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EuroTrash Monday!

A terrific weekend of cycle sport action: Stannard takes the Omloop and Boonen grabs Kuurne, plus all the results, reports and video from: Murcia, Almería, Sud Ardèche, Lugano, La Drôme and we catch-up with the Tour of Langkawi. In other cycling news Rassmussen makes TOP STORY, goodbye to Kristof Goddaert, ASO Wild Cards and Sanremo & Romandie Routes. All in EuroTrash Monday!

TOP STORY: Rasmussen/Rabobank Case Closed
OK its maybe not the ‘TOP STORY’ of the day, but it does give us the chance to laugh at this video of Michael Rassmussen and his Mexican cover up, here is the story: The Danish web-site Ekstra Bladen is reporting that the dispute between Michael Rassmussen and his ex-employers, Rabobank is at an end with Rassmussen coming to an agreement over €665,000 he had been awarded in a previous hearing. Both sides had appealed the case and the court agreed with the Dutch bank and threw out Rassmussen’s claim for €5.6 million compensation. What the end deal might be is confidential, Rassmussen said; “It is not a secret that the case is over but we agreed that the contents of the deal will be kept confidential.”

Rassmussen: In Holland or Mexico?

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2014
Ian Stannard (Sky) out-sprinted BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet in Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after a rain soaked battle that had everyone guessing the final result until the last pedal strokes.

With about 16 kilometres to go in the 198-km race, Stannard and Van Avermaet separated themselves from a select group that had been whittled down by the toll of the rain, cold, several crashes and 10 climbs that distinguish the opening Belgian classic. The pair shared the workload to hold off the pursuers; Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) and Stannard’s teammate, Edvald Boasson Hagen (who ultimately finished third). Stannard jumped with 300 meters to go and surprised Van Avermaet with a very strong charge to the line. “During the final, I was really cold, but I thought I could be my best in the sprint,” Van Avermaet said. “But he (Stannard) surprised me and took two meters. My body didn’t react anymore as I thought it would react. It is a disappointment because I thought I would be the strongest in the sprint.” Van Avermaet, fifth place the past two years and fourth in 2009, called his best result in the race a missed opportunity from a perfect situation. “You know if you are in the break with Stannard he always keeps going until the finish,” he said. “And normally I should be able to beat him in the sprint. But I think the weather conditions fit him better.”

BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney, who was active in the chase of an earlier breakaway that included Lars Boom (Belkin) and Terpstra, finished seventh. “Phinney rode a fantastic race, tactically really well,” BMC Racing Team Sporting Manager Allan Peiper said. “He brought the group back to the group of Boom and that made the big difference for Greg in the final.” Peiper said there were several take-aways from the team’s 10th runner-up result of the season. “It was a disappointment not to win and I think Greg is really disappointed as well, being as it is his home race and all the rest,” he said. “But looking forward, I think he did a fantastic job as a team leader and the team rode really well as a strong block together. That serves us really well for the classics that are coming up.”

The BMC Racing Team lost Norwegian national road champion Thor Hushovd to a crash with about 92 km to go. The race winner here in 2009 said he had no time to react on the rain-slickened pavement. “There was braking in the front and one CCC Polsat guy didn’t have time to brake and went straight into me,” Hushovd said. “I don’t think anything is broken; that’s a good thing.” Hushovd was taken to a local hospital where X-rays confirmed nothing was broken. Meanwhile, Rick Zabel started the race in place of Manuel Quinziato, who injured his left ankle when it was struck by a wheelchair a few days ago. Dr. Dario Spinelli said in order to allow Quinziato’s Achilles to heal; Phinney will replace Quinziato on the roster for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday.

Race winner Ian Stannard (Sky): “I knew the guys behind us had dropped off a bit so it was just about playing it right,” he told Sporza. “I felt strong on the lead-in and I was confident for the sprint. I knew 300 metres was a good distance. I needed to wind it up a little bit and not have it be super fast. It worked out well. I knew I had to try and hit him as hard as I could and I was able to get a gap.”

“Today I felt well, I had good legs,” OPQS’s Niki Terpstra said. “When I attacked I went with Boom and Boasson Hagen, but when I remained with Boasson Hagen I preferred to wait for the group behind. I was pretty sure that a few of my teammates were there but only Stijn was there. I didn’t know that Tom, Styby and the other guys had a few troubles because of the cold. It’s a pity because I think that Boasson Hagen and I could have gone until the finish, and at that time I could have taken the podium or maybe try to win, even if Boasson Hagen is a faster sprinter than me. But that’s cycling. Tomorrow is another day and we will see what we can get.”

“It was a terrible day with rain and low temperatures,” Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) said. “I constantly suffered in this kind of weather. In the final I had also cramps everywhere. All my muscles were frozen and I couldn’t eat. I wasn’t the only one to suffer in these conditions; also Stybar, Trentin and Van Keirsbulck had some troubles. Probably it was the coldest day of my career, even more than last year at Milano-Sanremo. Tomorrow I will take the start at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. As usual it will be a completely different race than today. Normally we will see a sprint and as usual we will try to do our best to be there and fight for the victory.”

Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol): “The moment that Boasson Hagen, Terpstra and Vanmarcke responded to the attack of Stannard and Van Avermaet I hesitated. I should have gone with them. Sep Vanmarcke obviously was the strongest man in the race, he was impressive. On the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat I had a good feeling and thought everything was still possible. It was a race in which the circumstances were changing all the time and that’s why it was hard to assess the situation. I was indeed alone in the final. It would have been better if I had the support of teammates in the section of the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat so I could have done less efforts myself. I’m disappointed about the result; I had hoped to perform better. It didn’t turn out as I expected.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Result:
1. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky in 4:49:55
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky at 0:24
4. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin
5. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 1:34
7. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC
8. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Giant-Shimano
9. Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis
10. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Fdj.fr.

Het Nieuwsblad last K action:

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2014
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team raced the 197 kilometre Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne to perfection on Sunday. Sensing a delay in the peloton on the Oude Kwaremont, Stijn Vandenbergh accelerated on the front when OPQS happened to be in a good position.

Catching most teams in a vulnerable moment, OPQS and Belkin took advantage of the unexpected situation, causing a 10-rider race split with a few riders up the road in a breakaway. Vandenbergh, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Matteo Trentin, Tom Boonen, and Nikolas Maes worked brilliantly together as they quickly established a gap on a peloton that was slow to react. They caught the breakaway and kept the tempo high.

This turned out to be the action of the day. The gap stayed at about a minute for the remainder of the race thanks to a lead group that worked very well together. Maes was able to stay with Boonen until the sprint, while Vandenbergh, Van Keirsbulck, and Trentin put in tremendous work to maintain the gap, and also neutralize an attack by Maarten Wynants (Belkin) with 3.6km to go. OPQS remained calm on the front and once Wynants was caught, even Vandenbergh was able to get a small gap on the field before he was caught with a little more than a kilometre to go.

The lead group then spread across the road approaching the final sprint. Boonen, who was well protected by Maes, launched his sprint early. He was able to hold his power to the line and added a bike throw for good measure. His victory was truly one that can be credited to the entire team as the tactics, and the efforts of all riders, were flawless.

Moreno Hofland (Belkin) was 2nd, and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) was third. Vandenbergh — after working on the front all day and causing the initial split — was 5th, Van Keirsbulck 7th, Maes 8th, and Trentin 9th after giving his all to catch back onto the group with a kilometre remaining.

“I’m very happy about this victory especially if I think about yesterday’s race,” Tom Boonen said. “Today I felt good the entire day, I was completely recovered and this was a good sign. We did our race, we controlled the other teams and then on the Oude Kwaremont we accelerated. To be honest it wasn’t something programmed. Stijn Vandenbergh did a good tempo and at the top, after the false flat, we realized that we were all in the front. So we upped the pace and we went. It was still far from the finish and maybe a bit risky, but also the other teams who had to chase were tired. Fortunately we had three Belkin riders in the group and they really work hard with us. Everybody in the group worked hard to go to the finish. We all believed in this action. To me it was better to arrive in a small group instead of facing a bunch sprint, so we made the race hard. In the final I was a bit nervous because we could only lose this race with five of us in the front. In the last 20 kilometres we started to think about the sprint. I was expecting more attacks but there was a lot of wind and it wasn’t easy to attack. I have to thank the whole team. We showed once again that we are a good group. After the winter I understood that I was ok, that I was ready for a good season. I won at Tour of Qatar but of course this race in my home country has a special taste, even if it doesn’t change a lot. As usual we will check the ’the balance’ of my first part of the season after Roubaix, but of course this weekend makes me confident for the upcoming weeks.”

“It was very nice to have five guys in a group of 10 riders,” Vandenbergh, the rider who caused the split, said after the race. “At the Oude Kwaremont we had picked up the tempo and happened to get a gap. After that, with the wind it was a little bit like racing in Qatar. We did a good job, and all of the riders in the breakaway worked well together. It was a hard race. Not hard like yesterday with the rain and the cold, but when you are in front you have to ride hard to maintain the gap. Yesterday we did a good job, but lost some guys due to the cold. Today we showed we are one of the strongest teams for the Classics. That’s a good sign for us, but also for Tom to show he is back on the level of a couple years ago. It’s good for his confidence, and a day like today is good for the confidence of the whole team.”

“We have a really strong team, and I think after Tour of Qatar we gave another demonstration of just how strong the team is,” OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere said. “We are a Belgian team; we have Belgian sponsors, so of course doing well in a Belgian race is important. But it’s everyone on the team who wants to win — a group of diverse nationalities. I am happy not just that we won today, but it’s the way we won. As for Tom Boonen, he is back on the level that he was in 2012, the level everyone knows. I am very proud of the team effort today and that Tom was able to complete the job.”

Belkin took the bull by the horns in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and it paid off. Moreno Hofland nearly beat Tom Boonen in a sprint for the victory and finished second. Sep Vanmarcke, who ended up fourth in yesterday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, crossed the line third to give Belkin Pro Cycling Team two riders on the final podium.

Hofland punched his handlebars on his Bianchi Infinito CV in frustration right after the finish, but quickly realised he’d ridden a very strong race. “When Boonen beats you, you don’t have to be ashamed of yourself, but immediately after a race it’s not very pleasant, of course,” said Hofland. “A few moments later I realised what I had done. Tom Boonen is not just another rider.”

