First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Date published:
March 14, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Cancellara ticks final Tirreno box before San Remo

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) won the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 9:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Swiss star aiming for second La Classicissima

    When Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) is on - he's on. Strade Bianche was an early indicator that the Swiss rider was back in career best form, but doubts remained. His performance yesterday in the Tirreno Adriatico final stage time trial, however, should put any questions to bed. The crowd at San Benedetto del Tronto were treated to a Cancellara special, the 30-year-old dominating the 9.3 kilometre course in a way that only he can.

    Shades of his stellar 2010 are certainly apparent and with his rivals for La Classicissima seemingly unsure of their form, Cancellara has only strengthened his credentials as one of the favourites for Saturday's Milan-San Remo.

    "I know where my form is now after 30 hours on the bike and I have a lot of confidence," said a confident Cancellara after his win in Tirreno. Runner-up in both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix last year, Cancellara says he's serene about his chances this year.

    "I’ll have a few days rest now and then Milan-San Remo on Saturday. I feel calm about the race. It’s a race where no one can predict what’s going to happen. I’ve won before in 2008 but I think that was a surprise and now everyone watches me so it isn’t so easy. I’m not 100 per cent yet - but come Saturday I’ll definetely be ready to race."

    RadioShack-Nissan will also have the services of a resurgent Daniele Bennati on Saturday. The Italian is a strong alternate option for the sprint if Cancellara is unable to cause the damage he needs to over the Poggio. Sporting director Luca Guercilena said the team were all looking really good, having 'clicked' over the past week.

    "We had a stage of 230 km and one of...

  • Gilbert prepares in Imola ahead of Milan-San Remo

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team)
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 10:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian under observation of Max Testa as he recovers from fever

    Philippe Gilbert is preparing for Milan-San Remo in Imola following his withdrawal from Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Monday’s penultimate stage. The Belgian champion pulled out of the race citing fever and BMC team doctor Max Testa will now assess his recovery over the coming days.

    Team manager John Lelangue was keen to downplay speculation over the exact state of Gilbert’s health just three days ahead of the first monument classic of the year. Gilbert has endured a low-key beginning to life as a BMC rider following his high-profile switch to the team during the off-season.

    “At present, it doesn’t serve any purpose to make a soap opera out of it,” team manager John Lelangue told La Dernière Heure. “Philippe has now gone calmly to Imola, where we are all going to get away for a couple of days before San Remo.”

    Gilbert finished third at Milan-San Remo last season, having entered the race on a high following his victories at Strade Bianche and in a tough stage of Tirreno-Adriatico to Castelraimondo.

    His progress to date in 2012 has not been as smooth, however. After failing to make an impact at Het Nieuwsblad, Gilbert finished off the pace at Strade Bianche and struggled from the beginning of Tirreno-Adriatico.

    Lelangue insisted that he is not concerned by the illness that has laid Gilbert low in recent days, but said that the team would not discuss the matter further until Thursday.

    “I’m still not worried,” Lelangue said. “Everybody talks all...

  • Nibali sets his sights on Milan-San Remo

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) was a popular winner of Tirreno-Adriatico.
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 11:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian on Giro d'Italia and his 2013 team

    Fresh from victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, Vincenzo Nibali is now turning his attentions to Milan-San Remo, where he will lead the Liquigas-Cannondale team alongside Peter Sagan.

    Sagan risked upsetting Nibali’s hopes of Tirreno victory when he chased him down and took victory himself on Saturday’s stiff uphill finish in Chieti, but the Slovak youngster made amends with a sterling shift in the service of Nibali in the finale at Offida on Monday.

    Little wonder, then, that Nibali jokingly named Sagan as his most dangerous adversary on the long road to San Remo on Saturday. La Classicissima has increasingly smiled on the fast men in recent seasons, but Nibali is hopeful that aggressive riding over the capi might take its toll on the pure sprinters.

    “Peter and I are a great pairing,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “He will play his cards in the sprint and he will have to be very good to beat Cavendish. I will have to try something beforehand. We’ll need to make the race as hard as possible, but I’m convinced that we’ll find allies to do this. Certainly I know that I’ll have to invent something to win it, but difficult challenges motivate me.”

