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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Date published:
April 08, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • MTN-Qhubeka to race the Mzansi Tour

    The MTN-Qhubeka team ride on the front
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    First race apart from national champions team will contest in South Africa

    For Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, the Mzansi Tour will give the UCI Professional Continental Team the chance to race on home soil. The race starts in Johannesburg on Tuesday and on the startline will be South African national champion, Louis Meintjes.

    Meintjes will be joined by Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Youcef Reguigui and Sergio Pardilla who is returning from injury and team Principal Douglas Ryder will take on the Sports Director responsibilities for the race.

    "As Africa’s only Professional Continental cycling team with our head office in Johannesburg, South Africa and main sponsors being South African, The Mzansi Tour is a very important event for us. MTN and Samsung, as well as the many supporters of the team including MTN Club100, rarely get the opportunity to see the team racing in SA so this will be a special event for the team," Ryder said.

    "This team is proudly South African and we race all over the world to try and make a difference to many people through Qhubeka and the #BicyclesChangeLives initiative.

    "In every race we participate in we attempt to put the best riders forward to meet the demands of the race. We have a really balanced team of youth and experience coming to the Mzansi Tour and our intention is to race hard and try and win.

    Ryder is under no illusions that it will be tough racing over the four stages and opening team time trial prologue. "We know we may be looked at as the favourites for the Mzansi Tour but no race is easy and often when you are the favourites it is even harder because other teams can race against a favourite’s team. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the event and will take each day at a time. South African cycling is at a high level, last year in the Tour of Rwanda we were beaten by Dylan Girdlestone who is riding for Team Bonitas this year so it will be a...

  • Confirmed fractured scaphoid for Elmiger at Flanders

    Martin Elmiger (IAM Cyling) spectacularly rolls out of a crash
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 1:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Diagnosis of six week break from racing

    Having lost Heinrich Haussler before the start of the race, IAM Cycling's Tour of Flanders got worse when Martin Elmiger crashed into a ditch, eventually forcing him to abandon the race.

    The 35-year-old Swiss underwent a MRI in Switzerland on Monday which revealed he had suffered a fracture to his left scaphoid. Elmigger will no longer take part in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix with his team stating he will be unavailable for racing for at least six weeks.

    The crash, caused by another rider, leaves Sylvain Chavanel as the leader of the team ahead of the third monument of the season although Haussler is expected to have recovered from contracting gastro-enteritis on the eve of De Ronde.

  • First win of 2014 for Bronzini at Grand Prix Dottignies

    Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) claims the 2014 Grand Prix Dottignies
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 5:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian out sprinted Shelley Olds and Lucy Garner to claim victory

    Two time World Champion Giorgia Bronzini won her first race on European soil as she took out the 13th edition of the Grand Prix Dottignies, in Dottignies, Belgium. At the end of the 131km race Bronzini proved too fast for Shelley Olds (Alé-Cipollini) and Lucy Garner (Giant-Shimano).

    "I'm really, really happy," Wiggle Honda's Bronzini said after her win. "Really, really happy.

    "In the beginning of the race we had a little bit of trouble, because we started at the back, and the group was split in a crash after five or six-kilometres

    "14 girls were gone, and we had to chase them with Giant-Shimano. We worked really hard for the first 30km, so after that we tried to control everything."

    Bronzini's Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team along with the other sprinters' teams controlled the lead that the break had managed to get away with Laura Trott and Charlotte Becker alert to any opportunists.

    As the peloton readied itself for the last of the 14km laps, Trott and Dani King – both making their debut on the road this season – brought Bronzini to the head of the peloton who finished off the job to record her 18 win as a 'Wigglette.' 

    Thanking her teammates for guiding her to the win, Bronzini had nothing but praise after the win. "I felt good so the girls did a really amazing job. Everyone. They got into the breaks, they controlled everything.

