What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Monday!

After a rain soaked Milan-Sanremo; Alexander Kristoff came out on top, all the race quotes and video action from Italy and also from the Handzame Classic and the G.P. Nobili. Registration info for the Tour of America’s Dairyland, preview of the Volta a Catalunya, new Sanremo Museum and the Rubik’s Cube. A full EuroTrash Monday.

TOP STORY: Register Now for Tour of America’s Dairyland
2014 Tour of America’s Dairyland presented by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

June 19-29, 2014. 11 Straight Days of Racing in Wisconsin. 10 Crits. 1 Road Race. 2 NCC Dates.

Just under three months out from our 6th Tour of America’s Dairyland presented by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. “Our” belongs to “Us”. WE are the race promoters, racers, racers’ families, sponsors, fans, communities and municipalities, volunteers, officials, announcers, neutral support, medical teams, merch providers, host housing families, the Dairy Farm Families of Wisconsin, our Web designer, Registration and Set-up crews, podium presenters…anyone who has contributed even an ounce of effort toward the professional, consistently solid series that ToAD has become in six years.

This year, you’ll experience what you’ve come to expect: safe courses, on-time starts, healthy payouts, generous primes, fun podiums, Category-specific cowprint jerseys, the coveted musette bags, and more, including over 1,200 daily cartons of lowfat chocolate milk…the best recovery drink!

Junior racing returns in 2014, as does the Pro Team Omniun. And have we mentioned? Pro Men and Pro Women…EQUAL PAYOUTS! (You read that correctly.) You’ll notice improved results reporting, increased visibility for your teams on social media, and larger presence of JumboTrons at more race venues.

Getting back to those primes…minimum total you’ll see tossed out throughout any daily ToAD criterium race day is $2,000. Last year alone during the Pro Men’s race at Downer, $9,100 in primes was awarded! (You read that correctly, too.) This year, our local race venues have erected an unofficial inner ToAD competition amongst themselves. Meaning…2014 will be PRIME-A-PA-LOOZA at ToAD. Get those legs ready!

Plenty to talk about in the coming months, including Sponsor Spotlights…new sponsors and existing sponsors with more involvement, as we continue to take ToAD to that next level. In 2014 and beyond.

ToAD averaged 650 racers per day in 2013. Several fields reached the max and closed out. So get registered, and come play with us in Wisconsin this June. If you haven’t raced with us before, just ask someone who has. Eleven straight race days takes a massive collective effort of many. And while there are always things we can do better, we have endless passion and will never stop trying to improve your ToAD experience and maintain status as the largest competitive road race series in the U.S.

Connect with Us on Facebook for even more updates!



Milano-Sanremo 2014
The Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the 105th Milano-Sanremo on Sunday afternoon. Kristoff beat Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and Ben Swift (Sky) in a sprint involving a small group of about 25 riders. Kristoff was given a perfect lead-out by his team-mate Luca Paolini and he held all the others off to win by a bike length at the line.

The race, bathed in rain for much of the 294 km, saw an early breakaway by seven riders: Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Antonio Parrinello (Androni-Giocattoli), Tjallingii (Belkin), Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) and Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare).The had a maximum lead of 10 minutes at one point, but the seven were down to two when Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) launched a dangerous, solo attack on the CIpressa, catching and passing the last escapees, only to be caught 9 km from the finish. 2008 champion Fabian Cancellara finished 2nd, as he did last year and in 2011. Third was the young Yorkshireman Ben Swift who pushed past a suffering Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step).

After his win, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) spoke to the press:
Nibali’s attack and the Poggio: “Nibali would have to have been really strong to stay away. If a big group had gone after him, it would probably have made it all the way. I just tried to follow the pace and stay hidden in the pack. I didn’t think about the others: I just wanted to survive the climb. When we reached the foot of the Poggio after the descent, I was really happy to see that we would be sprinting for victory. In the last kilometres, I felt good, but I didn’t know how the others were feeling. Normally Greipel and Cavendish are better than me, but it was great to beat them and cross the line first. It went my way today – but you need a bit of luck to win a race like this.”

