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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, April 4, 2013

Date published:
April 04, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Paolini ponders Cancellara problem ahead of Paris-Roubaix

    Luca Paolini (Katusha) climbs the Old Kwaremont with Juan Antonio Flecha on his wheel.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 14:51 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Swiss rider is the man to beat on Sunday after Tour of Flanders win

    How do you solve a problem like Fabian Cancellara? The conundrum facing the peloton ahead of Paris-Roubaix seems an insoluble one and Luca Paolini (Katusha) responded with gallows humour when the question was put to him in Antwerp on Wednesday morning.

    "I don't know - maybe we'll have to try with a gun and shoot him," Paolini told Cyclingnews with a hollow laugh, before acknowledging that jumping the gun is a more viable proposition than firing one. "Nah, I think the only solution is to try and anticipate him."

    Two years ago, of course, Garmin manager Jonathan Vaughters quipped that it would take a sniper to stop Cancellara on the pavé but ultimately it was one of his own riders, Johan Vansummeren, who upset the odds by attacking early and building up a sufficient lead to hold off Cancellara's ferocious pursuit in the finale.

    Vansummeren's cause was helped by the presence of teammate Thor Hushovd as a fast-finishing irritant on Cancellara's rear wheel, and Paolini will line up on Sunday with another rapid Norwegian for company on the Katusha team, the in-form Alexander Kristoff.

    "We'll be looking to finish on the podium at least, either with me or with Kristoff," said Paolini, who was speaking outside Antwerp's MAS museum before the start of Scheldeprijs. "It's a tough race but we're taking care to work hard by racing here today, and then tomorrow we'll have a look at the sectors of pavé for Roubaix.

    "It's important to come here because it keeps your eye in - it keeps you in race rhythm and it keeps you focused. Racing is the best thing to do to keep it going between the Flanders and Roubaix."

    Although Paolini began his professional...

  • Vacansoleil defends Flecha against alleged links to Operación Puerto

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) attacks the Oude Kwaremont
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 17:11 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Spaniard accused of being Clasicómano by Dutch newspaper

    The Dutch Vacansoleil-DCM team has defended its Spanish classics specialist Juan Antonio Flecha from accusations that he was a client of Spanish doping doctor Eufemanio Fuentes back in 2006. The morning prior to his participation in the Scheldeprijs, a Dutch newspaper Volkskrant made the claims based on its own investigation of the Operación Puerto documents. The report linked Flecha to the code name Clasicómano or number 33 in the coded client list; allegations which, if proven, could lead to the immediate dismissal of the 35-year-old Spaniard.

    Frank Kwanten, commercial manager and press officer for Vacansoleil-DCM and team director Aart Vierhouten spoke to Cyclingnews about the accusations. The duo said that they informed Flecha the morning of the race about the article. "He reacted calm as the story didn't come up since yesterday. It was to be expected that one day something would happen with it. There's not much more to be said about it, not from his side either. He shrugged and said that we knew what his position was in this case. This story doesn't change anything to that," Vierhouten said.

    Vierhouten added that the hunt for riders by newspapers wasn't something the teams should just accept. "This has been going on for about two years now. It does not mean that once a rider is named in a news story - like this story - that we should send him home with his suitcase right away. That's a bit short-sighted. That is why we, as a team, stand behind our rider," Vierhouten said.

    Back in 2006, Flecha rode for the now much-accused Rabobank team. After a four-year stint at the Dutch team, Flecha moved to Team Sky for three years before joining Vacansoleil.


  • Cancellara crash "not ideal situation" ahead of Paris-Roubaix, says Guercilena

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) dropped his breakaway companions the final time up the Paterberg and now motors alone to victory.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 18:01 BST
    Barry Ryan

    RadioShack rider falls but finishes Scheldeprijs

    Fabian Cancellara's Paris-Roubaix preparations suffered a scare at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday afternoon when the RadioShack Leopard rider crashed midway through the semi-classic.

    Although his torn shorts revealed a contusion near his left hip, Cancellara was able to remount and rejoin the peloton, and given that he went on to finish the race in Schoten, the early outlook is good.

    Even so, the RadioShack Leopard team was leaving little to chance at the finish. Cancellara was hastily shepherded away from the microphones and cameras and onto the team bus, where he was examined by the team doctor. Shortly afterwards, manager Luca Guercilena emerged with the initial prognosis but said that the situation would be assessed overnight.

