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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Date published:
March 27, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Reimer: I’m really appreciative of my second chance

    Ferekalsi Debesay Abrha and Martin Reimer (MTN - Qhubeka) take a turn on the front
    Article published:
    March 26, 2013, 13:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former German champion on his comeback with MTN-Qhubeka

    After a year out of the sport selling office supplies online, Martin Reimer is back in the saddle and enjoy every minute of it.

    The former German road race champion left the sport at the age 24, after two years at the Cervelo Test Team and a one-year stint at Skil-Shimano. After eight months without touching a bike, the MTN-Qhubeka team offered him the chance to return for the 2013 season.

    Now older and wiser, Reimer lined up for the Three Days of De Panne with renewed vigour and appreciation for his second chance in the professional ranks.

    “I’m back. I worked the normal life with eight-hour days but now I’m back in cycling and I’m really appreciative of my second chance and I’m grateful to the team. I’ve been happy with my comeback. In the first few races it was just a case of seeing how long I could ride in the peloton but now it’s to protect Gerald [Ciolek] and maybe lead him out. I also think I’ll get my own chances in the rest of the year,” he told Cyclingnews at the start of the first stage of the Belgian race.

    “I didn’t ride a bike for eight months but I did a lot of other sports,” he said, admitting that he put on a few extra kilos during his sabbatical.

    “When I left Argos I thought that was it, and that I was done. Then the guys from MTN came to me and they thought I was good enough to make a come back. After Argos I was mentally empty and it was hard just to get on the bike. I didn’t get many offers either and at the time I wanted to see what normal life was like. I didn’t like it.”

    With a one-year deal to fulfill, Reimer is looking forward to a...

  • Evans confident about leading BMC at the Tour de France

    Cadel Evans at the start
    Article published:
    March 26, 2013, 15:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian building gradually after 2012 virus

    Cadel Evans is confident he will lead the BMC Racing Team at this year's Tour de France despite a quiet start to the season.

    Evans finished seventh in the 2012 Tour de France, discovering afterwards that he had been hampered by a virus. He ended his season in August and has made a cautious return to racing.

    Teammate Tejay van Garderen finished fifth and won the best young rider white jersey at the Tour de France. He finished third overall at the Critérium International behind the dominant Team Sky duo of Chris Froome and Ritchie Porte. Evans was a distant 51st, more than 15 minutes down. He admitted he had a poor time trial in his blog and confirmed that he worked as a domestique for van Garderen during the final stage.

    Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011. He was 34 at the time and turned 36 on February 14. He is convinced he is not past his best and that experience is vital when it comes to winning the Tour de France.

    "There is some short-term memory from the media, I had a virus last year and I still was seventh in the Tour de France," the 36-year-old told the Reuters news agency.

    "Of course on paper, Tejay was better than me but people seem to forget what I have done on the Tour de France in the six years preceding 2012."

    "If I'm not sick and everything goes according to plan, yes (I will be team leader). Like I said there seems to be a short-term memory thing in the media, I did actually win the Tour once before. That does sort of prove that I can do it."

    Evans has opted for a controlled comeback after his virus problem and is convinced it is the best way to build-up for the Tour de France.


  • Sagan ends Cavendish’s sprint hopes on stage 1 of De Panne

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quickstep)
    Article published:
    March 26, 2013, 17:46 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Chavanel and Terpstra still in the GC game

    The first day of the Three Days of De Panne is often a difficult stage to control and so it was proven: Mark Cavendish was left empty handed after he and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team succumbed to the power of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in Zottegem

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep came into the stage with three clear aims: Tom Boonen needed miles ahead of the Tour of Flanders, Sylvain Chavanel had hopes of defending his 2012 title and Mark Cavendish was looking for his first individual win since the Tour of Oman.

    However, Cavendish was unable to make the split with Sagan attacked for the final time on the run into Zottegem. The Slovakian champion went on to pull away a group containing Chavanel and Niki Terpstra and then take the stage win and race lead.

