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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Date published:
May 18, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Contador only focused on having pink in Milan

    Alberto has his head firmly focused on having the maglia rosa in two weeks time.
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 4:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard ready for fight in final two weeks

    For Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) the tenth stage from Termoli to Teramo was an uneventful one. The Spaniard’s Saxo Bank Sungard team controlled the race early on before allowing the sprint teams to take over in the finale. But Contador is all too aware that it will only get harder over the next two weeks.

    “Our mission was to work as little as possible on today to defend the jersey,” the maglia rosa said.

    “We allowed teams like HTC-Highroad have to work on the front of the field because [we knew] it was a good opportunity for them.”

    As an experienced Grand Tour rider, Contador knows that holding the jersey today - and holding it in Milan [on May 29th] are two different things. When the Spaniard won the Giro in 2008, he didn’t win a stage and instead rode a controlled race from start to finish, conserving his efforts for the big stages. Despite winning a stage already Contador knows the same general principle will apply in 2011.

    “Naturally, having the jersey means hard work. I estimate that each day is an hour or one hour and a half less of recovery time. I am very happy to take the jersey but the most important thing is to wear it in Milan,” he said.

    “Tomorrow will be like riding a classic - extremely difficult and there's a possibility that the breakaway lasts all the way. We will have to be vigilant.”

    Contador currently has a lead of 1:21 to his biggest rival, Vincenzo Nibali going into tomorrow’s 142km stage to Castelfidardo.

  • Hesjedal looks to Sierra Road as the first GC selector

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo)
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 4:59 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Canadian rides in support of Dave Zabriskie

    Ryder Hesjedal has taken a support role for Garmin-Cervelo's overall contender Dave Zabriskie, at the Amgen Tour of California. However, he is not ruling out a stage win for himself on the stage four atop Sierra Road on Wednesday.

    "We are going to take care of Zabriskie as best as possible this week because he is the one guy that we are focused on before the decisive days," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews. "I want to try to be good and support the team as best I can. If that means me trying to do it on Sierra Road, or someone else doing it, we will see."

    There is no denying that Zabriskie is the team's overall classification rider, having place second to overall winner Michael Rogers in 2010 and second to three-time winner Levi Leipheimer in the 2009 edition.

    However, Zabriskie lost 15 seconds due to time gaps in the stage two sprint to other overall contenders Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner (RadioShack) and Linus Gerdemann (Leopard Trek).

    Also capable of winning the overall title is Christian Vande Velde, who placed third overall in 2008. Hesjedal is one of several support climbers on the team including, Tom Danielson, Andrew Talansky and Dan Martin, all capable of winning the race to the top of Sierra Road.

    "Our team has a lot of options for the GC and guys that can climb, so we will have to hope that someone has a really good day on Sierra Road," Hesjedal said. "We will feel that out as we go."

    Sierra Road is the first of two mountaintop finishes incorporated into the Amgen Tour of California. The 131.6km stage three route...

  • Day ready to take on stage four Sierra Road

    Ben Day (Kenda p/b Geargrinders) out of the saddle on the climb.
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 5:55 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Mt Hamilton a telling precursor to the big test

    Ben Day (Kenda/5-hour Energy) is looking forward to testing his legs on Mt Hamilton and Sierra Road, the two decisive ascents that will end stage four at the Amgen Tour of California on Wednesday. The Australian hopes to put for a strong performance on the stage that will surely shake up the overall classification.

    "Everyone is unsure and you come into the race thinking you are going well but tomorrow is the big test and I'm looking forward to it," Day said. "The last five kilometres is going to be man-versus-man and whoever is the strongest is going to be up there. My legs feel fine and I feel strong. Sierra Road will be a matter of making sure that I am in the right position going into the climb."

    Day placed eighth overall in the 2007 edition of the Amgen Tour of California. He knows the significance of the Mt. Hamilton and Sierra Road combo because the pair of ascents have been included in nearly every edition. This is the first year the Sierra Road will finish a stage and it is the first of two mountaintop finishes this week, followed by Mt Baldy on stage six.

