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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Date published:
March 06, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Evans to check on form at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Cadel Evans (BMC)
    Article published:
    March 05, 2012, 22:29 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Prati di Tivo stage to prove decisive

    Cadel Evans (BMC) may already have some racing in his legs thanks to his participation in Challenge Mallorca, GP di Lugano and Strade Bianche, but the Australian’s 2012 campaign begins in earnest at Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday.

    Overall winner of the race last season, Evans played down the importance of repeating that triumph this time around, but acknowledged that Tirreno-Adriatico would provide him with a firm indication as to his current state of form as he builds towards his Tour de France title defence.

    "My first goal is to see how my fitness is," Evans explained. "I've worked reasonably well towards it. To repeat last year's result here would be an ultimate gauge of my fitness. But we'll first test my fitness and then see the result."

    Evans excelled on all terrains in central Italy last year, as he moved into the overall lead on the rugged stage to Castelraimondo, won the hilltop finish in Macerata and then sealed victory with a solid showing in the final time trial.

    While week-long consistency will again be required in 2012, the presence of the tough summit finish at Prati di Tivo on stage five may well alter the tactical approach of a number of the contenders for overall victory. Rather than chasing bonus seconds each day, some may look to keep their powder dry for the long haul to the summit of the climb in Abruzzo.

    "It makes it a real climber's race because it's a long climb, maybe 15 kilometres," Evans said. "That's going to change the race from last year a lot and be one of the most important days for the general classification”

    Evans is joined in Italy by a strong BMC line-up, which includes the spine of the team that will compete at Milan-San Remo on March 17. Alessandro Ballan, Philippe...

  • New cycling tour for Victoria this April

    Riders were all over the road on the run in to Warrnambool in their quest to regain touch with the leading group before the finish.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 0:45 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Anchor Point Tour of the South West the first of its kind

    A new event has bolstered Victoria's warm-up to the winter cycling season with the inaugural Anchor Point Tour of the South West set to take place on the last weekend of April.

    Set over three stages and two days, the tour will be a challenging one with the tough and hilly terrain of the city of Warrnambool and rural townships of the Moyne Shire.

    The tour is the first of its kind for the south-west, complementing the iconic Melbourne to Warrnambool and Shipwreck Coast cycling classics, as well as Australia's oldest stage race, The Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

    Endorsed by Cycling Victoria, the event is open to all cyclists who hold a current Cycling Australia racing membership.

    search2retain cycling team director, Peter Shandon said the team had enjoyed great success racing in the region over the past few years, with Luke Fetch placing third in The Eastern Oak Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic in 2011. search2retain are confirmed starters for the Anchor Point Tour of the South West.

    "We always enjoy racing in the area," Shandon said.

    Team manager Mark Isaacs said he has fond memories of racing in Warrnambool and that the region always provided great local support. He said search2retain had put together a really strong team and that riders were all looking forward to the event.

    The first stage will begin from the Wangoom Recreation Reserve, with riders completing a 30km return course and 17km circuit with short but tough climbs and likely 'Warrnambool winds'.

    It will be followed be an undulating 12.7km individual time trial circuit, sure to prove decisive in determining the overall tour winner in each division.

    The third and final stage – the Optus Criterium - will be the queen stage of the tour presenting a challenging course around the Hopkins River, sure to provide an exciting finale.

    Registrations for the tour are now open at

  • No breaks for Basso after Paris-Nice crash

    Ivan Basso crashed during the stage but carried on
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 3:12 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian teams suffer on second stage

    The second stage of Paris-Nice was a bit of a disaster for the Liquigas-Cannondale team, but luckily its general classification contender Ivan Basso at least escaped serious injury when he went down 72km into the stage.

    The team announced via Twitter that the Italian sustained only bruises to his elbow and abrasions following the incident which also took down Paolo Longo Borghini. The latter was also cleared of fractures, having a bruised collarbone.

