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EuroTrash Thursday!

EuroTrash Thursday is always a full bag and today is no exception. It makes a change that someone is writing about PEZ, but Bicycle Retailer got a scoop. We have the results and video of the Scheldeprijs, Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Circuit de la Sarth and the Vuelta a La Rioja. Paris-Roubaix is on Sunday and we have the team/rider news, plus all the other bits of cyclo-news you expect. Coffee time I think?

TOP STORY: BicycleRetailer.com Reports New PEZ Site Imminent!
It’s strange how fast news gets around; the soon to be released, redesigned PEZ web-site was a top secret mission, kept well under wraps, but www.bicycleretailer.com got a sniff of the launch and the beans were spilt! Bicycle Retailer hunted the Pez down for a quote on the launch: “It doesn’t look anything like Pez used to look, it’s going to be really cool, it’s going to be rocking in the free world,” Pestes said. So any day now the new PEZ will be unveiled, same place, same time (available 24 hours a day).

Here is the link to the Bicycle Retailer exclusive.

Talking of Rumours: Who is Clasicómano?
An article in the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant is making the connection between Juan Antonio Flecha and the code names Clasicómano and No. 33, based on the files of Operación Puerto. Now this brings up two points of thought.

There wouldn’t be any speculation on any of these code names or the blood bags that the Spanish Guardia Civil found, if Dr. Fuentes spilt the beans or if someone asked him in court. At the moment all the identities of the so far unnamed clients of the doctor is conjecture, the footballers, tennis players and other athletes are just that; unnamed. Until either Fuentes says exactly who they are or the samples are tested and connected to someone we don’t know who they are.

Which brings up the second thought. Why is the newspaper looking at a cyclist, a cyclist who has a very good Classics palmarés with lots of high placings, but the only Classic he has won is the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Why is it not looking at the higher paid footballers or tennis players?

Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Vacansoleil-DCM) and his Bianchi Oltre XR. Thanks to Fred Morini and this video clip:

Scheldeprijs 2013
Three time winner of this Belgian Classic; Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) was thwarted this year (again) by the German super sprinter Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) who won his second Schelderprijs in a row. The 204 kilometre race kicked off from a cold and windy Antwerp and the first break included: Grégory Rast (RadioShack Leopard), Matthew Brammeier & Mart Ojavee (Champion System), Jacobus Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Kenneth Van Bilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Stefano Borchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Arman Kamyshev (Astana), Christopher Juul-Jensen (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Koen Barbe (Crelan-Euphony), they and the peloton struggled with the headwind. Sunday’s Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) was caught in one of many crashes, but was reported as unhurt. The escape was pulled back with around 80 kilometres before the finish in Schoten. Next to go up the road was Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) with Matthew Brammeier (Champion System) and Stefano Borchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) from the earlier break, they managed a lead of 3 minutes, but the sprinters teams; Argos-Shimano, Lotto Belisol and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step with help from Blanco and Sky they were caught with two 16 kilometre laps to go. Coming into the finish and Omega Pharma where too far back for Cavendish and Lotto had lost the plot, where as Argos has some control as Tom Veelers shepherded Kittel to the front for him to unleash his sprint with 250 metres to go. Cavendish came from quite far back, but it was just too far for him to manage that first place and had to make do with second as Vacansoleil-DCM’s Barry Markus was third.

Marcel Kittel said after the finish: “I was really focused on this day today and it’s awesome to win again, I was really lucky Tom Veelers could bring me to the front. From 250 metres to go, I went full gas on the left side. There was a bit of a headwind, but I was able to hold it.”

A disappointed Mark Cavendish explained his less than perfect finish: “The race went OK — it was windy, but the guys rode brilliantly all day always present at the front,” Cavendish said. “In the last kilometres it was a bit hectic and we had some problems with keeping good position in the final. In the sprint I was about 20th position and I was coming, coming, coming, and I went to go with about 250 meters to go but Feillu was coming around too. So I had to leave about 50 meters more to start. I just ran out of time, you know, and if I’m not in the top five positions it’s usually too far back. But Marcel Kittel won and it’s not like he’s not one of the best sprinters in the world. So I can’t be too disappointed today, losing a close finish to a guy like that. I was really excited to race here today, as I’m on a Belgian team now. Also, it’s a special day as a year ago my little princess Delilah was born, it’s her first birthday. I missed the race a year ago today because she was due to be born. So I wanted to come here and win for her, for her birthday present. It’s really nice, I love my family being here. They put my life into perspective. It takes the whole pressure from the day away.”

Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Johnny Cantwell finished 15th: “It was good to see Chris (Juul-Jensen) fight for it out there but unfortunately, the break didn’t last as long as I could have hoped. In the finale, we supported Johnny who pushed the bike across the finish line as number 15. We took no chances in the end, as we mainly focus on Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, “said sports director Lars Michaelsen.

And Chris Juul-Jensen, was in the early break, adds: “It was a good feeling to feel the wind in your face but unfortunately, the field caught up on us fairly early in the race. Now we need to relax a few days and take a look at the route for Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. I’m really looking forward to it. I did the race as a junior for many years ago and since then, I’ve dreamed of doing it as a professional so undoubtedly, it will be a great experience. I will do what I can to support Matti, “said the young Dane.

Scheldeprijs Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano in 4:41:00
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro
4. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
6. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
7. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto Belisol
8. Theo Bos (Ned) Blanco
9. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

The final kilometres:

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2013
Stage 1 of the six stage Tour of the Basque Country was won by Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), but the race did not finish in a bunch sprint as a crash split the bunch on the last climb of the day leaving 17 riders out front to do battle for the honours. Thanks to the tireless work by his teammates, Gerrans was well-positioned when the front group took shape. Pieter Weening also made the split and immediately jumped to the head of the bunch to set a blistering pace down the mountain towards the finish. In the final kilometre, Weening perfectly delivered Gerrans to the line. Gerrans also took the overall lead.

“The plan of attack was formed around me today,” said Gerrans. “The whole team committed to the stage win. It’s nice to repay the team’s work at the end of the day. Christian [Meier] did a great job looking after me early on in the stage. The rest of the guys rode fantastic in the hills. They set me up for the stage win and Pieter up for GC [the general classification].”
Sport Director Neil Stephens makes his European residence in the Basque Country and lives less than an hour away from today’s course. When he saw the race route, he suspected today’s stage was one on which Gerrans could win. His suspicions were confirmed after he recon’ed the stage two weeks ago.

“I know these roads, and when I heard about this stage a month ago, I knew it was a day for Simon,” said Stephens. “Ten days ago, I came out and previewed the stage. This morning, Pieter, Simon and I left the hotel a little early and we had a look at the last 30 kilometres. We obviously couldn’t have predicted the crash at the end, but the rest of the race unfolded exactly as we would have expected. If we were going to win today, it was going to be with Simon. We put all our energy into him.”

