Steve Morabito comes to this year's Amgen Tour of California as one of the general classification hopes for the BMC Racing Team. The 28-year-old Swiss rider is at his best when the road turns up. "I prefer the climbs," Morabito said. "To try and stay in the top 10 would be a good thing." His recent fifth overall at the hilly Giro del Trentino in Italy marks Morabito as one of the riders to watch in the general classification battle.
Last year, he finished twelfth overall at the Amgen Tour of California. Thanks to his steady progression over the past few seasons, Morabito enjoys increasing support from his team for his ambitions. "I have more liberty. I can ride for the general classification," he explained of his role.
Wednesday’s climbing stage with its difficult finish on Sierra Road offers the first test for the general classification riders. "I don’t know this climb, but I hear it is hard. It seems complicated, the course. I hope the weather will be good, not like the past few days. I will try to do something good," said Morabito.
He is especially happy to see an end, at least for now, to the circuit finishes of the past few stages. "For me, it is more complicated on a stage like today with the rain and lots of riders taking risks," commented Morabito of Monday’s fast, wet finish in Sacramento. "The climbs, you either have the legs or you don’t. It’s simple."
Looking ahead, Morabito will also need to ride well during Friday’s time trial in Solvang if he wants to finish high in the general classification. "I rode it two years ago. It is really hard, up and down. You need fresh legs and lots of power," he...
Amgen Tour of California's third stage from Auburn to Modesto was bittersweet for the Professional Continental Team NetApp. Breakaway rider Jan Barta secured the Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous rider jersey, however two of his teammates Jesus Del Nero Montes and Andreas Schillinger, crashed and sustained an unknown degree of injuries.
"Jesus Del Nero Montes slipped on the yellow line and was the first one to crash," said a team NetApp representative. "He hit his head on the pavement and got back on his bike to race. So far he is OK but we are monitoring him. Andreas Schillinger crashed on the second lap of the finishing circuits and has multiple abrasions."
Barta entered into an all-day breakaway with Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare), Will Dickenson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Phil Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy) and Jamey Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home).
"The worst was the wind," Barta said. "It was wind that took all my strength. It wasn't really the rain, it is not that cold, it was the head wind that was the toughest thing to get through. At the end everyone gets tired and can't really help. It was a long stage and we didn't have any more strength."
Barta won the first two intermediate sprints, the first worth $1000USD and the second was rewarded with a gift basket. He attacked after the third intermediate sprint, followed by Jacques-Maynes and the pair remained out front until caught by the peloton just prior to entering the finishing circuits in Modesto. He earned the most courageous rider jersey for his efforts.
"I wanted to attack right after the third sprint because that was the time to do it," Barta said. "I just took...
Garmin-Cervélo talent looking to Sierra Road, Baldy
Irish talent Dan Martin of Garmin-Cervélo ranks among the top climbers at this year’s Amgen Tour of California. With his knack for going up, Martin can be expected to play a significant role in Wednesday’s steep stage finish on Sierra Road - and like the other climbers in this year’s Amgen Tour of California, Martin is happy to get down to the business of riding uphill fast.
"I’d say today’s stage is harder for me. These guys over here, the Americans, they ride so fast in the finish circuits," Martin told Cyclingnews before Tuesday’s stage.
During Monday’s wet finish in Sacramento, he lost fifteen seconds after he missed a split in the field. "I kinda messed up coming into the finish, and I didn’t expect it to be so fast. And the rain hampered me as well. It’s my fault, you know?" he explained.
Though he is only 24 years old, Martin’s prowess when the road turns up is already well-established. In 2010, he finished ninth on the fearsome Monte Zoncolan with its leg-breaking 20% gradients. The previous year, Martin went on a rampage during the early season stage races, and finished second overall at the Volta a Cyclista Cataluyna and third at the Tour de Méditerranéen. He has also ridden well in the hilly one-day races, and last year won Tre Valle Varesine, the challenging Italian semi-classic.
Martin is part of a stacked Garmin-Cervélo team that includes general classification threats David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, and Ryder Hesjedal. Zabriskie has finished second overall on three occasions in this race and Vande Velde finished third in 2008. Ryder Hesjedal, meanwhile, rode to a surprise seventh place at last year’s Tour de...
Spaniard will surpass Merckx, Astana director says
Alberto Contador is “already bigger” than Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong and by the end of his career, will be even greater than Eddy Merckx, according to Astana Directeur Sportif Giuseppe Martinelli.
Indurain won the Tour de France five times and the Giro d'Italia twice, as well as world and Olympic titles. Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles as well as one world road title. Merckx won both the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia five times (including winning both the same year three times), and the Vuelta a Espana once, as well as multiple other one-day and stage races. Contador has so far won the Tour de France three times, and the Giro and Vuelta once each.
"Contador is already bigger than those two (Indurain and Armstrong) and when he reaches the end of his career he will be just ahead of him (Belgian cyclist) Eddy Merckx," Martinelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"In 2010, although he was not so strong as he is now, he has won almost everything. What he has achieved in last Sunday (the ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia in) Etna in Sicily cannot be done by a normal person."
