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Third Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 15, 2014

Date published:
May 15, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Hansen hunting for another breakaway victory at the Giro d’Italia

    Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol)
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 15:04 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Australian breakaway specialist estimates three possible chances

    It’s a little over a year since Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) claimed the biggest victory of his career to date in the Giro d’Italia, winning a rain-lashed stage seven after he dropped Emanuele Sella close to the finish at Pescara after a 147 kilometre breakaway.

    Talking to Cyclingnews before the start of stage six of what is his 15th Grand Tour, and eighth in succession - and first of three he hopes to be doing this year - Hansen argues that getting into the sort of long distance breaks that have a chance of eventually making it to the finish vary considerably in the Vuelta, Giro and Tour.

    “It’s always different. In the Vuelta it is much easier to be in breaks, the Vuelta’s a build-up for the world’s and is used more for training.”

    “In the Giro, the breaks go when the Italian teams are happy. You’ve got to watch these guys because if they’re not in the break then the directors will say ‘this is the biggest race of the year for them so we have to get in it. They’re also very active in that way.”

    “The Tour is a very different event in that way, because it’s a more international event.”

    Other factors specific to how each race is actually developing then kick in, such as “which team has the jersey [lead] and by how much. “ In the case of this year’s Giro at the start of the very long [257 kilometre] stage six, ending on a summit finish at Montecassino, Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews has an advantage of 14 seconds on team-mate Pieter Weening, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) at 15 seconds and Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 19 seconds.

    “Take today...

  • Is time running out for the Team Alonso project?

    Fernando Alonso and Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 15:16 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Rider agent says they have until this month to confirm plans

    Time could be running out for the Team Alonso project with one leading cycling agent telling Cyclingnews that from his experience they have until the end of this month to confirm their plans and begin to start signing riders.

    The project, created by Formula 1 driver and cycling fan Fernando Alonso has been linked to a number of riders for the 2015 season, including Peter Sagan, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tony Martin and current world time road champion Rui Costa. Former rider Paolo Bettini was drafted in to manage the creation of the team but few details have emerged with rumours that the project has stalled in recent weeks.

    Paul De Geyter, who has over fifteen years of experience as a rider agent, has worked with a number of newly formed teams in his time but has also seen a number of potential squads fail to materialise during the years too.

    “We’re already in mid-May and it doesn’t look good unless things become concrete very quickly,” De Geyter told Cyclingnews.

    “There have been talks, but by now you have to consider the riders, the staff, the cars, sponsors big and small, materials and if there’s nothing concrete by now then it’s not a good sign. It’s a question of days now and if you don’t here anything positive soon then it’s a no-go. However I’m not on the board of directors for the Alonso team, so that’s just my opinion based of my experience in these matters.”

    The idea for a team backed by Alonso first circulated in the fall of last year with talks held between the F1 driver’s representatives and the now defunct Euskatel team. Negotiations collapsed with Alonso vowing to set up his own WorldTour team for 2015.

    Everything is ready

    Bettini began to talk to riders, with speculation that Peter Sagan was the team's number one objective. The week the Italian refused to speak in detail...

  • Tinkov: I want the best team in the world

    Brothers in arms: Riis and Tinkov at the team's training camp
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 17:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Team owner confident Contador can win Tour de France

    Last December, Oleg Tinkov announced in London, that he would be taking over as the owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo team. The flamboyant Russian businessman has long had an interest in the sport, as a sponsor and owner, but this is the first time he has had control of a major WorldTour team. The outfit that he bought was struggling to live up to its former glories and Alberto Contador had a disappointing 2013 season. Now that Tiknov is in charge, he is hoping to inspire the team to bigger and better things.

    "The goal is to create a good group, to lay the foundations to build the best team in the world," Tinkov told Spanish newspaper AS in an interview at the Giro d'Italia, where Tinkov is riding his bike each day. "(I want) to realise a good training programme, nutrition and foundation. I don’t just want to have the best riders in the team, I also want to make the perfect climate with the technical staff, the assistants, the soigneurs and all the people that we have around."

    "We are good, but I can’t say that we are the best. But we hope that we can achieve that in 2015. I have promised this."

