- Article published:
- May 4, 2013, 17:19
- Cycling News
Italian misses out a chance to sprint for the pink jersey
A spate of crashes during the early part of the stage one of the Giro d'Italia on the slick Naples roads hinted to a bigger crash in the hectic, high-speed finale. And it came in the final two kilometres in the final corners of the stage as riders fought for position at over 60km/h, costing Italy's Mattia Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli) any chance of victory and taking the pink jersey.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and fellow sprinters Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), Elia Viviani (Cannondale), Adam Blythe (BMC) and Danilo Hondo and Giacomo Nizzolo (Radioshack-Leopard) were all ahead of the carnage but numerous other riders went into the barriers and the peloton split.
Upfront Cavendish showed his sprinting skills with a perfectly timed acceleration into the headwind and won the sprint and took what is his third pink jersey.
Behind the crash, rivals sprinters Gavazzi, Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Manuel Belletti (Ag2r-La Mondiale) all crashed or were delayed by the spill. Other riders were affected, with most of the peloton delayed but lucky not to be hurt.
David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) also went down and crossed the line several minutes after Cavendish. However because the crash happened inside the final three kilometres, everyone affected by the crash was given the same time as Cavendish. Official results showed that all 207 riders finished the stage.
Millar tweeted quickly after his crash: "I love crashing the first day of a Grand Tour: glut & shoulder bruised to hell, bike broken :( Congrats @MarkCavendish, delivers as usual."
Gavazzi close to tears
Gavazzi was gutted not to have contested the sprint and to have missed out on a chance to take the pink jersey. He was close to tears after picking himself up and riding to the finish.
"I think it's normal to have tears in your eyes considering the occasion I've missed out on. It's a real pity because I felt good and could have fought for victory. You don’t get many chances to win like that," he said.
I don’t really know what happened or who caused it. Ahead of me someone went into the corner too fast and crashed, took down my front wheel and dragged me down."
Earlier in the stage Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Leopard). Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Laurent Pichon (FDJ) all crashed hard on the slick road surface. Their Giro d'Italia began with a painful first day.
- Article published:
- May 4, 2013, 18:11
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Third spell in Giro d'Italia lead and 11th Giro stage
A late but perfectly calculated acceleration netted Mark Cavendish everything he could ask for from Naples: an 11th Giro d'Italia stage win, his 37th Grand Tour stage victory and a third spell - after 2009 and 2011 - in the Giro lead.
Signed by Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 2013 to deliver stage victories in Grand Tours, the Briton had delivered at the earliest possible date, and at the same time is proving that there could be a lot more to come. It was also particularly important for the Belgian squad to succeed with Cavendish after their Classics champion Tom Boonen had crashed out in the Tour of Flanders and could not defend either of his two big Monument wins - Flanders and Roubaix - as a result.
Achieving all this in one fell swoop at Naples was far harder than it sounds. With a leader's jersey and a stage win on offer at the end of a flat, fast, short opening leg, this was the ideal opportunity for every sprinter in the race to ease the pressure on himself and his team from the word go. And although Omega Pharma-Quick Step, with some limited assistance from Argos-Shimano, had kept the pace high and the breaks under control, a late crash splintered the peloton and left the victory, if reduced to Cavendish and a handful of other riders, potentially looking a lot more open. Open, that is, until Cavendish made a late, perfectly timed acceleration that took him swooping out to the right past his rivals and then a good wheel ahead of closest contender Elia Viviani (Cannondale)
"The guys [Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates] did a great job, they dropped me off perfectly in the final kilometre, and I could take it from there," Cavendish said afterwards. "It might look easy, but when there's guys surging all the time and you're sprinting for every corner, it's anything but. I was very happy with them."
"I was fine in the final acceleration because the wind was coming from the left, the road was bearing to the left, I knew the riders were going to the left, and I said to [teammate] Geert [Steegmans] it doesn't matter if the peloton swerves left, stay on the right even if it's a longer line, the wind's coming from the left, so it'll be easier."
Cavendish acknowledged that the team, which had worked hard for the entire stage pegging back the early breaks, had a high degree of determination to hit the ground running. "The team were really motivated, we talked it over yesterday (Friday) and again this morning, planned it all out. Orica-GreenEdge did their usual tactic of not riding and then coming in at the end, but I was determined to win for the guys after all the effort they'd put in."
As for the crashes on the opening stage, Cavendish said that "with wide roads before a hairpin, you always get surges in the peloton. [Omega Pharma Quick Step teammate] Jerome Pineau crashed there. But it happens in bike racing, on a circuit race you always get more crashes than on straight roads, and it was a nice circuit today. The fans really enjoy those circuits."
