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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, May 8, 2011

Date published:
May 8, 2011, 17:00
  • Cavendish video: one Giro d'Italia stage win would constitute success

    Mark Cavendish leads the HTC-Highroad parade
    Article published:
    May 7, 2011, 16:19
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Manxman happy to be back in Italy

    After a year’s hiatus at the Tour of California, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) returns to his beloved Giro d’Italia, and the Manxman has set himself the intermediate target of taking one stage victory.

    “At a Grand Tour, one win constitutes success,” Cavendish said on the eve of the race. “If you go away without a win you’ve failed in my opinion, but it’s a Grand Tour, so you’ve got to be happy with one win.”

    Faced with such an exacting Giro route, Cavendish is well aware that opportunities for the sprinters will be limited, but he estimates that there may be five bunch sprints in the opening twelve days of the race.

    “We’ll try for every win we can,” he explained. “I’ll try for five individual stages. We’ll try for the team trial. We’ll try for 21 stages, but realistically I’d be happy with one stage.”

     

    With so many mountains packed into the second half of the race, the top sprinters are expected to leave the race at Ravenna in order to save their energy. Cavendish said that he would assess the situation according to the circumstances of the race.

    “After Ravenna, there are no more sprints but I never go into a race saying ‘I will stop here,’” he said. “Maybe I’m holding the points jersey then and I can’t stop, so we’ll see. It is hard after that, and I don’t want to kill myself to finish here. If I kill myself to get to Milan then the rest of my season is finished. But if I’m good form, then there’s no reason why not.”

    While Cavendish arrives at the Giro with just two wins to his name, he declared himself pleased with his spring to date, and believes that it is unrealistic for him to repeat his exploits of 2009 every season.

    “I’m satisfied, I won a semi-classic at Scheldeprijs, and I had bad luck at Gent-Wevelgem,” Cavendish said. “At Milan-San Remo, things didn’t go my way. I was behind the crash. I wasn’t the only one who lost out, but it worked out in favour of our team.

    “2009, winning San Remo and everything else I won that spring, that’s not my normal year – that was an exceptional year.”
     

  • Scarponi satisfied after Lampre-ISD’s team time trial performance

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD)
    Article published:
    May 7, 2011, 17:59
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Italian happy to be ahead of Contador after stage one

    With Lampre-ISD finishing sixth in the team time trial at the Giro d’Italia, Michele Scarponi enjoyed a satisfactory first day, only losing two seconds to Vincenzo Nibali and gaining six seconds on Alberto Contador.

    Lampre has often lost much more in team time trials but the arrival of new team manager Roberto Damiani already seems to have made a difference.

    “Two seconds or six seconds might not count much at the end of the Giro but it’s not a bad feeling to be ahead of Contador,” Scarponi told Cyclingnews at the Lampre-ISD bus. “The most important thing was to start on the right foot. It’s very satisfying. We got an excellent result today. Even without knowing what Contador had done, I knew we had done well.”

    Damiani also expressed his satisfaction, only days after being brought in to help save the battered image of the Italian team after the revelations that many riders and staff where implicated in the Mantova doping investigation.

    “I’m very happy. The team has been good and compact all the way to the finish. We were close to crashing at a corner but it was nothing too risky. I didn’t expect any less than what we achieved. We came here one day early to prepare specifically for this team time trial.”

    Petacchi praised

    Damiani singled out veteran sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who opted to stay at the Presidential Tour of Turkey until the end of the race because he was wearing the points jersey, rather than return to Italy to rest up for the Giro.

    “I’m so happy to be working with him. In a team time trial like today, Petacchi and Danilo Hondo have contributed a lot to our good result, they’ve brought their speed in this collective effort,” Damiani said. “I’ve worked with Petacchi as far aback as 2003 (at Fassa Bortolo), so I know he’s an absolute professional.”

    Scarponi agreed with the new Lampre-ISD team manager and hoped Petacchi can win several sprint stages before he takes over and targets overall victory.

    “Petacchi has been great today. From tomorrow a different race starts and his days are coming. I hope he’ll get some stage wins for the team. I won’t be helping him though. My goal is to get an absolutely great classification overall at the end of the three weeks of racing, so I’ll stay covered in the bunch as much as I’ll can and I’ll try to lose the less energy possible.”

    With 20, 12 and 8 second time-bonuses up for grabs for the top three on the finishing line of stages, Petacchi is too far behind Mark Cavendish to take the maglia rosa. However he could move into pink if he is successful on several stages.

