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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, October 16, 2011

Date published:
October 16, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Haas believes he has the edge to hold on to Sun Tour lead

    Nathan Haas (Genesys) kisses his yellow jersey on the podium at Arthurs Seat
    Article published:
    October 15, 2011, 22:15 BST
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    Genesys rookie counts 10-second lead heading into final crit

    Nathan Haas heads into the final stage of Jayco Herald Sun Tour with a 10-second lead over nearest rival Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Cervelo) but is supremely confident of holding on despite his rookie status.

    The tour's fifth stage heads to cafe cultured Lygon Street, Carlton for the traditional criterium finale. Fifteen laps of a 4.1-kilometre "H" circuit will be raced with more than enough bonus seconds available for Bobridge should he choose to enter a ruthless state of mind and his team keep him within a position to strike.

    Despite the numbers game, Haas couldn't help but celebrate once he got back to his hotel room in Melbourne on Saturday night.

    "I just danced on the spot for a little bit," he said, laughing. "All of a sudden it was just like, 'yeah!'" In claiming the overall lead late on Saturday afternoon, Haas had beaten a field littered with pro teams and a peloton stacked with some of the world's best who had been heavily favoured to take the yellow jersey. His life and cycling career, is without doubt, about to change in a big way.

    Still coming to terms with the events on Arthurs Seat, where he had bypassed the Australian national champion en-route to second place for the stage, and into the general classification lead, Genesys' Haas is not concerned by any potential threat posed by Bobridge this afternoon.

    "When you look back at the first stage when Jack Bobridge was racing intermediates, I beat him in all of those and the final sprint after 170km of swapping off - and today as well where I got the jump on him at the top of him at the top of the hill," the 22-year-old told Cyclingnews. "I don't think he's going to be going into the criterium with much confidence to be actually able to out-sprint me for those time bonuses.

    "So I think for Jack he's...

  • Leopard Trek celebrates first and last Classics win

    Oliver Zaugg (Leopard Trek) wins the Giro di Lombardia
    Article published:
    October 15, 2011, 23:08 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Zaugg gives team important farewell victory in Lombardia

    Sport is all about timing, a sentiment that Oliver Zaugg's (Leopard Trek) win on Saturday in Lombardy encapsulated perfectly.

    Not only did the Swiss rider judge his late attack to perfection, dropping his foe on the final climb in the Giro di Lombardia, but he also offered an important reminder that there was more to Swiss cycling than Fabian Cancellara.

    However the most crucial aspect of his victory came with the realisation that it was Leopard Trek's first and last Classics success, with the team set to fold into Johan Bruyneel's clutches come the end of the season. And while the Leopard Trek team celebrated its deserved win in Lecco, there was a feeling of regret around the lakeside finish; what if the win had come sooner - at San Remo, Flanders or Roubaix; would the team have secured a sponsor for next year and carried on? All ifs and buts as Zaugg and his teammates, minus Fabian Cancellara and the Schlecks, toasted the team's farewell.

    In is post-race press conference, Zaugg praised his teammates for their work, with Jakob Fuglsang helping to form a two-pronged attack as the race began its crucial selection. First the Dane escaped with Philippe Gilbert and Vincenzo Nibali before Zaugg burst from the lead group on the final climb.

    "It was a surprise, but I knew that I was feeling very well and knew that I could try. The team came me freedom to try. It's fantastic," he said at the finish.

    It was also Zaugg's first win as a professional rider, having joined the ranks with Saunier Duval in 2004.

    "Why have I never won before? Good question. I've also asked myself the same question. There were moments when I thought would never win a race. This is very important...

  • Nibali sparkles but Lombardy victory eludes home riders

    Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas Cannondale) passes the Madonna di Ghisallo chapel and museum
    Article published:
    October 16, 2011, 0:45 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Three years since last Italian classics win

    Italy’s long wait for a classics victory stretched to three years after the home challenge fell short at the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday. While Ivan Basso (4th) was their best-placed rider, it was his Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Vincenzo Nibali who set Italian hearts aflutter when he sallied clear with an ambitious move on the Madonna di Ghisallo.

    Although Nibali passed the stirring chapel at the summit with 1:40 in hand over his pursuers, a combination of the peculiarities of the new course and the belatedly organised pursuit behind saw the Sicilian’s chances ebb away on the long valley ahead of the final climb, the Villa Vergano, and he was caught with 16km to go.

