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EuroTrash Roubaix Monday!

That’s the Hell of the North done and dusted for another year and we have everything you need to know here in EuroTrash Monday. Rider quotes and video action from Roubaix, plus we catch up with the Vuelta al País Vasco, Circuit de la Sarthe, GP Pino Cerami, Chris Horner and Europcar. Maybe a cappuccino with a dusting of chocolate?

TOP STORY: Another Great Roubaix!
Niki Terpstra soloed his way to a well deserved victory on Sunday in the King of the Cobbled Classics – Paris-Roubaix (read below). So why do we love Paris-Roubaix so much? It’s flat and set in a less than picturesque part of France, old coal mines tend not to be that nice, and it’s certainly not l’Aple d’Huez. If you ask the riders they will say the riders who make the race, that’s maybe true of other races, but in the ‘Hell of the North’ there is something else. The cobbles make most of the race decisions and also the weather can deliver that curve ball, maybe that’s why we love Paris-Roubaix, its unpredictable. There is one thing you can say for sure; there is never a ‘nobody’ who wins in Roubaix, you have to be a strongman just to finish.

This year’s race has brought an old Belgian saying back into favour: “Why do the Flemish go to Roubaix velodrome on Monday?” Answer; to watch the French finish! Apologies to FDJ’s Arnaud Demare who was 12th at less than a minute down.

Some retro action from the 1976 film “A Sunday In Hell”

Paris-Roubaix 2014
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step’s Niki Terpstra won the biggest race of his career on Sunday, the biggest monument of the cycling World and he won Paris-Roubaix solo.

Terpstra had two OPQS team mates in the 11 rider select group approaching 6 kilometers to go; Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar and almost all of the race favorites including Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Terpstra made his move and it looked to be very close in the final kilometers as Terpstra’s lead was down to less than 9 seconds inside 4.5km to go. However, Boonen and Stybar controlled the chasing group behind as he continued to go at full gas. His attack was perfectly timed and he reached the Roubaix velodrome with a gap of between 16 and 20 seconds.

The ex-Dutch road champion still looked behind him before celebrating during the last lap, but had plenty of time to raise his arms in celebration.

Tom Boonen was a major factor in the success of OPQS. He attacked with about 64 kilometers to go, and that was the major animation of the race. A selection of riders slowly bridged to his group as the race pressed on. Peter Sagan was one of them and he tried his best to attack out of a new select group formation with more than 20 kilometers to go, but the pace of the chase group behind him was too much and he was caught with 15.3 kilometres to go by the new lead group of Cancellara, Vanmarcke, Stybar, and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano). Boonen was behind chasing with Terpstra.

That group caught the leaders inside the final 10 kilometers, and it was up to that very powerful group to decide who would win Paris-Roubaix. OPQS had the advantage with three riders and it was Terpstra who decided not give any other riders a chance, with a strong solo ride and his gamble he had the honour of the Roubaix cobble on the podium. A very happy John Degenkolb won the sprint form a disappointed Fabian Cancellara.

“I feel happy, but really tired,” Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) said with a laugh. “When we came together in the last cobblestone section — at the end of the cobblestones — Wilfried Peeters told us if we go for the sprint we go with Tom. But, if you can attack, it’s always good to open the final. So it was up to me and Zdenek to attack and they know I like to do it. So, 20 seconds later I attacked. It was the good one. When I looked behind me I saw there was a gap, so it was just full gas to the finish line. Don’t look back, because that doesn’t help. They will come back anyway if you check or not. Then, when I was crossing the finish line, it was just really special. I’m so satisfied. Finally I won a big one. We had a healthy, comfortable pressure from within the team to perform. The kind that motivates us to do well. We won a lot of races but not a big one yet. We wanted to prove we can win a big one. Today we really proved we are a strong team that can also win the biggest races. As for me, two years ago I was 5th, and last year I was 3rd. If you can finish in the top 10 here you can also, with a bit of luck, win it. Last year I was really close and this year I made it. Since I was a little child and I started cycling, Paris-Roubaix was the most special race for me. Now I won it. It’s a dream come true. Paris-Roubaix is a crazy race, old fashioned, but that’s why it’s special and why I love it that much. It was really my lucky day. I think we’re going to have a nice dinner with the team tonight to celebrate this great victory, and then I will enjoy my time at home this week with my family.”