Luca Paolini: “The tactic was for Luca to follow the attacks, and for me to survive. He’s a strong rider who can follow any attack. I’m not strong enough to ride that way, but I can stay in the group. He had to wait a long time for me, before bringing me back. We spoke at the foot of the climb. I just said, ‘I’m here, Luca,’ and he knew what to do. He did a great job for me in the last kilometres and I’m very grateful to him.”

The prestige of victory: “I already have a good position in the team, so that won’t change, but it’s a big victory and a huge step for me. I’ve won a stage in Tour de Suisse, and I have an Olympic medal, but this will stay with me for the rest of my career. I’m just super happy that I have this victory, it’s unbelievable. With the extra climb, it will be much more difficult for the sprinters, including me, but I won’t know until I try it, so I’ll be here next year also.”

Proud teammate Luca Paolini summed it up, adding, “I feel like a winner too. Alex wins not just thanks to me but to the entire team. They protected us throughout the day. He’s fast. When I saw he was still there on the Poggio, we gave everything for him. I was happy to work for him.”

General Manager of Katusha Team, Viacheslav Ekimov: “Alexander is a real warrior. He is always motivated and he never complains. He always does his job properly. And he really deserved a win like this, as well as the whole Katusha Team. We were motivated today to fight for the good result. Did we think about the victory? Why not? We had a strong team and a strong leader. I saw some tough moments on the Poggio, but then I saw Paolini taking care of Kristoff on the flats and I figured it was today or never for a big win. This victory is especially important for our team and Russian cycling. Kristoff is not a Russian rider but our team is a Russian team and this victory brings a great motivation for our youth. Taking such a victory, Katusha confirms the status of the first Russian professional team and this is the most important thing.”

Fabian Cancellara (Trek) spoke shortly after the race had finished about his feelings on his second place: “I am really tired, it was a race of survival. Many times during the race I was cold. I have to say a big thanks to the team, it was a great team effort, and everyone did his maximum today. With, or without, the Pompeiana it was still hard. But in the end it was a sprinter’s race after all, so I guess in that way I made a good result.

“It was hard because it was a race where you had to be patient – to wait and wait. Maybe it was a little bit boring because of that. Today was not Flanders or Roubaix. I thought maybe I should go on the top of Poggio but there were too many riders that looked fresh, so I did not make a move. Same after the descent, there was no moment to go, so the best plan was to wait for a sprint. The sprint was the only solution of today.

“Of course I want to win, and not be second or someplace on the podium like the last four years. But it was special circumstances again, lots of cold and rain and it was not difficult other than the weather to get to the end. But I am happy when I look at how I finished against the big sprinters. The sprint at the end, I played it the best I could: I used my ‘non-sprinter’ skills to finish well. Kristoff was just too far away at the end.

“The condition I have to say is definitely here. Now I want to go and take a hot shower and wash my eyes really well because I cannot see out of one of them.”

Third in Sanremo Ben Swift told TeamSky.com: “It’s the race that I’ve looked at in the past and dreamed about over the years. It’s the one big race where I could see myself getting a result because normally that sort of terrain is where I’d have pretty good legs. So to go there and do that today was a really great feeling.”

294 kilometres in the cold is not many people’s idea of fun. Swift admitted the conditions were tough on the peloton, adding: “My hands were so cold. I was struggling to do anything with my fingers. I couldn’t do up my rain cape and things like that. I never felt bad in the race I was just cold. As it went on I just felt better and better. Then once we took the rain capes off and the racing really started I felt a lot better. When we got onto the climbs the rain did affect a lot of people. We were expecting a lot of attacks but they just never really materialized.”