He characterised the 28-year-old as "a simple guy whose emotions are part of his state of mind." Martinelli refused to compare him to Marco Pantani, saying, "Marco Pantani was an abstract artist, but Albert can draw all that the others cannot do: he knows what he wants and puts it in his paper."
Martinelli also admitted that he did not feel capable of properly handling Contador. "Alberto was really too big for me, I felt I had in my hands a treasure, an investment too large to manage."
Contador has now "found a team manager at his level,” in Bjarne Riis of Saxo Bank-SunGard. "If I had been a...
The world of cycling said goodbye to Wouter Weylandt Wednesday morning in a moving ceremony at the Saint Peter's church in Gent, Belgium. He was brought into the church by his Leopard Trek teammates, and many big names from the international cycling world were in attendance.
His white casket was escorted to the church at 8 am by six of his Leopard Trek teammates who rode in the Giro d'Italia with him. Fans were allowed in to pay a finale tribute before the invited guests arrived. They were given prayer cards featuring photos of Weylandt and text from his girlfriend An-Sophie, his parents and his sister.
Four photographs flanked his casket: one of him training this year, one of his victory in last year's third stage of the Giro d'Italia, one from the Tour of Qatar 2009, and a photo from Quick Step.
His family and many of the others attending wore pink scarves around their necks, similar to one which Weylandt wore in one of the last interviews he gave.
Thousands followed the services on large screens outside the church, with many fans wearing cycling kit. Hundreds of floral wreaths were stacked around the church as well.
Those attending included teammates Fränk Schleck and Fabian Cancellara, as well as Tom Boonen, Patrick Lefevere, Wilfried Peeters Eddy Merckx, and Belgian national cycling coach Carlos Bomans. A surprise guest was Angelo Zomegnan, the Giro d'Italia race director.
Tyler Farrar, a close friend, was also there. “He was crazy good,” he told sportwereld.be. “At first I found him the coolest rider in the peloton, but when I got to know him, I noticed immediately that he was the friendliest. "
Geox rider happy to let the sprinters have their day Tuesday
Carlos Sastre, currently sitting in 26th place behind race leader Alberto Contador, is looking ahead to the next stages of the Giro d’Italia to decide the race.
“We had quite bad weather [on the rest day]. It was raining and really windy and most people made the most of it to ride exercise bikes and rest well in the lead-up to the next stages, which are going to be really hard. Above all, people are now concentrating on the three stages coming up this weekend, which hold a great deal of accumulated hardness in store for us," said the Spaniard after stage 10
The 36-year-old Geox-TMC rider has had his share of bad luck in the race, crashing in stage three and having to ride the last six kilometres on a borrowed bike that was too small for him. As a climber, he will naturally be looking forward to the hilly stages – but for stage 10, he was happy to sit back and let the sprinters’ teams control the race.
“The start of the stage was rather ‘leg-breaking', but the breakaway happened quite easily. Today we knew that the sprinters’ teams were going to control the race, because it was one of the last chances they had in this Giro to try to win a stage. Then there was also a great deal of headwinds and that meant that the breakaway was always under control, finally breaking into a sprint at the end."
Sitting nearly five minutes behind Contador, Sastre, whose highest placing in the Giro was third in 2009, will need to attack on the difficult stages if he has any hope of achieving a top 10 finish this year.
US national champion Ben King of RadioShack has been attracting plenty of attention at the Amgen Tour of California, and it's not just because he's a fast racer - it's hard to miss him with his stand-out stars and stripes jersey and bike. This fresh-faced 22-year-old from Virginia is earning his stripes working for his team leaders.
In the finale of stage three in Modesto, his teammate Chris Horner needed to be paced back to the field after a mechanical, and it was King's job to do it and he delivered.
Cyclingnews spoke to King before the start of the stage to find out if he planned on any of his signature long-distance solo breakaways on the stage to Sierra Road or Paso Robles, but he said he'd only do it if it was in the best interest of the team.
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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has introduced guidelines to help national anti-doping organisations (ADOs) work more closely with local law enforcement agencies, and prevent doping in sport by targeting those involved in the sales and distribution of substances banned in sports.
“For some time now we have been saying that testing alone is not enough to lead the fight against doping in sport, and that ADOs need to develop relationships with law enforcement agencies across the world,” said WADA President John Fahey, after the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board meetings last week, in Montreal, Canada, where the new guidelines were presented.
“We are showing ADOs how to best harness the powers of public authorities in the fight against doping in sport - not all rules violations are analytical while there are many upstream perpetrators who fall outside sport’s jurisdiction,” added Fahey.
The document - ‘Coordinating Investigations and Sharing Anti-Doping Information and Evidence’ – has been produced as part of an international programme of work, and includes case studies into how national ADOs have worked with local agencies across a range of sports – including work at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics between WADA, the...