Hofland came up short by less than a wheel to Boonen in the sprint. With a bit of luck, the Dutchman might have defeated the veteran Belgian. “It went from left to right in the sprint and, when Boonen accelerated; I was boxed in a bit.” Hofland also lost some energy because he took his pulls in the break. There was no other option, said Vanmarcke. “In the last 15 kilometres, Moreno was able to save some energy, but before that, there was no way that he could just sit and wait for a sprint. The peloton could have caught us, especially because Van Summeren and Lampaert were all by themselves in our break and didn’t work at all.”

Vanmarcke also fought for the win for the second day in a row after his fourth place in yesterday’s Omloop. After ‘Kuurne,’ the Belgian admitted that he would have loved to win one of the weekend’s races, but he was proud of the teamwork. “If you race to win, you cannot be satisfied easily. I was close on both occasions, but I’d really hoped to win at least one. As a team we rode two great races,” said Vanmarcke. “We accomplished almost everything we wanted to. Now we know how we need to do it, and we have gained a lot of confidence. We have to build on this. Hopefully, I can get in the mix in the next classic races as well.”

Nico Verhoeven was a proud man after Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The Sport Director said Belkin Pro Cycling team took the initiative and showed courage. “We can be proud of what we’ve done,” said Verhoeven. “We did terribly well. We changed the dynamic of the race. Our acceleration with 80 kilometres to go proved decisive. That was real teamwork. The guys in the pack were professional neutralizing the peloton. If you end up losing to a very strong Boonen, you have to be satisfied. We were beaten in a fair way, and that feels a lot better than what happened yesterday, with Lars Boom and his puncture.” Jetse Bol and Barry Markus crashed during Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, but the two youngsters were not seriously injured. “They’re okay,” stated Verhoeven.
Thanks to OPQS and Belkin teams.

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Result:
1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 4:28:55
2. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin
3. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin
4. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
5. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Maarten Wijnants (Bel) Belkin
7. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
8. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick Step
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
10. Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp.

If you missed the race here is the final 40 kilometres:

Vuelta a Murcia 2014
Alejandro Valverde has not only won his local race, the Vuelta a Murcia, but also impressed by the way he did it. The 190 kilometres of the race started with a break of 7 riders: Oyarzun (Efapel), Enrique Sanz (Movistar) and Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) were the strongest. The Movistar team controlled the peloton without much problem apart from a crash involving Dayer Quintana. Then on the climb of the Collado Bermejo, Valverde attacked on the descent with around 45 kilometres to go to join Jérôme Coppel (Cofidis). They achieved more than a 1 minute lead until crosswind and Davide Rebellin’s CCC Polsat team began to work and gave chase to catch them with 15 kilometres remaining. On the final climb to the Castillo de Lorca, Valverde clung to the wheel of the attacking Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) on the steep ramps and then beat him easily in the final sprint with Rebellin third.

Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde: “I couldn’t race it some years, and I came close to winning last season – I really wanted to get a victory at home. I had the confidence from last week’s racing in Andalucía, but there were some team-mates who could do well, too – we had to wait and value our chances when we were on the road. We still wanted to approach the climbs fast to make a selection into the group, and we succeeded. I chose to jump after Coppel to release some pressure off my team-mates’ shoulders. Even though we got more than one minute, I knew it was hard for the two of us to reach the finish, because we could open a gap when the wind blew on our tail, but once we took the turn in Totana, the group would catch us – that’s how it happened, and that’s why I preferred to save energy in the finale, making the others behind spend energy while our guys could sit on their wheels. When we saw how everyone was going, we decided to play my card again. Machado attacked really strong, and even though Nairo went for him in the beginning, he eventually went solo. He was making a serious gap and I decided to make a long attack. When I was reaching him, I took some breath to accelerate again – and it turned out well. I dedicate this victory to all my family, who were present here, and to the Murcian fans, who support me all year and were impressive on the roads today. Tomorrow in Almería, it will be time to work hard and keep this chance alive, but this time with another team-mate.”

Second placed Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura): “The team supported me brilliantly and I’m very grateful to them all for that. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough for the win, but I gave it my all to finish in second, because some riders were right behind me and I really wanted to get a good result for my team.”

Vuelta a Murcia Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 5:06:53
2. Tiago Machado (Por) Netapp-Endura 0:00:03
3. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Polsat-Polkowice
4. Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis at 0:05
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar at 0:07
6. Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Netapp-Endura at 0:09
8. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskadi
10. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis at 0:14.


Classic Sud Ardèche 2014
BMC Racing Team’s Philippe Gilbert opened his European racing season Saturday with third place at Classic Sud Ardèche.

Gilbert avoided a crash in one of the last turns of the 194.8-kilometer race to finish behind winner Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and runner-up Michal Golas (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step). “I knew it was important to make that turn in the first position because it was very narrow, with a bad road and a lot of risk,” Gilbert said. “I made the turn in fifth but one of first guys crashed, so I had to brake. It was the same for everybody – we all had to brake. So the winner was the guy who shifted the fastest to have the right gear and start again, because after the corner it was less than 200 meters.” Earlier, the past world road champion had been part of a group of a dozen riders who got a gap inside of 30 km to go. But Gilbert said the situation was not to his liking. “I looked behind and saw Quick Step chasing with a group of about 40 guys, so I decided to save some power because I knew they were going to come back,” he said. After a group of six escaped with about 20 km to go, the BMC Racing Team went to work to help with the chase. Ben Hermans combined with Tour du Haut Var Stage 2 winner Amaël Moinard and past Olympic road champion Samuel Sánchez to make the catch as the race reached the final kilometre. “It was good job by Ben, Amaël and Samuel to work hard in the last 10 kilometres for Philippe,” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said. “They were working well together.” Gilbert’s result was his best on the season, improving on an eighth-place result in the individual time trial at the Tour of Qatar.
Thanks to Sean at BMC.

