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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Date published:
April 9, 2013, 09:00
  • Stybar's Paris-Roubaix ruined by collision with spectator

    Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) en route to a 6th place finish in his Paris-Roubaix debut.
    Article published:
    April 8, 2013, 18:20
    By:
    Cycling News

    Czech stays upright, but loses chance at podium result

    While two-time cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar finished a fine sixth place in his Paris-Roubaix debut, the 27-year-old Czech will likely ponder what might have been on Sunday as a collision with a spectator at 14.5km remaining caused the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider to lose contact with breakaway companions Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) and Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco), who would vie for victory through to the Roubaix Velodrome.

    Having made what would be the decisive selection at Paris-Roubaix, Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates Zdenek Stybar and Stijn Vandenbergh found themselves with numbers in the race's endgame with just Cancellara and Vanmarcke for company, but collisions with spectators standing at the edge of the pave would prove fatal to both of their hopes with first Vandenbergh crashing heavily followed by Stybar's incident. Although Stybar remained upright, the elastic snapped between the Czech and Cancellara's rear wheel. Compounded with over-cooking a corner and nearly crashing during his initial push to regain contact with Vanmarcke and Cancellara, Stybar's podium hopes had evaporated.

    "I was just following Cancellara," said Stybar. "I had really perfect legs and I was feeling very good. Then, there were three of us away and I thought 'I think I am one of the fastest,' so I was really focusing on what I could do in the final.

    "[Teammate] Niki [Terpstra] was behind me so I didn't have to pull at all. I was really in a super situation. But after there was some photographer or something in the way and I hit him with my shifter and I nearly crashed. Before I could put my foot back in the pedal I just lost contact with the wheel of Cancellara. Once you have a gap of 5 to 10 seconds, it's impossible to close on this parcours, especially after 240 kilometers."

    Stybar was philosophical about his Paris-Roubaix debut, where it seemed he'd at the very least be able to secure a podium result in the company of Cancellara and Vanmarcke.

    "So on the one hand I am extremely disappointed, but on the other hand, for the first time here on the cobblestones and the Classics, I can be happy I was really close. I hope to come back and win this race."

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep was without the services of defending and four-time Paris-Roubaix champion Tom Boonen, but the Belgian WorldTour squad rode a tactically perfect race through to the unfortunate incidents befalling both Stybar and Vandenbergh. Nonetheless, Terpstra claimed third place from a small group to salvage the team's day.

    "I think as a team we did a really perfect job," Stybar continued. "From kilometer zero there was always someone in the breakaway. There was not once a group without our team. So, I think after the bad luck of Tom Boonen we proved we can still do really well as a team.

    "All the group was very focused and motivated in the last days and weeks. We've just always had bad luck. For this race, once we hit the cobbles and saw all those crowds I realized it's very unique to be so lucky and so strong every single second. One moment you can lose everything, or you can win everything."

  • Häusler shows form of old in Redlands Classic

    Claudia Häusler (TIBCO) on the way up to the KOM.
    Article published:
    April 8, 2013, 19:20
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    German climber takes mountains classification

    Former German champion Claudia Häusler feels she is finally finding her top level after two seasons of struggles. The Team Tibco rider went on the attack on the final stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic to win the mountains classification, showing the kind of climbing prowess that propelled her to overall victories in the Tour de l'Aude and Giro Donne in 2009.

    Häusler was normally a feared stage race contender, battling the likes of Emma Pooley, Mara Abbott, Marianne Vos and Emma Johansson for victory in the mountainous stage races, but ever since a crash in the 2010 Giro della Toscana that left her unconscious for 10 minutes and in the hospital for several days with a brain hemorrhage, she's been fighting to get back to that level.

    "I didn't expect that [the injury] was that bad, but looking back it is possible that it was because of the crash that I had one really bad season, and it was hard to come back to the top level. Looking back I have the feeling the body would get to one level and not any higher. Now I feel like I can reach my personal top level again."

