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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, May 4, 2012

Date published:
May 04, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Nuyens returns to racing in Four Days of Dunkirk

    Nick Nuyens
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 11:46 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Saxo Bank rider was out for two months with fractured hip

    Two months ago a bad crash in the prologue at Paris-Nice put an end to Nick Nuyens'  hopes for the spring classics, but The Saxo Bank rider is now finally returning to action and will be at the start line of the Four Days of Dunkirk Friday with one eye on the Tour de France.

    “I' glad to be back again, although I have problems,” he told Sportwereld.be.

    The Belgian's front wheel slipped on a descent in the time trial and he went hip-first into a traffic island. He somehow managed to finish the stage and took the start again the next day, but had to abandon within the neutralized zone. The fracture did not require surgery.

    Nuyens, who won the Tour of Flanders in 2011, was due to lead Saxo Bank in the spring classics. He ended up missing that whole part of the season, and the rest of the team was unable to fill the void on the cobbles.

    Now, however, the 31-year-old is back on his bike and looking forward to riding out the rest of the season. He hopes to finish Dunkirk. “I need this in order to get a competitive rhythm. If I do, then I will ride the Tour of Norway, and then go via the Tour de Suisse to the Tour (de France, ed.)

    “If not, then I will probably ride the Tour de Picardy or the Bayern Rundfahrt. Then I will train another 10 days.”

    But the Tour de France is his ultimate focus now. “That race has now become a major goal. If I do well, I will ride the Tour.  And of course with the intention of...

  • Kreuziger wants early stage win at Giro d'Italia

    Roman Kreuziger weighs his chances for a 2012 Giro d'Italia win
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 12:48 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Czech "more relaxed" than in 2011

    Best young rider twelve months ago, Roman Kreuziger (Astana) lines up at the Giro d’Italia with serious aspirations of overall victory after a quietly assured opening to the season, but the Czech is also keen to open his account for the season with an early stage victory.

    In the absence of an overwhelming favourite, the Kreuziger's candidacy for the maglia rosa has gained increasing traction among observers in the build-up to the race. Now in his second season at Astana, he admitted that he approaches the Giro in more confident frame of mind than he did in 2011.

    “Compared to last year, I’m more relaxed. I needed this time to make myself at home at Astana,” Kreuziger told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Above all, I had a good winter. I did a lot of training a long way from home but they’re efforts that are paying off and it was worth doing it.”

    Although yet to taste victory in 2012, Kreuziger has been consistently at the business end of affairs to date. After third place at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, he looked comfortable in the leading group at both the Giro del Trentino and the Tour de Romandie, and the 26-year-old is targeting an early stage victory to signal his grander ambitions.

    “At Romandie I made another step forward and I’m still improving now,” he said. “Yes, I must say I’m ready for the Giro, even if I haven’t won yet this season. But that makes me hungrier: I want to win a stage straightaway.”

    While the final week of racing in the Dolomites is ultimately expected to decide the destination of the pink jersey, Kreuziger is looking to make gains on his fellow overall contenders from the moment he rolls down the start ramp in Herning on...

  • Video: Team NetApp “Against all Odds”

    Team NetApp's Grischa Janorschke in action
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 13:34 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Loss of three riders complicates assembling Giro d'Italia squad

    Team NetApp's build-up to the 2012 Giro d'Italia deviated from its smooth path and hit a number of bumps – literally. Three injured riders in the month of April posed problems for the German Professional Continental team as it prepared for its first grand tour.

    “After the success in Italy, reality is about to rear its ugly head,” according to the latest installment of Against All Odds, the video series about the team. The team had finally attained its first wins at the ProConti level, dominating the Settimana Coppi e Bartali the end of March.

    From there, the team headed to a totally different kind of race: Paris-Roubaix, where they were up against the best of the best. There they were lucky enough to get Grischa Janorschke in the break group of the day. 

    But a cobblestone burst one of his tyres, and he went flying, ending up with a broken elbow. And that wasn't the end of the bad news  During the race, team manager Ralph Denk got word that Leo König, who was to be the team's GC candidate at the Giro, would be unable to ride due to back problems.