With the end goal in mind, Stephens directed the team to save their legs during the early action. The field allowed five riders up the road, and when a two man breakaway formed from the original five escapees, teams with GC ambitions controlled the chase.

“I asked the boys not to get involved with the early action,” explained Stephens. “I was quite concerned about a series of hard climbs 50-60 kilometres into today’s stage. I wanted the boys to conserve energy for that. It was important for them to get over that harder area in order to execute what we wanted to do at the finish. It was a small risk not to be involved, but the race was well-controlled by teams that have aspirations with GC.”

Laurent Didier (RadioShack Leopard) and Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) gained a maximum advantage of 5:15 during the second hour of racing. The gap began to tumble by the mid-point of the stage.

Eighteen kilometres from the finish in Elgoibar, on the lower slopes of the Alto de San Miguel, it was gruppo compatto. A crash at the summit, with 7.5 kilometres left to race, allowed an elite group of 17 riders to form. Weening lead the group down the twisty descent of the sixth and final categorised climb.

“We were lucky not to have any of our riders go down in the crash,” said Stephens. “Simon Clarke had to put a foot out and Wes [Wesley Sulzberger] was pushed into a wall, but no one hit the floor.”

“After the crash at the summit, Pieter saw that I had made the split and was in good position,” added Gerrans. “He did a fantastic job on the descent and in the final. It was basically thanks to him that I won. He set me up perfectly.”

A second group gave chase down the mountain. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) heralded the 20 riders in hot pursuit of the group ahead in the hopes to limit the damage to his general classification ambitions. The first group of chasers had closed the gap to 5 seconds by the time Gerrans outkicked Peter Velits (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) for the win.

“Pieter is a great team player,” said Stephens. “He drilled it for Gerro and whatever seconds he got for himself was purely luck and a bit of a reward for the hard work he did for a teammate. In the end, we achieved both objectives. Simon won the stage and Pieter is in a good spot for the overall.”

“It was an effort from everybody today,” Stephens continued. “All the riders were great, and the staff was really good as usual. When we don’t win, it’s not because we’re not putting in the effort. We’re putting in the effort all the time, and we’re happy when our efforts produce a win. Congratulations to all the team and huge thanks to our supporters.”

“This is perfect,” said Gerrans. “I focused on winning one specific stage at Catalunya and another stage here. I’ve accomplished both goals, and it shows that my form is coming up nicely. My preparation for Milan-Sanremo wasn’t what I had hoped, but it’s turning around to work out really well leading to the Ardennes. We’re still a couple weeks out, and I just need to keep building on the form that I have now. We’ll have to take a bit more responsibility in the race tomorrow now that I’m in yellow,” he said with a smile. “I’m sure the team is up for it.”

Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) crashed in the first stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco on the top of the final climb, seven kilometers before the finish. The rider in front of Van den Broeck crashed and that’s how Jurgen fell as well. VdB hit his right elbow and right knee. A first check-up didn’t show any fractures. It’s waiting till tomorrow to see what the consequences will be. Our leader was riding on the front rows of the peloton on the Alto de Aiastia, the crash happened in the front and so only seventeen riders were heading to the finish.

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team riders Dries Devenyns and Tony Martin also crashed on the Alto de San Miguel. Dries Devenyns abandoned, and was taken to the hospital immediately for further examinations. Devenyns was diagnosed with a broken radial bone of the left arm as a consequence of the crash. Tomorrow Dries will return to Belgium to pass further examinations with the team medical staff, and possibly undergo surgery.

“I was there in the first position, but in a certain moment Van Den Broeck crashed in front of me and I couldn’t avoid him,” Devenyns said. “I went to the ground, and we were also going at a high speed. Now I have this fracture of my left arm for a third time. I am not really lucky with these kind of things in my career. It is really a shame because the condition was good and I was looking forward to the Ardennes Classics. Now I have to stay calm, as there is nothing I can do. I can only recover as best I can.”

Tony Martin was able to finish the race, but immediately went to the hospital to determine the extent of injuries to his left wrist after hitting the ground hard. The X-rays of today did not show any fractures. More examination will be done in the next days if necessary.

“We were riding in the first part of the peloton and I only heard the noise of the crash and suddenly we were laying on the ground,” Martin said. “There was immediate pain in my left wrist and I thought maybe it was the old fracture of last year during the Tour de France. But the first thing was to get to the final and not to lose too much time, then to see at the hospital if there were any fractures. Fortunately, the results seemed to exclude any fractures. So, it’s more important that I am OK, than the fact that I lost time.” Tony Martin will take the start of the second stage.

Saxo-Tinkoff DS, Philippe Mauduit: “We took the responsibility of setting the pace early on but let the two escapees have their saying until the finale where we pulled them back in. In the pretty chaotic finale we had both Alberto and Roman (Kreuziger) in the first group which we’re happy with. The boys are all in great shape, which they demonstrated today and they are eager to make a good result here.”

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Stage 1 Result:
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 4:06:33
2. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha
4. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana
5. Jacob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
6. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky
7. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
9. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar
10. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Overall After Stage 1:
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 4:06:33
2. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha
4. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana
5. Jacob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
6. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky
7. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
9. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar
10. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge.

Stage 1:

Stage 2 and the second stage win for the Orica-GreenEdge team, this time for Daryl Impey. Second on the stage was Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) which put him into the overall lead and Angel Vicioso (Katusha) was third. The stage was enlivened by Amets Txurruka of the Spanish ProConti Caja Rural team, who had been away most of stage 1, he went for a solo ride today making sure of his KOM jersey lead by taking all the available points until the last climb of the Alto de Zaldiaran. Old stager; Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) along with Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) attacked the peloton just before the penultimate (Alto de San Martin) climb to catch Txurruka before the summit of the Zaldiaran for Malori to cross first. Malori tried to stay away on the descent, but the race was all together with 5 kilometres to the finish in Vitoria (Gasteiz). The Orica-GreenEdge team rode hard for Impey to repeat his win of last year on this stage, even Simon Gerrans the overall leader took his turn to bring Impey to the front for the win.

“It’s a fantastic win,” said stage winner Daryl Impey. “It was a bit like last year, really. The whole team was involved with the result. Christian [Meier] and [Michael] Albasini did all of the early work. Wes [Wesley Sulzberger], Clarkey [Simon Clarke] and Pieter Weening did their bit in the final. From there, I had two of the fastest guys in the race as my lead out.We talked a lot this morning about who we’d race for in the sprint – me or Michael,” added Impey. “The two of us share a lot of similar qualities as sprinters, and either of us would have given up our chances for the other. We started the day intending to work for me, and mid-way through the race, I confirmed that I was feeling really good, so we stuck with that decision.”

