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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Date published:
March 07, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Mixed results for Project 1t4i sprinters in Paris-Nice

    John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 12:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Degenkolb happy with stage third place, Kittel unhappy to have missed break

    John Degenkolb made the cut in the second stage of Paris-Nice, catching on to the lead group when the wind broke up the field in a “crazy race.” The Project 1t4i rider was happy with his third place on the stage, behind winner Tom Boonen, while fellow sprinter Marcel Kittel mourned his lost chance.

    “I had no chance against Tom Boonen today. He has a crazy form. Chapeau,” Degenkolb told “I have never before experienced such a crazy race. The race didn't actually start until an hour and a half in. The peloton stayed together until the first climb.

    “After the climb there was an open field with lots of wind. I had a good eye and was far enough in the front that I could make the first group. In the last kilometers before the finish it started to rain and was unbearably cold.”

    His teammate Marcel Kittel, who is more of a pure sprinter, pretty much saw his chances for a stage win in this year's race fly out the window, as the second stage may well prove to be the only one that offered a chance of a classic mass sprint finish. Taking the wrong direction at a roundabout cost him his chance at making the lead group, though.

    After the feed zone and the first wind echelons, the field came together and Kittel was in the first ten. “But then there was a roundabout, which I had go around on the right side. That turned out to be very bad.

    “Koen de Koert and I lost about 50 places. He brought me forward again and I was pretty far forward when the decisive break was made, but unfortunately by then my legs weren't good enough any more to go with them.”

  • Hushovd getting race rhythm at Paris-Nice

    Thor Hushovd (BMC) was dropped from the breakaway.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 13:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC rider does not rule out further sprint finishes

    While his BMC teammates Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney were at the forefront of Paris-Nice on its early stages, former world champion Thor Hushovd has been rather discreet at the event until now. The Norwegian showed a good performance on stage one, the 9.4km time trial last Sunday, where he finished in 14th postion, 17 seconds down on winner Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM). But on Monday, Hushovd was a victim of the echelons like many others and was not in the mix for the sprint for stage victory in Orléans.

    But Hushovd was adamant that the week still included other sprint possibilities, for example Tuesday's uphill finish in Le Lac de Vassivière or Friday's run to Sisteron.

    "Stage three might be an uphill finish, but it still could be a sprint. And Sisteron [stage six - ed.] is also possible,' he told L'Equipe. The ascent to Le Lac de Vassivière has an average gradient of 3.9 percent, on a total of five kilometres with a false flat on another four kilometres introducing the climb beforehand. On paper, this is a perfect platform for strong sprinters such as Hushovd to emerge.

    "I'm here to find race rhythm, to get ready for Milano-Sanremo. But of course, I also want to win a stage," added the Norwegian. "Paris-Nice is a very special race. At the same time, everybody knows what to expect, as it's the same parcours every year."

    As to his rivals, he pointed at stage two winner Tom Boonen. "He's already very sharp."

  • Scinto: we don't need Cipollini

    Mario Cipollini speaks his mind
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 17:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    Farnese Vini-Selle Italia boss had no knowledge of comeback plan

    Farnese Vini-Selle Italia manager Luca Scinto has moved quickly to quell any notion that Mario Cipollini will return to racing with his team. The 44-year-old Cipollini told Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday that he was planning to make a comeback to the professional peloton and serve as Andrea Guardini’s lead-out man at the Giro d’Italia.

    Given that Cipollini would need to be part of the out of competition dope testing pool for six months prior to any return to action, his dream of riding the Giro this year already appeared to be just that, but Scinto ruled out the possibility of Cipollini arriving at his team at any juncture.

    “What do you want me to say? For me it’s a bolt from the blue, I really didn’t know anything about it and I don’t like it,” Scinto told Tuttobiciweb. “I respect Cipollini as a champion and a man and I always will, but this really seems like a joke to me. What can I say, as long as I’m in charge of this team we won’t talk about it.”

    Scinto believes Cipollini’s statement was simply a bid to whip up publicity for his MCipollini brand of frames. Cipollini recently used the pages of Gazzetta dello Sport to present Riccardo Riccò with one of his bikes, when he advised the troubled rider to forget about returning to professional cycling.

