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Victims endure Paris-Roubaix's wrath
258 kilometres, 51.5 of which are the most primitive stretches of road that professional cyclists will ever face. That Paris-Roubaix is brutal is an unquestioned fact.
Even on an unusually warm, dry spring day, the ancient pavé proves treacherous. Rather than slick with mud, they become covered in talc-like dust that lead to sudden, unexpected and sometimes devastating crashes.
On the smooth, straight sections of pavement riders still aren't safe. A moment of inattention from one rider and three tumble down. Damage that started on the cobbles suddenly erupts into flat tires, broken wheels, broken bikes, broken bodies.
Even those lucky enough to make it to the velodrome in Roubaix, those who hadn't crashed, face days of recovery from muscles battered by jackhammering over the pavé and spent hacking up half the French countryside from their lungs.
It's all part of what goes into making Paris-Roubaix one of the most prestigious and desirable victories a professional rider can ever achieve - it's a tale of survival, perseverance and triumph.
As celebrated as the winner may be, the achievement would be nothing without his foes, so our gallery today is dedicated to the brave men who fell afoul of fate and failed to step onto that podium, wave flowers and hoist up trophies.
Saur Sojasun's Rony Martias, already sporting bandages from a previous crash, broke his fork right off his bike. Photo: Bettini
Kevin Ista (Cofidis) displays remarkable helmet hair and grime lines. Photo: Sirotti
Young Belgian believes he can rise to the top in Classics
While Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervélo) was enjoying his time in the spotlight on top of the podium in the vélodrome of Roubaix on Sunday afternoon, his teammate and compatriot Sep Vanmarcke was recovering while slowly realizing what had happened during the past six hours of Paris-Roubaix.
The 22-year-old made a debut in the Hell of the North that didn't go unnoticed. Vanmarcke showed he can come back to this race in a few years with the high aspirations of lifting the giant cobblestone in the air himself.
"I believe it," Vanmarcke said. "My father constantly told me that he'd love to have me ride Paris-Roubaix because it would suit me even better than the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The Ronde does suit me but now, I didn't quite believe him but I think he's right. I'll be quicker at the top in this race than the Ronde van Vlaanderen; it suits me completely," Vanmarcke said.
The young Belgian showed his talent last year during Gent-Wevelgem when he finished as runner-up behind winner Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) in his first year as a professional rider.
This year he switched from the small Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator team to Garmin-Cervélo. A confirmation of his talent came in the semi-classic E3 Harelbeke where he finished fourth. His good form earned him a spot in the Paris-Roubaix line-up and he didn't disappoint team manager Jonathan Vaughters as he was always present in support of the team until deep in the finale.
"My job was to get into the early breakaway. I joined the attacks during the first 90km but I didn't get away. I spent a huge amount of energy in those attempts and expected that my race would be over at Arenberg," Vanmarcke said.
"Amazingly, I was still riding near the front...
Spanish anti-doping law "even tougher" than international law
Luis Sanz, lawyer for the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) says he is optimistic that investigations by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in regards to Alberto Contador's positive test for Clenbuterol, will fall in the Saxo Bank Sungard rider's favour.
"I am quite optimistic," Sanz told Europa Press. "The resolution issued by the Competition Committee of the Spanish Federation meets not only the law but the reality of the facts. With this, surely the CAS will come to the same conclusion as what happened in Spain."
Both the international Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) are appealing the RFEC's decision to acquit Contador.
The Spaniard tested positive to Clenbuterol following a doping control on July 21, 2010 during the second rest day of the Tour de France in Pau, in the Pyrenees. The day after, Contador set up overall victory by finishing in the same time as Andy Schleck at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet.
Contador's defence has been based on the premise that he was unaware that he ingested the banned substance, which he did via a piece of contaminated filet mignon. Article 296 of the UCI's anti-doping regulations says that an athlete can be exonerated if they prove that they had inadvertently ingested a banned product through no fault or negligence on their part.
Sanz was one of the guests at the symposium 'Doping and the media spotlight,' which served as a coda to the launch of José María García-Luján's novel, 'The flame of victory' about an athlete who, like Contador was involved in a doping case and has to fight for his...
Wife chronicles delayed reaction to concussion
Dean was caught up in a crash between Parets del Vallès and Barcelona which resulted in the Kiwi being taken to hospital with a suspected fractured neck. While the 36-year-old was cleared that wasn't the end of his ordeal, after being dropped off at the airport by his team.
"After spending too much time vomiting in the Priority Pass lounge, he missed his flight and had to make a new one and as he waited in the queue to board his new flight he passed out and scored a second ambulance ride in one day," Carole wrote in Dean's online diary. "This time he was taken to a different Barcelona hospital which had no idea he'd already spent time in one earlier in the day. They originally thought he must have taken a few drugs and it wasn't until they spotted his fresh road rash that they finally believed his story.
