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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, May 12, 2012

Date published:
May 12, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Nibali, Horner rematch in Amgen Tour of California?

    Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) looking forward to defending last year's win.
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 2:06 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    Santa Rosa ambassador Leipheimer proud of race's growth

    Several of the main contenders of the Amgen Tour of California joined representatives from the local committee, the race organiser AEG and technical directors Medalist for the opening press conference in Santa Rosa today: veterans Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), defending champion Chris Horner (Radioshack-Nissan) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda) were flanked by Classics superstar Tom Boonen and younger contenders Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) to talk about the race.

    Leipheimer was a central figure in bringing the race's grand depart to Santa Rosa, and unlike the race's last visit here when the race was held in February under winter storms, the town shone under a brilliant California sun, the verdant rolling hills a pleasing backdrop but a reminder of the challenge that lies ahead for the riders in the hardest edition of the race in its seven year history.

    This year's eight day itinerary includes four opening stages, each with a significant amount of climbing that can shatter the peloton leaving only the strongest sprinters, followed by the Bakersfield time trial and two high mountain stages before the denoument...

  • Full speed ahead for Howard at Amgen Tour of California

    Leigh Howard takes a look to see whos coming with him.
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 3:33 BST
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    The evolution of the young Orica GreenEdge sprinter

    When Leigh Howard returns to the Amgen Tour of California this week, he knows that he is unlikely to get a better chance to post an individual result for some time. The 22-year-old Orica GreenEdge sprinter is heading into solid form, much like he was at the same time last season.

    "It's my first race that I can really have a good crack at," Howard told Cyclingnews. "Every other race there's been other goals. We've had Tour Down Under where the main goal was Gerro and Gossy. From there, Paris-Nice only had one sprint stage and I pulled out because I had an injury. Every race there seems to have been something that has got in the way at me having a crack at a good sprint. Hopefully it all goes to plan in Cali'."

    Rewind 12 months to when Howard was racing for HTC-Highroad, he was coming off a third placing on the Tour of Romandie's prologue and arguably the team's best option on form for sprint victory at the Tour of California. Howard showed as much when he was only just passed by a surging Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the finish line at Pasa Robles and relegated to second place. Internal politics then resulted in Howard riding for eventual stage winner, teammate Matt Goss on the final stage in Thousand Oaks.

    And so it is that Howard finds himself feeling quietly motivated to go one better in 2012.

    This 7th edition of the Californian event will have its challenges for the fast men of the peloton with the final stage in Los Angeles a definite opportunity and the first stage in Santa Rosa punctuated by the Coleman Valley ascent before flattening out. The line-up of sprinters, despite the Giro d'Italia taking place, is impressive and includes Tom Boonen,...

  • Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies go deep for Amgen Tour of California

    Alex Candelario (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) won stage 2 at the Tour de Korea from a 3-man break and moved into the overall lead.
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 4:57 BST
    By:
    Pat Malach

    Jesse Anthony ruled out through illness

    Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies will start the Amgen Tour of California Sunday without Jesse Anthony, who figured in last year's battle for the KOM jersey, but the team is still starting the race with its strongest line-up yet.

    Team director Jonas Carney told Cyclingnews Friday that Anthony got sick after the team's trip to the Tour of Korea and has not recovered quickly enough to race in California, choosing instead to focus on the upcoming USPro road race.

    "The Tour of California is so difficult this year that coming off a really tough stomach bug is probably not the greatest idea for someone we really want to have a good ride at the USPro road race," Carney said. "It was a really, really difficult call. Normally Jesse would always be on out Tour of California roster, but we had to make a tough call on that one."

    The Optum roster for 2012 will include Mike Friedman, Alex Candelario, Andrew Bajadali, Mike Creed, Ken Hanson, Tom Zirbel and Scott Zwizanski and Sebastian Salas.

    Carney said he was believes this year's roster is the deepest Optum has ever brought to California.

    "I used to worry about whether the seventh and eighth guys would be able to handle the race," he said. "But now I've got 10-11 guys to choose from that I know can do it."

