Astana rider loses ten minutes as Aru moves into 5th
It wasn't the kind of day where the race could be won, but it was certainly the kind of day where it could be lost. Michele Scarponi was the man who fulfilled that old truism on the Giro d'Italia's first real mountain stage to Montecopiolo, as the Astana man lost the coattails of the favourites and all hopes of overall victory, reaching the finish almost ten minutes down.
The auspices from the eve of battle had not been encouraging. Still suffering the effects of his crash on the road to Montecassino earlier in the week, Scarponi went straight to hospital in Foligno after the finish of stage 7 for a check-up on his injured hip.
No fractures showed up on the x-ray but the radiographer's report did little to assuage Scarponi's bruised morale. In the adrenalin of the moment at Montecassino, he had managed to limit his losses gamely to Cadel Evans (BMC), but the following morning at the team hotel in Ferentino, he walked into the dining room with the stiltedness of a knight in armour.
Scarponi began Saturday's stage in 17th place overall, 2:28 down, and as the Giro gruppo passed into his home region of the Marche, he must have hoped against hope that he could survive the inevitable cull on the first real mountain pass of the race, the Carpegna.
Instead, however, the steep, narrow ascent dealt out its verdict. Already lingering off the rear of the dwindling group of favourites at the summit of Marco Pantani's old training climb, Scarponi was distanced definitively on the next ascent, the rather more benign Villaggio del Lago, with 15 kilometres still to race.
When the peloton hit the foot of the Carpegna, the expectation was that the Movistar team of Nairo Quintana would begin forcing to prepare the terrain for the Colombian climber. Instead, it was Ag2r's former mountain biker Alexis Vuillermoz who took up the initiative, his mouth opening wide and then clenching to a grimace in harmony with each pedal stroke
Aided by Matteo Montaguti and Hubert Dupont, Vuillermoz's forcing helped to whittle down the group of favourites to just under twenty by the summit of the Carpegna, while Pozzovivo bobbed along on his wheel. The intention was to divest Quintana and Evans of their teammates, but it bore an additional dividend when Michele Scarponi (Astana) began to suffer, and the Italian was dropped irretrievably come the penultimate climb, the Villaggio del Lago.
"We forced the pace on the Carpegna because that was the climb best suited to my characteristics. We wanted to try and shed the teammates of my rivals there because we knew that the last two climbs were strappi rather than real mountain passes," Pozzovivo told Cyclingnews after the stage.
Indeed, no rider was able to break the deadlock on the short haul to the line at...
Lotto-Belisol's Adam Hansen is well known for his custom shoes and his attention to detail on his bike and he spoke to Cyclingnews about his 6.84kg Ridley Helium, which is the "best bike I've ever had" at the Giro d'Italia.
The bike is set up with a "massive handlebar drop" to try and be aero as possible. Hansen's 38cm handlebars are arguably the narrowest in the peloton and also help the Australian get into an aero tuck.
A non-offset seatpost is another distinguishing feature of the bike as Hansen explains; "I try to have my seat as far forward as possible so I have as much wight as possible over the axle and the pedal.
"Its one of my theories about about trying to reduce as much power as possible."
Hansen also runs 180mm cranks and Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset on his "great bike" which rolls around on Campagnolo Bora Ultra Two wheels, with CULT ceramic bearings.
Watch the video below to find out more about how Hansen likes his bike set up and click here to read a full Pro Bike feature on Hansen bike.
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UCI rule change prompts a rethink for 2012 Olympic time trial champion
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) expressed interest in making a run at the hour record now that the UCI has reversed its previous decision and will allow competitors to use bikes that comply with rules for endurance competition on the track. The ruling, which came out earlier this week, allows aero bars, disc wheels and aero helmets.
The UCI ruled in 2000 that any new hour record attempts had to be done using a traditional bike, much like the one Eddy Merckx used in 1972. The change canceled records set by Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman, who used the Superman aerodynamic position.
"It kind of begs the question: Why did they change it in the first place?," Wiggins asked Saturday following stage 7 at the Tour of California. "We've lost a decade now of the hour record. It's a shame that they changed it.
"We can all blame Chris Boardman for that with his superman position," the 2012 Olympic time trial champion joked. "It's a shame, really, that we've missed maybe [Fabian] Cancellara doing it five or six years ago. So it's good I guess that they've gone back now."
When it made the change back in 2000, the UCI backdated its record books, ruling that Eddy Merckx's record of 49.431km in 1972 and Cornelia Van Oosten-Hage women's record of 43.083km in 1978 were the legal hour Records. All records established since then with non-conforming bikes, including the records of Chris Boardman [56.375km] and Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli [48.159km] in 1996, received the new name of "Best hour performance."
