- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 04:39
- Greg Johnson
Spaniard still has options for Italian race
Former Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre was amongst the riders that came off second best after the Giro d’Italia’s crash marred second stage. The Cervelo Test Team rider lost 37 seconds in the closing kilometres after being caught up in a crash.
"It's too bad, because I was always in a good position, trying to avoid being involved in all the crashes throughout the day, but in the final, with seven kilometres to go, there was a crash at the front of the peloton in which I was involved,” said Sastre. “It was a very fast stage with a lot of intersections, curves and traffic islands, with a ton of dangerous sections where you always had to be at the front.
"The team was 100 percent with me, we were able to regain contact with the second group that included [Bradley] Wiggins, and limit the losses to not lose options for this Giro," he added.
Sastre’s misfortunes summarized the team’s day on the road, with Gabriel Rasch, Ted King, Marcel Wyss and Daniel Lloyd all caught in tangles throughout the day. Cervelo sport director Alex Sans Vegas said he’d never seen so many crashes in dry conditions.
“The team did great work throughout the stage to keep Carlos at the front, but that’s where the crash happened. It was a shame because it wasn’t our fault, it was just bad luck,” said Sans Vega. “The roads were very dangerous, with a lot of traffic islands, barriers and narrow roads. It was the worse place to crash because the peloton was setting up the sprint and there was not enough time to regain contact.”
Lloyd summed up the impact of sprint stages for maglia rosa contenders well. “These are very important for the GC riders. They’re so dangerous. You cannot gain much, but here’s always the chance they can lose minutes,” Lloyd said. “These next two stages in Holland are very stressful. A lot can happen. It will be a two long days.”
While the 37 second deficit to current race leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) doesn’t end Sastre’s Giro contention, it’s certainly an unwelcome surprise. With less than two minutes the difference between first and second place in the race’s last three editions, the early loss puts Sastre on a slight back foot for the remaining 19 stages.
- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 07:13
- Jean-François Quénet
All-round attacking the only option for Footon-Servetto
At the start of stage two of this year's Giro d'Italia, there was a relaxed atmosphere surrounding the Footon-Servetto team. The reason? "I can promise that we'll attack every day of this race," explained directeur sportif Josean Matxin Fernandez.
The plan didn't exactly work out as none of the Footon-Servetto riders made the early break of Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF), Paul Voss (Milram) and Rick Flens (Rabobank) but the intention remains the same for the three weeks of racing.
"We have a team of attackers who make the race organisers happy; we aren't here to block the race or to stay quiet," added Matxin, which is ironic, given that Footon-Servetto still struggles at times to receive race invitations despite its ProTour status. "From the 22 teams of the Giro, only five or six can be sure of a [stage] win. All the others have to take the initiative."
The Footon-Servetto team has won two races this year, both in January (a stage of the Tour de San Luis courtesy of Rafael Valls and a stage at the Santos Tour Down Under by Manuel Cardoso), but has been rebuilt with new riders. "It's our philosophy to work with young riders - we have the youngest team of the Pro Tour, we have a young team here at the Giro," continued Matxin.
The nine-man line up boasts an average age of 25.3 with the oldest 30-year-old Giampaolo Cheula and the youngest being 20-year-old Austrian Matthias Brändle.
Brändle is the Austrian time trial national champion. He finished a valuable 21st place in the Giro's opening time trial, his debut Grand Tour stage. "We don't have a top time trialist but we have Brändle who is very promising in that area," said Matxin.
"We don't have a top sprinter but we have Michele Merlo who is pretty fast. We don't have a top climber but we have Eros Capecchi who's got talent for climbing. We've got a bit of everything in our group of young guys."
Footon-Servetto also has Fabio Felline, who finished 10th at the GP E3 and fifth in stage one of the Tour de Romandie at the age of only 20. He's been touted as a huge talent in Italy but team manager Mauro Gianetti opted to save him up for the Tour de France, with the expectation that he'll start his first Grand Tour in July in Rotterdam rather than Amsterdam in May.
The team has a track record of blooding young talent on the big stage. Four years ago, Saunier-Duval - the predecessor of Footon-Servetto - also chose to hand its Italian super talent youngster Riccardo Ricco some experience at the Tour de France (he finished 98th in 2006) before passing him the responsibility of general classification leadership at the Giro d'Italia (where he secured sixth in 2007 and second in 2008).
- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 09:02
- Daniel Benson
Saxo Bank rider talking to other teams as Riis searches for sponsor
Jakob Fuglsang has added fresh doubt to his Saxo Bank future after confirming to Cyclingnews that he has spoken to a number of teams ahead of the 2011 season.
