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EuroTrash Thursday!

The EuroTrash bag has just too much in it today, there are races all over Europe now, in Spain, France, Italy and the centre of the cycling World at this time of year, Belgium. The season is building up to those Northern Classics we love, bring it on! In the mean time we have all the latest results and some very good videos. Time to get ready for the week-end.

TOP STORY: RadioShack No More!
The French sports paper L’Equipe has reported that RadioShack, the American electrical goods retailer, will stop sponsoring the Leopard team at the end of the year. The reason given has been financial as well as changing their sponsorship plans and the all the doping controversies.

The surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner, RadioShack was tied to the Armstrong/Bruyneel tandem which joined up (fairly unsuccessfully) with the Leopard management company taking on most of both team’s riders and a lot of bad luck and not many good results.

RadioShack would have reaped a lot of publicity when Armstrong was riding, although that could have turned negative in recent times. Since the marriage between RadioShack/Bruyneel and Leopard both Schleck brothers had problems with Bruyneel’s management and then subsequent injuries and doping for Frank cut short any chance of good results. Then there was Fabian Cancellara’s Flanders and Olympic crash and it all added up to disappointment all round for a team that was billed as all conquering back at the start of 2012.

Team owner Flavio Becca denies that the RadioShack Company have discussed not renewing their contract for 2014 and the story is “pure speculation”.

It’s always sad to hear of a team losing its main sponsor, the team did appear to have turned a corner at their 2013 team launch with a completely different feeling compared to the previous year, but you can understand the US companies’ decision. Armstrong may have brought RadioShack into the sport but it’s quite possible he also helped it leave.

RadioShack at the start of 2012:

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2013
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling team rider Gianni Meersman bided his time perfectly in the back a select group, which gained a quick gap on the descent of Alt de Collsacreau (Category 3) inside the final 25km to win Stage 1.

Meersman sat near the back of the group, which included strong riders such as Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Robert Gesink (Blanco) and others as their gap quickly opened up to 28″ inside 10km. As the group continued to ride a high pace, it looked like the bunch sprint hopes of many would be thwarted.

Meersman waited inside the final km still near the back, and launched from a distance up the right side of the group. Meersman held his power and took the 16th win for OPQS, in three disciplines, in 2013. Valerio Agnoli (Astana) was 2nd, Valverde was 3rd.

The select group attacked on the descent of the final climb after the peloton had caught Cristiano Salerno (Cannondale) and Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge) who had been out front since the 15th kilometre. They had a lead of 8:40 after 40 kilometres, but with 50 to go the other teams started to pull them back and they were back in the fold on the final climb of the day, the 3rd Cat Alt de Collsacreu, ready for the action on the descent.

“I’m in a good mood about the victory,” Meersman said. “Volta Ciclista a Catalunya was one of my objectives. I want to do well in this race. During the race we passed through the finish line, so I knew the final climb and the descent. I knew the descent was a technical one and I needed to stay near the front. I did a good job on the descent and then in the final, when I arrived at the sprint I was in the last position. I wanted no one to surprise me. So, I launched the sprint very, very early — several hundred meters from the finish. After that, I didn’t think of anything but pulling and trying to do my best. I won and that’s fantastic, even considering the names at the front. I was forced to abandon Paris-Nice and was a little disappointed because I knew my condition was there, but I wasn’t able to show it. So, I stayed two days at home and then went to Calpe to train with Dries Devenyns and Pieter Serry. We did good work together and today, all the hard work paid off. Sometimes in cycling you have to be a little bit lucky and also have the good condition to do the right thing.”

I also want to thank the team,” Meersman continued. “They were unbelievable today. Especially Julien Vermote and Carlos Verona. They started pulling from the beginning and if they hadn’t done this, we would not have caught the break. So, they did a great job. This morning in our team briefing Rik Van Slycke said the day would either be for me or Andy Fenn. So, it was my day and I am so happy. Tomorrow is another stage for riders with my skills. This is the 8th victory of my career, but the quality of this win is also important. This year the goal was to be good in WorldTour races, and more consistent throughout the season. I want to be more of a presence in the peloton, so this was a good start.”

