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EuroTrash Monday!

Vincenzo Nibali seems to be in control of an old man and some Tour weary riders in la Vuelta with one week to go, we have the video, results and quotes. The Tour of Alberta winds up and we also have the action from the Brussels Cycle Classic and the GP de Fourmies. Another bumper issue of EuroTrash Monday, so get the coffee in and settle down to a big read.

TOP STORY: Does Rugby have a Drug Problem?
I was surprised to read of a drug positive in Scottish Rugby Union and the case was reported on sighting cycling as a good example to other sports in a main stream newspaper/web-site. The case is of a 19 year old student Sam Chalmers who plays for Melrose and was picked to play for the U20 Scotland team against Ireland back in May and failed a drugs test, he has since admitted to the use of a prohibited substance, the International Rigby Board met last Wednesday to hear the case, but no announcement has been made on what the sanctions may be.

Rugby says it has no drug problem, but I found a link to another Scottish player; Scott MacLeod. He was cleared of having an elevated ratio of testosterone and you will never guess what his defence was, it will sound very familiar. He put the imbalance in his testosterone/epitestosterone ratio down to his alcohol consumption the night before the original test.

This is how The Telegraph reported how the case progressed:
Further tests were carried out in March and April to establish his ‘normal’ level and it was eventually decided that he had a case to answer.

Remarkably, it was the second time this year that the 29-year-old player had become embroiled in a drugs row as the January test had also revealed the presence of the asthma drug Terbutaline in his system.

A known asthmatic, MacLeod had an exemption certificate for another common remedy and had assumed it covered Terbutaline when his medication was changed. On that occasion, he was found guilty of no wilful wrongdoing and was let off with a caution.

However, the testosterone investigation was a far more convoluted and complex affair. It had been established as a result of a test that was carried out in March 2006 that MacLeod had a naturally high level of the hormone, but the test of January this year showed a rise to a point that could not be explained by his individual metabolic profile.

His only explanation, which has now been accepted by the Scottish Rugby Union and UK Sport, was that the alcohol he had consumed the night before the test – while celebrating the news that his wife Adele was pregnant with their first child – had ‘spiked’ the result to an even higher than normal level. Alcohol is known to have such an effect, although its presence is not routinely checked in such cases.

The B sample investigation that was carried out late last month confirmed the high level of testosterone, but also suggested that a significant amount of alcohol had been consumed during the evening before the original test. Although the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) protocols surrounding alcohol testing are unclear, UK Sport officials felt the case against MacLeod could no longer be sustained. The SRU was informed of their decision last week. “It is more than likely that the cause of the elevated T/E [testosterone/epitestosterone] was the player’s acute alcohol ingestion in the period eight to 15.5 hours before the same was collected,” their letter said. “It would be inappropriate to proceed any further with the case against the player.”

Come back Floyd Landis, all is forgiven!

Vuelta a España 2013:
For the second year in a row, Philippe Gilbert claimed his first win of the year at the Vuelta after a long wait. While he imposed himself in Barcelona on August 26 last year, he put an end to the drought on September 5 this time around. Once again, it happened in Catalunya. The Belgian world champion preceded Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) in a slightly uphill finale.

Gilbert’s team-mate Marco Pinotti was a non-starter at Maella. Only 4km after the start, Cédric Pineau (FDJ), Romain Zingle (Cofidis) and Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) rode away with no reaction from the peloton. Their advantage reached 6 :42 and Orica-GreenEdge and Garmin-Sharp took the command. Lampre-Merida also contributed to setting the pace of the pack. The leading trio was reeled in with 18km to go.

GC contenders Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) sprinted for time bonus in this order at Port-Aventura (km 149). Boasson Hagen anticipated the sprint but Gilbert managed to overtake him. Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) didn’t suffer any more from his swollen eye. The Italian will ride in the red jersey again from Valls, the home of the late Xavier Tondo, to Castelldedefels, the town of Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM).

Race Comments:
Stage winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC): “I was really convinced because the last time when I was second (on Stage 7 last Saturday), it was a little bit similar finish – with a very tricky final,” Gilbert said. “So I decided to come to the front pretty early, like with 20 km to go. This cost me a lot of energy because you hit the wind more than the rest. But at least you see everything coming and you can choose your line. I was perfectly dropped off by the guys in the last two kilometres, especially by Danilo Wyss, who did a great job.” Gilbert said he was not deterred when Boasson Hagen opened a gap of several bike lengths in the final 250 meters. “When you start (sprinting) so early, it’s never easy, because it’s still like 20 seconds to the line – a long time,” Gilbert said. “It’s also where I am the strongest. I knew if I went full gas, I could make it. I passed him and it happened. It was like a dream. It was amazing.”

How good was the taste of the champagne on stage? Excellent! I have only one word: finally. I’ve trained so hard this year but I’ve remained frustrated by not winning until today… However, I never lost neither my motivation nor the trust by my team, my friends and my family. With the World’s coming up, I was feeling the pressure and that makes me even happier to win today. Like last year, my first victory of the season happens in Catalunya, maybe I should consider riding the Volta Catalunya [his last participation was in 2005].

Does it feel better to win at the Vuelta with or without the rainbow jersey? With the world champion jersey, it’s definitely better! It’s my first time. It’s really special. It’s a very great moment.

In the final stretch, did you keep the situation under control, even when Edvald Boasson Hagen anticipated the sprint? With Edvald who one of the strongest guys in the world, you can never be sure to have the situation under control, but I always remained focused on my sprint. I knew I had everything to come back on him. I got a good draft. I still had in mind my defeat against [Zdenek] Stybar [on stage 7] so I put in my mind that I could win or lose but I didn’t want to lose by one or two centimeters again.

