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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, May 14, 2012

Date published:
May 14, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • "Solid start" for Orica GreenEdge at Amgen Tour of California

    Travis Meyer (Orica GreenEdge) line up at the front to get to the climb first.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 6:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Howard sprints into fourth place with cracked rim

    It was a case of close but no cigar for Orica GreenEdge in their first race in the United States – the Amgen Tour of California, with Leigh Howard sprinting to fourth place on the opening stage in Santa Rosa won by Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).

    "It was a solid start," said Orica GreenEdge sports director, Neil Stephens on "Everyone is really happy to be racing here. We have a lot to gain from this race, and we're looking for every opportunity we can take."

    Howard not only avoided being caught up in the crash with three kilometres left to race in the 186.5km stage, but also finished with a cracked rim which was caused as the peloton navigated over the train tracks around 800 metres from the finish line.

    "As soon as the team saw that Leigh had made it over the final climb, they were all in it for him at the finish," explained Stephens. "We had five riders in the front group – Cameron [Meyer], Pieter [Weening], Wes [Sulzberger], Luke [Durbridge] and Leigh – and they combined together to do a really good lead out.

    "We were well-poised for a good result," noted Stephens. "We're happy with fourth place, but we can't help but wonder what would have happened if Leigh hadn't hit the railroad track the way he did."

    The Coleman Valley Road climb spelled the beginning of the end for day's break, with Garmin-Barracuda, Liquigas-Cannondale and Rabobank driving the chase. The pace of the peloton did have its challenges for Orica GreenEdge though.

    "We knew the challenges associated with this climb, so we had our guys positioned well leading up to it," said Stephens. "Travis Meyer and Matt Wilson spent all of their energy putting their teammates into position, and their work was...

  • Degenkolb looks to Tour de France after Picardie win

    John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) continues to lead general classification at the Tour de Picardie.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 10:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Rising form for Argos-Shimano sprinter

    The Tour de Picardie (Cat. 2.1) finished on Sunday and John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) was able to take home his second stage win at the French three-day event, as well as the overall victory. The German, who had already taken the first stage on Friday, missed out on his chance to win again on the second day due to a dangerous sprint manouevre by Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat), but made amends on the final stage, defending his overall jersey.

    The 23-year-old was delighted to score his first stage race victory. "With what happened on Saturday, I had no other choice but to win," he told L'Equipe. "It was a real pressure, because there was my first success at a general classification at stake."

    Degenkolb, who often wins twice at the same stage race (two stages at the 2010 Tour de l'Avenir, two stages at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, two stages at the 2012 Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, amongst others) is only just behind his star teammate Marcel Kittel in terms of season victories (four aganist five for Kittel), and hopes to co-lead his squad with the fellow German at the Tour de France this July.

    His schedule leading up to the grand tour involves two mountainous stage races in order to prepare his body for the challenges ahead. Degenkolb is planned to race the Bayern Rundfahrt from May 22-27, then the Critérium du Dauphiné from June 3-10.

    "It's a challenging, mountainous event, but I have to inflict this type of suffering on myself for what's to come later," added Degenkolb, who has already raised hopes to try for the green jersey at the Tour. His fifth placing in Milan-Sanremo and good showings in the...

  • Sky happy with opening week at Giro d'Italia

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) has already won two stages in the Giro.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 11:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Sporting director De Jongh satisfied with squad

    The opening week of action at the 2012 Giro d'Italia was en eventful one for Team Sky, and sporting director Steven De Jongh has declared himself pleased with the performances of his riders.

    The race began well last weekend when Geraint Thomas finished second in the opening time trial and the team enjoyed further success when Mark Cavendish subsequently sprinted to victory in stage two and stage five. With today's ninth stage also suiting the sprinters, hopes are high in the camp that Cavendish can strike again, while the team also has two riders in the top 15 of the general classification. Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao lie 11th and 14th respectively so there is much to play for. The Columbian duo both earned top 20 finishes in yesterday's punishing eighth stage, and both riders are ready for the easier and flatter terrain that they will face today according to De Jongh.