“This morning, I did not think it could be an insidious stage, I expected a bunch sprint,” said 8th placed Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida). “Anyway, I knew the downhill could be selective, so I preferred to cover it at the head of the group, in order to avoid crashes or troubles. Thanks to this decision, I could be in the head of the group when the selection was performed. I knew I would have had no chances in the sprint, but I’m happy because Niemiec was outstanding today, and I did not lose any seconds in this stage.”

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 1 Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:55:56
2. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
5. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco
8. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky.

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Overall After Stage 1:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:55:46
2. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana at 0:04
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:06
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 0:10
5. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco
8. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky.

Volta a Catalunya Stage 1:

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team had an aggressive strategy going into the predicted bunch sprint of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 2 on Tuesday, with Michal Golas attacking with a few other riders, and sprinter Andrew Fenn looking like he may be the sprinter after Golas and the attackers were caught.

Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge) was off the front again, this time joined by Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol) and Christophe Laborie (Sojasun), they were away from the first kilometre until they were caught with 1.7 kilometres to go. This was good news for Meier as he streched his lead in the sprints and the special sprint competitions and keeps his 2nd place in the KOM.

However, it was Fenn who actually served as a leadout for Gianni Meersman. While Fenn was riding up the left side, race leader Meersman — who won Stage 1 in a select group on Monday — launched his sprint on the right side. It was the perfect tactic, and Meersman held on with a powerful effort for the victory.

Meersman expanded his GC lead to 14 seconds over Valerio Agnoli (Astana) and 16 seconds on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya heads into a mountain stage for Stage 3. The 180.1km stage includes three categorized climbs, and a summit finish on HC Vallter (19.38km, average gradient 6%, max ramp 15%).

“Even today it was a great sprint,” Meersman said of his victory. “It was a great day for the team. At the beginning we expected not a lot of support from other teams, which is quite normal. But, just as it was yesterday, the team was really strong. We managed to control the race. The final circuit was nervous, but we were always on the front controlling. Then, I have to say the team did a great job in the last 2 kilometers. Dries did a great thing closing the gap on two Blanco riders off the front, and then Andy Fenn led me to the 200 meter point. It was perfect, so I came out from the bunch and I did my sprint and I won, so I am glad I was able to win again for me and the team. This team, everyone knows their job and it’s marvelous and super to ride with each and every one. Even for me personally it was a great moment in my career, It’s the first time I’ve won two races in a row. It’s really a special feeling after all the sacrifices I have done in my career. I am happy also for my family. I haven’t seen them often because of the races, but I am sure they will enjoy with me this moment. About the stage of tomorrow, we will go into the mountains. So it will be my turn to help and work for my teammates and try to give them back all the help they gave me for these two first stages.”

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 2 Result:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:48:10
2. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
3. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale
5. Robert Wagner (Ger) Blanco
6. Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
7. Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ
9. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
10. Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida.

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Overall After Stage 2:
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 7:43:46
2. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana at 0:14
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:16
4. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC at 0:20
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco
6. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky
7. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky
8. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
9. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp.

Stage 2 final:

The Movistar team dominated the final of Stage 3 with Nairo Quintana winning the stage and Alejandro Valverde took the overall lead. Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Martin Kohler (BMC), Karol Domagalski (Caja Rural) and Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Cannondale) broke away in the first 10 kilometres; they split before the last climb of the day leaving Edet out front. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) was first to attack from the peloton to catch Edet, but it was too soon and next to go was Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp). His lead was cut short by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) with Bradley Wiggins (Sky) on his wheel. At 1 kilometre to go, Wiggins attacked, but it was not hard enough to dislodge the favourites, like; Valverde, Rodriguez and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), plus stage winner Quintana. The two Movistar riders and Rodriguez pushed past Wiggins for Quintana to distance them by 6 seconds with the others just behind.

