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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Date published:
March 20, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • MTN-Qhubeka's Jim cold introduction to the WorldTour

    Songeso Jim is from the Eastern Cape of South Africa and is a talented climber
    Article published:
    March 19, 2013, 17:20 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    First black South African in Milan-San Remo fought to help Ciolek despite the weather

    Milan-San Remo was Songezo Jim's introduction to the WorldTour, and the MTN-Qhubeka rider got a rude welcome. The first black South African to take on the race had to face unexpected snow, rain and cold, but also saw teammate Gerald Ciolek take the win, leading him to say, “I can’t believe I was a part of it all.”

    Like so many others, Jim said that Sunday "was the coldest I have ever been on a bicycle. Still I would not want to be anywhere else in the world. I still can’t believe yesterday happened and keep thinking I am going to wake up from a dream."

    As the race went along, the weather went from bad to worse. Jim crashed 70 km into the day and took another 22 km to catch up again. “It was snowing, it was wet and the rain kept coming down. I was riding with my eyes closed at some point because there was no visibility with sunglasses but when you took them off the snow went into your eyes."

    He had not heard that the race was being stopped, and was confused when he saw all the riders pulling over. “I thought I am not giving up in this race. I am going to carry on because this is all I dreamed of."

    But Jim soon found out what was happening and went to his team bus, where he got some much needed help. “I was so cold I could not take off my gloves or any of my clothes. Our director, Jens had to undress me as my fingers were frozen."

    When things got back underway, he devoted himself to Ciolek and Andreas Stauff. “It was great racing with them as they taught me where to sit and what to do. I kept asking them what to do and they told me when to move up. I learned so much from them yesterday, they are incredible...

  • Chavanel to skip Dwars door Vlaanderen

    Niki Terpstra had nearly a minute on the chasers and had plenty of time to celebrate his Dwars door Vlaanderen victory
    Article published:
    March 19, 2013, 18:25 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Riders still recovering from icy Milan-San Remo

    The Omega Pharma-Quickstep team will be down one strong man for the Dwars door Vlaanderen after Sylvain Chavanel was benched to speed his recovery from the freezing conditions endured in Milan-San Remo.

    Chavanel made the winning split in the Italian Classic, but finished just off the podium in the sprint. According to the team, the Frenchman is suffering from a cold, and will not take the start "as a precautionary measure". He is slated to be on the line for the E3 Harelbeke on Friday.

    Directeur Sportif Wilfried Peeters is not concerned about the strength of the team, which will seek to help Niki Terpstra to a repeat victory in the Belgian semi-classic. Last year, Terpstra left his breakaway companions behind on the Oude Kwaremont, then soloed to the win for some 40km.

    "Only Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh rode Milano - Sanremo, so the other riders at this race will be fresh," Peeters said. "As usual the crucial points of the race will be the Paterberg and the Oude-Kwaremont. However, another key factor will be the weather. They forecasted six degrees [Celsius] and rain, so it will be a completely different race than the sunny weather of last year."

    Whiel Quickstep will start with a full team, Terpstra's breakaway companion Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) was one of eight riders who dropped out and will not be replaced for Wednesday's race. The young Belgian has been suffering from knee problems. The list of scratches also includes Heinrich Haussler (IAM), Ben Swift (Sky), Matti Breschel and Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge).

    Saxo-Tinkoff will only start Dwars door Vlaanderen with six riders, says directeur Tristan Hoffman....

  • Contest: Win custom kit of your own design from Santini

    The Santini company's headquarters in Bergamo, Italy.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2013, 20:04 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Winner to receive 10 complete kits, courtesy of Procycling and Santini

    Procycling has teamed up with Italian clothing manufacturer Santini to offer one lucky reader the chance to win custom designed cycling kit – shorts, jersey and mitts – for themselves and nine of their teammates. Procycling spent last year riding in Santini’s custom Sleek kit – the same clothing that GreenEdge raced in.

    You can design the custom clothing for your club, team or just your friends, starting with a completely blank canvas. The kit could be for your next race event, sportive, charity ride or office team.

