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Second Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 4, 2010

Date published:
April 04, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • On the start line at the Tour of Flanders

    Francaise de Jeux's Lapierres lined-up before the start
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 10:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Rain in Bruges doesn't dampen Flandrian spirits

    Grey skies hung over the start of the 2010 Tour of Flanders on Sunday morning, but that didn't stop thousands of eager spectators from flocking to Bruges, Belgium for the departure of the country's premiere spring Classic. Cyclingnews was on hand and captured these images of the scene.

    The cool, wet conditions kept the riders tucked away in their team buses until minutes before the official start, although Lance Armstrong's RadioShack squad broke with the convention to register before many of the other teams had even arrived at the team enclosure. Armstrong himself the first to sign-on for the day.

    Luckily for the riders, the rain ceased as the bulk of the riders began the 400 metre journey along the Steenstraat to the startline in Bruges' Grote Markt (Great Market). The hardy fans lining every inch of the street - a crescendo of noise following the big names as they made their way through the unique corridor.

  • Breschel waiting on contract for next year

    Danish champion Matti Breschel wins the Dwars door Vlaanderen
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 10:45 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    May look elsewhere for leadership role

    Matti Breschel is one of the favourites for the Tour of Flanders but has not yet signed a new contract with Saxo Bank. Even if Bjarne Riis finds a new sponsor for 2011 after Saxo Bank pulls out, the Dane is still not sure whether he would like to stay with the team.

    Breschel claims he signed contract extensions “too early”, telling Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, “so this time I am going to gamble and wait.”

    Saxo Bank has announced that it will end its sponsorship of the ProTour team as of this year. Breschel indicated that he very much hopes team owner Bjarne Riis finds a new sponsor to continue the team; even if a new sponsor is found, Breschel might not be part of the team in the future, however.

    The 25-year-old has had increasing freedom at some races, including the Spring Classics, winning Dwars door Vlaanderen last month. He has Fabian Cancellara as a teammate and team leader, however, which obviously limits the number of opportunities the young sprinter is likely to receive.

    That could mean a change of squads, although Breschel wasn't revealing much on the subjec. “I feel good where I am, but I would consider looking for a leadership role somewhere else,” he said.

  • 198 riders start the Tour of Flanders

    Lorenzo Bernucci is back with Lampre again in 2010.
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 11:06 BST
    Cycling News

    Bernucci pulls out as police search his home in Tuscany

    198 riders rolled out of Bruges for the start of the Tour of Flanders on a wet Easter Sunday morning. Most teams had a full line-up of eight-riders but Lampre-Farnese Vini and Ag2r-La Mondiale started with just seven riders after late withdrawals on the eve of the race.

    Gatis Smukulis did not start for Ag2r-La Mondiale, while Lorenzo Bernucci was missing from the Lampre-Farnese Vini line-up.

    His team said the Italian was suffering from a temperature and he returned to Italy on Saturday. However Gazzetta dello Sport has reported that Bernucci returned to his home in Quarrata in Tuscany after the Italian drug police searched his home.

    According to a report in Gazzetta, the police apparently took away a medicine they found at his home. It is unclear if the product was for Bernucci or his wife or if it was a regularly prescribed drug.

    The 30 year-old Italian is close friends with Lampre-Farnese Vini teammate Alessandro Petacchi and the two rode together at Fassa Bortolo. Bernucci joined T-Mobile in 2005 but was sacked from the team in 2007 after testing positive for Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant. He claimed he did not know that the substance had recently been added to the WADA list of banned substances and had used it for years.

    Bernucci's only comment to Gazzetta dello Sport, was: "How is it going? Pretty bad", before refusing to comment further. According to Gazzetta, the Lampre team knows about the police search at Bernucci's home but claimed not to know the details of the medicine that was taken away.

  • Hincapie regrets missing Cancellara and Boonen attack

    George Hincapie (BMC) after the race
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 17:55 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American looks to use improving form at Paris-Roubaix

    Despite finishing a creditable sixth in the Tour of Flanders, George Hincapie (BMC) cut a disappointed figure as he crossed the line and rolled to a standstill after six and a half hours in the saddle.

    The veteran American believed that he had the legs to follow Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) when the pair attacked on the Molenberg 40 kilometres before the finish but failed to go with them.