    "It was a really good performance from both Rigo and Sergio and it's nice to see them moving up the GC," De Jongh told the Team Sky official website after yesterday's stage.

    "They've got a few days now where it should be little bit less stressful for them before the big climbing stages come later in the race. We've got two wins from Cav, a second place for Geraint and Rigo right up there on the GC which all adds up to a pretty successful week. But now it’s all about looking forward and let’s hope we can start week two with a win as tomorrow's stage [Monday] is a big chance for Mark again. 

    "Cav showed again today that he’s really bounced back well from that tough day on Friday [when he, Bernhard Eisel and Jeremy Hunt had to work hard to make the time limit] so it’s looking good. "

  • Di Luca: Scarponi is still Giro d'Italia favourite

    Stage 7 runner-up Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD).
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 12:08 BST
    Cycling News

    2007 winner says compatriot is well-placed

    Having been awarded the 2011 Giro d'Italia in a courtroom following Alberto Contador's doping sanction earlier this year, Lampre-ISD's Michele Scarponi is desperate to win his homeland's most iconic race on the road this year.

    The 32-year-old from Ancona in Italy has made stealthy progress through the general classification over the opening eight stages of the race, and he remains the favourite to walk away with the pink jersey on May 27 according to Danilo Di Luca, who has also been impressed with the form shown by yesterday's stage winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago). But Scarponi's display in stage seven, when he was narrowly defeated by Paolo Tiralongo after a lung-bursting surge up the final Rocca di Cambio climb, has convinced Di Luca that Scarponi might get his hands on the Giro trophy once again.

    "Pozzovivo has done a great number and with the Giro this year, with a few trial and uphill finishes so important, I think he can do a good ranking," said Di Luca, who won the 2007 Giro but is absent from this year's renewal after his Acqua & Sapone team weren't given a wildcard invitation, in Radio Sport.

    "But from what we saw on the Rocca di Cambio, I think the favorite to win the race is still Scarponi. I see him motivated and with a strong team behind him. He is very determined to win the Giro again, this time on the road."

  • Weather changes set to take toll on Giro d'Italia riders

    The Giro peloton en route from Modena to Fano during stage 5.
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 12:37 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Cooler, showery weather as race starts to head north

    The Giro d’Italia starts its long trek north through Italy today (Monday) with a radical change not just in the terrain - from constantly undulating and mountain terrain to flat - but also in terms of the weather.

    When the peloton looked out their hotel windows just outside Naples this morning they saw they could look forward to a mix of heavy rain showers, low cloud, a drop of about ten degrees and blustery winds for this afternoon’s stage. Lovely.

    What effect does this have on the riders? Psychologically, it’s not a crowd pleaser in anyone’s book, even if it is a shorter, and far flatter stage today - 166kms as opposed to 229 kilometres for Saturday and 210 kilometres for Friday.

    “The change from hot weather to cold is never ideal for morale and can make riders perceive stages as being longer and harder. Also the bike handles differently too in these different conditions, so that’s another change,” Garmin-Barracuda physical therapies co-ordinator and chiropractor Matt Rabin told Cyclingnews.

    “Physically as well, muscles tend to get tighter, quicker, and you can become more prone to aches and pains in the colder weather.”

    “If it’s 30 degrees or more, you get warmed up straightaway when you start riding. But in the cold it can take that little bit longer.”

    With natural defenses dropping steadily as the race continues, although it’s important to eat well in the colder weather, “riders will start to want to eat less, it’s a natural reaction as the accumulated stress and fatigue of eight to ten days hard racing start to kick in, so we have to watch how much they’re eating.

