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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 2, 2012

Date published:
April 2, 2012, 14:00
  • Langeveld loss leaves GreenEdge to regroup

    GreenEdge riders at the start of the Tour of Flanders
    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 00:13
    Daniel Benson

    Broken collarbone in Flanders leads to new Paris-Roubaix plan

    GreenEdge’s Classics campaign took a blow when Sebastian Langeveld crashed out of the Tour of Flanders. The Dutchman had looked comfortable until he hit a spectator out on the course. The fall left him with a broken collar bone that will rule him out for several weeks.

    "He hit a spectator at around 60 or 70 kilometres per hour," team director Matt White told Cyclingnews.

    "You can’t control 260 km of roads but some people on the course have no common sense. Sebastian was on the pavement but the spectator then ran back in front of him.

    "It’s disappointing because he was in good shape and he was looking good but that’s his whole Classics finished with and that’s a blow for us for next week and also for Amstel."

    Langeveld signed from Rabobank in the off-season and has put in a number of solid performances this season, however with Paris-Roubaix a week away GreedEdge will need to take stock before deciding on a new game plan.

    "We’ve not got a big favourite but we’ve got guys like O’Grady, Vaitkus, and Cooke who know how to race and now with Cancellara out of the race it really changes things a lot too. There’s no one, strong favourite like today."

    Before the race White had predicted that the race would be won by a small group on the final selection of climbs. He was proved right when Tom Boonen, Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan escaped and stayed clear to decide the win.

    "Today was the hardest Tour of Flanders but it was probably a bigger group sprinting for fourth as we’ve seen in the last ten years because it just makes it negative. It’s such a hard parcours that you’ve got to wait to race. Anyone who tried anything early was not successful. It was a good race though."

    "It’s such hard parcours that it’s really hard to control for such a long period of time. The important part f the race came so early. Before you could just relax until you came to the Kwaremont, that’s where the race started. Today the race started 60-80km before that and it was impossible for one team to control the whole race but Omega did a great job."


    spring classic
  • Kristin Armstrong runner-up in Flanders

    Kristin Armstrong (United States) was second behind Arndt
    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 02:13
    Brecht Decaluwé

    American looking for consistency in lead up to Olympic Games

    American Kristin Armstrong left her mark at the 2012 edition of the Tour of Flanders. The 38 year-old teamed up with eventual winner Judith Arndt (GreenEdge - AIS) to hold off the rest of the field on the Flemish cobbles and climbs. In the sprint Armstrong was no match for the German rider but the Olympic gold medalist of Beijing 2008 didn't have any regrets after the race. Armstrong aims to claim a spot in the London Olympics team in both the time trial and the road race where there are respectively two and three spots available for American riders.

    "I'm pleased as I wanted to come into the early season strong. That way I can take a break ahead of London. To make the London team I have to come in strong and show that I can race in Europe. This is just one more step into making the selection. It's not an automatic [selection] but it shows that I can race," Armstrong said.

    "I'm really happy. Coming over here with the national team and racing here in Europe after not having been here for two years… this is Flanders and it feels like the world championships," Armstrong said.

    Regarding the sprint Armstrong said she tried to put up a fight though her legs didn't have much left. "You never know. I tried with 300 meters to go. My legs said go and then bye, bye. Most important was that I worked really hard until the finish line because I knew that if I came in with a group of thirty I wouldn't have had a chance."

    Twenty kilometers before that sprint the race was decided when climbing the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. Armstrong and Arndt gapped the rest of the peloton on the long cobbled climb and extended their gap over the next climb. "On the Kwarement we had a gap. The last rider behind us on the climb was Emma Pooley. Emma saw Judith and I go away. I thought it was perfect. World championships time trialist and previous world championships time trialist; that would be good to do a time trial. We worked together after the top into the next climb. When we got up the Paterberg we saw we had a nice gap and worked together," Armstrong said.

    The duo went full gas but didn't know much about the formation and distance of the chase group. "We were not well informed. We had no time gaps so we just worked hard together and took equal pulls. We both wanted to go on together and then go for the sprint," Armstrong said. That plan worked out well. In Oudenaarde the chase group of about fifty riders sprinted for third place at half a minute from the duo.

    Regarding her time trial skills Armstrong added. "Every time trial I've done this year whether that was in America or New-Zealand, that is another important marker for me. So far, so good. My next important race is Wednesday with the Energiewacht Tour with the time trial against the best. So now I need to recover in the next coming days. What I don't want to do is chase, chase, chase and then not show up at the Olympics. I want to race consistently, show my fitness level and be able to go into London with a good preparation."