As for their chances of victory in Sunday's team time trial, an event Omega Pharma won in Tirreno-Adriatico, and simultaneously defending Cavendish's maglia rosa, Cavendish said, "We'll try our best. We had a more specialist team time trial squad there [in Tirreno], and [double time trial world champion]Tony Martin did a great job there, pulling for about 15 kilometres by himself. It's a bit more difficult without him, but team time trials are also a lot about a team feeling united, and we showed we had that today. I respect the jersey, and we want to try and succeed."
If the pink jersey in Brescia is by default out of Cavendish's reach, the red jersey of the points classification is, on paper, not so unattainable. After all, he lost by one point last year to Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez and has previously taken it in the Vuelta and Tour. But despite rule changes, Cavendish explained with remorseless logic that his chances were still very limited.
"Ideally, it would be a goal for me, and [Giro organiser] RCS has changed the structure of the points jersey to make it more accessible for sprinters. It's more like the green jersey in the Tour. Unfortunately, there are not so many sprint stages. In the past, most of the flat days would have a climb of 100 metres or 200 metres to put the sprinters on the edge, but this year they're flat, flat, flat and then there's a climb of 400 or 500 metres and that's not so possible for a sprinter to get over. I think I'm limited to three or maybe four stages here and that's not enough for me to win the red jersey."
What no one can deny though, is that Cavendish has exploited his limited opportunities at Naples to the full.
- Article published:
- May 4, 2013, 19:15
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Team hopes for winning result in Sunday's team time trial
Winners of both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France team time trials in the past, Garmin-Sharp has high hopes for the stage 2 Giro d'Italia on Sunday. The squad last won the Giro TTT in 2008 and 2012. Director Sportif Charly Wegelius said that victories in Grand Tour team time trials forms part of the squad's heritage and are part of his own past as a pro, too.
Wegelius was a winner of the Giro TTT with Liquigas back in 2007, a year before the American squad claimed a breakthrough victory in the same race and put Christian VandeVelde, who forms part of this year's line-up, in the lead.
The 2013 Giro team time trial is just 17.4 kilometres long. "In terms of the economy of the whole Giro, its value could be overestimated, because if there are time gaps, they'll be relatively small and the mountains will decide the overall classification. But having said that, winning team time trials here is part of the heritage of the squad, the you can see the guys are getting fired up for it days before, it's automatic here," said Wegelius to Cyclingnews,
"The length and the technicality of it do make a difference, but we've prepared for it, we've looked over it as best we can and we can go into it with some sort of serenity."
Wegelius agreed that his team has some heavy artillery when it comes to the TTT, but "as my illustrious career shows [not to mention that win in the Giro TTT in 2007], it's not all about brute strength there. The more technical it gets, the ability to use the right gears and technical ability matters as well."
Sunday's Giro TTT will take place on a fairly low island in the middle of the bay, wind is almost certain to be a big factor. "It's another element, there could well be sand on the road blown in off the beach, unexpected changes in camber, all things that can make a difference."
Some teams, such as Euskaltel-Euskadi, believe in putting two stronger time trial riders in pairs together for the team time trial - Samuel Sanchez, for example always goes with Egoi Martinez - then two weaker ones, followed by two stronger and so on . But Wegelius said, "That's just one way of riding a TTT. You can try and bunch good guys with slightly weaker guys, you can try and [do a line] anticipating what it'd look like without certain people in it, there are lots of ways of doing it, none of which I'm going to tell you!"
Rather than leaving no man behind in case of punctures or crashes, Garmin's strategy, Wegelius says, will be leaving "no Ryder behind - and that's Ryder with a 'y'." Other riders though, may be ‘sacrificed' if necessary.
"Basically a team time trial like this one starts the whole process," he said. "It's like shadow boxing."
"It's 17 kilometres, really technical, on an island, no way we can go and ride it before Sunday [when teams will be allowed to ride over the course once, in the morning]. It's a lot of stress for such a short period of time," said VandeVelde.
"Every time, it's just like a prologue, you're losing three or four seconds, you feel like it's the end of the world."
"But then, looking back at last year's race [which was decided by a handful of seconds] every second did count. So we'll be either trying to take as much time as we can over our opponents or limit our time losses."