    And only days after Barta continued his winning streak by soloing to victory in Rund um Köln, the team also learned that new signing Marcel Wyss was ill and would not be available for the Giro.

    “The bad times always prevail,” noted Denk, who then faced the difficulty of assembling his squad for Italy.

  • Stetina struck by car whilst training on Giro d'Italia opening time trial course

    As a native of Boulder, Peter Stetina was right at home
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 14:35 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Barracuda rider not injured

    Peter Stetina of Garmin-Barracuda was struck by a car whilst training in Herning Friday morning.  He was not hurt and the only damage his bike sustained was to the rear wheel. The Giro d'Italia starts Saturday in the Danish town.

    Stetina and teammates Alex Rasmussen were out on the time trial course, which was still open to traffic. “We couldn't do anything. All of a sudden there was just a rider in front of the car. I'm just glad we got to slow down, so we did not hit him harder,” the car driver told sporten.dk.

    The driver was not charged by the police with any violations.

    The road was to be blocked by the police in the afternoon for training. The two riders were accompanied by a police motorcycle escort in the morning.

    Garmin-Barracuda sport director Johnny Weltz was furious. “Fortunately, nothing happened to Peter, although he is still in shock. But for the team as such, it has marred the preparations that we should have had for the prologue,” he told sporten.dk.

    “It is a technical route in several places and therefore it is important for a rider like Alex to know it thoroughly. Therefore, we had also teamed up with a motorcycle escort, just to be sure that no cars are on the route and it happens anyway,” said Weltz.

    According to sport.tv2.dk, the team apparently thought the road would be blocked to traffic between 10 and 12 in the morning. Local organizers denied this, saying that all sport directors had been informed of the situation at a meeting with police. 

    Niels Frydenlund, press spokesman for the local organising committee, said that they did not blame themselves for the...

  • Thomas says balance is key in Giro d'Italia prologue

    Geraint Thomas
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 15:17 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Welshman a strong contender after Tour de Romandie prologue win

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) says he will try not to turn on the power too high too soon when he tackles Saturday’s 8.7 kilometre Giro d'Italia prologue and instead turn in a well-calculated performance that could see him take the race’s first pink jersey.

    The winner of the prologue in the Tour de Romandie – considered a sound form-guide for the Giro – a couple of weeks back, the 25-year-old says “it’s going to be about not getting excited too early on, as I tend to in prologues. Instead I’ll want to keep a steady pace in the first half, and then empty the tank on the last part, so it’s completely empty when I hit the line.”

    “I’ve always gone 100 percent in prologues” – in the Tour prologue in 2010 in Rotterdam, he took fifth – “but after Romandie people are talking about me a bit more.”

    “It’s a nice little individual target, then the sprint days will be big for me and the team, plus there’s the team time trial. And we’ve got Rigoberto [Urán] for the overall as well, which gives us a real focus in the mountains, too.”

    Back in the Giro d’Italia for the first time since 2008 - which he finished strongly and rounded off with a twelfth place in Milan’s final time trial - Thomas says that there will be a “big difference between Romandie and the Giro prologue.”

    “Romandie was 3.6 kilometres, about three and a half minutes, so the effort was within the [track] team pursuit time” – Thomas’ big target for the summer in the 2012 Olympic...

  • Gallery: Riders recon Giro d'Italia stage 1 time trial route

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) will be the final man to start on Saturday in the Giro d'Italia's opening time trial.
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 17:55 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian Grand Tour begins tomorrow in Herning, Denmark

    The 2012 Giro d'Italia kicks off on Saturday with a three-day stint in Herning, Denmark, beginning with the 8.7km opening stage individual time trial.

    Today the 198 starters of the Italian Grand Tour familiarised themselves with the time trial parcours, in search of the best lines throughout the route in hopes of saving critical time in the race of truth.

    Jackson Rodriguez (Androni-Giocattoli) will be the first rider out of the start house at 3:40pm local time, with 2011 Giro champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) the final rider to start at 7:19pm.

