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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Date published:
May 15, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Demare learning about pain at the Giro d'Italia

    Arnaud Demare (FDJ-BigMat)
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 20:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Baptism of fire for young French rider

    Reigning world U23 champion Arnaud Demare has enjoyed a breakout season in the professional ranks this year, with victories at the Tour of Qatar, Le Samyn and Cholet-Pays de Loire offering exciting evidence of his potential. The 20-year-old FDJ-BigMat rider is widely seen as one of the next great hopes of French cycling and his progress has enabled him make his Grand Tour bow at the 2012 Giro d'Italia.

    While on the whole he is really enjoying the experience, at times his lungs and his legs aren't. Back-to-back stages in the hills over the weekend took their toll, with Demare admitting that he was hurting badly and taken by surprise at the fatigue he felt. And he knows that worse is yet to come.

    "I do not even want to imagine how it will happen in the high mountains in the coming days," he said in his regular column in L'Equipe. "On Sunday, it was really terrible and I have never known anything like it during my career - it was the worst day.

    "I had no strength in my legs and miles seemed very long. Even though I was warned of the difficulty of the mountain stages in Italy, I never expected to be so surprised by it. It's so different from other races, the scenario has nothing to do. Normally, I might have been reassured to see sprinters like me and Mark Cavendish in the same group. But now I realize that if they are there, it's mostly because they know how to manage after the Giro."

    Demare revealed that without the help of his teammates, who at times have pulled him along physically and mentally, he may have crumbled.

    "They do more than accompany me, they talk a lot to make sure I don't lose morale," he said. "My biggest fear is not to be in good...

  • Ventoso says: I took the right risks to win second Giro stage

    The sweetness of success: Ventoso crosses the winning line
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 22:40 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spanish sprinter takes opening win for Movistar in 2012 Giro

    Last time Fran Ventoso (Movistar) won a stage of the Giro back in 2011, an uphill sprint at Fiuggi, he says he had the finish 'marked down with a cross in the route book.' But today, though, he was almost certainly not so sure of his chances.

    "I was lucky, it was risky but I took the right risks to win," the 30-year-old said afterwards,

    "I came here to win a stage, but our team's big goal is the gc with Beñat Intxausti. He's just won the Tour of Asturias, so he's got good form. Now I'm going to work for him."

    Asked about the fact that there have been three crashes in four bunch sprints and whether it made sense to have a corner so close to the finish after a fast downhill, Ventoso said, "organisers can't always have five kilometre straightaways for a bunch sprint stage. Today it was the riders who made a mistake."

    "I got over that climb, though and raced to the finish by myself, unsupported. I'd read the route book, I knew what was coming up at that corner, i wasn't very well positioned."

    "But it seems like some people weren't braking, and didn't seem scared. I don't know why. It seemed like they hadn't looked at the route book."

    As for why so many crashes have happened in the Giro this year Ventoso said "it's a combination of things." amongst them that "We all want to win, there's the pressure to win."

    Although he will now spend time working for Intxausti, his longer term goals include the Olympic Games. A ride at the Tour de France, where a stage win would mean he has victories in all three Grand Tours, is not out of the question.

    To describe Ventoso's career as chequered is no exaggeration. When he turned pro in 2004 for the now...

  • Matthews rattled after Amgen Tour of California crash

    Michael Matthews makes his way over the top of Mt.Buninyong.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2012, 1:20 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Rabobank sprinter missing Brown as lead-out

    Rabobank's Michael Matthews's start to the Amgen Tour of California was as up and down as the race profile on Sunday. The Australian was one of two sprinters to make the diminished leading peloton on the climb of Coleman Valley Road, together with stage winner Peter Sagan, but a high-speed crash with 3km to go left the 21-year-old's hopes of a stage win in Santa Rosa bouncing down the tarmac.

    What's worse, it was the second high-speed get-off of the year after his wreck in stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico, and while he escaped too much physical damage this time, his nerves have been rattled.

