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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 12, 2011

Date published:
May 12, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Rasmussen says possible rider protest against Crostis-Zoncolan stage

    Lars Bak and Alex Rasmussen head out for a ride.
    Article published:
    May 12, 2011, 11:16 BST
    Cycling News

    HTC-Highroad rider calls Crostis descent dangerous

    There may be a team and rider protest against stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia, which includes the descent of the Monte Crostis on its way to the steep mountaintop finish of the Zoncolan. Alex Rasmussen of HTC-Highroad said the Crostis descent on narrow, steep gravel roads was very dangerous.

    “We have seen pictures of it and it is not fun,” Rasmussen told Ekstra Bladet. “There are several hundred meters of hillside, where there is no shielding of any sort. And the road leaning the wrong way.

    “Racing is so dangerous. There is not just one or two but ten men that could ride off the edge there,” he said. “They're constantly working to make the Giro as hard and extreme as possible. But this is a little too extreme.”

    The peloton has reacted with deep sorrow and anguish to the tragic accident that took the life of Wouter Weylandt on stage three last Monday. Saxo Bank-SunGard's Alberto Contador also admitted that he was afraid of the Crostis descent and that he was hoping for snowfall to cancel the stage. “If Contador says that, then there is something to it. That part of the stage is to his advantage."

    At this point, there is no decision as to a protest against the stage, and it is also questionable whether the race organisers would pay attention to one. “I doubt it. But if all riders are united, then surely they would have to,” said Rasmussen.


  • USA, Great Britain and Italy top medal table at Para-cycling Road World Cup

    Barney Storey and Neil Fachie in a trial run before the Paracycling World Championships in two weeks.
    Article published:
    May 12, 2011, 11:43 BST
    Sarah Connolly

    London 2012 Paralympic Games ticket prices announced

    Great Britain and Australia can look back at last week's Paracycling Road World Cup in Sydney with satisfaction, as their preparations for London continue.  In addition, the pricing structures for the London 2012 Paralympic Games have been announced.

    USA took the overall World Cup team win, with eight gold medals, two silvers and five bronzes, while Great Britain's team of just nine riders took home ten medals - six golds, three silvers and a bronze. Italy finished in third spot, with five golds out of twenty medals.

    One of the most impressive performances of the Cup had to be World and Paralympic Champion Sarah Storey (Great Britain), who won her C5 category Road Race over three minutes ahead of the USA's Greta Neimanas and Australian Claire MacLean. Storey, who also won the time trial event, was one of 13 riders to win the double gold across her road race and time trial.

    Chris Furber, Great Britain's Para-Cycling Coach, said on the British Cycling website: "We have seen some strong performances from our riders in the last few days and it's particularly pleasing to see Karen Darke [H2 Handcycling] win two silvers and the new pairing of Lora Turnham and Fiona Duncan [tandem] on podium against a world class field.

    "We have exceeded our qualification points target for both men and women, which puts us in a good place ahead of the second round of the event in Spain next month, where competition will be even tougher."

    Cycling Australia Para-cycling Performance Director Peter Day was pleased with his team's performance on home ground, where they came fourth in the team competition, with five golds out of sixteen medals.

    "I'm happy with how we're placed so far and I'm really comfortable with the event itself so far," he said on the Cycling Australia website. "For some of the riders, it is the first...

  • Video: Richie Porte working for Contador at the Giro

    Richie Porte (Saxo Bank Sungard)
    Article published:
    May 12, 2011, 15:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Contador well equipped to handle the pressure

    Richie Porte (Saxo Bank-SunGard) was among those who crashed on stage 5 of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday, banging his right knee and coming in 19 minutes down on stage winner Pieter Weening (Rabobank).

    With that accident, the young Australian's hopes of repeating last year's feat of finishing in the top 10 were dashed, but Porte had already explained to Cyclingnews that his sole objective in Italy is to work for his team's leader Alberto Contador.