Stage winner Nairo Quintana: “I’m really satisfied. I hoped for this victory to come since I started my season in Andalucía, and especially in Paris-Nice, where a crash stopped myself getting a better result and left me sad. This victory is a boost for my moral and confidence. There was a strong headwind at the top of the climb and our strategy was waiting for that very last moment to attack. The attack by Wiggins took the speed up and it was really good for us to know the climb, since we knew that the hardest point came at the end of it. I saw a good moment to attack and it was just when Purito made his move, but I didn’t see him because I jumped earlier, as soon as I saw the turn where I had thought of attacking. I had good legs and could keep the speed until the end. Having Alejandro at your side makes you more calm, but not only yourself, also the entire squad. There was a strong cooperation between all of us these days. It was a pity that I missed the cut on day one, but we have Alejandro at the front and will fight for the overall win. I know the final climb of tomorrow’s stage too, since I did a recon last year, though that stage was shortened. Let’s hope the legs stay as well as today. This victory is for my family and all the team: not only my team-mates, but also the sports directors and staff that make all this possible.”

Overall leader Alejandro Valverde: “The headwind into the final climb was the key: it was stupid to try and make a move because you would end up losing energy and not opening any gaps. Everyone was awaiting for the final kilometre and some time gaps were formed even though it was all played within such a short terrain. I kept attention on Purito, because I knew he was going to give it a try, but Nairo was wise and anticipated his move. Even though we’re all on the limit in such stages, my legs were rather good. It was a perfect day for us with my leader jersey and Nairo’s victory. I’m as happy with him winning as if I had won the stage myself, because it’s his first this season, and I think it will be really important for him. The team was sensational all day, keeping the gaps with the break short and taking efforts on the riders pushing through the climb. We’re getting the lead and there’s still a long way to go, but you’re confident when you have such team-mates – they’re a strong guarantee. Tomorrow’s stage is going be a really, really hard one, more than today. We’ll be reaching heights over 2,000 meters above sea level again and the finish is steep, especially after a 217-kilometer stage. We’ll see how it all ends.”

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 3 Result:
1. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar in 5:01:20
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:06
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:09
6. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
9. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:21.

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Overall After Stage 3:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 12:45:28
2. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky at 0:04
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:07
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
6. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:26
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco at 0:30
8. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
10. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 0:35.

Stage 3 final:

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali 2013
Stage 1ª of Wednesdays split stage went to Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli) who made a bold attack with under one kilometre to go, just behind him at 1 second, his team mate Mattia Gavazzi won the bunch sprint. Earlier in the race Alessandro Mazzi (Utensilnord) went on a solo break and at one time had a lead of over 5 minutes but was caught with 10 kilometres to go.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali Stage 1a Result:
1. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli in 2:22:15
2. Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:01
3. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare
4. Filippo Baggio (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia-Fondriest
5. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
7. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare
8. Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
9. Marco Zamparella (Ita) Utensilnord Ora24.eu
10. Sergey Shilov (Rus) Lokosphinx.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali Overall After Stage 1a:
1. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli in 2:22:09
2. Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:03
3. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare at 0:05
4. Filippo Baggio (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia-Fondriest at 0:07
5. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
7. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare
8. Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
9. Marco Zamparella (Ita) Utensilnord Ora24.eu
10. Sergey Shilov (Rus) Lokosphinx.

The afternoon’s Stage 1b team time trial was won by the Katusha A team from the Cannondale B team. Each team was split into A and B team for the 11.2 kilometre test from Sant’Angelo to Gatteo Mare. Maxim Belkov (Katusha) moved into the overall lead ahead of team mate Sergei Chernetki.

Team NetApp-Endura came in third at the team time trial, eight seconds behind the winning team Katusha. After the first day of the tour, Jan Barta and Bartosz Huzarski from Team NetApp – Endura are currently seventh and eighth in the general classification. Both riders were able to win last year’s event with a double victory.