“The team rode together all day. The plan was to keep out of sight a little bit but to be at the front for the final climbs. I came around and got into a really good position at the bottom of the Cipressa and that helped a lot. Heading into the finish I was just looking to stay safe down the Poggio and stay in contact with the front guys. I knew that you needed good position down there to make it as easy as possible. I didn’t really know how many people were in the group or not but I just tried to stay as far forward as I could. It turned into a bit of a track race once we got into that final 3km. There were always guys willing to put moves in and then once it came to the sprint it was just about trying to pick the right wheel. I got boxed in a little bit but luckily I managed to find a way out.”

Fourth placed Juanjo Lobato (Movistar): “I was so excited to come and race here, since I couldn’t do it with Euskaltel last season. There are two races I have always loved: the Worlds and Milano-Sanremo. I could debut here at last and I’m really happy with my result, though it left me sort of a bittersweet taste, because I think I had the legs to be on the podium.
“With cold and rain, a cycle race changes a lot. We suffered it all day long, from the 20th kilometre, so many hours. I had to stop to put on better clothes and shoe covers, because I was feeling so cold, but apart from that, my legs felt really well. I got well through the Cipressa and also climbed well through the Poggio, even waiting for the attacks from Cancellara or Sagan, because I was going really easy and it’s less hard to win into a short group than a bigger bunch. However, I guess there weren’t such strong guys in the field today, and we had to go for the big sprint.

“After almost 300km, the legs on the sprint have nothing to do with a normal one, and though I tried to follow Cavendish’s wheel in the finale, I got a bit out of position and couldn’t make it to the podium. Kristoff was unbeatable today, but the other guys didn’t have better legs than me. Still, I could discover this race and I’ve realized I can contest it in years to come.”

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team riders Mark Cavendish and Zdenek Stybar braved the brutal conditions and finished 5th and 7th in the sprint finale out of a group that was down to less than 20 to 30 riders.

“It was really so cold today,” Cavendish said. “I felt incredible all day. I’d like to say I launched early in my sprint, but I don’t think I had any other option. When Modolo (Lampre-Merida) went my only other option was to go then. It was too early, but I don’t think I had much choice. I think maybe in other conditions, where I wasn’t so cold, I would maybe have a little bit left and could have stayed longer. But I really decided to sprint and my legs just stopped. I sat down and my legs just didn’t go anymore. Kristoff came back so, so fast. I gave everything and I managed fifth. But, I am happy with the form. A few of the guys were really cold earlier in the race. Iljo Keisse looked after me the whole day, riding in the wind for the first 150 kilometres. It was hard to even communicate, even looking around at any of the teams, it was so cold. Bakelants did an absolutely incredible job for me today. He rode the majority of the last 70 kilometres in the wind for me. Styby was there in the last climbs always staying with me. I felt super on the last climbs, but not really in the sprint. So, I am disappointed, but I can take some positives from today and look forward to the rest of the season. As for being there at the end of Milano-Sanremo, my team believes in me, I believe in myself, and that’s the most important thing to me. Given the circumstances, I gave everything and don’t think I could have done anything differently.”

“This was my first time racing Milano-Sanremo,” Bakelants said. “It was really nice, but really hard because of the conditions. There was a lot of rain and cold. Unfortunately we were down to only three guys. I tried to help Cav a lot, which I did, but it used a lot of energy and made it hard for me to be useful to him after the Poggio. Regardless, given my performance today this is a good thing. With maybe another guy there I could make it after the Poggio, but OK, that is how it is sometimes.”