Classic Sud Ardèche Result:
1. Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement in 5:14:35
2. Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
5. Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) La Pomme Marseille 13
6. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar
7. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin
8. Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek
9. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
10. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step.

Classic Sud Ardeche 2014 Resume by FR3:

La Drôme Classic 2014
Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was the winner of the French classic La Drome Classic (UCI 1.1) after 189 kilometres. In a race of continuous changes, Bardet managed to play its cards from a group of six riders and has dropped Sébastien Delfosse (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Mikael Chérel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ.fr) and Ricardo Zoidl (Trek) who were then caught by a chase group before the line.

La Drôme Classic Result:
1. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale In 4:39:00
2. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel Wallonie-Bruxelles at 0:09
3. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Goubert
5. Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
6. Mikael Cherel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
8. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
10. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ.fr.

La Drôme Classic:

GP Lugano 2014
Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo) won the UCI 1.1 Grand Prix di Lugano in Switzerland on Sunday, out-sprinting the lead group for the final triumph. Giovanni Carboni (D’Amico-Area Zero), Igor Frolov (ITERA-Katusha), Davide Ballerini (Team Idea), Leigh Howard & Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Matteo Collodel (Idea), Andrea Vaccher (Marchiol Emisfero) and Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF) were the main eight animators of the day, all were caught, the last being Yates and Canola.

Lampre-Merida could rely on Cunego and Ulissi, but they only obtained 4th and 3rd places, while the victory was for Finetto from Colbrelli. Lampre-Merida DS Pedrazzini said: “I’m satisfied for the performance on the team during the race, not the same for what concerns the sprint. We controlled very well the breakaway, Bonifazio was in the first attack attempt, then an action by Ulissi selected heavily the group. In the sprint, Cunego started in advance, while Ulissi was forced to a comeback because he approached the sprint in a back position. Both their attempts were not enough to precede Finotti and Colbrelli.”

GP Lugano Result:
1. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Jérome Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling
6. Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia
8. Matej Mugerli (Slo) Adria Mobil
9. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale
10. Paolo Ciavatta (Ita) D’Amico-Area Zero.

GP Lugano highlights:

Clásica de Almería 2014
Sam Bennett, Team NetApp – Endura’s Irish newcomer, has won the 29th Clásica de Almería. This win not only marks the team’s first victory of the season, but Bennett’s first win as a professional cyclist. After 178 kilometers, the 23-year-old sprinting talent prevailed in a group sprint ahead of Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Davide Vigano (Caja Rural). Tiago Machado, who came in second in the Tour of Murcia yesterday, completed the team’s excellent performance with ninth place.

“The guys got me perfectly to about 600m to go. I was well position in the last corner. I had to go at 250m because the pace dropped. I came around everyone and took the inside line. At 100m to go my legs started yo buckle and I thought I wasn’t going to make it. But luckily I did!” Sam Bennett said after his first professional win.

“I am so happy to have taken my first win as a pro with Team NetApp – Endura. It was a very nice race today great weather and great roads. Movistar set a nice hard tempo on the climbs and split it in the final with cross winds. It was good for me because it tired everyone else out and got rid of other sprinters. I want to thank all of my team mates who helped me every single chance they got. They really made my job easier and for sure this result came as a result of great team work!”, Bennett continued.

“I am very happy with today’s results. An early win is so important for motivating the team. Our guys put in a great team performance yesterday, and today they even managed to surpass that effort. Iker Camano, Tiago Machado, and Erick Rowsell aren’t usually Sam’s lead-out riders. That is why I am all the more pleased that everything worked so perfectly today and that Sam is able to rely on all of his teammates. I hope that we will be able to maintain this level, the atmosphere in the team and this racing style for our upcoming races,” said Alex Sans Vega, Sport Director of Team NetApp – Endura, praising the team’s performance.

After multiple attacks at the start of the race, a breakaway group of seven riders was able to pull away from the field after 15 kilometers. The peloton never lost control of the group and did not allow them to build up more than a 2:30-minute lead. After the final climb, 50 kilometers before the finish line, the field was forced to come back together. The breakaway riders were caught soon thereafter and the field headed towards the finish line as a pack. The group that would decide the outcome of the race then pulled away 20 kilometers before the finish line. 19 riders, including four from Team NetApp – Endura, took off and quickly built up a one-minute lead. Thanks to support from his teammates, Sam Bennett was able to conserve valuable energy for the final kilometers and commandingly win the sprint.
Thanks to the NetApp-Endura team for the race info.

Clásica de Almería Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Netapp-Endura in 4:21:33
2. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
3. Davide Vigano (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
4. Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar
5. Stéphane Poulhies (Fra) Cofidis
6. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar at 0:02
7. Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
8. Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis
9. Tiago Machado (Por) Netapp-Endura at 0:06
10. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Polsat Polkowice.