    For the moment, Robbie McEwen whose RadioShack team only lost ten seconds to HTC-Highroad, looks the biggest threat to Cavendish and HTC-Highroad in Parma on Sunday.
     

  • Video: Riis criticises coverage of Contador case

    Bjarne Riis at Saxo Bank-SunGard's pre-Giro d'Italia press conference.
    Article published:
    May 7, 2011, 18:41
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Dane expresses frustration on eve of Giro d'Italia

    Bjarne Riis has defended the presence of Alberto Contador at the start of the Giro d’Italia. Speaking at the end of Saxo Bank-SunGard’s pre-race press conference, the Dane criticised the media for drawing comparisons between Contador’s Clenbuterol case and the Mantova anti-doping investigation.

    Riders named in the Mantova probe centred on the links between the Lampre team and pharmacist Guido Nigrelli were pulled from the race in the past week. Contador, meanwhile, has been cleared to race by his national federation, although the UCI has appealed the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

    Against that backdrop, Riis accused the cycling media of “confusing fans” with its reportage of the Clenbuterol affair and pointed out that his rider’s case was taking place in a very different context to the investigation unfolding in Italy.

    “Maybe you don’t tell fans the real thing,” Riis said. “Maybe you make them confused because you are the guys who are writing. We don’t try to make them confused, but if you don’t tell them the difference between Alberto’s case and whatever Italian case it is, if you don’t explain the difference to them, then you make them confused, not us.”

    A recurring theme at press conferences around Turin in the days leading up to this Giro has been speculation that Contador might be ultimately sanctioned for his adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol, and retrospectively disqualified from the race. Riis could scarcely hide his frustration that the hypothesis was dominating the build-up his team’s Giro.

    “This is all speculation, we don’t know that. If that’s going to be the case, should we be at the start then?” he said exasperatedly.

    Riis was also reluctant to discuss the precise nature of the UCI’s appeal to CAS, and suggested reporters request details from the sport’s governing body.

    “We don’t even know what they want to appeal, so ask Mr. McQuaid,” he said. “Maybe he knows.”


     

  • Pinotti retains team mentality after pulling on the pink jersey

    Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad
    Article published:
    May 7, 2011, 21:07
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Highly respected Italian ready to help Cavendish take the jersey on Sunday

    Marco Pinotti was one of the driving forces in the HTC-Highroad team for the team time trial at the Giro d’Italia, and fittingly he led the squad over the line in the colours of Italian champion as the Giro celebrated 150 years of Italian unity in the nation's first capital Turin.

    The consummate team rider, no sooner had Pinotti pulled on the Giro's first pink jersey than he was contemplating how he might pass the overall lead to a teammate on the opening road stage.

    After finishing ninth on general classification last year, Pinotti is nurturing overall ambitions again this time around and so he ruled out the possibility of attempting to defend his lead in the next few days.

    "I'll try to follow the best and then maybe take it back in the time trial in Milan," Pinotti joked. "I could lose it already tomorrow, but hopefully to a teammate."

    That teammate is likely to be Mark Cavendish, with stage two to Parma, one of the few stages in a Giro jam-packed with climbing that appears likely to finish in a bunch sprint.

    "Tomorrow we'll try to put him in the best position possible in the sprint, but the team gave me a fine present today," Pinotti said.

    Cavendish was prominent among the five HTC-Highroad riders who stayed together to record the quickest time in the team time trial and so secure their second Giro TTT victory and opening maglia rosa in three years. In 2009, however, it was Cavendish who led Pinotti over the line and pulled on pink.

    "This time, he told me to lead through the final corner," Pinotti explained. "Mark is very passionate and when he sees the chance to win it's hard not to take it. Today he was excellent, but so was the entire team."

    A second spell in pink

    Pinotti is no stranger to the maglia rosa, having first worn the hallowed jersey in 2007. On that occasion he moved into the overall lead on the road to Spoleto after forming a lengthy breakaway with Colombian Luis Laverde. He explained that the emotional impact of the symbolic jersey was stronger the first time around.

    "2007 was a jersey that gave more joy, as it was so unexpected," Pinotti admitted. "This jersey was something that was more desired and more planned, but it was never taken for granted. Cycling isn't mathematical."

    As if to reiterate that point, Pinotti crossed the line with the bare minimum of five teammates, after a puncture saw Mark Renshaw lose contact in the final kilometre.

    "Nothing was a given," Pinotti pointed out. "There was always the danger of another puncture, so luck also played an important role."

    A credible voice in an often troubled sport, Pinotti also took the time to welcome the UCI's introduction of a no needle policy on the eve of the Giro, viewing the measure as a signal of intent.