“I wasn’t quite sure what the situation was on the line,” Simon Gerrans admitted. “I actually thought that I might have kept the jersey. Either way, I was happy to sacrifice the jersey and give Daryl the opportunity to take the stage win.” Although he won the opening stage yesterday and finished on bunch time today, Gerrans ceded the jersey to Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) and dropped down to seventh in the overall standings.

Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) made a brave attempt on the last but one climb: “Today I knew that in the end someone would have tried,” explained Adriano. “We agreed with the team to try and I thought that with the company of an athlete like Voigt I hoped to go to the finish. Unfortunately, during the rise Jens has run out of steam and I had to arrange myself alone, knowing it was the only opportunity for the sprinters, I was certain that behind me the work of the teams would have been important. I’m sorry for the stage, but I feel that my condition is good and I am convinced I can give a big hand to my captains in the coming days.”

Lotto Belisol’s Jelle Vanendert left the race early in the stage. He had stomach problems and couldn’t keep in any food. From the moment the road went uphill he was dropped. Vanendert will undergo some tests in Belgium, then will be clear what the consequences will be for his program. Dennis, the youngest of the Vanendert brothers, became fifth today. The stage ended with a sprint that was won by Daryl Impey. One kilometer before the finish Dennis was relatively far in the group and at the end he was hindered. Jurgen Van den Broeck felt pretty good today after yesterday’s crash. He finished in a chasing group at forty seconds. Bart De Clercq is still five seconds behind the leader in the GC, which is now Francesco Gavazzi.

Team Saxo-Tinkoff ‘s Alberto Contador finished in the first group and is now ready for the hard stage tomorrow. “Today’ stage went as we had hoped for and we left most of the work in the front of the bunch to GreenEdge who had their overall lead to defend and the stage win to shoot for. However, we did move to the front on the final climb to help pulling the escapees back in and more importantly to go over the top in the first line to avoid accidents on the descent. Tomorrow’s stage is far more demanding and a thrilling finale is waiting on the steep uphill finish. To succeed in the overall, we have to be up among the best tomorrow,” said Team Saxo-Tinkff DS, Philippe Mauduit.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Stage 2 Result:
1. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge in 4:23:32
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana
3. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha
4. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
5. Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol
6. Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
7. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis
9. Maciej Paterski (Pol) Cannondale
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Overall After Stage 2:
1. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana in 8:30:04
2. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha
3. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
5. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar
6. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky
7. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
9. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar
10. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC.

Stage 2:

Stage 3 was billed as a decisive stage of the race with the hard summit finish to Trapagarin at the end of the tough 164 kilometres. KOM leader Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) was again trying to take as many mountain points and attacked on the first climb of the day, the Alto de Zarate, he was joined by teammate Omar Fraile, plus Mikel Landa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) they had a 5 minute maximum and Txurruka took all the points. They managed to stay out front until the last climb (the Cobarón) before the mountain finish. All the top men moved to the front of the peloton for the important battle. Ryder Hesjedal set the pace down for his Garmin-Sharp team mates Andrew Talansky and Peter Stetina, Saxo-Tinkoff had Alberto Contador and Lampre-Merida had Damiano Cunego. The Sky team was working hard for Sergio Henao to keep him ready for the attacks. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) rode off the front with Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha), Henao chased up to Betancur and the two battled it out to the line for Henao to take stage and overall.

Nicolas Portal, Team Sky Sports Director: “It was another extraordinary day. Especially on such a hard stage it was great to get the win. It was a special Basque climb today so it was great that the team could make their mark on this stage.

“Sergio was really strong at the end and made the right move. Richie was behind always in control so it was a near-perfect result for the team.

“The climb was hard as it was really narrow in places and the gradient always changed. There was a big effort to be at the front for the start and then it flattened out again. At the end the gradient was horrible! If you aren’t in good this is a climb that can finish you after two kilometres.

“We don’t have the full team here. The peloton knows this and [defending the lead] won’t be easy. We will do our best to control things but I would expect other teams to come through towards the finish as was the case today.”

Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador finished seventh and is now fourth overall, the Spaniard commented: “It was a fast stage and the team has been very helpful. I had to change bikes due to a puncture but thanks to the team I could resolve it without problems. On the last climb, I was in a good position but there were so many fans that it practically became a funnel and it was difficult to pass. Henao was incredibly strong but we have to look how the overall is. I think I’m in a good situation. Still three days remaining and today’s stage really kicked off the race. There are still three stages to determine the winner. About tomorrow’s stage, we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes as rain is expected and that can change the race. Now Sky has to take control, because both Henao and Richie Porte are very strong and are clear candidates for the GC. They must control the race.”

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Stage 3 Result:
1. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky in 3:54:22
2. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale
3. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 0:05
4. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:08
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:10
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
7. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
8. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
9. Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:16
10. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:21.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Overall After Stage 3:
1. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky in 12:24:26
2. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:08
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:10
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
5. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:21
8. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
9. José Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar
10. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Stage 3:

Circuit Cycliste Sarth-Pays de la Loire 2013
Stage 1 of this French five stage race was a bit of a blood bath with a big crash just over 2 kilometres out. The IAM Cycling team kept their man Matteo Pelucchi safe for the win, although Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) nearly hit the barriers, but they finished 3rd and 4th with Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole-CSF) second. Ronny Martias (Sojasun) and Nicola Boem (Bardiani Valvole-CSF) broke away in the first 10 kilometres and were joined by Kevin Reza (Europcar), they were given their lead of 5 minutes, but they were back in the pack well before the sprint.

Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Fabrizio Guidi comments: “It was a really fast stage as the peloton enjoyed a tailwind practically all the way. As the time trial in this race is very short, the escapees were brought back because every breakaway rider is a potential winner of the GC. Tomorrow, we’ll do a short stage before noon and in the afternoon; we take on the individual time trial. Our riders are free to take a chance and go for a stage win so naturally, I hope to see some action from the boys in the following stages.”

Circuit Cycliste Sarth-Pays de la Loire Stage 1 Result:
1. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling in 4:39:51
2. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
3. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
5. Aexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha
6. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard
8. Scott Thwaites (GB) Netapp-Endura
9. Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia
10. Benoît Drujon (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93.

Circuit Cycliste Sarth-Pays de la Loire Overall After Stage 1:
1. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling in 4:39:41
2. Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox at 0:03
3. Kévin Reza (Fra) Europcar
4. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox at 0:04
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar at 0:06
6. Ronny Martias (Fra) Sojasun
7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ at 0:10
8. Aexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha
9. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
10. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard.