Fuglsang is at the end of his contract with Bjarne Riis' team with the team manager still searching for a new sponsor to replace Saxo Bank in 2011. The Danish prodigy has confirmed that while staying with Riis is an option he is in under no illusions that there are a number of other teams willing to sign him.
"I'm already looking. I'm talking to teams and I need to make up my mind. I don't think the Tour is going to make any difference on a contract for the coming years so I'd rather sign today, and if not today then tomorrow. I would like to have it done by the middle of June, at least before the Tour," Fuglsang told Cyclingnews.
Despite publicly opening himself to offers, Fuglsang is willing to give Riis some time, adding that staying with the squad would still be an option.
"The ideal situation would be for Bjarne to find a team but right now there isn't one. I'm happy here and if they go on I don't see why I would leave, but on the other hand there are other options.
"From what I heard from Bjarne it's looking good and he'll have something in a few weeks. I don't know how it's going lately but when we were in Belgium for the Classics I had a chat with him and he said it was looking good so hopefully he will come up with something soon. I have to consider other options though."
Fuglsang wasn't willing to discuss which teams have made offers for his services but did admit that he'd only talked to existing teams, damping speculation that the Schleck brothers have approached him for next season or that the rumours surrounding their possible plans to form a new squad have developed. "I've talked to some teams already and there are others that have shown interest but we've not talked yet. The teams I've talked to are all existing teams.
"If I stay with Fränk and Andy it will be for helping them in races. That's fine with me, as we have a really good relationship, but at the end of the day I need to think about myself and we'd still be friends even if we were riding on different teams."
Fuglsang was speaking prior to taking a flight to the US, where he will train with his teammates before the Amgen Tour of California. However, the trip was delayed at the last minute after his flight was cancelled due to the large ash cloud over mainland Europe. The Dane will travel out a day later.
"I went to the airport and didn't think there would be any problems. I turned up and thought, 'wow it's nice and quiet here' but I went in and found out everything was cancelled. I was walking around trying to find some help but no one was around so I'm stuck here for another day."
Fuglsang endured a hard start to his 2010 season. He was ruled out of racing at the start of the year through injury but showed during the Spring Classics that he was approaching his top form. Since then he has enjoyed a short break but California will be the beginning of a block of racing that will include the Tour de Suisse and his first crack at the Tour de France in July.
"I had a break after the Classics. The form isn't super but I took five days off the bike immediately after and I've not been doing any hard training, just riding the bike. The form wil not have disappeared in a week though."
Having never raced in the US before, Fuglsang is looking forward to the American adventure with the majority of Saxo Bank's Tour de France team taking part in the eight-day event.
"It's a long way to travel and maybe it's not the perfect preparation for the Tour but some things you have to do and I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a cool race and hopefully there won't be any stress.
"So far the season hasn't been like I wanted it to be. I had some troubles at the start of the year and only started to show some form in the last few races, but I had to work really hard for it because I didn't have the best winter. I was still missing some kilometres."
Fuglsang has been pigeon-holed as the Schlecks' last line of defence or attack during the Tour as they aim to topple Alberto Contador's quest for a third victory, and Fuglsang is under no illusions that despite any contract negotiations he'll need to peak come July.
"The most important thing for me is the Tour and I'm going to be ready. I'll be 100 per cent for that race. My role will be to support them as much as possible and to do that I need to be 100 per cent to make it difficult for Contador."
- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 10:05
- Hedwig Kröner
Cofidis aims at Giro mountains jersey and stage win
With Cofidis out of the ProTour this year, team manager Eric Boyer had to use all of his persuasion skills to convince Giro d'Italia organiser Angelo Zomegnan to invite his outfit to the race. When the decision was made public in March, Boyer was relieved and happy to be able to continue to plan, with the team's leading climber David Moncoutié hoping to win the 'Maglia Verde', the overall mountains classification.
"We are very motivated to obtain results in this Giro," Boyer told Cyclingnews. "I had to push a bit for us to be allowed into the event, so we are clearly here to live up to our objectives, with David Moncoutié hoping to win a stage and become best climber. If he could also finish within the top ten or top 15 of the race, we'd appreciate it."
Having won the mountains classification twice in the Vuelta a Espana, the French climber will race the Giro for the very first time, but Boyer is certain that this would not be a disadvantage. "There are some climbers who had great results in the Giro these last few years who are not in the race today, because of some 'problems' they've encountered," he said, satisfied that the Biological Passport was bearing fruit. "David has all his chances against those who are in the race this year - to the contrary, I think it's his rivals that should be afraid of him rather than the other way round."