Sam Bennett wins the Clásica de Almería:

Tour de Langkawi 2014
The Colombia team celebrated its first victory of the year in its debut at the Tour de Langkawi with Duber Quintero, who took his first pro win in a brilliant solo effort to the line in Langkawi at the end of the 101 kilometres of Stage 1. Part of a 5-man breakaway, Duber kicked out with 2 km to go, opening the 11-second gap he needed to raise his arms and enjoy the complete taste of his maiden victory on the big stage.

Duber dropped former fellow escapees Matt Brammeier (Synergy Baku) and Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), while the peloton led by Astana sprinter Andrea Guardini, came in after 1:18.

In addition to the stage win, Quintero took the first overall leader’s jersey: due to the bonifications, he leads the classification with 22 seconds on Clarke and 24 on Brannmeier, while also taking on the Sprints Classification blue jersey.

The winning action started just after the start of the 1st stage of the 10-day race, ridden in very hot weather on the Malaysian island: five men – Quintero, Brammeier, Clarke, Aziz (Terengganu) and Goh (Singapore) – moved on the break, and went on to open a huge 7-plus-minute gap taking advantage of the lack of response by the sprinters’ teams. “We had very good cooperation in the break, while the peloton did not react and when they did, it was too late,” Quintero said.

With the pack out of contention, and the breakaway group down to four units after Aziz was dropped, Quintero made his move with 2 km to go: “I know I am not the fastest sprinter in the world, hence trying to go solo was really my best shot. At 2.000 metres to go I took advantage of a moment of distraction, and the gamble paid off.”

“I am excited for myself, for my team that celebrates its first joy of the year, for all the Colombian fans. I wish to dedicate this victory to my teammates, all the people that work with us every day, and to everyone who believed in me.”

General Manager Claudio Corti was understandably pleased to comment on the first victory of the year: “In three seasons, we had never managed to win so early in the year, and I see it as a very significant indication: it means our team is progressively succeeding in blending into international cycling, and now we are seeing the results. Hats off to Duber and to the whole team!”

Tour de Langkawi Stage 1 Result:
1. Duber Quintero (Col) Colombia in 2:21:40
2. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Synergy Baku at 0:11
3. Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare
4. Choon Huat Goh (Sin) OCBC Singapore at 0:15
5. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 1:18
6. Anuar Manan (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team
7. Kenny Van Hummel (Ned) Androni Giocatolli-Venezuela
8. Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Michael Schweizer (Ger) Synergy Baku
10. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge.

Tour de Langkawi Overall After Stage 1:
1. Duber Quintero (Col) Colombia in 2:21:21
2. Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare at 0:22
3. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Synergy Baku at 0:24
4. Choon Huat Goh (Sin) OCBC Singapore at 0:33
5. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 1:37
6. Anuar Manan (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team
7. Kenny Van Hummel (Ned) Androni Giocatolli-Venezuela
8. Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Michael Schweizer (Ger) Synergy Baku
10. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge.

Stage 1:

Theo Bos won his first race of the season in Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi Stage 2. The Belkin Pro Cycling Team led him into Taiping where he crossed the line ahead of team mate Graeme Brown. Several riders, including Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Francesco Chicchi (YellowFluo-Neri Sottoli), crashed in the final kilometre.

“I don’t want to celebrate too much given the crash that happened,” Bos explained. The crash took down Belkin’s Dennis van Winden and Steven Kruijswijk. Both rolled in safely, Van Winden suffered the worse, and should start tomorrow. “There were many crashes, one about one kilometre out and one within the final corner.”

Belkin took the front early due to the numerous corners in the final kilometres. The train travelled on schedule. Rick Flens worked early, and led Jack Bobridge, Dennis van Winden and Graeme Brown. Bos enjoyed success from the team’s sweat, and in today’s case, blood. “Every year I win early and it’s a big relief. It’s always difficult though, so I’m happy,” Bos said. “For my team, it’s also important to build up the victories and learn. I’d rather ride here in Malaysia than in Paris-Nice, which is a very hard race for me. This is a good boost for my training and for the team’s lead-out. We are communicating well.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Tristan Hoffman: “It was a wild finish as riders piled up on the road in such a pace that no one was able to get around them. However, all our boys managed to get safely across the finish line with their skin intact and Michael (Kolar) made a solid result finishing fifth in the confusing bunch sprint. I think tomorrow will offer another sprint and hopefully, it will be a safer finish for everyone.”

Tour de Langkawi Stage 2 Result:
1. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin in 3:11:11
2. Graeme Brown (Aus) Belkin
3. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha
4. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Michal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
6. Dene Thomas Rogers (NZl) OCBC Singapore
7. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN-Qhubeka
8. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Synergy Baku
9. Taiji Nishitani (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team
10. Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha.

Tour de Langkawi Overall After Stage 2:
1. Duber Armando Quintero Artunduaga (Col) Colombia in 5:32:32
2. Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare at 0:22
3. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Synergy Baku at 0:24
4. Choon Huat Goh (Sin) OCBC Singapore at 0:33
5. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin at 1:27
6. Behnam Khalilikhosroshahi (IRI) Tabriz Petrochemical at 1:28
7. Graeme Brown (Aus) Belkin at 1:31
8. Elchin Asadov (Aze) Synergy Baku
9. Zhi Hui Jiang (Chn) Giant-Champion System at 1:35
10. Junrong Ho (Sin) OCBC Singapore at 1:36.