Having the confidence back on your side after winning today, how do you rate your chances of keeping the rainbow jersey for one more year? A lot of pressure will come with this victory. I can imagine a lot of people saying that I can win again. But there’s no need to put any extra pressure on me. I’m not the only favorite. I can easily come up with ten names of favorites: Cancellara, Sagan, many Spaniards like Valverde, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Moreno… I don’t see why I’d be the only favorite.

How much has this rainbow jersey impacted your 2013 season? Already when I rode the Tour Down Under in Australia, I realized that everything was different. You look more important in the eyes of the people. It makes everything harder. As the world champion, you have to be even more careful of what you do and what you say.

After your fabulous 2011 season, you had a bad year in 2012 until the world championship and another bad year in 2013 until today. How do you explain that? During those two years, I’ve always raced at the highest level but since I joined BMC, I’ve had different roles. We’ve gone to every stage race with a leader to protect, so I’ve had to work for a leader, which took away from me a lot of chances to win stages that I previously had at Lotto. But the year is not over for me. It’s true that 2011 has been the highest point of my career so far but I’ve kept racing at a high level since and there is a few percentage of difference between winning and coming second. And it’s not easy to stay at the highest level.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), second: “Rigoberto [Uran] gave me a very good lead out. We had a bit of a plan but not too precise: I had to attack earlier. I sped up as much as I could. But I couldn’t attack before. It looks like I went too early but I had to try something. I didn’t succeed. I can’t be happy with second. I always want to win.”

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp): “It was a nice stage but the last 1.5km was a lot harder than we thought it would be. It was super technical and more uphill than expected. I had a good position at 1km to go banner but I just didn’t have the legs to get my way up the same way Gilbert went. I’m coming in good form. I’d just like to have a flat finish. Maybe at Burgos…”

King of the Mountains Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard): “During the rest day and the time trial, I have the feeling that I put on some weight, so today’s stage has been perfect for leaning. It was hot, we were racing fast, that’s what I needed.”

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff): “I thought it would be a quiet day but the wind obliged us to stay very attentive during the whole stage. I opted for staying away all day. It’s not been a rest day but I’m ok. Yesterday evening, after the time trial I was exhausted. The daily ceremony takes energy from me every day. I must be careful.”

Vuelta a España Stage 12 Result:
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC in 4:03:44
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky
3. Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
4. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha
5. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Steve Chainel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
8. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Argos-Shimano
9. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
10. Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team NetApp-Endura.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 12:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 45:26:06
2. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff at 0:31
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:46
4. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:33
6. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 2:52
7. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:46
8. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 5:05
9. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky at 5:46
10. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 6:38.

Stage 12:

Baby climber Warren Barguil (21 years old) of Argos-Shimano, the second youngest rider of the Vuelta, soloed to victory up the castle of Castelldefels. He escaped from a front group comprising of very experienced riders like Michele Scarponi and Rinaldo Nocentini to show his enormous talent to the whole world only one year after having won the Tour de l’Avenir.

A champion was born at the Vuelta while the event lost a few riders during Stage 13: Sebastian Lander (BMC) and Vicente Reynes (Lotto-Belisol) didn’t take the start. A crash at km 10 forced Pablo Lastras (Movistar) and Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) to call it quits. Affected by a knee lesion since Monday, Catalan rider David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura) also pulled out and so did Frenchman Laurent Mangel (FDJ) later in the stage.

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) passed the Coll de la Torreta (km 23) in first position ahead of Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) but it took a while until the main breakaway of the day took shape after many skirmishes. With 90km to go, 18 rode away: Benat Intxausti (Movistar), Mikaël Chérel and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Antonio Piedra and Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jérôme Coppel (Cofidis), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), Iker Camano (NetApp-Endura), Gianni Meersman (OPQS), Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge), Vassil Kiryenka and Xavier Zandio (Team Sky) and Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM). Orica-GreenEdge pulled the bunch and reduced the deficit to less than two minutes before the first category climb of Alto del Rat Penat. Scarponi was alone in the lead when Gianpaolo Caruso and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) split the bunch into pieces. Around fourty riders, including all the favorites, gathered at the top of the hill (km 119) 1:40 behind Scarponi whose presence at the front inclined race leader Nibali to get his team-mates chasing.

With 45 km to go, Scarponi was rejoined by Intxausti, Nocentini, Barguil, Mollema, Santaromita, Txurruka, Coppel, Martinez and Zandio, followed by the bunch two minutes behind. Surprisingly, the gap increased to three minutes at km 37 until the FDJ team moved to the front of the peloton but i twas too late.

Coppel and Martinez tried their luck eight kilometres before the end but were reeled in three kilometres further, firstly by Scarponi, secondly by the rest of the group. Just before the 1-km to go banner, Barguil attacked and claimed a brilliant solo victory. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished safely in the bunch to keep the Red jersey.

Race Comments :
Some questions for stage winner Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano):
Three days ago, you were close to pulling out of the Vuelta after crashing. How does it feel to have reversed the situation? “The crash happened in the neutral zone. It wasn’t like if I had done a mistake. I was pretty disappointed but I didn’t give up. My directeur sportif Marc Reef reminded me that our initial plan was to live it day by day. I’m really happy that I insisted because now, it’s only joy. In the finale, as we were ten at the front, I’ve told myself: I can’t finish tenth! In the team, we have someone who analyses the last 5km with a video, so I knew exactly what to expect. The uphill sprint could have suited me as well but I’ve felt the right moment to go when everyone else looked like resting a bit.”

You’re a neo pro, this is your first Grand Tour, did you expect to come up with such a result? “Coming to the Vuelta, I only had the satisfaction that my team trusted me and gave me the opportunity to ride my first Grand Tour, so my first goal was to finish it.”