    The competition is really easy to enter: Just download the design template from the Santini website (link below) and then let your creativity run wild. Choose the colours, graphics and logos.

    For extra inspiration, check out the Santini website (www.santinisms.it) for their design look-book and suggested ideas.

    We will choose the winning design in collaboration with Mr Santini himself. The custom kit will then be made at the Santini factory in Bergamo, Italy.

    Entry: Go to the Santini website (www.santinisms.it/en/teamup-comp2013), download the design template and design your jersey and shorts. Email the design to procycling@futurenet.com using ‘Santini Team Up’ as the subject line.

    The closing date for entries is Friday, March 29, 2013.

  • Swift sidelined for Classics season by knee injury

    Ben Swift
    Article published:
    March 20, 2013, 0:38 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sky rider still on the mend from crash in early February

    Ben Swift (Sky) is still recovering from a crash sustained on February 6 during the Trofeo Platja de Muro, part of the Mallorca Challenge, and wrote today on his blog that his Classics campaign for 2013 will not come to fruition.

    "I have had a bit of a rough time of it of late, the knee injury that I picked up from my crash in the Mallorca Challenge is still hanging around," wrote Swift. "I think we are on the home straight now but it has been quite a challenging time. After the spill I just wanted to get back on my bike and build on my form and fitness, but it was a vicious circle. I would feel OK and ride, then the next day I could feel the pain come back.

    "The knee is feeling better now but it is looking like my Classics season is over before it begun, frustrating but I need to be positive and I am lucky that it is still only March and I will be able to come back stronger and even more hungry to achieve a good mid and late season."

    The 25-year-old Briton opened his season on February 3 with a third place finish behind Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Belisol) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) at the Challenge Mallorca's Trofeo Palma. Swift followed that up with a 10th place finish the next day in the Trofeo Migjorn and then notched a fifth place result at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana.

    Swift crashed heavily in the final day at the Mallorca Challenge, the 169.8km Trofeo Platja de Muro, and has yet to compete since.

    "I don’t remember anything about the crash itself and my first recollections are of a paramedic and doctor standing over me," said Swift. "I’m really happy with the form I showed in Mallorca before the crash. I’ve trained really hard over the winter and it felt really good being...

  • Andy Schleck speaks about his troubled 2013

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2013, 1:56 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Radioshack rider dismisses report he was drunk as ridiculous

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) has dismissed reports that he was drunk in a Munich hotel on the way home from Tirreno-Adriatico, saying he is training hard and optimistic about making a successful comeback despite his troubled start to the season.

    Speaking to RTL television in Luxembourg, Schleck admitted that his return from an injury-hit 2012 season is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. In a further blow, French newspaper L'Equipe reported that RadioShack will end its sponsorship of the team this year.

    "The Munich story is ridiculous. I forgot pretty fast about it and don't want to comment on it anymore," he said, referring to the Facebook posting by a French politician last week.

    "I'm fine. The good weather has returned to Luxembourg, fortunately while I'm here. I'm training every day and I'm happy to be with my family again after such a long time."

    Schleck revealed he has slept at home for just six nights since the beginning of the year, spending most of the last three months struggling at training camps and races. He rode the Tour Down Under in January and then spent time training and racing in Europe before last week's Tirreno-Adriatico race.

    "Of course I hoped for more for the beginning of this season. After the horrible last year, with my fall, I thought I'd have a good winter training with my teammates in Spain and then it would work out. But it was different because my injury stopped me from working as hard as I would have hoped to."

    "It wasn't only a physical challenge to be part of the peloton but...

  • Difficulty walking forces Horner out of Volta a Catalunya

    Chris Horner (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2013, 4:05 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    RadioShack rider suffering knee pain since Tirreno-Adriatico

    Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) was unable to start the second stage at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya after a troubling knee issue sustained during Tirreno-Adriatico flared-up. The veteran American finished sixth-overall at the Italian WorldTour event despite suffering pain during his first outing for the 2013 season and will now look to have the injury assessed before returning to competition.

