Italy has set a record you probably won’t find it boasting about at this year’s Giro d’Italia: nine stages without a single individual stage win to one of its riders. The new win-less run replaces the previous streak from 1973, when Gianni Motta gave Italians something to cheer about on stage six after Belgians Eddy Merckx, Roger de Vlaeminck, Gustaaf Van Roosbroeck and Dutch rider Gerben Karstens shared the spoils from the first five stages.
The difference in 2010 is that Italian fans have at least already had reason to celebrate, thanks to Liquigas-Doimo’s team time trial victory and Vincenzo Nibali’s time in the maglia rosa. That success would make it unfair – and frankly downright disrespectful – to describe the Italians’ performance as unsuccessful at their home Grand Tour, yet the lack of individual success is no less of a notable turn of events.
A decade ago, as Stefano Garzelli rode towards his overall Giro d’Italia win, he shared with his compatriots 13 of the possible 21 stage victories. It’s ironic that in that edition Dave McKenzie became just the fourth Australian to win a Giro stage behind Phil Anderson, Michael Wilson and Alan Peiper, yet this year alone three Australians have joined the list of Giro stage winners: Cadel Evans, Matthew Lloyd and Matthew Goss.
Victories by riders from Great Britain, Denmark, Australia, Belgium and the United States of America could be attributed to many different factors, including the sport’s globalisation. Whatever the case, Italian fans may have to wait for the return to mountain stages before seeing an individual stage win by one of its riders, with top sprinter Alessandro Petacchi having withdrawn from the event due to bronchitis.
While he’s certainly not the only Italian sprinter in the Giro field, Petacchi is the man who has given the nation its first individual stage win in no fewer than...
Italian convinced he has a chance as sport becomes cleaner
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) has changed his mind and is now convinced he can compete for overall victory in this year's Giro d'Italia.
After struggling to compete against the big name contenders in recent years at both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, the little Italian had thrown in the towel and said he would focus on stage victories in this year's Giro.
But after strong performances on the dirt roads to Montalcino and then on the first mountain finish to Terminillo, Cunego now believes he can compete for the maglia rosa. Despite losing time early in the race in the Netherlands, he is currently ninth overall, 3:08 behind current leader Alexandre Vinokourov.
"I've been able to stay with the overall contenders so far so there's no reason not to race with them. I'm aiming big, I want to go for the Giro," Cunego told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Montalcino and Terminillo convinced me that I don’t have to accept defeat. I knew that if I prepared well I could do something but it’s always nice when the results prove it."
Cunego won the Giro d'Italia in 2004, when he was just 22 years-old but has struggled to live up to the promise he showed that year. In recent years he has taken a stronger and stronger stance against doping and hinted last year that the overall standings of the Giro were likely to be rewritten even before Danilo Di Luca tested positive for EPO-CERA.
"I don’t like to say 'I was right' but it's a fact that the classifications have changed," he told Gazzetta.
"I win two or three important races every year, like Lombardy, Amstel and stages in other races. Perhaps I could have done better but people still cheer for me just like they did in 2004 when I won the Giro. Perhaps I'm even better supported than back then. The truth is that people have realised how things work some time ago and they appreciate what I do because it's all down to me."
Cyclo-cross talent Lars Boom is stepping away from his off-road roots and toward a heavily packed road racing schedule with his ProTour Rabobank squad this year. The former World Cyclo-cross Champion is riding the Amgen Tour of California, where his third place podium performance in the stage two road race move him into a respectable fourth place in the event’s overall classification.
“This is an important race for me and for the team,” Boom told Cyclingnews. “This is my first race after the Spring Classics. I’m doing well, the first stage was OK. I tried to sprint but was almost in a crash, it’s going OK. I cannot say really how well things will go for us after only the first stage.”
Boom predicted the event’s second stage would end with a small front group of the peloton’s strongest riders on the finishing streets of Santa Rosa, following the multiple mountain passes located at the end of the stage. He was right. A lead group of 27 riders containing all of the predictable general classification contenders made it to the line together. Boom was there.
“It was a nice stage but it wasn’t such a big group to the finish,” Boom said. “I wanted to try to be in that group. I want to do a good showing in this stage race and maybe a get a stage win. That will be good but it is going to be a hard field with a lot of climbing this week.”
Boom is no stranger to road racing having won the Under 23 world time trial title in 2007 and has competed with the Rabobank youth program and Continental team for the previous eight years. “I only did two cross races this year because I consider myself a road rider now,” Boom said. “Maybe I will do a little bit more cross races this year but not too much, we will see."
“I like the road, my season with road is going well,” he added. “I was able to get some good results on the...
It's a tough job but somebody has to do it. After a career in the saddle Jonathan Vaughters now does his racing from behind the wheel of the team car as he leads his Garmin-Transition riders into battle at the Amgen Tour of California. Having not driven the team car in some time Vaughters has resorted to a tough physical regime as you'll find out about in this exclusive video. Buckle up!
Vaughters behind the wheel of the Garmin-Transitions car
Cyclingnews' Amgen Tour of California video is brought to you by Specialized
Johan Bruyneel has admitted that Alberto Contador is the favourite to win this year's Tour de France but think the RadioShack team also has a good chance of victory. He also revealed that he was able to create Team RadioShack exactly as he wanted, in contrast to Team Astana where he was team manager the previous two years.
"Contador is the top favourite and we are underdogs. But we start the Tour to win it," he said in an interview with the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
"Contador can be beaten. It is not easy but I still believe that Lance can win for the eighth time . There are still 50 days before the Tour starts. I see in his eyes that everything must now give way to this one goal."
In putting together Team RadioShack, “I deliberately chose a homogenous group with extensive experience and a focus on the Tour,” Bruyneel said.
