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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Date published:
April 4, 2012, 23:00
  • Strong sprint field for 2012 Rund um Köln

    Oscar Freire (Katusha) shares his thoughts before the start of Gent-Wevelgem.
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 09:07
    By:
    Cycling News

    Freire, Matthews, Haedo top the list

    Rund um Köln frequently ends in a mass sprint alongside the Rhine River, and this year should be no exception. Four WorldTour teams and the German national team will all send top sprinters to the first major German one-day race of the year, traditionally held on Easter Monday.

    Three-time world champion Oscar Freire will lead Team Katusha in the race, with young sprinter Denis Galimzyanov as a backup. Freire already has two wins this season, and the Russian took his first win of the year at the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe this week.

    Defending champion Michael Matthews (Rabobank) is expected to ride as well, having recovered from injuries in a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico. The Australian hit the road near the end of the second stage, suffering various cuts and abrasions, including a wound on his arm which required eleven stitches. He is currently riding the Tour of the Basque Country.

    Two-time winner Juan Jose Haedo will look to take his third win in the race, for Team Saxo Bank.

    In addition, Germany will send a powerful squad, led by none other than three WorldTour riders: Gerald Ciolek, Danilo Hondo and Christian Knees, who won here in 2006.

  • Startline Gallery: Scheldeprijs

    A dog is for life not just for a bike race
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 12:01
    By:
    Cycling News

    Boonen, Farrar and Greipel line-up

    Sandwiched in between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Scheldeprijs is an opportunity for the sprinters to strut their stuff before the action returns to the more testing cobbles of the Classics.

    The race is certainly not as glamorous or exciting as Flanders or Roubaix but its status is steeped in history that runs back to 1907. With an illustrious winners list that includes Alberic Schotte, Rik Van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck, Eddy Merckx and Mark Cavendish, it is a race any sprinter values on the palmares.

    While Sunday’s Flanders was raced under bright skies, today’s start in Antwerp had a decidedly chilly feel to it. Ahead of the riders was 202 kilometres of relatively flat terrain and with Mark Cavendish absent, due to the birth of his first child, the race is wide open.

    2010 winner Tyler Farrar and Tom Boonen (2004, 2006) are the only previous winners on the start list but with Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto) present, it promises to be a thrilling finale.
     

  • Video: Kittel and Greipel on the startline of Scheldeprijs

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 12:32
    By:
    Cycling News

    Race announcer doesn't impress Greipel

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) lined up in Antwerp for the start of Scheldeprijs in fine form and spirits. The German sprinter recently won a stage in the Three Days of De Panne and is one of the favourites to win today’s race.

    In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews he talks his form, fitness and the opposition he’ll battle for the win.

    With Mark Cavendish at home with his baby daughter, Kittel knows that the task of winning has become slightly easier but he admits that Cavendish’s absence has taken away some of the excitement and tension.

    While Kittel was all smiles and full of chit-chat, the same couldn’t be said of his compatriot Andre Greipel. The Lotto leader is often focussed beyond distraction before races and today’s event was no exception.

    His mood may not have been helped when the race announcer interrupted him during the team presentation and then asked him when his last win was, before turning his attention to another rider on the Lotto team. Greipel was suitably unimpressed as you can see from the video below.
     

    Use this on all articles. The player is narrow enough to fit next to the article gallery images box on the right.
  • USA Pro Cycling Challenge highlights Rocky Mountains

    Riders climbed several dirt mountain passes at this years USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 14:22
    By:
    Cycling News

    Colorado race goes up to 12,000 feet

    The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will take the peloton to an altitude of 12,000 feet, “not once, but three separate times, and will include a finish on iconic Flagstaff Mountain on the penultimate day.” The race, which takes places in Colorado, USA, from August 20-26, “will take riders on a heart-pounding journey throughout the breathtaking Colorado Rockies.”

