint behind Mark Cavendish on stage 5, Bennati had begun feeling the effects of the illness on the road to Porto San’Elpidio the following day. On Saturday, he reached the summit of Rocca di Cambio in the final group on the road, over 23 minutes down on stage winner Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).
Bennati, who had suffered from food poisoning at the tail end of the classics campaign, had arrived at the Giro with hopes of shining in the sprint stages later in the race, and had also expressed the desire to test himself in the final time trial.
“We're very sorry for Daniele,” directeur sportif Kim Andersen said. “He is of course disappointed. We'll look now how we can modify his race program so that he's back at the races as soon as he's better.”
Dennis Van Winden (Rabobank) finished in the same group as Bennati at Rocca di Cambio, and although he managed to start stage 8 in Sulmona on Sunday, he abandoned after 30 kilometres of racing. The Dutchman had been suffering from a knee injury in recent days.
- Article published:
- May 13, 2012, 14:04
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Luxembourger shows rising form at Giro d'Italia
Saturday’s third place for Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) in the mountain top finish at Rocca di Cambio was the first time the rider from Luxembourg has stuck his head above the parapet in this year’s Giro d’Italia. Is it a sign that he could really be prepared to battle for the overall?
A last-minute replacement for Jakob Fuglsang, according to a detailed interview with Gazzetta Sportiva published on Sunday, Schleck reportedly said that he had not really wanted to take part in the Giro. But whether that is true or not, he is certainly getting to like it now.
Awarded 8 points out of ten by Gazzetta for his third place, Schleck revealed that “the real battle only really got underway in the last two kilometres, there were so many of us ahead.”
“On Friday I felt good, today [Saturday] I felt better, but I still need some more time to get top condition. I got third, but in the big climbs it may be a different story.”
According to Schleck, the first week of racing has revealed little of the real condition of the overall favourites, although he told Gazzetta that after eight days off the bike following the Ardennes classics, “It’s not a question of whether I lost more or less [condition], in a week I lost everything. That’s why we [as riders] train every day.”
“Fortunately I have a good team and good morale. We’re here to do a great race.”
However, he admitted that he had ‘no idea’ of the route, and that knowing the stages is “really important. I’m sure Basso, Kreuziger, Rodríguez and Scarponi know all each and every detail.” It is possible, he said, although not yet definitely decided, that RadioShack-Nissan will send a member of the team staff ahead to check out some of the mountain stages and give him some up-to-date information on the climbs.