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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 13, 2014

Date published:
March 13, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Degenkolb: I'm on track for Milan-San Remo

    John Degenkolb on the podium
    Article published:
    March 12, 2014, 10:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    German in yellow at Paris-Nice

    After landing stage victory and the overall lead at Paris-Nice on Tuesday, John Degenkolb is confident that he will be ready to challenge for the win at Milan-San Remo, where he will lead the Giant-Shimano team.

    "It's a very special race. I've prepared all winter to be on top form between Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix," Degenkolb said, according to L'Équipe. "I'm on the right track to be at my best for San Remo. It's a big objective for me. Although honestly, for me the most fascinating of the classics is Paris-Roubaix."

    Degenkolb finished in 5th place – second in the bunch sprint behind the winning break – in his debut Milan-San Remo in 2012, and his ability to cope with hilly finales and long distances means that he will be Giant-Shimano's leader at La Classicissima rather than teammate Marcel Kittel.

    The German readily admits that he does not possess the same natural speed as Kittel, Mark Cavendish or André Greipel, but at Paris-Nice on Tuesday, he showed that he is a redoubtable force in bunch sprints in the right circumstances.

    "I'm not a pure sprinter like them. I'm not as quick or explosive but in races like this, with the team I have, it’s possible to win bunch sprints," he said. "Now I also have the experience to be less stressed in the finale. But I see myself more as a classics specialist than a sprinter."

    Degenkolb's triumph at Magny-Cours was his second major victory on a motor racing circuit after a similar triumph at Motorland Aragon at the 2012 Vuelta a...

  • Cavendish: It's so rewarding to stand on the podium together

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep toast team time trial victory.
    Article published:
    March 12, 2014, 17:25 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep share the glory after TTT victory at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Mark Cavendish still had a big smile on his face as he sat down for the Tirreno-Adriatico press conference after his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team dominated the opening team time trial, putting him in the leader's blue jersey.

    Cavendish pulled on the leader's jersey because he crossed the line first for Omega Pharma-QuickStep but he considered it a day of success for the whole team.

    "I'm really happy. It's really satisfying. This is always the first WorldTour race you do in the year and you always get a feeling of the form of the team here," said Cavendish. "The team time trial is special because everything has to go right. It's not about individuals, eight people have to do everything right at the same time. That's quite a hard thing to do, so it's so, so rewarding when you get to stand on the podium together.

    "We've had a really good ambience in the team in the last few days," continued Cavendish. "We've done many circuits of the course, we knew the corners, we knew what we had to do. So today we just came out and said 'Lets go and race'. Ultimately it was pretty easy because we got everything right.

    "Again, Tony [Martin] did half the race alone and [Michal] Kwiatkowski did some big pulls. Then everybody else tried to do what they could for the team. There was no egos, no pride. Everyone just wants to make the team go as fast as possible. It's nice to come to Tirreno-Adriatico, take the azzurra jersey and then try for the sprints in the next few days."

    A little push between friends

    Television images captured the moment when Tony Martin gave Cavendish a slight push. However the race judges decided that the push was not worthy of any kind of disciplinary...

  • Paris-Nice lead "massive" for Geraint Thomas

    Geraint Thomas is the leader for Sky this week
    Article published:
    March 12, 2014, 19:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sky appeases ASO after last minute swap

    Organisers of Paris-Nice were incensed when Team Sky pulled Richie Porte from its roster for the ASO-run event, in favor of sending him to fight for the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, but if they questioned Sky's ambitions before the race, those doubts were laid to rest on the Cote du Mont Brouilly by replacement leader Geraint Thomas.

    The 27-year-old Welshman bridged up to lone attacker Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) after the climb, and although Slagter denied him the stage victory, an early spell in the yellow leader's jersey was plenty of consolation.

    "It would have been nice to have won the stage as well, but when I saw the guys coming with a kilometre to go, I didn't want to throw away that effort we'd just made," said Thomas.

    "It's a massive race," Thomas said of Paris-Nice. "Behind the Grand Tours, it's one of the biggest stage races you can do. So it's great to wear the jersey, especially after the work the boys have done for me in the last few days. They were really good, and I was happy I could repay them and get up there to take the jersey. It's a great feeling."