    At the same time she was recovering from her crash, her Cervelo TestTeam disbanded, and Häusler jumped from team to team: first with Diadora Pasta Zara, then with Orica-AIS, and now with Tibco, but the position with the American squad is a sort of homecoming, as she is reunited with her former Cervelo directeur sportif Manel Lacambra.

    "I'm absolutely happy to race with Manel again, with him I won a lot of races like those in 2009 - for me he's the best director," Häusler said. "It's not my character to change teams so often, but the decision with GreenEdge wasn't mine. It was because one of the main sponsors is the AIS and they wanted to support the Australian riders. They didn't want more European riders. But I'm happy here - when one door closes, another opens."

    The Redlands race was Häusler's first foray into American racing, but the strength of riders like overall race winner Alison Powers and the difficulty of the final stage, where she entered into a breakaway with Abbott but couldn't quite stick with the 2010 Giro Donne champion, left a positive impression.

    "I know the American riders are very strong. [The racing] a bit different than the European races, but I must say it's a very high level of power which has been characteristic of these races."

  • Kriek impresses with Redlands points classification

    Christiaan Kriek (Jelly Belly/Kenda) won the points competition in Redlands
    Article published:
    April 8, 2013, 22:08
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    South African gets success for Jelly Belly/Kenda

    Christiaan Kriek will no longer be that unfamiliar name on the Jelly Belly/Kenda team roster: the South African made himself known by sprinting his way into the race's green jersey and waging a cagey defense on the final stage to win the overall points classification at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California this weekend.

    The 23-year-old from Stellenbosch was part of a large breakaway on the second stage, and netted enough intermediate sprint points to don the green jersey after the stage. During the early part of the next day's criterium, Kriek's team delivered him to more points in the first two sprints, but stage 2 winner Luis Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman) came within one point of his lead in the competition in the later sprints.

    Kriek used all of his energy to pad his lead in the first two sprints of the testing Sunset Road circuit on the final stage to secure the points classification win, and then was able to simply focus on getting to the finish.

    It was never a plan, per se, for Kriek to target the green jersey competition, but he said, "when the opportunity arises, you have to grasp it with both hands and make the most out of it.

    "As it turns out I lost a bit of time in the time trial on the first day, so I knew I had a bit of leash to go up the road if the chance came around. When I got into the break, I decided to go for it. I decided I had the fastest kick out of the group I was in, and if I could get onto the podium and get a jersey for the team, that's what it's all about."

    Kriek's goal is to get to the top of the sport, but rather than take the usual path through one's national or local Continental teams, he decided to leave South Africa at a young age and pursue his career abroad.

    "I raced in Belgium for a two or three months in 2011, but I decided the US might be a better option if you want to get into one of the Pro Continental or WorldTour teams that's based in the states," Kriek said.

    "I decided I would have to go outside my comfort zone a bit in order to give myself the opportunity. We have a good racing scene in South Africa, but you're never going to jump from a Continental team there to the ProTour. I started mailing a few Continental teams but it's hard when you don't know them and they don't know you, so I had to go with an amateur team."

    He joined the Simple Green squad in 2012, and quickly earned top honours in two Southern California road races, the Snelling Road Race in Northern California, and a stage of the Tour of Murrieta. Those results caught the attention of Jelly Belly, who signed him mid-season. He went on to finish fifth overall in the Nature Valley Grand Prix last year and won the Tour of Murrieta overall this year before putting in his impressive ride in Redlands.

    "Jelly Belly has treated me really well and gave me a lot of opportunities. It's a great group of guys, and we have a lot of fun together. It's probably one of the best roads to get to the top."

    The points jersey is just one step toward Kriek's dream of reaching the top in a journey which began on the dirt. As a junior, Kriek won the South African mountain bike cup, and when he landed in the USA he had only a year of road racing experience under his belt.

