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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 21, 2013

Date published:
March 21, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Meyer recovered from injury and motivated for Tour of California

    Cameron Meyer on his way to winning the race!
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 4:25 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Grand tours another ball park according to Australian

    It's been a tough couple of months for Cameron Meyer who, after recovering from a turbulent start to the season appears to be back on track after taking his second victory of the year at the recent Oceania road championships. The West Australian is filled with motivation for his proper start to 2013 with Orica GreenEdge at the upcoming Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey before aiming at some of his bigger season goals in the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse.

    Meyer begun the year with a dominant solo win in the criterium at the Australian national championships but was overlooked for Orica GreenEdge's Tour Down Under squad. Meyer has only competed in domestic races so far this year but with the Tour of Turkey only a month away, the 25-year-old is using the ideal weather in Australia to train ahead of his real start to the season.

    The 2011 Tour Down Under champion was not selected for his home race and instead decided to go under the knife to treat a saddle sore. He should have recovered in time for the Tour de Langkawi, where he would have been the team's hope for the general classification but a post-surgery infection meant delaying his first race of the year.

    Meyer has since recovered from the injury and will start the eight-day race in Turkey with the idea of "getting back into the swing of it" before aiming at his season's biggest objectives; the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse.

    "My program has changed a little bit from what we originally...

  • Astana animates Dwars Door Vlaanderen

    Podium: Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini - Selle Italia) in first, Mathew Hayman (Sky) in second, Borut Bozic (Astana) in third
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 6:28 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Runner-up Bozic and Bazayev make it into key breaks

    Borut Bozic capped an aggressive performance from Team Astana to finish second in Dwars Door Vlaanderen. The Slovenian formed part of the race wining group along with teammate Maxim Iglinskiy over the final set of climbs in the 199-kilometre race before taking second place behind Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia). Mathew Hayman (Team Sky) rounded out the podium.

    However while Bozic, 32, crowned Astana's day, much of the team's success owned to Assan Bazayev, who infiltrated two main selections during the race. Bazayev crashed out of the Classics in 2010, and needed plastic surgery after he hit his face while descending the Berendries during the Three Days of De Panne.

    Three years later and he was racing up and over the same claim.

    "Assan Bazayev was our secret weapon at the front today," said Astana's directeur sportif Stefano Zanini. "He was in both big breakaways and that allowed our guys to relax in the early part of the race."

    Even when Bazayev was brought to heel in the closing phase of racing, Astana were able to position key men in the most important break of the day. Both Iglinskiy, fresh from his strong performance in Milan-San Remo and Bozic latched onto Gatto as the Italian reeled in Hayman and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step).

    Later, when Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) launched what looked like a race-winning move, it was Iglinskiy who joined forces with Vandenbergh and Sky's Ian Stannard in closing the gap to the Frenchman.

    "At five kilometres to go, Voeckler attacked and Max did a lot of work to bring him back. We had two guys in the final selection, and they did a lot of strong teamwork together to put...

  • Dowsett set for grand tour debut at Giro d'Italia

    Alex Dowsett
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 9:36 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Briton tackles the cobbles for Movistar

    Alex Dowsett (Movistar) looks set to make his grand tour debut later this year at the Giro d'Italia. The British time trial specialist crashed out of yesterday's Dwars Door Vlaanderen and despite taking a knock to one of his knees, will look to race this weekend's Gent-Wevelgem before competing in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    Dowsett moved to Movistar at the start of 2013 after two years at Team Sky. The signing caught many by surprise given Sky's understandable desire to sign British riders. However Dowsett often found himself on the fringes of the team as they focused primarily on the Grand Tours, and while injuries certainly were a factor, when Movistar offered him a more substantial race programme Dowsett jumped at the opportunity.

    "It's really good, really good. I'm here at these big races and that was the main reason for the move. I got through Tirreno-Adriatico okay. I'm not going to lie: I was pretty foddered after it but I came around in the last couple of days and did the time trial. The form is about where it should be," Dowsett told Cyclingnews.

    The transition from the comfort and conformity at Sky to the more relaxed Spanish vibe at Movistar has been Dowsett's biggest challenge. Moving to a team as the only English-speaking rider has been a tough transition, especially as Dowsett is the first British rider to join the predominately Spanish team since Jeremy Hunt in the mid 1990s.

