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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, April 8, 2010

Date published:
April 08, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Amgen Tour of California stage 6 re-routed

    The stage from Pasadena incorporated roads which were damaged during heavy snowfall at high elevations this winter.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 20:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Winter storms damage roads from Pasadena

    The planned start of the sixth stage of the Amgen Tour of California from Pasadena will be changed due to poor road conditions, the race organiser AEG announced today.

    The route was to be one of the most challenging of this year's Amgen Tour, which begins on May 16, incorporating some 7,000 feet of elevation gain between the start at the Rose Bowl and the highest point along the Angeles Crest Highway.

    Pasadena will no longer host the start of the stage, the route for which is still to be determined.

    “Due to severe road damage on the Angeles Crest Highway (Route 2) above La Cañada Flintridge caused by the recent winter storms, we have been forced to change the route for Stage 6 of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California," AEG announced Wednesday.

    "This change is being made at the direct request of Caltrans, which has notified us that due to the potential safety hazards, the road will be unable to accommodate our race. Stage 6, scheduled for May 21, 2010, will no longer start in Pasadena and we are working to secure a new stage start, which we are hopeful of announcing in the coming days.

    "Stage 6 will still finish in Big Bear Lake as planned and we look forward to a challenging stage in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains."

    Pasadena has hosted a stage of the Amgen Tour for the past two years using the challenging circuit around the Rose Bowl for the race finale in 2008 and the end of the penultimate stage of last year's event. This was to be the first year the town had hosted a stage start.

    "As long-term partners with Pasadena, we appreciate how graciously they have handled this difficult situation. We look forward to returning to Pasadena soon," said AEG Sport's president Andrew Messick.

  • Bos disappointed with lowly finish at Scheldeprijs

    Thor Hushovd plus Theo Bos equals a fast combination.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 21:15 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Dutchman's Classics education continues ahead of Roubaix debut

    Theo Bos will race his first Paris-Roubaix this weekend, but at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday the Dutch sprinter was left "disappointed" by a mid-pack finish.

    Bos was the best placed Cervelo TestTeam rider at Scheldeprijs, with a relatively anonymous 31st place result. With two sprint wins to his credit already this season, Bos told Cyclingnews he had hoped for more from his first participation in the event.

    "It was a nice race. I was hoping I could sprint to the finish line for the victory, but I was too far behind and I couldn't sprint, so I was a little bit disappointed about that," he said.

    Of the two major Belgian races Bos has now completed in this season, Wednesday's Scheldeprijs was the one that appeared more suited to his strengths compared with Gent-Wevelgem. However, he admitted afterwards he hadn't made best use of his capabilities, and hinted that he could, and perhaps should, have achieved a better result.

    "I'm a little bit disappointed that I couldn't sprint. I was hoping I could sprint and 'if I get passed, or I cannot get past then it's okay'. But now I have the feeling I didn't give everything," he said.

    Review of the final kilometre showed that Bos had been pinned in the midst of the arrow-head of the peloton. With riders blocking him on both the left and right, there was little chance of escape as Tom Boonen (Quick Step) opened the final sprint with 400 metres to race.

    In his first season as part of a Professional Continental road team, the Scheldeprijs finale was a lesson learned for the 26-year-old.

    "My legs felt good and I was really alert during the race, but just not [alert] enough for today, unfortunately," he said.

    Bos will gain even further Classics experience this weekend when he takes his place in the Cervelo roster for Paris-Roubaix. His team captain for Roubaix, Thor Hushovd, stayed safely clear of the sprint at Scheldeprijs, and was the last Cervelo rider to...

  • Eeckhout angry with Scheldeprijs breakaway group

    No smiles from Belgian stalwart Niko Eeckhout.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 21:26 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Rambo rages over weak work

    Belgian veteran Niko 'Rambo' Eeckhout was not amused with the weak work of his breakaway companions in the 98th Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. The An Post-Sean Kelly team leader opted to go with the early move which nearly worked until attacks from within the group put paid to everyone's chances with 10km to go.

    Making it into the early breakaway groups is a special discipline. One needs the strength, the speed, the will and some luck to make or follow the right acceleration during the first hour of a race. Once up front riders receive some attention and compliments for their efforts while hopefully making it into the race coverage.

    50 kilometers were covered during the first hour of the race before eight riders set up the right attack. Featuring among the escapees were breakaway specialists like Eeckhout, Jonas Ljungblad (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Mathew Hayman (Sky), Jackson Stewart (BMC), David Boucher (Agricole), Arnoud Van Groen (Vacansoleil), Cyril Lemoine (Saur), Grégory Joseph (Topsport Vlaanderen).

    Their advantage on the peloton was more than six minutes at one point but when arriving on the local circuit around Schoten it was clear that the sprinter teams weren't planning to offer the leaders a glorious day. With twenty kilometers to go the gap dropped under the minute and attacks split the breakaway group apart, signing their death sentence.

