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Second Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 3, 2011

Date published:
April 03, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Tour of Flanders: start line photo gallery

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) needs a big result today.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 10:41 BST
    Barry Ryan

    The peloton gathers in Brugge

    Charcoal skies and chilly temperatures greeted the riders as they assembled in Brugge for the start of the Tour of Flanders, but mercifully the threatened rainfall had yet to materialise. As ever, enormous crowds were waiting from early morning to catch a glimpse of the stars of De Ronde, as Belgium grinds to a halt to enjoy the day of .

    The home-based favourites received the loudest cheers of all as they rode to Brugge’s Markt to sign on. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is the man charged with stopping Fabian Cancellara taking a second Flanders triumph, but Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) may well be the man to shine on the road to Meerbeke. Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank SunGard) will also be looking to make an impression on this day of days for Flemish cycling.

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) was given generous applause as he rode to the start, in spite of criticism of his tactics in the Belgian media, and the Italian is desperate for a big performance today. Former winner Alessandro Ballan (BMC), dark horse Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and the Garmin-Cervélo trio of Thor Hushovd, Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler are other foreign riders hoping to take home the spoils from Flanders.

    However, the man to beat is last year’s champion Fabian Cancellara. As usual, the big Swiss rider was one of the last men to leave the team bus to sign on. Even though he may break Belgian hearts by the time the day is out, Cancellara was warmly cheered all the way to the rostrum, and those cheers will be ringing in his ears all day long, as over 800,000 people line the roads for one of cycling’s most precious occasions.

  • Sastre out of Vuelta al Pais Vasco with bronchial problems

    Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC)
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 11:46 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Geox-TMC rider needs complete rest

    Carlos Sastre will not ride the Vuelta al Pais Vasco due to bronchial and lung problems. The Geox-TMC rider needs complete rest and must undergo treatment to deal with the long-time problem.

    “Carlos has a bronco-pulmonary infection,” Sports Director Matxin Fernandez said on the team's website.   “It’s a problem that he’s been dealing with for too long. After the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Carlos underwent all the necessary medical tests at the Avila hospital. Doctors said it was mandatory for the rider to undergo appropriate treatment, and also recommended a period of complete rest."

    “Sastre really wanted to compete in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco but starting the race in these conditions would be a pointless risk for the rider’s health. It is important to solve this problem before starting to race again, in order not to risk compromising the rest of the season.”

    Sastre, 35, has had a quiet start to the season, finishing 91st in the Vuelta a Murcia and 148th in the Volta a Catalunya.

    Geox-TMC will send the following riders to the race:  Juan Jose Cobo, David De la Fuente, Rafael Valls, Fabio Felline, Daniele Ratto, Mauricio Ardila, Fabio Duarte and Noe Gianetti.

  • Fränk Schleck facing UCI investigation after Criterium International TT

    Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) in his aero time trial position
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 12:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Leopard Trek team play down the use of a Camelbak

    Frnk Schleck’s victory at the Criterium International is to be scrutinised by the UCI to see if he broke competition rules by wearing a Camelbak drinks pack on his stomach to help boost his aerodynamic profile in the decisive final time trial.

    Schleck was allowed to start the time trial by UCI officials present at the race but he may have broken rule 1.3.033 which says “it is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider.”

    The UCI confirmed to Cyclingnews that they will study the case in detail and then decide on opening a disciplinary procedure against Schleck.

    Questions about the strange looking bulge under Schleck’s skin suit first circulated on Twitter and then picked up steam when Gazzetta dello Sport suggested Schleck had broken UCI rule 1.3.033.

    The Italian newspaper suggested that the Camelbak could give an advantage of two seconds per kilometre at a speed of 50km/h. Schleck finished seven seconds slower than main rival Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar) in the 7.8km time trial but hung on to win the overall classification by 13 seconds.

    The Leopard Trek team has admitted that Schleck wore a Camelbak but denied any wrong doing.

    “Fränk rode with a Camelbak on his chest. The UCI saw it and didn’t say anything,” the Leopard Trek press officer Tim Vanderjeugd told L’Equipe.

    “It’s the first time we’ve use it and we wanted to evaluate its effects in the time trial. Even...

