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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Date published:
May 14, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Giro d’Italia peloton welcomes decision to neutralise final lap of Bari stage

    Race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) called for a go-slow
    Article published:
    May 13, 2014, 19:59 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Quinziato, Petacchi, Viviani and Paolini downplay the polemica

    The Giro d’Italia returned to Italian roads on Tuesday and, as if to mark the occasion, the first real polemica of the race threatened to break out in tandem with the rain showers that fell over Bari on stage 4, where the final lap of the finishing circuit was ultimately neutralised due to the conditions.

    A cursory glance at the Garibaldi – the Giro road book – showed a series of tight 90-degree corners in the 8.3 kilometre finishing circuit, and when dark clouds formed over the start in Giovinazzo and leaden drops began to fall, there were already concerns in the peloton regarding the safety or otherwise of the day’s stage.

    An early crash at Molfetta hardened the resolve of the riders and an unofficial truce was called as they discussed what course of action to take with race regulator Marco Velo, who follows the race on the pillion of a motorbike at the front of the peloton. The early rain had eased by that point, but word began to filter through the pack that the final lap of the race would be neutralised in the event of further showers.

    Once on the finishing circuit, with the Orica-GreenEdge team of Michael Matthews on the front, the pace remained sedate but the remonstrations among some of the riders were anything but as negotiations continued and confusion reigned.

    Manuel Quinziato (BMC), in particular, appeared frustrated with GreenEdge’s slow pace, but he explained afterwards that it was simply due to a linguistic misunderstanding. The Australian squad thought that the peloton was minded to stop on the next passage through the finish line and discuss matters further, but by that point, the commissaires had already decided that the final lap would be neutralised.

    "It made no sense to stop, that...

  • Bouhanni recovers from late puncture to win Giro d'Italia stage in Bari

    Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) exhausted after his last lap effort
    Article published:
    May 13, 2014, 20:34 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    First Grand Tour stage win for Frenchman

    When news of Marcel Kittel’s abrupt withdrawal from the Giro d’Italia filtered around Giovinazzo shortly before the start of stage 4, logic dictated that Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) was quickly installed as the favourite for the win, but the Frenchman was forced to endure a late scare before landing his first ever Grand Tour stage victory in Bari.

    All afternoon, debate had raged in the peloton over the viability of racing on a technical finishing circuit made slippery by sudden rain. It was eventually decreed that the final lap would be neutralised and the sprint could proceed as normal thereafter but with a shade under 13 kilometres to race, it looked as though Bouhanni would not be taking part in it.

    "I had a front wheel puncture and I broke my rear wheel. My team car was 16th in the convoy so I had to wait a long time on the side of the road," Bouhanni explained. "Laurent Pichon waited for me and did huge work to bring me back through the cars and up to the rear of the peloton."

    Bouhanni was nonplussed when asked if he had obeyed the letter of the law regarding drafting or interpreted its spirit during his trek back onto the rear of the bunch, pointing out that it was hardly in his plans to change bikes just as the speed was beginning to rise.

    "I was with my teammate Pichon and we were on the left of the road and the cars were on the right," Bouhanni said. "It’s certainly not an advantage to puncture with 13 kilometres to go and find that your team car is 30 or 40 seconds behind the peloton."

    Although Bouhanni succeeded in latching back on just as the final lap of the circuit began, his travails were still not at an end. With time now frozen for the general classification contenders, the sprinters’...

  • Giro d'Italia stage in Bari neutralised for rider safety

    The peloton stayed together on stage 4 in the rain
    Article published:
    May 13, 2014, 21:07 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Bugno: "It was the right decision"

    Both Giro d’Italia organisers and the head of the Professional Riders Association (CPA), Gianni Bugno, have defended the decision to neutralise the stage 4 with one lap to go for the general classification riders, with times for the overall classification taken eight kilometres from the finish. No time bonuses were awarded on the stage.

    The extremely slippery road surfaces on the stage - caused by heavy, if intermittent, rainfall during Tuesday’s short, flat stage from Giovinazzo to Bari - rendered racing very dangerous.