    Eeckhout tried to continue solo but quickly the 39 year-old rider realized that winning wasn't possible. Afterwards the muscular Belgian explained that he wasn't happy with the co-operation from some guys in the group.

    "They weren't riding at 100%! They were saving their energy all day long. Especially that smurf from Lotto, what was he thinking?," Eeckhout fumed. "I knew before the start that it wouldn't be possible [to stay away] but you never know."

    Although Eeckhout also has sprinting capabilities he didn't fancy his chances in Schoten. "The finish doesn't suit me,...

  • McEwen happy with podium in Scheldeprijs

    Robbie McEwen and Tyler Farrar have a champagne war on the podium.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 21:49 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Aussie's sprint coming back after a rough year

    Robbie McEwen was happy with his performance after finishing second in Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. The Katusha sprinter, who has lived in Belgium for over a decade, has made the race one of his regular stomping grounds during his career. The 37-year-old won in 2002, and has finished on the podium five times. However, last year he crashed out of the race in another sprint finish.

    Today he was forced to settle for second place for the third time. "It's still a really good performance," he told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    McEwen had ridden the perfect race coming into the final few kilometres, staying well hidden in the bunch, protected by a curtain of Katusha riders. Pippo Pozzato, Nikolay Trusov and Stijn Vandenbergh led him through into the final kilometre, but the Australian found himself too far back with 500 meters to go and was forced to use vital energy as he tried to correct his position within the rushing peloton.

    "It was a very fast last lap with all the teams trying to take control, but nobody really had control until (Tom) Boonen pulled the sprint for (Wouter) Weylandt. (Tyler) Farrar was in Weylandt's wheel and placed himself. I had to make a big effort from 500 to 300m to try and get into Farrar's wheel and spent a lot of energy in the sprint, and I just couldn't do any more."

    McEwen has had a number of podium places this year. He won a stage in the Trofeo Mallorca in February and finished second and third in stages of the Tour Down Under.

    "This is the third time I've been second, but perhaps like Tyler, I'm a bit tired after Flanders, but I guess overall, I'm happy."

    McEwen will ride this year's Giro d'Italia, where he will once again compete in the sprint finishes.

  • Renshaw boosts form at Scheldeprijs

    Mark Renshaw was on parade after an immaculate performance in the Tour de France.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 22:21 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Lead-out man looks forward to racing again with Cavendish

    Mark Cavendish's lead-out man Mark Renshaw was on the start line of Scheldeprijs looking to boost his form before his two biggest races for the season: the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de France.

    Renshaw was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus in December of last year and despite already banking five weeks of training, was forced to rest until mid-January. Since then, he has worked on his form, building up what he called a "solid month" of training. He has raced in Hel van het Mergelland and Rund um Köln already this month.

    "I feel good, but I don't know how I'll feel in a few hours," he said on the start line today. "I only lasted an hour in Mergelland, so we'll see but hopefully I can help the team as I feel good."

    Renshaw's lay off was a blow to HTC-Columbia's season, although the team has still recorded a dozen wins so far. His return has almost paralleled Mark Cavendish's return to fitness after a winter ruined by teeth problems and resulting lack of training.

    "The main objective is to still be his lead-out man," he said. "It's going to be good racing with him and sharing some laughs. I've talked to him a lot and been in contact, but it's good to pin a number on and race.

    "I'm so glad to be back, it's been a long time coming, but I think I'm at a good enough level where I can be competitive."

    Renshaw missed the Tour Down Under, his home race that's always been close to his heart, especially after wining a stage in 2008. "I missed the initial start to the season and races like the Tour Down Under, but obviously I got over the initial disappointment, and now I can move the objectives closer like the Tour de France and California."

    Renshaw will lead-out Cavendish in the Amgen Tour of California, where the sprinter has already said he aims to win the first stage and claim the first leader's jersey. Before that, he'll join Cavendish at the Tour of Romandie (April 27-May 2). The pair has yet...

  • Machado brings relief at RadioShack

    Tiago Machado (Team Radioschack) won the stage in convincing fashion, moving into second overall.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2010, 22:45 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Portugese rider earns the team a win in Sarthe time trial

    While Lance Armstrong was forced to pull out of the Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire and team manager Johan Bruyneel also had to stay in his hotel room due to a similar strain of gastroenteritis, Team RadioShack enjoyed its second season win with Tiago Machado at the 6.8km individual time trial in Angers.

    With a two-second margin, the Portuguese champion preceded Luis Leon Sanchez, who kept his command of the overall classification. Vuelta a España stage winner Anthony Roux from Française des Jeux finished third at six seconds.

    "This is unbelievable," said an ecstatic Machado. "Because since I've gotten a new bike, I haven't been able to corner well. I've often been afraid, but I've been training at home with [former US Postal rider and now RadioShack directeur sportif] José Azevedo, and here is the result! It's like a dream."