    The ASO's more "open" parcours for the 2014 edition of Paris-Nice is absent of time trials and lacks a single major summit finish. The most difficult stages are the 221.5km stage 6 to Fayence, which includes the category 1 Col de Bourigaille 9km before the category 2 climb to the finish, and the final day with the category 1 Col d'Eze located 15km from the finish. It is the kind of course which can end up being contested by single seconds.

    "I was pretty relaxed on the first few stages and felt like I could move about the bunch nicely and be in a good position. I was on the right side of the splits and those seconds will definitely come in handy I think...

  • Orica-GreenEdge sportingly accept defeat in the Tirreno-Adriatico TTT

    Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) looking focused ahead of his TT
    Article published:
    March 12, 2014, 20:20 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Impey: "We were beaten by a better team on the day"

    The Orica-GreenEdge team thought they had done enough to win the opening team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico but sportingly accepted defeat and congratulated their big rivals Omega Pharma-Quickstep.

    South Africa's Darryl Impey had been allowed to lead the Orica-GreenEdge team across the line and was hoping to pull on the leader's blue jersey. However the Australian team was left stunned when Omega Pharma-Quick Step stopped the clock in a winning time of 20:13, a significant 11 seconds faster than Orica-GreenEdge and 18 seconds faster than Tinkoff-Saxo.

    Impey admitted that there is a strong rivalry between Orica-GreenEdge and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. The Belgian team won the team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico last year, but Orica-GreenEdge won the Tour de France team time trial by 0.75 of second. Omega Pharma-Quick Step responded by winning the world team time trial title in Florence last September, beating Orica-GreenEdge by 0.81 of a second.

    "There's always huge rivalry between us in the team time trial. We always remember the Tour de France and they always remember the world championships in Florence," Impey told Cyclingnews after sportingly shaking hands with several of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders.

    "Today they won convincingly. But we're really happy with our performance. We gave I our best shot and thought it was enough to win. There's no more we could have asked from anyone. We were beaten by a better team on the day."

    Orica-GreenEdge finished with seven riders, with only Jens Mouris sitting up in the finale of the 18.5km course.

    "We tried to keep things as smooth as possible and we did. There wasn't a section where we...

  • Team Sky denies Froome needs operation on his back

    Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Sky) on the attack during stage 3 at the Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    March 12, 2014, 21:50 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Brailsford: "We just want to be careful"

    Team Sky has flatly denied rumours circulating at Tirreno-Adriatico that Chris Froome may need a minor operation to resolve the back injury that stopped him from competing in the Italian stage race.

    Froome won the recent Tour of Oman with a strong performance on the key stage to Green Mountain. However he was laid low after returning to Europe and Team Sky pulled him from Tirreno-Adriatico last Friday, saying he had a "slight inflammation to the sacroiliac joint in the lower back."

    The injury is difficult to diagnose because it concerns the joint between the illium and sacrum bones in the lower hip.

    "No operation is needed. He's got a small inflammation but we just decided to rest it so that he can get rid of it. It's as simple as that. No operation," Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford told Cyclingnews when asked for a reply to the rumours.

    "As with all these things, we shouldn't make more of it than it is. He'll be back racing in Catalunya next week."

    Froome has apparently worked on his position on the bike during the winter to improve his riding style when under extreme effort but it is not clear if this has played a part in his injury.

    "I think sometimes it happens. I think top riders struggle with little things, little niggles," Brailsford told Cyclingnews.

    "That's all it is, a niggle. We just want to be careful. If it was any other rider, maybe we say 'Ok, push on.' But given the goals of the summer and where we're at now, we just wanted to proceed with...

  • Kwiatkowski gains precious seconds on his Tirreno-Adriatico rivals

    Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) in the best young rider's jersey
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 0:30 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider well placed for overall success after TTT

    Michal Kwiatkowski's great start to the 2014 season continued at Tirreno-Adriatico with his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team winning the team time trial and giving him some precious seconds in the battle for overall victory.

    The 23-year-old Polish rider finished fourth overall in 2013, 53 seconds behind winner Vincenzo Nibali. However, he was only one second away from moving past Alberto Contador to secure a place on the final podium.