  • Paolini pleased to finish top-10 at Tour of Flanders

    Katusha's Luca Paolini finished in seventh place
    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 04:50
    Cycling News

    Italian nets best result in 2012

    Luca Paolini finished the best performer for Katusha Team at the Tour of Flanders, the Italian rider, after an attacking race, finished in 7th place, 38 seconds back from race winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

    Paolini animated an attack on the Paterberg, followed by Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Vincent Jerome (Europcar). The blitz managed to split the group, however the trio was caught by eight more riders, and in few kilometres they reached a good gap over the chase group.

    "Today I think I was in a good shape - said Paolini - so I tried to do my race and fight for win until the finish. The attack by Pozzato, Ballan and Boonen in Kwaremont was really unexpected. They're great champions, so they could reach the finishing line without being caught, also because in our chasing group there were two riders from Omega Pharma-Quick step that, obviously, didn't cooperate," he explained.

    "When I saw the group had no chance to recover I tried myself, but it was too late. So in the end I did my sprint just in order to obtain a good position in the top-10. It's a pity because the team was really incredible, they gave me a lot of help."

    The result was Paolini’s best so far in 2012, having been racing since January at the Tour Down Under in Australia.

    "Anyway, now we have a whole week before Paris-Roubaix; we'll try to recover some energies and prepare this competition at our best."


    Ronde van Vlaanderen
  • Gilbert showing signs of improvement in Flanders

    Philippe Gilbert finished well down the field
    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 06:34
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian champion "better than last weekend"

    It's no secret that the best rider of 2011, Philippe Gilbert (BMC), isn't enjoying good form so far in 2012. This time last year Gilbert had three wins in the bag and proved to be one of the candidates in the Tour of Flanders. After finishing third in 2009 and 2010 he finished ninth in 2011.

    After racking up all the wins in the Ardennes, Gilbert stated this winter that the Ronde was high on his wish-list. With his poor results in March that hope slowly vanished and eventually his 75th place in 2012 didn't surprise anybody. His teammate Alessandro Ballan (BMC) nearly made up for Gilbert his absence by battling for the win until the finish line, despite falling just short and finishing third.

    "I was better than last weekend," Gilbert evaluated his race at the team bus. "The team was super good. In the finale we were still with seven men in the peloton at 60 kilometres from the finish which was very good. Ballan was good and also confident. After the Koppenberg I talked with Ballan and he told me that he was confident that he could mix in for the win today," Gilbert told Sporza.

    The performance from Gilbert was far from a disaster, like the way he rode at the E3-Prijs Harelbeke when he dropped out of the peloton after the first acceleration at the Taaienberg. "Today I tried to ride near the front," Gilbert said. He easily made the first cut and right after the often crucial marker of 200 km Gilbert moved into the spotlight. When tackling the long climbing combination Kruisberg/Hotond, Gilbert punched away. He was quickly joined by his training partner Björn Leukemans who shared a pull in the attack. Nine more riders were able to hook on their wagon and on top of the Kruisberg they had a small gap on the large group of favorites. In part two of the climb, the Hotond, the duo ran out of gas and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick Step) brought the peloton back to the front. Little later Gilbert his story was over when he didn't survive the selection made by Chavanel when taking on the Oude Kwaremont a second time that day. "Suddenly I ran out of power and had to let go of the rest."

    From there Gilbert ended up finishing in a third group at nearly five minutes from winner Tom Boonen. Gilbert skips the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix to get ready for the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He still has two weeks to get his form back at a decent level to defend his string of Ardennes victories this season. "I hope so. It's a completely different race so why not. It's still two more weeks and I can train a lot from now on. Let's hope," Gilbert said.


    spring classic
    Ronde van Vlaanderen
  • Ballan rides to third after difficult week

    There was only so much that Ballan could do at the finish
    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 08:24
    Barry Ryan

    Italian beaten by Boonen and Pozzato at Flanders

    For the third year in succession, the Mantova-based doping investigation is casting a pall over Alessandro Ballan's classics campaign, but the BMC rider was a starter at the Tour of Flanders nonetheless and duly went on to finish the race in third place behind winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and fellow countryman Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).

    On Wednesday, reported that Ballan was one of 32 people who may face charges after being named in the final report made by the public prosecutor in the Mantova investigation, which centres on the activities of pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and Ballan's former Lampre team in 2008 and 2009. It was a trying few days in more ways than one for Ballan, whose father-in-law died suddenly during the week.

    "I was very concentrated in spite of everything," Ballan said in Oudenaarde on Sunday. "I started as leader after three years of being a protagonist at Flanders without being in the top ten. I have to say that I'm happy with the podium place, but at the same time there's obviously a bit of regret that I didn't win."