    Although Machado is Portugal's most promising prospect alongside Rui Costa from Caisse d'Epargne, his name wasn't familiar outside his home country until he joined RadioShack. Until today, the new American squad had logged one victory, with Sébastien Rosseler's stage win at the Volta ao Algarve.

    "I got two second and two third places, but you also need luck for winning," said Machado, who finished third at the Volta ao Algarve and the Criterium International, with a second place at the end of a stage of both races.

    "I'm feeling better race after race," he said. "I've time trialed much better today than last week at the Criterium International. I hope to improve my position in the next two stage races I'll take part in, which are the Vuelta Castilla y Leon and the Tour de Romandie.

    "For now, at the Circuit de la Sarthe, I don't know how if there's a way to beat Sanchez on the GC. I prefer to enjoy the moment before making any further plan."

    Machado isn't expecting to ride the Tour de France this year. After finishing second to Pierrick Fedrigo in stage...

  • Drujon delighted to work for world number one

    Caisse d'Epargne's Mathieu Drujon makes his way to the sign on.
    Article published:
    April 08, 2010, 8:51 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Caisse d'Epargne fires on all cylinders at Sarthe

    Lance Armstrong wasn't the only ill rider at the Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire - even the race leader isn't 100 percent healthy. It hasn't stopped his team from working very well together, however.

    Luis Leon Sanchez revealed after the time trial that he didn't have a very good night after winning stage one, waking up at 4am. "I didn't vomit or anything but I felt a stomach upset and I wondered how I would go today," the Spaniard said after losing the time trial by just two seconds to Portuguese champion Tiago Machado of RadioShack.

    "It could have been better but I'm happy that it went alright at the end and I kept the lead."

    "Luis is a very reliable team captain," said Caisse d'Epargne teammate Mathieu Drujon (right) after three stages of the race held in the Loire valley. The Frenchman explained what happened during stage one: "Our directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois told us one hour before the finish, 'Luis and Mathieu, please talk to each other'.

    "Logically, I would have gone for the sprint and he would have saved his energy for the time trial but we chose another strategy together. He said he wanted to try and win the bunch sprint. He asked me to lead him out. I was happy to do so because I also felt a bit sick after the Tour of Flanders.

    "After we passed the finishing line with three laps to go, Luis said, 'We'll change the plan; you stay behind me and leave a gap'. We chose to have Arnaud Coyot in first position, Luis on his wheel and myself in third. I've had some results in bunch sprints before, like third at a stage of the Tour of the Mediterranean, so it looked to the other teams that Arnaud and Luis were leading me out. They couldn't guess it was a different strategy."

    Coyot led Sanchez out and Drujon made a gap. "It took ages before I'd see somebody passing me," Drujon recounted. "The gap was big. When I saw Luis crossing the line in first position, I couldn't prevent myself from putting my...

  • Tom Boonen: Celebrity status at Scheldeprijs

    Tom Boonen managed a misty-eyed smile on the podium.
    Article published:
    April 08, 2010, 10:02 BST
    Richard Moore

    Belgian fans swoon for the boy from Mol

    They come in all shapes and sizes at Scheldeprijs. That was the conclusion as we stood in the sun-soaked centre of Antwerp on Wednesday morning, watching as the 188 riders rolled past to sign on.

    They didn't literally roll, of course, but it did occur that one or two could feasibly have done. Yes, old habits die hard among some Belgian pro's, whose diet, in a racing sense, comprises countless kermesses and, in a culinary sense, frites and mayonnaise. Or so you might imagine.

    Not naming any names, but certain riders on some of the smaller teams seemed to have turned up to a bike race by mistake. One or two wouldn't look out of place on a rugby pitch, lending their bulk to the scrum. They were huge. Enormous. Legs like tree trunks, bodies like barrels, heads like bulls (and flaring nostrils, too, to lend a mean look).

    Quite a contrast to the leaner, whippet-like and sometimes frail-looking riders whose bread and butter (or low fat margarine) is stage races. But watch these grizzled, battle-hardened beasts motor along flat, crosswind-battered Belgian roads, and weep. Horses for courses, and all that.

    Even Tom Boonen - not exactly Andy Schleck in stature - looked slender beside these guys. And speaking of Tomeke, the extent of his status as the country's number one sportsman really has to be seen to be believed.

    But it goes beyond that - Boonen's celebrity in his native land transcends sport. His autobiography is displayed in the windows of book shops, girls queue to have their picture taken alongside him - he is more rock star than sportsman. Then again, that probably owes something to some of his rock star-esque misdemeanours.

    He is not only famous for being a great cyclist, he is also, like Paris Hilton, famous for being famous. Or should that be infamous? I bet some Belgians don't even know that he's a cyclist (like some don't know that Paris Hilton is, er... what is she?).

    We were unwitting 'victims' of...