Stage 1:

Stage 2 was a short 93.6 kilometre hop from Ligné to Angers before the afternoon time trial. French champion; Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) made up for the accusations of dangerous sprinting on stage 1 by showing everyone how a sprint can be done in a straight line. He outsprinted Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and overall leader Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling), Pelucchi held onto his leader jersey. Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Julian Kern (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Cyril Bessy (Cofidis), Daniel Quintero (Colombia) and Rony Martias (Sojasun) had a lead of 1:30 at one point in the stage, but the IAM Cycling team had other ideas and chased it down, Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) tried a late dash, but he also was not fast enough to hold off the sprinters.

For Team Saxo-Tinkoff and most of the peloton it was an easy stage: “There was a headwind throughout the whole day so it was easy cruising along with the field while the escapees were doomed to be caught. A couple of teams brought them back and everyone crossed the finish line safely. We’re now ready for this afternoon’s time trial over 6.8 kilometres,” said Team Saxo-Tinkoff DS, Fabrizio Guidi.

Circuit Cycliste de la Sarth-Pays de la Loire Stage 2 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ in 2:22:57
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
4. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha
5. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard
7. Alexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha
8. Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Saxo-Tinkoff
9. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Accent Jobs-Wanty
10. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Argos-Shimano.

Circuit Cycliste de la Sarth-Pays de la Loire Overall After Stage 2:
1. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling in 7:02:38
2. Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox at 0:03
3. Kévin Reza (Fra) Europcar
4. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox at 0:04
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar at 0:06
6. Rony Martias (Fra) Sojasun
7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ at 0:10
8. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
9. Alexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha
10. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard.

Australian Double National Champion Luke Durbridge won the afternoon Stage 3 time trial at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe to move into the race leader’s jersey. The defending champion took the overall victory in France last year after he time trialed into the race lead. Having once again moved into the yellow jersey by virtue of his time trial win, Durbridge is fully confident in ORICA-GreenEDGE’s ability to support a repeat general classification victory.

“The next two road stages are a bit more difficult than the last two stages last year,” said Durbridge. “It’s not ideal, but I think my road condition is better than last year. I’m going in with every intention to defend the jersey until the finish. We have options to play with Cam Meyer down by 1second in third overall, and Svein [Tuft] is only 4 seconds behind.”

The 6.8 kilometre third stage time trial was identical to the course used last year. “It’s an out and back course that is slightly uphill for the first half,” explained Durbridge. “Because of the uphill start, you have to come out of the block firing on all cylinders. It’s a straight shoot up this little bit of a rise, and once we get to the top, there’s a slightly technical bit before we turn around and head slightly downhill to the finish.”

Durbridge covered the course in 8:18, stopping the clock less than 1″ quicker than Bob Jungels (RadioShack-Leopard-Trek) and Meyer. “I won by seventh-tenths of a second,” said Durbridge. “Seventh-tenths or 17” – it doesn’t matter. A win is a win, and I’m happy for this victory today. My teammates did a really good job looking after me, keeping me out of the wind and saving me from using excess energy. Thanks to their efforts, I was able to stay fresh for the time trial and pull of the win.

Durbridge recognises that some of the stiffest competition he faced came from within his team. He considers this one of the team’s biggest strengths. “The team had great rides not only by me but also by Cam, Svein and Heppy [Michael Hepburn],” said Durbridge. “We’re all in great condition, but today I was just a little bit better than them. I got the victory today. Another day it could easily be one of them beating me.”

“We obviously have a team full of strong time trialists,” he continued. “It’s not necessarily something we’re competitive about amongst each other. We really are genuinely happy to see our teammates go well. More than anything, I think our time trialing abilities show that we have a strong team. The time trial is a difficult test of physical and mental strength. With so many riders able to test themselves well in the time trial, it shows we have a strong team capable of going well in other races, too.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE will look to use these capabilities to defend Durbridge’s jersey during the final two stages. “Having Cam and Svein close to me on the overall is to our advantage,” said Durbridge. “We can send one of them up the road to take the pressure off the rest of us. We have options, and we’ll discuss all of them in our team meeting.”

“Tonight, I’m going to enjoy the victory,” he
added. “Tomorrow, we’ll worry about tomorrow.”

Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Nicki Sørensen did a good time trial finishing 12th and is now 13th overall before tomorrow’s tough stage: “It was going pretty smooth out there and I generally feel strong at the moment. Losing nine seconds in a stage race like this is doable in terms of going for the GC and the following two stages are going to be rough so I’m aiming for a good overall result. However, there are other guys in the top-10 today who are pretty good climbers as well so it’s going to be difficult to win but I’m absolutely going for it,” said an optimistic Nicki Sørensen.

Circuit Cycliste de la Sarth-Pays de la Loire Stage 3 Result:
1. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 8:18
2. Bob Jungels (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
3. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:01
4. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:03
5. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:04
6. Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard
7. Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura
8. Anton Vorobyev (Rus) Katusha 0:00:05
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard
10. Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:07.

Circuit Cycliste de la Sarth-Pays de la Loire Overall After Stage 3:
1. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 7:11:06
2. Bob Jungels (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
3. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:01
4. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:03
5. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:04
6. Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard
7. Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura
8. Anton Vorobyev (Rus) Katusha 0:00:05
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard
10. Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:07.

Stages 2 and 3:

No Circuit de la Sarthe Start for Rasmussen
Alex Rasmussen was due to make his comeback with the Garmin-Sharp team on Tuesday in the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe, but after he had taken a race number he was told he could not start by a commissaire. Rasmussen spoke to Sporten.dk: “I myself am very surprised, we came yesterday, and Johnny Weltz (Garmin DS) was holding my license and I got my start number and the number I took this morning and was going to start, but a race Commissioner came over and said there are problems with the team’s insurance, and I cannot ask to start. But he could not elaborate on anything, and I still do not quite know what the reason is. UCI has been impossible to get hold of to get further details.” Later the UCI said that the team had not provided the proper paperwork to allow Rasmussen to be registered, it was announced later in the day that it had now been done. Rasmussen is returning from an 18 month suspension for late “Whereabouts” submission and two failed attempts at out of competition tests due to Rasmussen not being where he should have been.

Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja 2013
Spain’s only UCI ProConti team; Caja Rural took its biggest race win on Sunday through their Italian rider Francesco Lasca. The race came down to a mass sprint of around 60 riders at the end of 159 kilometres in Logroño, Lasca edged out Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Ken Hanson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). 2013 is Lasca’s second year as a professional with Caja Rural, last year he had two wins a stage in the Circuit de Lorraine and a stage in the Tour of Portugal.

Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja Result:
1. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural in 3:55:50
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Ken Hanson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
4. Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
5. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7. Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar
8. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
9. Michael Friedman (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
10. Unai Iparraguirre Azpiazu (Spa) Euskadi.

A short bit of the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja:

Stuart O’Grady Previews Paris-Roubaix
Mention Paris-Roubaix and it evokes an outpouring of emotion ranging from pain to exhaustion to elation. It is a cycling extravaganza. It is the Hell of the North. The Queen of the Classics. A Sunday in Hell. A Monument.

