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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Date published:
April 03, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • ASO rates Paris-Roubaix cobbles

    The cobbles of the Carrefour de l'Arbre were once again decisive.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2013, 23:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Sectors given star-ratings after course inspection

    The organisers of Sunday's Paris-Roubaix have completed their course inspection and assigned difficulty ratings to each of the 27 cobbled sectors along the 2013 course.

    Christian Prudhomme and Jean-François Pescheux ranked all 52.6km of pavé based on length of the sector, the unevenness of the cobbles, the overall condition of the sectors and their locations.

    There have been a few minor alterations to the course from the 2012 edition, which pushed the appearance of the first sector in Troisvilles out by one kilometer. The first five sectors remain unchanged, but then the course takes a different route, avoiding the Capelle-sur-Écaillon à Ruesnes, Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes - Famars and Famars-Quérénaing, which were sectors 22, 21 and 20 last year.

    Instead, the race will divert after Vertain, giving the riders a 10km break before sector 22 in Verchain. The course then briefly picks up the 2012 route on the Quérénaing-Maing sector, which is number 21 this year.

    The feared Trouée d'Arenberg will now come at kilometer 158, making it sector 18, rather than 16. The riders will have 3,600m fewer of pavé and 14km less of racing in their legs when they reach the first five-star set of cobbles in the Arenberg forest.

    The peloton will again divert from last year's course, exiting the forest to head south toward the Wallers sector, which returns after a five-season absence. The three-star sector, also known as Pont Gibus, cost Sylvain Chavanel his maillot jaune in the 2010 Tour de France.

    What follows is a difficult portion of the course which lumps in four lengthy sectors: Hornaing (3.7km), Warlaing (2.4km), Tilloy (2.4km) and Beuvry-la-Foret (1.4km), in the space...

  • Orica GreenEdge sprint derailed in pileup at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe

    Sam Bewley (Orica Greenedge) is leaving the track behind and concentrating on the road this year
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 0:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Bewley taken to hospital with broken collarbone

    It had been a relatively calm first day at Circuit de la Sarthe until the bunch entered the narrow streets of the finishing loops and the jostling for position began. The finale was marked by a frantic and nervous finish which saw around 25 riders hit the pavement inside 3km to go. One of the worst affected was Sam Bewley who broke his collarbone in the fall.

    Bewley was looking to set up Orica GreenEdge teammate Aidis Kruopis for the sprint when he went down, along with three more Orica GreenEdge riders. Bewley was the only one from the Australia-registered ProTeam to be seriously hurt in the incident while Kruopis and neo-professional Michael Hepburn suffered minor abrasions. Last year's overall winner Luke Durbridge was caught behind and received bunch time - as the incident occurred within 3km to go.

    "The loop at the finish was run on fairly narrow roads," said Hepburn in a team release. "The boys did a great job keeping in good position. The break was brought back with five kilometres, and from there, we were planning on helping Aidis in the finish.

    "I'm still not exactly sure what happened. It was a big crash with about 25 guys going down. Aidis and I were okay, and Luke was mostly caught behind more than anything, but Sam didn't look too good. He immediately said his shoulder hurt. We [Aidis and I] lost some skin and were caught up in the chaos of it all, but it wasn't too bad."

    Following a visit to the hospital Bewley and his team confirmed the news. The 25-year-old will undergo surgery to mend his broken collarbone in the coming days while his return to competition is yet to be determined.

  • Ewan scoops first win for Jayco-AIS at GP Palio del Recioto

    Ewan (Jayco-AIS) had plenty of time to celebrate as he took a dominant victory in his first European race of 2013
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 2:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Opening European races deliver success for U23 squad

    Caleb Ewan got the revamped under-23 Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy squad off to a winning start yesterday by taking out the Grand Prix Palio del Recioto with a dominant performance in the finishing sprint. Ewan, who skipped the previous day's Giro del Belvedere - where teammate Mitchell Mulhern finished third - was well positioned leading into the final corner and jumped with approximately 200m remaining to take a clear victory ahead of Silvio Herklotz (Team Stölting) and Luka Pibernik (Radenska).