    Things look to be going in the right direction at the Giro d’Italia. Tinkoff-Saxo put in a decent team time trial on the opening day and their main classification hopes Rafal Majka and Nicolas Roche are sitting 24 and 37 seconds behind of Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) ahead of the first mountain stages later this week.

    As ever, Tinkov wants more and has set his sights on the top step of the podium.

    "The aspiration is to...

  • Big time losses for GC contenders at Giro d'Italia

    Joaquim Rodríguez warming up
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 18:57 BST
    Cycling News

    How the GC stands after huge crash on stage 6

    The Giro d’Italia saw its first big shake-up in the general classification well before we expected it. A huge crash, as the peloton entered a roundabout, all but ended the overall ambitions of a number of riders.

    As Cadel Evans and his BMC team pressed on, there were a number of big names already heading back to the drawing board. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) was already significantly down in the general classification, after his team started badly with the team time trial. He lost a further 7:43 en route to Montecassino. The Spaniard looked in trouble as he trailed behind the bunch and it was later reported that he may have broken something in the fall. It’s not totally lost for Katusha, with Daniel Moreno making it into the second group on the road and with a slim chance overall in the GC.

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar) also saw the pink jersey goal posts moved further away. His team did a valiant job of chasing on, but it became a job of damage limitation fairly quickly. He rolled across the line 49 seconds back on Evans, along with Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and Moreno.

    Astana had another terrible day, with several of their riders coming down in that crash. Janez Brajkovic took a hefty tumble and stayed on the ground for a long time. His teammate and team leader Michele Scarponi finished 1:37 down on Matthews.

    There was also some confusion on the finish line in the Tinkoff-Saxo camp, as Rafal Majka finished on Jay McCarthy’s bike. Majka came home on the Quintana group, but his teammate Nicolas Roche was less fortunate. He finished the stage over 15 minutes down. Julian Arredondo (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) crossed the line...

  • Matthews strengthens Giro d'Italia lead with impressive stage win

    Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge) celebrates a stage 6 win at the Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 19:56 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Holds off Cadel Evans on final climb

    An impressive climbing display by Giro d’Italia leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) both netted the Australian his first stage win in the Italian race and further reinforced the 23-year-old's grip on the maglia rosa.

    Matthews could not have chosen a more appropriate day to clinch the win, given it is exactly 22 years since Michael Wilson took Australia’s first ever Giro stage in 1982, outsprinting double Tour winner Laurent Fignon and Italian rider Alfio Vandi in a three rider break at Cortona after a similarly long stage, 233 kilometres.

    Orica-GreenEdge’s big initial objective in the Giro d'Italia was the team time trial, but since then Matthews has, as he says, "kept the pink ball rolling" in style. Matthews sixth place on stage five’s uphill finish at Viggiano was already impressive enough, but on stage six’s second category finish at Montecassino he upped his game even further.

    The Australian first found himself on the right side of the huge crash with 11 kilometres to go with two teammates, Ivan Santaromita and Luke Durbridge in a group of around eight riders containing Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and another two BMC riders.

    Then when Evans accelerated hard with around a kilometre to go to the Montecassino summit, Matthews was able not only to stay on his wheel, but power past for the third Grand Tour stage victory of the career and Orica-GreenEdge’s second in this year’s race.

    “Evans didn’t say anything to me, I thought we would have a little conversation on the climb so that I would take the stage and I would help him race for GC,” Matthews said in his post-race press conference.

    “But we didn’t actually talk in the race, it was all for the win. He really wanted to win so did I, and it was fair play, it was a fair...

  • Evans wants biggest advantage possible before Giro d'Italia's mountains

    Cadel Evans leads Michael Matthews
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 20:20 BST
    Barry Ryan

    BMC glad not to carry burden of maglia rosa says Piva

    After a series of steady steps comes an unexpected leap forward. Ever since the Giro d'Italia left Belfast, Cadel Evans has looked to be repeating the template that carried him to victory at the 2011 Tour de France, staying alert at the front of the peloton throughout in the hope of picking up seconds and here and there.

    At Montecassino on Thursday, however, Evans' vigilance yielded an unforeseen dividend, as he moved up to second overall and now holds a lead of almost a minute over the next closest contender for final victory, Rigoberto Uran, and 1:50 over Nairo Quintana, while Joaquim Rodriguez slid out of contention altogether after a crash split the bunch in the finale.