    Stage four will offer a 131.6km route beginning in Livermore. The peloton will first pass over Mt. Hamilton, a 6.8 km ascent of 8.4 percent gradient, before starting up the gruelling Sierra Road on a 9.4 percent gradient for over the 5.6 km to the finish line.

    "We've done that climb every year and it is tough and steep but Mt Hamilton beforehand is a tough one as well," Day said. "Everyone is talking about Sierra Road but getting over Mt Hamilton in good position and still being able to feel good for Sierra Road, is major. Mt Hamilton will be telling because if people aren't feeling good there then they won't be in...

  • Siutsou primed and ready for first big crack at a Grand Tour

    Belarusian Siutsou first rode well in the Giro.
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 6:00 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Giro starts now for defacto HTC-Highroad leader

    Mt Etna singled out HTC-Highroad’s captain for the Giro d’Italia as Kanstantsin Siutsou. The Belarusian remained with the front group while teammate Marco Pinotti lost 4:47 to Alberto Contador. Siutsou is now entering the second phase of the corsa rosa but has one major regret.

    "Since the inaugural team time trial we’ve won in Turin, I was hoping to get the maglia rosa," Siutsou admitted to Cyclingnews.

    "I was only two seconds down and I’ve missed my opportunity. But against Contador, there was nothing I could do."

    Still, Siutsou is in second position at 59 seconds so hope remains for the blossoming HTC-Highroad rider.

    "We started the Giro with the intention of winning the opening team time trial and we did," directeur sportif Valerio Piva added at the start of stage 10 - prior to Mark Cavendish’s win in Teramo.

    "We also wanted to win some bunch sprints and we didn’t make it during the first week. We also came with Marco Pinotti and Siutsou for the overall classification. Now we know that Siutsou will be our man even though the key part of the Giro has only just begun. Up to now, the most important [thing] was to not lose too much time."

    "To be second on GC at the end would be great result for us with Siutsou," Piva continued.

    "[Ideally] we’d like to have him in the top like last year with Pinotti (9th) - but to target the podium is more a dream than a reality for now. He has never ridden for GC so what he can achieve remains unknown for us as well."

    Siutsou finished 16th in the 2008 Tour de France and 14th in the 2009 Giro...

  • Goss, Matthews and Cooke find trouble in Modesto finish

    Race leader Ben Swift (Sky) and Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) at the start line.
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 7:05 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian sprinters crash during chaotic sprint

    It was not a good day for the Australian fast men at the Amgen Tour of California, with three of the best finding the tarmac in the closing kilometres of the race in Modesto.

    HTC-Highroad's Matt Goss was lucky to escape serious injury while avoiding Michael Matthews (Rabobank). In another incident, Baden Cooke was left with road rash on his upper left thigh after his crash while working to deliver JJ Haedo to the line.

    Goss crossed the line in third place on stage two on Monday and had been hoping to improve on that on Tuesday in Modesto but instead found himself getting a little more up close and personal with the Californian crowds than he'd anticipated.

    "There was a bit of confusion yesterday but I was feeling a lot better today and ready to give it a real crack, so it was certainly disappointing not to be able to have a crack at the sprint," the Australian explained to Cyclingnews. "I was right there until 800m to go."

    Goss was just behind the jostle for position between Sky's Ben Swift in yellow and Rabobank's Michael Matthews. Eventual stage winner Greg Henderson claimed Matthews knocked Swift out of the leadout, something Goss confirmed.

    "Those guys were having a little bit of a jostle between them and Matthews went down and I just tried to avoid him," he described. "I missed him [Matthews] but then I couldn't stop before the crowds so I hit the gutter and ended up on the footpath on top of a couple of people.

    "I just thought I'd hang out and see the race from the side," Goss joked.

    Matthews' frame broke in the crash while the rider himself was left battered and bruised with the team rating him only a 50-50...