    Optum's Marsh Cooper wasn't well at Tour of the Gila, Carney said, and was left off the California roster. Meanwhile, Salas and Bajadali road well during the final climbing stage at the Tour of the Gila and were a natural choice.

    "The roster was never set in stone until very late," Carney said. "If everyone had stayed healthy from our international racing, I don't know what I would have done."

    Carney said he believes the team can do well in field sprints, pointing to stage one and...

  • Roberts "so close and yet so far away" from maglia rosa

    Luke Roberts (Saxo Bank) was the leader on the road for a long time
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 6:03 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Aussie's escape nets 10th place on GC

    A day in the breakaway has rocketed Saxo Bank Australian Luke Roberts up the general classification with the 35-year-old now sitting 10th overall, 41 seconds back on the maglia rosa of Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) after Friday's sixth stage.

    As the best placed rider in the front group of eight riders, Roberts in his third Giro d'Italia, was in the virtual leader's jersey during the hilly stretch from Urbino to Porto Sant´Elpidio but in the finale on the short but incredibly steep slopes the front group exploded and Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli) took off in an insistant solo ride towards the finish line.

    With 20 kilometres left to race, Roberts was caught by the remnants of the peloton but the Columbian kept his gap and won the stage.

    "It was a tough stage and there was a lot of uncertainties along the way whether we were able to stay together up there and whether Garmin would and could pull us back in," he said following the stage. "I kept an eye on my followers and I knew I was in the virtual leader's jersey but I met a steep steep wall with 35 kilometres to go and I was simply not able to climb it with the best in the group. So close and yet so far away from the jersey."

    Sports director, Philippe Mauduit was happy about the team performance:

    "The plan was to be represented in the long break and luckily, Luke managed to take off and got a smell of the pink jersey along the way," he explained. "But cramps put an end to his adventure in the front but he finished in the field and is now tenth overall. Manuele [Boaro] had a bit of an off-day and simply couldn't follow the pace of the pack. It's his first grand tour and he also has to take care of himself. Tomorrow, there's another tough stage and even with...

  • Hushovd leaves the Giro d'Italia with "nothing to give"

    Thor Hushovd (BMC)
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 7:21 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Norwegian one of several riders to abandon stage 6

    BMC Racing Team's Thor Hushovd withdrew from the Giro d'Italia Friday, citing fatigue that kept him from performing to his level of expectation in the opening week of the race.

    Hushovd stopped about 90 kilometres into the 210 km stage that featured an 11-man breakaway from which solo stage winner Miguel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and new race leader Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) emerged. Marco Pinotti, best-placed for the BMC Racing Team in the general classification, climbed to 14th overall after finishing with a reduced peloton, 1:51 behind Rubiano. Hushovd had finished sixth on Stage 3 but lost more than nine minutes on Thursday's Stage 5. Initially, the former world road champion thought the heat was to blame.

    "Normally the first day in the heat, I suffer sometimes," Hushovd said. "But today, straightaway I felt empty. I felt my body and my legs didn't work. It's not normal so I didn't see any reason to push through. And I couldn't because I had nothing to give."

    Hushovd, who was making his first Giro appearance since 2007, said he has ridden a rollercoaster of emotion this season.

    "I was in good shape at Het Nieuwsblad and I thought from there on I would be good, because I knew I had worked hard during the winter," he said. "But then I got sick the first day in Paris-Nice, got good for the last two days, then got sick the day after. I came back to Paris-Roubaix and was quite good, but crashed out. So there's been a lot of disappointments."

    BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said the BMC Racing Team will miss Hushovd, but remains on target for its objectives.

    "I was convinced that he [Hushovd] could be better in the coming days, so we need...

  • Brailsford immersed in Giro d'Italia conundrums

    Brailsford and Cavendish are planning for gold at the London 2012 Olympics
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 8:06 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Team Sky boss has many goals in Italy

    It almost goes without saying that British Cycling and Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford believes that the Giro d’Italia will form an important part in the build-up for the Olympics for the GB riders in London, with Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh, amongst others, both partly using the Giro as a building process towards London.

