- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 00:48
- Brecht Decaluwé
Tejay Van Garderen attacks but caught back before the Mur
A few brave men, that's how one could describe the riders who tried to avoid the massive bunch sprint up the darn steep Mur of Huy. One of them was Tejay Van Garderen, the young American who races for the HTC-Highroad team.
Van Garderen attacked the peloton together with some outsiders after the penultimate climb of the Mur, with almost 30km to go.
"It's hard to make the difference but you've got to try. You have guys like Contador, Gilbert, Rodriguez and Sanchez here who are really specialists on these uphill finishes. You've got to change the tactic and try something different," Van Garderen told Cyclingnews after making it to the top of the Mur.
Van Garderen's breakaway companions were Thomas Lövkvist (Sky), Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), Vasil Kiryenka (Movistar), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) and Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel).
"We had a good group," he explained. "There were really strong guys but there were times when we weren't working well together. Two guys went off the front [Kiryenka and Lövkvist] and then we weren't working so well together."
Just like all his other breakaway companions the 22 year-old was caught back in the descent towards Huy and eventually he finished 127th at seven minutes from winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
"It's a hard course to stay away with the big downhill into Huy," Van Garderen conceded. "The goal was really just to try. If you sit in and wait to get beat then that's shit. So you might as well try it. It felt good," Van Garderen looked back on his racing actions. "I look forward to Liège. It suits me a little bit better and it's less tactical too and a bit more selective. If you have good legs it's easier to make the difference."
- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 03:11
- Kirsten Frattini
Course changes in store for Mt. Hood Cycling Classic
Some road racing events in Oregon and Colorado have been affected by the International Cycling Union's (UCI) recent decision to enforce code 1.2.019 that prohibits professional male and female racers from participating in non-USA Cycling events. According to promoter Chad Sperry the code has not interfered with his two events, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in June and the National Racing Calendar (NRC) Cascade Cycling Classic in July, both in Oregon and sanction USA Cycling.
"Our pro men's race is sanctioned by USA Cycling but all our other categories are sanctioned under OBRA," said race promoter, Chad Sperry. "We still won't be able to host ProTeam or Professional Continental riders because they can't do anything aside from UCI events. But, we are still expecting the Continental teams and a full field at both events."
The rule prohibits professional men and women who race under UCI sanctioned teams from competing in events that have not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI. Many events in Oregon are sanctioned under the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) and events in Colorado are sanctioned under the American Cycling Association (ACA) which are not national federations. Professional riders who traditionally participated in these events are now ineligible.
Sperry is expecting a large professional men's field at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic held from June 2-5 around Portland, Oregon. However, all other categories are sanctioned under OBRA and the three US-based UCI women's teams TIBCO-To the Top, Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12 and Diadora-Pasta Zara will not be eligible to compete. The Cascade Cycling Classic is a member of the NRC and will run from July 19-24 in Bend, Oregon and is expected to field full pro men's and women's fields.
"We will be able to get a full field out but we have always competed with Philly and we still manage to get strong teams out," Sperry said. "USA Pro Championships are held the weekend before and we might lose a little bit but we will still get a lot of the team's stage race competitors and we are anticipating all the major teams participating."
"I don't think the rule will really affect our women's field too, however, because the three UCI women's teams don't have the same depth as the men's teams they wouldn't have been able to split the teams and would have full teams and all of their resources at Liberty Classic. I don't see it being the same conflict as it would have been with the pro men's race."
Mt. Hood Cycling Classic revamps five-stage event
The ninth annual Mt. Hood Cycling Classic is shortened by one stage and will kick off with the Panorama Point Prologue on June 2. The race will continue with a new stage one Columbia Hills Road Race. A new and flat stage two Trout Lake Time Trial and the stage three Hood River Criterium held at twilight hours will be held on the same day. The event will conclude with the former Three Summits Road Race.
"This is our ninth year and we want to make this fresh and shake it up," Sperry said. "The first stage is brand new and will utilize some of the old time trial course and there is one significant climb and a long downhill and flat to the finish line. This is one of the most sprint-friendly courses that the Mt. Hood Classic has offered in its history and we were focused on making a balanced race, something for everyone. The time trial will go into the state of Washington and it will be a very flat course, sheltered from the wind. Last year it was all about pain and suffering and this year it is flat and fast. The criterium will be held as a twilight race this year."