“Even with my background in cyclocross, it is something else to race one hour full gas than it is to race seven hours when it is raining like this,” Stybar said. “You cannot compare it. We were on the start with really a very strong team. We could go on the Cipressa, and the Poggio, and just control. On the Poggio I don’t think anyone had the legs to make the difference anymore, anyone that was in the group. I was expecting something from the big names like Cancellara, Sagan. I tried to jump on everything and was also on the wheel of Luca Paolini (Katusha). That was the plan. On the downhill of the Poggio we had a really strong Cav, so I went for him and we did the best we could. OK, he didn’t make it in the final, but he was really good all day long. I think that I am in really good shape. I improved a little bit since Paris-Nice, I had no problem at all with the distance, which made me really very happy. I trained very hard for it, so I think the hard work paid off. Today I was good and now I have to recover mentally and physically. Once you are at the finish you have to switch off and think of the next race.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Bennati touched wheels with another rider and instantly lost position: “I think everyone could see that Benna (Bennati) was in excellent shape throughout the race and especially on the top of the final climb and it’s really frustrating to be held back by a freak accident like this. He truly deserved a spot in the top-5 today but that’s life. Also Nicki (Sørensen) was showing great shape and supported Benna all the way across Poggio. Even though we lost the battle today, the boys’ strength gives me hope that we will see more of both Nicki and Benna during the classics,” said Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Fabrizio Guidi.

Milano-Sanremo Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 6:55:56
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek
3. Ben Swift (GB) Sky
4. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
5. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
8. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
10. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale.

Sanremo 2014 action:

Handzame Classic 2014
Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) took an impressive sprint victory on Friday at the Handzame Classic (1.1) in Belgium, finishing off a great display of racing by Team Giant-Shimano.

This is Luka’s first win of the season, picking up from where he left off at the end of last season where he took his first WorldTour victory of his career at the Tour of Beijing. This victory marks Team Giant-Shimano’s 10th victory of the season. Having fallen ill during the Ruta del Sol last month, Luka struggled to find his sprinting legs and worked hard to get back into the rhythm of sprinting.

The first half of the race saw the peloton split up and come back together on a couple of occasions, with the race at one point broken into four groups. The action calmed down and three riders clipped off the front forming the day’s breakaway. The team helped control the race behind these riders and eventually closed the gap in the closing stages before setting Luka up for the sprint finish.

“It’s great to get the first win out of the way and also to thank my teammates for their help today with a victory as they set me up perfectly and I had the easy job of finishing it off,” said a very happy Luka after the finish. It was really hectic early on with lots of attacks and crosswinds splitting the race into echelons but we always had guys in the front group so it was under control. We let the three guys go when we hit the circuits later on and controlled with a few other teams. We caught the break on the last lap and the guys then set me up perfectly for the sprint at the end. The legs felt good and sprinting on the Giant Propel is awesome, it feels so fast. It’s a nice reward for the team’s faith in me and their hard work today.”

Team Giant-Shimano’s Scientific Expert commented on Luka’s progression since last year: “The development target for us with Luka was to keep developing his skills as a sprinter. He worked really hard on this over the winter and made some big improvements. It’s great to see the hard work pay off.”

Coach, Rudi Kemna added: “Everything went to plan today and Luka did a great job at the end. The plan was always to control the race using as little energy as possible and set the sprint up. Even when the race was splitting up in the crosswinds we were always in control and the guys never panicked. Once the last break was brought back, the guys came to the front and led it out from 1500m out. It worked out perfect and the guys can be proud of the job they did today.”
Thanks to Giant-Shimano for race info.

Theo Bos of Belkin was second behind Giant-Shimano’s Luka Mezgec: “I’m happy with the way we raced, but I’m less satisfied with the sprint,” said Bos. “Of course, that’s because I didn’t win, but honestly Mezgec was very fast and a second place was really my best today.” A head-wind blew down the final straight and forced the sprinters to wait long. “Barry Markus dropped me and Graeme Brown off at the front, but when Mezgec accelerated I was still behind some other riders,” Bos continued. “I was still able to pass them but Mezgec was a bridge too far.”

Just like Bos, Sports Director Michiel Elijzen thought the day went according to plan. “Although we would’ve preferred to win, sometimes someone is just faster than you,” Elijzen said. “We did much better than Wednesday when we were not attentive enough in my eyes. Today, we were in the race right from the start. We worked hard for a bunch sprint and succeeded. The wind split up the peloton at one point. Thanks to Weerplaza, we knew exactly when that was going to happen so we were able to anticipate it. As a result, our men were always in the mix.”