Amongst the crowds and euphoria, John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) took a moment to say: “I’m so proud of this result, and of the way my team rode and supported me today. This is my first podium in a monument and it is such a great feeling. I had a few problems but with the help of my team I managed to fight back on and then at the end had the strength to go with the front group. Bert was really important to have there in the finale and he put me in the perfect position for the sprint. On the run in I decided to focus on the sprint rather than trying to go with Terpstra. I am still young and have time to develop more. It is such a great moment – second in Paris – Roubaix and I am just 25 years old. I cannot wait for what the future holds. I also hope that I can also motivate the younger generation of cyclists in Germany.”

Third was Fabian Cancellara (Trek), he had been on the way into the history books with three Ronde/Roubaix doubles and a record equaling fourth win in the ‘Hell of the North: “I’m tired and I’m disappointed. I race to win but it didn’t go how I’d hoped. This is the 12th time on the podium in a monument. I’m judged on if I win but third isn’t bad either. I spent a lot to get back on after my problems. We all spent I suppose and I just did what I could. I thought the four-rider attack was good but it didn’t work and Niki got away.”

Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) finished fourth: “I’m disappointed, my legs were perfectly fine,” said Vanmarcke afterwards. “There could have been more in it for me; I was one of the best riders in the race. I cannot blame myself, though. The headwind and the fact that nobody wanted to race, made it hard to win. When Terpstra attacked and took a fifteen-metre lead, I knew enough. The others hesitated and I didn’t want to respond again, as I had done that a few times before. The team was very strong today, we did what we had to do and attacked at the right times. Unfortunately we weren’t rewarded.”

Vanmarcke missed winning a big race this spring despite numerous top finishes. The Belgian ended up in the top five in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, E3-Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. “Every race I was there, but in the end I’m standing here empty-handed,” said Vanmarcke. “I really wanted to win that big race. Besides that, I finished just outside the top three a few times, while I had the feeling that I could have been on the podium.”

Four time Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Boonen was happy for his OPQS team, but disappointed for himself: “I’m happy with the feeling I had and the fighting spirit I displayed,” Boonen said. “I’m of course happy that we won in the end, but I of course wasn’t doing all the efforts to get 10th place, I was doing them to win the race. I had a lot of bad luck today. But, I managed to get back in front on time, every time. Then, we were on the front with five or six guys and I thought ‘OK, it’s a good move,” but with the headwind it was hard to motivate people to ride. There were two or three guys who didn’t have to ride and maybe some who could have collaborated better. It was just me and Geraint Thomas going hard to stay in front. Then in the final when they came back with us and Sep Vanmarcke went with Fabian, I went straight away and Lars Boom crashed in front of me. So, I lost 100 meters. Then I couldn’t find my pedal on the cobblestones, it just kept turning. But I managed to get back in the front with Niki and he launched he attacked with six kilometres and he managed to win the race. So, I’m happy for Niki. I’m very happy. As I said a couple days ago, if someone else on the team wins besides me today I will be excited as if I had won the race myself.”

Bert De Backer (Giant-Shimano), who eventually came across the line in 11th place, said after the finish: “Now everything has calmed down a bit I am really happy with the result today, but at first I was disappointed in myself not to have been able to close the gap when Terpstra went. Seeing John so happy after the finish was a great feeling for me and the rest of the team. Throughout the day I felt great on the cobbles, and the bike felt so smooth. One of the strong points for the team in our preparation is that we had a lot of input into the tyre pressures and set up for today. The mechanics have worked day and night for the past three days to get everything ready for today and we have to thank them too. It’s a great way to end the cobbled classics after a really successful past few weeks and we can go into the next races now with confidence in each other and how we work as a team.”

You can read Mark’s race report here on PEZ.

Paris-Roubaix Result:
1. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 6:09:01
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:20
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek
4. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin
5. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
7. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
8. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin Sharp
9. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
10. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step.

The last 10 K’s to Roubaix:

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco 2014
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step’s Wout Poels refused to settle for a select group finale in the 151km Queen Stage4 of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco on Thursday.

Poels relentlessly attacked the group on the final Cat. 1 climb of the day, with riders such as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Cadel Evans, Tejay van Garderen and Samuel Sanchez (BMC), Simon Spilak (Katusha), and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) hoping to contest the stage and perhaps improve their GC positions. Michal Kwiatkowski of OPQS was also in the group, having been led into the climb on the front with an unselfish, hard effort by Tony Martin. Kwiatkowski was protected perfectly by the whole team approaching the climb as well.

Contador attacked several times with Valverde, but those were all brought back. Poels also launched some accelerations of his own. He was eventually able to follow the wheel Simon Spilak (Katusha) along with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) with 3.4km to go. They got a small gap on the Contador group that emerged behind, which included Kwiatkowski. Suddenly, Poels saw his chance for a solo win at about 3 kilometres left in the stage. He stayed seated, but picked up his tempo and was able to get a small gap. By the time Poels crested the climb for the descent to the finish line, he had a 13 second gap with 2.2km to go.

The chase group behind gained some ground, cutting the gap to about 8 or 9 seconds with 1.5km to go. However, thanks to both the strong legs of Poels and Kwiatkowski controlling the chase group behind, the gap went back up to 10 seconds and he held his advantage to the end.

“It was a long, difficult stage,” Poels said. “From kilometre zero until the finish the pace was really fast. But, the team worked really well and they controlled the race. The goal today was to try and move up a bit in the GC and, why not, see if there was a possibility to win the stage. In the final we were there playing with Kwiatkowski also there. Contador attacked and his efforts were really strong. But at a certain moment Contador, Valverde, and a few others started to look at each other. So I tried to take advantage of this situation and I went. I knew the final from last year as I raced here a year ago. I knew it was possible to pass the final climb and go to the finish. So, I went for it. When you have a good condition you are also able to take the right decision in a short time. So, that’s exactly what happened today. I am super happy about it. This is absolutely the most important victory of my career. I am super happy about it because after the big crashes I had at the Tour a few years ago I was able to come back. Now I am here, with this great team, and I won. So, I am over the moon. I’ve had a good feeling since the beginning of the season. I tried to be useful for the team when it’s necessary and when I have a chance like today I try to grab it with both hands. Tomorrow we will see. It’s another difficult stage. We’ll see how we recover from today’s stage. The goal is to try to defend my position and work together with Kwiatkowski, and then we will see. But, it won’t be easy. We’ll do our best.”

BMC Racing Team’s Samuel Sánchez rode to a third-place finish to move into the top 10, while teammate Cadel Evans finished seventh and climbed one spot to fourth in the overall standings.

Sanchez and Stage 4 runner-up Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) could not catch solo winner Poels, who attacked near the top of the spectator-lined climb of Alto de Usartza and held on to win by one second. Evans arrived three seconds later in a small group that contained teammate Tejay van Garderen, who finished 12th, and race leader Alberto Contador. Sánchez said he was aiming hard to win the same stage where he took victories in 2010, 2011 and 2012 on his way to winning the race overall. “The team did a real great job,” Sánchez said. “We kept a good classification with our GC leaders and the option to win the stage with me. That was a pity that I didn’t, but the real important thing is our team is working at its best. Cadel, Tejay and I are feeling good and tomorrow we can try to look for a stage victory before the final time trial on Saturday.”

BMC Racing will be without Darwin Atapuma for the final two days of the race after he withdrew midway through the stage, suffering from respiratory problems. “We decided to have him try to start, but he didn’t feel so good so he stopped during the race,” BMC Racing Team Dr. Giovanni Ruffini said. “In the next few days, we will evaluate his condition.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) held the lead, but gave away 2 seconds at the finish line to Valverde. “It would have been better not to lose time to Alejandro, but in the end the group split. It was a very different climb than other times, I think was been slower and there was a very strong headwind that I do not remember on any occasion. On the first pass I’ve seen it and I’ve watched a right curve that could be used to attack, but the truth is that the group could easily take your wheel”, explained Alberto.