    "We decided with [Luca] Paolini (Katusha) to do a couple of laps and then see what would happen," Giro director Mauro Vegni told Italian television. Poalini's veteran status made him an unofficial spokesman for the peloton as they approached the finishing circuit, drawing alongside the race director’s car to update him on the peloton’s decisions.

    "We could have risked a lot of riders going home early, we have to think of the riders’ safety first, three quarters of the peloton could have crashed."

    The collective decision then grew in the peloton for a slower than usual pace on eight of the the nine laps through Bari that followed. Only the final lap was raced flat out - and then only for the sprinters.

    But although markedly steadier than usual, the peloton’s speed was by no means the funeral procession-like rate of progress that sometimes happens when riders are unhappy at dangerous conditions in bike races. Nor, unlike, in other Grand Tour protests, did the whole issue spiral out of control.

    In the Giro 2009, the conditions in Milan were such that it led to the riders briefly stopping on the finish line in protest before continuing the stage, whilst in the Vuelta a España in 1999 team directors angry at their riders having to tackle a...

  • Roche cautiously optimistic about Giro d'Italia summit finishes

    Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) has been in demand in Ireland
    Article published:
    May 13, 2014, 22:50 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Irishman analyses stages five and six final climbs

    Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) says he will definitely be up for the fight in the Giro d’Italia’s first two summit finishes on stages five and six, the first a punchy fourth category ascent to Viggiano, the second the 8.5 kilometre ascent to Montecassino.

    Roche showed in last year’s Vuelta a España that he has a flair for Grand Tour uphill finishes like Montecassino, winning first on the long, steady ascent of Alto da Groba in Galicia on stage two and taking third in the similar ascent at Peñas Blancas in the Meditteranean a few days later, where he took the lead for one day.

    “I’m looking forward to it,” Roche told Cyclingnews, “because I’ve been a bit in doubt about how the condition is as it’s the first time I’ve done the Giro and trained for it, and it’s very different to how I would do that [build-up] in August for the Vuelta” - a race with which Roche is more familiar.

    “But I gave it everything and I’ve worked hard and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes in the next four or five days, because Saturday and Sunday [stages eight and nine with summit finishes] are hard again too, arent’ they?”

    “Tomorrow [Wednesday] is the first one and although it can be a shock to the system it’s the type of climb I like. Obviously although there are a lot of top climbers here, it’s the first day when we’ll see everyone’s level. I’m curious and excited.”

    Roche is not making any full-scale predictions about what he can achieve or not, however, “because although I’m at a high level [of form], this is a Grand Tour and lots of people are in great shape, not just me. It’s more...

  • Lapthorne excited about Drapac future

    After the break is caught Darren Lapthorne makes an attack
    Article published:
    May 13, 2014, 23:50 BST
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Podium success at Tour d'Azerbaïdjan just the start of things to come

    With two standout performances from two-time stage winner Will Clarke and third-place race finisher Darren Lapthorne at the third annual Tour d'Azerbaïdjan, Drapac Professional Cycling got some much needed runs on the board on Sunday with its second stop in its UCI European Tour following the Presidential Tour of Turkey last earlier in the month.

    Cyclingnews caught up with the 2007 Australian road champion on his way back from the UCI 2.2 multi-stage race at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, on the edge of the Caspian Sea.

    "With Will Clarke holding the leaders jersey in Azerbaïdjan for two days, that was the moment the whole team got a big boost in moral including myself," Lapthorne told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "From that day, we rode like a different team and believed we could do something in this tour.

    "I'm sure this result will give the team the continued momentum we need for the next block of racing coming up and we still have a long way to go in this season."

    The five-year Drapac veteran set up his podium finish – and best result of the year since his sixth place at the Australian National Road Championships in January behind two-time winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) – on Saturday's 115km penultimate stage, which concluded with a 22km climb.

    Lapthorne finished in fifth place on the stage, 1:57 behind stage winner Linus Gerdemann (MTN-Qhubeka), and with the same deficit to eventual race winner Linur Zakarin (RusVelo), who took over the...