    “I’m disappointed,” said the American, who recorded his sixth top ten result in the race of his career. “I had good legs on the Molenberg and I hesitated when Cancellara and Boonen went. That was a big mistake because from then on it was just everyone watching each other. Those guys where gone.”

    Cancellera attacked just as a group of four riders were brought back and while Boonen was the first and only rider to respond, it caused the bunch behind to split and was the decisive moment in the race.

    Hincapie had already shown he had form when he was able to respond to Boonen and Matti Breschel’s move with around 80 kilometres to go. He was one of six riders to go with them, along with Fabian Cancellara, Lars Boom, Juan Antonio Flecha, Steve Chainel, Leif Hoste and Thor Hushovd. At one point it looked like the race winning selection had been made but the escape began to watch each other and the move was reeled in.

    “I had really good legs and was at the front all day. I got caught behind the guys who were chasing and that was a big mistake,” he said.

    Asked if he’d been able to get across to the Boonen and Cancellara, how would have unfolded, Hincapie said: “There’s no telling. It would have been tough but I was on a super day. The team was good. We had three guys there and not many teams did. But that’s Flanders, you’ve got to be 100 per cent focused at all times and I lost it there.”

    Hincapie put part of his...

  • Cancellara dreams of all winning all five of cycling monuments

    Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) looked fresh at the day's ninth climb, Paterberg.
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 18:29 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Saxo Bank rider wins Tour of Flanders pulls off perfect win

    After winning his first Tour of Flanders on Sunday afternoon, Fabian Cancellara said his next goal is to win all five of cycling's monuments. The Saxo Bank rider described the way he win the dropped Tom Boonen on the legendary Kapelmuur climb to win the Tour Flanders as the "perfect scenario".

    Cancellara's opening attack on Molenberg was the turning point of the 2010 Tour of Flanders. Then as he and fellow pre-race favourite Tom Boonen built an unassailable gap on their rivals as they approach to the Kapelmuur, Cancellara surged clear on the final part of the cobbled climb in what was the winning move. He went to cross the finish line alone in Meerbeke more than a minute ahead of Boonen.

    With Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo and, now, Flanders etched on his palmares, Cancellara indicated his future goals could include the final two great cycling monuments: Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia.

    "The last few years I was always thinking about this race. I have Roubaix, I have San Remo, but I knew this one was going to be a hard one to crack and to put in my pocket," said Cancellara, after he became the first Swiss rider to win De Ronde since Hieri Suter in 1923.

    "My dream is five monuments and I have three now. There aren’t so many riders in the peloton that have three. My motivation is always geared towards more than one race. Okay, now I have [Flanders], but in the next few years, it's possible I'm going to work on other ones."

    The perfect scenario

    Cancellara's powerhouse display on the Muur quickly distanced Flemish national hero Boonen. The Swiss admitted that effectively winning the race on the famed climb made his victory all the sweeter.

    "What I did on the Muur wasn't planned, even what I did on the Molenburg was not planned at all," he said. "Even then on the Muur it was a small gap – there were so many people there that I didn't really understand how much...

  • Boonen accepts his fate in Flanders

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) suffering on the slopes of the Mur de Grammont.
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 19:05 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian helpless to close the gap to Cancellara

    Belgian champion Tom Boonen felt he was an equal match in strength for Fabian Cancellara in the Tour of Flanders today, yet for the second time in a week, he found himself unable to stay on the Swiss champion's wheel. Once the gap opened on the Kapelmuur between the two riders with less than 20km to go, Boonen realized he didn't stand a chance of winning his third career title and had to settle for second place.

    Unlike last week's E3 Prijs, where Cancellara struck on a technical final turn that caught Boonen off guard, this time the Saxo Bank rider distanced Boonen on the toughest part of the climb in Geraardsbergen with 16km to go. Without getting out of the saddle, he powered away and when Boonen tried to accelerate he found himself unable to match the effort.

    "It wasn't a secret that if something was going to happen that it would be there. I didn't feel worse than him. I had taken the lead to control affairs when he passed me. He didn't accelerate extremely hard. I wanted to follow but had to sit back right because I cramped in my right leg. Then I sat back, hoping that I would get in my rhythm and that the cramps would fade away, which happened.