    Ballan denied that the ongoing ruminations of the Mantova case had affected his preparation during the week. In both 2010 and 2011, BMC pulled him for racing due to his implication in the inquiry before returning him to the roster shortly afterwards on each occasion. This time around, manager Jim Ochowicz said that the team would take no action against Ballan unless requested to do so by "an appropriate authority."

    "I just think about riding and the team has faith in me. Besides, this week, I had other things to think about," Ballan said.

    Now in his third season at the BMC squad, the former world champion found himself thrust into the role of outright leader for De Ronde after Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd struggled in the build-up to the race. "It's the first time that I started as leader here for three years and I showed my value," said Ballan.

    Although prominent in the finale last season, Sunday marked Ballan's best outing in Flanders since his victory in the race five years ago. He sparked the winning move on the third of three ascensions of the Oude Kwaremont, bringing Boonen and Pozzato with him. On the day's final climb, the Paterberg, the Italian pair came close to dropping Boonen, who admitted afterwards that he had had problems with his gears.

    "The intention was to go the last time on the Kwaremont, as I did, and then Boonen and Pippo came across near the summit," Ballan explained. "I was hoping that Tom would get dropped on the Paterberg as he was the quickest in the sprint, but instead he managed to stay within 10 metres of us."

    The slowest of the leading trio on paper, Ballan had little choice but to try and force his way clear on the flat run-in to Oudenaarde, but he was aware that he lacked the explosiveness necessary to surprise Boonen. "I tried in the finale, but Boonen took my wheel every time I tried to get away. He has a much better jump than me."

    Pozzato revealed afterwards that he had agreed not to chase Ballan when he attacked in the finale. The Italian pair both hail from the Veneto region and enjoy a bond beyond that goes beyond any rivalry on the bike, with Pozzato attending Ballan's father-in-law's funeral during the week.

    "It's nice that Pippo was close to me in such a time of mourning," Ballan said. "It's logical that friends are friends, but in races we're always rivals. Today he didn't race against me, it was always Boonen who chased me down. I'm happy that we both did a good race, but it's just a pity that once again a classic win has escaped an Italian."

    Damiano Cunego, another man named in the Mantova report, was the last Italian to triumph in a classic, at the Tour of Lombardy in 2008. Ballan is aiming to end that unhappy streak at Paris-Roubaix next weekend, in spite of the gathering clouds over his repeated implication in the Mantova case.

    "At Roubaix last year I was 6th and if it hadn't been for the early break, I would have been second behind Cancellara. I was up with him and Hushovd. I had a great condition and I think I'm going better this year."

  • Hushovd disappointed with Tour of Flanders performance

    BMC's Thor Hushovd tackles the Paterberg
    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 09:25
    Cycling News

    BMC rider holds out hope of good form for Paris-Roubaix

    Thor Hushovd was one of many for whom the Tour of Flanders did not go as planned. The BMC rider said it went “much worse” than hoped, as he finished only 55th, 3:26 behind winner Tom Boonen.

    "This was disappointing. I had nothing to ride with. My legs were completely empty, so it was hard work all day," he told after the race.

    The Norwegian fell back early and had to struggle to catch back up to the main group, but then found it difficult to stay with it during the remainder of the event.

    Hushovd's next race is Paris-Roubaix, which he has always hoped to win. “I just have to be positive, then anything can happen. I have to take a few days now, before I get a few good sessions. Also, I wait for my form to arrive. I know it's there."

    The BMC rider doesn't want to think that his poor form on Sunday will affect him next weekend. “I've never liked Flanders. That's why I still believe that I may be good in Roubaix. But it was a slap in the face."

    Hushovd sympathized with Fabian Cancellara, who had been a favourite to win the race but instead left it with a shattered collarbone. “It's a shame he is out. He could have won both today and next Sunday. It sucks for him, but that's sport.”

  • Successful surgery for Cancellara's quadruple collarbone fracture

    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 10:50
    Cycling News

    Langeveld to be operated on today

    Fabian Cancellara's surgery has shown that he suffered a quadruple fracture of the collarbone. The RadioShack-Nissan rider has undergone a successful operation Sunday evening in Basel, Switzerland. Sebastian Langeveld (GreenEdge) will have surgery today for his broken collarbone, also sustained at the Tour of Flanders.

    Cancellara crashed over a water bottle about 60 km before the finish of Sunday's race and was initially reported to have suffered a triple collarbone fracture.

    RadioShack-Nissan spokesman Tim Vanderjeugd said the fourth fracture was very small and would not affect his treatment. The bone was bolted in the surgery. "It is a new method, which allows a much faster recovery,” thanks to a smaller incision.

