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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Date published:
March 31, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Scheirlinckx dares but doesn't win in De Panne

    Bert Scheirlinckx (Landbouwkrediet) on the attack.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 18:19 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Stage one's combativity winner to focus on Flanders

    Bert Scheirlinckx was awarded the combativity prize on stage one of the Three Days of De Panne after a brave, but ultimately unsuccessful late-race move. The Landbouwkrediet rider says he will use the remainder of the four-stage race to taper for this Sunday's Tour of Flanders.

    Scheirlinckx launched his attack from the eventual race-winning group with 20 kilometres to go on Tuesday's 198-kilometre stage one from Middelkerke to Oudenaarde. With a number of strong riders in the group including Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), the Belgian had realised he would face stiff opposition from his Italian colleagues.

    "I knew that I had to go against all the Italians that were in the break," Scheirlinckx told Cyclingnews after leaving the podium with his trophy. "I knew if I wanted to have a shot at the stage win then I had to go a long way from the finish to surprise them."

    As a Flandrian, Scheirlinckx had hoped his local knowledge would help him gain a decisive advantage in the race's closing stages, but his charge was thwarted by a combination of his pursuers and the region's weather.

    "It was a hard race. I live in the region so I know the race's course really well. My legs felt really good, so that's the time to race," he said.

    "At first I thought the group might let me go, but the Italians anticipated quite fast and I never had more than 30 to 35 seconds, and that's not enough to survive for twenty kilometres in the wind."

    With De Panne's last two road stages and individual time trial to be raced over largely hill-free profiles, Scheirlinckx said he will now aim for a trouble-free lead-up to the Tour of Flanders.

    "Tomorrow should be a bunch sprint, and it's the same again on Thursday morning. For me the first stage here was my objective, for the rest of the race it'll be trying not to crash or get sick and focus on this Sunday."

  • Nature Valley Pro Ride events begin in April

    The men's peloton awaits the start of stage four at the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 18:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Hillsboro-Roubaix, Rock Hill first qualifying races

    The first two of six races of the Nature Valley Pro Ride begin next weekend with the Hillsboro-Roubaix (Illinois) Road Race on April 10 near Saint Louis, and the Rock Hill Spring Races on April 10-11 in South Carolina, near Charlotte, North Carolina.

    The Nature Valley Pro Ride races are selection events for the Pro Ride program, which gives amateur racers an opportunity to compete against the pros in the Nature Valley Grand Prix as part of a composite team. Selected riders receive free entries, a travel subsidy, housing and team support.

    One male and one female rider will be invited from each selection event, starting with Hillsboro-Roubaix and the Rock Hill races.

    Like its namesake, the fabled Paris-Roubaix classic in France, Hillsboro-Roubaix favors hardy, experienced riders due to its short, sharp climbs, twisting descents and long, open sections where the wind can be a major factor. But the race's signature feature is its brick roads. Like the pavé of Paris-Roubaix, Hillsboro-Roubaix is often decided on the old-style streets that take their toll on riders and their equipment.

    "Despite the challenges of this course – or perhaps because of them – Hillsboro-Roubaix is enormously popular," Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. "That was a major factor in its selection for a second straight year."

    While the Rock Hill Spring Races are a new addition to the Nature Valley Pro Ride, they have been a fixture on the Southeastern racing scene for years. Like Hillsboro-Roubaix, the 30-year-old event is enormously popular. The Nature Valley Pro Ride will play out as a two-day omnium, with racers contesting the Patriot's Trail Road Race Saturday and the Winthrop Lake Criterium on Sunday.

    "With omnium scoring, the Rock Hill Spring Races will select the best all-around rider, which is a perfect fit for the event they will qualify for," LaPorte said. "The Nature Valley Grand...

  • Millar gunning for De Panne overall

    David Millar (Garmin-Transititions) is in the top ten.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 18:51 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Breakaway sets Garmin-Transitions rider up for final time trial

    David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) won the final time trial in the three days of De Panne twelve years ago, but this year he's hoping to do more than that - he wants the overall title.

    The Scot finished seventh in today's first stage, thirteen seconds down on winner Steve Chainel, but with two stages - one of which is a time trial - to come he looks in good shape to secure his ambitions.

    "I hope we get through tomorrow well and then I want to win the GC," he said after today's finish in Oudenaarde, Belgium.

    Millar joined a group of ten riders earlier in the stage and looked strong on the day's testing climbs. The group were reduced to seven on the Berendries with 38km to go, but Millar sat on Daniel Bennati's (Liquigas) wheel as he set a strong pace on the Valkenberg five kilometres later.

    "It was relentless. We went from kilometre zero and it was racing in the cross winds and we didn't stop once. It's very rare that we do that in bike racing. It was an extremely hard day," Millar said.

