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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Date published:
March 12, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Froome admits minor mistakes cost him Tirreno-Adriatico

    Chris Froome (Sky)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2013, 17:25 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky leader: Learning lessons is important

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) crossed the finish line in Porto Sant'Elpidio with a thousand yard stare, tired after racing in the rain and hugely disappointed to have a lost the race lead and any chance of overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    After getting changed on the Team Sky bus, he opted not to warm down on the rollers but shared his thoughts on a terrible day of racing in the Le Marche hills.

    "That was really hard. As soon as the weather came down, the conditions got even harder and trying to control a really big group up the road like that was really hard work. The guys emptied themselves for me, they did a fantastic job all day. I just didn't have the legs in the final. I think Vincenzo Nibali took advantage of that, he did a great ride with Sagan to now go into the leader's jersey."

    Froome identified several possible reasons why he struggled on the final steep climb of the stage.

    "I felt I was a little over-geared and I don't think I was dressed warmly enough for the weather," he said.

    "There was only really one chance to go back and get the jackets; I chose a short sleeve one and I think that was probably the wrong choice. Once it had started raining it was really too late to go back, it was going too fast to try to get back to the car."

    He also admitted that he suffered in the cold after spending the winter in the warmth of the South Africa.

    "I spent the whole winter in 35 degrees in Africa, and over to Oman, and I can't say my body responded too well to the cold conditions today. We just got to take a lesson out of it. We are still second on the GC at the moment, so it's not like it's a huge failure. We just have to look at it and try to find the positives and try to move on."

    Team Sky...

  • Nibali gets better as weather worsens in Tirreno-Adriatico

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2013, 18:46 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian rides into race lead in Porto Sant'Elpidio

    After he lost time on Saturday's climb to Prato di Tivo and again on an uphill finish in Chieti on Sunday, it would have been reasonable to doubt Vincenzo Nibali's hopes of a repeat victory in the overall in Tirreno-Adriatico. However, the Astana rider never gave up hope. With one icy cold rain shower, a 27% grade, a wicked attack and some cooperative breakaway companions, Nibali turned his fortunes around and rode into the lead in Porto Sant'Elpidio, now 34 seconds ahead of Sky's Chris Froome.

    "For sure it was great attack. I've done others, but as I but I've often not been that lucky," Nibali said after he escaped with eventual stage winner Peter Sagan and rival Joaquim Rodriguez to take the race lead. "Today went well and I was in good company in the final. Then I had great help from the team car. Martinelli studied the whole last lap and helped me a lot."

    Unlike Froome, who felt he was over-geared for the torturous, triple 27% ascent, Nibali said the team studied the race book and prepared the bikes perfectly for the stage.

    "It wasn't an easy stage. We raced well. The bikes were prepared for this stage and we didn't get anything wrong.

    "We spoke about the 30% wall and so I knew it was hard. We were well prepared," he said. "The tactic in my head was that I'd go if I felt good on the last climb. I'd looked at it on the previous times up it. Then I felt better when the weather got worse. I felt better and better."

    Nibali was only 14 seconds behind Froome on the "queen stage" to Prati di Tivo, but lost six more on the run in to Chieti, and thought his chances for the overall win were done.

    "Prati...

  • Poels cracks top 10 in Tirreno-Adriatico

    Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2013, 21:12 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Vacansoleil rider back on form after serious injuries

    Vacansoleil rider Wout Poels moved into the top 10 overall in Tirreno-Adriatico with another solid ride, confirming he is back on track following severe internal injuries sustained in the 2012 Tour de France.

    The 25-year-old Dutchman moved up in the general classification on Saturday's mountain finish at Prato di Tivo, where he came 8th on the stage, just 43 seconds behind Chris Froome. He followed that with another strong ride in the penultimate stage in Porto Sant'Elpidio where he finished in the chase group with Froome and moved himself up in the standings to 10th behind new leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

    Poels powered up the 27% grade of the Sant'Elpidio a Mare with the overall contenders, leaving behind him a trail of riders zig-zagging or walking their way to the top. "I have never seen such a course," Poels said. "But if you going well, then it's kind of fun. Only the strongest were left."