    Theoretically, Cancellara could be back training on the rollers as early as Tuesday. "That's true, medically speaking, but he will surely take his time to recover and stay off the bike for a few days or maybe a week. His spring is over anyway,” Vanderjeugd added.

    Langeveld will undergo surgery today on the collarbone he broke in a dramatic accident Sunday – an accident he admitted he doesn't remember.

    The GreenEdge rider rode into a spectator at full speed, whilst descending the New Kwaremont. "It was really hard, more than 60 kilometers per hour. I decided to divert to the bicycle path and what happened then, I can't remember,” he told the Algemeen Dagblad.

    "I immediately wanted to go on, but I quickly felt that that it was really bad."

  • Pozzato was the strongest, says Scinto

    Pozzato climbs the Molenberg on his way to second place
    Article published:
    April 2, 2012, 12:38
    Barry Ryan

    Mixed emotions at Tour of Flanders

    The odd couple of Filippo Pozzato and Luca Scinto have provided one of the most compelling storylines of the season to date, and their union came within inches of a fairytale ending at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, as Pozzato narrowly missed out to Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in the sprint.

    Standing outside the Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team bus after the race, Scinto had the air of a man who had been jilted at the altar and then forced to attend the runaway bride’s new nuptials. All around him in Oudenaarde’s market square, swathes of boisterous Flemish fans were spilling out of the bars and blinking into the late afternoon sunshine, merrily toasting Tommeke’s latest triumph.

    “Today Pippo was the strongest,” Scinto told Cyclingnews, his voice raw. “Chapeau to QuickStep, which is a great team, a great équipe, with some big riders and a big champion like Boonen, but today the strongest rider at Flanders was Pippo. If it was a boxing ring, he would have won on points.”

    Even races of 255 kilometres can ultimately hinge on a few short seconds of action, and for Scinto, the crucial moment came towards the summit of the Paterberg, the final helling of the race. Pozzato led Alessandro Ballan (BMC) and Boonen up the climb, and when the gradient stiffened to 20% near the top, the Belgian began to lose contact.

    “It’s a pity that the Paterberg wasn’t twenty metres longer, Boonen was on the limit,” Scinto said, shaking his head at the memory. “With those extra twenty metres, if he’d managed to drop Boonen, it would have been a very different race.”

    Instead, Boonen managed to hang tough and stay within striking distance of Ballan’s rear wheel as they crested the summit of the short climb. The two Italians reached a tacit agreement to work against Boonen in the finale, but when it all came down to a three-man sprint in Oudenaarde, there was an air of inevitability about the outcome.

    “Look, beating Boonen in the sprint is very difficult,” Scinto said. “It’s a second place that hurts. We’re not happy with this second place because it hurts.

    “I’m happy for the lads because of how well they rode, but coming second at Flanders… Ok, a great Boonen won it, but seeing how well Pippo went today, then there’s certainly a bit of regret.”

    All change

    Twelve months ago, Pozzato was marooned in an unhappy marriage at Katusha and as he turned 30, it appeared as though his was a classics career that had been frittered away. His transformation under Scinto’s tutelage since has been striking, all the more so because Pozzato, the purported playboy, scarcely seemed a natural fit for the passionate Tuscan’s more robust style when the signing was first announced.

    The pair struck a quick rapport and the alliance was cemented still further when Pozzato broke his collarbone at the Tour of Qatar in February, yet returned to racing at the Trofeo Laigueglia barely a week after undergoing surgery.

    “I think this boy should be applauded. I’m not saying he’s a hero, because heroes don’t exist anymore, but he is a gladiator,” Scinto said of Pozzato. “45 days ago, he had a broken collarbone and was under general anaesthetic. He fought, they said we were mad, but we knew what work we had to do and where we had to go. Today he showed that he’s not spoiled like other people say, but a rider with real attributes.”

    Pozzato tempered his steel for De Ronde by entering into the thick of the action as early as Dwars Door Vlaanderen last week, a far cry from his more relaxed approach to races outside the monuments last season.

    “I expected him to be as strong as he was today because we had done San Remo, Waregem, Harelbeke and Gent,” Scinto said. “Racing in Belgian is hard, it’s stressful. At the end of Gent-Wevelgem he was tired but it was those four races that allowed him to find such an incredible rhythm coming in here.”

    As aggressive Euro-pop boomed from all four corners of the square and the festitivies continued all around him, a disconsolate Scinto was left to mull over Pozzato’s near-miss and the crash that obstructed Oscar Gatto in the finale. But then the terrible beauty of the classics is that almost everyone bar the winner comes away harbouring regrets of some form or another, and at least Scinto and Pozzato have the chance to dream it up all over again ahead of Paris-Roubaix next week.