    "When we came into the final lap I asked the girls to stay in front, and in the final kilometre Laura and Dani put me in the right wheel; I was in Lucy Garner's wheel. When I came out the final 200 metres was a little bit uphill, so it was perfect for me, and it the end it was good."

    The GP Dottignies course is only a few kilometres...

  • ASO announces Paris-Roubaix cobble ratings

    Jean-Francois Pecheux's portrait got painted on the road
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 6:20 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    51.5km of pave to feature in 2014 edition

    With Paris-Roubaix taking place this coming Sunday for the 112th time, ASO's Christian Prudhomme, Jean-Francois Pescheux and Thierry Gouvenou reconnned the pave that the race covers to finalise the organisers rating of the pave.

    The 28 cobbled sectors in the race are rayed between one and five according to their length, the unevenness of the cobbles, the overall condition of the sectors and their location. There are three five star sectors in the 2014 edition.

    The ratings of the sections change from year to year with the parcours unpredictable from one edition to the next. In 2014, three cobbled sectors are making their comeback to the "Queen of Classics" after several years of absence. 

    After 97.5km the race will hit the first of the pave at Troisvilles, which is a three-star, 2,200m sector and is a slight a deviation from last year's course which takes a detour through Solesmes, Saulzoir and then Famars.

    The reconnaissance of the course showed that the pave of the Trouée d’Arenberg was covered with a layer of moss and grass that looks likely to increase the difficultly for the riders to negotiate the 2.4km sector.

    Always a divisive point in the race, the Arenberg is followed “Pont Gibus" which includes several sections that the peloton will cover in the opposite direction during Stage 5 of this year's Tour de France.

    Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour, also took the time during the reconnaissance to inaugurate the finish line of the July 9 stage in Wallers and he was quick to stress the cobbles will be an importance moment in this year’s Tour.

    "Just like high-mountain climbs and tricky descents, cobblestones are one of the specialities of cycling. It makes sense for them to feature in the Tour de France every now and then. Indeed, the last time we dropped by, in 2010, turned out to be a thrilling...

  • Valverde continues rich vein of form at Pais Vasco

    Team Movistar's Alejandro Valverde takes second place of the first stage of the Tour of the Basque Country
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 7:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard only stopped by Contador on Stage 1

    While Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) skipped away to stage one victory at  Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was a key protagonist as he finished the day 13 seconds behind his compatriot. 

    Wearing number one for the race in the absence of teammate and defending champion Nairo Quintana, Valverde already has seven victories to his name in 2014 and came close to making it eight.

    "It was a day to take chances, because the team worked so much all day and I had good legs. I jumped away, felt strong, and Alberto was the only one who could follow me," Valverde explained on his team's website. "Initially I felt confident, because I was seeing he wasn't doing so well, but he attacked in the end of the climb and it was kind of unexpected for me."

    With Movistar commanding the main bunch and controlling the four-man breakaway, Valverde was well positioned before the ascent of the final climb of the day. The cat 2 Alto de Gaintza which is over 2km in length with sections that reach 27%.

    Valverde tried his luck by launching an attack which was only followed by Contador. With the Tinkoff-Saxo rider sitting on his wheel, Valverde was looking the stronger of the two but he said that when 'El Pisterolo' made his bid for victory, he could not match the acceleration.

    "There was a strong headwind and I couldn't close the gap. I wasn't thinking he would open such a big gap, but these 15 seconds will count - they're always important in one-week stage races, where...

  • Kwiatkowski happy with start to Pais Vasco

    Michal Kwiatkowski rides away to third
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 11:10 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Finding rhythm for the Ardennes

    Michal Kwiatkowski put in another good performance for his Omega Pharma - QuickStep team during stage one of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco to finish third in a elite group behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and stage winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

    With Valverde and Contador accelerating away from the front group on the final Category 2 climb of the day no one else could bridge across to the duo, although Kwiatkowski managed to spring from the chasers to gain third place on the stage to limit his losses to 34 seconds.