“Today we were close to victory and are very happy with the podium. It was important to us that we keep all our options open for our captains in the overall rankings It turned out really well for us because with Jan Barta and Bartosz Huzarski we are in striking distance,” says Alex Sans Vega, Sport Director of Team NetApp – Endura.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali Stage 1b Result:
1. Katusha – A in 13:15
2. Cannondale Pro Cycling – B at 0:05
3. Team NetApp-Endura – A at 0:08
4. Lampre-Merida – A at 0:11
5. Lokosphinx – A at 0:11
6. RusVelo – A at 0:17
7. Astana Pro Team – A at 0:21
8. ASC Dukla Praha – A at 0:22
9. Vini Fantini-Selle Italia – B at 0:23
10. CCC Polsat Polkowice – A at 0:26.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali Overall After Stage 1b:
1. Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha in 2:35:31
2. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Katusha at 0:02
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 0:05
4. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale
5. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale
6. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale at 0:06
7. Jan Barta (Cze) NetApp-Endura at 0:08
8. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp-Endura
9. José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) NetApp-Endura
10. Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) NetApp-Endura.

Dwar Door Vlaanderen 2013
Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) snatched victory from under the nose of Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) who had attacked from a group of 10 riders after the last climb of the day; the Nokereberg with around 7 kilometres to go to the finish in Waregem. The brave Frenchman ran out of energy as Ian Stannard (Sky) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) worked hard to pull him back and Gatto took full advantage of them and won the sprint from Borut Bozic (Astana) and Mathew Hayman (Sky).

Dwar Door Vlaanderen Result:
1. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia in 4:43:40
2. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana
3. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky
4. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM
5. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar
6. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana
9. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 0:04
10. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:24.

The last 10 kilometres:

Cholet-Pays de Loire 2013
Milano-Sanremo wasn’t the only race on Sunday, there was also the Cholet-Pays de Loire in France. Europcar’s Damien Gaudin out sprinted his two escape companions; Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling) and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) at the end of the 206 kilometre race. Matthais Brandle (IAM Cycling) and Russell Hampton (Raleigh) had been with the three leaders, but Hampton couldn’t hold on with 100 kilometres to go and Brandle couldn’t stay with the others during the attacks on the last climb. This is Damien Gaudin second win of the year after his win in the Paris-Nice prologue.

Cholet-Pays de Loire Result:
1. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Europcar in 5:12:33
2. Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:01
3. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 0:03
4. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:06
5. Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ at 1:03
6. Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ at 1:11
7. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Kévin Reza (Fra) Europcar
9. Patrick Schelling (Swi) IAM Cycling
10. Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis.

Cholet-Pays de Loire highlights:

Alex Rasmussen Back with Garmin-Sharp
The Danish, Alex Rasmussen has announced that he will rejoin his former team; Garmin-Sharp now that his one and a half year suspension is over. He had originally be allowed to race by the Danish cycling federation, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport overruled that decision and gave him the 18 month suspension for his whereabouts violation. “It’s really great, and what I have always hoped for,” he said to feltet.dk. Now I just have to sign, and then we go out and deliver it. Now I’m finally back, which is what I have always believed. I simply cannot wait to get started. I would really like to race on Wednesday, but it’s probably too close. So Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem is very interesting. I have to start somewhere, so it might as well be there. Physically, the shape is good, now I just have to mentally prepare myself for it, so it’s probably good just to wait until Sunday.” The relieved Dane explained; “right now I am just happy that I even have a team to race on, and then, through my results, I can prove that I am still a very good rider.”

Rasmussen rides the “6 Days”.

Colombia at Coppi e Bartali to start intense Giro build-up
Press Release: It’s just over 40 days for Team Colombia to Naples and to the start of a great adventure called Giro d’Italia. A route paved with plenty of fixtures is expecting Claudio Corti’s guys in the set-up to the Corsa Rosa: a very intense agenda starting with the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, from March 20 to 24.

Aside from two time trials, one individual and one for teams, the Italian stage race features two lumpy stages with several short an steep climbs in the finale, and an uphill finish at Piane di Mocogno that could leave a significant mark on the GC.

In Emilia-Romagna (Northern Italy), Sports Directors Oscar Pellicioli and Oliverio Rincon will rely on a strong line-up, led by Fabio Duarte and Leonardo Duque. Carlos Julian Quintero will look to show his good early-season condition once again, while Edwin Avila and Juan Esteban Arango will join Duque in the mix for the mass sprints. Duber Quintero, Robinson Chalapud and Juan Pablo Suarez round out the race line-up.