    Kriek, like many South Africans, had the goal of winning the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, and only dabbled on the road for training, but while in University, he became part of the cycling team and was lured into the road team.

    "One thing led to another, and I got into road racing and decided to switch it up for a few years. It's exciting, it's a new environment with new challenges. Mountain biking gets lonely at times, in the sense you're racing on your own and you're training on your own."

    When asked if he would ever go back to the dirt, Kriek said, "I'll give myself another two or three years on the road, and see what happens, If nothing comes of it maybe I'll switch to cyclo-cross."

  • Offredo breaks fingers in Paris-Roubaix crash

    Yoann Offredo (FDJ) climbs the Oude Kwaremont duing the Tour of Flanders.
    Article published:
    April 9, 2013, 00:02
    By:
    Cycling News

    Moment of inattention disastrous for FDJ Frenchman

    One of the more spectacular falls taken by a member of Sunday's Paris-Roubaix peloton was sustained by FDJ's co-leader Yoann Offredo, who while rolling along with his head turned back to locate his team car crashed into a warning sign at the leading edge of a median approximately half-way through the race. Offredo would turn forward just as he struck the sign and was launched over his bars onto the tarmac.

    "It was at the back of the peloton," said FDJ directeur sportif Marc Madiot. "He had just asked for a bike change and before I could arrive he did not see that the peloton separated on each side of an island and he ran into a directional sign at full speed. He received injuries to his chin, knees and ribs. He stopped like that..."

    "A second of inattention...Broken fingers/scratched chin/but the morale is especially damaged." said Offredo afterwards via Twitter.

    The team has not yet announced how long Offredo will be sidelined from competition from his injuries.

    FDJ's other Paris-Roubaix hope, Matthieu Ladagnous, crashed with 60km remaining while in the front pack when he could not avoid a rider falling in front of him. Ladagnous hurt his left leg and was forced to abandon.

    "We never could have imagined such misfortune," said Madiot, whose best-placed rider would be Johan Le Bon in 26th place, 3:17 down on winner Fabian Cancellara.

    Le Bon was pragmatic about his and his team's performance at Paris-Roubaix. "I finished, and it will serve me in the future, but the situation is very sad for us because he had high hopes."

  • Longo back in French anti-doping test pool

    Jeannie Longo's Olympic hopes are all but dead after she finished 12th
    Article published:
    April 9, 2013, 02:04
    By:
    Cycling News

    Multiple world and national champion must provide whereabouts details

    Missing out on competing in an eighth Olympic Games in London last year has apparently done little to diminish the spirit of 54-year-old Jeannie Longo who must still provide her whereabouts details to the French Cycling Federation (FFC) and national anti-doping agency, AFLD.

    Longo failed to meet the standards at one of the critical qualification races last year in the lead-up to London, having to concede to a much younger field in the time trial, where she finished 5th and road race where she was 12th. The winner of 59 national titles was devastated after being so far off the mark and stated her Olympic dream "is over" shortly after the national championships.

    She did however state she would not be walking away from the sport after struggling to keep up with the 20-year-old winners of the road race and time trial; Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Marion Rousse.

    "I think that [retirement] would be wrong, that is why I relaunched myself this spring. As long as there is life, there is hope," she said last June.

    French anti-doping authorities, intent on avoiding the apparent technicality that saw Longo's previous whereabouts violations case dropped, have stated the French woman must still provide details of her movements to the agency.

    "The subject is obliged to provide information that surrounds her location," said a statement from the AFLD. "We have taken this decision following a report in relation to her previous failures to provide whereabouts details."

    The case opened by the FFC and AFLD was closed in December 2011 after it was found that Longo had not been notified that she had been included in the out-of-competition test pool. Athletes are required to be given annual notice and while she was informed for 2010, she did not receive notification in 2011.

    Longo's most recent result of note was 8th-place in October's Chrono des Nations - a race time trial event she has won six times; 1987, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2009 and 2010.

