Canadian responds after team time trial disappointment
After a disappointing outing from his Garmin-Sharp squad in the Giro d’Italia team time trial in Ischia on Sunday, Ryder Hesjedal bounced back with an aggressive ride in the finale of stage three to Marina di Ascea.
As nerves frayed during the sinuous finale on twisting roads, Hesjedal went on the offensive on the climb of Sella di Catona, slipping clear alone with 25km to go and forcing Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team to take up the pursuit.
Hesjedal was reeled in shortly afterwards, but his acceleration had the effect of reducing the lead group significantly and heightening the tension at the head of the race, as the other overall contenders scrambled to get back on terms.
The Canadian repeated the dose on the technical descent, stretching things out at the head of the race and again forcing his rivals to use up vital energy as they arranged their pursuit. For good measure, after Luca Paolini (Katusha) had slipped away with 6km to go to take stage victory and temporary possession of the pink jersey, Hesjedal led out the sprint in the chase group behind and picked up an eight-second time bonus for his third place finish.
Hesjedal’s aggressive afternoon reduced his overall deficit to Bradley Wiggins (Sky) to 17 seconds and also spoke volumes about his aspirations of defending his Giro d’Italia crown. It was a good thing, too, seeing as Hesjedal was reluctant to speak for himself on crossing the line.
“We had a plan to race today. We’re here to race,” Hesjedal said. Asked by a television crew if his ride was a response to those who doubted him after Sunday’s sub-par team time trial showing, he simply said: “If anyone doubted, then...
According to a team release, Horner 41, has "iliotibial band friction syndrome" on his left knee from the end of Tirreno-Adriactico where he was sixth overall.
"So far the doctors have been optimistic about my knee problem, but as soon as I started training, the pain came back," Horner said. "The last time that I was on the bike for more than four hours was in Catalunya. There is no way I can race now. All of my condition is gone. After Catalunya I was off the bike for four weeks."
Horner is set to consult a specialist in Arizona this week.
"It is possible I have an alignment problem. We will examine all possibilities. I want to race again. All of the doctors I have visited are optimistic that it will heal again, but it just needs time. The problem is that nobody is able to tell me how much time I need. This is not a collar bone fracture-like injury, where you can say exactly how much time you need to recover. My injury is more difficult. I can ride my bike but after two hours the pain returns."
"This is such bad news for me," continued Horner. "As the 2011 winner of this race I want to be there. Moreover, I live in San Diego, just 20 minutes from the team hotel. I will visit the team, but it will be with mixed feelings. It all hurts as I was so good in the early season. In Tirreno-Adriatico I was as good as the best riders in the world."
Horner is hopeful of returning for the Tour de Suisse and race the Tour de France but while he will not be able to lead the team in California, RadioShack Leopard has a solid second...
Pure climbing stock and bolstered roster critical for Pro Conti jump, says rider
Failing to start the final stage at Battle on the Border wasn't a surprise for Drapac Cycling's Will Walker who started his 2013 NRS campaign under less than ideal circumstances. Last month Walker finished second overall at the Tour of Thailand, demonstrating he was on track for the second round of the Subaru National Road Series and decided to test himself on the eve of Stage 1. He performed a late-afternoon reconnaissance spin up Mount Warning that he said would have been fast enough to beat anyone come race day.
Upon waking up the next day however, he knew that something wasn't right. As it was Walker had come down with a virus that would rule him out of contesting for the win before turning a single pedal. Considering his past health complications, Walker says its an unfortunate experience that has to be taken on the chin.
"Sometimes that's just life," he told Cyclingnews about coming to terms with the reality that it's simply impossible to arrive at every race in winning form.
"I was coming into really good form before it and you could say even the night before I went up just as fast to beat anyone on the day but I woke up the next morning and the virus had absolutely killed me. I stayed last wheel for the whole stage and was no help to the team at all. I was disappointed that it happened but considering the setbacks I've had in the past, I'm kind of used to having to re-assess and understand that you can't be good in every race."
Orica GreenEdge rider makes elite selection on Stage 3 at Giro
The third day of racing at the Giro d'Italia may have belonged to Italian grand tour first-timer Luca Paolini (Katusha) who took a solo win into Marina di Ascea but it also provided an unexpected chance for the general contenders to show themselves. Amongst the elite finishing group was a sole Orica GreenEdge representative Pieter Weening, who had pinpointed the Giro as one of his major targets for the season.
The last time Weening attended the Giro was 2011 when he won Stage 5 into Orvieto after with the time gained at the finished, pulled on the maglia rosa as race leader. The win that day was in classic Weening fashion, grasping an opportunity and giving it everything for a final winning result.