Do you realize how exceptional it is to win such a difficult stage in a Grand Tour so young and that it will be reported as the birth of a champion? “I don’t know if it’s the birth of a champion. I only know it comes from a lot of work and sacrifices and that it brings happiness. This victory is for my grand-father who died recently. He gives me strength in the legs when I’m on the bike.”

Since you’ve won the Tour de l’Avenir, do you have a career plan? “It’s still a bit early. My first pro season is a year for discovery. I’m happy with the trust I’m given at Argos-Shimano. I’ve been protected and I received a great help before the uphill finishes. I hope to have the stature of a team captain but it’s also a question of handling the pressure. I’m not sure about the career plan yet but my dream is to win a stage at the Tour de France.”

Experienced riders highlighted how smart you’ve been today. Is this your trademark? “I’ve got cycling in my blood. Maybe there’s a bit of luck in my victory but I also know how to read a race. Today, the breakaway went when legs were hurting badly.”

Yesterday you got selected by the new French national coach Bernard Bourreau in his long list for the world championship. How do you feel about that next goal after the Vuelta? “Firstly, I want to finish the Vuelta. The final selection will be decided after the stage to the Anglirù [on September 14]. If I’m not too tired by then and still in good shape, it’ll go well for the French team at the World’s. Bernard knows the riders from the previous years he coached us in the young categories. He’s going to create a real team, not an addition of individuals.”

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), second: “Rigoberto [Uran] gave me a very good lead out. We had a bit of a plan but not too precise: I had to attack earlier. I sped up as much as I could. But I couldn’t attack before. It looks like I went too early but I had to try something. I didn’t succeed. I can’t be happy with second. I always want to win.”

Bauke Mollema (Belkin) third: “Everybody was attacking each other in the end. Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) rode away in the last K, and it’s like that, no one wanted to chase, and he won. At the start, I was feeling really good, but on the last steep climb, I was not feeling really good anymore. I got third. I was close to victory, so I have to be happy. I will go for the breaks. I am more than 30 minutes back on GC, so hopefully I can win a stage in the next week.”

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp): “It was a nice stage but the last 1.5km was a lot harder than we thought it would be. It was super technical and more uphill than expected. I had a good position at 1km to go banner but I just didn’t have the legs to get my way up the same way Gilbert went. I’m coming in good form. I’d just like to have a flat finish. Maybe at Burgos…”

King of the Mountains Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard): “During the rest day and the time trial, I have the feeling that I put on some weight, so today’s stage has been perfect for leaning. It was hot, we were racing fast, that’s what I needed.”

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) second overall: “I thought it would be a quiet day but the wind obliged us to stay very attentive during the whole stage. I opted for staying away all day. It’s not been a rest day but I’m ok. Yesterday evening, after the time trial I was exhausted. The daily ceremony takes energy from me every day. I must be careful.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) third overall: “We kew it was a day to stay always at the front and everything was fine until Pablo crashed out of the race. It’s really, really sad, because having him by our side is crucial. I rode over a small bump on the road after the incident and broke my rear wheel – Iván Gutiérrez had to give me his bike. It was all so strung out that despite losing so much time changing bikes, I could get into the bunch without losing its sight. That proves how hard we rode today. His bike was too big for me and I had to spend more than 30k in huge pain and discomfort. Even after that, just before the Rat Penat, a spectator hit me on my arm and I suffered a lot during the beginning of the climb. At least we could get through the day the best we could and we’re still into contention, strong and feeling well. Three hard days are coming up now – we hope to recover as much as possible tonight, because these stages will require our maximum. Let’s hope rain stays out in the Pyrenees.”

Vuelta a España Stage 13 Result:
1. Warren Barguil (Fra) Argos-Shimano in 4:00:13
2. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:07
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin
4. Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC
5. Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky
6. Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:24
10. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar at 2:34

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 13:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 49:29:02
2. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 0:31
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:46
4. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:33
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 2:44
7. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 2:52
8. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 3:35
9. Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:46
10. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 3:56.

Stage 13:

Daniele Ratto (Cannondale), 24, claimed the second victory of his pro career – after the GP Larciano in 2010 – in unexpected circumstances. It was a cold and wet day with continuous rain on the way to the col de La Gallina in Andorra at the end of Stage 14.

The Italian rider stayed away after he escaped early with world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Belkin). The latter pulled out due to hypothermia, so did Ratto’s team captain Ivan Basso while race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) consolidated his red jersey as he crossed the line in second position.

Five riders escaped at km 3: Steve Chainel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Graeme Brown and Luis Leon Sanchez (Belkin), Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale). Their maximum advantage was 12.35 when Gilbert won the hot spot sprint at Canillo (km 70), where the front group was reduced to three men as Chainel and Brown got dropped in the Port d’Envalira. The Katusha team rode behind Ratto who remained solo at the head of the race.

Eight riders moved away from the peloton in the col d’Ordino: Jose Herrada (Movistar), Amets Txurruka and David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Igor Anton, Egoï Martinez and Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskaltel), Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM). Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) joined them but they got caught in the downhill while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lost contact with the group of the favorites.

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) also got dropped with 6km to go. Horner attacked 4km from the finish. Only Nibali managed to stay with him. The race leader even gained some time and time bonus on all his rivals as he finished second behind Ratto. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) crossed the line in fourth place 18 seconds after Nibali. Valverde limited the loss at 50 seconds but former runner up Roche conceded 3.29.

A total of fourteen riders pulled out, mainly Basso but also Wouter Poels and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) Jürgen Van de Walle, Jelle Vanendert and Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol), Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff), Chainel and Sanchez.