    "It wasn't necessarily a difficult day, it was more a difficult day to control," Cavendish said as he sat on the steps of the Omega team bus.

    "The wind wasn't really in a direction that could make a difference but it was a difficult direction to ride in, with mostly a headwind.

    "We had two guys up there at the end and we were active the whole day. That guy [Sagan] is pretty unbeatable right now though. He’s one of a generation and he’s super, super good. He’s making us all look like juniors."

    Though missing the stage win, the team came away with a few promising moments: Boonen slightly eased the nerves of his team with a show of strength in the Flanders hills, while Chavanel’s overall hopes remain on course. The Frenchman’s closest rival for the overall could well be his teammate Terpstra, who finished in the same time. The final day’s time trial is...

  • Westra still believes in chances to win De Panne

    Lieuwe Westra enters his fifth year with the Vacansoleil squad
    Article published:
    March 26, 2013, 18:40 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Vacansoleil captain saving his legs for final time trial

    Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) has refused to rule out victory in the Three Days of De Panne despite finishing nine seconds down on two of his major rivals.

    The Vacansoleil-DCM leader, who has finished second overall in the last two editions of the race, finished stage 1 in 42nd place, nine seconds down on Peter Sagan, who now leads Westra by 19 seconds on general classification with the stage winner's time bonus factored in. However, the most crucial time gaps involved 2012 winner Sylvain Chavanel and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Niki Terpstra, who both finished in the same group as Sagan. Neither Chavanel nor Terpstra earned any time bonuses on the stage and both remain nine seconds ahead of Westra on general classification.

    Sagan initiated the winning move in the final kilometres of the stage to Zottegem, pulling a group of nine riders with him. Westra attempted an initial counter attack on the run into the finish but was ultimately unsuccessful.

    "The beginning of the stage was good for me but the last 10 kilometres things weren't as good. I tried to come across to the leaders in the final but the legs weren't that good, not with the weather," Westra told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    Westra's consistency in previous editions of De Panne has been down to his tactical knowledge as well as his ability to compete with the best riders in the final stage time trial. With two sprint stages to come the 30-year-old will sit tight in the peloton as both Chavanel and Terpstra work for Mark Cavendish in the sprints.

    Asked if he thought the overall had slipped through his...

  • Gallery: The best of E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) moves to the front to challenge the leaders
    Article published:
    March 26, 2013, 19:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Gruber images from the Belgian semi-classics

    Fabian Cancellara romped away to his third win in four years in E3 Harelbeke with a demonstration as complete as either of his Flanders or Roubaix wins in 2010. The RadioShack rider attacked on Oude Kwaremont with all of 35 kilometres to go, arriving in Harelbeke with more than a minute on his closest rivals.

    In Gent-Wevelgem, Peter Sagan finally found the right combination of talent and tactics to win his first major race on Belgian soil.

    Both wins set Cancellara and Sagan up as the major favourites for Sunday's Tour of Flanders, and while the attention slowly turns to the second Monument of the season Jered and Ashley Gruber provide a look back at E3 and Gent-Wevelgem with some of the best photos on the web.

    The couple spends the Classics season on the road, and after Milan-San Remo travelled to Belgium where they are based for the coming weeks and have sifted through their best images to provide Cyclingnews with this fantastic gallery.

  • Belgian trains will stop for Tour of Flanders

    Tom Boonen, Juan Antonio Flecha and Alessandro Ballan were held up in their pursuit by a train in Paris-Roubaix in 2006
    Article published:
    March 26, 2013, 23:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Riders will not have to worry about disqualification at crossings

    The riders in the Tour of Flanders will no longer have to worry about the results being skewed by trains holding up the race at any of the many level crossings that pepper the route: the Belgian train operator Infrabel said today that it would hold the trains for the race, rather than the other way around.