  • Giro d'Italia to observe moment of silence for Weylandt on stage 11

    Wouter Weylandt smiles for the cameras
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 7:43 BST
    Cycling News

    Mark of respect to coincide with day of Belgian's funeral

    Before the start of today's stage of the Giro d’Italia, from Tortoreto Lido to Castelfidardo, the riders, public and the race organisation will observe one minute of silence in memory of Wouter Weylandt. The homage to Weylandt will occur on the same as day as his funeral in Belgium.

    The former Giro d’Italia stage winner crashed badly on the third stage from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo and never regained consciousness. Race doctors and paramedics got to the Belgian moments after the incident but were unable to do anything.

    The mark of respect will be followed by a blessing from the parish priest of Tortoreto Lido, Padre Gregorio Oczos.

  • Henderson auditions for Tour de France in Amgen Tour

    Greg Henderson (Sky) enjoying the rewards of his win
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 8:59 BST
    Laura Weislo

    California stage win puts Kiwi in yellow

    The finish of the Amgen Tour of California stage into Modesto didn't go as planned for Team Sky but the British team still claimed the stage win and kept the race lead. Instead of yellow jersey Ben Swift sprinting to victory as he did in Sacramento, it was his teammate and final lead-out man Greg Henderson who maintained his sprint for 500 metres to take the stage and race lead.

    Swift got caught up with a Rabobank rider and lost the wheel of Henderson heading into the finale, but the Kiwi had no idea his charge had dropped back.

    "I went through the last corner at 500m like we talked about at the team meeting, and I wasn't getting any slower, but was starting to die. I got to 200m and nobody came by, then it was 100m and still nobody and I was like, 'well, there are only a six or so pedal strokes left' so I held on. I was completely lactic at the end.

    "I've never sprinted 500 meters to victory before. Normally sprinters do the last 150 or 200, but to win from there shows I'm in great condition."

    That condition is something he hopes will catch the eye of the Team Sky directeurs when they make the decision who to take to the Tour de France this year.

    "It's no secret I want to race the Tour de France," Henderson said. "I'm trying to tick all the boxes to make the team this year. If I keep doing my job and keep myself in good condition I can make the team this year.

    "I was late to turn pro, and my career has stepped up each year. I've done the Vuelta and the Giro a couple times, but now I want to compete against the best in the world at the Tour de France."

    The team's plan of going into the race with two of its fastest sprinters has paid off with domination in the pair of stages that...

  • Horner anticipating fireworks on final two climbs of stage four

    Defending champion Chris Horner (RadioShack) rides alongside GC contender Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek).
    Article published:
    May 18, 2011, 9:44 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    RadioShack hoping to hold slight advantage before Solvang

    Chris Horner is expecting a round of attacks to be fired at his RadioShack team on Sierra Road, the decisive climb that will end stage four of the Amgen Tour of California on Wednesday. Horner and his teammate, three-time overall winner Levi Leipheimer will start the race with a 15-second advantage in the overall classification, ahead of other notable climbers.

    "I hope we can do a good performance and I’m confident because Levi has never had any problems on Sierra Road and in the past it has treated me good too," Horner told Cyclingnews. "We are confident going into it."

    Race officials enforced time gaps throughout the peloton following the stage two final sprint in Sacramento. Horner and Leipheimer finished that stage in 16th and 24th position respectively. Other climbers who finished in the front group were Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo), Chris Froome (Sky ProCycling), Linus Gerdemann (Leopard Trek) and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad).

    A number of riders were however caught behind the split. Steve Morabito (BMC Racing) lost 11 seconds, while Dave Zabriskie and Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo), Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare), Aleksandr Efimkin (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), and Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek), lost 15 seconds.

    "It’s nice to have the cushion and I’ll take any amount of seconds going into the climbing stages, that’s a plus," Horner commented.

    "Levi has a good advantage over riders like [Dave] Zabriskie and [Dan] Martin and a lot of other guys who lost time on the first stage. There were at...