    While the result would be solid for any rider, it is all the more remarkable for Poels, who just six months ago was coming off three weeks in the hospital following a crash on stage 6 of the Tour de France that left him in intensive care with broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and kidney damage.

    "Who would have thought seven months ago that I would finish in the top ten of a climb in Tirreno? Nobody!" Poels exclaimed after Saturday's stage finish. "I had not expected this yet. Until a kilometer from the finish I was at the front. If you see which top riders were there, that says something. This was quite a difficult climb of 14...

  • Contador challenged by steep climbs in Tirreno-Adriatico

    Alberto Contador (Team Saxo - Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2013, 22:16 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Wet conditions makes grades even more slippery

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) finished the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico in fourth place overall after a tough day on Monday. Stage 6 turned out to be a day when Chris Froome (Sky) lost his overall lead to Vicenzo Nibali (Astana), and Contador dropped out his podium position. However, Contador kept the overall lead in the points classification.

    Even the usually superb Spanish climber struggled with the day's triple ascent of the Sant'Elpidio a Mare, especially the final trip up when rain made the extreme grades - up to 30 per cent - difficult to ride. He described the day as "one stage in which climbing the hills was difficult as a result of the technique used". Normally riders would be out of the saddle, using their arms to help power up such a steep gradient, but any attempt to do so in the rain on today's ascent caused the unweighted rear tire to slip on the wet pavement.

    "In the decisive moment, Joaquim [Rodriguez] attacked, and I came off the back. I stood up over the pedals, and I almost fell off my bike. I lost a few meters there, and then it was impossible to recover," Contador said.

    "It was something amazing that we were not able to climb the hills because the wheels were slipping. Without the water on them, they would have been a little easier, but with the water, the objective was not to climb in front, but simply to climb."

    Many racers had more trouble than Contador and were spotted having to walk their bikes uphill.

    He still has a chance to step onto the final podium, but Contador said it will take "stunning leg pain" in tomorrow's 9.2km time trial.

  • Phinney time cut as Tirreno-Adriatico gruppetto quits

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) rode solo for 120km trying to make the time cut in Tirreno-Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 11, 2013, 23:34 GMT
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    Sant'Elpidio a Mare climb too hard for WorldTour?

    RCS Sport prides itself on beautiful but tough courses, and what it designed for this year's Tirreno-Adriatico was to be balanced between flat, sprint-friendly stages and challenges for the climbers. But a 209km penultimate stage with inumerable short, steep climbs including the nearly 30% grades at the top of Sant'Elpidio a Mare proved to be too much, too early in the season for almost a third of the peloton.

    One rider who suffered more than most on the day was BMC's Taylor Phinney. The American was hoping to go for a stage win on the final 9.2km time trial, but instead found himself riding solo in the icy cold rain for 120km only to finish outside the time limit after the entire gruppetto quit.

    "This parcours was quite literally the hardest parcours of a stage in a stage race I've ever seen, much less ridden," Phinney told Cyclingnews. "[There was] no climb longer than 2km, yet over 10000 feet of climbing in total. It was like a mix between Amstel and Liege but after racing for 200km everyday for five days straight."

    In the end, 50 riders abandoned on the day, and even race organiser Michele Acquarone admitted the stage was extreme, taking to Twitter to apologize to the riders. "Many of you enjoyed it, but it was too much. We lost the right balance," he said. "...if you lose half your peloton, you just have to be honest and learn from mistakes."

    Phinney agreed with Acquarone that it was over the top. "These climbs make for spectacular racing but it would be enough just to have five of them at the finish instead of starting straight uphill and completing a grand total of 18. The spectacle would be the same, as people at home only watch the last 50km anyways."

    Normally, the gruppetto would work together to finish the stage inside the time limit after being dropped, but when the...

  • Ewan, Edmondson highlight Australia's next under-23 crop

    The 2013 Jayco-AIS WorldTour Academy squad
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 1:28 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Jayco-AIS WorldTour Academy team launched

    The line-up for the 2013 Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy was unveiled today in the Australian capital, Canberra.

    Headlining the squad is up-and-coming sprint sensation Caleb Ewan, and London Olympic representative Alex Edmondson. Alex Clements, Campbell Flakemore, World Championship under-23 ITT bronze medallist Damien Howson, Brad Linfield, Alex Morgan, Mitch Mulhern and Adam Phelan complete the team.