Moncoutié has not raced a lot this spring, but Boyer insisted that he didn't have to in order to be competitive. "He is in great condition, even if he hasn't shown it yet. We know where he stands in terms of training, and we are used to this situation. What he was able to show us has been very re-assuring."
With the 34-year-old out to challenge the high peaks of the Giro and certainly wanting to defend his title at the Vuelta later this year, the chance of seeing the climber in the Tour de France in July are becoming slimmer.
"Of course, he will not race three Grand Tours," said Boyer. "It depends on what happens at the Giro. If he finishes the race, and if he is in good condition after it, we will decide together if we sign him up for the Tour or not. If he wants to do it, we'll be happy to have him there. If not, he'll do the Vuelta.
"In any case, we did not include Moncoutié in our Giro line-up to prepare for the Tour. He's here to shine at this race, to obtain our goals. When I hear Bradley Wiggins saying that he'll abandon the Giro at some point to prepare for the Tour, I'd be furious at him if I were the organiser," the always-outspoken Boyer added.
As for Cofidis' further line-up at the Giro, the Frenchman also counts on Leonardo Duque for a possible stage victory. "But then we also have our Giro rookies such as Rémi Cusin and Kalle Kriit, who will ride this race for the first time. We hope that they will be present in breakaways and race dynamically," Boyer concluded.
- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 14:34
- Jean-François Quénet
Air transfer to Italy goes ahead despite volcano activity
The ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull will not disrupt the transfer of the Giro d'Italia peloton from the Netherlands to Italy. Race director Angelo Zomegnan confirmed at the start of stage 3 in Amsterdam that everything should go according to the plan today despite the closure of several European airports this weekend.
Riders are scheduled to head by bus from the stage finish in Middleburg to the Belgian airport of Oostende (approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes), and then fly to the Levaldigi airport of Cuneo.
Two charters flights are scheduled to shuttle 346 people including 197 riders, one plane leaving at 8.30pm, the second at 9pm.
As Italian airports were closed on Sunday due to the dangers posed by the ash cloud, the Giro d'Italia organisers were busy at work on alternative plans which would have consisted of a bus convoy to Luxemburg where the riders would have slept before driving for nine hours during the rest day on Tuesday. "I'm fine with it as long as it's the same for everyone," pink jersey Cadel Evans said on Sunday evening when there were still uncertainties over the possibilities of flying.
"Before coming to Amsterdam, I didn't like the idea that we would have to fly after three days of racing, but now I'm relieved that we don't have to do this trip on the road," French rider Thomas Voeckler told Cyclingnews on the start line in Amsterdam.
It's actually a lucky timing for the riders. The weather forecast in Italy shows a threat of ashes to be blown away again on Tuesday. Had the transfer been organised during the rest day and not after stage 3, it might have become a problem to make it on time for Wednesday's team time trial from Savigliano to Cuneo.
Once Zomegnan confirmed to the team managers that the flights would go forward as scheduled, most of the team busses made their way towards Italy as it was initially planned.
- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 15:09
- Cycling News
Updated: Broken collarbone in stage 3 crash
American Christian Vande Velde has abandoned the Giro d'Italia after falling victim to a crash on the third stage in the Netherlands.
The Garmin-Transitions rider came to grief with about 35km to go on the 224km stage from Amsterdam to Middelburg. Team director Matt White confirmed from the race they suspect Vande Velde has a broken collarbone.
The crash was Vande Velde's second of the race. He fell on stage two, but only suffered a gash to his leg from a chainring.
It is the second year in a row that Vande Velde has crashed out of the Giro d'Italia in the first week. Last year he suffered much more severe injuries, with several fractured vertebrae and broken ribs.
Vande Velde arrived at the finish in Middelburg in a race ambulance and was then taken to the showers, where the rest of the riders were getting ready for the flight to Italy. He sat in the back seat of a team car as the team doctor and staff arranged for him to visit a specialist in Gent, Belgium, so he can quickly undergo an operation if needed.
"Tyler Farrar knows a good guy in Gent. A lot of broken collarbones take place in Belgium, so I'll go over there," Vande Velde told Cyclingnews.
"I knew straight away it was broken. I could feel it moving around. It's quite displaced right now. I need to get it sorted. I know it's broken but I have to see how bad it is and see a specialist."