Under the new rules, the hour records to beat are those established by Ondrej Sosenka [49.700km] for men and by Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel [46.065km] for women. Sosenka and Zijlaard-Van Moorsel beat the hour records using...
After leading a dwindling pack of favorites almost all the way up the six kilometre ascent, Morabito, 31, was strong enough to take 20th on the stage, 35 seconds back, and is now fourth overall behind Evans at 1:31. And whilst his last win dates back to the 2006 Tour de Suisse, the Swiss rider impressive show of climbing strength on Saturday certainly helped shape much of the outcome of the Giro 2014's first high mountains showdown.
BMC Racing would have preferred the 10-man break of the day to stick to the finish, he revealed afterwards, but when hard work by Ag2r-La Mondiale in the previous two climbs to the Montecopiolo pegged back the move, Evans team adopted their plan B: going for the lead themselves.
"The plan was to let a group get away and after the group had gone, we had no aim of getting the pink jersey," Morabito told a small group of reporters. "With 10 guys away and one of them at 3-50 [overall] it would have been easy to give them the jersey, but the other teams went flat out and we had to try to respond to that."
"But it's nice to have Cadel in pink, too, and it was good to be the last guy with him."
"Maybe when [BMC team-mate and fellow climber] Samuel Sánchez comes back [recovers] from his crashes, we'll have an even more solid team to defend the jersey. We're all ready to do as well as...
"At this point we need to assess the situation," Guercilena said. "We've invested many resources, both human and financial, to prepare for an attempt and we need to evaluate in which way, if any, we proceed. We are satisfied that the UCI has now stipulated clear regulations about the Hour Record, as there was already some speculation about it, but we need to examine what it means for our project, which so far has been focused on breaking the Merckx record."
The UCI killed off interest in the Hour Record in 2000 when they ruled that any attempts had to be done using a tradition bike, much like the one used by Eddy Merckx in 1972.
"This new rule is part of the modernisation of the UCI Equipment Regulation," UCI President Brian Cookson said in a press release announcing the changes.
"Today there is a general consensus that equipment used in competition must be allowed to benefit from technological evolution where pertinent. This kind of evolution is positive for cycling generally and for the Hour record in particular. This record will regain its attraction for both the athletes and cycling fans."
UCI President implements changes in first seven months
Brian Cookson was voted in as the 10th UCI president last September and since then, he's been trying to improve cycling's image.
"My job is to make sure our sport has integrity... It's important that we restore the sport's credibility," said Cookson.
Cookson brought 16 years of experience as the head of British Cycling into his leadership role at the UCI. Upon being elected, he said,"It's a huge honor to have been elected president of the UCI. I'd like to thank you for all the trust placed in me."
Learning more about French language and culture have been practical steps take by Cookson since his election, but there's more to his approach then better French. "I wouldn't say any of my predecessors have done a bad job. The world has changed now. The way international federations was run in the past is no longer appropriate."
Cookson's approach includes building on cycling's main heritage in Europe and expanding it globally, responding directly to the public, adminstrators and riders and using social media for intelligence gathering and use within the UCI.
"I've also done an indepedent audit of anti-doping policies and we are working to make anti-doping efforts more independent of UCI. We've established an indepedent cycling reform commission," said Cookson, outlining achievements thus far.
"The big lesson from the Lance Armstrong situation is that no matter how powerful you are and how good your lawyers are, if you build your career on cheating, it will come out," said Cookson.
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Katusha rider determined for Giro d'Italia stage win
When Daniel Moreno jumped out of the peloton on Montecopiolo with less than 500 metres to go it looked like he might just be able to turn things around for Katusha at the 2014 Giro d’Italia. However, soon after catching and passing a struggling Pierre Rolland (Europcar), the Spaniard faded quickly. He would eventually cross the line 33 seconds down on the stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).
After a torrid Giro d’Italia for the Russian squad Moreno was hoping to give the team something to cheer about, but he hadn’t counted on such a stern test at the finish. “I didn’t think the final climb would be quite so hard and I wanted so badly to win,” said Moreno. “Victory was in my head the entire time and finally, I can admit I just went too early. It looked like we were leaving it too late to catch Arredondo and Rolland but we went very hard on the first climb and we felt very tired so it took awhile to bring them back.”
Katusha’s Giro d’Italia went from bad to worse when the peloton hit Italian soil. They had already struggled during their rain-soaked team time trial in Belfast, losing over a minute to some of their big rivals. But it was the 257km stage from Sassano to Montecassino that proved their undoing, when they lost three riders – Joaquim Rodríguez, Giampaolo Caruso and Angel Vicioso - in the huge crash near the finish. Vicioso has since admitted that the broken femur he suffered could prove to be the end of his career.
Despite not being able to convert his attack into a stage win, Moreno has been boosted by his performance on Montecopiolo. “I have to say that overall this was good...