    "Bjarne (Riis) has made it very clear that we're all here for Alberto," Porte told Cyclingnews in Piombino. "He's the best at what he does, so it would make no sense to go and ride for myself."

    Porte was a late addition to the Saxo Bank-SunGard squad for the Giro d'Italia, and he explained that he was called up to duty only the week before the race.

    "I was asked the Friday before the Giro if I wanted to come," Porte said. "It's a shock. Maybe mentally I'm not as prepared as I should be, but physically I'm getting there."

    At the start line in the shadow of Orvieto's magnificent duomo on Thursday, the gauze on Porte's right arm and knee told its own story as the convicts of the road pedalled off towards Fiuggi. In spite of his injuries, the Australian will be looking to perform his duties in the service of Contador while he has earmarked the final time trial in Milan as his sole opportunity at this Giro to obtain personal glory.

  • Feillu would have preferred to continue Giro d'Italia

    Brice Feillu (Leopard Trek)
    Article published:
    May 12, 2011, 17:13 BST
    Cycling News

    But Leopard Trek rider respected majority decision

    Together with his team Leopard Trek, French rider Brice Feillu left the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday evening, in mourning over the tragic death of his teammate Wouter Weylandt on Monday. But contrary to the majority of the team's other riders, the talented climber would have preferred to battle on in memory of his friend.

    "I thought that we shouldn't have abandoned, that we should have continued to fight and to give the best of ourselves to honour the memory of Wouter," he told L'Equipe. "And I told them so. But most of the riders wanted to leave. For some of them, it was unimaginable not to attend the funeral."

    Of course, Feillu had no problem putting his personal opinion aside and follow his team's decision. "This is my opinion but I respect the one of my friends and their choice. We are a team, we have to remain united in solidarity even if in such a situation, there are different views," he wrote on his personal blog.

    "I will keep an image of Wouter in my head that is dear to me. On Sunday after the first stage, he hugged me, laughing, because I helped him to the top of a climb so that he could do the sprint after the descent. I really liked Wouter, we got along so well. He talked to me in French and we were on the same wavelength."

    The other teams competing in the Giro have supported Leopard Trek's decision to leave the event. "It's only logical, it would have been a nightmare for them to continue," Sky team director Sean Yates told Reuters. "When something like that happens, it's not at all surprising that a team leaves. The rest of...

  • Petacchi proud of second place finish in Fiuggi

    Hondo leads Petacchi to the line
    Article published:
    May 12, 2011, 18:16 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Ventoso coped better with final incline than the Italian

    Three hundred metres out, victory seemed within striking distance. But as the road kicked up again toward the finish, the pink Arrivo banner seemed to hover tantalisingly out of reach, and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) was left grappling for Francisco Ventoso's coattails at the end of stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia.

    In the final 50 metres, an exhausted Petacchi realized his Spanish rival was best today and all but freewheeled to the finish. Upon crossing the line, the big Italian unclipped immediately and stretched out his calves, before sitting against a crash barrier on the roadside to undo his shoes.

    For over a minute, Petacchi was unable to do anything other than pant at the phalanx of microphones proffered to him, the exertions of the uphill sprint having taken their toll. When he managed to compose himself, he found himself in a position normally alien to the sprinting fraternity as he expressed his pride at his second-place finish.

    "After 10km of climbing, even if it was manageable, for me to do a sprint like that in a place like this was very difficult," Petacchi said between deep breaths.

    The pace was high during the steadily rising run-in to Fiuggi, and most of Petacchi's usual sprint rivals were eliminated from contention. However, as he had already shown in the Tour of Turkey, a spell of altitude training with Michele Scarponi ahead of the race had clearly worked wonders for his climbing.

    Nonetheless, in the final 500 metres, the gradient pitched up a notch or two more, and Petacchi was forced to make two mammoth efforts, first to shut down the sprint of Danilo Di Luca and then to respond to Ventoso.

    "They didn't succeed in dropping...