    Ewan took advantage of his team's solid pace-setting and moved into the lead group after approximately 100km. The upcoming rider held his nerve throughout the difficult final 40-odd kilometres to eventually race for the win. Teammate Damien Howson, who finished fifth the day before in the 154km Giro del Belvedere, played a crucial role in setting up the victory for his younger teammate by remaining out front until passing under the red kite in the 143km race.

    Howson was swept up just before the final corner by a chasing group that included Ewan, who took silver in the U23 road race at the UCI World Championships last year. Ewan then went about easily besting the remaining eight riders to take victory.

    The win at the Italian 1.2 race was the 18-year-old's first since taking out a stage and the overall at Australia's Bay Cycling Classic in January.

    "It 'was my first race in Europe this year, and I won," said Ewan to "This morning, before the start, I did not know what to expect, because we are still early in the season and my form still has a way to go. This is a tough race with many climbs and, as a team there were a number of very good climbers but I found myself in a good escape and in the end I managed to win."

    "Awesome start to the...

  • Pelucchi denies Bouhanni's dangerous sprint claims

    Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling)
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 4:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Circuit de la Sarthe stage winner was in a "sandwich"

    Accused of reckless sprinting in the crash-marred final of Stage 1 at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling), the day's winner and target for Nacer Bouhanni's post-race spray has said he did not intend to disrupt the French champion's run to the line. Pelucchi reportedly squeezed Bouhanni before opening up his sprint.

    "I do not like to lose but today I came across a madman," said a furious Bouhanni to "In the sprint I was on the wheel of [Bryan] Coquard and when I wanted to move left with 200 meters to go Pelucchi hooked my handlebars. This guy is a menace!"

    The apparent move by the stage winner Pelucchi threw Bouhanni off his line and he subsequently finished in fourth place. Pelucchi however, was saddened such comments would fall his way and noted that his actions were unintentional and that he would not risk his or another rider's life simply to win a bike race.

    "I'm happy for this victory and I want to thank the team but I'm sorry for the statements made by Bouhanni who called me a "public danger"," said Pelucchi.

    It was Pelucchi's first win since taking out Stage 3 at last year's Ronde de l'Oise. The 24-year-old spent the 2012 season with Europcar before signing with the newly developed Swiss IAM Cycling Project for 2013. There was nothing irregular in his sprint, according to the Italian who added that he too almost came to grief in the finale.

    "There was contact in the sprint between him and me. I do not deny that but it was certainly not intentional. I had another rider on my left and found myself in a sandwich. I can understand his adrenaline after the finish but I would like to remind him that I almost crashed too and I...

  • Marianne Vos' book details desire for Olympic glory

    Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv/Giant) looked in control throughout the race today
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 6:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Images and tales from Olympic and world championship-winning season

    Marianne Vos' soon-to-be released book titled "Op de Troon" is not just another athlete biography, according to the recent winner of the women’s Tour of Flanders but an account of the most successful period in the her career when she won the Olympic road race and World Championship title in 2012.

    The book dubbed "Op de Troon" or "The Throne" currently available in Dutch is written by Rik Booltink and offers an insight into the world of the Rabo Women’s Team leader who, like many great champions, suffers doubt when many would believe winning and success comes so easily. However, it is not a mere biography celebrating her already long career.

    "I wanted to make sure this was not biography of a 25-year-old. My career is far from over," said Vos on her team site.

    "I thought it would be nice to tell more than just about the results and that there could be more than just the bike," she explained in an interview with Omroep Brabant.

    Ghostwriter Booltink explained that the process of talking through the events of last season were not particularly easy for the highly-talented rider.

    "She did not initially open up but gradually Marianne loosen up and helps to give the reader a good picture of her experience during the peak year in 2012," added Booltink.

    Her obsession which circled around capturing Olympic gold - this time on the road as compared to 2008 in Beijing when she took gold in the points race on the track - meant she became overly obsessed with her weight, getting down to as little as 50kg just before her assault on the course in London.