Team Colombia’s season will now continue with the Criterium International, taking place in Corsica (France) on March 23rd and 24th, and no less than four races in the following weekend: GP Miguel Indurain (March 30) and Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja (31) in Spain and Route Adelie de Vitre (30) and Val d’Ille Classic (31) in France.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (March 20-24):
Juan Esteban Arango, Edwin Avila, Robinson Chalapud, Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque, Carlos Julian Quintero, Duber Quintero, Juan Pablo Suarez.
Sports Directors: Oscar Pellicioli & Oliverio Rincon.

2012 Coppi e Bartali stage 4:

MTN-Qhubeka at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will line up in Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali tomorrow. The race takes place over five days and is six stages long. The opening day is made up of two stages where stage 1a is only 99.5km long, then stage 1b will feature a team time trial in the afternoon over 11.2km.

Italian, Kristian Sbaragli is looking forward to the race in his home country after recently completing two WorldTour events, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan Sanremo where is was part of the winning team. Sbaragli said, “I feel really good after experiencing racing at a WorldTour level. I am feeling good on the bike and hope to do well this week. The opening stage really suits me as well as the last stage on Sunday. I know that it will be a very hard race with some of the biggest teams in the world here but I will give my best and nothing is impossible if I have good legs.”

The race also features an individual time trial on Saturday. Before winning the national road title, Jay Thomson won the silver medal in the South African National time trial championships recently.

“I have a bit of a cold after the crazy weather at Milan Sanremo but I feel ok,” Thomson said. “The TT will definitely be a goal for me and I’ll give it a good bash even though it’s only 14km long.”
Thanks to the MTN-Qhubeka.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (Italy) – (March 20-24/ UCI 2.1):
Ferekalsi Debesay (ERI), Meron Russom (ERI), Jay Thomson (RSA), Kristian Sbaragli (ITA), Jaco Venter (RSA), Songezo Jim (RSA), Sergio Pardilla (ESP).

Coppi e Bartali:

Lotto Belisol: Selections upcoming Races
Dwars door Vlaanderen:
Dirk Bellemakers, Gaëtan Bille, Sander Cordeel, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Maarten Neyens, Fréderique Robert and Tosh Van der Sande.
Sports director: Bart Leysen.

E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke:
Lars Bak, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Vicente Reynes, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Tosh Van der Sande and Frederik Willems.
Sports director: Herman Frison.

Gent – Wevelgem:
Lars Bak, Dirk Bellemakers, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Frederik Willems.
Sports director: Herman Frison.

2012 E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke Highlights:

BMC Racing Team Reveals Belgian Race Rosters
Press Release: The BMC Racing Team will field nearly identical rosters for upcoming cobblestone races in Belgium: E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke Friday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.

Greg Van Avermaet is a past third-place finisher (in 2008) on the BMC Racing Team’s E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke roster for the 211-kilometer race while Thor Hushovd is a past winner of Gent-Wevelgem (in 2006) and reigning world road champion Philippe Gilbert was third in 2010. The 237.6-km race is celebrating its 75th edition this year.

Download the combined race sheet (PDF with roster, bios, statistics, etc.): https://bit.ly/Xnncot.

E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke roster (March 22):
Adam Blythe (GBR), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).

Gent-Wevelgem roster (March 24):
Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).
Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA) & John Lelangue (BEL).
Performance Manager: Allan Peiper (AUS).

Retro Gent-Wevelgem 1985:

New opportunities in Belgian Single-Day Races for Blanco
Following several difficult outings in southern Europe, the Blanco Pro Cycling Team will be present in Flanders in the E3 Harelbeke (Friday, 22 March) and Gent-Wevelgem (Sunday, 24 March). The line-up is as follows: Lars Boom, David Tanner, Rick Flens, Jos van Emden, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Maarten Wynants and Mark Renshaw at their disposal for both races. In both E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, Lars Boom will be the leader.