The leader of Tinkoff-Saxo realized that “some dangerous riders were in trouble and I told Alejandro to go ahead, but he preferred to be on my wheel and so, I tried to maintain a little tempo, also protecting myself a bit, because I thought he was going to attack. In some way I’m very happy, especially for the team, that has controlled the stage in an incredible way, because was crazy from the start. Now the objective is to recover as much as possible”.

Alberto saw that Kwiatkoswki “was getting dropped and as he is doing some extraordinary time trials, any advantage you may have on him, much better, like on some BMC riders that got in trouble. But it has been difficult to make differences because the headwind was very strong and people could get on the wheel well”, he said.

The advantage over Valverde, for Saturday’s time trial, leaves everything in the air, said Contador. “Alejandro is going very strongly in time trial, especially in one like that of Saturday, but it’s not bad for me either. It will depend on the forces that each one, how we recover, and without forgetting that we have riders behind with tremendous quality in the time trial. 12 seconds over Alejandro are not many, but I’d rather have him behind than in the front.”

9th on the stage and 3rd overall Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida): “Today I have to say that the Team was perfect, just as in the other days. We were in every attempt, and this has certainly given us peace of mind throughout the race. I have really good feelings and despite the constant changes of rhythm promoted by opponents. In the end I managed to maintain contact with the top of the overall standings and even to advance to the third step of the podium. This gives me hope for the next two stages in which I will try to defend my rankings with my teeth.”

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Stage 4 Result:
1. Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:39:29
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:01
3. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC
4. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 0:03
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin
6. Iurii Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team
9. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo.

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Overall After Stage 4:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxoin 16:33:35
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:12
3. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:36
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
6. Iurii Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:41
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:54
9. Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling at 0:55
10. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC at 0:56.

Stage 4:

Today’s 160.2 kilometre long Stage 5 of Vuelta Pais Vasco offered five climbs on the undulating stretch from Eibar to Markina-Xemein. For Tinkoff-Saxo this was the final defence of the leader’s jersey as a collective because Saturday’s final stage is an individual time trial over 26 kilometres.

A group of 16 hopeful riders including Samuel Sanchez & Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Bauke Mollema (Belkin) formed the breakaway while the Tinkoff-Saxo lads maintained a high pace in the pack to prevent attacks from the GC riders. But obviously second overall, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) wanted a go in order to gain some of the 12 seconds he needs to take the overall lead from Contador so his team took over the pace making with 40 kilometres to go.

Soon, most of the escapees were caught but Movistar kept pushing the pace and riders were practically parked on the slopes while Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Bob Jungels (Trek) were fighting to hang on to the lead. But with 12 to go, it was over for the escapees and now up to the GC riders. Just as everyone thought that Valverde would launch an attack, Tinkoff-Saxo’s Roman Kreuziger went to the front and ripped the group to pieces setting a violently high pace. With one kilometre to go of the final climb, Valverde finally launched his attack but Contador was on his tail immediately while Thursday’s stage winner, Wout Poels (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) bridged the gap on the descent.

However, the leading trio was caught with 1.5 kilometres to go and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) took the decimated group to the finish line where Ben Swift (Sky) surprised everyone by not only following the climbers but also taking the stage win ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Michael Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step).

Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde staged a nice face to face on the day’s last climb, but ultimately they were hunted down by the leading group. The leader of Tinkoff-Saxo recognized at the finish that he was not surprised by that attack. “I expected it, he has enough desire and I supposed he had to prove it, especially when the Movistar pulled so hard. It was also a good opportunity for the stage, but in the end the group behind had some Omega and BMC riders who wanted to push hard both for the stage and for not losing time in the overall and also there was a long flat finish.