    Scinto is also keen that his protégé Andrea Guardini is allowed to continue his development without undue exterior pressure, and the media circus surrounding a Cipollini comeback would scarcely help the youngster enjoy a low-key...

  • Nuyens to miss Tour of Flanders

    Nick Nuyens
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 18:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    2011 winner fractured hip in Paris-Nice fall

    Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) will miss out on the chance to defend his Tour of Flanders title after it emerged that he sustained a fracture to his right hip when he crashed during the opening stage time trial at Paris-Nice on Sunday.

    Nuyens attempted to start stage two, but was forced to yield to the pain before the race had left the neutralised zone. He visited a specialist in his native Belgium on Tuesday and was told that he will have to spend 14 days off the bike and will then undergo a further x-ray to determine if he can resume training.

    “This is an enormous blow to me personally and to the team, and I'm of course very sad right now,” Nuyens said. “I really felt I was on schedule to peak again in the Tour of Flanders, and I was looking very much forward to defend my victory. But now I know this is not going to happen. Crashes do happen in cycling, that's just the way it is, and I have to accept that, but this crash couldn't come at a worse time.”

    Nuyens’ absence from the cobbled classics is a further blow to Bjarne Riis’ team following Alberto Contador’s suspension for his positive test for clenbuterol, which was announced in February. Riis appeared before the UCI Licence Commission last week to make a case for Saxo Bank to retain its WorldTour licence even though the suspended Contador garnered over two-thirds of its WorldTour points last season.

    Nuyens’ successful spring campaign accounted for a sizeable amount of the remainder of the Saxo Bank haul, as his canny win at the Tour of Flanders was preceded by a fine victory at Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

    "We all feel very...

  • Cancellara to prioritise Olympics over Tour de France

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack - Nissan) heads to the podium
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 19:51 GMT
    Cycling News

    I was strongest in 2011 Classics, says Swiss rider

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) will use the Tour de France to tailor his preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games and has hinted that he will not play as prominent a part in supporting Andy Schleck’s yellow jersey challenge as he has done in recent years.

    In an interview with Vélo Magazine, Cancellara was reticent to entertain the possibility of abandoning the Tour early in order to recover for the London road race, which takes place just five days after the Grande Boucle ends in Paris. However, he admitted that he would not be “110 percent” dedicated to his team’s overall challenge in France this year.

    “It’s not good to talk about a premeditated abandon at the Tour de France, because the Tour de France is to be respected,” Cancellara said. “I prefer to say that I’m going to use the Tour to be at 100 percent for London. I already know how I’m going to proceed in July. I’ve spoken about it with Johan Bruyneel and we’re both in agreement on the matter.

    “You won’t see me at the back of the peloton during the race, I’ll do my work. But one thing is certain: in July I won’t be 110 percent for the others as I have been in the past. I’ll only be thinking of myself and on being concentrated on my objectives.”

    After losing his world time trial crown to Tony Martin in Copenhagen last September, Cancellara is determined to regain his position at the top of the time trialling tree by winning gold at the London Olympics.

    “Copenhagen woke me up. ‘Oh Fabian, come back down to earth,’ that’s what I understood there. For Copenhagen, I had...

  • Colombia-Coldeportes excited for Tirreno-Adriatico WorldTour baptism

    Claudo Corti says his team are ready to step up again after some positive signs at Strade Bianche.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 21:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Corti says team has renewed confidence after Strade Bianche

    Buoyed from the performance of Jarlinson Pantano in Saturday's Strade Bianche, Colombia-Coldeportes team manager Claudio Corti has said his team is ready to step up again at its WorldTour debut in Tirreno-Adriatico.

    Pantano's 12th place finish was impressive for the Colombian outfit, holding his own against several better known names including former world champion Alessandro Ballan and Philippe Gilbert.

    General manager Claudio Corti and sports directors Valerio Tebaldi and Oscar Pellicioli took their time to carefully evaluate their riders’ conditions after the race, but they are confident to have found the right eight rider mix to defend the team’s colours at the “Corsa dei Due Mari”.