"The biggest news is that we are bringing back the old mountain stage, three summits, that defined our race in the early years," he added. "We weren't able to run it for the last six years because a bridge was washed out and it was just rebuilt this year. The course is so embedded back in the national forest that there was not alternate route. Now we can do that stage again on one lane, narrow, paved, forest service roads. There are three climbs that are more than 2000 feet and pitches that are 15 per cent in grade and a mountaintop finish."
- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 03:17
- Alex Hinds
UPDATE: Leaders of all classifications part of those disqualified
In an amazing display of courage and solidarity, disqualified riders, including the leaders of all major classifications in the Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay rode through the extreme weather conditions anyway, after official buses and transport had left the riders stranded at the start of stage 6b.
Speaking to Cyclingnews Menso de Jong (Wonderful Pistachios Pro Cycling) recounted the way the day's events unfolded.
"We still rode the entire course at 50+ km/hr, after the race promoter sent the buses ahead of us, leaving no way to get to the next hotel. We had already been checked out of the previous hotel - so we had no choice," an exasperated de Jong said.
"We then stopped at 3k to go and waited for all the people who were dropped. Twenty minutes later we rolled to the 1k to go, stopped and were cheered by the locals for our sportsmanship. We stopped again 10m from the line, surrounded by cheering locals who fed us and gave us post-race Coca-Cola.
"Keep in mind that it was raining the whole race and we had been standing around shivering for almost half an hour at this point. Once all the stragglers arrived, we avoided the line and went to the hotel."
De Jong was extremely critical of the flip-flop decision to cancel the morning's stage but go ahead with the afternoon's event.
"We were ready to race at 8 in the morning - and they suspend racing - but in the same conditions later in the day they say we have to race," he explained.
De Jong's criticism mirrors his teammate's, Iggy Silva, who tweeted about the strange decision to race earlier in the day.
Cyclingnews' earlier coverage:
In what was one of the most unusual decisions by race organisers in recent cycling history, 66, of a total of 96 riders, were disqualified from the Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay after protesting about extreme weather conditions.
The protest was lead by a number of senior riders and team managers who had raised concerns about lighting storms and high winds that had suspended the morning’s time trial. Organisers of the race however argued that conditions had improved sufficiently in the afternoon for the second half of the day’s stage to go ahead, a 118 km ride from Salto to Pasayundo.
After a long standoff between the protesting riders and the organisers, the head of the race, Victor Hugo Ramírez informed participants that the stage would not be suspended, and that riders refusing to race would be disqualified.
At this point, the 30 riders who chose not to take part in the protest started the stage and the 66 protesters were, as threatened to be, disqualified.
Ramírez was unsympathetic to the riders and defended his decision continue with the stage. He also refused to reinstate the riders who had refused to race.
"The tour will continue for those who raced today and were given official results," said Ramírez.
"There will be no reverse in the decision to disqualify the riders, nor to suspend the stage."
The decision’s stubbornness will come as a surprise to many pundits, particularly considering that a number of the GC favourites were part of the protest, notably Uruguayan Ivan Cline.
Iggy Silva (Wonderful Pistachios Pro Cycling) was bemused by the commissaries decision.
"Craziness today in Uruguay," he commented via Twitter.
"They cancelled the morning stage for the same reason. There’s clearly no consistency with the UCI."
With four stages remaining it seems that only a significantly depleted field will finish the 2011 Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay.
- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 05:13
- Cycling News
Team okay with performance but hoping for more on Sunday
Fortune has not so far favoured the Rabobank team this Ardennes season. The team came up short in last Sunday’s Amstel Gold and Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne proved to be no different. Spaniard Carlos Barredo crashed out and looks questionable for Liège-Bastogne-Liège this Sunday, and team leader Robert Gesink struggled to go with Gilbert on the final ascent of the Muur de Huuy.
Directeur Sportif Frans Maassen was offering no excuses for Gesink’s result.