    But that is far from being Team Sky’s only goal in the Giro. It is, Brailsford told Cyclingnews, a juggling game, with various objectives all combining, and ensuring they don’t conflict is crucial.

    "On the one hand we want a strong team here, win stages and help Mark [Cavendish], on the other hand we’ve got Geraint and Pete looking towards the Olympics. And then we’ve got Rigoberto [Urán] and Sergio [Henao] to keep in contention. There’s a lot of different goals, and sometimes you wonder if that could be contradictory, but all in all they’ve been working pretty well."

    Brailsford cited stage five, Cavendish’s second stage win, as a case in point of where the team is integrating those goals well.

    "Yesterday when Liquigas put the hammer down [in the final kilometres] Sergio really did a good job of staying on the hills. Then Rigo started to pull and then it went to the classic leadout. It was very pleasing."

    As for Cavendish, with two months to go to the Olympics, the Giro is effectively the starting ramp for his final build-up for the Tour and London 2012.

    "You need this solid block of work and to keep winning against Gossy [Matt Goss] like yesterday when they went head to head, all out, that’s going to give him a...

  • Txurruka says Nieve is mature enough for Euskaltel captaincy

    Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel - Euskadi) at the start of Stage 6
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 9:49 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Injured Basque attacker back on the roads where he spent time as a student

    Euskaltel - Euskadi's Amets Txurruka was welcomed in Urbino like a son returning home at the start of stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia. The 29-year-old Basque rider told Cyclingnews why: "In September 2003, I moved here to study for four months with the Erasmus program. I have fond memories of training in this area." The Marche region is known as one of the most scenic in Italy.

    "I would have liked to have broken away precisely on this stage that suited my characteristics," mentioned Txurruka who got his university degree in sport science. "Unfortunately, I had a bad crash during the team time trial. Two riders touched each other in front of me and I was the one to fall off. I injured my back." Euskaltel also had a puncture at the beginning of the 33-km long course around Verona. That partially explains why the Basque team finished dead last that day.

    It put Euskaltel's team leader Mikel Nieve in 141st position, 3:23 down on Ramunas Navardauskas at the start of stage 6.

    "Since his crash at the Volta Catalunya where he injured his thigh, Mikel has had some troubles coming back to his level, it has stopped him for a while but he should be fine for the third week of the Giro," Txurruka said. "We ride completely for him on GC. He has usually ridden the Grand Tours alongside Igor Anton who is not here this time [after crashing in the neutral zone of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, although the Giro wasn't on the schedule for last year's winner up the Monte Zoncolan in any case]. But Mikel is absolutely mature enough to lead the team by himself. He has finished in the top ten of the three Grand Tours he did in the past two years."

    Nieve was 11th at the 2010...

  • Roelandts cleared to race again

    Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) speaks to the press.
    Article published:
    May 12, 2012, 10:44 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Lotto Belisol rider fully recovered from blood clot, cervical fracture

    Jurgen Roelandts has been cleared to race again for the first time since crashing in the first stage of the Tour Down Under in January. The Lotto Belisol rider hopes to return to racing at the Tour of Belgium, which starts in two weeks.

    Roelandts broke his sixth cervical vertebra when he hit the road at 70km/h during the run-in to the closing sprint in Australia. He was able to fly back to Belgium with his teammates after the race and had hoped to race again at Tirreno-Adriatico, but instead was in hospital again for a week in February.  One of the bruised blood vessels in his head developed a blood clot which affected the flow of blood to his brain, and he was put on blood thinners.

    Now, however, scans have shown that the problem has been resolved and the blood thinners are no longer necessary.

    "The result of the research is in fact a normal evolution in the recovery process,” said team doctor Jan Mathieu on the team's website. “Such an injury requires three to six months recovery, but riders usually heal pretty quickly, so Jürgen can now again look forward to competition. In all probability, the Tour of Belgium. "

    "I'm quite relieved that I can have a concrete goal in mind again,” Roelandts said. “The Tour of Belgium starts in about two weeks, but in recent weeks I've been on my bike every day. Not to my limit, but the basic condition should be there.”