    "We know we are facing a very tough race, with so many strong and qualified opponents," said team manager Claudio Corti. "But we are determined to show off and deserve our invitation to this very important and prestigious race.”

    The Colombian outfit promised to live up to expectations. "We are climbers," Corti continued. "So we’ll be obviously focusing on the most demanding stages, such as Chieti’s and Prati di Tivo’s uphill finish, and I expect my riders to be up front and head-to-head with the strongest riders in the pack. Nevertheless, we’ll be aggressive and trying to be protagonists every other day – just like we did at Saturday’s ‘Strade Bianche’. We showed there we have the grit and determination required."

    Corti has taken his A-team to Tirreno-Adriatico, with Pantano joined by the experienced Felipe Laverde, and young prospects Esteban Chaves and Fabio Duarte.

    Colombia-Coldeportes team for Tirreno-Adriatico: Darwin Atapuma (Col), Robinson Chalapud (Col), Esteban Chaves (Col), Fabio Duarte (Col),...

  • Mistimed sprint costs Gerrans at Paris - Nice

    Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge), left, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) vie for victory in the third stage of Paris-Nice.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2012, 22:40 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian pipped by Valverde on the line again

    Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) was beaten on the line by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the second time this season on the third stage of Paris – Nice on Tuesday. Gerrans snuck up on the right hand side after initially appearing to be out of contention for the uphill sprint finish with around 500 metres left to race.

    In January, Gerrans missed out by half a wheel to the Spaniard at the Tour Down Under's queen stage on Old Willunga Hill.

    Tuesday was a frustrating day for GreenEdge who started the stage a man down with sprinter Aidis Kruopis suffering from a stomach ailment. For Gerrans, it was a case of close, but not close enough.

    "Obviously, we're a little bit disappointed that I couldn't quite finish it off," the reigning Australian road champion told "We want a win here in Paris-Nice, but I think we're happy enough to have had a go. To be so close shows we're right up in there and in the mix of things. Wins in Europe aren't too far away."

    Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) was the last man standing from a three-man break which had stayed away for much of the 194km stage with the Frenchman finally reeled in on the final climb of the day, a long grind to Lac de Vassivière.

    Gerrans, was well-supported by teammates Simon Clarke, Michael Albasini and Wes Sulzberger over the final kilometres, with Movistar and stage favourite Valverde at the front of the bunch.

    "At this point, the guys were working together to stay at the front," Gerrans explained. "It was a really hectic final. There was a huge fight for position, and they really tried to help...

  • Trouée d'Arenberg to be cleaned "as soon as possible"

    The cobblestones of the Arenberg Forest await the peloton.
    Article published:
    March 07, 2012, 3:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    ASO confirms Paris-Roubaix will be raced over infamous pavé

    Paris-Roubaix will definitely be raced over the infamous Arenberg cobbles in 2012, according to Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). The news comes after it was deemed earlier this year that the 2.4 kilometre section of pavé have been heavily covered by moss and other plant growth making the passage unsafe for racing.

    Speaking before the start of Stage 3 of Paris – Nice on Tuesday, Jean-Francois Pescheux, Paris – Roubaix sports director confirmed to news agency AFP that: "The cleaning work will be undertaken as soon as possible."

    Last week, race organisers warned that another change may have to be made to the April 8 classic with the route taken on the CD 40, near the northern French town of Denain under threat. The road goes too close to the Valenciennes oil warehouses, a large fuel storage depot. Organisers said that rearranging the route would add too many kilometers to the race, pushing it above the 260 km allowed by the UCI.

    Last summer the local government banned all gatherings, demonstrations and events near the oil warehouses, including sports events. Pescheux said that he hopes to be granted an exception.

    "We will await the final position of the prefecture. It's not a comfortable situation two months before the race."

    He said at the CD 40 is an important passage which would be difficult to replace.

    "We studied many alternatives, but the entire route would be extended 7 km. And I cannot afford it." The race is currently 257.5km.

    The Trouée d'Arenberg was left out of the 2005 edition of Paris-Roubaix after it was deemed that the pave had deteriorated beyond levels considered to be safe, after sections on top of the abandoned mines...