- Article published:
- May 4, 2013, 20:15
- Sam Dansie
Cadel Evans riding unnamed road frame
This article was originally published on Bikeradar
Swiss bike maker BMC appear to be trialling a new bike at the Giro d'Italia under Cadel Evans which could be unveiled before the Tour de France.
A blacked out and as yet unnamed frame was on show at the first stage of the Giro d’Italia in Naples today.
A second bike will also be on in competition use at the Tour of California, starting later this month under Tejay van Garderen, BikeRadar learned.
A BMC Racing directeur sportif told BikeRadar the frame was extremely light.
On the trial model, the seat tube joins the BB in a broad, flat rectangular profile, which is a sharp departure from the profile on the current range topping Impec.
The frame has internal routing for electronic transmission and the rear gear cable, and the seat clamp has been reversed so that the bolt fastens over the top tube.
- Article published:
- May 4, 2013, 21:40
- Barry Ryan
Australian goes on the attack on stage 1
In a race bereft of possible sprint finishes and on a broiling afternoon on a flat city centre circuit, going on the offensive on stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia was an exercise in tilting at windmills, but Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) gladly took up that quixotic challenge in Naples on Saturday.
The Australian went on the offensive early in the stage, first as part of a seven-man group and then striking clear alone with over 70 kilometres still to race. With Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Argos-Shimano marshalling affairs behind, Wurf was never allowed to stretch his lead out much beyond the two-minute mark. Even with the odds stacked so heavily against him, Wurf opted to take an optimistic outlook on his chances as he rode through Neapolitan streets eerily bereft of traffic.
"To be honest, I always give myself a chance of staying clear when I'm in a breakaway because I know how strong the guys are that work and I'm pretty good at calculating my effort," Wurf told Cyclingnews afterwards, his face caked in grime. "At the moment I've got a bit of bronchitis and I'm a little bit sick from Romandie, so I couldn't push as hard as I would have liked and I had to take it steady."
In spite of his admirable defiance, however, Wurf's dreams of the first maglia rosa of the Giro were always destined to remain just that, and he was swept up by the peloton with a shade under two laps of the finishing circuit still to go and stage honours went to Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
After Cannondale lost its leader Ivan Basso to a perineal abscess two days before the start, morale was low in the camp on the eve of the race but Wurf was determined to put a different slant on the team's Giro.
"Obviously we lost our captain Ivan two days ago and that was tough, but [manager] Roberto Amadio said to us that it was important to show Cannondale was still here at the race and ready to compete," Wurf said.
Sparking the break of the day was one thing, but sallying clear alone with 70 kilometres still to race on a flat city-centre circuit is quite another, but Wurf explained the rationale behind his thinking. With breakaway companions Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF Inox) both eyeing the mountains jersey, collaboration in the group was far from smooth.
"I think the Italian riders think they're a bit smarter than everyone else and no one wanted to work," Wurf said. "I don't like playing those games, I can't be bothered. They thought they were pretty clever. I just thought well, ‘if you want the points, you're going to have to work harder this time' and I pushed at a power I knew they probably couldn't handle and sure enough I went off on my own."
Wurf also got off the mark himself in the battle for the blue jersey, something which might become an objective later in the week. "I wasn't interested in taking the jersey but at least I wanted to get the tally started," he said. "It's a bit like playing Stableford golf you know. It's always better to score a point per hole than not score any, so you can just keep accumulating them stage by stage and who knows."
As Wurf sank back into the peloton after his lengthy stint off the front was brought to a halt, a phalanx of Cannondale riders brought Elia Viviani to the head of the peloton to contest the sprint, and he finished a close second to Cavendish. "Elia has great potential and we knew he'd be competitive in the sprints," said Wurf "I spoke at length with Elia and said that today we really needed to show we were here and I think we did that."
With that, Wurf set off in a bid to locate his team bus. After enjoying the limelight and the freedom of Naples for the afternoon, he now had to fight his way alone through the jostling crowds along the seafront and back towards Piazza del Plebiscito. He was another convict of the road with four Sundays still to go to Brescia.
- Article published:
- May 4, 2013, 22:45
- Barry Ryan
Astana and Sky go head-to-head in team time trial
Bradley Wiggins versus Vincenzo Nibali, round one. After 130 kilometres of phoney war through the streets of Naples on Saturday afternoon, the Giro d'Italia caravan heads for Ischia for stage two and the first reference point of the battle for the maglia rosa - a 17.4 kilometre team time trial along winding coastal roads.
The message from both the Sky and Astana camps on the eve of battle is similarly understated. The Giro is a marathon and not a sprint, and the seconds gained and lost in Ischia ought to count for relatively little by the time the race reaches Brescia in three weeks' time.