    "That's the most difficult bit for sure. It can get a bit lonely at the dinner table sometimes but I am learning and I'm getting there. Everything gets translated for me afterwards so that I can understand what I need but it's a really nice bunch of guys and it's very much like a big family atmosphere. Sky was a team that was a lot more...

  • Lefevere laments missed opportunity in Dwars door Vlaanderen

    Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) made the front group
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 10:45 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Terpstra fails to feature in lead group

    Dwars door Vlaanderen is a race that has often been dominated by the riders of Omega Pharma-Quickstep manager Patrick Lefevre, but this year the team lacked the leaders to finish the job. Current WorldTour leader Sylvain Chavanel, Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish are the usual leaders in the team but they opted to take an extra day of rest after the demanding edition of Milan-San Remo last Sunday. Last year's winner Niki Terpstra didn't feature in the lead group and those who made the break on Wednesday lacked the finishing skills to claim the win.

    Stijn Vandenbergh worked hard to bring back Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) late in the race and Nikolas Maes was unable to beat Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) in the sprint of the Flemish one-day semi-classic in Waregem, Belgium. Afterwards team manager Lefevre didn't blame his riders but concluded that for some it's easier to claim a free role than to live up to that role.

    "They're good riders but if they have to do it, it's sometimes close but no cigar. Everybody in our team had a free role today instead of riding for Tom Boonen or someone else. Terpstra was one of the favourites but I think he waited too long since he easily won the sprint for eleventh place. If you're not in the breakaway group, you can't win of course. Stijn was probably one of the strongest today but winning is something else," Lefevre concluded.

    "The boys did what they had to do. Others were more experienced though, like Mathew Hayman. He didn't give a pedal stroke too much when he was up the road with Gert [Steegmans] and then later with Stijn but at the finish he was third. Those riders were taking pulls but were already at the limit when they dropped back, just...

  • Wild sprints to victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen

    Kirsten Wild (Team Argos-Shimano) celebrates victory in stage 3, a win which moved her into the overall race lead.
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 11:25 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Argos-Shimano rider ready for Tour of Flanders

    Kirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano) added to her impressive win tally for the year at Dwars door Vlaanderen, ensuring she'll be a rider to watch come Sunday's Gent - Wevelgem.

    Wild prevailed in the bunch sprint finish, crossing the finish line ahead of Jolien D'Hoore (Lotto-Belisol) and Monique van de Ree (Zannata Ladies Team). The 30-year-old was particularly pleased to have finished ahead of the pair given she'd made note before the 77km race that "they were the two fast girls," as she explained to Cyclingnews before riding back to the team hotel while her male counterparts thawed out on the bus in Waregem.

    Argos-Shimano had been aggressive from the outset and if there was an attack, Wild's teammates marked any moves. "I think in this field we had to take the lead and we did," she explained.

    While the race essentially went to plan, Wild sufferered a puncture with a lap and half remaining, but the brief moment of misfortune was handled with Elke Gebhardt giving her teammate a wheel and the Argos team resuming with finesse, setting up the sprint train to perfection.

    "It's amazing to win a classic race like Dwars door Vlaanderen," Wild said. "It's always good to win, but to win like this after great teamwork is especially rewarding. We controlled the whole race and everyone was very motivated. There was not a single break without one of us in it. In the final 3km we started with the lead-out. It was so fast that no one could get between us. We were the first three riders through the final corner, and after that it was up to me to finish the job."

    Already this season, Wild won three stages on the way to finishing on top of the overall at the Ladies Tour of Qatar and then at the opening World Cup event of the year, Ronde Van Drenthe, finished in fifth. For the Dutchwoman, her...

  • Brammeier makes aggressive start to classics campaign

    Matt Brammeier (Champion System)
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 12:04 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Irish champion looks to make an impression on the cobbles

    Matt Brammeier (Champion System Pro Cycling Team) signalled his intent to race aggressively throughout the spring campaign when he joined the first significant break in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen. The Irish national champion linked up with a 14-man move on the first climb of the day before dropping out of contention in the final 30 kilometres.

    After losing contact with the leaders he eventually retired from the race.