  • Howard recovered from injury and ready for California

    Leigh Howard (HTC-Columbia).
    Article published:
    May 12, 2011, 19:50 BST
    Alex Hinds

    HTC-Highroad rider to form 'formidable' partnership with Matthew Goss

    On the 26th of April Leigh Howard’s Tour of Romandie was looking good. Howard had just finished third in the opening 3.5km prologue and although disappointed, it was clear the Australian was sitiing on some pretty good form - and that a stage win was not far away. Cycling can however be a cruel master, and in the same Time-Trial that compatriot Cadel Evans grabbed the yellow jersey, Howard crashed and was forced to abandon the race. Nearly three weeks later Howard has for the most part recovered and is hoping that the Amgen Tour of California will bring better fortune than his experience in Switzerland.

    "I’m still not 100%," Howard said of his knee injury to Cyclingnews.

    "It’s healed up quite well and I’ve been back on the bike the last four days now. I had a couple of problems today [going up Mt Baldy], but I think that just comes from getting back in to it quickly."

    "Hopefully I’ve carried the form [from Romandie] through to [the Tour of California]. [In Romandie] I had some of the best climbing legs I’ve ever had. I’ve done some sprints here and some leadouts for Gossy and I think the power is definitely there. Given we both get to the finishes together, the two of us should be a pretty formidable force."

    Howard is confident, but not brash for a 21 year old. He knows what he’s capable of and is disappointed when he doesn’t meet his own high expectations. The Aussie is however happy to acknowledge that his own aspirations will take a back seat in California, especially with the presence of Milan-San Remo winner Matthew Goss in the...

  • Ventoso had picked Fiuggi stage ahead of Giro d'Italia

    Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Movistar Team) wins the stage after a sprint
    Article published:
    May 12, 2011, 20:56 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Spaniard takes fifth win of the year

    Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) explained that he had picked out the uphill sprint at Fiuggi as his opportunity to shine at the Giro d'Italia. The Spaniard emerged victorious on stage 6 on Thursday to grab the biggest victory of his career.

    In a frenetic finish, Ventoso launched his effort early, and he had the legs to hold off a surprisingly strong Petacchi. The Italian himself admitted that he had not expected to feature in such a demanding finale.

    "This was one of the stages that I had singled out beforehand for my Giro," a beaming Ventoso said afterwards. "Now I hope to be able to get some more decent results."

    The Spaniard explained that he had deliberately planted himself on Petacchi's wheel in the finale, as he was on paper the fastest man left in the 80-man front group.

    "With a kilometre to go, I got on Petacchi's wheel and it was his teammate (Danilo) Hondo who controlled all the attacks," Ventoso said.

    The first major move on the haul to the finish line came from Danilo Di Luca (Katusha), who ripped clear 500 metres from home and briefly looked set to snatch victory. However, he was brought back as the road pitched upwards, and Ventoso and Petacchi were left to duke it out.

    "When I jumped, Petacchi took my wheel and I thought he would pass me, but I was able to hold him off until the line," Ventoso said. "It's a great joy for me and the team."

    In spite of his explosive display in the finishing straight, Ventoso admitted that he had suffered with the high pace on the more gradual run-in to the line that preceded the sharp finish in...

  • Follow the Amgen Tour of California press conference live

    Article published:
    May 13, 2011, 22:15 BST
    Cycling News

    UPDATE: Re-cap all the pre-race talk

    Live Streaming Chromeless player 640x360, no sharing, no additional videos, no video info, end screen on video still image.

    Cyclingnews will host live streaming of the Amgen Tour of California pre-race press conference on Friday, May 13 at 2PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time (11PM CET, 7AM Saturday, May 14 AUS).

    Race organizers will kick off the 2011 Amgen Tour of California by hosting a press conference with race officials, sponsors, athletes and team managers to prepare for the start of the professional road cycling race.

    Considered the largest cycling race in North America, the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will cover nearly 800 miles over eight days and feature 18 of the world’s top professional cycling teams. Traversing some of the...