    Millar also made the final selection on the Kruisberg, 16km from the finish, showing that he still had the form he used to such good effect at the Criterium International, where he won the time trial.

    "I was very intelligent today. Sometimes when I feel good I get too carried away but I was very calculating today. I really want to win and I used my head. I attacked once and that was it."

    Millar and his team will need to switch into a far more defensive mode for tomorrow's stage if he is follow through on an overall win. He'll also need to recover from today's efforts and said at the finish that he was feeling tired from recent racing.

    "I was feeling a little tired still from Crit which was probably a good thing as it forced me to ride intelligently and conservatively meaning I was still able to race hard in the final when everybody else was on the hands and knees. Now we have a lot of defending to do till Thursday...

  • Durbridge: Tour win helps soften track worlds blow

    Luke Durbridge is a talented up and comer from West Australia.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 21:00 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Time trial honing the aim for road season

    After missing selection for Australia’s UCI Track World Championships squad Luke Durbridge bounced back to win the weekend’s Mersey Valley Tour in Tasmania, Australia at the weekend. Despite being the only Jayco-Skins rider contesting the race, a solid time trial set Durbridge up for overall victory by just eight seconds, putting the West Australian in the National Road Series lead.

    “It was a good result, I would have liked to have gone to track worlds, but I missed out on the team just one week before they left,” Durbridge told Cyclingnews. “I thought I had good training and form so I may as well go down to Mersey Valley. To come back with a win is just really good.”

    Durbridge admitted the victory helped soften the blow of missing out on selection for the Copenhagen, Denmark race. “It did, it did actually, as it gave me something to look forward to,” he said. “It also gave me something I could finish on before having a little bit of a break. I’m having a little break before I go to Europe, so I wanted to finish on a high. To go down and have a really good time trial, then hold on for the win was really good.”

    Durbridge will contest the next round of Cycling Australia’s NRS, Canberra Tour, before joining the Australian Under 23 development program at its base in Varese, Italy. With Durbridge heading to Europe to compete on the road for the first time, trying to win the National Road Series will be difficult for Durbridge as he’ll likely only contest three of the series’ seven rounds.

    “I’m having about a week off, not long, just over Easter,” he explained. “Then I’ll get into a three or four week road block leading up to the Canberra Tour, then I go from there on to Europe to meet up with the boys in Varese.

    “I’ve thought about [defending the NRS leader jersey] if I can go to Canberra and...

  • Sanchez stays on top

    Spanish armada: Luis Leon Sanchez (2nd overall, Caisse d'Epargne), Alberto Contador (1st, Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (3rd, Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    March 31, 2010, 10:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Spanish riders dominate UCI world rankings

    Spanish riders dominate the latest world rankings released by the UCI, following a fortnight of solid results for riders from that country.

    Luis Leon Sanchez continues to lead the standings thanks to his consistent start to the year, with the likes of Oscar Freire winning Milan-San Remo, Joaquin Rodriguez taking out the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde placing in some of the early-season stage races.

    Consequently, five Spaniards sit in the top 10 of the latest rankings, with world champion Cadel Evans maintaining momentum in fourth place and Rein Taaramae making his presence felt with an appearance in eighth, the Cofidis rider having previously been in 29th spot.

    The big mover was Bernhard Eisel, who moved up 42 places to 15th following his win in Gent-Wevelgem. The Austrian sits just two points behind former teammate Greg Henderson, who coincidentally slipped four places to 14th. The man who took second behind Eisel last weekend, Sep Vanmarcke, was the standout name, his performance helping him break through into the top 20, having previously been unranked in the UCI standings.

    Another rider to climb the rankings was Cervélo TestTeam's Xavier Tondo, who shot up to 11th courtesy of a stage win in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. A great performance in that same stage and indeed the race also helped Joaquin Rodriquez to his second in the rankings, the Katusha rider now sitting 80 points behind leader and countryman Sanchez.

    It's no surprise therefore, that Spain tops the nations and teams rankings, sitting well ahead of Italy in the list of countries, with Australia still holding onto third place. Sanchez's Caisse d'Epargne maintains its grip as the best squad in the rankings, with HTC-Columbia and now Katusha sitting in second and third respectively.

  • Devolder defies critics' barbs

    Stijn Devolder (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    March 31, 2010, 11:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Defending champ ready for another Tour of Flanders

    A day after comments from Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere were published in Belgium's P Magazine, Stijn Devolder has indicated that criticism doesn't affect him, particularly not with a third Tour of Flanders title on the line this Sunday.

    Lefevere rather bluntly indicated that he's not fond of Devolder's approach to this year's edition of the Tour of Flanders, despite the Belgian winning it the previous two years.

    Speaking to the Gazet van Antwerpen, Devolder said, "I feel good with the team. At night I'm not really alone at the table."