Among the rivals for the final time trial, Alberto does not differentiate between Kwiatkowski and Valverde. “Kwiatkowski is a great specialist, but Alejandro is in a very good shape, the time trial suits him very well and I can’t say one or another, what I can say is that the race is still very open” Finally, Contador said the chrono is “fairly typical of the Tour of the Basque Country. The climbs are not as strong as usual, but we’ll see how I feel tomorrow and if I adapt well to the course.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Philippe Mauduit: “The stage was as hard as we expected but our main goal was that Alberto would cross the finish line with Valverde and the other favourites and we succeeded. But a 12 second lead is not an overwhelmingly safe one and Alberto really has to live up to his very best in order to keep the rivals behind. However, the course suits him well as it includes two climbs of 3.5 and 4 kilometres but we have seen Valverde perform excellently as well on the slopes so it’s going to be a real thrill sitting in the car behind him tomorrow.”

3rd overall Damiano Cunego: “Today we were always attentive and we stayed in the lead of the group. The path was treacherous and I could not afford to leave on the street precious seconds. In the end there were several attacks that have produced a nice selection, but no one has ever given the impression of being able to outdistance the bulk of the group. I took advantage from teams that were able to close the stage in the sprint, a final with opponents of all respect. I think fifth place is therefore still be considered as a major achievement that gives me even more confidence for tomorrow’s TT, in which I know I have to do my best to save my overall, and the next races that and I’m going to face after this effort.”

Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol): “The team had asked that someone would join the breakaway. I was in front and didn’t doubt any second to jump. I wasn’t the strongest today, but felt I was one of the better riders. Because of a stomach bug I suffered much in the first stages. But I got better every day. Today I felt much better. Tomorrow there’s a time trial to finish. With the improving condition I will do everything I can to set a good time. I always go full in a time trial.”

Giro is coming up
“With my improving condition I have to be able to perform well in the classics that are ahead of us. The Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be important for me. After the Ardennes classics the Giro is on the menu.”

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Stage 5 Result:
1. Ben Swift (GB) Sky in 3:56:56
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
5. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar
7. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin
8. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
9. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC.

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Overall After Stage 5:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 20:30:31
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:12
3. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:36
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
6. Iurii Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:41
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:54
9. Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:55
10. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC at 0:56.

Stage 5:

In every aspect of the saying, it was the moment of truth for Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador when he rocketed off the starting ramp; launching into the Final Stage 6 of the Vuelta Pais Vasco. At the start of the individual time trial over 25.6 kilometres, he had a gap of only 12 seconds over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and on a lumpy course that suited them both very well, the race was completely open until the very end.

The big favourite to win the stage was undoubtedly the German TT World Champion, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and he lived up to his reputation as an extreme powerhouse and won a superb stage by 7 from Contador in a time of 38:33.

Martin’s OPQS team mate Michael Kwiatkowski put up a strong effort and finished only 15 seconds behind his teammate and threatened Contador’s overall lead. Contador fought hard and in the end finished 8 seconds ahead of Kwiatkowski on the stage and the Polish champion jumped from seventh to second on GC. His main opponent; Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) did not have a good day and lost his second place and dropped to fifth overall at1:07. Biggest loser of the day was Lampre-Merida’s Damiano Cunego who fell from third overall too well out of the top ten.

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Philippe Mauduit was pleased with his rider: “Alberto is simply super strong at the moment. He rode elegantly, regularly and with enormous power in the pedals. We knew that he was the best climber here and today he demonstrated that he’s one of the very best time trialists as well finishing only 7 seconds behind the world champion. For Alberto this is another boost of confidence which he needed before going home training to prepare for the Tour de France.” Alberto’s next race will be Criterium Dauphine Libéré in start June.

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) won two stages at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, and this was his first ITT of the season. “During this race I had two victories, and the team won three stages out of six,” Martin said. “It’s really a great performance for us. Today, the TT parcours wasn’t really 100 percent for my skills. There were two climbs. But we did it already during yesterday’s stage, so I knew the climbs already. This morning I was really motivated. I went full gas and think I did a really good performance. I even did 100km/h maximum speed on the downhill. I closed this week with two victories and think I did a good job for the team. I had good legs, and a good feeling the entire week. That’s important for me also with my morale. I think with this team there is also a great, big spirit, and this spirit sometimes gives you an extra push to perform well. This is a good moment in my career as I really got the best out of it. My next races will be the Ardennes Classics. I have been looking forward to this race as it’s been a long time, a few years since I raced a Classic. I am in good condition and I hope to give a good performance and be useful for the team.”