    "The biggest hit was on the gluteus and that's the muscular situation but that is close to the sacrum joint so that is something to investigate when he cools down," Guercilena said. "He didn't consider abandoning because it was good to arrive at the finish and when the muscles are still warm, you can do it. It was not a bad, bad crash but it's not the ideal situation we wanted."

    Guercilena described Cancellara's crash as typical and said that he could not avoid hitting the ground as two riders had fallen directly in front of him. "He was in the first echelon but he was unlucky," Guercilena said. "Two riders touched in front of him and he couldn't jump over it, so he touched them and he was on the ground. He's checking now with the doctor and we'll see tonight and especially tomorrow morning how he is."

    Cancellara is the overwhelming favourite for victory at Paris-Roubaix in the wake of his emphatic win at the Tour of Flanders last weekend....

  • Cavendish falls short of record fourth Scheldeprijs victory

    It was close, but Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) prevailed in the 2013 Scheldeprijs ahead of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Barry Markus (Vacansoleil-DCM)
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 19:48 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    No birthday diamond for daughter Delilah

    What was supposed to become a glorious day ended up an exercise in frustration for Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) at the 101st edition of the Scheldeprijs. The Manx Express fell just short of grabbing a record-breaking fourth win at the finish in Schoten and the winner's diamond, finishing a close runner-up to back-to-back champion Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). Cavendish lacked the lead-out which Kittel had in the final kilometres. Being too far back in the peloton, Cavendish was unable to overtake the German sprinter who was perfectly launched, that in spite of undoubtedly riding the fastest sprint in Schoten.

    After crossing the line, a clearly disappointed Cavendish searched for his fiancée Peta Todd and daughter Delilah Grace. After receiving a big hug Cavendish headed for the podium where the top-three of the day would be honoured. Before and after that ceremony Cavendish expressed his disappointment to the press.

    "I came from 20 [positions] back with 200 [metres] to go. That's it. It's too far back," Cavendish told Sporza in an assessment of his sprint to the finish. When pressed on whether he lacked support in the finale, Cavendish said, "I guess so, in the final, yeah. The consequences of today's sprint? I don't know. We rode so well. The whole day we ride so well until the last two kilometres. I don't know."

    When asked another question to find out what went wrong a frustrated Cavendish replied, "Can we talk about something else please, is that ok? I don't know what went wrong. I didn't win the bike race."

    After returning from the podium, Cavendish acknowledged the work his team had done leading into the hectic...

  • Kittel delivers diamond display at Scheldeprijs

    For the second straight year, Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) stood on the top step of the podium at Scheldeprijs
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 20:17 BST
    Barry Ryan

    German beats Cavendish in head-to-head for first time

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) claimed his first head-to-head victory against Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) at Scheldeprijs and then added insult to injury by claiming the very prize that the Manxman had coveted, a diamond presented by the city of Antwerp.

    It was Kittel's second successive Scheldeprijs victory and he admitted that Cavendish's presence lends greater cachet to this year's triumph. The two sprinters have raced against one another infrequently since Kittel turned professional in 2011, and finally getting the better of Cavendish was, in effect, the formal delivery of the German's credentials as a member of the sprinting elite.

    "I think this is the first time that I beat him in a straight sprint," Kittel said afterwards. "For me that's the direction that I want to go: to be one of the best sprinters in the world, and I think today was a very good step in that direction. I want to be well up as a sprinter and get big wins, and it's good to have this one in the pocket."

    Cavendish, of course, is rarely if ever beaten for pure speed and he started his sprint from significantly further back than Kittel but ran out of road before they dived for the line. Even so, a bunch sprint does not take place in a vacuum, and Kittel showed poise and power to eke out and then grab his opportunity.

    "It was always pretty hectic at Scheldeprijs. There are so many sprinters and simply not enough space for every team. Most of the time you end up in a mix of some lead-out guys from a lot of teams and then you do the sprint," said Kittel. "With 700 metres to go, I thought I was boxed in but Tom Veelers came on the left side, and then he brought me to the front and did a lead-out."

    Not that it was all plain sailing from there. After emerging...

  • Stevens making quick recovery from crash

    Evie Stevens (Specialized/lululemon) has one goal!
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 21:00 BST
    Pat Malach

    Specialized-lululemon rider might resume racing by end of April

    Evelyn Stevens is recovering well from her crash last month at Classica Citta di Padova and could be racing again by the end of April, Specialized-lululemon General Manager Kristy Scrymgeour told Cyclingnews this week.