    The 30-year-old has done minimal racing this season, for which Lefevere was critical, although according to Devolder there are greater detractors than his boss and the comments he made to P Magazine don't reflect a rift in the squad.

    "I have long been aware that many people don't credit me for my success," he continued. "Riders and commentators. I don't know what their intention is... There are those who benefit from a bad mood with Quick Step.

    "Or it could be another way of getting another winner in the major races. They try to isolate me from the rest of the team. But there is no bad atmosphere at Quick Step, on the contrary," added Devolder.

    Devolder believes that Quick Step's success in the northern Classics has been "too good for many people. Twice [winning] the Tour [of Flanders] and twice in Roubaix with Tom [Boonen] has made many people jealous. They want a break, naturally," he said.

    With Devolder aiming at winning another edition of his home race this weekend, the Belgian was clear about the atmosphere in the squad: "I feel good in this team. You can believe the gossip, but it only amuses everyone at the [team's] table."

    He also rejected suggestions from Fabian Cancellara, who reportedly told journalists Devolder and Boonen were 'done' in Flanders. "Whether he said it is another matter... Until now I always looked up to...

  • Cavendish skips Giro to ride California

    Mark Cavendish (HTC - Columbia) awaits the start.
    Article published:
    March 31, 2010, 12:12 BST
    Cycling News

    US race better fit for Brit's Tour de France goals

    HTC-Columbia manager Bob Stapleton announced overnight that Mark Cavendish will skip this year's Giro d'Italia (May 8-30) in favour of the Tour of California, which runs May 16-23; concurrent to the season's first grand tour.

    The 24-year-old won four stages of last year's Giro before taking six stages at the Tour de France. While he didn't win the sprint classification in 2009, he'll ride the Tour of California instead of the Giro to maximise his chances of winning it in 2010.

    "We are also pleased to have Mark Cavendish back in winning form," said Stapleton in a 'Friends and Family' release. "Infections resulting from dental work in December undermined his training and delayed his start of the season. He won his first race of the season in Cataluña last week.

    "We believe Mark will be very strong at the Tour de France and the balance of the season. He will join the team in California and we are very optimistic about his chances for success there."

    Cavendish delayed the start of his season due to the aforementioned dental problems, and crashed in the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. While he didn't sustain any lasting injuries, he didn't feature in Milan-San Remo, where he was defending champion. It's hoped a preparation with less racing may assist him in this year's Tour de France and avoid exposing him to more mishaps.

    It was announced that Michael Rogers will also ride the Tour of California; the Australian has displayed great form in recent races, including Milan-San Remo (where he attacked late in the race on the Poggio) and the Critérium International, where he finished third in the final stage time trial and second overall. He'll be HTC-Columbia's road captain and aim for a solid general classification performance.

    Stapleton also welcomed back Australian rider Mark Renshaw, who was pivotal in Cavendish's success in last year's Tour de France. The sprinter will return to racing this week after...

  • Hushovd to carry Cervélo's hopes in Flanders

    Thor Hushovd (Cervelo)
    Article published:
    March 31, 2010, 12:37 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Norwegian captains weakened team, Roubaix still the major goal

    With Heinrich Haussler and Andreas Klier sidelined by injury, Thor Hushovd will head to this weekend's Tour of Flanders as the sole leader of Cervélo TestTeam. The Norwegian said that although Paris-Roubaix remains his major Classics goal, he'll still target a strong result on Sunday.

    "I'd rather be good on Sunday because then I know my form is there [for Roubaix], but we'll see what happens," Hushovd told Cyclingnews shortly after the Cervélo press conference announcing Haussler's withdrawal from both Flanders and Roubaix.

    Confirmation of Haussler's withdrawal from the Classics on Tuesday followed a run of misfortune for the squad. Last Saturday, Hushovd himself was forced to abandon the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke after just 14 kilometers due to food poisoning, and just hours later, Klier suffered severe concussion in a crash at the same race.

    "I was vomiting just before the start [of E3 Prijs]. I had nothing left, so I just turned around," Hushovd said. "This year everything's gone a little bit against us - it's bad, but hey, things happen."

    Despite his team's bad luck and the imminent hurdle of racing Flanders without his German teammates, Hushovd was able to put a positive spin on the situation.

    "I think it's the opposite, because we're weaker now," he said, when asked what affect the team's circumstance would have on expectations this weekend. "Now we probably don't have as much pressure as we had last year."

    While Hushovd will head to Bruges for the start of Flanders on Sunday intent on a good performance, victory at Roubaix a week later retains its lustre as the title for which he longs. Last year, the 32-year-old finished third, but was robbed of his chance to contest a sprint in the race's famed velodrome finale after a crash on the cobbles at Carrefour de l'Arbre.

    "[If I had to choose one] I would have to say Roubaix, it's my favourite race," said Hushovd. "Of course it...

  • UCI World Rankings - individuals