"We had thought to get Robert close to a podium finish," Maassen said. "But he didn't have good legs today. Robert usually still can create a surprise in the end, but obviously today that wasn't possible."
Maassen was however reasonably happy with the Dutch captain.
"There is no need to panic. Don't forget that he finished 14th after all and he also rode a good race last Sunday."
Gesink did place ninth in Amstel Gold, but will have higher expectations of himself, and will hardly be satisfied with scraping into the top 10.
Rabobank nonetheless are remaining patient and hope for better results in the final Ardennes classic, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, this Sunday.
"Gesink is still a good racer - a day like today doesn't change that." Maassen adding that it was time to move on.
"We will look towards Liège-Bastogne-Liège now."
One of the only positives to come from Wednesday’s race was the performance of young German Paul Martens, who managed to take 10th. Maassen took encouragement from Martens’ ride but said that it was now time for the senior riders to stand up.
- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 06:25
- Cycling News
Spaniard champions atmosphere of American race
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) is looking forward to his participation in next month’s Amgen Tour of California, and the Spaniard has admitted that he enjoys the relaxed atmosphere that pervades at the race.
“I’m going to ride the Tour of California, which I really like,” Freire told El Pais. “It’s a very relaxing race, very nice to ride, with a lot of opportunities and it’s not too hard.”
Freire’s enthusiasm for the American race is not down to the route alone, however, and he pointed out that the spectators contributed to a very different ambience to racing in Europe.
“In California, there is a huge expectation that you don’t see at the European races,” he said. “That surprised me the first time I went over there, in 2008. Over there they don’t see cycling just as a sport, but as a spectacle. The problems that we have in Europe, all stories of doping, people don’t care about them there.
“The public admire you as a sportsman. When I rode over there for the first time, it was like finding the good old times in Europe, the lightness with which cycling was lived before. The ambience, the excitement…”
Freire went on to point out that he would like to see mentalities change in European cycling, and levelled vague criticism against the UCI’s promotion of the sport.
“Cyclists need to be promoted, and attention needs to be paid to them as sportsmen, and not just for their economic interest,” Freire said. “I would say that what counts is saving cycling’s image, but as long as the UCI doesn’t support riders, saving cycling in Europe will be very difficult.”
The three-time world champion recently revealed that he would not be riding the Tour de France, expressing his preference for the Classics, and he reiterated that stance when speaking to El Pais.
“I was questioned about the Classics, and I replied that July would be a much better and more exciting month if the Classics were held in place of the Tour,” Freire explained. “At the Tour, when you’ve done two mountain stages, you already know who is going to be at the front and what is going to happen afterwards.
“It’s more boring than at the Classics where you don’t know who is going to win until the final kilometres. There’s more suspense. You only have to look at how Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders and Milan-San Remo went this year.”
- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 07:48
- Jane Aubrey
Australian looks forward to sprint showdown
A change of race schedule will allow Astana's Allan Davis to honour the fallen when the Australian rides in the Presidential Tour of Turkey which starts this Sunday, April 24.
The event kicks off in Istanbul before heading south on the 25th, Anzac Day, to Kusadasi. Anzac Day is arguably Australia's most important national day. While it was initially intended as a day of remembrance the anniversary of the World War I landing at Gallipoli, on Turkey's Aegean coast in 1915, it has since grown to include all of those Australians and New Zealander's lost in war.
"The first thing that comes to my mind is that a lot of Australians  died at war in Turkey", Davis said. "I've never been to Turkey before but I'm happy to do so for the TUR," he continued. "I don't know much about the race but I know it's a good one for sprinters. To race with a good weather is a nice thing at this time of the year. It'll be great to contest the sprints against Tyler Farrar, Andre Greipel, Alessandro Petacchi and the other guys."
Greipel dominated last year's race, taking five stages. Other riders looking to put a dent in Greipel's winning run include Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) and Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Davis had been in line to race both Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne but illness ended those plans and allowed the Commonwealth Games gold medallist to get some extra training in.
"I got crook last week," he explained. "I was sort of targeting the Amstel Gold Race but I got a stomach virus and I couldn't race. But I've come good this week. I've done some long days on the bike and I should be able to do more before I fly to Turkey."