  • Watching Paris-Roubaix too painful for Boonen

    An early race crash prevented Belgian champion Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) from defending his Tour of Flanders title.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 7:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Flanders crash sees defending champion miss favourite races

    Crashing out of the race he has won three times in the past (2005, 2006 and 2012) should have been enough punishment for Tom Boonen who was unable to defend his title at Tour of Flanders but the reality of missing his 'pet' race Paris-Roubaix this weekend is a little too much to handle. It's for this reason that Tommeke will not be watching the coverage when the peloton rolls out for what will inevitably be a very different race with the absence of the four-time Roubaix winner.

    "It was bad enough already having to watch the final of Tour of Flanders on television," said Boonen to La Dernière Heure.

    "So I think I will not watch Paris-Roubaix. It's too painful," said the current Belgian champion who fell just 19km into the de Ronde.

    Boonen enjoyed arguably his best season to date in 2012 when he took a near clean sweep of the cobbled classics. The 32-year-old won E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix but his latest crash is yet another setback for the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider who has been without much luck this season.

    Illness, crashes and infection have underlined Boonen's season thus far and having to effectively sit out both Flanders and Roubaix will no doubt put a serious dampener on the rest of his season.

    "Sunday's Ronde and Paris-Roubaix are the two most enjoyable days of the year and my season depends on a few of these races," said Boonen....

  • Cavendish chasing record breaking fourth win at Scheldeprijs

    Mark Cavendish celebrates his victory in stage 2 at the Three Days of De Panne.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 10:37 BST
    Cycling News

    British sprinter looking to celebrate his daughter's first birthday

    Mark Cavendish is back in Belgium for the Scheldeprijs, hoping to win the race for a record breaking fourth time to celebrate his daughter's first birthday and give his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team a boost after Tom Boonen's crash at the Tour of Flanders.

    Cavendish is currently tied with Piet Oellibrandt for the record of wins at the race, the Belgian won in 1960, 1962 and 1963. Cavendish won the mid-week race in 2007, 2008 and 2011.

    He didn’t take part last year, becoming a father to Delilah on the day of the race. Marcel Kittel won the sprint ahead of Tyler Farrar and Theo Bos. All three will be back to take on Cavendish, as are Theo Bos (Blanco), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Gerald Ciolek (Team MTN Qhubeka), Andrea Guardini (Astana), Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

    A record breaking fourth victory could see him awarded a special diamond trophy from the Diamond High Council, based nearby in Antwerp -the largest diamond trading centre in the world.

    The Manxman has won six sprints so far this season plus overall victory at the Tour of Qatar and was part of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad that won the team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    "Mark can beat the record of victories and the team will help him out try to do this," Omega Pharma-Quick Step directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters said in a press release from the team.

    "We have an experienced team for these kind of races and a few fresh riders for the leadout of Mark. It will not be so easy with the competitors at the race, but Mark has shown he is in good condition and can win with many different sprint situations in the final."

    The Omega...

  • Andy Schleck: “I won’t know what my real level is until the Tour”

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) takes the start of the GP Camaiore.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2013, 11:12 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    RadioShack leader slowly building form in País Vasco

    Following his problems of 2012, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) says he is slowly but surely getting back on track.

    Currently racing the Vuelta al Páis Vasco, Schleck lost just 23 seconds on Tuesday’s tricky finale, and prior to the start of the crunch stages of the six-day race, he is lying 81st overall at 1:24. Schleck seems to have turned corner after struggling to finish races and alleged personal problems. However he says he won’t know what his top level will be prior to the Tour de France, where he hopes to be at 100 percent.

    “I can’t keep on thinking about what happened last year,” Schleck told Basque newspaper Gara. “Here I want to keep building on my form, I already felt stronger in the Criterium [International] and even if I’m not yet ready to fight with the top names, I want to get to the Ardennes in the best condition possible.”

    “My big goal is to be the rider I once was again,” he said. “I want to reach the Tour in top condition and that’s only when I’ll know if I’ve got the same level that I had before being injured.”

    “With Andy the problem is that people are looking so hard at what he does that anything that happens gets over-exaggerated,” RadioShack coach Josu Larrazabal told Gara.

    “They say he can’t finish a race and in the Tour Down Under, he didn’t complete the course, because he had a mechanical on the final circuit and the team cars couldn’t stop. Then he got sick at the Tour of the Med. But people forget that a hip injury is hard to recover from. I’ve been with him since the Tour of the Med. and everything is going as it...