    Race organisers released the more-detailed course description on Tuesday after releasing the preliminary route in December. "In determining the route for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, we wanted to showcase as much of the Rocky Mountains as possible, while creating a challenging course for the riders that would provide ideal viewing locations for spectators," said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

    This second year of the race will introduce four new stage cities, and moves the time trial from the first stage to the last one, “to see who will be awarded the overall victory of the seven days of fiercely competitive racing.”

    The first stage goes from Durango to Telluride. After bumping over the tracks of Durango's Narrow Gauge Railroad, the field will tackle the Hesperus Climb, and later take on a 30-mile long canyon climb which tops out at the Lizard Head Pass, 10,222 feet. That will be followed by a 15 mile descent to the finish in Telluride.

    The second stage is 99 miles from Montrose to Crested Butte. It starts out with climbs over Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa Summit, and finishes with the two mile climb up Mt. Crested Butte, where Levi Leipheimer took the leader's jersey in 2011.

    The “queen stage” comes on the third stage from Gunnison to Aspen. Nearly 14 miles of dirt road which takes the peloton up to the race's highest point, 12,126 feet at Cottonwood Pass. That will be followed by the 12,095 ft. Independence Pass.

    Much of the fourth stage will be above 9000 feet, with the Independence Pass appearing again before providing 75 miles of racing at altitude. The peloton will cross the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass before the final climb to the ski resort of Beaver Creek.

    Stage five, from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs, will wake the riders up with a “daunting 10-mile climb up Hoosier Pass”, 11,500 feet, shortly after the start. That is the only big climb of the day, and the road to the finish passes by Pikes Peak and through the Garden of the Gods. A mass sprint is expected on the circuit course in downtown Colorado Springs. 

    The penultimate stage from Golden to Boulder will take the riders up to Nederland for the day's first climb, followed by ascents exceeding 9300 feet “on the incredible Peak to Peak Highway.” But the real excitement comes at the finish, with a 3.5 mile vertical climb up Flagstaff Mountain.

    The race will crown its winner and close out with time trial in downtown Denver. The flat and fast course “will be a completely different kind of race – and one that could dramatically change the results.”

  • Chaotic finale at Scheldeprijs

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) grits his teeth
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 17:42
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Crashes and Boonen’s forcing alter race

    For 150 kilometres, Scheldeprijs looked set to be an oasis of calm in the middle of the frenetic week bookended by the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but a show of force from Omega Pharma-QuickStep and a string of crashes on treacherous roads turned the race on its head on the finishing circuit in Schoten on Wednesday.

    Tom Boonen put the cat amongst the pigeons when he hit the front of the peloton coming through the cobbles at Broekstraat for the first time with a shade under 50 kilometres still to race. His searing acceleration signalled the beginning of real hostilities as he strung out the field, and the Tour of Flanders winner was later joined in his efforts on the front by the rest of his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team as they worked to close down the day’s early break for sprinter Francesco Chicchi.

    At one remarkable point, all eight of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep squad occupied the first eight places in the peloton, with the remainder of the bunch battling grimly for the positions behind. With two laps of the finishing circuit to go, Boonen was still active at the front, and when a number of riders fell in the middle of the pack, his lengthy turns at the front split the field.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews after the race, Garmin-Barracuda directeur sportif Geert Van Bondt believed that Boonen and his teammates were simply moving to the front to keep out of danger as drops of rain began to fall from the leaden skies above. Nonetheless, Boonen remained an active presence on the front of the peloton until deep into the third and final lap of the finishing circuit. A drastically reduced peloton was the fruit of his labour, and even if QuickStep ulimately only had Matteo Trentin in the final split, it was the umpteenth show of force ahead of Paris-Roubaix from a team that has appeared to occupy a different plane in recent weeks.

    "I think QuickStep, and especially Tom, saw that it was getting dangerous with the rain and they wanted to make good training and that’s why they made the tempo so high," he said. "I don’t think they did it on purpose. It’s probably more that Boonen is very focused on Paris-Roubaix and he wanted to test himself a bit and stay out of trouble. He started to pull, and when the rest of the team saw that, they thought they also had to do it, but sometimes you have to stay calm and not do what the real leader is doing."