    "It's definitely a good thing," he said. "Above all, it sends out a message for the culture of the sport."
     

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  • Nibali tops the list of the favourites after Giro TTT

    Vincenzo Nibali led the Liquigas-Cannondale team
    Article published:
    May 8, 2011, 07:17
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Liquigas third in Turin

    The Liquias-Cannondale team didn’t repeat last year’s success that put Vincenzo Nibali in pink after the team time trial, but the third place in stage 1 of the 2011 Giro d’Italia was welcomed as a productive one. In fact, among the main favourites of the race, “the shark” precedes his direct rivals Michele Scarponi by two seconds, Alberto Contador by eight seconds, Roman Kreuziger by 28 seconds, Denis Menchov by 31 seconds, Joaquim Rodriguez by 42 seconds and Igor Anton by 53 seconds.

    “It’s important to be ahead”, Nibali said, although he knows from experience that the lead can be quickly lost at the Giro. Last year, he gave the pink jersey to Alexandre Vinokourov after crashing on the strade bianche.

    “There aren’t major differences”, he said of the gap he made over Scarponi and Contador. “It was a very fast course today, we all stayed very attentive to what was happening. It wasn’t an easy thing to maintain the group. The team has done great. The result suits me. I’m happy. It was our intention to start strongly and demonstrate that we could be protagonists from stage 1 onwards.”

    Team manager Roberto Amadio didn’t blame Alan Marangoni for not having been able to follow the rest of the squad. The 26-year-old recruited from Colnago-CSF was a late inclusion on the roster of Liquigas-Cannondale after Mauro Da Dalto was sidelined because of his implication in the Mantova investigation. “It’s ok like this,” Amadio said. “I’m happy. We’ve started the Giro on the right foot. But this race is so long, the time gained or lost today doesn’t really count.”

    Compared to 2010, Liquigas was missing the input of Ivan Basso and Robert Kiserlovski but replaced them by two climbers, Cristian Salerno and Eros Capecchi who weren’t exactly at their ease in the team time trial. However, Capecchi managed to stay in the wheels and positioned himself in second place for the white jersey of best young rider, now on the shoulders of RadioShack’s Bjorn Selander.

    “We come third with some riders who aren’t really specialists of the team time trial, so it’s a good result”, said directeur sportif Mario Scirea. “We knew that HTC-Highroad would be above anyone else and RadioShack was stronger than us today, but we are very satisfied.”

     

  • Cavendish looking for his first stage win and the maglia rosa

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) at the start
    Article published:
    May 8, 2011, 10:21
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    McEwen could take pink in Parma thanks to time bonuses

    Mark Pinotti began the second stage of the Giro d’Italia in the pink jersey after HTC-Highroad dominated the team time trial in Turin but is the Italian ready and willing to hand it to teammate Mark Cavendish if he can produce a good sprint at the end of the 244km stage from Alba to Parma.

    Cavendish finished the team time trial in the same time as Pinotti and so would only have to finish a few places ahead of the Italian to take the pink jersey. However with time bonuses of 20, 12 and 8 seconds awarded on the finish line, a place in the top three would give Cavendish the pink jersey by several seconds and allow him to keep it for several days.

    Cavendish wore the pink jersey in 2009 after crossing the line first in the Venice Lido team time trial but then lost the first sprint and the jersey in Trieste to Alessandro Petacchi. He would like to pull on the pink jersey again but first of all wants to win a stage, especially with so few of this year’s Giro stages suited to the sprinters.

    “For me the sprints are important. There are five sprints in this Giro and Parma is the first. For me and for the team it’s important for me to win,” Cavendish told Gazzetta dello Sport after the team time trial.

    The finale of Sunday’s stage to Parma includes a short climb to Tabiano Castello but that comes 34km from the finish and so is unlikely to split the peloton and see any sprinters distanced.

    Technical finish in Parma

    The finish into Parma is on the long straight main road, with only a few roundabouts to navigate in the run-in. However it is a technical finish, where a lead out will be important, because of a sharp right turn exactly a kilometre from the finish and then another dog-leg turn right turn with 600 metres to go. Position will be vital, as will a strong, sustained burst of speed for the finishing straight.

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) showed his form at the recent Presidential Tour of Turkey and is likely to be Cavendish’s biggest threat. Other Italians to watch for include Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step), Manuel Belletti and Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF), Davide Appollonio (Team Sky) and Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil).

    Petacchi is 24 seconds behind Cavendish in the overall classification and so in theory out of reach of the pink jersey. However Robbie McEwen is just ten seconds down and so in with a real chance of taking pink, after RadioShack finished second in the team time trial.

    Other big sprinters who could be a threat include Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo), Wouter Weylandt (Leopard Trek), Adam Blyth (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) and Jonny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil).

    If McEwen wins the stage and Cavendish finishes lower than third, and so out of the time bonuses, the veteran Australian will take the pink jersey for the second time in his career. He also wore it for two days in 2005.

    However HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Valerio Piva is hoping to hold onto the jersey at least for another day.

    “It was a dream to win the team time trial and now we’ve got a chance to win a gain and perhaps change the man in pink at the same time,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’ll try and keep the race together to set up Mark for the sprint but there are other sprinters who are good too. It’ll be a good fight for the stage win and for the pink jersey.”
     

  • On the start line: Giro d'Italia stage 2

    Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) is a hugely popular pink jersey.
    Article published:
    May 8, 2011, 11:39
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    The sprinters ready for the long day to Parma

    In the autumn of 1944, during World War II, partisans in Alba famously established a short-lived independence from Fascist-controlled northern Italy, an incident memorably recounted in Beppe Fenoglio’s short story “The 23 days of the city of Alba.” On Sunday morning, a 23-day narrative of a rather different variety continued from the Piedmont town, as the Giro d’Italia gathered for the beginning of stage two.

    The early protagonist in this epic is race leader Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad), but he is well aware that the leading role could pass to his teammate Mark Cavendish in Parma. Lead-out man Mark Renshaw is the man charged with piloting the Manxman to victory and he told Cyclingnews that HTC-Highroad will be looking to dominate proceedings from the front on the run-in to the finish.

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) could well prove to be Cavendish’s principal rival for sprint honours at the end of the Giro’s longest stage. The Italian fastman admitted that he was unsure of his sprint form as he has not had occasion to dispute too many bunch finishes to date this season.

    Nonetheless, his recent stage win at the Presidential Tour of Turkey augured well for his condition, and he told Cyclingnews that he likes the look of the run in to the finish line. “The last bend is 600 metres from the line, which is much better for than if it was 200 or 300 metres out,” he said just as the flag was about to drop.

    Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) were both keen to put a brave face on their squads’ disappointing performances in Saturday’s team time trial, with each man insisting that the seconds won and lost in Turin would count for little come the final week.

    By contrasts, the three favourites Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) finished more or less even on Saturday, and could afford to be in relaxed mood at the start. Contador has looked very much at home since arriving in Italy on Wednesday evening, and the tifosi in Alba offered up hearty applause as he went to sign on before facing into the 244km stage.

    Alba is the home of Ferrero chocolate and a minute’s silence was offered in memory of the late Pietro Ferrero before the start. A keen cyclist, the company CEO died recently while riding during a business trip in South Africa. Fittingly, the minute’s silence took place on the street that bears his grandfather’s name.

    After that moment of solemnity, the Giro peloton pedalled out of Alba, leaving behind the scenic hills of the Langhe and heading for the flatlands of the Po basin. Under clear blue skies and with little wind on the menu, it will be difficult to deny the sprinters their day in the sun.

    For an exclusive gallery from the start in Alba, click here.


     

  • Video: Selander enjoys white jersey at the Giro d'Italia

    Bjorn Selander (RadioShack) wears the white jersey of best young rider.
    Article published:
    May 8, 2011, 15:40
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    American keen to work for team over the three weeks

    Bjorn Selander got his Grand Tour career off to a fine start in Turin on Saturday when he took control of the white jersey of best young rider thanks to a strong performance from his RadioShack squad in the team time trial at the Giro d'Italia.

    RadioShack came home in second place, ten seconds down on stage winner HTC-Highroad, and Selander explained that their display was not without its problems.

    “We had some problems in the beginning, a guy blew a tyre and just some bad luck, but we worked together well,” Selander told Cyclingnews at the start of stage two in Alba, in the heart of the Langhe.

    The 23-year-old American turned professional with RadioShack last year, and he insisted that he has no personal ambitions in this Giro beyond working for Tiago Machado.

    “I’m here for the team, the jersey is just an extra,” he said. “But it’s a cool thing to have right now.”

    In spite of the extreme difficult of the course, and in particular, the final week, Selander said that he enters the race without any fear. Instead, he is looking to learn from his experience in Italy.

    “It’s my first Giro, so it’s all experience for me,” he said. “You have to respect the course but you can’t be scared because then you’re defeated already.”