    "I'm not really sure [what happened in the crash], I think I was just maybe a little stressed and a little touch of wheels and unfortunately I ended up on the ground," Matthews told Cyclingnews. "I have a little skin off my elbows and knees. It's not really a problem, it's more the mental part that's sort of rattled me a bit. There will be a couple more stages for me, so hopefuly we can get the morale back in the team and hopefully get some results in the next couple of days."

    Although Matthews claimed Rabobank's first win of 2012 in the Clasica de Almeria, he's had no luck in recent months. He crashed in Tirreno-Adriatico, missed Milan-San Remo, and even in the Tour Down Under in January, where last year he won a stage, he couldn't get the results he wanted. More recently he tweaked his back and it has only just gotten back to full strength.

    Matthews certainly has plenty of form coming into the Tour of California, being one of few riders able to keep pace with the climbers on the first big uphill challenge while riders like Tom Boonen and Fred Rodriguez had to chase...

  • Pena guiding young Colombia-Coldeportes team through Amgen Tour of California

    Fabio Duarte (Colombia - Coldeportes)
    Article published:
    May 15, 2012, 2:50 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Former Tour de France yellow jersey looking after climbers

    It's been nine years since Victor Hugo Peña Grisales wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, but Lance Armstrong's former domestique is still fit and racing as well as ever. He's currently back in the USA for the Amgen Tour of California, now ushering in the next generation of talent from his home country Colombia with the government-sponsored Colombia Coldeportes team.

    The first-year Professional Continental team grew out of the Colombia es Pasion project, a development program which has fostered the progression of riders like Sergio Henao, now racing with Sky Procycling. Peña joined the squad in 2010 after his previous American team, Rock Racing, fell through. The Tour of California is his first race back in the USA.

    "I feel really happy to be back," Peña told Cyclingnews. "Racing here in my two seasons when I was with Rock Racing was a really nice experience. Now to come back to Tour of California I'm really happy."

    Peña says the team has a couple talented climbers who come to California with the goal of claiming scalps on Mt. Baldy. "We have two guys who are really world class climbers, [John] Atapuma and [Fabio] Duarte, so we're going to take care of them and make sure they don't lose time. We will try to keep them fresh for Friday and Saturday," he said, referring to the Big Bear and Mt. Baldy finishes. "Every day is hard, but those will be the key stages."

    While the Colombians by and large feature prominently on any climb especially those at high altitude because it is the terrain with which they...

  • Sprinters nullify Amgen Tour of California stage 2

    The peloton heads out of San Francisco in view of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge
    Article published:
    May 15, 2012, 4:15 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Descents, crashes break up bunch more than climbs

    The second stage of the Amgen Tour of California on paper should have been a day for a small group of climbers with good descending skills, but in reality came down to a surprisingly big bunch sprint, with some 60 riders making the mad dash to the line in Aptos after 188.5km. The stage was won again by race leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), who survived another crash, flat tire and near-miss with a team car to extend his lead in the general classification.

    The stage went largely to script on the 113km run down the coast from San Francisco, although the day's first breakaway of two riders was nullified because Argos-Shimano's Alexandre Geniez refused to work with Tom Zirbel (Optum Pro Cycling) because the duo stood no chance of staying clear. According to the day's most courageous rider Jeremy Vennell (Bissell), "Liquigas would have had a very easy day riding against two guys, so we decided to attack them, and I went across to those guys with four riders."

    Vennell's group formed a six-rider breakaway which up to ten minutes before the peloton woke up and started giving chase.

    "We rode conservatively because we knew the teams behind would ride harder if we rode harder," the New Zealander said. "It was a cat and mouse game all the way to the bottom of the first climb on Bonny Doon."

    Geniez then attacked the breakaway on Empire Grade and while he was later caught, he earned the day's most aggressive rider jersey.

    As Garmin-Barracuda took to the front of the peloton on the category 1 climb of Empire Grade, they served to whittle away at Geniez's lead, but rather than a vicious pace breaking up the bunch, it was a minor crash which included the race leader Sagan that served to temporarily split the lead peloton. He...