    Following Rodriguez, the Giro riders will continue to start at one-minute intervals until the final 22 riders, who will have a two-minute gap between starts.

    Some notable riders and their start times include Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Barracuda, 4:33pm; Roman Kreuziger (Astana), 4:54pm; Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan), 5:46pm; Mark Cavendish (Sky), 5:55pm; Marco Pinotti (BMC), 5:57pm; Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD), 6:35pm; Jose Rujano (Androni-Giocatolli), 6:37pm; Geraint Thomas (Sky), 6:43pm; Taylor Phinney (BMC), 6:47pm; Gustav Erik Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM), 6:57pm; Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda), 7:01pm; Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), 7:07pm; Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), 7:09pm; Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), 7:13pm; and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), 7:19pm.

  • Rodríguez aims for top in Giro d’Italia

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 19:21 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spanish star refuses to rule out victory

    Spanish star Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) has flung his hat into the ring and says that he will be gunning for his first ever overall victory in a Grand Tour in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

    Fifth in the Giro last year, following a fourth place overall in the Vuelta and eighth place in the Tour de France in 2010, Rodríguez told Cyclingnews, “I’ve put in the miles training this spring, I’ve got good form, better than last year actually, and I was fifth overall then. So I’ll be fighting for the podium of the Giro at least - in which case, why not try and win it?”

    Following a series of near-misses in the Ardennes Classics in previous years, Rodríguez finally hit the bulls eye at Fleche Wallone this spring, so there’s no doubt he has rock-solid morale and strong condition.

    One reason why it might be tougher for 'Purito' to be in pink in Milan this coming May 27 than it was in 2011, though, is that the Giro 2012 is far less mountainous and there are some very exposed, flat stages early on - not exactly the Katusha climber’s favourite terrain.

    However, with some reliable rouleurs in the Russian squad’s line-up to help keep him close to the action in the early stages, Rodríguez believes he can stay in contention.

    “Logically I’d like more mountains rather than all this flat, but I’ll just have to focus on not losing time and keeping out of trouble. I’ll be trying to get safe and sound to the last week” - which contains the 2012 Giro’s most mountainous stages.

    “This first bit in Denmark is going to be very stressful: there’s bound to be echelons, crashes and you’ll have to get through it...

  • Cavendish targets six stages at Giro d’Italia

    Mark Cavendish (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    May 04, 2012, 20:40 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    World champion says paternity will not affect racing

    Mark Cavendish (Sky) has made his way back to Denmark for the start of the Giro d’Italia in Herning seven months after claiming the world title in Copenhagen. In the meantime, he became a father but acknowledged that his new family situation will not affect his sprinting. The Manx Express targeted six stages to win before he switches his focus to the two big goals of his 2012 season: the Tour de France and the Olympic Games road race.

    Cavendish hasn’t won a race since the birth of his first child, a baby girl called Delilah Grace, on April 3. But he maintains that his beginning to the season a successful one with two stage wins at the Tour of Qatar, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico under his belt so far. “Only Tom Boonen has won more by this time of the year as a world champion,” the sprinter from Team Sky noted.

    In fact, in recent years, most of the wearers of the rainbow jersey had yet to register a victory by the beginning of May: Paolo Bettini (2008), Alessandro Ballan (2009), Thor Hushovd (2011) had no wins at this point, while Bettini (2007) and Cadel Evans (2010) had one (stage 4 of the Tour of California for Bettini in 2007 and the 2010 Flèche Wallonne for Evans). In 2006, Boonen had thirteen wins including the Tour of Flanders and three stages at Paris-Nice until the post-Classics break. But Oscar Freire, with seven successes including Tirreno-Adriatico plus three stages, did better than Cavendish in 2005.

    However, the legend of the curse of the rainbow jersey is not an issue for the Briton, although the issue of his recent paternity arose when Italian reporters reminded him that motorbike pilots commonly say that they drove a bit slower once they become a dad. ‘Cav’ skirted the...