    In any case, when Saturday comes, Nibali is confident that he will not be suffering from any lingering effects of his efforts at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    “Absolutely not, I’m coming out of this race only with benefits,” he said. “The most important thing is that my morale is sky high. A day of rest and...

  • Fractured shoulder rules Devenyns out of Milan-San Remo

    Fries Devenyns (Omega Pharma - Quick Step)
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 13:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Boonen leads Omega Pharma-QuickStep squad in Italy

    Dries Devenyns has confirmed the widely-predicted news that he will not be fit to take his place on the start line at Milan-San Remo this Saturday. The 28-year-old Belgian crashed on the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice last Saturday in what appeared at the time to be a nasty fall.

    X-rays taken by a specialist in his homeland on Monday have revealed a fracture in his right shoulder and it is not known when the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider might return to the road. Devenyns was seen as a key part of the support for Tom Boonen in this weekend's race, so his absence is a blow on both a personal and collective level.

    "This is a terrible time for me," explained Devenyns. "I was really enjoying a period of top form and I was ready to race Milan-San Remo. Unfortunately these things happen and there's nothing I can do about it; considering the seriousness of the fall, it could have been even worse. Now my goal is to try to heal well and get back to the races as soon as possible." 

    Tom Boonen leads a strong Omega Pharma-QuickStep line-up for Saturday's race. The Belgian began his season with strong performances in Argentina and Qatar, and he highlighted his form with an impressive showing at Paris-Nice. As well as winning the opening road stage, Boonen was prominent in pace-setting on the climbs for his leaders Levi Leipheimer and Sylvain Chavanel.

    "In this first part of the season Tom has proven to be in top form. He even shone in the recent Paris Nice, winning the stage in Orleans and then he followed this up by doing a great job for Levi Leipheimer," said directeur sportif Davide Bramati.

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep team for Milan-San Remo (March...

  • Sanchez eyes April success

    Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sanchez waves to the crowd.
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 13:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Olympic champion on Tour of the Basque Country and Euskaltel-Euskadi

    Samuel Sanchez is unconcerned by his Euskaltel-Euskadi team’s lack of victories to date in 2012 and is confident that the Basque squad will get off the mark in the coming weeks, as the Volta a Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country hone into view.

    “I feel good and we shouldn’t get bothered that we haven’t had results,” Sanchez told “We’ve always been a bit of a ‘lazy’ team in that regard. Maybe it’s because the climate in the north doesn’t have the sun that they get in the south or the east. The results will come; our first win is normally in this period. Our month is April.”

    Sanchez will be expected to be among the contenders at next week’s Volta a Catalunya, but the Tour of the Basque Country is of particular importance for his squad. “At the Basque Country, it’s always difficult to shine precisely because it’s our home race,” he said. “If my form is like it has been in recent years, there’s no reason why I can’t be fighting for the win.

    “The time trial on the last day is very complicated and will decide the race. The two finishes at altitude, Arrate and Ibardin, will remove some riders from the general classification.”

    The very running of the Tour of the Basque Country was in doubt until the recent announcement that the Sababell Guipuzcoano bank would step in as sponsor for the next two seasons. “It would have been very serious if the Tour of the Basque Country had disappeared,” Sanchez said. “It’s a classic, with the best fans.”

    While the biggest Basque race is safe, for now at least, the future of...

  • Jamis-Sutter Home heading to Spain

    The 2012 Jamis-Sutter Home team: Kyle Wamsley, Carson Miller, Jackie Simes, Philip Mooney, Brad Gehrig, Demis Aleman, Anibal Borrajo, Tyler Wren, Alejandro Borrajo, Guido Palma, Luis Amaran
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 15:49 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Close-knit Continental team laments Tour of California exclusion

    The Jamis-Sutter Home team may only be entering its third season, but the ties between its sponsors, directors and riders go further back in time and its pre-season camp epitomized the family atmosphere by holding an intimate dinner in Napa Valley rather than the large gala favoured by most professional teams.