Second overall; Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step): “This particular result is something really special for me.” Kwiatkowski said. “I’m really happy about this performance. I don’t think I could finish any better as Contador was really strong. I did the best I can do for this race. I rode the entire week playing tactics a bit with Poels. I think in my learning process this race was really important because I learned how to pace myself. I learned a lot during Tirreno-Adriatico how to manage these situations. Here, I took it easy, tried to stay cool, and I was more or less positioned well the entire week. That is really important for my growth as a rider. As for the TT, I never went over my limit. I spread the effort evenly during the entire race. To me it was helpful to have Davide Bramati behind me and also to know the time of Tony. It helped me to distribute my effort correctly. Also, I have to say that as usual I had a great bike with my Specialized Shiv. When I went on the downhill I went really fast, without problems, because I trusted my bike. I am really so confident in my bike I can go full gas on descents and corners without problems.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “It’s obvious that I was hoping for a better result, but when you give everything you have, you must be satisfied no matter the result. We’ll have to sit down and analyze what could have happened, but also concede that those guys in front of guys were talented ones and made a great effort, especially Alberto. Already since the route recon this morning I didn’t feel well, a bit empty, lacking strength. I don’t know if it’s been due to all the efforts we made during the last few days or simply a bad day. I started the TT a bit down in confidence and couldn’t get to the pace I had wanted to. I kept the speed through the climbs, but when it was time to push hard in the flat, I lacked energy. Should have I kept my usual strength, it would have been a good TT for me. I don’t know if I would have beaten Alberto, because it also suited him really well and he did a great time trial, but I think I would have lost many seconds less than I did.
I feel bad, especially looking at how I did this week, and my team-mates, who sacrificed themselves all the way to Saturday, they were superb. Finishing three seconds behind the overall podium is awful, because at least it would have been a little prize for me to stay in. Let’s see how we recover, firstly with tomorrow’s race in Amorebieta and most importantly with the classics. I think today’s race was just a bad day, and I have the legs and the fitness I need to tackle such races in good form and do well, as I always did.”

The BMC Racing Team finished 12:14 ahead of Movistar Team to earn its victory in the team classification.
Tejay Van Garderen: “I didn’t really feel at my top level all week, but I was consistent and was able to score a nice top 10 placing and get some points, which is what is important. I didn’t feel like I was in my top shape (in the time trial) but I felt OK. I just tried to do the best I could. It wasn’t the best and it wasn’t the worst. I came out with a decent result.”

Cadel Evans: “A time trial like this is always a good test for going into the Giro. I approached it with that idea. As it turned out, quite a few riders had a lot better ride than I did and I conceded a few places on GC (general classification), which is disappointing. Overall, the week of racing comes as a really good week of race preparation. I still have a bit of work to do and some room for improvement. I need to be better if I want to be competitive at the Giro.”

In the final ranking, Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) was 11th at 2’26” to Contador: “In the Vuelta al Pais Vasco I realized good performances, that confirmed to me that I’m on a good level of competitiveness,” Cunego explained. “I was aware the final time trial could penalize me, since it was more suitable for time trialist’s and it was not similar to the one I raced with satisfaction some years ago here in Pais Vasco. It’s a pity to miss the top ten despite having the same time as Poels. In the past stages, I always fought on the same level as those riders that today have conquered the podium, so I’m happy about my competitiveness on the climbs.”

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Stage 6 Result:
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 38:33
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:07
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling at 0:15
4. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha at 0:16
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:35
6. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:38
7. Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar at 0:41
8. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:02
9. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 1:05
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 1:25.

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Final Overall Result:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:49
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 1:04
4. Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha at 1:07
5. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 1:56
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
8. Iurii Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 2:13
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 2:14
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 2:26.