    “In Lombardy last year, you had the San Fermo straight after the Colma di Sormano but this time, from the Ghisallo there was 30km of flat before the last climb,” Nibali said at the finish in Lecco. “The Sky riders started pulling behind and set a high rhythm, and of course in the valley, you could save a lot more energy by sitting on the wheels.”

    Part of a small group that had formed when the peloton splintered on the descent of the Colma di Sormano, Nibali’s ferocious dig at the foot of the Ghisallo came with all of 55km still to race, and he distanced no less a figure than Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in the process. He acknowledged that he wanted to shed himself of the Belgian’s presence before the precipitous 15% slopes of the Villa Vergano.

    “I was worried about Gilbert. I didn’t want to get to the last climb with him, I would have risked losing. I would have preferred maybe Jakob Fuglsang with me and not Gilbert. The right companion with me would have helped.”

    While Nibali’s ride provided spectacle aplenty, it ultimately yielded little, as he rolled in 40th, 7 minutes down on winner Oliver Zaugg (Leopard Trek). He explained that the move was not a pre-meditated one, but the...

  • Martin moves into WorldTour top ten at Tour of Lombardy

    Ireland's Dan Martin could do well on the Mur de Huy
    Article published:
    October 16, 2011, 8:33 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Irishman shines en route to second place in Lecco

    Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) gave a further demonstration of his class with a fine second place finish at the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday, lifting himself into the top ten of the final WorldTour rankings in the process.

    The Irishman was well-positioned as the road steepened near the top of the final climb to Villa Vergano, but was unable to match the initial intensity of winner Oliver Zaugg’s (Leopard Trek) victory. Although he was the strongest of the chasers over the top of the climb, Martin eventually had to settle for winning the sprint for second place, 8 seconds down on the Swiss rider.

    “I knew if we caught him I’d be one of the fastest sprinters there, but I just didn’t have the legs to go with him on the climb, it’s as simple as that. He was so strong on that climb,” Martin admitted to Cyclingnews after descending from the podium. “Everybody was fully committed to try and get him back, all five of us were working hard, but once you get to the last kilometre and start to look at each other, it’s over.”

    In a year of classics upsets, Zaugg’s Lombardy win – his first as a professional – was perhaps the biggest surprise of all, but his fellow professionals had noted his burgeoning form at the tail end of the season.

    “He’s been really strong the last few weeks I knew he was going well,” Martin pointed out. “He took his chance early on the climb and nobody could react. That’s the way it goes.”

    Martin set off in pursuit closer to the summit of the climb, bringing Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) with him. Though they were joined by reinforcements for the 8km drop into Lecco, they were unable to peg back Zaugg....

  • 2012 Giro d'Italia route unveiled in Milan

    Giro d'Italia favorites gathered in Milan for the presentation of the race's 2012 route.
    Article published:
    October 16, 2011, 14:45 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Fewer transfers in more human edition of race

    The 2012 Giro d'Italia route was officially unveiled in Milan on Sunday, and as anticipated, the corsa rosa will be a decidedly more human affair after criticism that its traditional spectacle arguably veered toward excess last May.

    The race will get underway in Herning on May 5, and once again will conclude with an individual time trial in the centre of Milan three weeks later. While a healthy quota of set-piece mountain stages remain a staple of the Giro, the number of transfers has been cut dramatically, an early flight from the opening stages in Denmark back to Italy notwithstanding.

    Indeed, there is a reassuring familiarity about segments of the route, and not just because the map was inadvertently leaked on the internet early last week. The final days, in particular, will see a roll call of some of the Giro's most revered climbs: the Passo Giau features on stage 17, while a fearsome summit finish follows at Alpe di Pampeago two days later. The toughest stage of all will come on the penultimate day, as the riders must cross the Mortirolo before finishing atop the mighty Stelvio.

    Before that, the opening week should offer Mark Cavendish, Alessandro Petacchi and the sprinters more opportunities than they had in the entirety of last year's race. After reaching its southernmost point at Lago Laceno, the race will intersperse a pair of sprinters' stages with more rolling days as it heads northwards in week two, culminating with a brace of mountain stages to Cervinia and Pian dei Resinelli.

    Following the second rest day, the gruppo will face the final phase of the race, but while the climbers will have plenty of opportunities to shine, the parade of mountains is mercifully broken up by a flat run to Vedelago in the middle of the last week.