Race Comments :
Daniele Ratto : “My victory is a poor consolation price”

Your victory reminds the one of your team-mate Alessandro De Marchi at the Dauphiné. Is your long lasting breakaway something you planned as a team? “No, the idea was that I’d be away to help Ivan [Basso] in some downhills when the favorites would catch us. But the peloton let a lot of time to the breakaway. I was feeling good for a couple of days. Unfortunately I got to know after the finish that Ivan had pulled out. He was very lean while I’m the opposite. The extra fat I carry has helped me resisting to the cold today. But my victory is a poor consolation price for Ivan’s withdrawal. I’m sure he was going to finish on the podium.”

When have you realized you were going to win? “I didn’t believe much in my chances. When I remained alone in the lead, there were two climbs left. I’ve made a difference on the wet downhills. Riding a motorbike has made me used to putting my foot out as I did today to avoid crashing. At the bottom of the last one, I knew that I had eight minutes lead. At that point, it was clear that except if I got a serious hungerflat, I could win the stage. I’ve been scared as I felt I was cramping a bit but I’ve managed to deal with that. It’s a special moment for me to succeed in the mountains.”

What kind of rider are you? “Normally I’m a sprinter. The other days at the Vuelta I was taking part in the sprints (9th in stage 5, 15th in stage 12) and now I’m the king of the mountains! But don’t worry, I’ll wear the polka dot jersey for one day only.”

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): “Today it’s been hard! I’ve suffered a lot. Slowly but surely, I’ve found myself again. I’ve fought till the end. I’ve made an important step in the overall classification but there are still some riders not far down. I’m pleased with today’s outcome but there are still many hard stages left. At the Vuelta, there’s always something new that might happen, so I prefer to keep my feet on the ground.”

Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard), third: “This was hard and dangerous. The cold was for everyone but my bike was always shaking in the downhills. I’ve thought I was going to die. I’ve never been so cold. Nibali was very strong. I’m happy that I was the only rider able to stay with him. I would have liked to finish ahead of him but I guess I have to be satisfied with what I’ve done.”

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), fourth: “In the beginning of the stage I didn’t feel good because of the cold weather and the rain,” said Purito. “It was a pretty tough start, but during the stage I managed to find my rythm. So, when I got to the last climb, I felt much better: but Nibali and Horner were too strong today. When they attacked, I decided to keep my own pace. Then, in the final part I tried to recover some seconds and I did. Let’s see what’s going to happen in the next days.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), sixth: “It was a really hard day for me, horrible, cruel; for me, it was the hardest day ever on a bike. Not only due to the hard parcours, but also because of the conditions, which made things much, much harder. I was feeling so cold into the descents, trembling, unable to pedal, I almost crashed. People was overtaking me all the time… I was feeling cold even when climbing – when that happens, everything becomes so difficult.”

“I have to thank my team, because they gave everything for me and their work was phenomenal. Thanks to them, I could get over the day – due to them and the fans, which deserve the best, I could get over it. At the last climb I recovered well, warmed up, got on a nice pace and started overtaking riders. That’s why I’m happy with the result.”

“It was a hellish day for everything. Seeing how many riders withdrew, and thinking about tomorrow’s stage, with 250k including the neutral zone – should the weather develop like today, I don’t really know what will happen. Surrendering? I never surrender. We’re still in 3rd place. Winning the Vuelta will be difficult, but getting a podium finish is always beautiful.”

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), seventh: “I was happy to see the rain this morning. I have a bit of a cold. It’s easier to handle it in these conditions. I was determined to not giving up. I’ve tried to follow Nibali and Horner but I should have waited for Rodriguez instead of putting myself in the red. I won’t forget today’s stage. Two years ago, I pulled out of the Volta Catalunya because of hypothermia. We’ve had terrible conditions at the Tour de Romandie this year too. But I’ve never experienced anything as difficult as today. We’ve gone down from 40 to 4 degrees! I’m relieved to hear that [last classified rider] Kenny Elissonde is safe. He’s very important for me.”

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff): “The worst today was the cold. The temperature was dropping from 40°C to whatever. It’s been a big shock for me.”

Vuelta a España Stage 14 Result:
1. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale in 4:24:00
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 3:53
3. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 3:55
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 4:11
5. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 4:19
6. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 4:43
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 4:46
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
9. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5:17
10. Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura at 5:21.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 14:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 53:56:49
2. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:50
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:42
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:57
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 3:43
6. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 4:06
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 4:34
8. Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura at 5:42
9. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha at 6:28
10. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 6:45.

Stage 14:

Finishing on French soil at Peyragudes in homage to the 100th Tour de France, Stage 15 the Queen-Stage of the Vuelta crowned a Frenchman. Alexandre Géniez of FDJ stayed away from a long lasting breakaway while Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali defended his leadership without any problem.

159 riders took the start of the longest stage of the 2013 Vuelta a España but not Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) who had been sick for a few days. Following several skirmishes, 28 riders managed to go clear in the first hill, the Puerto del Canto whose summit was at 31K’s ; David Arroyo & André Cardoso (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Kenny Elissonde & Alexandre Géniez (FDJ), Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve & Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha), Yaroslav Popovych & Oliver Zaugg (RadioShack Leopard), Yannick Eijssen (BMC), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), Francis De Greef (Lotto Belisol), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Juan Manuel Garate (Belkin), Mikaël Chérel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff), José Herrada & Javier Moreno (Movistar), Dario Cataldo & Sergio Henao (Sky), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), Serge Pauwels (OPQS), Maciej Paterski (Cannondale) and Bartosz Huzarski & José Mendes (NetApp-Endura).