    Her next scheduled race is not yet known but she is often absent during the season from the major races but tends to head back into competition mode around major national events.

     

    Tags:
    Olympic games
  • 37th Giro del Trentino attracts Giro d'Italia contenders

    The jerseys for the 37th edition of the Giro del Trentino
    Article published:
    April 9, 2013, 04:03
    By:
    Cycling News

    Wiggins, Evans, Nibali, Scarponi and Basso set for grand tour warm-up

    This 37th edition of the Giro del Trentino was presented in Trento this week with a familiar four-day, five-stage format to take place from 16-19 April. The 2012 victor, the diminutive climber Dominico Pozzovivo, now riding for Ag2r La Mondiale will make his return to the race he won surprisingly last year but he will face stiff competition in his title defence.

    Pozzovivo took a dominant win on Stage 4 last season that catapulted him into the race leader's jersey, a day after appearing to be out of contention, and in winning the penultimate stage, captured a margin to second-place that would be retained until the finish.

    This year's race will see six WorldTour teams take to the start with Bradley Wiggins expected to lead Sky Procycling ahead of his journey to notch up a second grand tour win in as many years at the Giro d'Italia. The 2012 Tour de France winner will most certainly arrive with a squad capable of supporting the Brit who will seek his first win for the 2013 season and a confidence-boosting end result ahead of his first realistic attempt to win the Italian three-week race.

    Cadel Evans, who recently announced he would return to the Giro after a two-year hiatus when he finished fifth in 2010, is set for an appearance with BMC Racing along with the fellow WorldTour riders Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Ivan Basso (Cannondale) Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) and Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale).

    Current Italian champion Franco Pelizotti (Androni Giocattoli), Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini - Selle Italia) and the elder statesmen Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat Polkowice) will line-up while other Pro Continental squads invited include MTN-Qhubeka, Europcar, Champion System and Colombia.

    The race will see a reverse of the first day's double-stage format. This year a 128.5km stage around Lienz will play support act to the afternoon's 14.1km team time trial which was won by BMC in 2012 with Taylor Phinney donning his first pink jersey of the season before going on to experience a similar sensation at the Giro - which this year begins just two weeks following the conclusion at Trentino.

    Stage 2 is the longest of the race at 224.8km with a mountain-top finish in Vetriolo Terme set to provide the first real shake-up of the general classification following the prior day's TTT. Two major climbs punctuate the stage with the final climb to the finish providing a 7.6% average gradient for nearly 15km.

    The third day from Pergine Valsugana to Condino could be classified as a medium mountain stage and will likely see a small group contest the finish ahead of the final and most decisively stage saved for the last day.

    Stage 4 is one of the shorter stages but the final 50-odd kilometers will be the tipping point for those with GC ambitions. The last ascent to the finish in Sega is just shy of 15km but with sections over 15% and up to almost 20%, the overall winner will most certainly come from the front runners at the end of the 166.8km stage.

    The four-day race will most likely be one of the final opportunities to see many of the Giro stars race against each other before they make their final preparations for the first grand tour of the year.

    Tags:
    Giro d'Italia
    giro
  • Contador too fatigued to contest Ardennes classics?

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) digs deep in the final kilometres of the stage to Eibar
    Article published:
    April 9, 2013, 05:55
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard admits busy year and tough weather has taken its toll

    Alberto Contador entered the most recent round of the WorldTour at Tour of the Basque Country with winning ambitions but after six days of racing and more than 800km covered, much of it in trying conditions, the Saxo-Tinkoff leader has placed a question mark over the upcoming Ardennes classics.

    Contador raced at the one-day Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta the day after finishing Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco in fifth overall and while he came close to the win after attacking on the final climb, he ultimately finished third to a fast-finishing Rui Costa (Movistar). The affects of such a busy start to the year, having accumulated more than 28 days of competition so far has begun to show, according to the rider who will seek to win the Tour de France this year.