The “modern day” cobbled sectors, the deciding elements of the race, are steeped in history dating back to 1967 when the race began utilising more sections of pavé. The 2013 edition of Paris Roubaix has 27 sectors – that collectively add up to 52.6 kilometres of cobbles out of 254 kilometres in total. Each sector is given a difficulty rating from one to five based on its length, the unevenness of the cobbles, its overall condition and its location. There are three five-star sectors with the last coming just 20 kilometres before the finish on the Roubaix Velodrome. Only one sector is easy enough to be awarded one star.

Several nights before the race, Stuart O’Grady, former winner, multi-time veteran of Paris-Roubaix and team captain, answered questions about his captivating experiences surrounding Paris-Roubaix.

Q: Is Paris Roubaix a race of attrition or is there an actual plan that is meant to be followed?

There’s obviously a perfect scenario for each team. The team meeting before the race will identify this scenario and everyone is given a job based on the perfect plan, but as in most big races, people crash, they have punctures. It’s quite rare that all eight guys are on 100% form on the same day. The key is to be flexible, stay calm and do the best with what you have. Every single rider has a major role, and if one of the guys doesn’t fill his role for whatever reason, then someone else has to cover it and life becomes hard. You hope everyone sticks to the game plan, but at the same time, we have to be able to change tactics on the fly if other circumstances arrive. After Flanders, [Fabian] Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard-Trek) is obviously a favourite, but we’ve got to go out there and call upon our tactical knowledge to beat him. We have to race our way.

Q: What is your role as road captain in a race like Paris Roubaix?

The road captain is often the most experienced. I’ve been in every situation possible. I’ve been in hard Paris-Roubaix’s and great ones – well, they’re all hard but when they go well, it’s easy to forget that. It’s about keeping the guys cool, calm and collected. Anything can happen and at some point in a Paris-Roubaix something usually goes wrong. When you talk to the guys at the end of the race, everyone has a different story to tell because it’s a whole adventure out there on the road. It’s about keeping the team together, conserving energy and communicating well.

Q: What is it about the Forest of Arenberg that is so decisive?

Even though it’s far from the finish, it’s one of the most decisive parts of the race. Mostly, it’s about damage control. On each sector you have to stay at the front and stay out of trouble. Before entering the forest, it is absolutely imperative to be at the front. Over the cobbles each rider that is in front of you must be looked at as an object. That rider can have a puncture or a crash or drop a water bottle or a chain and all of a sudden, this object is now an obstacle. Every water bottle that is dropped is like a grenade. It’s a big fight for position. It’s like going to war. At the end of that battlefield, you assess who made it through. Who’s there? Who’s not there? You have a split second to assess and make a quick decision. You either have teammates and can go on the offensive, or you’re numbers down and now need to be a little bit careful making any moves.

Q: When you won in 2007, what went right?

I think a lot of things made that happen. One was obviously being on really good form. Without the legs, you can’t do anything. Also being in the right place at the right time. It was also quite a bit of luck. I crashed that day. I crashed when I was meant to be attacking and stretching the field out for Fabian. If I hadn’t crashed, I would have sacrificed myself in the next section for Fabian and he probably would have won. I had a puncture in the forest. So many things happened. In hindsight, I look back and see how many different things happened both good and bad to contribute to the win. All the stars were aligned on that day. There was also great team support, obviously. We had been all in for Fabian and it turned out the team support benefited me in the end.

Q: Last year, Sebastian Langeveld broke his collarbone ahead of Paris-Roubaix. This year he is injury free and going strong – how does that impact things?

I guess Sebastian has been the team leader for the classics teams for a couple years now. Obviously, last year it was a massive blow to have our number one guy crash out. A lot of chance was passed along to us, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to come up with any sort of result. Hopefully this year we can turn that around. He’s shown that he has really great form. He was up there in Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix should suit him even more than the Flanders circuit.

Q: What modifications will the team make to the equipment for Paris-Roubaix?

We have different frames for Paris-Roubaix. We have a frame with a slightly longer wheel base which makes the ride a little smoother across the cobbles. We use wider tires to absorb more of the shock. Some use more handlebar tape and more cushioning underneath the handlebar tape. I have my wrists bandaged up to make it a little more stiff. We’ve had different pedals in the past and slightly different strength carbon in the frame.

I imagine there are a hell of a lot more spare wheels in the car behind. They’re the first piece of equipment to go – a broken rim or a puncture.

Q: In part because of the team, cycling is enjoying a wider audience in Australia than ever before. For an Australian who might stay up to watch Paris-Roubaix for the first time on Sunday night, what can you tell them to expect to see?

(Laughs). If they’re flicking on Paris-Roubaix for the first time they’re going to say – “What the hell? What kind of bike race is this?” It’s a cross between mountain biking, road racing and gladiator warfare. They’ll see guys crashing, cobbles, dust, mayhem, chaos and a lot of tired faces. It’s an adventure. It’s the Hell of the North. You’re putting yourself through hell and everyone gets to watch it on TV. You finish the race and you feel like you’ve been in a car wreck. It’s pretty full on. It’s about as hard as cycling ever gets.

Q: We know you love this race, but you’re not really making the race sound so appealing with that sort of description. What’s the draw of this race?

Well, we all obviously love one thing, right? Pain and suffering. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be in this sport. I guess it’s all about pushing the body to the absolute limit. You either love it or hate of it. None of us, when we get to the finish, unless we win, feel anything but pain. The body is buckled. It’s the most pain you put yourself through that I can think of. You’re cramping. Your whole body is a wreck, but it’s satisfying. You’ve achieved something that not many people will do in their lifetime. It’s a personal achievement to get to the Roubaix Velodrome and race for the win. In my first Paris-Roubaix, I was just happy to get to the velodrome. Any rider who finishes, whether he is inside the time cut or not, has accomplished something. It’s an achievement just to get there.
Thanks to the Orica-GreenEdge team.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Paris-Roubaix:
Baden Cooke,
Fumy Beppu,
Jens Keukeleire,
Jens Mouris,
Luke Durbridge,
Mitch Docker,
Sebastian Langeveld,
Stuart O’Grady.

O’Grady in 2007:

BMC Racing Team Roster For Paris-Roubaix
Two-time Paris-Roubaix podium finisher Thor Hushovd headlines the BMC Racing Team’s roster for the 111th edition of the cobblestone classic. Hushovd, second in 2010 and third in 2009, will make his 10th start in Sunday’s 254-kilometer race. Also in the BMC Racing Team’s line-up is Taylor Phinney, a two-time winner of Under 23 Paris-Roubaix (in 2009 and 2010), who finished 15th in his first appearance last year.

BMC Racing Team Paris-Roubaix roster:
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Daniel Oss (ITA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).
Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA) & Max Sciandri (ITA).