Even so, neither Wiggins nor Nibali will want to concede any quarter at this early juncture. Indeed, even before a pedal was turned in anger at the Giro, the two squads were matching one another in preparing for the event, sending advance parties to the island to film the course.
"We've haven't been able to see it in person but we've managed to have a look at it on the video, so we've had a chance to study it," Sky's Dario Cataldo told Cyclingnews in Naples. "It's a technical and very hard, so we'll definitely need to take a good look at it the morning of the time trial."
While Sky press officer Dario Cioni's advance mission to Ischia with a video camera was widely publicised two weeks ago, Astana were also inspecting the course, as manager Beppe Martinelli explained. "We sent a directeur sportif to film it, and we've looked at it quite a bit," said Martinelli, whose impressions were similar to those of Cataldo: "It's certainly a very technical course."
Both Cataldo and Martinelli were in agreement that the time won and lost on the Ischia course will be minimal - not so much because of the brevity of the stage, but because of scant opportunities it allows for opening the throttle fully. The differences will arise primarily from technical errors rather than raw power.
"I don't expect big time gaps because the technical nature of the course means that you can't really go full-on too often," Cataldo said, and again, his thinking resonated with that of Martinelli.
"I don't think there'll be big gaps between the favourites because you won't be able to go at very high speed," the Astana manager said. "In the team time trial, you can gain a little bit of time or lose it, but there's a lot of time afterwards to make up for that either way. So whether we gain or lose ten or fifteen seconds, it's not the case that the Giro is over."
The rolling nature of the Ischia course means that the traditional conundrum of the team time trial - coordinating the efforts of nine riders of varying levels of strength - is exacerbated yet further.
"It’s quite short so managing your energy isn't going to be a problem on a time trial like this, but because it's so technical, managing the team and keeping the formation tight and together is certainly going to be hard," Cataldo said.
In the Astana camp, maintaining the formation is also a concern. "In a normal team time trial you can spend a bit of time sitting in the wheels if you have a difficult moment and recover," Martinelli told Cyclingnews. "That's going to be more difficult here, so it's up to the guys who aren’t feeling good to understand quickly how much energy they have and make sure they don't burn themselves up too quickly."
But while virtual reconnaissance and video-taping time trial courses might be the latest battleground in the marginal gains arms race, Sky directeur sportif Rod Ellingworth kept things in perspective, noting that the most important preview of all will come on Sunday morning, when the riders arrive in Ischia and ride over the course for themselves.
"The course isn't as technical as people make out, but until you know things like exactly where the barriers are on the day and you've done the final recon, it won't be exactly possible to know what it’s like," Ellingworth said.
- Giro d'Italia
- Article published:
- May 5, 2013, 05:04
- Barry Ryan
Playing to tune of weakest link crucial, says Peiper
A team time trial formation is only as strong as its weakest man, so the adage goes, and Taylor Phinney will have to take that maxim to heart as he takes the reins for BMC in the 17.4km test on stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia in Ischia on Sunday.
Cadel Evans is BMC's team leader and has designs on the final podium in Brescia, but when it comes to Sunday's team time trial, his young American teammate Phinney shoulders the burden of responsibility for dictating the tempo for BMC's effort on the sinuous island course.
Given the technical nature of the undulating circuit, the gulf between the weakest and strongest links on the team could yawn as wide as the Bay of Naples, but BMC performance director Allan Peiper is confident that Phinney will pitch his effort accordingly.
"Taylor is a time triallist, he's been a pursuiter so he knows about tempo. So he is actually the key because he could make us or break us, and he is very aware of that," Peiper told Cyclingnews. "Playing to the tune of the weakest links is something that he's going to take into consideration and something that he's very aware of in that sort of captaincy role that he has in team time trials."
In spite of his tender years, Phinney demonstrated his ability to orchestrate a collective effort in the Tour of Qatar in February, as he helped power BMC to team time trial victory. That was on a pan-flat parcours, on wide desert roads - the narrow coastal road on Ischia will pose a different challenge, and communication on the hoof will be crucial.
"In a flatter TT you can build in some tactics beforehand - you can say we'll use this guy then, and he'll ride this much - but with this parcours, it's more unpredictable and more complicated," Peiper said. "I think the riders are in control of their own fate to some extent."