“I am looking forward to it” said Boom who added, “After Tirreno-Adriatico, my fitness is as it should be” Boom is focusing in the early season on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the early season but was quick to state, “I don’t want anybody thinking that I see the E3 and Gent-Wevelgem as warm-ups. Whilst they might be races better suited to the sprinters, I am still out to win them”.

Sports Director Jan Boven: “Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico did not go as well as hoped but a new day brings new chances”. For Sep Vanmarcke, the E3 will also serve a test. The Belgian is just recovered from a knee injury sustained in the Tirreno-Ardriatrico. Boven remarked, “Following the E3, we’ll see how he is doing and what we can expect in Gent-Wevelgem”.

Maarten Tjallingii, Mark Renshaw, David Tanner and Maarten Wynants all rode last weekend in Milan–San Remo. Jan Boven and Erik Dekker will have to wait and see just how well they have recuperated. “We’ll keep an eye on them in the coming days” said Boven, who added “After De Omloop Het Nieuwsblad we saw just how long that can sometimes take.”
Thanks to the Blanco Team.

Last years Gent-Wevelgem:

Lampre-Merida in Belgium
After the foretaste of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the end of February, Team Lampre-Merida will be back on Belgian roads to take part in two World Tour events: E3 Prijs Vlaanderen–Harelbeke (22 March) and Gand-Wevelgem (24 March).

Sport director Fabrizio Bontempi will give hints and instructions to Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Petacchi, Mattia Cattaneo, Davide Cimolai, Elia Favilli, Massimo Graziato, Andrea Palini and Davide Viganò.

“Pozzato and Petacchi will be our key cyclists: Filippo is willing to continue the feeling with Harelbeke race, Petacchi has good fitness and he would like to realize an interesting performance in Gand-Wevelgem,” sport director Fabrizio Bontempi said. “For what concerns the other team members, it’s important to point out that the main characteristic is the youth: Cattaneo and Palini are facing their early experiences in Belgium, but they’re showing a huge enthusiasm; Graziato in 2012 exhibited interesting initiative and Favilli perform well in races, but we need to consider that Elia in the past weeks had some physical troubles. Cimolai’s condition allows us to rely on him and we’ll be able to do the same on Viganò: he performed intense training after he underwent surgery to remove the plate that had been placed on the collarbone after the crash during 2012 Tour de France.”

Gent-Wevelgem on the cobbled Kemmelberg:

Alberto Contador will not ride the Criterium International in Corsica
Alberto Contador will not attend this weekend (March 23 and 24) the Criterium International due to a heavy flu suffered since returning from Italy, where he participated in the Tirreno-Adriatico and the GP Nobili.

Severe weather suffered in these races, with cold and rain most of the days, have affected the health of the leader of Saxo-Tinkoff. Alberto Contador, according to Bjarne Riis and team doctors have decided that the best thing to do right now is to recover quietly and resume training as soon as possible, in order to arrive in good condition to his next target on this early stage of the season, the Tour of the Basque Country.
Thanks to Jacinto Vidarte for the information.

Team Blanco at the Critérium International
Press Release: The Blanco Pro Cycling Team plans to join the battle on all fronts this weekend in the Critérium International. Sports Director Michiel Elijzen, who shares the responsibility in Corsica for the riders together with Frans Maassen and Nico Verhoeven, thinks that his team’s chances are good in not only the flat first stage but the time trial and the final uphill stage as well.

In the first stage over 89 kilometres on Saturday, Elijzen is counting on Theo Bos and Graeme Brown. He remarked, “They make a good team. Theo has a lot of confidence in Graeme and if he can continue the form we saw in the Tour of Langkawi and the Volta ao Algarve, he could actually win it. That’s what we are shooting for”.

For the seven kilometre long time trial on Saturday and the last stretch on Sunday, Elijzen is banking on Wilco Kelderman and Bauke Mollema. Kelderman rode a good prologue in Paris-Nice and a captured the young rider’s jersey. “Wilco and Bauke can finish well in both races. Hopefully that will deliver them a good position in the general classification”, said Elijzen.

