Italian champion will not defend his title in June
Filippo Pozzato has won Milan-San Remo, a stage win at the Tour de France and the Italian championship but admitted that his stage victory at the Giro d'Italia was special because, like most Italians, he grew up watching the Giro.
“This win is special because the Giro is special to me,” he said. “It’s the race I went to watch with my father. I’m having a difficult time but I won’t say more about that, it’s personal. But I’ve won with my heart.”
Pozzato’s win is also special because it is the first individual stage victory by an Italian rider in this year’s race. Liquigas-Doimo won the team time trial but never before in 101 year history of the corsa rosa, have the tifosi had to wait until stage 12 to celebrate an Italian winner.
“At the one kilometre mark, I expected an attack by Thomas Voeckler but not by Nibali and Vinokourov”, Pozzato explained. “On the last climb before the finish, I moved up to the front. I thought it was too far out to go on the attack but then Failli went and it created a small group. I went with them when I saw Basso and Nibali going across. To be up there with overall contenders was the best situation for me.”
Pozzato was asked about the Landis case. He defended cycling, pointing out the way the sport has tried to clean up its act.
“No one is paying attention to the good changes the sport has made. Cycling is cleaner now than in the past" he said. "We have accepted all the rules imposed on us, unlike other sports. You can see cycling has changed. The riders are more tired, the race cannot be controlled like before, young riders are coming to the forefront and people are not afraid to try and attack. Why don’t journalists write about that?”
Pozzato confirmed that he won’t defend his Italian national road race title on June 27, even though the race will be held in Treviso,...
Despite being close, Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) could not overtake eventual winner and Italian champion Filippo Pozzato at the finish line of stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia in Porto Recanati. Yet the Frenchman showed no disappointment over having missed out on getting his first Giro d'Italia stage win 10 months after claiming his first stage win at the Tour de France in Perpignan.
One year ago, Voeckler was also defeated by an explosive Philippe Gilbert in the uphill finish in Agnani on the second last stage of the Giro d'Italia.
"I'm not frustrated today," Voeckler told Cyclingnews in Porto Recanati. "In our front group, there were many fast riders, and I could have finished sixth as well. I attacked on the climb before the end, and the strong guys came across.
"I've done my best. I don't pretend to be faster than Pozzato, so it's a logical result at the end."
He didn't lose by much. "For one second maybe, I've believed I was going to win," said the Frenchman. "Had I stayed on Pozzato's wheel for 50 more metres, maybe I could have passed him, but if I had to do the sprint again, I wouldn't change anything."
"I was inspired by him. Once I got off his wheel, I stumbled. If Pozzato had felt I was a threat to him, he would have thrown his bike ahead instead of putting his arms up in the air."
When Voeckler woke up Thursday morning, he was still feeling the effects of the toughness of stage 11 in the rain. "We're doing a really hard Giro," he said of this year's often rainy edition. However, a few hours later, Voeckler found the strength and the motivation to trying to win.
Ben Day (Fly V Australia) earned himself a place on the podium as the most courageous rider during day five of the Amgen Tour of California, and although he's pleased to wear the prestigious blue jersey, he won't be satisfied until his team wins a stage at the eight-day event.
"We are not satisfied," Day told Cyclingnews. "We are knocking on the door and we are so close; we've come here to win a stage. We don't consider ourselves a domestic team, we are an international team.
"Fly V Australia wants to be on the international stage and we want to be racing against all the best riders throughout the world and for us this is a natural progression to be here and to be successful. We want a little bit more and we will fight for a little bit more."
Day rode in an early five-man breakaway with Grischa Niermann (Rabobank Cycling Team), Kurt Hovelynck (Quick Step), Paul Mach (Bissell) and fellow Australians Mark Renshaw (HTC-Columbia) and William Dickeson (Jelly Belly-Kenda).
"The reason I was sitting on the break today is because we really wanted to win a stage with one of our sprinters," explained Day. "We believe that our sprinters are shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the sprinters in the world who are here. We've seen our boys so close to taking a stage win already.
"We have some particular riders who are good in a finish like that," he continued. "With all the sprinters left behind on the climb on the mountain, we thought we had a good position for that, which was why I had to play the tactics that I did at the front of the race."
After more than 130km off the front, Day and Renshaw played a game of cat and mouse, each taking a turn attacking the break as they neared the finishing city of Visalia, both in pursuit of the stage win. Day was the last rider to make a strong run for the finish line and rode solo on the last lap of the finishing circuits.
Saxo Bank's Stuart O'Grady has had to withdraw from the Amgen Tour of California following a crash on Stage 5 which left him with a broken right collarbone. The Australian was involved in a large pile-up that occurred early in the stage from Visalia to Bakersfield.
Team director Bobby Julich said O'Grady's prognosis is relatively good. "According to our team doctor it's the best type of break, meaning it's not displaced or compound," said Julich.
"He's in good morale and will stay on the tour with the team through the end of the event before heading back to Europe. Unfortunately it's a tricky time for injuries," he said.
Radioshack’s Lance Armstrong and Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) were both involved in the accident and have withdrawn from California as a result. Armstrong required eight stitches to his face while Haussler’s knee troubles have flared up again.
