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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Date published:
March 13, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Horner on the verge of Tirreno-Adriatico victory

    Tirreno-Adriatico leader Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 18:40 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    American confident heading into final time trial

    RadioShack-Nissan's Chris Horner held onto the overall race lead on an attack-laden stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico, and now has only a 9.3km time trial standing between himself and the final race victory.

    The American was isolated in the finale in Offido, but profited from the efforts of Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan, who neutralized the gap to stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at the line. However, Vincenzo Nibali's second place on the stage moved him within six seconds of Horner's lead.

    "It was again a very difficult day," Horner said, according to his team. "This course wasn't suited to me. You come into the bottom to a complete stop and then you have to accelerate out of the last corner very hard up a steep grade. It's not super steep, just a long drag. When Rodriquez went, I thought it was Oscar Freire until I got to the podium. It was that kind of stage."

    Ahead of the final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto, Horner has a five-second advantage on Astana's Roman Kreuziger and six on Nibali. Should he succeed in bringing home the final blue winner's jersey, it will be the first WorldTour victory for Horner since the 2010 Tour of the Basque Country.

    "It's going to be an exciting race for tomorrow," said Horner. "We have three very, very strong riders all very close on GC. I'm sure the fans will get to watch a good race. I'd like to go to bed early but that probably won't happen so maybe I can sleep in late," he said.

    "Life goes on whether you win or lose for sure. So I'll try to relax tonight and then in the morning as the race approaches, hopefully I'll remain calm and easy."

  • Prudhomme praises Wiggins' Paris-Nice victory

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) won Paris-Nice ahead of Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 20:30 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Tour de France director labels Brit as "favourite" for July

    As much as Bradley Wiggins' victory of the 2012 Paris-Nice has been applauded in Nice on Sunday, it has also been widely seen as a sign for the Briton's contention in next July's Tour de France. In France, and elsewhere within the cycling world, Wiggins' victory on the Col d'Eze has been hailed as his complete return to competitiveness following his abandon in last year's Tour due to a collarbone fracture - even if, in the meantime, he achieved a podium spot at the Vuelta a Espana.

    Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was of course present in Nice on the week-end, as the 'race to the sun' is part of ASO's cycling events. Prudhomme was happy about the outcome and the tight match between Wiggins and Vacansoleil's Lieuwe Westra, which saw the Briton win by only eight seconds.

    "The race was exciting until the very end, and with Bradley Wiggins as winner, it was a very beautiful finale," said Prudhomme to L'Equipe TV.

    "This is a winner who, most of all, already projects us to the month of July. Wiggins has won the Critérium du Dauphiné last year, and he was fourth-placed in the Tour in 2009. This year, there are more time trial kilometres in the Tour than in the previous editions, and Wiggins is a master in the discipline. With this win here in Nice, he has thus placed himself as one of the favourites for the Tour," he Frenchman added.

    In the post-race press conference, Wiggins himself admitted that he felt that he was "one of maybe five riders" to contend for the victory at the Tour this year, and hoped that he will be able to "continue that progression to July."

  • Pollock and Giacoppo shake up world order in Taiwan

    Anthony Giacoppo (Genesys Wealth Advisors) wins stage 3 in Taiwan
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Alex Hinds

    Australian teams taking it to Saxo Bank

    It was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Saxo Bank team in Taiwan. Arriving for the 2.1 rated Tour, the team were chasing a very utilitarian goal; UCI points. Facing a major deficit after former team captain Alberto Contador's points were disqualified by the CAS in February, the Tour de Taiwan is among many races added to Saxo Banks's calendar to bolster their 2012 tally.

    Things haven't quite gone as smoothly however as the team would've liked. Just as Garmin-Barracuda found in Langkawi, the Asia Tour is far from easy, and Saxo Bank have so far struggled with success in Taiwan against the smaller continental teams.

    The rebellion has been led by Genesys Wealth Advisers' Anthony Giacoppo, who has continued his meteoric rise which began back in January at the Australian national championships.

    "It’s always good to beat such a renowned rider," Giacoppo told Cyclingnews after recording his second stage success of the Tour de Taiwan. "It’s a confidence booster for sure [after finishing ahead of Giro d'Italia rider Roberto Ferrari]."

    Chasing a WorldTour berth in 2013 the West Australian has only boosted his case in Taiwan. Meanwhile fresh off a strong Tour de Langkawi, Drapac have also been impressive and now hold the leader's jersey with journeyman Rhys Pollock, who says he is "confident that the team can now take the yellow jersey all the way to final stage...

  • Nibali to play the wrecker for Horner's Tirreno hope

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) digs deep for the bonus seconds
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 5:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian also plays down feud with Sagan

    Monday's second place finish on the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico has given Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) no shortage of confidence ahead of the 9.3 kilometre final time trial later today in San Benedetto del Tronto. The Italian said that finishing second had "felt like a win" because of the six-second time bonus he received, putting him to within six seconds of Chris Horner's overall lead.

    The time trial to come is a flat "drag-race" style hot dog circuit which combined with the short distance will mean any time gaps will be small. Nibali is a noted time triallist and with the form displayed over the past few days is confident that he can overtake Horner.

    "I think for me, getting the seconds I did only fuels that 'psychological advantage' that comes with hunting someone down. Everyday I've been getting closer, and I've been feeding off that."

    The Italian added that he believes the bigger concern is Roman Kreuziger (Astana), who as a former teammate he holds in high regard. One thing he did clarify was his relationship with Peter Sagan, which had reportedly been strained when the Slovak won stage 4 and arguably denied Nibali of precious bonus seconds. The Italian was openly praising Sagan on Monday, who he explained deserved a special mention.

    "Sagan was fantastic today," said Nibali. "Today was a day that really suited him and he could've gone for the stage himself, but instead worked for me to get the seconds I needed. I can't thank him, or the team as a whole enough. I want to pay him back by winning [the GC] tomorrow."

  • Froome hits pedestrian in Italian training accident

    Chris Froome (Sky)
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 9:47 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    72-year-old suffers head injuries

    Chris Froome of Team Sky has hit and seriously injured a 72-year-old pedestrian in a training accident in Italy, according to the Italian media. Both were taken to hospital, with Froome found only to have scrapes and bruises.

    The elderly man is said to have suffered head injuries as well as facial contusions and abrasions.  While his life is not endangered, he is expected to be helicopered to another hospital for further treatment.

    Police are looking into the accident to determine what happened and whether either party is at fault. Froome was training alone on Sunday morning when he hit the man, accoridng to sanremonews.it. He immediately called emergency services, and both were taken to hospital.

    Froome, 26, opened his season at the Volta ao Algarve but had to abandon with a chest infection after the third stage.  He had been scheduled to start Paris-Nice, but had to miss it due to continued illness. He is not scheduled to ride in Saturday's Milan-San Remo.

  • No Milan-San Remo recon for Belgian teams

    Team Omega Pharma - Quick Step
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 10:18 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Lotto and Omega Pharma-Quick Step prefer training to driving

    While some teams will scout the route of the upcoming Milan-San Remo Classic after having finished Tirreno-Adriatico, the two Belgian World Tour teams Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma-Quick Step have chosen not to. 'The race between the two seas' will finish on Tuesday with a closing time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on the Adriatic coastline, and both Belgian squads believe that their riders will be better off training there.

    "That would be crazy," Lotto director Herman Frison told Sportwereld. "Most teams won't do that. The finish of Tirreno-Adriatico is more than 700 kilometres away from Milan, and afterwards, the riders would have to go back from San Remo to the start in Milan. A total of 1,000 kilometers. We won't do that to our riders. They will be better off resting and training around here.

    "Moreover, there isn't a lot to recon at the Primavera. Up the Cipressa, up the Poggio and full gas to the finish - that's it!" he laughed. Lotto's main man for the 'Primavera' will be André Greipel, who already has good knowledge of the parcours and finished Tirreno-Adriatico on the penultimate day in order to recover from the particularly challenging stage race.

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep, who will look for Tom Boonen for the victory, has no intention of scouting the route, either. "That's not part of the plan," commented team director Rik Van Slycke.
     

  • Van Avermaet not optimistic for Milan-San Remo

    Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) has been in good form
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 11:01 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian forced out of Tirreno-Adriatico with heel injury

    Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) has admitted that his chances at Milan-San Remo have been deal a blow after a heel injury forced him to withdraw from Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Tuesday’s concluding time trial.

    “It started with a blister, which then started to inflame,” Van Avermaet told Het Laatse Nieuws, according to Sporza. “A few years ago, I also had an inflammation of the heel. Rest would help but I don’t want to do that.”

    Van Avermaet was an aggressive performer at last year’s Milan-San Remo and led the race over the top of the Poggio en route to a 9th place finish on the Lungomare Italo Calvino. The Belgian has been one of the star-studded BMC squad’s more consistent performers in the early part of the season and could well prove to be the team’s best bet for success on Saturday, depending on the state of his nagging injury.

    “I’ll wait and see how it goes, but it will hardly heal by Saturday. I’m not really optimistic for San Remo,” he said.

    Van Avermaet’s teammate and rival Philippe Gilbert had already pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Monday’s stage to Offida, citing a fever. Gilbert has had a low-key beginning to life as a BMC rider following his much-heralded arrival in the off-season, but team manager John Lelange stressed that there was no cause for panic.

    “There’s no reason to dramatise it,” Lelangue told Sporza. “Philippe is a man like you and me. He’s suffered from a virus and a fever. He was advised not to start so he...

  • Flecha breaks hand in training accident

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) has a wealth of experience on Belgian roads.
    Article published:
    March 13, 2012, 12:01 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Injury shouldn't jeopardise Paris-Roubaix plans next month

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) has revealed that he had minor surgery on his hand last week after breaking it in a training accident near his home. The 34-year-old Spaniard, who has enjoyed a consistent start to 2012 after securing third place finishes at the Tour of Qatar and at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, is already looking ahead to getting back in the saddle and to making it to the start line of his favourite race – Paris-Roubaix on April 8.

    “I broke a metacarpal in my hand while out training last week,” he told Team Sky’s official website. “The fracture was smooth and I was even able to ride home after I’d done it. I went into surgery on Thursday and they re-aligned the bone before fixing it with a couple of screws.

    “In the time between picking up the injury and surgery I was able to keep working on the turbo and do core work in the gym, but since then I’ve not been able to do that as we didn’t want to risk stretching the wound, or getting it infected with sweat under the bandage. My bandage is coming off on Tuesday and I’ll be able to start my rehabilitation again straight after that.”

    Flecha stated that his immediate race plans are up in the air and much will rest on his rehabilitation over the coming days. But in his own mind everything is still pointing towards Paris-Roubaix, where he has enjoyed consistent success over the years despite never actually winning the race. Flecha was a runner-up there in 2007, and has two third places to his name along with several other top ten finishes. Back in January he told Cyclingnews that it is the classic that he most wants to win before he...