What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Monday!

It was another superb weekend of racing action this past weekend and once again we have all the latest from across the world today. Which teams finally scored a win? Which teams are still searching for that elusive first win? It’s all here and more in yet another overflowing EuroTrash-can!

Sagan Superb In Sardinia
My top story this week could have gone to the great racing in Belgium with Het Nieuwsbald on Saturday and then K-B-K on Sunday but Gordan covered those well in his stories on the weekend so no, my top story this week instead comes from Italy and the complete dominance of the peloton by young Peter Sagan.

Proving that he’s no one season-wonder this past week, last year’s true breakout young talent, finished the week long Tour of Sardinia with an amazing 3 stage victories and the overall classification. Last Thursday in EuroTrash it was the prince himself, Damiano Cunego who had seized the lead from Sagan by winning the 2nd stage but Sagan bounced straight back the next day with a solid win in stage 3 which followed from some superb teamwork by his Liquigas team. With riders of the quality of Vincenzo Nibali giving their all for the cause, the young Sagan didn’t let them down taking back the leader’s jersey after his victory and then outsprinting the sprinters the next day to take yet another stage win!

By then controlling all the attacks in the final stage Sagan’s overall lead was assured but he couldn’t win 3 stages in a row as a strong Michele Scarponi managed to take the final stage to bring in his first win of the season under his new Lampre colours. Overall the Tour of Sardinia this year was a great race with a quality field and strong attacking racing but the whole field was up against a simply superior Sagan. His Liquigas team should get a lot of the credit also with strong work performed by Nibali and Eros Capecchi in particular who could be one of the buys of the season for Liquigas. In this race Capecchi was normally the last man left for Sagan in the difficult finishes and he did a mountain of work bringing back attacks and leading out the young Slovakian. Just the sort of man that Basso may need at the Tour? Or Nibali in the Giro? Or both perhaps!

Stage 3 Results:
1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
2. Josй Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) s.t.
3. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) s.t.
4. Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) +0’02″
5. Ben Hermans (Radio Shack) s.t.
6. Michele Scarponi (Lampre) s.t.
7. Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre) s.t.
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF) s.t.
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) s.t.
10. Angel Vicioso (Androni Giocattoli) s.t.

Stage 4 Results:
1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
2. Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSF) s.t.
3. Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) s.t.
4. Ben Swift (Great Britain) s.t.
5. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) s.t.
6. Alexander Porsev (Katusha) s.t.
7. Jacopo Guarnieri (Liquigas) s.t.
8. Luca Fioretti (ORA Hotels) s.t.
9. Danilo Napolitano (Androni Giocattoli) s.t.
10. Geraint Thomas (Great Britain) s.t.

Stage 5 Results:
1. Michele Scarponi (Lampre)
2. Josй Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) +0’03″
3. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) +0’08″
4. Peter Sagan (Liquigas) +0’11″
5. Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) +0’14″
6. Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) s.t.
7. Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF) +0’21″
8. Ben Hermans (Radio Shack) s.t.
9. Pavel Brutt (Katusha) +0’25″
10. Eros Capecchi (Liquigas) +0’34″

Final General Classification:
1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
2. Josй Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) +0’03″
3. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) +0’07″
4. Michele Scarponi (Lampre) +0’18″
5. Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) +0’32″
6. Ben Hermans (Radio Shack) +0’43″
7. Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) +0’47″
8. Pavel Brutt (Katusha) +0’57″
9. Eros Capecchi (Liquigas) +1’02″
10. Vladimir Miholjevic (Acqua & Sapone) +1’26″

Katusha Gets A Win In Sardinia
The Tour of Sardinia wrapped up on Saturday but all the same riders came out for another day of racing the next day when the Sardinia Classic was held on the Italian island. It was no surprise when the in form names that were involved in the Tour were in the action again in this one day race when a group of 22 riders broke clear early. Amongst the 22 was man of the moment, Peter Sagan (Liquigas) and his 2 teammates, Daniel Oss and Vincenzo Nibali, Lampre had their in-form prince, Damiano Cunego accompanied by Francesco Gavazzi and Androni Giocattoli had their two in form climbers, Emanuele Sella, Jonathan Monsalve plus Alessandro de Marchi and Roberto Ferrari.

Others in the break were Rafaв Chtioui (Acqua & Sapone), Constantino Zaballa (Miche), Elia Favilli and Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini), Paolo Tiralongo and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), Matthew Busche and Ben King (Radio Shack), Pavel Brutt and Alexander Porsev (Katusha), Brent Bookwalter and Chad Beyer (BMC) and Geraint Thomas who was riding in Sardinia as a member of the Great Britain National team.

With such a group of in-form riders and a big mix of teams there weren’t many riders left back in the peloton willing to chase so the gap quickly grew and by the halfway mark in the race it was obvious to all involved that the winner would come from the front group of 22 riders. If you’d have tried to bet on the result at that stage you wouldn’t have got much return on your money for Peter Sagan as every man and his dog thought that the youngster accompanied by 2 teammates would once again be unbeatable.