"There had been some bright spots: Tiago Machado, Ben Hermans, who I'm very happy with despite his broken foot, and especially Sebastien Rosseler. We haven't seen everything from Rosseler yet. He is almost certain to be in the Tour selection.”
Bruyneel's time with Team Astana was not easy, with reports that he did not get along with Contador. The main problem for him, though, was Alexandre Vinokourov. “I spoke with Contador after the Criterium International. I feel that he has nothing against me, as I have absolutely nothing against him. It was not easy last year. Not for him, not even for Lance and me. But Astana was never my team. It was Vino's team then and it is Vino's team now, and not Contador's team.”
Bruyneel was also under pressure to sign Vinokourov when the Kazakhstani returned from his doping suspension. “I was constantly under press to take him again,” against my will, he indicated.
Finances were and continue to be another problem. "I am still waiting for the final quarter 2009 payment. Riders and staff have not...
Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1) climbed his way into the King of the Mountains jersey following a lengthy breakaway during the 177km second stage of the Amgen Tour of California. The Dutchman was one of five breakaway riders, all from North American-based Continental teams, that went on the attack during the day's soaked ride to Santa Rosa.
"Our break soon got five minutes and I felt great up the hill and was able to get the KOM points," Rabou told Cyclingnews. "I didn't know how close the GC guys were to chasing us because I was so focused on winning the KOM points. I focused on that jersey and I succeeded. It was a good day for me and the team."
"The team is really happy about it and we are enjoying the jersey right now," he added. "Our goal is to keep this jersey and try to bring it to the finish of the race. That is the main goal for me."
The day's decisive breakaway included five ambitious domestic riders with Rabou, Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Andrew Randell (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy), Jay Thomson (Fly V Australia) and the man sitting third place overall, Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis). They maintained a steady five-minute margin ahead of a peloton lead predominantly by Team RadioShack.
Menzies picked up the intermediate time bonus sprints offered en route and Rabou proved to be the strongest climber by capturing full points on all four King of the Mountain ascents located on CA 128, Howell Mountain Road, Oakville Grade and Trinity Grade.
"I think the domestic teams are trying their best to be in the breakaway to gain as much media attention as possible," explained Rabou. "This is the biggest race that these teams do and they can get great publicity here. Today there were five domestic guys and I think these teams are happy to be in the break. We try our best to show that we can race well in this kind of peloton."
The five riders were caught on the run in to Santa Rosa by a 20-rider...
Garmin-Transitions sprinter thought of giving Dean the stage win
Tyler Farrar’s second stage win at the Giro d’Italia in the southern town of Bitonto confirmed that he made the right decision by choosing to ride in Italy rather than at the Tour of California. . In February the Garmin-Transitions team was still undecided whether Farrar would ride the Giro for a second time or ride the Tour of California as America’s biggest stage race had been moved to May.
“We decided to come here to win stages and it’s working, so I’m happy with the choice we made of riding the Giro for stages and California for GC. We split the team in two for seeking different goals and to win a second stage at the Giro is amazing”, Farrar told Cyclingnews in Bitonto.
One year ago, Farrar had never even started a Grand Tour. Now he is riding his fifth Grand Tour and has won three stages and collected a string of placings. Farrar turned professional at the age of 18 with Jelly Belly before joining HealthNet and then Cofidis in 2006, meaning he rode as a professional for six years until he got a start in his first Grand Tour.
“When I was 22, in my first year with Cofidis, I wasn’t physically ready”, he explained. “At 23, I was ready but the team told me no. At 24, my new team, Garmin, wasn’t yet getting invitations for all the big races. I was frustrated to not ride a Grand Tour.”
In 2009 he started all three Grand Tours, the Giro, the Tour de France and the Vuelta, finishing in the top five on five occasions at the Giro (he was second twice), five times in the top 5 of stages of the Tour de France (second twice) and five times in the top 5 of stages of the Vuelta a Espana where he got his first Grand Tour win. After two stage wins at the Giro d’Italia this year, Farrar has definitely earned the title of the world’s “Most Improved Sprinter” in the last 12 months. The debate is still open about if he is currently the...
Liège winner ready for a 'Classic' stage to L’Aquila
Alexandre Vinokourov confirmed he’ll ride the Tour de France at the service of Astana teammate Alberto Contador, but at the age of 36 is viewing the Giro d’Italia as one of his last chances to win another Grand Tour.
"This has been the first real quiet day," said Vinokourov with a smile, after finishing the first stage of this year's Giro to take place entirely beneath sunny skies. "I had to pay attention to avoid the crashes. That gives me one more day in pink. Our team profited from the work of the sprinters’ team. As usual, the finale was a bit nervous."
He had waited 24 hours to comment on his aggressive tactics in the last 15 kilometres of stage nine on Monday. "I attacked because I’m a rider who likes to attack," he said. "If I have lost some energy there, my rivals like [Cadel] Evans, [Stefano] Garzelli or [Michele] Scarponi have also spent energy. They spent even more than me, I guess."
Ten days into his first Giro d’Italia, the 2006 Vuelta a España winner said he now has a clearer picture of the corsa rosa. "I heard in the past that the Giro is quiet, but it was never quiet until today," he said. "It’s even harder than the Tour de France! And the mountains that await us are more difficult than those of the Tour."
Vinokourov believes it won’t be a handicap for him to not have reconnoitred the crucial stages of the Giro, starting with the Wednesday's stage 11 from Lucera to L’Aquila. The 262km stage features terrain similar to that of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which Vinokourov won for a second time last month.
"It’s gonna be hard with 260 kilometres to cover," he said. "I think my team will control [things]. I can’t say that I want to win that stage but I know that after 230 kilometres, it’s a different race, it becomes like a Classic. I don’t exactly know the course. I presume it’s like in Tirreno-Adriatico....