The final TT:

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire 2014
Garmin-Sharp’s Ramunas Navardauskas won Stage 4 on the summit of the Mont des Avaloirs in Pré-en-Pail, his solo win put him in the overall lead with 17 seconds on his team mate Rohan Dennis and 18 seconds over Anthony Roux (FDJ.fr) and Julien Simon (Cofidis).

Daniel Oss (BMC), Michael Schwarzmann (NetApp-Endura) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) made the early break and built up a lead of four and a half minutes over the Movistar led bunch who were protecting the lead of Alex Dowcett after the TT. When the race hit the first climb of five ascents of the Mont des Avaloirs on the 10.5 kilometres circuit; the Englishman was in trouble and was dropped. Garmin-Sharp was by far the strongest team in the lead group and matched the attacks of the IAM Cycling team to put Navardauskas in a perfect position to take 4 seconds from Simon and Roux at the line.

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Stage 4:
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp in 4:58:12
2. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis at 0:04
3. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr
4. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 0:08
5. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at 0:09
6. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling
7. Stephen Cummings (GB) BMC
8. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
9. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar
10. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp-Endura

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Overall After Stage 4:
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp in 11:55:54
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:17
3. Anthony Roux (Fra) Fdj.fr at 0:18
4. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
5. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:22
6. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
7. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:27
8. Stephen Cummings (GB) BMC at 0:30
9. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar
10. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 0:32.

Stage 4 (or as the TV company call it; stage 3):

The final 184 kilometre Stage 5 to La-Ferte-Bernard saw Alex Domont (Ag2r-La Mondiale) win the stage and the Garmin-Sharp team defend Ramunas Navardauskas lead for the overall victory. Tony Hurel (Europcar), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Martin Kohler (BMC) were caught on the finishing circuit to replaced off the front by Domont, Angelo Tulik (Europcar), Anthony Geslin (FDJ.fr), Gustav Larsson (IAM Cycling) and Vegard Stake Laengen (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and as the bunch were not too interested in chasing it was down to a fight between these five. Domont made his move with just over 1 kilometre to go to take his first Pro win. Garmin-Sharp’s Navardauskas finished safely in the bunch to retain lead and commented after the stage on his win: “For me, it’s a big one as this is my first yellow jersey for a very long time and it’s definitely my first win in a stage race as a pro.”

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Stage 5 Result:
1. Axel Domont (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale in 4:32:01
2. Angelo Tulik (Fra) Europcar at 0:03
3. Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ.fr
4. Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling
5. Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:08
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
8. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
9. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
10. Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia.

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Final Overall Result:
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp in 16:28:03
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:14
3. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis at 0:17
4. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:18
5. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:22
6. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
7. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:27
8. Stephen Cummings (GB) BMC at 0:30
9. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar
10. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 0:32.

Stage 5:

GP Pino Cerami 2014:
Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) won the bunch sprint finish of the 200 kilometre GP Cerami in Belgium on Saturday, a race which came back together with about 6km to go. The 13 rider escape group had a small advantage, but was caught on the last of the three 13.2 kilometre finishing circuits in Frameries, near Mons.

This is the first victory for Alessandro Petacchi with OPQS. “I’m super happy about this victory,” Petacchi said. “We rode really well. The last kilometre was slightly uphill, but I counted on a great team. They worked really well the entire day. In the final, Andrew Fenn and Mark Renshaw did a great job. I went at about 200m to go. We had a headwind but I took the right tempo to do my sprint and I won. I haven’t won since 2012. So, I’m super satisfied about this victory. I took my chance here. I am counted on with this team to lead-out Mark Cavendish, and I’m more than proud to do it. But when you win it’s also a nice feeling. At the age of 40 it’s never easy. When you are a sprinter at this age you gain some strength, but you are a bit less explosive. I’m really, really happy. In this team I’ve found my place. I’m always motivated and satisfied to give to the team and to Patrick Lefevere back all that they have done for me. I was looking forward to win a race with this jersey and now my dream came true. Now, I will return to normality with recovery and training and arrive at Tour of Turkey with Cavendish. He knows he can count on us. We’ll be going for more wins in the next weeks.”