"Anyway, no one knew of his predicament. I heard from him at 2am in the morning and he was fairly incoherent. He was on a borrowed mobile and failed to tell me anything except that he was ok."
Extremely fearful, Carole and a "great friend" tracked the sprinter down by enquiring at a number of hospitals as to his whereabouts. Eventually successful, the Garmin-Cervelo team doctor was called in and swelling on the brain was ruled out. Dean was instead, experiencing a delayed reaction to concussion.
Unfortunately for Dean, his bad luck continued when ordered to take a three-day break, he "came down with a raging fever which developed into the full gas...
New Zealand pro team to take on Tour of Korea
The Subway Pro Cycling Team is excited about tackling its second international event of the year at the Tour de Korea that starts on Friday.
The tour is raced over 10 days and 1,335 kilometres and Jason Allen says the team is "strong and ready to fight to get on the podium."
Allen is the only team member to have raced in the tour before and says it will be tough, but it was "exciting and motivating to be racing overseas, and the miles will be hard but we will look after ourselves and definitely have a crack when we can. If a GC opportunity presents itself we'll take it."
Competition for places on the team for the tour has been healthy, general manager Hayden Godfrey said.
Godfrey said a number of the team had shown good recent form. After picking up two national titles on the track, Allen won the R & R Tour in Otago last month.
An impressive display of teamwork saw Paul Oldin win his second Forrest GrapeRide in earlier this month from his teammate Sam Horgan, who won the Canterbury senior time trial and road race titles in dominant style at the weekend.
Westley Gough has turned his attention to the road recently and the current time trial champion is looking forward to rejoining his Subway teammates after time with the New Zealand Track team.
Basque team announces line-up for Italy
He will be supported in the corsa rosa by Ikel Nieve, Juan José Oroz, Iñaki Isasi, Javier Aramendía, Jorge Azanza, Pierre Cazaux, Daniel Sesma and Miguel Minguez, the team announced on its website.
Eight of those riders will this week take on the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain, as preparation. Isasi just rode the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and will rest this week. He will be replaced by Ruben Perez.
Anton, 28, led the Vuelta a Espana last year before crashing out in the 14th stage. He won the fourth stage, on a steep uphill finish in Valdepeñas de Jaén, which moved him up to second place. He took the overall lead on the eighth stage, losing it to Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) two stages later.
Anton reclaimed the leader's red jersey on the 11th stage, with a dramatic win in the race's first mountaintop finish. Only three stages later, his Vuelta ended abruptly, as he crashed and had to leave the race with a broken right elbow.
Francesco Moser hopes Oss and Malori can step up
Italian riders head home from the cobbled Classics empty handed yet again this spring, forcing the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper to analyse what went wrong for their riders on the pavé.
While Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali won the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana last year, an Italian rider has not won a major one-day classic since Damiano Cunego won the Tour of Lombardy in 2008. That long spell without a major Classics win, and especially success on the cobbles, is starting to hurt Italian pride.
Alessandro Ballan (BMC) finished sixth in Paris-Roubaix after joining Fabian Cancellara and Thor Hushovd in the break but his spring has been overshadowed by the doping investigation on Mantova. Poster boy Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) crashed out and had a generally poor spring, while Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) failed to live up to expectations after being ill in March.
Francesco Moser took a rare hat-trick of wins at Paris-Roubaix in 1978-1979-1980. The late Franco Ballerini won in 1995 and 1998 and fellow Tuscan Andrea Tafi won in 1999. Filippo Pozzato was second in 2009 but so far the next generation of young Italian classics riders has failed to emerge, leading the Gazzetta dello Sport to ask why.
According to Moser, it’s a combination of circumstances.
“It’s simply because we haven’t got a good group of Classics riders at the moment and because of a series of other circumstances,” Moser said.
“We’ve got good stage-race riders and that’s because the teams and their sponsors are more interested in the attention they get from three-week races rather than the big Classics.
Rabobank rider happy to skip “most boring” race
Oscar Freire will not ride the Tour de France this year, a race he calls the “most boring” one of the year. The Rabobank rider has won four Tour stages in his career, as well as the green jersey in 2008 but is likely to focus on the Vuelta as Rabobank build their Tour de France team around overall contender Robert Gesink.
It was “a decision taken by the team, they want to put everything on Robert Gesink,“ he told nu.nl. “I understand that the team concentrates on the general classification, other teams do that too.
"The Tour is the most boring race of the year,” he continued. “In the flat stages you have an escape and then a sprint. In the mountain stages it is always the same riders.”
He compared that to the Tour of Flanders, which he called “is a real race" and suggested a radical change to the cycling calendar.
"It would benefit the sport to ride the Classics in the summer. The Tour gets a lot of attention because there's no other sports really happening in the summer.”