    Set in St. Helena at the Trinchero Family Vineyards, part of the Sutter Home empire, the team and director Sebastian Alexandre gathered in the cozy cellar to ring in the new season and to reinforce its partnership with its title sponsors, represented by Jamis president Carine Joannou and Sutter Home marketing director Wendy Nyberg.

    Alexandre may not have expanded the team's numbers, but he does hope to raise the squad's profile by heading over to Europe for a few races. He garnered invitations for the 2.1-ranked Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (April 13-15) and Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja (1.1, April 22).

    "The team has never gone to Europe, and one of my goals was to expand the program. We started to race in South America a couple years ago, and I thought this was a good opportunity to go to Europe," Alexandre told Cyclingnews. "To be invited to the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon was a good start for us. I'm proud to expand the program a little bit. We have done many races here (in the US), and it's a good time to start to race in Europe.

    "I think Luis Amaran is a rider who can do well in Europe. Hes one of the top riders in the US, he's an amazing rider, so I expect him to do well in this race," Alexandre said, adding that Amaran's goal is to make the top 10 overall.

    "He's definitely strong enough to be up there in the race. We're bringing a good team, and we're not afraid to race against anyone. We've faced the best teams in the world in the Tour of California before, and Luis was the top domestic rider there last year (he was 16th)."

    Yet despite...

  • UCI WorldTour rankings updated following Tirreno-Adriatico

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the podium
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 16:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Nibali debuts at second overall, RadioShack-Nissan top team

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) has debuted at second place overall in the UCI WorldTour rankings after winning Tirreno-Adriatico, the seven-day Italian stage race that concluded on Tuesday, March 13.

    The 27-year-old Italian started the final 9.3km time trial in third place in general classification, six seconds behind race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) and one second behind Roman Kreuziger (Astana), but a strong effort against the clock vaulted Nibali past his two GC rivals and into the final leader's jersey. Horner would claim second overall at 14 seconds, while Kreuziger would finish on the final podium in third place at 26 seconds.

    Due to his overall victory and a stage victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, Nibali now has a total of 112 points and is second in the individual UCI WorldTour rankings. Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains in the lead with 167 points after his good performances in both the Tour Down Under in Australia and at Paris-Nice, while Paris-Nice winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) is third, tied with Nibali at 112 points.

    "This is an important win for me," said Nibali. "I've always dreamed about winning Tirreno-Adriatico. I've won stages in the past but now I've won overall too, so I'm really happy. When I won the stage to Prati di Tivo, it was about attacking and earning a lot of time quickly, the time trial was all about mental strength."

    Others benefiting from good performances at Tirreno-Adriatico include Chris Horner, now sixth in the individual WorldTour rankings...

  • RadioShack-Nissan, Lampre-ISD and AG2R name Milan-San Remo rosters

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) wins the 2012 Strade Bianche
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 18:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Wildcards Team Type 1-Sanofi, Project 1t4i and Colombia-Coldeportes ready for La Primavera

    RadioShack-Nissan heads into Saturday's Milan-San Remo fresh off of a successful Tirreno-Adriatico where Fabian Cancellara and Daniele Bennati finished 1-2 in the final time trial, while the team logged plenty of kilometres at the head of the peloton in support of Chris Horner, who ultimately finished second overall.

    Cancellara and Bennati will provide two strong options at Milan-San Remo for the Luxembourg-based ProTour squad, with the Swiss powerhouse already showing good form this season, highlighted by a solo victory at Strade Bianche two weeks in advance of Milan-San Remo.

    Cancellara has one Milan-San Remo victory in his palmares, when he soloed away in the final kilometre to win in 2008. Last year the 31-year-old Swiss came tantalizingly close to adding another victory, with a second-place finish to Matt Goss in a sprint from an elite selection.

    While the sprinters have enjoyed success in recent editions of Milan-San Remo, the race can prove to be rather unpredictable and if anyone can seize the initiative in a moment of indecision by his rivals it's Cancellara.

    "I'll have a few days rest now and then Milan-San Remo on Saturday," said Cancellara. "I feel calm about the race. It's a race where no one can predict what's going to happen. I've won before in 2008 but I think that was a surprise and now everyone watches me so it isn't so easy."

    Cancellara turns 32 one day after Milan-San Remo, and adding a second title to his...