Passing first atop the first two climbs, Edet became the new King of the Mountains. But there was more to be seen from French cyclists. Chérel, Barguil, Géniez and De Greef attacked on the Col de La Bonaigua. Cardoso and Edet helped them to form a group of six leaders. At 100 km, the peloton was six minutes adrift while withdrawals kept being recorded: Luke Rowe (Sky), Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge), World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Graeme Brown (Belkin), Daniel Schorn (NetApp-Endura) and three riders from Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Tony Martin, Zdenek Stybar and Kristof Vandewalle.

Climbing to Port de Balès, Géniez and Cardoso rode away. After 190 km’s, they were 35 seconds ahead of Chérel, 2 :20 before Scarponi, Arroyo, Herrada, Majka, Caruso and Garate. The bunch led by Saxo-Tinkoff was at 5.25. Géniez distanced Cardoso on the downhill and continued solo till the end. Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) attacked but only managed to gain 13 seconds over the top five riders on GC who crossed the finishing line together.

Race Comments :
Stage winner Alexandre Géniez : “I’ll remember this moment all of my life”

How do you feel after your first victory in a Grand Tour? “My first pro win was at the 2011 Tour of Austria. It happened in similar conditions as today. Winning the queen stage of the Vuelta is something exceptional for me. I’d like to win more often but we, as climbers, don’t have as many opportunities as the sprinters. It’s great. I’ll remember this moment all of my life.”

It was a very long stage and you escaped from very far out. What did you have in mind? “Firstly I want to position myself at the front for being useful to Thibaut Pinot in case of the group of the favorites would come across. But thirty riders never form a very organized peloton. I wanted to go as far as I could and only keep motivated riders with me. I didn’t want anybody who was saving energy for later. A mountain stage victory must be well deserved. I hope I do. I gain a fair bit of time in the downhills. I hope this success will be followed by others.”

How did you come back at a high level after a mediocre early part of the season? “At Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, I suffered a lot from the bad weather. I’ve doubted about myself. Race after race, I found it hard to finish in a good state of form. I became confident again at the Dauphiné, which allowed me to get selected for the Tour. I’ve done okay at the Tour but as a team, we didn’t get what we wanted for some reasons. I came out of the Tour tired but not exhausted. The staff offered me the possibility to ride the Vuelta, which was not on my provisional schedule. I thought about it for a few days and I accepted because the Vuelta is better than other races for my development. It was the right choice. However, there’s one week left. It won’t be easy. I’m going to chill out first.”

Have you been disappointed to be left out of the French team for the world championship? “I’ve noticed a couple of days ago that I wasn’t on the long list. It’s no drama. [Coach] Bernard Bourreau knows me since he selected me for the U23 world championship (won by his compatriot Romain Sicard in 2009). He does what he wants. That’s it.”

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): “I don’t know the stage winner. I don’t even know his name [Alexandre Geniez]. The whole bunch wanted to break away! My team-mates Maxim Iglinskiy, Andriy Grivko, Alessandro Vanotti and Paolo Tiralongo have done an excellent work in the first part. It was a very long day with the rain and the cold. There have been many attacks in my group as well, mostly by [Joaquim] Rodriguez, then Chris Horner, Saxo-Tinkoff made the race hard too, so I decided to attack as well but in the final climb there was always some head wind. It was difficult to keep a high rhythm. I couldn’t do more than what I did. Tomorrow is a shorter stage, I hope it’ll be easier too. We’ll have to see the consequences of the hard conditions of these two days in the Pyrenees.”

Runner up Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida): “This Frenchman [Alexandre Geniez] has done a real exploit! He’s been away for 190 kilometres or something. I thought his action was absurd. But he had great legs. Compliments to him! I’ve always believed I could win the stage. But there was too much wind to come across.”

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff), third: “I was very nervous this morning. I was scared of the rain and the cold. Finally, the weather wasn’t so bad. Before the start, I had considered attacking to make up some time. I’ve done it with the help of my team-mates Chris-Anker Sorensen in the Port de Balès, Oliver Zaugg in the downhill and Rafal Majka in the final hill. I would have liked to regain one minute. I only got thirteen seconds but I have no regret.”

Christopher Horner (RadioShack Leopard), sixth: “Fortunately, it was less cold today. But the climbs weren’t steep enough for me to do anything. Nibali is in a too good shape to lose in climbs like this. I know there’ll be harder hills in the coming days. I must say that I’ve got super legs, those of a young man.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) fifth: “I was feeling good, but looking at the rivals, they weren’t doing bad either. We tried some accelerations at the Peyresourde, but it was really difficult: they were really strong and it wasn’t easy to drop them. I’m doing great, not bad at all. There’s still a long way to go in this Vuelta, and despite all favourites being so close to each other, one or another excelling at some point but not so much, we will try to profit from every chance we have. It was a better day in terms of weather today. We got better clothes to resist and the bad moments were not as hard as yesterday’s. Still, the big problem yesterday was spending so many days above 30ºC, even close to 40ºC at the climb on Friday’s stage, then shifting to four or five degrees on top of the Envalira on Saturday. We might have not brought the best clothes for that descent, but the change was brutal. I’m happy with this podium, but we won’t surrender – if there’s a chance, we will go for it.”

New king of the mountains Nicolas Edet (Cofidis): “I find it difficult to realize that I’m wearing the polka dot jersey. I attacked at the bottom of the first climb. Daniele Ratto who wore the polka dot jersey wanted to be part of the breakaway. We got caught but Géniez was the strongest. I managed to come across to him in the second climb, the col de la Bonaigua. Once I passed first at the top, I knew the jersey was mine. I wanted it since the start in Galicia!”

Vuelta a España Stage 15 Result:
1. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ in 6:20:12
2. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 3:03
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:07
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 3:20
5. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek
7. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
9. José Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar at 3:23
10. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 15:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 60:20:21
2. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:50
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:42
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:57
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 3:43
6. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:49
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 4:59
8. Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura at 6:18
9. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 7:46
10. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 11:17.