    "I am happy because it's important to have a good feeling in a race after a period of training," Kwiatkowski said. "After Milan-San Remo I trained specifically in Calpe."

    While Kwiatkowski admitted he didn't have the legs to go with the two grand tour winners, nevertheless, he was satisfied with the day's efforts.

    "The attack of Contador was impressive. I thought it was better to try and keep my rhythm and not to try and follow them," Kwiatkowski said on his team's website.

    "It might have used too much energy to try. At a certain moment I thought it would maybe be possible to catch them in the downhill. But even from the top they went super fast. It was impossible for us to come back. In any case I am happy about my performance."

    The 23-year-old was victorious earlier in the season claiming the overall of the Volta ao Algarve which he followed up with an impressive...

  • Bouhanni and Coquard clash at the Circuit de la Sarthe

    Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) celebrates victory in stage 1 at Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 12:21 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Sprinters go head to head in French stage race

    French sprinters Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) are set to clash in the sprint finishes at the Circuit de la Sarthe stage race this week as they look to add further victories to their palmares.

    The four-day, five-stage race should offer three opportunities for the sprinters, with the overall classification decided in the 6.8km time trial on Wednesday afternoon and the hilly final stage to La Ferté Bernard on Friday.

    Bouhanni and Coquard have won three races each this season and are vying for supremacy in the French sprints. Bouhanni has won at the Etoile des Bessèges, Paris-Nice and Critérium International, while Coquard has won on French roads, taking two stages at the Etoile des Bessèges and the recent Route Adélie one-day race.

    Coquard will only turn 22 on April 25th but was 13th at Gent-Wevelgem and has notched up a series of placing at the Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice.

    "Every race is a chance to prove what I can do and my recent win in Vitré (the Route Adélie) has given me the confidence to take advantage of this upwards spiral of success," he told L'Equipe before starting stage one of the Circuit de la Sarthe on Tuesday.

    Bouhanni was disappointed not to be FDJ.fr's sprinter for Milan-San Remo and vented his anger by winning the opening stage at the Criterium International. While rival sprinter Arnaud Demare is focused on the spring Classics, Bouhanni is hoping to win a many sprints as possible to boost his chances of being FDJ.fr's protected sprinter for the Tour de France.

    "There are two, if not three stages that offer great chances for sprints," he told L'Equipe. We shouldn't let them slip our grasp. I'm confident and want to keep on winning."

    Coquard...

  • Phinney wants to be in the finale at Paris-Roubaix

    Taylor Phinney (BMC)
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 13:06 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    American looks ahead to Hell of the North

    Two Sundays, two Classics, two different briefs.

    At the Tour of Flanders, Taylor Phinney’s task was to infiltrate the early break and lay the groundwork for his BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet. But at Paris-Roubaix next weekend, the American will be looking to go with moves 200 kilometres further along the roads and cobbles of Northern France.

    A former double winner of the Under 23 version of Paris-Roubaix, Phinney is now lining up for his third tilt at the professional version, and aims to gauge his progress by surviving as deep into the finale as possible alongside the likes of Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen. Twelve months ago, by his own admission, Phinney wilted as the pace wound up in the final 80 kilometres.

    “Sometimes you have the legs and sometimes you don’t. When the big guys went, I just could not follow,” he admitted but with the confidence that he has the condition to be in the shake-up this time around.

    “I’m definitely not at the level of Boonen and Cancellara at their best, when they can seemingly just ride away from the other best riders in the world but I think I’m better [than last year] in the sense that I will have the legs to make that selection when it happens,” Phinney told reporters in Kortrijk. “From then on out, it’s a lot of playing your cards right, responding well to moves and not wasting too much energy.”

    Phinney finished 15th in his debut Paris-Roubaix two years ago, but in a one-day race, the final results sheet can often be deceptive. He was out of contention before Boonen launched his winning attack with over 50 kilometres remaining, but picked his way through the remnants of the race all the...