Fabian Cancellara, Stijn Devolder, Markel Irizar, Bob Jungels, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast, Hayden Roulston & Jesse Sergent.
Director: Dirk Demol.

Kump replaces Bennati in Paris-Roubaix
Press Release: Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Marko Kump has been called up for this coming weekend’s cobblestone classic Paris-Roubaix.

The 24 year old Slovenian will replace Italian rider Daniele Bennati, who is still suffering from some flu like symptoms, which ruined his Tour of Flanders participation last Sunday.

Therefore Daniele Bennati has now returned home to Italy to fully recover from his illness after consulting with the team’s sport management and the team doctor in Belgium.

“We have decided to bring Marko into the team for Paris-Roubaix instead of Daniele. Daniele was feeling really bad during Tour of Flanders, and as many other riders he has been greatly affected by the extreme weather conditions in some of the spring races and simply never felt he returned to his best form. Of course this is a tough decision for Daniele and for the team, but we also know it is the right one. Now he has returned home, and we have decided to give him a break from racing, until he is completely recovered. We know how strong he can be, when at his best, and we look forward to see him back at his top level,” sport director Lars Michaelsen says.

Matti Breschel, Matteo Tosatto, Jonathan Cantwell, Michael Mørkøv, Anders Lund, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Jonas Aaen and Marko Kump.

Great retro Paris-Roubaix video from 1972, Roger De Vlaeminck wins his first Roubaix, soon to be known as Monsieur París-Roubaix:

Full of confidence to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix
Press Release: Following a good performance in the Tour of Flanders, an air of confidence surrounds the Blanco Pro Cycling Team leading up to Paris-Roubaix. Whilst Lars Boom and Sep Vanmarcke are both fully-fledged leaders, Sports Director Jan Boven knows that his team also has strength across the entire line-up.

“During Flanders, we took a big step. We topped up both our morale and self-confidence. Lars and Sep are the leaders but we can also expect certain things from Maarten Wynants and Maarten Tjallingii,” said Boven.

Boom comes out of the Tour of Flanders in good shape. The Dutchman hopes for inclement weather in Paris-Roubaix. “I am hoping for rain, then I am fine.” said the previous Dutch cyclo-cross champion. “At the finish, if Fabian Cancellara or anyone else makes a break for it, I hope to be able to chase and even make an attack of my own.”

Maarten Tjallingii has geared his season around the Hell of the North and is counting on a strong team performance in France. He said, “We will have a robust line-up at the start. I expect a strong result based on what we did in the Tour of Flanders. I hope it’s a tough race. As far as I am concerned, other teams can do the grunt work and we’ll be happy to take advantage. At any rate, I am feeling very much up to it.”

Team line-up:
Lars Boom, Rick Flens, Jos van Emden, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Maarten Wynants, Robert Wagner and Jetse Bol.
Sports Directors: Nico Verhoeven and Jan Boven.

Last years Paris-Roubaix:

Lotto Belisol for Paris-Roubaix
After the Tour of Flanders last Sunday this weekend it’s time for that other monument: Paris-Roubaix. This is the 111th edition of the classic. Of the 254 kilometers 52,6 of them consist of cobblestones. The race counts 27 cobblestone sections, the longest is 3,7 kilometers. As usually stars are given to these sections. The Trouée d’Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre all have the same quotation of five stars. The finish is of course on the famous velodrome of Roubaix.

Jürgen Roelandts is the leader at Lotto Belisol in the Hell of the North. In the “Ronde” he brilliantly took the third place. Fabian Cancellara was unbeatable on Easter Sunday, also for Roubaix he’s the favourite. This afternoon Roelandts talked at a press conference about his plans to make things difficult for the Swiss.

Jürgen Roelandts: “Like in the Tour of Flanders my plan is to anticipate an attack of Fabian Cancellara. He’s difficult to beat if he doesn’t have any bad luck or makes tactical mistakes. It’s our job to let him make those mistakes. We’ll see if the other riders will give me less space after my raid of Sunday, but I won’t wait. In the Tour of Flanders there was only one place that was perfect for an attack, in Roubaix it’s waiting to see where it will be possible. There you have to trust on your instinct.”

“Paris-Roubaix suits me even better than the “Ronde”; it’s more technical and more people get dropped during the whole course of the race. The race is more difficult to control, because there are always many different groups. In the “Ronde” the whole team was good, we can go to Paris-Roubaix with a lot of trust, my third place has given us an extra boost. This is my final goal of the first part of the season and I am still very motivated.”

Selection Lotto Belisol:
Lars Bak, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, André Greipel, Greg Henderson, Vicente Reynes, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.

Saxo-Tinkoff at Paris-Roubaix
Apart from a few exceptions during the two World Wars, Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, Queen of the classics has been on the cycling calendar every year since 1896. Historically, Belgian winners have dominated the race and Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma Quick Step) has honoured the proud Belgian traditions in the current generation with no less than four victories on the sometimes dusty and at other times silted cobblestones.

The 2013 edition of the mythical race is 254.5 km long, of which 52.6 kilometers are cobblestones on 27 sections in the northern France between Compiegne and the traditional scenario with the finish line at the velodrome in Roubaix. Here, the surviving riders usually arrive alone or in small groups, run-down, physically exhausted, bruised and often hidden behind a layer of dust or mud from the uneven and treacherous surface.

Team Saxo-Tinkoff enter the race with two captains, Danish Matti Breschel and the Italian veteran and last year’s seventh place in the race, Matteo Tosatto. Johnny Cantwell, Michael Morkov, Anders Lund, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Jonas Aaen and Marko Kump will support the duo. While it is expected so see Matti and Matteo in the finale, it is likely to experience a Team Saxo-Tinkoff rider make it in an early breakaway.

The biggest favorites to win on Sunday, are this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard), Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil), while it is likely to see Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Sky) and Lars Boom (Blanco) in the finale.

Team Saxo-Tinkoff DS, Lars Michaelsen comments on tomorrow’s race: “Our first goal is to bring Matti and Matteo to Arenberg with the favorites and from on, we’ll see how far the legs will take them. As usual, Arenberg is the key point and if you miss the train here, it’s unlikely that you’ll come back. Furthermore, we gotta have a rider in the early break, if there is a large group going away from the start of the race. Fabian (Cancellara) is the natural favourite after last weekend’s victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen but I think this year could hold a surprise. There are several French riders who have recently been riding surprisingly fast, and FDJ and Europcar could easily deliver that surprise, “says sports director Lars Michaelsen.

No TV Paris-Roubaix for Tom
Tom Boonen should have been going for a record fifth Paris-Roubaix win this Sunday, but after his crash in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen he will be sitting at home. Tommeke, unlike the rest of us, will not be glued to the television, he said to La Dernière Heure “It was bad enough already having to watch the final of Tour of Flanders on television, so I think I will not watch Paris-Roubaix. It’s too painful.” As to his crash in Flanders, “Sunday’s Ronde and Paris-Roubaix are the two most enjoyable days of the year and my season depends on these races. Unfortunately you’re not immunized against a fall like I had on Sunday. I ran up against a sign and was immediately stopped.” One less viewer for Roubaix!