    "My legs were heavily burdened. The body feels the fatigue of all of these days and although we could not win, we had fun," he said following the 1.1 race in Spain.

    "I attacked on the last climb and at the end it was only Beñat Intxausti and me. It was a pity that they caught us with only 25 metres to go and I could only achieve third," he added.

    The Spaniard is never one to arrive at a race simply for training or to find race rhythm but his schedule so far in 2013 has perhaps left him in need of rest before deciding on his participation in Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne or Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    "It has already been a busy start to the year from January, in Argentina [Tour de San Luis], and as a rider I always like to get into the fight on races, and I did so at the Tour de San Luis - even though I didn’t have sufficient training for entering in such battles. Although I got good results, it has taken its toll a little later," he said.

    Contador is yet to win any of the Ardennes classics that fall within a one-week period each year. His best result was third-place at the 2010 Flèche Wallonne but he has been named on the provisional start list for both Flèche and Liège already. Whether he can bounce back from his current state of tiredness remains to be seen however, with a little over one week before the start of Flèche it appears a number of favourites may be gifted a small sigh of relief.

    "Now I'll rest a little to see how the body reacts to these efforts of the early season and, more recently, the Tour of the Basque Country. From there we will decide what to do," he said in regard to lining up at the Ardennes classics.

     

    Tags:
    team leader
    Tour de France
    Fleche-Wallonne
    Liege-Bastogne-Liege
    Tour de France 2013
  • Stybar capable of beautiful road career, says Nys

    Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) seeks a smooth line up the Molenberg.
    Article published:
    April 9, 2013, 07:10
    By:
    Cycling News

    Czech overcame inexperience at Roubaix by riding like a "maniac"

    Current world cyclo-cross champion Sven Nys believes only a few of the top 'cross racers are capable of highly successful road careers and one of those is the relative new-comer Zdenek Stybar, who was in a position to win the 'Hell of the North' in his first participation if not for colliding with a spectator with less than 15km remaining. It signalled the end of his race but according to Nys, he's riding style is perfectly suited to the cobbled races that litter the early part of the season.

    "Zdenek perhaps lacks experience, but he can push his boundaries like no other," Nys told Nieuwsblad. Lars Boom [former 'cross star] is perhaps intrinsically more talented as a road racer, but I see Stybar as being up there, just because he's a maniac," he added.

    Stybar, a two-time 'cross World Cup and World Championship winner appears to moved over the road with relative ease. Last year he won a stage at the Four Days of Dunkirk and finished second-overall before picking up a stage win at the Tour of Poland later in the season. It was an impressive year for the 27-year-old who only begun his road career, full-time, in 2012.

    "Stybar often lives like a priest," said Nys. "Cycling is his life. I train in Mallorca and I think it will not be long before I see him here. It's where many classics riders live.

    "For Sunday Stybar had the belief he could do well at Paris-Roubaix, both in his head and legs, I'm sure. I've heard through the grapevine that he was almost laughed at because his team thought he was exaggerating. But they are not laughing anymore," joked Nys.

    The rider who started and finished his first grand tour at the Vuelta a Espana in 2012 attended to his first spring classics campaign riding for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step in 2013 and considering every race was an unknown quantity, his results speak volumes for his natural ability in the 'hard man' races in Belgian and France.

    "You saw Stybar grow throughout the spring. He was ready to play a significant role in Paris-Roubaix, a race that fits him like a glove," said Nys.

    While his final placing at Roubaix, sixth, could be one to lament over a missed opportunity, his consistency and ability to get through a full complement of spring races is another testament to the Czech's promise as a future classics contender.

    "I believe in Stybar because he proves that 'cross riders can move to the road, only if they have a big engine. In my opinion there are only three 'cross riders capable of doing so: Boom, Stybar and Niels Albert."

     

    Tags:
    spring classic
    Paris-Roubaix