    "Cancellara gained twenty seconds in one kilometer so then you have to accept the facts. I rode away from the men behind me but he was riding a minute away from me. You don't need a drawing to understand that," Boonen said before pointing out there wasn't much else he could do against Cancellara. "What can you do? Shoot him to death?" Boonen joked.

    From then on the Belgian champion didn't give up and stood tall to keep his second place. "I battle with as much pleasure for second place as for first place. I'd rather won today and I had a good chance, but he has one of the best periods in his career. He's a top rider."

    For himself, Boonen invented a new title. "Finishing second in the last few races... it makes me the most regular rider of the peloton."

    When asked about...

  • MIllar finds his calling in Flanders

    Garmin-Slipstream's David Millar and Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel ride together.
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 19:09 BST
    Richard Moore

    Garmin-Transitions rider gave his all chasing Cancellara and Boonen

    Around thirty metres beyond the finish line of the Tour of Flanders, David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) stopped and almost slithered off his bike and onto the road. He made it to the verge, just, but he was virtually prostrate as he refueled and reflected on his best ever performance in a major Classic, and a courageous one at that, given the calibre of the two riders who were up the road when he launched a late, lone pursuit.

    It was with around 34km and three climbs to go that Millar slipped away from the chasers to begin a lone hunt of Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen. He initially made some inroads, closing to 35 seconds, but when the front pair got word that the Scot had been joined by Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) they seemed to step a bit harder on the gas, stretching their lead to more than a minute.

    While Gilbert and Leukemans survived to fight it out for the final place on the podium in Meerbeke, Millar had to concede defeat on the Muur and was dropped, eventually finishing 32nd. As he explained from his spot on the grass verge, after crossing the line at the rear of the group that sprinted for fifth, “I completely ran out of energy. I didn’t have any bottles for a while and I paid for it there.”

    At 33, and having won last week’s Three Days of De Panne, Millar is clearly in great form, but his battling performance in Flanders begs the question: might he, in the future, focus properly on races such as this? “Yeah, it definitely inspires me,” he said. “At 33 years old, I think I might have found my calling.”

    Asked how it felt to have played such a major role in the closing stages of the race, Millar said: “I feel a bit odd, to be honest. It felt great to be chasing those two, and it’s a beautiful race, but I ran out of energy so badly. The crowds were amazing but I was too f***ed to even notice. It was just so hard out there...

  • Breschel fuming after mechanical mix-up at Flanders

    Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) solos to the finish.
    Article published:
    April 04, 2010, 20:38 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Danish Champion forced to ride teammate's bike

    Despite his team's success at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, Saxo Bank's Matti Breschel was furious after crossing the line, his own chances of success having been ruined by poorly executed bike change with sixty kilometres-to-go.

    Breschel finished 15th, in the midst of the first peloton to reach the finish line, 2:35 after his teammate and race winner, Fabian Cancellara. Breschel had looked strong throughout the race, creating the first major selection on the Paterberg. But just after the climb of the Eikenberg, 20 kilometers later, Breschel's day was effectively done, as an already slow bike change was made even worse when he was forced to continue on a teammate's spare machine.

    "The brakes were rubbing on the wheel, so it was impossible [to stay in touch with the group]," Breschel said of the incident. "My car came up and gave me the wrong bike – they gave me Stuart O'Grady's bike - you know, that's a big, big, big mistake."

    Breschel was forced to temper his fury with the knowledge that his teammate Cancellara had been able to come away with victory. Cancellara also had to contend with two bike changes of his own at around the same time as Breschel, however, those had been executed with relative ease.

    "I'm happy for Fabian won, he deserved it, but, ah, we could do better from the mechanical point of view from my team," he said. "It sounds rough, but they're just mistakes that shouldn't happen. The brakes go loose, that happens, but give me the wrong spare bike? That's just not good."

    His frustration was amplified by his condition and presence in the race prior to the mechanical incident. Although a subsequent bike change returned the Dane to one of his own spares, the damage had already been done.

    "I felt good, but after two bike changes the commissares make a barrage [of vehicles] and in the finale it was impossible to come back."

    Breschel will have a chance to take some revenge at Paris-Roubaix....