  • Video: Haussler getting better by the day in Amgen Tour of California

    Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda ) all smiles before the start.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2012, 5:27 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Second again to Sagan in sprint

    Garmin-Barracuda's Heinrich Haussler took his second runner-up place in a row in today's Amgen Tour of California stage 2 to Aptos. The Australian was not quite able to match the speed through the final corner of stage winner Peter Sagan, but he is encouraged by the way he's feeling.

    "It's an OK result, I've just come back from a lot of training and I'm building up for the coming races, and I've just come down from altitude. Second yesterday, second today - at least it shows I've been training and that my form is going in the right direction."

    Haussler is happy to be able to get a result for his American team on their home soil. He will continue to wear the race's green points jersey as Sagan leads both that competition and the overall race.

    He's currently second overall as well, eight seconds behind Sagan. "There are a few more stages where I hope I can improve and pull off a stage win, but our main goal is the GC," Haussler said.

    The results are encouraging indicators for his form, but perhaps not quite enough to earn him the nod by the Australian Olympic selectors for the London Games. "At least I know my form is getting better. I wasn't struggling at all on the climbs, and that's a good sign for me personally, for my confidence. Normally day by day I should be getting better." 

  • Hesjedal stays out of trouble at Giro with sprint finish

    Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal retained the pink jersey
    Article published:
    May 15, 2012, 9:37 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Race leader seventh in crash-marred finale on stage 9

    Asked if he had developed a new talent as a bunch sprinter after his surprise seventh place in Frosinone, Giro d'Italia race leader Ryder Hesjedal’s first reaction was a large grin.

    In fact, as the Canadian then explained, going for it at the finish had been more a safety measure than an attempt to pull a fast one and claw back a time bonus on Rodríguez, Basso and co.

    “I wanted to stay out of trouble, there was a [sharp] corner at the end and those hills, too, I just didn’t want any problems,” Hesjedal commented.

    This isn’t the first time, in any case, that Hesjedal, best-known as a climber, has sprinted. He recalls he took sixth in the first stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco bunch gallop this year.

    As for the crash, he says “I was able to stay on the inside, steer left a little and get to the line. It was ok.”

    As for Rodríguez’s late attack, Hesjedal added “he’s an explosive competitor, he’s going to take any chances he can get. The climbs were hard enough not to know what would happen, so he went on the attack to see what would happen. He took a chance.”

    He himself felt comfortable on the climb and knew there were riders like Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), amongst others, who were interested in the race reforming for a bunch sprint.

    Asked about the final ‘wall’-like climb on Tuesday’s stage to Assisi, Hesjedal, who has had some solid finishes in uphill races ranging from Fleche Wallone to the GP Miguel Indurain, did not seem overly troubled. But as he pointed out, if Rodríguez wins or gets second, thanks to the bonus seconds, the Spaniard will pull ahead. The...

  • Bulgac piling up the break kilometers in the Giro d'Italia

    Brian Bulgac (Lotto Belisol Team )
    Article published:
    May 15, 2012, 10:43 BST
    Cycling News

    Lotto Beilsol rider in escape groups in fifth and ninth stages

    Brian Bulgac is turning into an escape artist at the Giro d'Italia. The Lotto Belisol rider took off in both the fifth and ninth stages, but both times the group was caught before the finish.

    In stage five, from Modeno to Fano, he joined three other riders virtually from the sharp start, and the quartet stayed away most of the stage. After the stage, “I immediately played with the idea of trying again in the Giro,” he told

    Things looked bad the next day, though, when he crashed. “My ankle was badly swollen and blue. I feared a fracture or crack but examinations in the hospital fortunately showed that it was just bruising.

    “I had my doubts as to whether I could continue, but Saturday and Sunday I stayed quiet.”

    He came back with a bang on Monday. Despite the pain, he jumped again with Pierre Cazaux (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Martijn Keiser (Vacansoleil-DCM) early on. The three never had much more than a four-minute lead, though.

    "The co-operation within our trio was pretty good, though I thought we were a little too eager."

    He and Cazaux were caught with about 30km to go, and Keizer shortly thereafter. The two Dutch riders were the last over the finish line, eight minutes after winner Francisco Ventoso of Movistar.