    A Danish start

    ...
  • Contador focuses on Tour de France in 2012

    Alberto Contador was on hand as defending champion, with his trophy
    Article published:
    October 16, 2011, 18:36 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    No Giro d'Italia for 2011 race winner

    Despite attending the 2012 Giro d'Italia presentation in Milan on Sunday, defending champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) has ruled out racing the Grand Tour next season. During the presentation, he announced that the Tour de France would be his biggest goal for 2012.

    "The course is good for me, and if I went with my heart, then I'd certainly race it," he said. However unlike in 2011, when the Spaniard attempted a Giro and Tour de France double, Contador will solely focus on winning back his Tour de France crown.

    "Next year, I will think about other different objectives, such as the Tour de France. Although you can never say never again, next year I will not be here," he said.

    Contador attended the Giro presentation, entering the stage in dramatic fashion as he was lowered onto the stage carrying his 2011 trophy. However despite his presence and several also pleading questions from the hosts, he confirmed that the Tour would be his main focus. However, he did confirm that he would appear at the race as a guest and take part in RCS's Tirreno-Adriatico.

    "The race and the Italian fans have supported me in my two Giros. Next year I'll come back to Italy to race the Tirreno-Adriatico, a race that I don't have in my track record."

    Contador also pointed to the start from Denmark as something that would benefit the Giro. "It will be spectacular. Denmark has made a great effort to get it, and people will be surprised to discover the great love of cycling in the country."

    Contador's willingness to attend or not could count for nothing. Next month, he will go through his CAS hearing, in which the UCI and WADA will be looking to ban him for up...

  • Only one leader for Liquigas at the 2012 Giro, says Basso

    Ivan Basso reviews the 2012 Giro Route
    Article published:
    October 16, 2011, 20:02 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Italian to divide up calendar with Nibali

    Although Liquigas-Cannondale has two potential Giro d'Italia winners in their ranks, only one of them will line up at the start in Herning next May, according to Ivan Basso.

    Speaking to reporters after the route for the 2012 Giro was officially unveiled in Milan on Sunday, Basso explained that he and Vincenzo Nibali would once again divide up the stage racing calendar. This year, Nibali led Liquigas at the Giro, while Basso took over the reins at the Tour de France.

    It has yet to decided which of the pair will focus his energies on July in 2012, but Basso dismissed the idea that Liquigas' Tour leader could use the Giro as training while doubling as a gregario di lusso, out of respect for both the race's difficulty and its traditions.

    "The programme hasn't been made out yet, but anyone who does the Giro at a high level uses up energy that will be missing later on," Basso said. "If someone like Nibali, who is a winning athlete, does the Giro, then he must do it to win."

    While Basso believes that the team's Giro leader can go on to play a significant supporting role in France, he said that the fans on the roadsides would not appreciate if either he or Nibali rode the Giro simply to train for the Tour.

    "Whichever one of us does the Giro d'Italia can think about going to help the other at the Tour because it's the second race," Basso said. "In the first race, though, it's unthinkable that one of the two of us would ride to help the other, primarily because the public wouldn't accept seeing Nibali or Basso 20 minutes down on the Stelvio.

    "For me and for him, it's very hard even to ride small races for training because the public expects to see...

  • Video: Aquarone on the 2012 Giro d'Italia route

    The Giro d'Italia trophy
    Article published:
    October 16, 2011, 22:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Race director talks Contador, fans, transfers and attracting stars

    New Giro d'Italia race director Michele Aquarone watched as Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) carefully placed the il trofeo senza fine on the stage at the 2012 route presentation in Milan on Sunday. The Italian looked on as Contador even gave the iconic, gold-plated award a polish, and it will be with that care and attention that Aquarone will hope to look after the riders at next year’s Giro.

    At the unveiling of the new route, Aquarone took time to assure riders and the media that rider relations were paramount to organisers RCS and that in order to build bridges after the frictions of this year, transfers would be down by 30 percent. The Giro boss also told Cyclingnews, in this exclusive video, that he aimed to have all riders in their hotels well before 9:00 pm each evening – something that was a rarity in recent years.

    2012 is a departure from the Giro’s recent strategy of shock and awe, in which they’ve aimed to provide spectacular racing by providing an almost impossibly tough route. Next year a more "human" route will see sprinters have more opportunities, while even the most talented climbers probably welcomed a parcours less demanding that 2011’s.

    In this exclusive video with Cyclingnews, Aquarone talks about the 2012 Giro d’Italia route, the riders he’d like to attract to the race and the importance of fans within the sport.