Team line-up:
Bram Tankink, Graeme Brown, Theo Bos, Juan Manuel Gárate, Tom Leezer, Wilco Kelderman, and Bauke Mollema. // Sports Directors: Frans Maassen, Nico Verhoeven, and Michiel Elijzen.

Evans, Van Garderen Head To Critérium International
Press Release: Critérium International may only be two days and three stages long, but defending champion Cadel Evans is treating it as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the Tour de France.

Time Trial Always Important
The race that begins Saturday will likely be the only one Evans races with teammate Tejay van Garderen before the Tour de France. “Therefore, it’s really important for both of us, as it is important to race with everyone whom you ride with at the Tour before the Tour,” Evans said. “I look forward to racing with him and getting to know him a bit better in our steps toward a good performance at the Tour.” Van Garderen said the Stage 2 individual time trial – which Evans won by 0.3 seconds over Michael Rogers last year – will help him gauge his form. “It’s short, so maybe not perfectly suited for me,” he said. “I haven’t seen if it’s technical or has climbing but I will get a chance to recon it a few days before we do it.” BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Yvon Ledanois said the final stage, mountain-top finish on the Col de l’Ospedale is the perfect final stage. “I think with Tejay and Cadel and a strong team around them, we have a good opportunity to get another win,” he said.

Download the official race sheet (PDF with roster, bios, statistics, etc.): https://bit.ly/WHga1V.

Critérium International roster (March 23-24):
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Cadel Evans (AUS), Mathias Frank (SUI), Sebastian Lander (DEN), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Dominik Nerz (GER), Tejay van Garderen (USA).
Sport Directors: Yvon Ledanois (FRA) & John Lelangue (BEL).

2012 Critérium International highlights:

Wiggle Etape Cymru Hits 1000 Entrants and Welcomes New Partners Giant and Mavic
Press Release: Following on from a stellar 2012 event, it comes as no surprise that places are being snapped up quickly for this year’s Wiggle Etape Cymru, having already passed 1000 entrants, a 145% increase against this time last year.

After taking ownership in early 2012, Human Race have worked tirelessly to ensure the Wiggle Etape Cymru is now recognised as one of the ‘must do’ events on the UK sportive calendar, with 98% of participants rating the 2012 event overall as “Good” or “Excellent”.

As well as the incredibly positive feedback received from participants the event has also been widely acclaimed within the cycling industry and as a result has attracted a range of respected cycling brands who have now partnered with the event, including the new Title Partner Wiggle.

The latest brands to partner with the event include the world’s leading bike brand Giant, who will be providing bike checks and mechanical support for participants from the venue, and Mavic who will be providing riders with a Tour de France style support experience on the route. As more respected brands look set to add their support the 2013 participant experience will continue to improve from the already extremely well received 2012 event.

The 2013 edition takes place on Sunday 8th September and once again offers participants the unparalleled experience of riding through the stunning Welsh countryside on traffic free roads.

Starting and finishing the Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse in Wrexham, the 92 mile route features some truly testing terrain. Passing through quaint Denbighshire and Wrexham villages, riders will be able to take in the spectacular views of the Clwydian range (an area of outstanding beauty), while tackling lung-busting climbs such as Panorama, The Shelf, World’s End and the iconic Horseshoe Pass.

Olympic medallist and Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas is the event ambassador and speaks of great scenes awaiting those who are lucky enough to get a place: “My home country of Wales makes me feel so lucky to be a cyclist. North Wales, in particular, is a really special area with quiet roads, tough climbs and the reward of spectacular panoramic views.”

He continued: “At nearly 100 miles, the Wiggle Etape Cymru is a grueling sportive but everyone taking part will be rewarded with a fantastic day in the saddle on stunning roads.”

Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race said: “The Wiggle Etape Cymru is a wonderful event and it is great to hear that we have passed 1000 entrants so early on in the year. We’re delighted to welcome the new partnerships that will continue to improve the rider experience and quality of the event.”

Participants in the event will be encouraged to fundraise for the Official National Charity Partner Macmillan Cancer Support. The money raised will be used to help Macmillan support not only people affected by cancer, but everyone their cancer has an impact on, from partners, to children, to friends and carers.