    However, the team is now out of contention for the overall classification, with Basso losing nearly 11 minutes on the stage.

    The Lampre-ISD team was also caught out in the split of the peloton which happened in the feed zone halfway through the stage. Damiano Cunego lost 2:29, having had to chase back from a flat tire at an inopportune moment.

    "Our riders were not able to react to the attack, knowing that the moment was delicate because of strong winds," said directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani. "From the feed zone on we tried to chase, but there was no way to get back on the lead group. Cunego also faced a puncture, and in that case we coped well with the incident, but it is bad not being able to join the front group."

     

  • West Flanders cobbles prove Spidertech's undoing

    Kevin Lacombe (Spidertech)
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 5:20 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Canadian team finish with only one rider after disaster strikes in Belgian race

    Largely unpracticed on the Belgian cobblestones of west Flanders, Team Spidertech lost all but one of their riders to crashes on the final day of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen on Sunday – and all within a few blurred kilometres.

    In a strong tactical position approaching the key cobbled section of the race, rain, mud and dash of misfortune played their part to derail the team's ambitions, as Sporting Director Kevin Field explained.

    "We had a good plan to approach all stages, and it went well until the cobbles on the Steenstraat after 132km of racing. Then everything went pear-shaped- fast.

    "Normally the cobble section may not have been a big deal. But with the mud covering the wet cobbles - carnage is the only word that can describe what happened on about a 2-kilometre section of road and we were the victims of it."

    Hugo Houle (Spidertech Powered By C10), the team's best placed GC hope was among the casualties, as was Ryan Roth. Several riders tried to continue but through punctures or their injuries eventually abandoned.

    "When the dust settled we had one rider in the front group - [Keven] Lacombe," added Field. "On the one hand we are steeped in disappointment. On the other, what can you say? It was a beautiful day, a classic Belgian day, filled with the drama that makes cycling an amazing sport. It happens, we pick ourselves up, lick our wounds and move on."

    The only positive to come from the day for Spidertech was that no riders in the team were seriously injured.

  • Rojas pleased to be unaffected by Almería illness in Paris-Nice

    Spanish champion Juan Jose Rojas (Movistar) did not make an impact in the sprint.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 9:55 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Second place gives Spaniard confidence, but focused on supporting Valverde

    Only a week after a virus ended his chances at the Clasica de Almeria in Spain, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) managed a remarkable turn of fortune by recording a respectable second place finish behind Tom Boonen on stage 2 of Paris-Nice.

    "I think looking back on today the outcome is tremendously positive," said Rojas. "Not just for me but for the whole team, because we were able to contest the stage and rule out some top riders for the GC.

    "To come back from where I was last week struggling with illness at Almería - I had to abandon there because I was so affected. I couldn’t restart training until last Thursday and was really doubtful about how I'd go here, so I’m really satisfied with today’s result. We knew that it was going to be a really hard day with wind and rain, and we tried to be as close to Alejandro [Valverde] as possible to protect him."

    Rojas was part of the front group of 21 riders that initiated a race-winning move after an at first innocuous split in the feed zone. The group then defied the chase by working well together before Rojas began to think of his own chances as the race entered the final kilometres.

    "With 10 km to go the gap was stable, and I stopped taking relays to eat something and recover with the sprint in mind. I had a really clear idea that Boonen was going to be the man to follow. But even though I was catching him in the finishing metres, he was just a little bit stronger."

    Looking ahead, the Spaniard says that his main concern is looking after Valverde's chances, but explained that if a similar opportunity presented itself once more he'd...

  • Schleck out of Paris-Nice with stomach problems

    Thumbs up from Andy Schleck on the stage 4 start line.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 10:01 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    “Bad news” for RadioShack-Nissan rider

    Stomach problems have forced Andy Schleck out of Paris-Nice. The RadioShack-Nissan rider will not be at the start of the third stage, the team announced on Tuesday morning.