Stage 15:

Tour of Alberta 2013
BMC Racing Team’s Silvan Dillier out-sprinted Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly presented by Kenda) to win Thursday’s Stage 2 of the Tour of Alberta after the pair rode the final 80 kilometres of the 174.8-km race together.

Dillier – a stagiaire signed from the BMC Development Team last month – and Tvetcov slipped the peloton after the second intermediate sprint. They eventually built a five-and-a-half-minute lead in a race that featured an average speed of 49.2 kph. “I think everybody was a little bit tired after all the attacks,” Dillier said. “So at first we had a big gap. We tried to save something for the final because we knew they wanted to have the bunch sprint again. Then, the last 30 kilometres were going to be really hard. So we tried to save something to go to the end.” The two led by 90 seconds with 10 km to go and by 30 seconds inside the final kilometre. They arrived 16 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), who kept the overall lead after winning the race’s first two stages, and 18 seconds ahead of the field. Dillier added to victories he scored for the BMC Development Team at the Tour de Normandie overall in March, the final stage of Triptyque Ardennais and Cham-Hagendorn in May and at Flèche Ardennaise in June.

BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Jackson Stewart said once Dillier was away with Tvetcov, he convinced the Swiss Under 23 road champion he could make it to the finish. “To tell him to go with 80 kilometres left, no one believes he can win,” Stewart said. “So to win like this is huge. To win for us – in his first pro race – and to win a stage that you didn’t have the biggest favourites as chances to win, is a great feeling for us.” Dillier earned his victory about five hours after world road champion Philippe Gilbert won his first race of the season on Stage 12 at the Vuelta a España. It marked the third time in the past 13 months that the BMC Racing Team has won two races in one day. Last August, Taylor Phinney won the final stage at the USA Pro Challenge the same day Gilbert won Stage 9 of the Vuelta. The same month, Johann Tschopp won the overall title at the Larry H. Miller hours after Alessandro Ballan took the final stage of the Eneco Tour of Benelux. In the overall standings, BMC Racing Team’s Cadel Evans and Brent Bookwalter remain fourth and fifth, respectively, 36 and 37 seconds off Sagan’s lead.

Tour of Alberta Stage 2 Result:
1. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC in 3:32:47
2. Serghei Tvetcov (Mda) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 0:16
4. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:18
5. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
6. Nicolai Brochner (Den) Bissell Pro Cycling
7. Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
8. Travis McCabe (USA) Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis
9. Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Belkin
10. Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Pro Cycling.

Tour of Alberta Overall After Stage 2:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 7:03:34
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:26
3. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Argos-Shimano at 0:28
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 0:36
5. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:37
6. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:43
7. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos-Shimano at 0:44
8. Tom Zirbel (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:46
9. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:47.

Stage 2 and interview with the winner Silvan Dillier (BMC):

Garmin-Sharp’s Rohan Dennis won Stage 3 to Drumheller and took the lead in the overall from Peter Sagan (Cannondale) as BMC’s Brent Bookwalter finished runner-up and moved into second overall, on a day when crosswinds split the peloton and shook up the overall standings.

The BMC Racing Team had four riders – Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Steve Morabito and Jakub Novak – in an 18-man breakaway that formed about 70 kilometres into the 169.8-km race. With their advantage growing to more than five minutes, Burghardt attacked 50 kilometres from the finish to first whittle down the group. The final climb, about 10 kilometres later, led to a select six-man group that included Bookwalter and Morabito. “We knew today with the wind, it was going to be really hard,” Morabito said. “The straightaways were leading to echelons forming. There was a split at first with 40 or 50 riders and we had six guys. We tried again to get some echelons going – Cadel (Evans) was there – and after that it was only 18 guys. We tried to be smart and control the race and also come to the end for the victory.”

Morabito, who earned “most aggressive rider” honours on the day, led out the sprint in the streets of Drumheller. But Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) came around him and held off Bookwalter to take the win and the race lead. “Steve did a really incredible job working for me,” Bookwalter said. “I was confident of my sprint, but I knew it was going to be tough. Dennis had gapped me in the bonus sprints the past two days. So I knew he was really quick and the guy to beat. I maybe tried to come around him a little too early.” Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) finished third while Morabito was sixth. Bookwalter is 11 seconds behind in the overall standings, but said the race lead is still within reach. “We have two more days and a really hard day tomorrow,” he said, “so we’ll see what we can do.”

Tour of Alberta Stage 3 Result:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 3:55:31
2. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale
4. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos-Shimano
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin
6. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC
7. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:09
8. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC
9. Jakub Novak (Cze) BMC
10. Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Pro Cycling.

Tour of Alberta Overall After Stage 3:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp in 10:59:18
2. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:18
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 0:30
4. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos-Shimano at 0:31
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:34
6. Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda at 0:54
7. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda at 0:55
8. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:56
9. Matthias Friedemann (Ger) Champion System at 1:12
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 1:15.

Stage 3:

Cadel Evans won his first race of the season and the BMC Racing Team’s second at the Tour of Alberta when he out-sprinted four breakaway companions at the end of the 169.6-kilometre Stage 4.

Evans scored the BMC Racing Team’s 29th victory of the year – and its 16th in the past six weeks – by biding his time in the sprint at the end of a cool, rainy stage. “You have to look at who’s going well,” Evans said. “I had an idea (Tom Jelte) Slagter was a pretty fast finisher but I didn’t know for the Argos rider (Simon Geschke). So I had to play a bit of luck there, but mainly just patience and waiting it out until the end.” Geschke finished second and Slagter was third as Evans added to the victory by BMC Racing Team stagiaire Silvan Diller, who won out of a two-man breakaway on Thursday. Evans’s victory was his first since winning Stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné in June of 2012. Teammate Brent Bookwalter finished with the peloton nearly 10 minutes later and remains second overall, 18 seconds behind Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) with a day of the race to go.