    "It was grim out there. It took a long time for the break to go from the start and I didn't have much left when they caught us. I committed to go in it and had to keep going with everything and make sure I could get something out of the race," he told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    Champion System lack pedigree for the Belgium races, and Brammeier and teammate Bobbie Traksel represent their limited but experienced core. It means that both riders have to enter each race with a proactive and aggressive stance, knowing that they are being relied upon to represent the team in the deciding moments of the Belgium campaign.

    "I just have to take my chances and go into breaks. Maybe one day it will work out. We don't really have super strong team that can support me in the finale so I can't really wait too long and then go with the big guys. I need to get a jump on them and be in front of them. I'm never really going to take time on the big teams, they give me time and that's always the plan at the start."

    WorldTour desires

    Brammeier moved to Champion System after a disappointing year with Omega Pharma-QuickStep. The Belgium team snapped him up after HTC-Highroad folded at the tail end of 2011 with a number of riders making the move to Patrick Lefevere's team. While Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch, Frantisek Rabon and the Velits brothers all settled, Brammeier found life at the Belgian team a little tougher. Illness ruled him out of...

  • Pozzato looks forward to Flanders test at E3 Harelbeke

    Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida)
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 13:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Petacchi takes aim at Gent-Wevelgem

    After disappointing at Milan-San Remo, Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) turns his attentions to the northern classics, and he gets his cobbled campaign underway at E3 Harelbeke on Friday.

    Pozzato, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard), Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) – who all opted to skip Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday – will be among the favourites for E3 Harelbeke, an event that marks a crucial test ahead of the Tour of Flanders on March 31.

    “Harelbeke is a race that I really like a lot, and not just because I won it in 2009,” Pozzato said. “The route suits me, the level of competition is high and it’s played out in an atmosphere of great intensity, given that it’s a sort of test ahead of the Tour of Flanders. The favourites study one another, try to understand how their rivals are going, and at the same, try to land the winning blow.”

    Pozzato – who served a three-month suspension for his links to Dr. Michele Ferrari last year – joined Lampre ahead of the new season, and began the campaign with a win at the Trofeo Laigueglia and second place at Roma Maxima, before falling short at Milan-San Remo. He is looking for a return to form in Belgium.

    E3 Harelbeke’s significance increased still further last season when it was added to the WorldTour calendar and shifted from Saturday to Friday – as well as a test ahead of De Ronde, it is a crucial opportunity to score UCI points.

    “Now that it’s been put on the WorldTour calendar, the level has gone up another notch,” Pozzato said. The Italian named Boonen, Cancellara and Sagan as the pre-race favourites but anticipates that others will emerge. “With Flanders in mind,...

  • Valverde crashes out of Volta a Catalunya

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is the new leader of the Volta a Catalunya
    Article published:
    March 21, 2013, 15:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    UPDATE: No serious injuries for Spaniard and teammate Capecchi

    One day after taking over the race lead at the Volta a Catalunya on the Vallter 2000 summit finish, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) crashed on a descent during today's queen stage and abandoned the race.

    Approximately 119km into the 217.7km stage from Llanars-Vall de Camprodon to Port Ainé-Rialp, both Valverde and Movistar teammate Eros Capecchi, who would also withdraw, crashed while part of the main peloton. The race organisation had previously warned the peloton about the descent off an uncategorised climb which featured narrow roads with patches of dirt and gravel.

    Valverde was transported to the team's race hotel where we was evaluated by team doctor Jesús Hoyos, while Capecchi was treated at a medical center in La Seu d'Urgell.

    "They both don't have any serious injuries, but the blow was hard and Alejandro was feeling a bit dizzy," said Hoyos. "He has several bruises, especially on his left side, on the hip and the knee and a hard hit on his elbow." It was confirmed that neither rider sustained any broken bones in the crash.

    Valverde explained what happened on the fateful descent, which caused the Spaniard to abandon the Volta a Catalunya for the second straight year.

    "We knew that it was a tricky descent, but we were at the front, pushing," said Valverde. "Capecchi crashed and I couldn't avoid hitting him. It was a pretty hard impact, even more for him, because I almost fell over him.

    "It seems like I'm not a lucky man when it comes to my Volta appearances. It's true that I was lucky enough to win it in 2009, but last year I also had to retire, and I really thought about it afterwards. I'm furious because I was feeling strong and had chances to win, but the...