A technical course
Faced with the logistical headache of travelling to Ischia, none of the main contenders opted to view the course in person beforehand, preferring instead to send emissaries on scouting missions in the weeks before the Giro. As performance director, Peiper was charged with the task for BMC and travelled to Ischia on Friday afternoon to video the course while the eyes of the Girini were on the race presentation in Naples.
"Who told you that?" he joked. "It was good to go out and have a look at it. It always looks different with your own eyes, and a stage profile doesn't give a true reflection of how the course is going to go."
"Technical" is the buzzword on the lips of most directeurs sportifs as they discuss the Ischia team time trial, but Peiper pointed out that it is the undulations rather than the corners that will pose the greatest problems.
"It's technical not in the sense of how many corners there are, it's technical in the sense that it's constantly changing terrain - climbs, descents, gradients, winding roads," he said. "With nine riders it will be difficult to ever get into a good rhythm and really difficult to hold all of those nine riders together at all times. It will take quite a bit of thinking and diligence on the riders' behalf to keep grouped and also to keep the pace at the level it's supposed to be at."
Peiper was reluctant to hazard a guess at the likely time gaps at the close of business on Sunday afternoon but he was sure of one thing - the difference will be made in the opening six kilometres of the team time trial.
"Teams could lose between one and four riders there, it's that simple," Peiper said. "It's not just because it's hard at the start but it's technical there too and your team could split. There's no recovery time in those first six kilometres, so I think that's going to be the crucial factor."
- Article published:
- May 5, 2013, 09:32
- Stephen Farrand
Colombia first off at 3:40pm local time
The Giro d'Italia has transferred to the tiny island of Ischia by ferry for the stage two team time trial, with team training on the 17.4km course in the morning before the racing begins in the afternoon.
It will mean a long day for a short, intense, nervous effort but team time trials are spectacular to watch and teams love to win them.
Team Sky is the favourite to win but the twisting, up and down course on the narrow roads of Ischia will make bike handling skills and team unity more important than raw power.
Radioshack-Leopard, Garmin-Sharp, Orica-GreenEdge and even Astana could challenge Team Sky for victory. The time gaps between the overall contenders will also be important. Nibali and Astana might lose just a handful of seconds but Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), Robert Gesink (Blanco) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) could start the rest of the Giro with a 30-second handicap.
Colombia first off
The Colombia team is first off from the port of Ischia at 15:40 local time, with the remaining 22 teams leaving at three-minute intervals. The 17.4km course heads inland briefly and then follows the coast to Forio before a final loop and climb.
Team Sky starts at 16:01, Vincenzo Nibali's Astana squad start at 16:28, with Radioshack-Leopard at 16:34. Team Sky includes Wiggins, Italian national time trial champion Dario Cataldo, Kanstantsin Siutsou and the USA's Danny Pate –who was Under 23 world time trial champion in 2001.
According to Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport, Cataldo could lead home Team Sky and so pull on the pink jersey if the British teams manages to gain enough time on Mark Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad and their other rivals.
Garmin-Sharp won the fast and flat team time trial last year in Verona and will be hoping for a similar result this year with the likes of David Millar, Ramunas Navardauskas, Robert Hunter, Thomas Dekker and Christian Vande Velde in their team backing Ryder Hesjedal.
Garmin-Sharp start the team time trial at 16:37, followed by BMC at 16:40 and then Orica-GreenEdge at 16:43.
The Australian team is also packed with expert time trialist such as Svein Tuft, Brett Lancaster, Luke Durbridge and Leigh Howard.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step team is last off, at 16:46, with Cavendish wearing the pink race leader's jersey. In theory a strong leadout team is also good against the clock. The Belgian squad won the team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico in March but as Cavendish admitted, world time trial champion Tony Martin was the driving force that day.
Team time trial start times:
1. Colombia 15.40
2. Ag2r-La Mondiale 15.43
3. Blanco Pro Cycling Team 15.46
4. Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox 15.49
5. Team Argos-Shimano 15.52
6. Team Saxo-Tinkoff 15.55
7. Lotto Belisol 15.58
8. Team Sky 16.01
9. Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 16.04
10. Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 16.07
11. Cannondale Pro Cycling 16.10
12. Katusha Team 16.13
13. Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela 16.16
14. Euskaltel-Euskadi 16:19
15. Lampre-Merida 16:22
16. Movistar Team 16:25
17. Astana Pro Team 16:28
18. FDJ 16:31
19. RadioShack Leopard 16:34
20. Garmin-Sharp 16:37
21. BMC Racing Team 16:40
22. Orica-GreenEDGE 16:43
23.Omega Pharma-Quick Step 16:46