The pundits and Sagan himself didn’t reckon on a strong Pavel Brutt though who attacked on the final finishing climb which included the last km at 10% gradient to join late attacker Sella in the lead. Brutt then easily outsprinted Sella to give Katusha their first win of the year and rob Sagan of yet another victory as he led the remnants of the group home in 3rd just 5s behind the leading pair.

1. Pavel Brutt (Katusha)
2. Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) +0’02″
3. Peter Sagan (Liquigas) +0’05″
4. Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre) s.t.
5. Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini) s.t.
6. Geraint Thomas (Great Britain) +0’10″
7. Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) +0’12″
8. Constantino Zaballa (Miche) s.t.
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) s.t.
10. Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini) s.t.

Garmin-Cervйlo Flop?
The new Garmin-Cervйlo team didn’t quite perform up to their pre season Classics Superteam status on the weekend with what was for me and I’m sure the team a disappointing performance in terms of results in the first real weekend of Classics racing of 2011.

3 in the top 50 on Saturday after all the work they put in out on the road must have been disappointing with Martijn Maaskant claiming the squad’s best placing in 7th followed by Thor Hushovd in 33rd and Andreas Klier in 34th. The next day in K-B-K things were looking good for the squad as the race came down to a bunch sprint but Tyler Farrar got boxed in as the sprint opened up and he could only manage 4th to just miss the podium.

Certainly this wasn’t the start of the classics season that the squad was looking for but I’m sure with names such as Hushovd, Farrar, Hammond, Millar, Klier, Haussler etc things will change soon. After all the team did start the year superbly with victories across the world with Meyer in Australia, Haussler in Qatar and Fischer and Farrar in Spain so I’m still expecting big things from the guys in the coming races. Still 3 in the top 50 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday is not up to par for a team of this depth.

Geox Take A Victory!
The new Geox-TMC team got its first ever victory yesterday at the Clasica de Almeria and it came by way of one of their young talents with 22 year old neo pro Matteo Pelucchi taking the sprint victory.

Pelucchi had already showed good early season form with a 4th place finish in the final stage of the Tour of Oman, but yesterday’s race in Spain was a much bigger result for the young Italian but it was close! Pelucchi edged out Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas by a matter of just a few millimeters in the photo finish. Third place went to Pim Ligthart of Vacansoleil who is well known for his track prowess which served him well in this final hectic sprint.

1. Matteo Pelucchi (Geox)
2. Josй Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) s.t
3. Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil) s.t
4. Christophe Laborie (Saur Sojasun) s.t.
5. Bartlomiej Matysiak (CCC) s.t.
6. Aitor Galdos (Caja Rural) s.t.
7. Diego Milan (Caja Rural) s.t.
8. Robert Fцrster (UnitedHealthcare) s.t.
9. Michal Golas (Vacansoleil) s.t.
10. Juan Josй Lobato (Andalucia) s.t.

Basso Takes A Rare Victory
Geox-TMC almost got two wins on the weekend with former U/23 World champ, Fabio Duarte going close in the GP di Lugano in Switzerland yesterday but he was simply outclassed by a super strong Ivan Basso (Liquigas). Baso’s victory and Sagan’s rampage in Sardinia now brings Liquigas-Cannpondale’s total of wins to 7 for the season in what has been a superb start to the season for the lime green squadra.

Speaking on the win Basso, dedicated his victory to his deceased coach and mentor, Aldo Sassi,

“The team was determined to win this race and I’m very happy that I could give them, and myself, this gift. We set off decisively, keeping a fast pace and trying to thin out the field from the start. First we broke up the group with a large breakaway, and then Caruso had a go. Towards the end my legs felt fine and I tried to get away on the last climb. Duarte followed me and together we managed to keep our distance over the group. I decided to anticipate him on the final straight; I succeeded in keeping up the pace and didn’t let myself be caught. I dedicate this race to one person, Aldo Sassi, who is always in my thoughts.”

Gp di Lugano Results:
1. Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
2. Fabio Duarte (Geox) s.t.
3. Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini) +0’16″
4. Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1) s.t.
5. Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) s.t.
6. Fortunato Baliani (D’Angelo & Antenucci) s.t.
7. Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) s.t.
8. Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1) s.t.
9. Mauro Finetto (Liquigas) s.t.
10. David Blanco (Geox) s.t.

RadioShack On Top In Spain
Team RadioShack certainly had a good time at the Ruta del Sol in Spain this last week – Markel Irizar took the overall title with Levi Leipheimer just 2s behind in 3rd, Haimar Zubeldia back in 8th and Ivan Rovny in 10th. Four guys in the top ten including the most important placing of first? Bravo guys. These placings were almost a mirror of the prologue results with Irizar simply holding onto his lead throughout the race that was earned in the prologue after prologue winner, Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur Sojasun) was unable to hang on over the climbs on stage 1.

All the other stages managed to finish in a sprint with the spoils shared between Jonathon Hivert (Saur Sojasun) on stage 2, Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) on stage 3 and a spritely Oscar Freire (Rabobank) who managed to take stages 4 and 5.