Riders will also be supporting Local Charity Partner Nightingale House. The charity provides specialist palliative care services, completely free-of-charge, to patients and their families across a wide area stretching from Wrexham, Flintshire and East Denbighshire to Barmouth and the border towns including Oswestry and Whitchurch.

Entries cost £59. For more information on the Wiggle Etape Cymru, please visit: https://www.humanrace.co.uk/cycling.

2012 Wiggle Etape Cymru:

Comments after Classicissima from Lampre-Merida
Clear analysis by Pozzato at the end of an unusual Milano-Sanremo, which was won by Ciolek with no Passo del Turchino and Le Manie climbs. The bunch stopped in Ovada and then the race started again in Arenzano.

“The snow and the stop changed the race, but it’s also important to point out that, at the end, the key riders were in the head of the race battling for the victory,” Pozzato said. “I have regrets, because I maybe spent too much energy after the Cipressa descent to close the gap to a little bunch of the favourite cyclists. Without that effort, I think I could have had a chance to battle for a top result.”

About the team: “My mates were fantastic! It was not so easy in the snow and in the cold, but they made huge efforts. Malori, who had also crashed in the morning, made something outstanding on the Cipressa. I’m sorry I could not complete their work.”

About Ciolek: “He was not in my group of favourites but, when I looked at him during the second part of the race, I understood he could be very competitive.” Pozzato tried in the final kilometres to escape the bunch, but he was caught with 100 meters to go for 33rd place.

Milano-Sanremo 2013 passes Silvano d`Orba:

All new: REVOLVER 2013 – Get 30% off for the next 48 hours!
• Get it here: https://www.thesufferfest.com/video-sufferfests/details-revolver/
• And use the code SWEET16 at check-out and get 30% off!!

Press Release: Revolver. What a dear old friend. The kind that you can meet up with, no matter how long it’s been. Mind you, said friend will shake your hand, then club you to within an inch of your senses, kick you when you’re down, then pour lactic acid all over you while looking for some tacks to roll you in.

One of the first videos we ever released, the Minions decided it was time to freshen up our old friend, Revolver. But we did more than that. This isn’t some simple botox job. Yes, we kept the same cool soundtrack. And we couldn’t let the great descent of the Col d’Solour by Cyclefilm go. And there was no way we were going to change the single most effective 45minute workout on the planet.

But, there were things to improve. We put in the fantastic new graphics that have made Blender famous. We went out and licensed all new footage from 2012 and 2013: the Track, Cyclocross and Road World Championships all make an appearance. We put in more women since they’re so great. And we made a dramatic improvement in the resolution, bringing you an all new Revolver 2013 that’s in near-HD quality. Oh, we also added a dinosaur.

If you already have Revolver, then Revolver 2013 certainly isn’t a necessity. But if you’re looking to see your old friend in a new light, get it. And, hey, it certainly makes that DOUBLE Revolver session you’ve been thinking about a lot more interesting. If you don’t have Revolver yet, then you’re missing out on one of the most painful, and profitable, sessions you can possibly do. Revolverists (as they’re known) are devout about this workout – do it and you’ll find out why once you bring Revolver into your life, things out on the road will never be the same again.

You can buy Revolver 2013 right here.
Don’t forget to use the code SWEET16 and save 30% off for the next 48 hours.

A Very Hard Day on the Bike!
A brutal day for a race. Eurosport commentator Magnus Bäckstedt tells the story of his worst day of racing with images from the 2013 Milano San Remo. Thanks to Vanessa at Viral Verse.

Buy Original Race Jerseys for Charity
If you have ever wanted to own a real race jersey that still has the number on its back, here is your chance to help others and get your hands on an autographed Milano-Sanremo jersey from all1sport.com. Check out the www.all1sport.com web-site here and make a bid.

Rodania, That’s Belgium!
If you have ever been to a race in Belgium you will know this iconic race lead-car by watchmaker; Rodania. Makes the hairs stand up on the back of the neck!

Any comments drop me a line, email address: [email protected] or Twitter. And there is the PezCyclingNews Twitter and Facebook Fan Page.

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