    "Already after Tirreno he [Horner] had some knee pain," explained team director José Azevedo to radioshackleopardtrek.com.

    "Yesterday in Stage 1 everything went well in the first part of the stage, but in the final the pain started all over again. This morning he even had difficulty walking. Tomorrow Chris will have his knee examined in the hospital in Basel (Switzerland)," he added.

    The team was hit by more bad news following the report RadioShack would be ending its sponsorship after young Kiwi George Bennett crashed after 90 kilometres of racing on Stage 2. A number of riders fell on top of the second-year professional and while he was able to finish the 160.7km stage, he incurred damage to the right side of his body which will no doubt impact his performance in the coming days.

    "Bennett was involved in a crash in the middle of the peloton around kilometer 90," read a team statement. "George had many riders land on him and suffers from injuries on his right side. George could finish the stage and hopes to be able to start tomorrow in a tough stage with mountaintop finish."

    Stage 3 at Catalunya features a grueling ascent to the finish in the Pyrenees with the riders...

  • Terpstra to defend race number one at Dwars door Vlaanderen

     Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2013, 4:48 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Forecasted rain not a concern for Belgian road champion

    Last year’s Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Niki Terpstra will lead the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step squad in today’s 199.7km race that serves to kick-start three weeks of Belgian rain of cobbles and will attempt to do what has not been possible since the race’s inception in 1945: win back-to-back titles.

    The real start to the Belgian classics season begins at Dwars door Vlaanderen and culminates with the Tour of Flanders on the final day in March with the crescendo at Paris-Roubaix on 7 April. For the moment however, Terpstra is concerned with pinning on race number "1" and attempting to repeat his 2012 victory whilst wearing the Belgian national road champion colours.

    "My victory last year was fantastic," Terpstra told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I'm going to try again and it will undoubtedly be special as Dutch champion and while wearing number one."

    Terpstra will hope that the blisteringly cold conditions of Milan-San Remo, where he failed to finish, does not impact his chances in his next race since competing in the season’s first monument. The weather has been forecast for rain and near sub-zero temperatures which will no doubt make for a very different race to last year.

    "I think it will be an emotional moment at the start. The weather will be unlike last year but that's not really a problem. I do not like the snow, but rain I have no problem," said Terpstra.

    His best-placed teammate from Milan-San Remo

  • Devolder with opportunity to prove himself at Dwars door Vlaanderen

    Stijn Devolder (RadioShack - Leopard)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2013, 6:41 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Two-time Flanders winner to be Cancellara’s foil during classics

    RadioShack-Leopard's directeur sportif Dirk Demol believes that Stijn Devolder can return to the big leagues and rediscover the form that saw him win back to back Tour of Flanders titles in 2008 and 2009. Demol was Devolder's directeur for several years at US Postal and QuickStep, and after Devolder returned to ride under Demol's wing this winter, he will be given a chance to ride for himself in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen.

    Devolder came through the Belgian ranks as a talented junior. After capturing the under 18 version of the Tour of Flanders in 1996 and 1997 he was picked up by the Mapei team as a stagiere. Two years at the Vlaanderen team followed before a move to US Postal and the Discovery teams where he worked with Demol for the first time. In that period he won the Three days of de Panne and astonishingly finished 11th in the 2006 Vuelta.

    While his stage race results plummeted after his move to QuickStep, he found one day success immediately, winning the Tour of Flanders in 2008 and again in 2009.

    However 2010 saw Devolder's star begin to fade. A lacklustre spring was followed by public criticism from the QuickStep management. His departure from the team was sealed that summer and he signed for Vacansoleil for 2011.

    Despite a change of environment the Belgian failed to replicate his 2008 and 2009 Flanders results. However, Demol believes that the old Devolder is showing signs of a return this spring.

    "We're here without a real leader but the riders at the start will have free cards to take their chance. Fabian [Cancellara] is not here yet. He get here on Friday and he'll be our leader for the WorldTour races but tomorrow is also a nice race and I think the riders will have the freedom...