    This year's squad is the first to be treated to the focus producing athletes ready for the rigours of the UCI WorldTour, with Australian cyclists turning professional at a younger age than ever before. It's a deliberate move to educate athletes, parents and other interested parties about the road to the top level of the sport, including racing at a representative level at the Olympic Games and World Championships.

    As previously reported, the development team is no longer registered at a UCI Continental level with the shift back to a truly National team, not seen since 2005.

    "We are always keen to implement new methodology and structure to our programs to ensure we are growing the high performance environments, and evolving to handle the current international scene," said Cycling Australia High Performance Director, Kevin Tabotta.

    "The Academy will provide increased international racing opportunities for our emerging talent and will also provide room for Australian UCI continental and NRS teams to have a greater involvement in the development of these young athletes.

    "Additionally, this structure will help ensure that athletes stay motivated, professional and challenged throughout the long season. There will be great upward pressure, with riders on the fringes challenging for spots."

    The team's first event will be this week's Oceania Championships in Canberra, which get underway on Thursday. The European...

  • Sagan adds to favouritism for Milan-Sanremo

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) on the Sant'Elpidio a Mare
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 3:37 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale powerhouse too good at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) reaffirmed his superb form for Milan-Sanremo and his propensity for excelling in toughest race conditions with another impressive performance at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    While other classics rider and sprinters climbed off to escape the terrible weather conditions and steep Le Marche hills, Sagan used his range of talents to stay with the overall contenders on the climbs, go clear with Vincenzo Nibali on the rain-soaked descent and then win the stage without barely opening up his sprint finish.

    As he crossed the finish line, Sagan kissed his biceps in another of his original celebration gestures.

    "I kissed my biceps because the climb was so hard that I needed my arms more than my legs, they were more in pain than my legs," he explained with a cheeky grin and laugh in the post-stage press conference.

    "Today was similar to a Classic in Belgium. We've raced four hard days before this, so it was a very hard day. It was difficult on the 30% climbs with the rain. If you got out of the saddle, you wheel slipped and so I had to ride sitting down and use your power."

    Sagan revealed that Nibali had hinted he would attack on the final climb of Sant' Elpidio di Mare, asking his former teammate if he would go with him.

    "I was more motivated yesterday to be honest but the long climb hurt my legs for the final short climbs and then the GC riders attacked hard and dropped me."

    Sagan's second stage victory in tough conditions after another six hours of racing only reinforced opinion that he is the number one favourite for Sunday's Milano-Sanremo, despite still only being 23.

    Sagan's performances have left other teams and riders left scratching their heads to try and find a way to beat him. Sagan's...

  • Vanmarcke aims for Tour of Flanders after crash at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Sep Vanmarcke and Tom Boonen
    Article published:
    March 12, 2013, 5:01 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    No surgery after damage to right knee, hopes to race E3 Harelbeke

    Sep Vanmarcke was one of the few riders able to upstage Tom Boonen during the classics in 2012 but a bad fall on Stage 5 at Tirreno-Adriatico and fears of a torn bursal sack appeared to put his cobbled campaign in serious doubt. However, good news came just days later after an MRI scan revealed his bursa and kneecap will not require surgery as originally feared.

    At this stage it looks like Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix will be his next big targets, with a small hope to return to racing at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem.

    "I felt in Tirreno that my condition was good and even improved," he told nieuwsblad.be. "This is obviously a line through my account. The training I basically needed to be even better, now I will miss. I hope still to be in order for E3 and Gent-Wevelgem, but that is unlikely. I aim more likely for Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. As soon as I can, I will work hard." 

    Vanmarcke signed for the Blanco team in 2013 after a coming of age at last year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad where be outsprinted Boonen for the win. He had looked set for a big assault at this year's cobbled races before the incident. With surgery fears put aside the 24-year-old will have to rest for at least a week before resuming training.

    "The bursa is not torn and also the kneecap isn't damaged, so surgery isn't needed," read a statement on sepvanmarcke.be.

    "Because there is a lot of fluid on the kneecap, Sep has to...