The Astana team for the Presidential Tour of Turkey: Assan Bazayev, Allan Davis, Alexandr Dyachenko, Valentin Iglinskiy, Roman Kireyev, Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy, Sergei Renev, Andrey Zeits.
- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 08:05
- Sarah Connolly
Race celebrates Polish Presidency of the European Union Council and the life of Pope John Paul II
The route of the 68th Tour of Poland has been announced, with a course that aims to encourage spectacular racing.
The seven-stage race sees the flat stages reduced in length, to between 100 and 130km, on city centre routes designed for fast, technical racing and attacking from the start. At the same time, the mountain stages will be more difficult than in previous years, with two key days where the general classification will be decided.
The first stage, on Sunday 31st July, runs from Pruszków to Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. The riders will then transfer by aeroplane to the south of the country for the remaining six stages.
The two key days for the climbers come towards the end of the race – Stage 5, Zakopane-Zakopane, five laps of a 43 km circuit, and Stage 6, Terma Bukovina- Bukowina TatrzaÅska, a 207.7km stage including four laps of a 46km circuit.
The Tour will remember the life of Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, and who will be beatified by the Catholic Church on May 1st, with Stage 2 passing the Jasna Gora Sanctuary, the famous monastery of the Czestochowa Black Madonna.
It will also celebrate the first time Poland has taken the European Union Council Presidency since the country joined the EU in 2004.
“It's a matter of pride and satisfaction for the entire nation and the Polish people, who've come to think of themselves as European citizens”, says Tour Director Czeslaw Lang. “In the last few decades Poland has come a long way politically, historically and culturally. War, Soviet occupation, Communism and the division between East and West are in the past. Fortunately the walls have come down, and in this slow yet inexorable process of globalisation and popular fellowship, sport has always played a vital role in promoting such values as unity and brotherhood among different populations."
Tour of Poland, July 31st – August 6th, 2011
Stage 1: Pruszków – Warsawa
Stage 2: CzÄstochowa – DÄ
Stage 3: BÄdzin – Katowice
Stage 4: OÅwiÄcim – Cieszyn
Stage 5: Zakopane – Zakopane
Stage 6: Terma Bukovina- Bukowina TatrzaÅska
Stage 7: Kraków – Kraków
Further details are available from the Tour of Poland's Facebook page.
- Article published:
- April 21, 2011, 10:00
- Cycling News
Rodriguez and Kolobnev aim to make race hard for Lotto and Gilbert
The Russian Katusha team, twice beaten by Lotto's Philippe Gilbert this week, has vowed to take revenge at Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège. At both Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, Joaquim Rodriguez missed out on victory, and his team is highly motivated to make amends at 'La Doyenne', the most prestigious of the three Ardennes races.
"I'm an optimist," Rodriguez said when asked whether he thought he could beat Gilbert, the new super-favourite for Liège. "There are only few riders who have been able to win all three races [just one, Davide Rebellin in 2004 - ed.]. Danilo Di Luca, in 2005, won Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne easily, but then he wasn't at his best in Liège and he lost.
"Philippe Gilbert will of course be the great favourite, but I have also shown that I'm in great form, and I will of course try to win."
Sunday's event will be raced on a much harder and longer course than Flèche Wallonne, the Katusha team already has its strategy established: make the race as hard as possible to drain all energy out of the Belgian team and its leader. To do so, Rodriguez counts on his entire squad as well as one particular superdomestique: Alexander Kolobnev, a Classics hunter in his own right.
The Russian, who finished fifth in Amstel Gold Race last Sunday, launched an attack with 30 kilometres to go in Flèche Wallonne, and it paid off. "I tried to anticipate, with the objective being to make life difficult for Gilbert. I think this strategy was really good, because when I went into the escape, all the Lotto riders came up front to protect their leader. In the end, we only lacked very little for the win, like at Amstel Gold Race," Kolobnev told Velochrono.
For the upcoming Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Katusha team promises more of the same fireworks. "I think that strategy will be the same. Anticipate the attacks to make Gilbert work, as he is the favourite."