Vande Velde crashed after 105km of racing, along with Marzio Bruseghin and Arnold Jeannesson of Caisse d'Epargne. They got back and finished the stage. Just like last year, Vande Velde's Giro was over far too early.
"It's exactly the same day," Vande Velde revealed.
"It was just nervous out there. The guys slam on the brakes and I went into the back wheel of somebody. That's about it."
"I'm not going to lie. It's really hard to take right now. Especially before the team time trial. I was really motivated and really wanted to get Dave (Millar) into the pink jersey. They definitely still can do it but I really wanted to be a part of it."
- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 17:26
- Jean-François Quénet
Astana leader takes the pink jersey from Evans
On just his third ever day in the Giro d’Italia, Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) has taken the leader's jersey from Cadel Evans (BMC). The Kazakh rode into the pink jersey after Evans was caught up behind a crash along the seafront with fifteen kilometres to go.
“It was very dangerous, we were riding on small roads,” Vinokourov said atthe finish line. “I managed to ride in the front and stay out of trouble in the first group. It was part of our plan to be active in the echelons. I’ve finished the job but the team has done excellent work.”
Astana was well represented in the front group of 29 riders with Paolo Tiralongo and Andreï Grivko in support of Vinokourov while Evans was left alone and forced to chase in order to limit the damages.
“I was riding the last ten kilometres without thinking of taking the pink jersey,” Vino said. “I had seen that Andre Greipel was up there, so I was convinced that he’d win the stage and take the pink jersey with the time bonus. But he didn’t win, so the jersey is mine. To get it is wonderful. I received it without looking for it, really. This is my first participation to the Giro d’Italia and I already have the jersey.”
When he left his home in Monaco to reach Amsterdam for the Giro, his twin sons Nikolaï and Alexandr who are eight years old, asked him to bring a pink jersey back as a gift. But there is more than a sentimental reason for the Kazakh to be happy in leading the race.
“This gives me so much satisfaction”, he added. “It’ll give us the privilege to start in last position for the team time trial. This is perfect. We’ll have more information about our adversaries. I don’t want to make any plan further than Wednesday. After the team time trial, we’ll see where we are on GC.”
- Article published:
- May 10, 2010, 17:39
- Jean-François Quénet
Belgian lets his legs do the talking
Wouter Weylandt may have been an unexpected stage winner of the Giro in Middleburg, but victory was what he planned to respond to the criticisms of his employer.
Last month, Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefévère said he was not worried about the future but mentioned that 15 of his riders "should be worried because they're ending their contract this year". Weylandt was one of them. He felt concerned about his boss' comments which suggested that he wasn't winning much for the money he is getting paid.
Since 2008, when he came of age with a stage win at the Vuelta a España, Weylandt has won only stage 3 of the Three Days of West Flanders and Le Samyn last year.
"I'm very happy to win here today," the Belgian said after the finish of stage 3 in the Netherlands. "This confirms my performance at the Vuelta two years ago.
"This was an ideal stage for me because of the wind," said the 25 year-old from Gent. "I love that kind of racing."
"Every stage with a similar scenario, I ride in the front. The team was telling us to stay calm, but I wanted to be up the front to avoid the crashes. At the start of the sprint, I was in a too small gear, and I felt great when I put a bigger gear on. I knew by then that it would be hard for anyone to beat me."
After the finish, German Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) and Weylandt got in an argument. An angry Greipel had some words with the Belgian.
"It was pretty harsh," Weylandt said afterwards. "I had the feeling towards the end of the stage that Greipel wasn't going very well. I thought he had combined something with [stage 2 runner-up Matt] Goss, and I anticipated it. Goss changed his direction. I followed him because I suspected Greipel would leave a gap to let his leadout man go. That's how I touched Greipel's wheel, but it was just a normal move."
At the time of Weylandt's stage win, Lefévère was in a technical meeting in Meise at the factory of the Eddy Merckx Cycles. He tried to switch from a Dutch radio station to a Belgian one so he could listen to the live coverage, but he missed the finish and got to know the result only a few minutes later.
"This is an important victory for him but also for us," the team manager Lefévère said. "These past few weeks, the team wasn't at the level we expected. Wouter said in the Belgian press that he would respond to my criticisms on the bike, and I like to read that."
"I appreciate him as a person because he never looks for excuses. Even though I criticized him, I've always believed in his capacities. I wasn't happy yesterday because he was on the wheel of Fabio Sabatini who finished third, but he finished 14th. I also know that in cycling things can change quickly."
Those criticisms may have given Weylendt that extra kick he needed at the end of the sprint finish that concluded a chaotic day of racing.