GP Pino Cerami Result:
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 4:42:44
2. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
3. Daniele Colli (Ita) Neri Sottoli
4. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Antoine Demoitié (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles)
7. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Veranclassic-Doltcini
9. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Roubaix-Lille Métropole
10. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka.

Petacchi wins Cerami:
Cycling - Grand Prix Pino Cerami - 12.04.2014

Chris Horner Up-Date
On Saturday afternoon Chris Horner was transferred to the chest surgery department of Lecco hospital, where he had been recovered yesterday after his crash while training around Lake Como on Friday. He underwent lung drainage and Doctor Vertemati, head of the department, said that progress was good as is the morale of Chris (photo).

The American rider, who received a visit from Dr Guardascione (head of Lampre-Merida medical staff), will be in hospital until the middle of next week at least.


Next Races for the Europcar Team
Paris-Camembert Tuesday 15th of April.
Riders: Giovanni Bernaudeau, Bryan Coquard, Romain Guillemois, Tony Hurel, Maxime Mederel, Brian Nauleau, Alexandre Pichot, Angélo Tulik.
DS: Benoit Genauzeau.

Fleche Brabanconne Wednesday 16th of April.
Riders: Yukiya Arashiro, Antoine Duchesne, Morgan Lamoisson, Davide Malacarne, Perrig Quemeneur, Kévin Reza, Bjorn Thurau, Thomas Voeckler.
DS: Lylian Lebreton.

GP Denain Thursday 17th of April.
Riders: Yukiya Arashiro, Bryan Coquard, Antoine Duchesne, Yohann Gene, Morgan Lamoisson, Yanick Martinez, Angélo Tulik, Bjorn Thurau.
DS: Lylian Lebreton.

Wheels on the Western Front 2014 Centenary Cycle Ride
Cycle the length of the Western Front in aid of The Soldiers’ Charity, 4 – 9 August 2014

Press Release: Your country needs you and if you’re a keen cyclist then Wheels on the Western Front may be the challenge you’re seeking. The event, taking place this summer, will take cyclists on a five-day bike ride along the Western Front, covering approximately 70 miles per day.

August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, and the reality is that since then British service personnel have been involved in conflicts across the world, sometimes resulting in death and serious injury.

On 4th August 2014, 200 riders will depart from Central London and ride to Dover, before crossing to Calais. Riders will then follow the coast to Nieuwpoort in Belgium, which was where the front line met the sea, and follow it all the way to Compiegne, near Paris, where the Armistice was finally signed, over four years later in a railway carriage.

Wheels on the Western Front is an initiative by keen Hereford cyclist Paul Morrisroe, who said: “I visited the Battlefields of the Somme and Ypres last summer and was moved by the sight of the memorials. I thought that the idea of cycling the Front and using it an opportunity to raise money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity to commemorate the centenary of WW1 would be a great idea”.

Funds raised by the event, which is backed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will go directly to helping soldiers and their families in all regions across the United Kingdom. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity gives grants to injured soldiers undergoing rehabilitation at the Personnel Recovery Unit and by providing vocational training to return soldiers to duty or help with the transition to civilian life.

Richard Hackett, The Soldiers’ Charity Regional Director for the West Midlands said: “This ride will challenge those taking part both physically and emotionally. We will ride approximately 70 miles each day (total 350 miles) and will visit places of interest along the way, all of them with a story to tell and all of them incredibly moving”.

The event is being conducted by Green Jersey Cycling Holidays, experienced in holding events of this type in France. Registration costs £100 and riders must pledge to raise £1000 for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

To sign up for this commemorative event please email: [email protected] or visit www.greenjersey.co.uk/soldierscharityride or www.soldierscharity.org/events/event-item/wheels-on-the-western-front

To find out more about the work of the charity, visit www.soldierscharity.org.


The Best Worst Bits of Roubaix
Just like every year there were crashes in this year’s Paris-Roubaix and here are some of them:


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