Stage 2:

Theo Bos came up too short to repeat yesterday’s victory in the Tour de Langkawi. The Belkin rider placed second at the finish line in Stage 3 in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur behind Andrea Guardini of Astana. Duber Quintero (Colombia) held the overall lead and Mat Brammeier (Synergy Baku) jumped over Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) to move into 2nd.

“There was a gentle curve in the final hundred metres and while I took the inside, Guardini came around and earned a small lead which he was able to protect,” said Bos. “He did well. He deserves to win.”

The team worked hard for Bos on the way to Kuala Lumpur. In the final half of the stage, with the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur regularly in sight, the Belkin team pulled hard at the front of the pack. The riders helped catch a leading group of five with just 1.5 kilometres to go. “The boys had everything under control, but I have to admit that the break-away riders are doing a great job here,” said Sports Director Michiel Elijzen. A group of attackers already held on in the first day. “Today was a close call. The fact that we’re here with just six men is an extra challenge as you quickly burn up your men in the chase.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Tristan Hoffman says: “The boys supported Michael (Kolar) and tried to put him in a good position for the sprint but he was too far back in the bunch in order to succeed. Tomorrow’s stage over 110 kilometres is the only stage in the race with a mountain top finish leaving the climbers with an all-or-nothing chance to succeed in Langkawi. We take on 20 kilometres of climbing and we’ll support Pawel (Poljanski) and Jesper (Hansen) as this is their territory and their big opportunity.”

Tour de Langkawi Stage 3 Result:
1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana in 3:40:38
2. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin
3. Yannick Martinez (Fra) Europcar
4. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Androni-Giocattoli
6. Dene Thomas Rogers (NZl) OCBC Singapore
7. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Yellow Fluo
8. Daniel Klemme (Ger) Synergy Baku
9. Behnam Khalilikhosroshahi (IRI) Tabriz Petrochemical
10. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN-Qhubeka.

Tour de Langkawi Overall After Stage 3:
1. Duber Armando Quintero Artunduaga (Col) Colombia in 9:13:10
2. Matt Brammeier (Irl) Synergy Baku at 0:19
3. Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare at 0:22
4. Choon Huat Goh (Sin) OCBC Singapore at 0:33
5. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin at 1:21
6. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 1:27
7. Behnam Khalilikhosroshahi (IRI) Tabriz Petrochemical at 1:28
8. Thomas Rabou (Ned) OCBC Singapore at 1:29
9. Graeme Brown (Aus) Belkin at 1:31
10. Elchin Asadov (Aze) Synergy Baku.

Stage 3:

It was a day for the climbers and Iranian rider Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) was the winner over MTN-Qhubeka’s Merhawi Kudus and the pair moved into the 1st and 2nd on overall by the end of Stage 4.

A big group of 30 riders escaped from the bunch to form the long-lasting break of the day. Different teams took their turn in front of the field to bring them back and even though the front group crumbled to pieces hitting the foot of the 20 kilometre long uphill finish, the peloton never managed to sweep up the remaining top riders in the break and eventually, the Iranian rider, Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour was the fastest on the line.

20 year old Merhawi Kudus climbed to second place on the queen stage of this year’s Le Tour de Langkawi earlier today. The achievement by the Eritrean rider also ensured he moves up to second on the overall standing, trailing stage winner and race leader Mirsamd Pourseyedigolakhour by 8 seconds.

After getting caught in the final kilometre the previous day, Jacques Janse van Rensburg put on another aggressive ride to finish sixth on the Genting Highlands stage and is in the same position on the general classification, placing two riders in the top ten for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung and putting the team in the lead in the overall team competition.
“I’m feeling good and I’m really happy,” Kudus, who is in his debut season as a professional, said after the stage. “I did a good result for the team. At the beginning of the climb I thought I’d attack as my legs were good and I thought I’d try to get across to the leaders. When I got there I saw everyone was looking tired. I attacked them with 500 metres to go but in the end the other guy caught with me 100 metres to go. There’s a lot of racing to come and we will see if we can win the GC and give it our best.”

The day started with a major move going off the front with all the main teams represented. Janse van Rensburg and Tsgabu Grmay were the team’s representation in the breakaway. “We weren’t expecting such a big group to go but we were happy to have Jacques and Tsgabu there,” sports director Kevin Campbell said. “We were confident at this stage. Once the climb started the group was whittling down as we expected. Merhawi attacked the group behind and went up the climb like his pants were on fire. Louis [Meintjes] was very strong in the group behind and just shadowed the other favourites. Merhawi rode across a three minute gap without any help so would have lost a lot of energy but it was something special to watch.”

Once Kudus caught the leaders, the group shrunk to five riders eventually with 3km to go. Janse van Rensuburg fought hard to keep the group within sight. Kudus was the first to make a move as they passed the 500m to go banner but was caught by Pourseyedigolakhour as the line approached.