    While Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s forcing sowed panic throughout the peloton, it played to the advantage of Garmin-Barracuda, who were keen to keep tabs on the gap to the seven escapees up the road on behalf of Tyler Farrar.

    "It was better for us that Quick Step did it for us, as it meant that we didn’t have to use other guys. It saved us some energy for the final to bring Tyler to the front," Van Bondt said.

    Crashes

    As well as coping with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep onslaught, the peloton then had to deal with treacherous conditions in the closing 20 kilometres. On a technical circuit replete with cobblestones, road furniture and slick zebra crossings, the rain that fell in the final half hour of racing led to a succession of crashes and it was a significantly reduced group that contested the finishing sprint.

    "It’s a long time that it hadn’t rained here in Belgium, maybe three weeks, so when it starts to rain, it can be very dangerous and that’s why it was so important to stay at the front to avoid the crashes," said Van Bondt, whose own Garmin-Barracuda succeeded in marshalling Farrar into the select group that contested the victory, even if the American was denied a second Scheldeprijs victory by Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). "Maybe he went a little bit too early but with the rain and the danger I think he didn’t want to take any risk."

    The finishing sprint was itself marred by crashes, with a number of riders including Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo Bank) and Rudiger Selig (Katusha) falling immediately on crossing the line after their wheels slipped on greasy road markings. A press photographer was also struck in the accident. "It really was a big mess in the sprint with so many crashes," Van Bondt said.

     

    Tags:
    Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen
  • $100,000 purse for women's Exergy Tour

    The women get bunched up on the last lap.
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 18:50
    By:
    Cycling News

    Record prize list to help advance women's professional cycling

    The organisers of the 2012 Exergy Tour today announced a generous $100,000 prize purse for the five-day stage race, which takes place May 24-28.

    17 of the world's top women's teams are expected to compete in the inaugural edition of the race, with riders from around the world heading to Idaho in search of some of the final UCI points available toward the Olympic qualifications which will be set on May 31.

    The race is the only UCI 2.1-ranked event for women in North America.

    "Thanks to the support of Exergy we now have, for the first time in many years, a world-class, UCI women's stage race in the U.S.," said USA Cycling President and CEO Steve Johnson. "This event will provide our top American women, who are among the best in the world, with the opportunity to showcase their talent and race on home soil."

    The race is sponsored by the Exergy Development Group, one of the major independent renewable energy developers in the USA, and its CEO James Carkulis said the race and its large prize list will help women's racing gain exposure.

    "Offering a significant payout for this race elevates the excitement to a level equal in stature to men's pro cycling. Our hope is for the Exergy Tour to bring opportunities for both marketing and the media to open up more possibilities for women's cycling in the USA and abroad."

    The first 11 teams were announced earlier this month: ABUS-Nutrixxion, Canadian National Team, Exergy Twenty12, Faren Honda, Forno D'Asolo Colavita, GreenEdge-AIS, Specialized-lululemon, TIBCO to the Top, Topsport Vlaanderen-Ridley along with US elite teams NOW and Novartis for MS and  Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.

  • Video: Farrar reflects on Scheldeprijs podium finish

    2010 Scheldeprijs winner Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) finished in second place
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 20:00
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Barracuda sprinter near end of spring Classic campaign

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) came out second best in Scheldeprijs on Wednesday but the American sprinter was determined to look on the bright side after a mixed spring campaign. Farrar has yet to win an individual race this year, and this was his 14th top-ten of the season, but with his form good enough to push him into potentially winning positions it should only be a matter of time before he breaks his duck.

    Farrar came into Scheldeprijs in decent form. He was part of the early break in last week's Tour of Flanders, and along with Andreas Lund, he spearheaded the move which gained over five minutes on the field.

    While Farrar refused to blame the long day in the saddle for his second place it clearly had some affect. He spent Monday and Tuesday riding recovery on his local training roads in Gent but admitted he'd felt sluggish in the first hour of today's racing.