    "In tiny Flanders it is nearly impossible to organise a race without crossing the tracks," Infrabel spokesman Thomas Baeken told Het Laatste Nieuws. "The Tour of Flanders has eight level crossings. You shouldn't have to worry about a train upsetting the race in the final 50 kilometers."

    The decision will avoid a situation last encountered in 2006 at Paris-Roubaix, when Peter Van Petegem, Vladimir Gusev and Leif Hoste were all disqualified after they ignored the flashing lights warning of an arriving train, and crossed the tracks to chase after eventual race winner Fabian Cancellara with 10km left to race. Other riders including Tom Boonen who slipped through the closed crossing arms after the train had passed were not disqualified, igniting controversy.

    Baeken said that holding up the trains for the race would cause minimal delays of only a few minutes, and any damage to their reputation, "would be much greater if one of our trains sabotaged the Tour of Flanders."

  • Howard gets a kick out of cobbled classics fight

    Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) wins the sprint in Trofeo Playa de Muro
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 0:45 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Young Orica GreenEdge sprinter keen for De Panne test

    Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) didn't grow up aspiring to tackle the cobbled classics of Belgium and so the results so far acquired in his first campaign of his four-year professional career have come as somewhat of a surprise.

    "San Remo's the one classic that I do want to win and think I can win one day," he revealed to Cyclingnews. "It's my style of racing but in saying that, now that I'm getting a taste of the Belgian-style classics, I'm enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would."

    Howard's results at Dwars Door Vlaanderen where he was 26th and at Gent-Wevelgem where he was 25th might not look much on paper apart from consistent however, it's when you consider his inexperience that the race eventualities comes into their own. Had it not been for some bad luck at Dwars Door Vlaanderen as he hit the Oude Kwaremont with another rider dropping their chain just ahead, forcing the Australian off-road and bringing his momentum to a grinding halt, Howard believed the result could have been better. Missing the split at Gent-Wevelgem proved costly otherwise, Howard had been attentive at the front of the race. It's that constant battle for position, that Howard is finding that he's enjoying but as a rider who tends to take a fairly analytical approach to racing, there's more to it than that.

    "They say that from kilometre zero right through to the finish you have to fight for position," he explained. "I find that in a sense that's true but there's one decisive point in a race where it really splits up and if you're in good position then, the fighting becomes a lot easier and it comes down more to the legs. That's the part that I enjoy a lot more."


  • 2014 Santos Tour Down Under dates announced

    Old Willunga Hill is becoming a hugely popular spot for the Santos Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    March 27, 2013, 2:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian WorldTour season opener proves more popular than ever

    The dates for the 2014 edition of the Santos Tour Down Under have been announced with the third Sunday of January set to kick-off the opening WorldTour round of the New Year.

    The race which continues to see marked growth in attendance rates from both the world's best riders and spectators will run from 19-26 January with an expected return of the traditional criterium and six-stage format set to draw in the crowds once again.

    Route details will be announced later in the year however, many can expect Adelaide City to host the warm-up criterium on 19 January before the peloton take a day of rest before commencing the six-day race on the following Tuesday.

    Adelaide City will likely conclude the week's race on Sunday 26 January with the familiar city circuit providing a fitting and suspense-filled finale to the race in 2013.

    Tourism Minister Leon Bignell noted the increased numbers of interstate and international visitors who travelled to Adelaide specifically for the event while South Australia experienced an economic impact of $43.6 million.

    "The event attracted more than 760,400 people to Adelaide and regional South Australia across eight days, including 40,000 interstate and international visitors who travelled here specifically for the event," said Bignell.

    This year's edition saw the rising talent of Tom-Jelte Slagter who took out the overall title riding for the revitalised Rabobank team, which raced for the first time under the Blanco name and colours, while the sprint stages were dominated by Lotto Belisol's number-one sprinter André Greipel - who took his 100th professional victory in the final stage around Adelaide.

    Orica GreenEdge were of course unable to successfully defend the title won in 2012, a feat...