  • A very different Tour of Flanders to last year, says Gilbert

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) splintered the front group with his attack on the Bosberg, but it came to naught.
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 17:33 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian falls short in spite of Bosberg attack

    For one brief moment on the mythical slopes of the Bosberg, it looked as though Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was going to dance away to victory at the Tour of Flanders. His sparkling attack saw him open up a gap on the front group but once the pursuers got organised and began to chase, Gilbert desisted and saw his Ronde dreams dissolve for another year.

    “I tried to attack on the Bosberg, I thought it was the best place for me to get a gap,” Gilbert said on the steps of his team bus after the finish. “I quickly took ten seconds but then it stabilised, and when it came back down to eight seconds, I decided to wait. I thought it would be better to work together than attack one another after that.”

    In the closing kilometres after that final climb, a select 12-man group formed on the front of the race, with race winner Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) then slipping away in the company of Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek). Gilbert explained it was difficult to mark every move.

    “People were attacking one another, looked at one another, speeding up, slowing down and I was a little tired,” he said. “I think it was a totally different race to last year, there were a lot more riders who were competing for the win.”

    Gilbert ultimately crossed the line in ninth place and admitted that he had nothing left for the sprint. “I didn’t sprint, I was dead,” he laughed. “I could hardly get out of the saddle, I had cramps everywhere.”

    The Belgian’s race had appeared over with a little over 40km to go, when he was forced to stop for a wheel change. While he was chasing back on, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) was busy launching his fearsome move on the climb of the Leberg.

    “The pressure wasn’t right on my rear tyre, so I changed it, but I had a lot of riders back with me,” Gilbert said.

  • Museeuw praises Nuyens for his Tour of Flanders tactics

    Nuyens takes the top spot after out smarting Chavanel and Cancellara in the finale
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 19:27 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Three-time winner questions Quickstep’s leadership decision

    Three time Tour of Flanders winner Johan Museeuw believes that Sunday's race was one of the most open and exciting in recent years. He praised Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) for making the race but pointed out that winner Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) was the smartest in the race.

    "It was a very open race from the beginning until the end and there were about five times when I thought the race was over. First when Sylvain Chavanel and Fabian Cancellara went away and then when Gilbert went on the Bosberg I thought the same thing. The situation kept changing in the run in as well," he told Cyclingnews at the finish in Ninove.

    Nuyens played a tactical race, latching onto various moves throughout the day rather than attacking himself, saving his energy while rivals like Cancellara, Gilbert and Tom Boonen took turns at attacking each other. In the finale Nuyens broke away with Cancellara and Chavanel in the winning move and won in a close sprint.

    "We didn't have the winner that we expected, but he's always there. Nuyens is a guy who always races his own race, and has his own tactics. He was a little bit behind at times when compared to Cancellara and Boonen but they're usually on another level. But Nuyens is a good rider. He's won some good races and he's won the Tour of Flanders on his terms today, Museeuw pointed out."

    "He was the smartest rider. He has to ride this way because he's not as strong as some of the others. He can't attack from 30 kilometres out. He has to play poker with his strength."

    Museeuw, who now works for Belgian television, followed the race on motorbike, sending his comments and insight back to a television studio throughout the race. He was a first-hand eye witness when Cancellara attacked on the Valkenberg...

  • Ballan and BMC show their strength at the Tour of Flanders

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) goes in pursuit of Gilbert of the Bosberg
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 20:44 BST
    Barry Ryan

    US team played key role in catching Cancellara

    Alessandro Ballan and his BMC team re-wrote the script for the Tour of Flanders when they successfully chased down Fabian Cancellara’s (Leopard Trek) devastating attack in the finale. While the spoils would eventually fall to Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard), it was BMC squad that chipped away at Cancellara’s sheen of invincibility by reeling him in as the race reached the Muur.

    “Cancellara used up a bit too much, he went from a long way out,” Ballan told Cyclingnews after the finish. “But we knew that our team was strong and we were there in numbers. We kept the gap at a minute and then we gave everything before the Muur to get him back.”