    Stevens hit the deck face first during a high-speed crash while negotiating a roundabout in the Italian race, suffering lacerations and several broken teeth. Although the injuries looked horrific at the time, Scrymgeour said they are mostly superficial and shouldn't keep Stevens off the bike for too long.

    "Considering the nature of her crash, her injuries are remarkably few and she's healing well and quickly," Scrymgeour informed Cyclingnews this week via email. "She had quite a few stitches, but all seems to be going well now that these have been removed, and aside from a couple of teeth that need capping she's doing fine and eager to race again soon."

    Although it doesn't appear that Stevens will be able to defend her 2012 win at Flèche Wallonne on April 17, Scrymgeour said that because Stevens did not incur a concussion in the crash, she could be back for Gracia Orlova at the end of April.

    The spring Classics have been rough on the American-based women's UCI team, which lost veteran sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg to a crash at Drentse 8 a little more than a week before Stevens' mishap. Teutenberg was unconscious for several minutes after the crash and continues to suffer from "substantial post-concussion syndrome," Scrymgeour said.

    "We need to take it step by step with her coming back to racing," the Specialized-lululemon general manager said. "So far she's only able to do light exercise. I would say it could be mid-May or even later before Ina starts back racing. We'll see how it goes, but we don't want to rush...

  • Bos disappointed with Scheldeprijs finish

    Theo Bos (Blanco) wins the sprint
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 22:33 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Dutchman runs out of options in final metres

    Theo Bos had been hoping to earn his fifth win of the season at the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday but the Blanco team's plans went awry with key leadout man Graeme Brown suffering a mechanical on the finishing circuit.

    What hurt most of all, was to come away from the race without a result with the team working tirelessly all day to ensure that Bos was in the right place when it mattered. Moreno Hofland had fallen earlier in the crash that also took down man-of-the-moment, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard), but the team pushed on and were consistently on the front, with a three-man break up ahead for much of the race.

    Blanco had put all their resources into delivering the Dutchman to the finish line, however he could only manage eighth place in the chaotic sprint.

    "I had hoped I was there in the mix but I just missed a little extra," Bos told Cyclingnews. "It was not perfect. I had to have a perfect race to win, but I was not perfect and the legs are not strong enough to make up the difference."

    With 14 kilometres to go, Brown was forced to the side of the road with a puncture. Isolated, he had to wait for a spare bike from the roof of the team car. While there was enough time for Brown to re-join his teammates, with "1.5km left to go, I was cooked," the Australian told Cyclingnews.

    "It was difficult after that," Bos said. "At the end we were there but I had to change plans. Maybe it hurt us."

    Mark Renshaw stepped in for Brown, dropping Bos into position with 500 metres to go. Bos held third wheel. At 75 metres to go, Bos was head-to-head with eventual winner, Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) but within seconds, it was clear the 29-year-old would not be fighting it out for the podium, somewhat boxed in over...

  • Hayman to capitalise on opportunities at Paris-Roubaix

    Mathew Hayman (Sky) on the attack on the Oude Kwaremont
    Article published:
    April 04, 2013, 0:15 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Sky craving result after failing to deliver at Flanders

    Mathew Hayman has a knack for telling it like it is when it comes to racing. When Geraint Thomas fell out of the overall lead on the penultimate stage at the Tour Down Under earlier in the season, the hard-working Australian domestique reminded his Sky teammates that "no one died". With Sky's Flanders line-up performing well below par last Sunday, Hayman says it's time to follow through on some of their pre-race talk this weekend at Paris-Roubaix.

    Sky had been expected to have a say in the result of the Tour of Flanders with a line up of riders which had been performing strongly across the board in the weeks leading up to the monument, instead they failed to figure, with Edvald Boasson Hagen their best finisher in 17th place.

    "Roubaix suits us a bit better in some ways," Hayman admitted to Cyclingnews. "Hopefully we can be back where we deserve to be and have just a good shot at it. Be in the game."

    Paris-Roubaix certainly suits Hayman. In 2012, he earned his best-ever result, 8th, bettering his 10th in 2011 and 21st in his 2009 debut. The result could have been better for Hayman had a decision been made to ride for a podium when eventual winner, Tom Boonen, left the front group containing the Australian, Stannard, Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha. It was late last year that Hayman told Cyclingnews that Roubaix represented a "missed opportunity" during his 2012 season and given the events of the past week, there's a good chance that that if the circumstances present themself, it's not something he will let slip again.

    Whether Thomas will lead the Sky team this weekend, as he had for Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, was not something Hayman was...