    “Already yesterday before the stage, Andy didn't feel good,” said team director Alain Gallopin. “He was able to finish the stage but that costed a lot of energy. This morning Andy felt better, but in the bus he got stomach problems and high temperature again. That's why we decided not to let him take the start, while not being healthy.”

    The Luxembourger was disappointed to have to abandon. “I really wanted to try. But against sickness you cannot do a lot. I need to let my body recover from this. This is bad news, I wanted to perform well in Paris-Nice, but I better not jeopardize the rest of the season. My goals are situated later in the season.”

    Schleck had finished a disappointing 142nd in the opening time trial, losing over one minute on the 9.4km course. He also missed the split in Monday's second stage, crossing the finish line in the third group, nearly 11 minutes down.

  • Cipollini wants to ride Giro d'Italia as lead-out man for Guardini

    Mario Cipollini rode the course
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 10:25 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    45-year-old announces plans for second comeback

    Mario Cipollini has claimed that he wishes to make a comeback to professional cycling at 45 years of age and ride the Giro d’Italia as lead-out man for young sprint talent Andrea Guardini.

    The former world champion first retired in May 2005, before making a brief comeback in the colours of Rock Racing at the 2008 Tour of California. In spite of his advanced years, Cipollini told Gazzetta dello Sport that he wishes to return with the Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team, which rides his MCipollini frames.

    “I want to return to racing to come to the Giro and lead out the sprints for Guardini,” said Cipollini, who will turn 45 on March 22. “I feel good, and what is a good sign is that I feel an extreme desire to work hard.”

    Seven years on from his original retirement, Cipollini admitted that he is heavier now than in his heyday but insisted that he was still capable of performing at the highest level.

    “I weigh 90kg, 8 more than when I was in top condition, but it’s not excess fat, just muscle, especially in my arms and trunk. My legs are perfect. I have some little pains in my knee and back, but my motor is good, and capable of standing up to this gamble.”

    Cipollini also grandly explained that he would make himself available for scientific research, “to understand what changes there are in a high-level athlete with the passing of years.” The Tuscan maintains that improved standards of living mean that athletic careers can now extend longer than ever before: “I’m convinced that even someone of 45 years of age isn’t to be dismissed...

  • Rabobank loses out in echelons at Paris-Nice

    One of the world's finest lead-out riders and sprinters Mark Renshaw now with the Rabobank outfit at the top of Mt.Buninyong.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 11:27 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Dutch squad now to concentrate on stage win

    Monday's stage two of Paris-Nice proved to be treacherous for many riders, including those of Rabobank who came to the French stage race with an eye on the general classification. As echelons formed in the windy conditions on the road to Orleans, only one Rabobank rider made it into the decisive break towards the end of the stage that made the rest of the bunch lose more than two minutes overall: Dennis van Winden. But he, too, was unlucky and crashed, finally finishing in 168th place.

    It thus seems unlikely that Luis Léon Sanchez, who is particularly fond of this race, and his teammates will be able to achieve a high GC result in Nice this week-end, and the team was disappointed not to have made the decisive move on Monday afternoon. Australian sprinter Mark Renshaw was also denied his battle against Tom Boonen or Marcel Kittel in the final sprint, won by the Belgian.

    "It's quiet on the bus now. But we knew this could happen and the riders also knew it. And then, such a breakaway isn't created in one instant. And when it went up the road, we only had Dennis in the first group, but he fell. Together with other riders that had also crashed, he tried to come back, but it wasn't possible," commented team director Nico Verhoeven, and there were no excuses.

    "Mentally, we've taken a blow as a team," he continued. "We can forget about the GC now - what a shame it's so early in the race, too. But when you have ambitions for the overall, you have to be in the first group. But I don't have to tell the guys this, they know perfectly well themselves that this is not for what they've come here."

    A change of team tactics for the rest of the race seems logical, and it is likely that Rabobank riders will be trying to go on the attack over the next few days. Bauke Mollema, the best-placed...