The crash of Tom Boonen:

OPQS to Paris-Roubaix
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in 254km Paris-Roubaix, which takes place on April 7th. The more than 50km of cobbled roads — which are about 100km into the race — are what define perhaps the biggest race of the Classics. The most crucial section of cobbles is the 2.4km Trouée d’Arenberg at 158km, but there are 27 numbered cobbled sectors to get through. One moment of bad luck can ruin a race, and one brilliant, well timed move can mean victory.

Sylvain Chavanel (FRA),
Iljo Keisse (BEL),
Nikolas Maes (BEL),
Gert Steegmans (BEL),
Zdenek Stybar (CZE),
Niki Terpstra (NED),
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL),
Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL), Tom Steels (BEL) & Rik van Slycke (BEL).

OPQS Paris-Roubaix Press Conference Quotes
Below are comments from riders Sylvain Chavanel, Niki Terpstra, and Zdenek Stybar, as well as CEO Patrick Lefevere.

Sylvain Chavanel: On his goals for Paris-Roubaix: “I hope to be a protagonist of the race on Sunday after the last two editions where I was really unlucky,” Chavanel said. “I love Paris-Roubaix as much as Tour de Flandres. The Ronde assured me about my condition. If we exclude Cancellara and Sagan, I was there with the best of the peloton. Then, at the end, it was only a story of places at the sprint. I really hope to do something good on Sunday because I love this race.

On the Roubaix tactics of OPQS: “I think we will have a lot of riders who will try to anticipate Cancellara and the other favorites,” Chavanel said. “We have a good team that has a habit for these races and we are ready to fight. But sometimes Paris-Roubaix is also a question of luck. A flat tire in a bad moment can compromise the entire race. The presence of Tom would have been important tactically, but now this is the situation and we will do our best to make a great race with a strong team.”

Niki Terpstra: On his hopes given his 2012 performance: “I’m pretty confident about this race,” Terpstra said. “Last year I was 5th and proved I can do well at Roubaix. At training I tested myself a little and did well, but training and racing is different. When we get to the cobble sectors that are two and a half kilometers long, after that I really hurt. Now it wasn’t so painful, but Sunday it will get really painful. After the parcour recon I at least am prepared for what it will feel like in a couple days.”

On the tactics without Tom Boonen as the leader at Paris-Roubaix: “Normally I’d be helping Tom, especially in the final, but now we have to do it ourselves. But this also gives a lot of opportunity for the whole team actually, because we are here with eight strong riders. If we can make a nice final, for sure there’s an opportunity. The breakaway that contests the final, whether a favorite like Fabian Cancellara is there or not, is always the right one. If I have the legs for sure I will try my best to do something.”

Zdenek Stybar: On Paris-Roubaix Reconnaissance: “This morning it was still a bit strange,” Stybar said. “It was really the first time doing so many cobbled sections. You just need to get used to it I think. Even when you are doing it for 10 years, still a year later you go again on the cobbles and it’s still exciting for everyone. I think for me through those sections I rode well, with good position, and it gave me a good feeling for Sunday.”

On his first Paris-Roubaix: “It was always my dream to do Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.” Stybar said. “Now I am here and must make the best of it and really enjoy the race. How far I can get I don’t know. It’s difficult for me to say of course. I am someone who loves to win, but for a race like this I have to be patient and try to learn as much as possible.”

On cyclo-cross riding compared to the cobbles of Roubaix. “You can’t truly compare it,” Stybar said. “Riding over the cobbles it’s somewhat like riding over a frozen field or something. I have some experience with something like that, but still it’s not so much the same. I think what I can use from cyclo-cross is my handling of the bike. Going from left to right and sometimes you have to unexpectedly change direction or brake. You know, when the bike is sliding, I don’t panic and think that part is something I can really use to my advantage. But, I think what I need most is the power in my legs. I think at Tour of Flanders I had one of my best days on the bike and I hope to have the legs I had last week to get as far as possible.”

Patrick Lefevere: On the chances of an OPQS victory on Sunday. “Everybody says it is difficult to win, but difficult is OK for me if we win,” Lefevere said. “We are a team of specialists for these kinds of races. Tom is not here and for the team this is of course a handicap. But I think for the other riders, the roads are free now. So, I think all eight of them could do the final of Paris-Roubaix. I hope they will make something with it. I think all kinds of tactics are possible. If you can anticipate the group, and can go to the final without consuming too much energy, it’s important for a chance in the final.”

Injury update: Dries Devenyns, Tom Boonen
Press Release: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Dries Devenyns had surgery on his left radial bone at the hospital of Herentals on Wednesday, after suffering a complicated fracture as a result of a crash during the first stage of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco on Monday.

Devenyns must wear a cast for three weeks, and then the medical staff will make another evaluation to determine the progress of his recovery.

“I would like to thank the hospital and medical staff for their professionalism,” Devenyns said. “Unfortunately the fracture was complicated and I have to wear a cast for a few weeks. It’s really a shame, I was in good condition and ready for the Ardenne classics. There’s nothing I can do now, only recover and try to be ready as soon as possible.”

Also, Tom Boonen was diagnosed with a fracture to the 10th rib of the left hemitorax, in addition to the injuries already known after his unfortunate crash at the Ronde on Sunday. He felt pain in the area since Tuesday and this morning X-rays at Herentals underlined a fracture.

Team MTN-Qhubeka With Wildcard To Bayern Rundfahrt
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung has added another prestigious race to its Spring line-up. The South African team has received a wild card invitation to the Bayern Rundfahrt (May 21-25). Milan-San Remo winner and team capain Gerald Ciolek is expected to lead the team in the German stage race.

“Sometimes a team’s status doesn’t say a lot. To speak of these teams as ‘second league’ is hardly right even when it is that way on paper,” said Ewald Strohmeier, head of the race. “But most recently Gerald Ciolek’s success in San Remo showed that one of the best riders in the world is underway with this team.”

“The tour through the beautiful Bayern region is a main objective for our team. With three German riders our dream is to bring the cycling sport back to the German people, who love riding their bikes, and the huge crowd in these races shows that our sport should get a new chance,” said sport director, Jens Zemke. “The final in Nürnberg is very special to me, because I rode for a long time in Nürnberg and I coached the womens team in Nürnberg for seven years. We will bring a strong team to Bayern and we will fight for good results.”

Gerald Ciolek won a stage at the race in 2010. The 26-year-old has already won two races this season, the second stage of the Three Days of West Flanders, as well as the cycling Monument Milan-San Remo.