    After just 18.5km of this race, Kwiatkowski already has a 24-second advantage over Contador and much bigger margins on many of his pre-race rivals.

    Movistar's excellent third place in the team time trial limited Nairo Quintana's losses to 18 seconds but Richie Porte (Team Sky) is 27 seconds behind. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) starts stage two with a 37-second handicap, Cadel Evans (BMC) is at 47 seconds and Michele Scarponi (Astana) is at a more distant 54 seconds.

    Garmin-Sharp's poor performance left Dan Martin at 1:04, while Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) faces an uphill task to pull back 53 seconds.

    Kwiatkowski will wear the best young rider's white jersey during the second stage to Cascina, with teammate Mark Cavendish in the leader's blue jersey. Kwiatkowski could take that jersey on Saturday's first mountain stage.

    "For sure we're going to have a glass of champagne to celebrate but we have to stay focused because the hardest part of the race is ahead of us," he warned Cyclingnews.

    "It was a stressful day but I believed in my teammates and we did a great ride, without any problems on the corners or...

  • Revamped Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo to start week of Dutch racing

    Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) won the sprint from Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Team) and Emma Johansson (Orica - AIS)
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 3:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Flat, fast and aggressive racing on the cards

    With a new course and naming sponsor for 2014, the Drentse 8 will be a key indicator for who is on form for the first Women's World Cup of the season at Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe to be held just two days later on March 15 while the Novilon EDR Cup brings to an end the trio of Dutch races the day after.

    Last year’s winner and current world champion, Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv) returns to the race although it is an almost entirely different proposition from previous incarnations.

    The '8' in the race name was due to the figure-eight the route made with the start/finish town of Dwingeloo at the centre but a change to route sees the the start reamain the same but the race now finishes in Borger.

    The 136km race starts with four, flat laps of a 6.5km circuit around of Dwingeloo with no climbs of note but the riders will be challenged by the narrow roads.

    On the route to Borger, the riders encounter two cobbled sections totalling over 5km in length at the mid-point of the race with five, 11.6km laps in the finishing town to determine the winner, most likely in a sprint.

    Orica-AIS director sportif Gene Bates will have one the favourites for the race on his team in Emma Johansson and he is expecting a tough race due to the weather, roads and talented riders down as starters.

    "Between the two circuits, we will cross a lot of country roads that include two of the gnarliest cobbled sections I have ever seen," Bates said.

    "Unlike in Belgium where the cobbles are rough but unified, these two cobbled sections are no more than rocks thrown into the road.

    "The biggest difference in Holland is there is not a hill in sight. But add in...

  • Chavanel's overall hopes fade at Paris-Nice

    Sylvain Chavanel talks to the press prior to the race start
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 10:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mechanical problem costly on run-in to Mont Brouilly

    Sylvain Chavanel’s hopes of overall victory at Paris-Nice evaporated on stage 4 to Belleville, when the IAM Cycling man suffered a mechanical problem shortly before the day’s decisive climb, the Côte de Mont Brouilly.

    Chavanel chased back on for 10 kilometres and was within touching distance of the peloton at the foot of the climb, but was unable to make the final junction. As stage winner Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) broke clear up front, Chavanel paid for his chase efforts, and ultimately lost almost a minute on the stage.

    “Up front, they were going full gas and I knew from watching the video last night that positioning would be crucial at Mont Brouilly,” Chavanel told L’Équipe afterwards. “I wanted to get back on straight away but I was flat at the bottom of the climb, I was in the red. I wanted to sit on but it wasn’t enough and I lost a minute. I’m disappointed but not demoralised.”

    Chavanel’s IAM Cycling manager Serge Beucherie dismissed the idea that Chavanel had been unable to follow the pace on the climb due to a lack of condition. “It’s not a physical problem,” he said. “It’s normal to blow up after such a violent effort.”

    In the general classification, Chavanel now lies in 44th place, 1:04 down on new race leader Thomas. He acknowledged that his hopes of a place on the podium in Nice have all but disappeared, but sounded an optimistic note about his chances of picking up a stage win later in the week.

    “I’m not dejected, there are still nice things to do,” Chavanel said. “Before when I’ve...