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Tristan Hoffman comments: “We had only one rider in the breakaway and we decided to help minimize the gap so everyone but Pawel (Poljanski) and Jesper (Hansen) took part of the chase. We shaved down the gap from 8 to about 4 minutes and left Jesper in a small chase group behind the escapees and on the slope, Jesper managed to sweep up the main part of the break. But unfortunately, we never caught the front. The guys put in a great effort both on the flat part of the stage and Jesper showed some great climbing but obviously, it wasn’t enough to compete for the win today. Now, we’re taking on another series of flat stages where we’ll support Michael (Kolar) in the bunch sprints.”

Tour de Langkawi Stage 4 Result:
1. Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (IRI) Tabriz Petrochemical in 2:54:44
2. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:04
3. Isaac Bolivar Hernandez (Col) UnitedHealthcare at 0:05
4. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:10
5. Petr Ignatenko (Rus) Katusha at 0:26
6. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:34
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 0:46
8. Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Androni-Giocattoli at 0:59
9. Ghaffari Vahid (IRI) Tabriz Petrochemical at 1:17
10. Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia at 1:36.

Tour de Langkawi Overall After Stage 4:
1. Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (IRI) Tabriz Petrochemical in 12:09:21
2. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:08
3. Isaac Bolivar Hernandez (Col) UnitedHealthcare at 0:11
4. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:20
5. Petr Ignatenko (Rus) Katusha at 0:36
6. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:40
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin at 0:52
8. Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Androni-Giocattoli at 1:09
9. Ghaffari Vahid (IRI) Tabriz Petrochemical at 1:27
10. Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia at 1:46.

Stage 4:

Goodbye Kristof
Family, friends and a delegation of 40 people from IAM Cycling, headed by Michel Thétaz, the founder and general manager of the team, said goodbye to Kristof Goddaert on Thursday morning at St. Paul’s Church (Sint Pauluskerk) in Antwerp. Moved by the tears, all these made every effort to take this opportunity to remember all the happy times they had spent with Kristof before he was snatched from life too soon in a terrible accident while training on Tuesday 18 February. The emotional ceremony was worthy to say goodbye to Kristof, the priest accompanied Kristof’s mother, sister and a host of admirers and friends, all of which highlighted his qualities and his love for life.

The IAM Cycling road captain Martin Elmiger, spent the last four years as team mate of Kristof Goddaert, first at Ag2r-La Mondiale and then IAM Cycling. He spoke with boundless enthusiasm of his teammate’s great values. “He was the perfect example of how to live life to the fullest and make the best of every situation. To him nothing was lost. Nobody saw his destiny, and that is why it is so difficult to understand. All we can do is accept it and let go with love.”

Those present universally admitted they were lucky having known him, and then left the church to accompany Kristof Goddaert his final resting place, while the sky unleashed a torrent of rain, wind and cold – apparently a sign that the heavens had also decided to pay a last tribute to Kristof, who had loved his life on the roads. As is often the case with professional cyclists, your result list does not accurately reflect their influence and contributions. A team rider gave their all to help the group succeed. Affable, even a joker off the bike, Kristof took his job seriously and worked diligently to make a name for himself in the squad and to earn a living through his passion. He could be the life and soul of the group when things were not going according to plan. His colleagues and friends knew that was exactly this relentless behaviour that made him such a valuable addition to the team. However, in the face of a human tragedy, sports factors are meaningless, and everyone can only hope and pray that his family, his friends and his teammates find some peace and comfort in the knowledge he was beloved in his very short life.
Thanks to the IAM Cycling team.


No Contract for Briceño
The winner of the Vuelta al Táchira; Jimmy Briceño cannot fulfil his dream of racing in Europe as it has been found that he has a hematocrit of 63 (the normal limit is 50) in examinations by the International Cycling Union (UCI) for his Biological Passport. The Androni-Giocattoli team had announced his signing, along with Carlos Gálviz, but the team of Gianni Savio has reversed that decision and will not sign the Venezuelan cyclist.

As reported by the Journal of the Andes, “at the National Convention of the Venezuelan Federation of Cycling, Jimmy Briceño called the manager and told him that he had not passed the medical assessment of the UCI and therefore could not race in Europe because was he denied the International Biological Passport.” With values well above permitted: “The analasis of the riders blood resulted in a worrying level of hematocrit and hemoglobin of 63 and 21.”

Briceño raced the last four years in the Lotería team, in signing for Androni-Giocattoli he opened the doors to the elite class. However, that opportunity has closed immediately because the team has decided not to sign the rider.

ASO ‘Wild Card’ Announcement
ASO announced their invitations to three of his star races; Paris-Roubaix, Liege and Fleche Wallonne. Nine ProContinental teams received a wildcard, while eight were left with nothing.

Cofidis, IAM Cycling, Topsport Vlaandere-Mercator: Roubaix, Fleche and Liege,
MTN-Qhubeka: Fleche and Liege,
Team NetApp-Endura: Roubaix and Liege,
Team Colombia: Fleche and Liege,
UnitedHealthcare: Roubaix and Fleche,
Bretagne: Roubaix.

Team Colombia receives Liege-Bastogne-Liege,
Fleche Wallonne ‘Wild Cards’

Press Release: In its third year in the professional ranks, Team Colombia is set to make another significant step on its path to the highest level of World cycling: on Friday February 28th, Tour de France organizing company ASO announced Team Colombia among the wildcard teams for two of its most prestigious classics: Fleche Wallonne (April 23rd) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 27th).

