Bissell rider takes early lead in KOM classification
Bissell rider Paul Mach rode into the early lead of the King of the Mountain competition following the opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday. According to the US domestic pro, it will be a dream come true to start the stage two road race wearing the red jersey of best climber in his hometown of Davis.
"It's kind of like a dream in a dream," said Mach. "I wasn't guaranteed to do this race from the beginning, so just to start it was kind of a big goal of mine for the year. Now that I have a jersey and to get in a breakaway at the biggest race in America is kind of a big achievement for me. To start with a jersey in my hometown tomorrow is even better. It is unreal, still sinking in."
Bissell started the star-studded event with the realistic goal of making the early breakaway during the race's lengthy and mountainous routes. The first stage was predominantly downhill for 168km from Nevada City into Sacramento and Mach wound up in the early breakaway at the 10km mark. His companions included Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Chad Beyer (BMC) and Marc De Maar (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis).
"I don't know if riding into the break was to get into a jersey but it was to ride aggressively, to make the race and try to get into a breakaway," explained Mach. "That was goal number one for us and it worked out."
Mach and De Maar separated themselves over the day's decisive climb on Old Auburn Forest Hill Road, the sole KOM ascent, located 75km into the stage. Mach attacked De Maar to take full points towards the KOM competition and the four riders regrouped at the top. They were caught by a field primed for the sprint near the finishing circuits after spending more than 150km off the front together.
"The KOM competition is far from over," Mach continued. "I consider myself a climber but it's a world-class field here and you just have to see what happens. We worked well together. It was inevitable that it was going to come...
Colnago-CSF Inox rider wanted a stage win on mother’s birthday
Simone Stortoni came close to delivering Italy its first individual stage win of the 2010 Giro d’Italia. After eight days of racing, the Italian tifosi have only Liquigas-Doimo’s team time trial win to keep them happy, while stage winners from Great Britain (Bradley Wiggins), USA (Tyler Farrar), Belgium (Wouter Weylandt), France (Jérôme Pineau) and Australia (Matt Lloyd and Cadel Evans) have taken the individual plaudits.
Stortoni attacked from a 17-man escape group with 10.5 kilometres remaining on the climb of the Terminillo. Only eventual stage winner Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) passed him and he collected the second place on the first mountain stage of the Giro.
“I’m very disappointed because I’ve dreamt for a while of a stage win at an uphill finish at the Giro d’Italia,” Stortoni said on the finish line at Terminillo, where fog, rain and cold temperatures had made it another hard day for the riders. The 24 year-old from Chiaravalle on Italy's eastern coast had tears in his eyes as he spoke. “I wanted to win for my mother’s birthday today,” he said.
“I only had one kilometre when my legs didn’t respond and that’s when Sørensen attacked,” he explained. “He’s done a great job in winning this stage. He’s a rider I had only seen on television before. He hasn't come out of nowhere.”
Stortoni is racing his first Grand Tour at the Giro. He turned pro with CSF Group-Navigare last season after racing as an amateur under Luca Scinto in the Neri-Lucchini team. He has trained with Androni-Giocattoli's Michele Scarponi in the past and both riders hail from the same region, where there are very few pro cyclists.
“Its not often you get the opportunity to win a stage,” Stortoni added. “Unfortunately, nobody remembers who came second. However, I hope this is the start of...
Chris Horner (RadioShack) is in prime condition to fulfill his domestique role for teammate and three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer at this week’s Amgen Tour of California. As the race heads into the mountains his proven early season form will be invaluable in protecting Leipheimer’s number one goal of capturing his fourth consecutive title.
“It’s been a little while since I’ve raced and mentally I wasn’t prepared to come here and race for the win,” Horner told Cyclingnews. “I came here ready to race for Levi. He is our guy 100 percent, there’s no doubt about it.
“I’ve been on vacation a little bit; been on domestic duties with the kids and so I don’t think I would be 100 percent to be a leader anyway,” he added. “But if something happens, like Levi crashes or something, of course plans change and we have a stellar squad that could come through for sure. Levi is certainly the guy to win this race.”
Horner capped off a successful early season campaign when he won the overall title at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco in the sixth and final stage. He followed the ProTour victory with a leadership role at the Spring Classic’s and placed eighth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
“It was fun, a great time and my form was good,” Horner said. “I wasn’t necessarily the team leader for that race at the start. We had a lot of strong guys there. We always had three guys racing like leaders until we hit the time trial. Once we hit the time trial I was lucky enough to win that and move on. For the Classic’s I was a little more of a leader than at the Basque Country.