Like on Friday’s stage – when Bookwalter nearly gave the BMC Racing Team a stage win in a six-up sprint – the day’s original breakaway was whittled down. Nine riders were part of an escape that rapidly built a lead of more than 10 minutes. Geschke attacked with 50 km to go and 16 km later, only five remained in front. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a breakaway that’s gone to the finish,” Evans said. “My hope was being so long away, and a little bit hilly today, that it was going to wear the other guys down. With me being a three-week rider, certainly the harder it is, the better I am in the final against the others. In the end, a bit of cold, a bit of rain, two hills, and a few rough, muddy roads worked out in the end. Most of all, it was the timing that won it for me.”

Tour of Alberta Stage 4 Result:
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC in 3:57:18
2. Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano
3. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin
4. Benjamin Day (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
5. Antoine Duchesne (Can) Canadian National Team
6. Scott Zwizanski (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 1:49
7. Nic Hamlton (Can) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda
8. Clay Murfet (Aus) Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis
9. Ryan Roth (Can) Champion System
10. Luke Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team at 9:44.

Tour of Alberta Overall After Stage 4:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp in 15:06:20
2. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:18
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 0:30
4. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos-Shimano at 0:31
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:34
6. Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda at 0:54
7. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda at 0:55
8. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:56
9. Matthias Friedemann (Ger) Champion System at 1:12
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 1:15.

Stage 4:

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won the Final Stage 5 into Calgary after 129 kilometres from a big bunch, Lua Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) was second and UnitedHealthcare’s Robert Forest came in third.

Rohan Dennis of Garmin-Sharp finished in the bunch to keep his overall lead as Brent Bookwalter finished runner-up overall at 18 seconds and the BMC Racing Team won the team classification. The results capped a week that saw the BMC Racing Team win two stages, finish runner-up on another, and place five riders in the top 20 overall.

Bookwalter finished 18 seconds behind race winner Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), who had edged him in a head-to-head sprint on Stage 3 that ultimately decided the top of the final standings. Bookwalter said contesting the overall was an unexpected opportunity that will go down as one of the highlights of his season. “It’s a nice reminder that success often comes when you don’t expect it and you have to be open to opportunities and kind of seize the day,” he said. “It means a lot in my development as a rider. I’ve had two second-place overalls this year, which are my best-ever GC (general classification) results. It’s nice confirmation of my improvement and, hopefully, I can keep going up from there.” The result was Bookwalter’s fourth runner-up of the season, adding to silver medal-finishes at the USA Cycling national road and time trial championships in May and his second place overall at the Tour of Qatar in February.

Four others from the BMC Racing Team joined Bookwalter in the top 20: Jakub Novak (11th), Steve Morabito (12th), Marcus Burghardt (13th) and Cadel Evans (17th). Evans won Stage 4 Saturday while teammate Silvan Dillier – who was signed to a contract for the 2014 season by the BMC Racing Team Sunday – won Stage 2 on Thursday. Amaël Moinard and Larry Warbasse were the seventh and eighth members of the squad that took home a team classification for the sixth time this season, adding to titles won at the USA Pro Challenge, Amgen Tour of California, Tour of Oman, Tour of Qatar and the Tour de San Luis. BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Jackson Stewart said he could not have asked for much more in the way of results. “Coming here, we were a little worried with how the courses were – that they weren’t super suited to our team,” he said. “We raced a little differently than normal, being aggressive and taking chances, and it paid off two days. And with the windy day, Brent capitalized on that. There were so many things that we weren’t even looking for that we got.”

Tour of Alberta Stage 5 Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale in 2:42:20
2. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
3. Robert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
4. Luke Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
5. Nicolai Brochner (Den) Bissell Pro Cycling
6. Charles Bradley Huff (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda
7. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
8. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
9. Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
10. Pierrick Naud (Can) Equipe Garneau-Québecor.

Tour of Alberta Final Overall Result:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp in 17:48:40
2. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC at 0:18
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale at 0:30
4. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos-Shimano at 0:31
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 0:41
6. Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda at 0:54
7. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda at 0:55
8. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 0:56
9. Matthias Friedemann (Ger) Champion System at 1:19
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 1:22.

The final stage 5:

Brussels Cycling Classic 2013:
André Greipel has won the first edition of the Brussels Cycling Classic, the race that succeeds Paris – Bruxelles. A breakaway of six was formed in two times. After Jonathan Castroviejo, Björn Thurau and Julien Vermote had taken off they got the company of Koen Barbé, Florent Barle and Laurens De Vreese 51 kilometres after the start. They had a maximal lead of five minutes. In the peloton Lotto Belisol took control.

Between 60 and 35 kilometres from the finish a battle began in the background. Several riders jumped away. Kenny Dehaes joined one attempt. None of the actions were successful. On the second ascent of the Smeysberg the front group fell apart. Barbé and Barle were dropped for good. The peloton broke in two pieces for a moment, but Lotto Belisol was well in front. Sander Cordeel and trainee Stig Broeckx were leading the chase on the leaders.

Seven kilometres from the end, when Jens Debusschere just had a puncture, the escapees were caught. Lars Boom set up a late attack, but in the final kilometre he was caught. German national champion André Greipel sprinted to the victory before his fellow countryman John Degenkolb and Nacer Bouhanni.

André Greipel: “We started with the idea to try to win this race, everybody was very motivated. The whole team really deserved the victory today, because we took the responsibility. The guys really did a great job to keep the break close enough, between a 1’ and 1’30” gap. Everybody of us was committed to prepare for a bunch sprint. This was good teamwork. It turned out well and I’m really happy. Every victory is special, but certainly here in Brussels as we are a Belgian team. The sponsors and riders are happy with the victory.”