    On the approach to the final, 8km climb, where sheets of rain gave the impression that the road had been doused in olive oil, the BMC squad moved to the front of the race, mindful to keep their leader out of trouble. And what trouble. With just under 11 kilometres to go, as the pace ratcheted ever upwards, two crashes in rapid succession split the peloton. Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez and Giampaolo Caruso were among the most prominent fallers, but there were bikes and bodies strewn everywhere and amid the carnage, confusion reigned in the race convoy.

    Out in front and - seemingly - oblivious to what happened behind, however, was an eight-man group driven by determined delegations from Evans' BMC squad and the Orica-GreenEdge team of pink jersey Michael Matthews. As the second category climb began in earnest, the eight had 40 seconds in hand on the chasers behind, as first Daniel Oss and later Steve Morabito hammered out the tempo in the service of Evans.

    There will be inevitable debate as to whether the leaders ought to have sat up and waited for those caught up in the crashes, but...

  • Black day for Katusha in Giro d'Italia

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 20:45 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Rodriguez loses all GC options as Caruso and Vicioso abandon

    Katusha's hopes of victory in the Giro d'Italia have ended in a welter of crashes and injuries during Thursday's stage 6 which saw their team leader Joaquim Rodriguez finish nearly eight minutes down, whilst support riders Gianpaolo Caruso and Angel Vicioso have both abandoned the race.

    "For the us the battle for the general classification is over," team sports director Jose Azevedo told reporters at the finish.

    The runner-up overall in 2012 and one of the top favourites for the Giro, Rodriguez was already on the backfoot after a poor team time trial by Katusha in Belfast on stage 1. But on stage 6, as the rain teemed down on the approach roads to the summit finish at Montecassino - which would have been an objective for the Catalan climber - things got far worse.

    Along with a hefty percentage of the field, Rodriguez was caught up in the big, high-speed, crash that split the race apart with 11 kilometres to go. Grimacing visibly and riding with one team-mate for support behind the main pack, Rodriguez then fought hard to get back on, but eventually crossed the line in 89th place, 7:43 down.

    Rodriguez has reportedly suffered grazes in one elbow and knee, road rash in both hips and has also, according to an official race bulletin, a broken rib - the same area of his body he hurt in the Amstel Gold this spring - and a broken finger. He has headed to hospital for a checkup and after a further assessment of his condition on Friday morning will decide whether he continues in the race.

    As if that was not bad enough for Katusha, Rodriguez...

  • Scarponi down but not out at Montecassino

    A bloodied Michele Scarponi (Astana)
    Article published:
    May 15, 2014, 21:07 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian now over two minutes behind Evans

    Montecassino was expected to play host to a bout of shadow boxing but instead some knock-out blows were delivered at the Giro d'Italia at the end of stage 6, and in the most unfortunate of circumstances.

    A mass crash on the approach to that final climb, on roads made slick as oil by a sudden rain shower, saw overall contenders Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Rigobert Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Michele Scarponi (Astana) all among the fallers, while Cadel Evans (BMC) came through unscathed to gain a significant swathe of time.

    Rodriguez, who broke a finger and a rib in the crash, reached the summit over eight minutes down and has lost all hopes of final overall victory in Trieste. Uran and Quintana fared somewhat better, quickly remounting and rolling home in the group that came home 49 seconds down on Evans.

    Somewhere in between, both in terms of the scale of time lost and the apparent extent of his injuries, was Scarponi. The Italian reached the line in 39th place, 1:37 down on Evans, and in the overall standings, he lies in 17th, already 2:10 behind the Australian.

    "I'm suffering, both because of the time loss and the crash, I'm upset," Scarponi told reporters after descending the eight-kilometre final climb in a team car. "I took a good wallop when I landed during that crash at the roundabout, and I slid a long, long way."

    Confusion was general in the finale and when he reached the Astana team bus, Scarponi was unaware that two of Evans' BMC teammates had driven an eight-man group clear as the crash split the bunch, and unwilling to enter into any immediate discussion of the incident.

    "BMC attacked when we crashed? I don't...