The Bayern Rundfahrt is more a race for sprinters than climbers. It starts in Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm on May 21. The second stage features two ranked climbs, including the category one Haus Berghof in St. Englmar, and there are two category two climbs on the third stage. Stage four features an individual time trial over a rolling 31.2 kilometers. On May 25 the race ends after 5 stages and 775 kilometers with a circuit course in old-town Nürnberg.
Thanks to Xylon van Eyck at Team MTN-Qhubeka.

Gerald Ciolek wins stage 3 in the 2010 Bayern Rundfahrt:

Results of the doping convenant survey among Dutch teams and the Royal Dutch Cyling Federation (KNWU) made known
Since the announcement of the doping covenant, all employees of the the Dutch pro teams and the KNWU have been sent a questionnaire. As from the start, the intention of this approach was a focused manner in which to acknowledge past problems and provide closure. Though this approach, the employers provided openness and transparency to the current personnel. From this survey, there have been no doping violations revealed. All completed surveys have been collected by the Dutch anti-doping agency. The two confessions that have come out of this approach, those of Rudi Kemna en Grischa Niermann, were already known.

Richard Plugge, General Manager of the Blanco Pro Cycling Team stated, “We want to know the truth in order to provide closure to the past. Therefore we have held formal meetings to address this. We did this out of trust for our people and knowing that it would be supported within the group. It also gave us the opportunity to expand on our own Blanco vision with the riders and staff. Everyone provided answers and the results were relayed to the anti-doping authorities.”
Thanks to the Blanco team.

A Busy Easter for Rapha Condor JTL
Press Release: Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the Tour of the North, which left many UK teams looking for racing, Rapha Condor JLT managed to have a busy and eventful weekend of racing over the Easter period.

While the riders who were scheduled to race in the Boucles d’Artois had no issues about whether or not they would have some quality racing on the weekend, their trip was put into jeopardy instead by strikes in French ports that delayed their arrival into Calais by several hours on the Friday night.

The two day race turned out to be a challenging one for the Rapha Condor JLT team, who struggled to control a very active peloton on the first day, before eventually missing the split that decided the overall.

With two stages on the second day the team bounced back, Felix English impressed with an excellent 8th place in the individual time trial, before the whole team worked hard to create a bunch sprint in the afternoon’s road stage.

English, who has been steadily rising into form throughout the spring, commented,

“I was really pleased with the T.T. on Sunday morning after we missed out on Saturday. In the afternoon I surprised myself as I was totally knackered but I managed to still be in the selection at the finish.”

“We really wanted to work on our leadout, and with Ed and Jimmy here this was the perfect opportunity, so we took control in the finale. Two riders were clear coming into the finish and I managed to drag them back in with 350m to go, but I paid for that effort quite quickly unfortunately and we got a little swamped.”

“It’s the first time since the Soens that we’ve really been able to try out the leadout and technically everything was good, we just weren’t quite there this time.”

The team had originally planned to split into two squads with the younger riders heading to the Tour of the North, however the late cancellation of that event meant that the riders who had previously been destined for Ireland had to look to find racing where they could across the country.

The result was that at home the men in black continued their run of fine early season from. First year senior Will Stephenson showed great fighting spirit to take 6th place at the Easter Classic at Castle Coombe circuit, while 19 year old Luke Mellor stepped up to take his second win of the year in a tight sprint finish on his home circuit in Shropshire and Hugh Carthy, another of the team’s first year seniors, took an excellent third place after a tough days racing at the first round in the CDNW series in Lancaster.

The team will have a quieter weekend next weekend, before a busy period of stage races resumes with the Tour du Loire et Cher on April the 10th.

Boucle de l’Artois 2013 Stage 3 Olhain to Mont Saint Eloi-132 kms:

What future for the Tour of Austria?
Due to financial problems this years the Tour of Austria is in doubt, it may go ahead as normal hoping that money can be found in time or the organisers might shorten the race to save money or at worst cancel the race altogether. The organisers and the Austrian Cycling Federation are meeting this week to discuss the situation.

Tour of Austria 2012 stage 2 final kilometers:

Michele Scarponi Check’s Out Giro TT
Michele Scarponi spent last Saturday studying the course of the individual time trial 8th stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia. He could not ride on the road, because of the bad weather, but he covered the 55,5 km from Gabicce Mare to Saltara in Lampre-Merida’s team car that was driven by sport director Orlando Maini.

“It will be a demanding time trial, since there will be no space to relax or to try to recover energies,” Scarponi commented. “Just after the start, there will be the Panoramica road, where the wind usually blows. Then, after the intermediate in Pesaro, in 10 km there’s the lightly rising road to Novilara and then the course will join the Flaminia road, the sector that will be suitable for time trial specialists. Then there is the final 3 km to the hilly final in Saltara.”

More info about the stage on: https://www.gazzetta.it/Speciali/Giroditalia/2013/it/tappa.shtml?t=08&lang=it.

Giro d’Italia 2012 Stage 7, Scarponi goes for the Pink, stage for Tiralongo:

Primal Pushing Pedals in the Big Apple with Bike New York Sponsorship
Support covers expo and trio of rides

PRESS release: Primal is sponsoring some of the highest profile cycling events in the country later this spring and summer as the official cycling apparel provider for Bike New York, the company announced today.

The sponsorship encompasses a trio of rides, headlined by the 32,000-rider TD Five Boro Bike Tour Presented by REI and the popular Bike Expo New York in early May and a pair of smaller regional rides later in the year.

“New York is so important to the soul of cycling that any event there is going to draw some of the most passionate riders in the country and that’s a place we want to be,” said Primal Founder Dave Edwards. “The Five Boro Bike Tour is one of the country’s best rides and has an incredible 35 year history we’re proud to be a part of.”

Primal is providing a full line of custom apparel for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, which has sold out its 32,000 spots for the May 5 event that crosses five major New York City bridges over 40 miles. Custom-designed apparel will also be available at the free and open-to-the-public Bike Expo New York May 3 and 4 at Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan.

“We’re excited to partner with Primal on the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. I’m sure that our riders will not only love wearing the beautiful, high-quality apparel that comes from Primal but also appreciate that we’re partnering with an organization with such a solid record of supporting bicycling advocacy,” said Ken Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York.

In addition to the TD Five Boro Bike Tour and Bike Expo New York, Primal’s sponsorship also covers the June 30 Discover Hudson Valley Ride, which offers riders a choice of routes from 15 to 100 miles, and the Twin Lights Ride in Monmouth County, New Jersey on Sept. 30 with ride options ranging from 31 to 104 miles.

The official apparel will be available at www.bikenewyork.org and directly to all participating riders in each event.

For more information on Primal, go to: www.primalwear.com.

Peter Sagan Apologizes
After Peter Sagan’s podium antics he has made a full video apology:

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