    With Quick Step not working due to Sylvain Chavanel’s presence in the break with Cancellara, there was confusion in the chasing bunch over whose responsibility it was to chase in the final 30km. Television pictures from the Garmin-Cervélo team car showed management instructing their riders to stop working at the front, and so it was left to BMC to take up the pursuit. However, Ballan said he understand Garmin-Cervélo’s reasoning, in spite if the team having Tyler Farrar and Thor Hushovd in the front group.

    “I think everyone was scared of the Muur,” Ballan said.

    “Arriving all together at the Muur wouldn’t necessarily mean that it would stay like that to the finish, so maybe people like Hushovd weren’t sure that they’d be able to hang on.”

    Ballan admitted that even though his entire team was pursuing Cancellara, such is the Swiss rider’s strength that he was not always certain that they would manage to...

  • Cancellara still the strongest, says Nygaard

    Fabian Cancellara lacked the snap to detonate Sylvain Chavanel on the Kapelmuur
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 21:38 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Credit to Nuyens from Leopard Trek manager

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) may have come away without the win in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, but his team boss Brian Nygaard still believes he was the strongest rider and backed the former champion to bounce back at Paris-Roubaix.

    Cancellara finished on the podium, taking third in a close sprint between winner Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and himself.

    However he’d broken the race apart with a characteristically strong attack on the Valkenberg. He built up a minute’s lead before a floundering peloton regrouped with BMC at the head of affairs, and Cancellara was caught on the Muur.

    Dropped on the Bosberg he fought back and forged the winning move with Nuyens and Chavanel.

    Nygaard, who watched the final few kilometres amongst the press on the finish line pleased with his team leader’s performance and credited Nuyens on his triumph.

    "It’s been by far the most amazing Tour of Flanders I’ve ever witnessed as a spectator. Some cards were played early on and a few teams were caught behind when Fabian attacked, but the gap clearly wasn’t big enough when they hit the bottom of the Muur. It was a breathtaking finale though. Amazing bike racing.

    "Big credit to Nuyens for this ride, the way he kept cool and saved hid energy for the final," he told Cyclingnews.

    It had looked as though Cancellara would romp away with the win in a similar fashion to last year and his win in E3 last weekend, and much of the press room fell silent once the gap began to build. Nygaard agreed that he too thought that the win was a likely outcome but changed his mind once the chase began to organise behind.

    "It looked like it for a while, but the key moment was when BMC got themselves organised like they did. A lot of other teams were able to save energy there but for me the most amazing aspect was how much racing there was after the Bosberg, even in the...

  • Nuyens finds pain and glory in Flanders

    Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) is the happiest man in the world
    Article published:
    April 03, 2011, 22:22 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Team switch to Riis provides answer to criticism

    Nick Nuyens' triumph in a spectacular edition of the Tour of Flanders may have been somewhat unexpected, but it confirmed the promise he showed here three years ago and makes up for years of struggle to back up his second place performance of 2008.

    The 30-year-old Belgian has faced harsh criticism in the past few years, but the faith of his new manager Bjarne Riis, the support of his Saxo Bank Sungard team and a Spring spent far from home provided him the strength he needed to overpower the pre-race favourites, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) and Sylvian Chavanel (Quick-Step), in a three-man sprint.

    Nuyens, who moved to Saxo Bank Sungard from the Dutch Rabobank team has languished in the Spring Classics over the past few years, with fans and pundits faulting him for not attacking more.

    But he says it's all a matter of interpretation. "Yesterday [Baden] Cooke told me he was happy when I joined the team because to him I was an attacking rider. It's what you make of it. I think you have to work with the weapons you have," Nuyens said.

    When Nuyens finished as runner-up behind solo winner Stijn Devolder in the Ronde in 2008, he seemed poised to join the short list of Classics giants. The result backed up wins in Paris-Brussel (2004), GP Wallonie (2004, 2005 and later 2009), Omloop Het Volk (2005), Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (2006).

    Until today, a Classic victory has eluded Nuyens, but this year a win in Dwars door Vlaanderen presaged his new found success.

    "It's not revenge for all the criticism I received. Every year I won some race but I didn't expect to win two nice races this year like these; it's really special. Winning the Ronde is a big difference. The semi-classics are important too, but maybe more in Belgium. On...