Final General Classification:
1. Markel Irizar (Radio Shack)
2. Jurgen van den Broeck (Omega Pharma) +0’01″
3. Levi Leipheimer (Radio Shack) +0’02″
4. Jйrфme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) +0’03″
5. Luis Pasamontes (Movistar) +0’08″
6. Thomas Lцvkvist (Team Sky) s.t.
7. Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) +0’09″
8. Haimar Zubeldia (Radio Shack) +0’12″
9. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) +0’16″
10. Ivan Rovny (Radio Shack) +0’18″

Visconti Continues His Early Season Form
Third place in the Tour of Oman last week was good for Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini) but 1st place at the GP Insubria in the North of Italy was even sweeter for the Italian champion who won in a reduced bunch sprint on top of the final hill which measured the last two kilometers at 5%. The Slovenian Jure Kocjan almost gave his Team Type 1 team their biggest victory to date by launching his sprint with 250m to go only to be reeled in just before the line by Visconti. Kocjan was still able to hang onto 2nd on the line though with the final step on the podium belonging to one of the pre-race favourites in Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale). It’s the first victory by Visconti in his Italian champion’s jersey since winning the title in June last year and if his current from continues it won’t be the last.

1. Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini)
2. Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1) s.t.
3. Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) +0’01″
4. Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) s.t.
5. Simone Ponzi (Liquigas) s.t.
6. Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago-CSF) s.t.
7. Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) s.t.
8. Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale) s.t.
9. Mauro Finetto (Liquigas) +0’04″
10. Daniele Ratto (Geox) +0’05″

French On Top In France
The French continued their good start to the season in the 1.1 ranked Boucles de Sud-Ardиche with yet another victory yesterday. This time the win went the way of the young FDJ rider, Arthur Vichot (22). Does his name ring a bell to anyone? Well perhaps it should as it was in his first ever professional race in 2010 at the Tour Down Under when Arthur was chosen by the Aussie fans as their ‘star’ of the race where he had his name painted on the road and more fans waving signs with his name than the big stars like Armstrong and Evans!

This year in his second year as a pro he has been able to have media attention for his results with a great sprint victory over a small group at the end of an attacking race. The win follows on from his win last year in the 2nd stage at the Paris-Correze giving Vichot a very solid start to his young pro career. It wasn’t just Vichot who shined in the race for the French though with the French taking 9 of the places in the top 10! The only non-Frenchie in the top 10 was Leopard Trek’s Fabian Wegmann in 6th who would be ruing yet another missed opportunity for he and his team to score their first victory of the season.

Results, 2011 Boucles de Sud-Ardиche:
1. Arthur Vichot (FDJ)
2. Thierry Hupond (Skil-Shimano) s.t
3. Cyril Gautier (Europcar) s.t
4. Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun) s.t
5. Romain Hardy (Bretagne-Schuller) s.t
6. Fabian Wegmann (Leopard-Trek) s.t
7. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) s.t
8. Yohan Cauquil (La Pomme Marseille) s.t
9. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Saur-Sojasun) s.t
10. Pierrick Fйdrigo (FDJ) s.t

Controversy In Belgium
Some controversy yesterday in K-B-K with the entire early breakaway group being ejected from the race due to them ignoring a red light at a railway crossing. The commissaires demonstrated their zero tolerance policy to this practice by immediately ejecting the group of Edwig Cammaerts (Landbouwkrediet), Arnaud Coyot (Saur-Sojasun), Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Cervelo) and Arnoud Van Groen (Veranda Willemes Accent) from the race.

This led to the amusing situation of young Andy Fenn (An-Post) who had earlier been dropped from the break suddenly leading the race solo! The lack of race radios also provoked confusion in the race with the peloton unsure of why the timing boards suddenly showed just 1 rider in front and not 5…..

You would think that the riders would have learnt their lesson to NEVER pass through on the red after infamous incidents such as Paris Roubaix 2006 where the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers were ejected AFTER the finish. At least yesterday the commissaires took immediate action and I applaud them for it.

New Jersey, New Sponsor For Leopard Trek?
Mystery surrounds the press conference to be held on Tuesday by the Leopard-Trek team in Luxembourg. According to the press invite, the General Manager Brian Nygaard and their two big stars, Frдnk and Andy Schleck will present the official jersey of the team. I thought that the jersey was presented with much fanfare back in January? Why another presentation?

Well the obvious answer would be that they have a new sponsor to announce to maybe fill that big gap on the front of their jersey? The team is currently backed by Trek and a number of secondary sponsors but the large empty spaces on the jersey obviously lend itself well to further sponsors. I guess we’ll just have to wait for Tuesday for more on this one. One thing’s for sure, the press conference is not to talk about their early season results as the No.1 ranked team at the start of the year is still yet to record a win for 2011.

Pez Photog Crashes!
For those of you like myself who were glued to the TV or the internet over the weekend watching the great racing action in Belgium you may have seen a motorcycle photographer crash in the closing stages of Het Nieuwsbald on Saturday? Well, unfortunately for us at Pez that was one of our own CorVos photographers, Wessel van Keuk with pilot Jos who went down in the wet and slippery conditions. Fortunately there was only some damage to the motorbike with photographer and cameras all ok as you could see by the great photos in the race reports from the weekend.

To see the crash for yourself check out the video below at 5m25s.

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