“At the end Lars Boom jumped away, he is one of the guys who always tries a stunt like this. We had to gamble for the bunch sprint and hope he couldn’t hold the gap. In the last corner I was a bit far back, but Marcel Sieberg brought me in about tenth position. Then I had to go really early for the sprint, I already started with 350 meters to go. I think that’s why I could surprise everyone. When the last lead-out guy for Bouhanni finished his job I had to move to the left, but luckily I could pass. Without that I think I would have even gotten a bigger gap.”

Brussels Cycling Classic Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol in 4:55:58
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
5. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
7. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
9. Kévin Reza (Fra) Europcar
10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Brussels Cycling Classic highlights:

In Sunday’s 81st edition of the French one-day race, Grand Prix de Fourmies over 205 kilometres, a group of six riders managed to escape the main field in a quest for the victory but they were up against a raging pack of sprinters. FDJ and Ag2r-La Mondiale worked hard in the head of the field controlling the pace of the pack and limit the gap to the escapees.

As the break was caught, Canondale took control of the pace, which soon exploded the field and a new front group was established. But a complete pack entered the finish line and in the bunch sprint, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) took the win ahead of André Greipel (Lotto Belisol).

GP de Fourmies/La Voix du Nord Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ in 4:37:29
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol
3. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
4. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana
6. Tom Veelers (Ned) Argos-Shimano
7. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
8. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale
9. Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
10. Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia.

GP Fourmies:

Grand prix de Fourmies, arrivée et victoire de… por lobservateurdelavesnois

Sandy Casar Retires
After15 years at FDJ Sandy Casar has decided to hang up his wheels at the end of the season. The 34 year old says that allergy problems and a series of injuries have caused him to consider retirement. He finished 6th in the 2006 Giro d’Italia and 11th in the 2009 Tour de France. He told French newspaper Le Parisien “Since the beginning of the season I have had allergy problems, and even worse, a recurring back problem that prevents me from being at my best. I am always looking for old feelings, but I cannot find them.”

Dirk Bellemakers also Retires
Lottto Belisol’s Dirk Bellemakers has announced his retirement via his personal website. The 30 year old sighted a new career as the reason as he does have a degree in Commercial Economics. He turned Pro 2004 with the small Van Vliet-EBH Advocaten, moving up to Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner and Lotto Belisol for this season.

Bellemakers said in a Press Release: “I enjoyed the past seven years in the professional cycling scene with commitment, character and full dedication. The sport of cycling has given me a suitcase full of memories and a lot of experiences. I wouldn’t have missed this period for the world. I end my cycling career with my head held high. I am not excluding the possibility that I will return to cycling. My involvement with and passion for the sport is too big. My degree in commercial economics will help me further. Where I will work and what I will do, is too early to tell.” He added: “Of course I would have like to announce my retirement differently. I am also aware there is a crisis in cycling at the moment and therefore hope this step I took represents the right decision. I have no arguments not do it. I greet and thank all my supporters who have been supporting me throughout all these years.”

Patrick Gretsch to Ag2r-La Mondiale
Patrick Gretsch of Argos-Shimano has signed a 2 year contract with the French team; Ag2r-La Mondiale for next season. The German turned Pro for HTC-Highroad in 2010 before moving on to 1t4i that became Argos-Shimano.

French Worlds Team
The French Cycling Federation has announced its list of pre-selected riders for the World time trial and road race championships, the final selection will be made on the 15th of September:

Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) – time trial & road race
Jérémy Roy (FDJ) – time trial.

Romain Bardet (Ag2r – La Mondiale) – road race
Warren Barguil (Argos – Shimano) – road race
Jérôme Coppel (Cofidis) – road race
Tony Gallopin (Radioshack Leopard) – road race
Cyril Gautier (Europcar) – road race
Blel Kadri (Ag2r – La Mondiale) – road race
Amaël Moinard (BMC) – road race
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) – road race
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r – La Mondiale) – road race
Anthony Roux (FDJ) – road race
Arthur Vichot (FDJ) – road race
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) – road race.

Norwegian World’s Team
Stig Kristiansen, the Norwegian team manager has announced his three riders for the Worlds championships. Thor Hushovd, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Lard Petter Nordhaug will start the championships and Alexander Kristoff will be the non-riding reserve. Strangely Kristoff is the country’s highest point earner.

Irish World’s Team
Four men will compete in the Elite Men’s Road Race team. Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) have been named for the team, with the final position to be decided shortly. Four riders are being considered for the last position on the team. A decision on participation in the Time Trial will be made after this weekend.

The World’s Circuit Re-Con
The Castelli equipped, Italian National Road Team, with the Italian ‘Commissario Tecnico’, Paolo Bettini, had the occasion to visit for the first time the course of the UCI Road World Championships where this year’s titles will be awarded.

Thanks to the support of the Paolo Bettini and Gabriele Balducci, Castelli had the oppotunity to do a couple of laps with the Italian team on the challenging circuit.

The road race course is one of the hardest for many years, and will provide some spectacular racing. There will be a form of “natural selection” in the final phases. It will not be enough to have strong individuals: there will have to be a united team, one able to collaborate well.

The Elite men covers a total distance of 272.5km, with more than 3000m of climbing, as much as in a mountain stage at one of the Grand Tours. The total distance during the 10 circuits around Florence in the Elite men’s race add up to 58.6km of climbing or 30% of the distance covered on the circuit.

The road race championships will be held in Florence, Italy, between September 22-29, 2013.

Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it down the right hand side on the home page, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.


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