General classification battle could take second stage to break
On the eve of the Amgen Tour of California's "queen stage" to Big Bear Lake, all eyes are on a tightly packed leaderboard, where Australian Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and American David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) are locked in a dead heat.
With Radioshack's defending champion Levi Leipheimer 10 seconds behind, best young rider Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) five more in arrears and the top 15 just over half a minute behind the lead the sixth stage could shake out the overall classification further.
The 217.7km stage includes a whopping seven classified climbs and climbs to 8,000 feet (2438m) above sea level, adding a degree of difficulty above the stage profile.
"I'm counting for a tough day. Radioshack still have a lot of guys in contention and I'm sure they're not going to go away from this race without giving everything they can to deliver," said Rogers. "There's a heck of a lot of climbing and a lot is at high altitude, so that will take a lot of out of the riders."
Race organiser AEG president Andrew Messick gave his prediction for the stage, indicating it may not unfold into a general classification battle.
"I think we've achieved what we wanted - for this race to possibly come down to the last day,” he said. “Tomorrow's climbs are going to be impressive in the beginning, and then it kind of plateaus when you get up on top of the ridge. But it's a roller coaster to the finish. A break could possibly sustain itself to the finish line on top of Big Bear."
Certainly the Kelly Benefit Strategies team is banking on a breakaway, and will be looking to gain additional points for mountains leader Ryan Anderson. However, Anderson himself did not make the front split which happened on the KOM at the mid-point of stage 5, and is hoping for a different outcome than Messick predicts.
"Tomorrow's going to a day of wait and see. We'll see how it goes - hopefully a lot of the GC guys will go and...
Bruyneel maintains confidence in Leipheimer for overall
RadioShack directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel is confident that his team can pull off an overall win despite losing two of its five overall contenders following a crash during stage five of the Amgen Tour of California. The accident eliminated seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and caused Jose Luis Rubiera to slide down the standings.
"It's definitely not good," Bruyneel told Cyclingnews. "I liked our chances better with Lance [Armstrong] and Chechu [Rubiera] in contention for the GC. Now we are down to only three. We are going to try to win this race; we're going to try everything we can until the last moment."
Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) is currently leading the overall classification, tied on time with Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) in second place and 10 seconds ahead of Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) in third.
The squad started the stage with a strong showing of five riders in contention for the overall standings. Three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer now leads the team on general classification, sitting in third place, followed by Janez Brajkovic (seventh) and Chris Horner (ninth).
Armstrong and Rubiera crashed inside the first five kilometres of the day's 195km stage. Rubiera was able to get back on his bike and complete the stage 27 minutes behind the lead group. Armstrong was not as fortunate and didn't get back up to race. He was transported to hospital where he received eight stitches to a gash under his eye and a wound to his elbow.
"I didn't see the crash," explained Bruyneel. "We got to the place where the crash happened and everyone was already down. When we heard on the radio tour that there was a crash we saw a red jersey and I realised it was Chechu on the left and on the right I saw Lance sitting there. I immediately had the image of last year when he was sitting on the side of the road with a broken collarbone.
Video with HTC-Columbia rider after stage five escape
Mark Renshaw typically saves his efforts for leading out Mark Cavendish in the sprint but on stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California he was let of the leash. The Australian escaped with Grischa Niermann (Rabobank), Kurt Hovelynck (Quick Step), Paul Mach (Bissell), Benjamin Day (Fly V Australia) and William Dickeson (Jelly Belly-Kenda). Here, in this exclusive video he talks about the stage break and Michael Rogers - his teammate - taking the overall lead.
Renshaw on California break
Cyclingnews' Amgen Tour of California video is brought to you by Specialized
Garmin-Transitions sprinter to re-assess race situation after stage 13
Tyler Farrar lost the red points jersey at the Giro d’Italia to Jérôme Pineau on Thursday, after the Frenchman finished third on stage 12 in Porto Recanti. The Garmin-Transitions sprinter has scored 74 points since the start of the race in Amsterdam and Pineau 66, but Farrar slipped out of the lead due to a 25-point deduction applied by the race jury on Wednesday under a new International Cycling Union (UCI) rule.
At the end of the 262km stage 11, where Richie Porte took the overall lead over from Alexandre Vinokourov, the 41 riders who finished 46 minutes behind were allowed to continue racing despite an official time cut of 39 minutes. But a new rule implemented by the UCI upon request of Tour de France organisers ASO stipulates that riders given such a favour are penalised in the points classification.
The measure is designed to discourage sprinters from riding easy in the mountains and still taking the daily honours and prize money awarded to the points classification leader, when they would otherwise be out of the race were it not for the judges’ clemency.
"This is the rule and I accept it," Farrar told Cyclingnews at the end of stage 12. "I’m disappointed with the outcome today because you always try to win another stage."
On Thursday, Australian track riders Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge had been visible at the front of the peloton as Garmin-Transitions led the pursuit of the early escape. The team paced hard to bring back the three-man breakaway of Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Rick Flens (Rabobank).
But an attack with 12km-to-go by a number of the race favourites, including Alexandre Vinokourov, Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and Damiano Cunego destroyed the US...