  • Video: Giro leader Ryder Hesjedal discusses life in pink and rivals

    Champagne for Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda).
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 13:53 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Exclusive video with Garmin-Barracuda rider

    For the second day in a row, the Giro d’Italia has a Canadian in the lead. That had never happened in the previous 102-year history of the corsa rosa. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) has given the Italian grand tour an international impact.

    To lead a three-week race is also something new for the 31-year-old who comes from a mountain biking background. He was seen more as a follower than a leader. That’s why his life is changing these days, as the pink jersey is source of a new status and glory for the climber from British Colombia.

    He’s got a true chance to win the event that finishes in Milan on May 27 with a closing individual time trial, something he’s very good at. But at the difference of most of his rivals at the Giro, he knows little – if not nothing – about the big climbs like the Stelvio scheduled on the penultimate day of racing, so he said to Cyclingnews after breakfast in Mercogliano, prior to transferring to the start of stage 9.

  • Video: Resiliant Jacques-Maynes most aggressive in Amgen Tour of California

    Escape group: Maxime Boulet (AG2r), Jeff Louder (UnitedHealthcare), David Boily (Spidertech-C10), Andrew Dahlheim, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Sebastian Salas (Optum pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies), Josh Atkins (Bontrager-Livestrong), Sam Johnson (Exergy)
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 16:51 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Bissell rider takes advantage of local knowledge in attack

    It's been a hard year for Ben Jacques-Maynes of Bissell, but one year on from a crash at the Amgen Tour of California that left him with a simple
    broken collarbone that turned into a month ordeal, he was back in the race and on the attack, claiming the most aggressive rider's jersey at
    the end of the opening stage in Santa Rosa.

    Fractured clavicles are the most common injury for bike racers, but Jacques-Maynes's break last year was complicated first by a serious bone
    infection and then took extra measures to get it to heal properly. But now after a big push to regain his previous fitness in time for the Tour
    and 179 kilometres in the breakaway, Jacques-Maynes which carry the most aggressive rider's jersey when the race visits his home training grounds in the Santa Cruz mountains tomorrow.

    "It feels really good to start off the race this way," he told Cyclingnews. "My Bissell teammate backed me up, I had Andrew Dahlheim in the break with me and the team was spectacular. We made sure we were represented and to get the jersey out of it was spectacular."

    In addition to his medical issues, while he was away racing earlier this month his house was broken into and several electronic items stolen.
    "Life happens, we just try to persevere through the hard times. I had a lot of knocks in the last year. We gotta jump this hurdle in the Tour of
    California, and move on. It was a great first day."

    The team had a special edge since their team's base is in Santa Rosa, and their training camp was held here after the route was announced. "We did the entire loop in camp in February, and I knew every inch of the road. I was pretty comfortable the whole day. I was surprised we had
    such a gap, up to 11 minutes,...

  • Video: Phinney on toughness of a Grand Tour after Giro glory

    Taylor Phinney (BMC)
    Article published:
    May 14, 2012, 18:00 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    BMC leader on his second three-week stage race

    Whatever happens in the second and third weeks of the Giro d’Italia, Taylor Phinney will remain one of the main stars of the corsa rosa. The winner of the opening time trial has been thrust into the limelight. He’s been such a great talker on Italian TV with the local language he speaks very well – and also the dialect of Veneto where he lived as a teenager – that the tifosi look for him at starts and finishes as much as they do for the Italian stars.

    However, the BMC rider is more than a showman. He’s above all a champion in the making. To become the true successor of Fabian Cancellara – as expected by many experts – he has to handle the toughness of a grand tour. After experiencing three hard days in a row and finishing close to the time cut with Mark Cavendish in Porto San Elpidio on stage 6, he could take it a little bit easier on stage 9 on a flatter terrain and a shorter course.

    He told Cyclingnews on the finishing line about his state of form and his feeling for the (almost) two remaining weeks of racing in his second grand tour.  In 2011, Phinney also raced the Vuelta a Espana although he withdrew on stage 13.