It will be Team Colombia’s first time at “La Doyenne”, reaching in 2014 its centenary edition: “To be selected for a Monument classic like Liege-Bastogne-Liege obviously marks another milestone in the history of our team. It’s one of the greatest races in the World, and we can’t wait to show the Colombian colors at La Doyenne,” General Manager Claudio Corti said: “We are also very proud of being selected for the Fleche Wallonne for the third time: that shows how the value and progress of our project is getting recognized all around the World. Team Colombia is more and more proving to be the ideal springboard for Colombian prospects to make their big jump to the International stage, and we are excited of getting the chance to show up on the Ardennes again in 2014.”

MTN-Qhubeka Team Principal Douglas Ryder:
Press Release: ASO today announced our inclusion in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne. It’s wonderful to receive this news and now have the biggest WorldTour calendar we’ve ever had. It’s encouraging to see the biggest race organisers continually putting their faith in the team, which is something we’ve been working hard to achieve. Our work ethic is to respect every race we take part in and give it our best and more so with regards to WorldTour races of course.

To line up as Africa’s team on the start line of the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège is especially significant for the sport and something we’ll see the rewards of years from now. There’s some more exciting announcements to come in the coming days which keeps the team motivated. The riders have shown an incredible level of motivation since our training camp in December. It shows so far in the races and we’ve already won in Africa (Gabon), picked up a national title (Louis Meintjes at SA Champs) and have our first European victory (Gerald Ciolek, Ruta Del Sol) under our belts.

We’ve not been confirmed for a grand tour yet but what it’s done is motivated the guys more to prove we’re capable of racing at the top level of the sport and we’re very grateful to be there. Here’s to an exciting few weeks ahead in world cycling. Keep supporting Africa’s team.

Race Route Alteration for Milano-Sanremo
Press Release: As a result of the poor weather conditions, which have rocked the Liguria Region during recent months, RCS Sport has been forced to change the Milano – Sanremo race route and cut out the ascent to Pompeiana.

The decision was made today in agreement with the Prefecture, during a meeting with the Province of Imperia, the Anas and the Traffic Police. The roads to the top of the Pompeiana are already closed and there simply is not enough time to repair the damage on the roads and make sure they are ready for 23rd March when the “Classicissima” is due to take place, especially since the weather conditions are continuing to be bad.

The new race profile is almost identical to the one in 2007 (294 km) when Oscar Freire won, and will once again be most suited to the Sprinters.

Mauro Vegni, Head of RCS Sport Cycling, said: “We met our interlocutors of the Prefecture and the Province of Imperia, to work out whether it would be possible to keep the original race route, including the ascent of the Pompeiana.

“In view of the current weather conditions, and also considering the damage that the bad weather has caused in recent months, we felt that there was no way we could secure the roads in time for the race.

“I’d like to thank the Institutions for their help. Thanks to their work, we’ve been able to announce the route change today so that riders, teams and everyone involved in the event has time to take on-board the alterations.

“The race route planned for this year (including Pompeiana climb), will be repeated in the next, hoping not to encounter the same problems even in 2015.”


André Greipel will ride Milan-Sanremo
Now that the Pompeiana and Le Manie are not on the route this year, it means it’s an edition the sprinters will like.

Lotto Belisol’s André Greipel: “Now the Pompeiana is no longer part of Milan-Sanremo I have decided to participate. It’s unfortunate that the decision has been made so late, when the teams have already made up their programmes. Because not only the Pompeiana is left out of the course, but also Le Manie doesn’t have to be climbed, the sprinters have more chance. But at Lotto Belisol also Tony Gallopin and Jürgen Roelandts can win.”

Tour de Romandie 2014
The 2014 Tour de Romandie (WorldTour) will start in Ascona, Ticino, with a prologue on April the 29th and will end with an individual time trial in Neuchatel, Sunday May the 4th. The big mountain stage will be the third, with four 1st Cat climbs: Col des Planches, Champex, Villars and Les Giettes, a total of 3512 metres of altitude in 180 kilometres.

All Eighteen WorldTour teams will be on the start line along with IAM Cycling.

Tuesday 29 April: Prologue CRI in Ascona, 5.57 km.

Wednesday 30 April: 1st stage, Ascona-Sion, 203 km
Passes through Italy from kilometre 16.8 to kilometre 69.2.
Col du Simplon (1st Cat) 88 km; Lens (2nd Cat) 185 km, 6.

Thursday 1 May, 2nd Stage, Sion-Montreux, 166.5 km
Châtel-Saint-Denis (3e), km 81.8; Peney-le-Jorat (3e), 121.4 km.

Friday 2nd May, 3rd stage, Le Bouveret-Aigle, 180.2
Col des Planches (1st), 55.3 km, Champex (1st), 78.6 km, Les Giettes (1st), 133.7; Villars (1st) 164.7 km.
3.512m of altitude at 180km.

Saturday 3rd May, 4th stage, Fribourg, Fribourg, 174 km.
6 laps of a 29 km circuit.
3rd Cat climbs at km 12, km 99, km 128 and km 157.

Sunday 4 May, 5th stage, Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, 18.5 km ITT.

The last three winners of the Tour de Romandie, Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans have carried on to win the Tour de France.


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