  • Video: On-the-bike footage of Degenkolb's stage 1 sprint at the Tour of California

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) wins stage one of the Tour of California
    Article published:
    May 13, 2014, 23:50 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Inside a Tour of California bunch sprint

    On-board cameras have been commonplace in motorsports for years, but are only now finding their way into the professional cycling peloton, thanks to recent innovations in lightweight, small high-definition video cameras. The Giant-Shimano team has equipped their bikes with Shimano's new sport camera for the Tour of California, and what better way to see the utility of the device than by watching the mayhem of a massive bunch sprint unfold.

    John Degenkolb, the team's main sprinter, weaves his way up to his lead-out man, then blasts off the front of the peloton in the final 200 meters of stage 1 in Sacramento. Unfortunately for him, he is narrowly defeated by Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), whose wheel appears at the very end on Degenkolb's right.

    Cyclingnews will also be bringing on-board video footage from the Belkin team from the Tour of California this week.

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    Hi-Res Footage of John Degenkolb's sprint in the Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 from Ride Shimano on Vimeo.

  • Ekimov: Giro d'Italia stage to Montecopiolo suits Rodriguez

    Joaquim Rodríguez warming up
    Article published:
    May 14, 2014, 2:10 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Katusha rider aiming to bounce back from team time trial disappointment

    Katusha general manager Viacheslav Ekimov says that of the Giro d’Italia's four summit finishes this week, Saturday's ascent to Montecopiolo is the one which suits his team leader Joaquim Rodriguez the best.

    Rodriguez ability to blast off on the steepest of slopes has wowed fans for the last few years, with the latest demonstration of his ‘explosive’ acceleration on the climbs coming in the Volta a Catalunya's stage to La Molina. That netted him the stage and ultimately the overall win.

    In this opening segment of the Giro, there are four summit finishes, and Ekimov estimates that although the first comes as soon as Wednesday, Saturday’s first category ascent to Montecopiolo, by far the steepest and with a 13 percent 'ramp’ near the finish, is the best for Purito.

    Either way, the former pro tells Cyclingnews, from stage five onwards the 'shadow boxing' so typical for first week GC contenders, even whilst they wait for the big days in the Dolomites and Alps, is going to get more intense. And an early win does no harm whatsoever to an overall contender’s motivation.

    "Definitely this week is again for the GC riders to try to figure out who’s doing what, so this is kind of unpredictable week," Ekimov said.

    "A stage win is always good for morale both for yourself and for the team and Purito has real ambitions here, for sure. But I think Saturday is the best day for him."

    "On the previous stages, a lot more riders will still be together at the finish. Saturday is harder," and therefore more suited to him Ekimov said.

    However, as Ekimov points out, not winning would be no disaster. "It's the third week that counts....

  • Weekly wrap: North American road races, teams and riders

    Svein Tuft enjoys a brief moment in the pink jersey before the skies opened up
    Article published:
    May 14, 2014, 5:00 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Svein Tuft time trials into pink jersey at Giro d'Italia opener

    North American pros continued to celebrate strong performances in both the US and overseas events last week. The Women’s Tour of Britain and the Tour of California women’s races showcased the top women in the world World-class men’s racing continues at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California. Check out a few of the highlights from the peloton and a peek at what's to come.

    Svein Tuft kicks off Giro d’Italia in pink:
    It was a big day for Canadian cycling when Svein Tuft rode into the pink leader's jersey following Orica-GreenEdge's win of the team time trial on May 9 in Belfast. The Australian WorldTour team secured the fastest time of 24:42 minutes over the 21.7km course and Tuft crossed the line first.

    American sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) earned top-10 places in the Stage 2 and Stage 3 sprints. Other North Americans in the race are Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) and 2012 overall winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

    The Giro d'Italia will conclude on June 1 in Trieste, Italy.

    Small and Powers win Tour of California women's races:
    Organizers of the Tour of California invited the elite women’s peloton to compete in a circuit race held on May 11 in downtown Sacramento and a time trial on May 12 in Folsom. During the...