Weening's Orica outfit is hoping the 32-year-old will be able to scalp a similar result again in this year's edition and he showed his intentions to deliver on that expectation on just the third day of racing. The team's sprinters Matt Goss and Leigh Howard were dispatched before the finish and left Weening free to do his thing.
"This was one of the days that Pieter had on his calendar," said sports director Neil Stephens. "It's one thing to make that group, and it's another for circumstances to align for a stage win. Pieter is an opportunist. For an opportunist to win, he needs to look for an opportunity. He's got to do what he did today - ride hard enough to make the group and seize any opportunity that he sees. The more times he puts himself in a position to win, the more chances he has.
"We knew we had to be well-placed heading into the first climb," added Stephens. "The workers of the team placed our key guys well. When the real action started on the second climb, that's when things got too difficult. As you saw by the reduced numbers at the finish,...
Team studied every corner of Sella di Catona descent
Losing time in the team time trial when many expected them to rival the top-contender's from Sky, Astana and Garmin Sharp may not have been the best way for Cadel Evans to begin his Giro d'Italia campaign but just 24-hours later the plucky Australian sort to reduce his deficit to the likes of Bradley Wiggins et al by finishing in second-place on Stage 3 to Marina di Ascea.
A 12-second time bonus will mean little when the GC battle heats up on tough 12km climb to Croce Ferrata at the end of today's stage but the BMC Racing Team has already shown they mean business at this year's Giro. Having studied every corner of the technical descent on Stage 3, it's expected that Evans and his team will be more adequately prepared again when the tour rolls out for its second-longest stage.
"We knew every corner of the final descent and spent 30 minutes studying it in the pre-race meeting, so it was perfect," said BMC assistant director Fabio Baldato on the team site. "The guys did a great job, particularly Ivan, Steve Morabito and Danilo Wyss, who had a bit of a bad day yesterday."
Known for his descending skills, Evans comfortably placed himself amongst the 18-rider selection before Luca Paolini (Katusha) clipped away for the stage win. A small bonification may not put Evans in group of absolute favourites for the overall title but it has at least gone some way to...
RadioShack Leopard has fielded a squad balanced between youth and experience at the 2013 Giro d'Italia and in this exclusive video Cyclingnews goes behind the scenes to speak with the riders about the chemistry and camaraderie necessary to make one's way through a Grand Tour.
The squad's youth division is highlighted by George Bennett (23), making his Grand Tour debut, as well as Jesse Sergent (24) and Giacomo Nizzolo (24), each with one Giro d'Italia under their belts, plus Nelson Oliveira (24) with a Giro and Vuelta finish in his palmares.
"We've got a lot of young guys - four of us - and we've got a few old guys," said Bennett. "So the young guys are there for morale, helping each other through, and the old guys have the experience and have done enough Grand Tours and know what we're going through."
On the other end of the experience spectrum are seasoned pros such as Danilo Hondo, Yaroslav Popovych and Hayden Roulston who provide insight into their role on the squad plus some lighthearted commentary about their teammates' personalities and sleeping habits.
After three stages of the Giro d'Italia RadioShack Leopard's GC hopeful Robert Kiserlovski, 10th overall at the 2010 Giro, is in 18th overall at one minute.
Arnaud Démare (FDJ) proved he is more than just a promising sprinter by winning the 4 Jours de Dunkerque race. The 21 year-old Frenchman won the opening three stages using his finishing speed and also had the strength and support to stay with the leaders on Saturday's hilly stage. He beat Florian Vachon (Bretagne Séché Environnement) by 16 seconds, with Ramon Sinkeldam (Argos-Shimano) at 26 seconds.
The 2011 Under 23 world champion won six races in 2012, including the Vattenfall Cyclassics WorldTour race. He took the Grand Prix de Denain this spring after getting an intense taste of the cobbled Classics, under the guidance of FDJ team manager and former Paris-Roubaix winner Marc Madiot.
"It's where you learn and absorb everything," Madiot told Equipe. "When you finish these you, you can apply what you've learnt to other racers and Démare is a fast learner."
Démare agreed with his boss,admitting it was hard to defend the leader's pink jersey in the hilly stages.
"When you go up against the best riders in the world in races like Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders it can only make you a better rider. I've done the cobbled Classics for two years now and I think I've learnt a lot. Hopefully it'll help me in the future," he said.
"It was hard on Saturday. I knew I come under attack but we raced intelligently and put riders in the early breaks. It worked and I was surprised to hang on in the final kilometres."
No rivalry with Bouhanni
Démare is one of two talented sprinters at FDJ. Current French national champion Nacer Bouhanni is the other and is riding the Giro d'Italia. It seems he will be the protected sprinter at FDJ for the Tour de France,...