“I feel like I had a lot of those leadership moments last year,” he added. “You know in the race if you have good form or not so certainly at the Basque Country this year I felt spectacular. But last year at the Giro...
Some of the sport’s biggest names were involved in finish circuit crashes on the Amgen Tour of California’s opening stage, but all escaped major injury. Former Tour de France green jersey Tom Boonen, former Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady and current US national champion George Hincapie were all caught up in the final five kilometres of chaos.
Boonen, the Belgian national champion, lost a lot of skin in the crash near the head of the peloton but early reports the big rider had broken a collarbone were false. Hincapie was near Boonen when the crash occurred.
"Tom Boonen went down and I rode over his bike," said Hincapie. "I'm disappointed because I had good legs."
Hincapie wasn’t the only rider to come across the big Belgian road block, with UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis’ Matt Crane also left with nowhere to go. “I thought I was in good shape to get around the crash and then all of the sudden, Boonen was on the ground in front of me,” Crane said. “I really couldn’t do anything to avoid him and I T-boned him.”
The accident also caught Cervelo TestTeam out, with both Dominique Rollin and Heinrich Haussler being taken down. It ruined the team’s lead out for sprinter Theo Bos, but both riders recovered to finish the stage.
“We had a little bit of bad luck in the end,” recalled Cervelo’s João Correia. “It was basically a criterium and most of us, especially the Europeans, are not used to riding a criterium at the end. It wasn't fast enough, and couple of guys from some of the North American teams, were nervous, and then the crash happened and it kind of screwed everything up."
Crane’s team-mate Andrew Pinfold had suffered a crash earlier on the three laps of the short finishing circuit. Pinfold touched wheels with team-mate Karl Menzies while setting up the squad’s lead out train and while Menzies managed to stay...
Before Mark Cavendish stormed to victory in stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California, he and his HTC-Columbia teammates were presented to the public at the film premiere of Chasing Legends - a look back at the 2009 Tour de France, where the team won six stages.
In this exclusive video Cyclingnews brings you footage from the presentation, along with words from GC contender Michael Rogers.
Cyclingnews' Amgen Tour of California video is brought to you by Specialized
Rumours abound that US-based IT firm will sponsor Danish team
Rumours continue to circulate that Team Saxo Bank has found a new sponsor for the coming season, despite a denial by team CEO Trey Greenwood. The new sponsor is said to be SunGard, a US-based IT services company which this year signed up as a minor sponsor.
”It is totally untrue that we would be close to closing negotiations with SunGard,” Greenwood told the Danish website sporten.dk.
The team announced in January that Saxo Bank would end its sponsorship of the team at the end of the 2010 season. Only a few days later, the team announced a one-year deal with SunGard as a minor sponsor.
For the last week, rumours have increased that SunGard would take over as the title sponsor for the team, with a press conference said to be planned during the Tour of California for the announcement. Greenwood is in California with the team.
The SunGard logo currently appears on the back of the team shorts. Sporten.dk said that SunGard officials attended the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, both of which were won by Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara.
SunGard, based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, says that it is “one of the world’s leading software and technology services companies,” with over 20,000 employees and 25,000 customers in 70 countries. It “provides software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and the public sector.”
Dutch team pleased with exposure on day one of Amgen Tour
Rabobank had a mixed day at the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday. The Dutch squad placed a rider in the main escape group of the day, but couldn't play a role in the eventual bunch sprint finish.
Maarten Tjallingii was part of a four-man break group which formed early in the stage and had a lead of up to nearly six minutes. He won the first intermediate sprint on the rolling course. The group was caught again with 10km-to-go, shortly before the riders entered the closing circuit course.
Without one of its top sprinters in California, “we needed a different tack,” said Rabobank Directeur Sportif Adri van Houwelingen. “We just needed to ride offensively.” Tjallingii did that well enough to win the jersey for most combative rider.
The team was a little nervous going into the race, not really knowing what to expect from the opposition. “You never know. There are many non-European teams, they just ride differently. But during the stage, everything went as usual,” Van Houwelingen said.
A large crash at the start of the final lap of the circuit course stopped most of the team, with only Thomas Leezer ahead of the incident. He finished 10th amongst the 14 who made it to the finish line together. Lars Boom's bike came into contact with other riders, but he did not go down.
The stage was successful from a commercial point of view as the Dutch bank has 155 affiliates in California. “The enthusiasm is great and we wanted to let ourselves be seen. The least that we could do is to be part of the escape group of the day,” Van Houwelingen said. “That worked out successfully."