    Luckily his legs sprung to life in the second half of the action and with support from his Garmin-Barracuda team he began his mission to win. Having won the race in 2010, Scheldeprijs is one of his biggest wins so far in his career.

    "Today was one of my goals for the spring, two years ago I won and I knew that my condition was good so I wanted to try again. The team really rode super today, we rode for a sprint and the work Robbie [Hunter], Koldo [Fernandez] and Jack [Bauer] did in the last 20 to 30 kilometres was perfect," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I had perfect position all the time, I had perfect position for the sprint, too, it was just that Kittel was that little bit faster than me. I thought that I was clawing it back at the end but it was just too late and he was the strongest guy today."

    Heading into the final two kilometres Farrar became somewhat isolated. Having used teammates in order to keep him out of trouble – a wise move - he was left with just Jack Bauer. The New Zealander gave him a final dose off assistance, dropping him off just behind Rabobank's sprint train but from then onwards Farrar was forced to fend for himself.

    With Scheldeprijs out of the way Farrar must raise himself for one last push. Paris-Roubaix is a special race for Garmin. Last year, under mounting pressure, they captured one of their most famous wins when Johan Vansummeren played his cards to perfection and soloed away for the win. This time around Garmin has less pressure but expectations are still high. Sep Vanmarcke has been their spring star and in Sunday's race Farrar will turn to support both Vanmarcke and Vansummeren.

  • Bos, Renshaw test train in Scheldeprijs

    Theo Bos (Rabobank) on the podium
    Article published:
    April 4, 2012, 21:05
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Improvements still to be made in Rabobank team's sprint

    In his third attempt Dutch sprinter Theo Bos (Rabobank) once again fell short to grab the flowers at the Scheldeprijs, the sprinter's festival in Schoten, Belgium. In contrast to his previous two tries, the Dutchman finally was able to mix in for the win but he didn't have the punch to react when Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) and eventual winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) launched their sprints.

    "I wanted to react on Farrar his move but I was just a little too late for that. Then he fell back slightly so I think I came back on him. I think that as a team we got the most out of it, even though I would love to see it end differently," Bos said.

    Despite falling short for the win Bos was pleased with his performance and the cooperation with teammate Mark Renshaw. Before the race Renshaw reflected on his transition to Rabobank and looked forward to working with Bos. "Theo is one of the fastest sprinters in the world on the track. His transition to the road is getting better now. He'll prove himself in the future, as I will. Hopefully we'll get our chances," Renshaw said. "For me it's hard to come into a new team and for these guys it's hard to work with someone new. I think we're getting better and this will be the first race in which we have a dedicated lead-out team," Renshaw said.

    After a crash-riddled final circuit in which the Rabobank pair emerged unscathed, Bos complimented his new teammate on guiding him through the chaos. "Having Mark there is unbelievable. He's got so much experience and is so cool. My task today was to stick on his wheel and I did it the best I can," Bos said before adding that he wasn't worrying about his safety in the rain as it meant that the peloton rode on one single line which made it safer. "The last two years I was wondering: what am I doing here. To me this was the safest edition of the last three years."

    Bos was pleased with his positioning in the final kilometer, something which he wasn't able to get right in past years, but he realized that he still made a mistake in the final seconds of the race.

    "I was riding on a very big gear. I was on the 11 [cog] but that was too big, especially with that coldness on the legs. I should've used the 12. We came out very early but there was no other way. Maybe it would've been the same on the 12 but when I started my sprint I realized: ouch, this will be tough. I didn't have enough power. I still have to work on my sprint. I'm well aware of that. My power output is good but it can still improve."

    During the upcoming months Renshaw and Bos will ride together at stage races like the Tour of Romandie and possibly the Giro d'Italia. The duo looked forward to enhance their lead-out as Renshaw pointed out what had been lacking so far.

    "I'm disappointed not to have won already. I've been close on a few occasions and I missed a little bit of help in some races at the finish. Now with the team that is here that stays together for the next month or two it's a good opportunity to work together and fix some of the lead-out problems that we've missed in the past," Renshaw said.

    Tags:
    Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen