Another race, another best supporting actor nomination, but still no Palme d’Or for Sylvain Chavanel on the Riviera on Sunday, as the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider fell just short after animating a dramatic edition of Milan-San Remo. On a day that deviated radically from the expected script, Chavanel delivered all of his lines on cue but was once again ushered into the familiar role of nearly man in the finale.
Chavanel had ghosted off the front in typical style between the Cipressa and the Poggio and was still in front at the summit in the company of Ian Stannard (Sky), but they were caught on the treacherous descent. After cramping up on the sodden approach the line, Chavanel could only manage fourth in the sprint as Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) claimed a surprise win.
Away from bright lights and metaphorical red carpet of the podium, Chavanel delivered his post-race thoughts Off Broadway, as it were: outside his team bus parked on a quiet side street. “Let’s make it quick, eh? I’ve got a plane home to catch in a bit,” Chavanel joked as he emerged to talk to the small group of reporters gathered in the gloom outside.
The obvious question to start, then – disappointed? “I did a nice race, but I had cramps in the sprint,” Chavanel said. “They started just after the top of the Poggio and when you’re with Sagan and Ciolek, who are much faster in the sprint, it’s hard. After 200km in the cold, I had cramps. Voilà, I was still fourth but it’s disappointing to have come so close in a monument.”
When the race re-started after the lengthy interruption to avoid the snow on the Passo del Turchino, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep was shorn of three of its number as Tom Boonen, Stijn Vandenbergh and Niki Terpstra opted not to continue,...
Danielson, Vande Velde and Zabriskie return to racing at Volta a Catalunya
For local cycling fans Monday in Catalunya wasn’t just memorable for probably being the warmest day in Spain this year: stage one of the Volta a Catalunya was also where three riders with Garmin-Sharp, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson and Dave Zabriskie - following a six month suspension for their involvement in the Lance Armstrong/US Postal affair - pinned on race numbers for the first time this season.
The atmosphere could hardly have been more relaxed in the small coastal resort of Calella: barely an autograph hunter or journalist in sight in the long line of team buses stretching down the sunlit seafront, even if there were a fair number of tourists gaping over barriers at the start area at a peloton containing such stars as Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
As for Garmin-Sharp’s team bus, stuck in front of a sun-scarred hotel closed down for the off-season, the press ‘pack’ totalled precisely ‘one’ in number, the pressure as low-key as it could possibly be. And all three riders appeared good humoured and keen to be back into business when they climbed down the bus stairs and headed for the start.
“It’s nice to be at the start of a race and get back into things,” Danielson told Cyclingnews, “see the team, pin on the race number and it’s good to be near my home.”
“We know the roads, and it’s all familiar, so we can’t complain.” Whilst Vande Velde has done Catalunya ten times, Danielson said it’s “about his fourth or fifth.”...
A fourth-place finish in Milan-San Remo was enough to push Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to the top of the UCI's WorldTour rankings. Richie Porte (Sky) and Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco) each moved down one place, to second and third. Cannondale's Peter Sagan skyrocketed to fifth place thanks to his close second in Sanremo.
Spain continued to lead the nation's rankings, and Sky the team ranking.
Chavanel moved up from 13th place to first, based on his Milan-San Remo result. Porte had not raced since the last rankings were released on March 12, and Slagter abandoned Milan-San Remo, so neither picked up points. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) also did not finish the race on Sunday, and fell from third to fourth.
Sagan jumped from 25th to fifth, by finishing second in Milan-San Remo. Third-place finisher Fabian Cancellara of RadioShack-Leopard Trek made even more of a jump, from 59th to 11th place.
Sky held on to first place in the team rankings, with 320 points. Omega Pharma-QuickStep (208 points) moved from third to second place, and RadioShack-Leopard (186 points) from fourth to third. Former second-ranked Blanco dropped to fourth. All 19 WorldTour teams have points.
There was no change at the top of the national rankings, with Spain still ahead of the US. Great Britain moved from fifth to third, with Italy and France rounding out the top five.
Tibco, Optum were not counting on race going forward
Two former pro riders who now lead teams of their own reacted with disappointment but not surprise to news that the Exergy Tour would not return for a second year. Thursday's late night announcement that organizers canceled the women's UCI stage race in Idaho only made official something that has been the subject of rumors for many months.
"I never put it on our calendar," said Tibco-To the Top founder and General Manager Linda Jackson, who raced professionally through 2000 and placed second overall at the Women's Challenge, the previous Idaho race that ran from 1984 through 2002. "I heard months ago that people hadn't been paid from last year, and I heard that no one from the city or the county or whatever had been involved with any planning and there had been no meetings. So when I was working on our calendar this year I just assumed it wasn't going to happen."
Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies director Rachel Heal, who raced professionally from 2001 through 2009, had placed the event on her team's schedule but told Cyclingnews Friday that the cancellation, while disappointing, would have little affect on her team's race program.
"There are some other US races going on at the same time," Heal said. "So it falls in an unusually busy time of year for us anyway, with Nature Valley [Grand Prix], which is obviously an important home race for us, right after it. Then Canadian nationals will be quickly after that, and we have a strong Canadian contingent on the team."
Although neither of the teams will suffer from a hole in their schedule because of the cancellation, the directors said losing the race, which was seen as a revival of the Women's Challenge, is disappointing because both the Boise community and the cycling community were excited about a world-class event returning Idaho.
Another of the riders prominent in the European peloton during the 1990s, Denmark's Rolf Sørensen, has today admitted in a press release published by politiken.dk that he utilised EPO as well as cortisone during his professional career.
"I used EPO periodically in the 90s," read Sørensen's statement. "I have also in some cases used the substance cortisone. There is no other excuse than that I did what I felt compelled to do to be an equal among peers.
"Over the past year I've been asked several times about this issue and I should long ago have come clean. This is not what happened, it's solely my responsibility and I apologise sincerely and with great humility for my tardiness."
Sørensen declined to name any other riders involved in doping.
"There will not be any names here. No allegations against other named individuals. It's not my style," said Sørensen. "The only thing I will say is that I, as we all know today, was not alone in it."
Sørensen sees a bright future for the current young generation of professional cyclists, but realizes that due to the doping legacy of his era victories by current professionals will still be called into question.
"The biggest price of my generation's is that there is now a widespread suspicion that all wins are doped. It is a price that is unbearable to live with and one they have not earned."
A professional from 1986 through 2002, Sørensen enjoyed a successful career highlighted by victories in two of cycling's Monuments: Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1993 and the Tour of Flanders in 1997. Other one-day victories include Paris-Tours (1990), Paris-Brussels (1992, 1994), Milan-Turin (1993) and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (1996).
Sørensen won two stages of the Tour de France (1994, 1996) plus wore the...
Sky’s sports director says Wiggins will fight for overall victory in Catalunya
Sky sports director Dan Hunt says Bradley Wiggins will be up for the win in the Volta a Catalunya for what is the Londoner’s first full-length European stage race and WorldTour event in 2013. Great Britain has had only one Volta winner since cycling’s third oldest stage race began in 1911 - Robert Millar back in 1985.
Wiggins certainly looked very good in the first stage of Catalunya, ripping the race apart on the descent towards the finish and reducing the front group to just 13 riders, including Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and two Sky teammates. He took sixth in what is his strongest performance to date in 2013 and in the process gained 28 seconds on the bunch.
Speaking to Cyclingnews before the stage, Hunt said, “We’ve got guys coming in from Tirreno-Adriatico and a couple of illnesses in the team, but generally we’re going well and we’ve got a guy here [Wiggins] we think can win the race.
“We’ll be on for riding in the traditional Team Sky way. But there’s obviously a lot of people [rivals] here who want to win here too! Looking at the route, there are two fairly easy days, two big GC days [in the Pyrenees] and then a longish run-in to Barcelona. So the GC days are where the damage is going to be done.”
Nor are the two Pyrenean stages to be sniffed at. Apart from the risk of snow - which saw the stages cancelled last year and Wiggins pull out, along with a significant chunk of the field - as Hunt points out “we go up to over 2000 metres [above sea level] so it’s going to be good, tough racing. At the end of the day it’s WorldTour.”
Looking at Wiggins himself, Hunt said “Each race now is part of the build-up [towards the
The organisers of the Amgen Tour of California Women's Time Trial have confirmed a invitation-only list of 15 riders competing for the $10,000 of prizes on offer this year.
The race will take place in San Jose, with the women taking to the course at 12:45pm on May 17, just before the pro men start stage 6 of the 2013 Tour of California.
Defending US time trial champion Amber Neben (Pasta Zara-Cogeas) will be amongst the starters, as will her former teammate and rival Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon). International riders include German Ina Teutenberg (Specialized-lululemon), Canadians Jasmin Glaesser (Tibco) and Rhae Shaw (Vanderkitten), and Briton Julie Dibens, a professional triathlete.
A strong contingent of Americans will use the race to tune up for the national championships, which take place alongside the US Pro men's championship in Chattanooga a week later. That list includes Alison Tetrick, Mara Abbott and Kristin McGrath (Exergy Twenty16), Alison Powers and Robin Farina (Now and Novartis for MS), Jade Wilcoxson and Brianna Walle (Optum), Meredith Miller (Tibco) and US cyclo-cross champion and worlds silver medalist Katie Compton.
The 19.6-mile San Jose course will be a true test of pacing abilities, as it sports a three kilometer climb to the finish, with a gain of 1,000 feet in elevation including pitches of 10 percent or more.
“The time trial in San Jose is going to be a real test,” said Stevens. “They saved the best for last on this course – the climb to the finish line will definitely be a feat to tackle with so much elevation gain so quick. It will be awesome to watch and participate in.”
Belgian bounces back from Paris-Nice DNF to win opening stage in Spain
Belgium's Gianni Meersman added to Omega Pharma - Quick-Step's rousing start to the 2013 season with both the stage victory and leader's jersey in Monday's opening day of racing at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. The canny Belgian, while not a frequent winner but always a threat from small groups, managed to make the decisive 13-rider split forced by Team Sky on the stage's final categorised climb, particularly the technical descent off the third category Alt de Collsacreu, already negotiated twice earlier in the stage.
Meersman stayed firmly planted at the rear of the lead group so as to keep track of all his rivals and once in sight of the finish line the 27-year-old Belgian launched a lengthy sprint up the right side of the road from the back of the group to claim the eighth victory of his career and his first since stage 4 of last year's Paris-Nice.
"I'm in a good mood about the victory," Meersman said. "Volta Ciclista a Catalunya was one of my objectives. I want to do well in this race. I won and that's fantastic, even considering the names at the front."
Among the riders Meersman outkicked in the stage 1 finale were three former Volta Ciclista a Catalunya champions in Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Also prominent in the lead group was Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) who drove the break on the Alt de Collsacreu descent and provided much of the horsepower which ultimately put the 13 riders 28 seconds up on the peloton. With the winner's time bonus factored in, Meersman leads runner-up Valerio Agnoli (Astana) by four seconds and Alejandro Valverde by six seconds on general classification. The remainder of the lead...