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Kevin De Weert finished with the peloton in the bunch sprint finale of the 198km Handzame Classic on Friday. It was a positive experience for the Belgian, as he completed his comeback after a 2013 La Vuelta a Espana Stage 11 crash by finishing his first race since the accident.

“Everything went OK,” De Weert said. “I finished in the first group 80 riders. It was not an easy race to start hard like it did. The wind was difficult today. There was a big fight to split up the race, and even attacks, but it came to a sprint in the end. I was a little bit nervous in the morning. I knew there would be a lot of wind. But from the moment you are on the bike you think about the race. A lot of guys came to say hello and to support me. For the people who watched from the side, there was a positive reaction from a lot of them. I have to thank all the fans and everybody, as they were very nice. When I crossed the finish like I understood that I became a rider again it was like a small victory. I will certainly celebrate with my wife who was always with me in this difficult period.”

Handzame Classic Result:
1. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Shimano 4:26:53
2. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin
3. Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Antoine Demoitie (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxelles
5. Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC
6. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Jelle Mannaerts (Bel) Verandas Willems
8. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto Belisol
9. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Cibel
10. Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Veranclassic-Doltcini.

Handzame Classic cycling race  2014
Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) on the line.

G.P. Nobili Rubinetterie 2014
Simone Ponzi (Neri Sottoli) won the Italian classic GP Nobili Rubinetterie (UCI 1.1) on Thursday after 187 kilometres, in which Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had been centre stage with an attack of over 50 kilometres, to be caught only 8 kilometres from the finish line.

Valverde left the peloton on the first climb to Massimo Visconti (3.6 kms at 6.8%) and caught the break of: Boucher (FDJ), Brutt (Katusha), Parrinello (Androni), Rubiano & Valencia (Colombia), who had escaped at kilometre 70. On the second pass, Valverde went solo and the peloton had to work hard to pull the Murcian back.

After Valverde was caught, the Movistar team then worked hard for their sprinters; Ventoso & Lobato, but in the end Ponzi got the better of them both and Christian Delle Stelle (Team Ideal). Ponzi has had a very successful spring with wins in the Dutch Classic Dwars door Drenthe and the GP Etruschi.

The GP Nobili Rubinetterie has been another important step in the season for Area Zero D’Amico, with Fabio Chinello, who jostled in the best group for ninth place.

“Today’s was probably the hardest race since the beginning of the season, not so much for the route as for the level of riders in the race, with many World Tour teams and some big names who will figure as major players in the Sanremo on Sunday,” explains the athletic trainer for Area Zero D’Amico, Paolo Santello. “Let’s not forget that our riders are super young and each race represents a new chance to grow and gain experience. Once again today they all made it to the finish line, including Mengardo, who is back to the races today after the injury sustained in Lugano, and five of them even came in with the first group. The entire team is moving with the right mind frame, then results will arrive in good time.”

G.P. Nobili Rubinetterie Result:
1. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Neri Sottoli in 3:59:15
2. Christian Delle Stelle (Ita) Team Idea
3. Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar
4. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
5. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek
7. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni-Giocattoli
8. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Neri Sottoli
9. Rafael Andriato (Bra) Neri Sottoli
10. Fabio Chinello (Ita) Aero Zero-D’Amico.

G.P. Nobili Rubinetterie final K’s:

Volta a Catalunya 2014:
The Catalan seven day stage race starts today (Monday) in Calella and finishes on Sunday in Barcelona on the climb of the Montjuïc. No time trial stage and lot of hard roads should let the top riders shine. After his win in Tirreno-Adriatico Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador will want to extend his winning run. He won’t get it all his own way as Chris Froome, Joaquim Rodriguez and Nairo Quintana are amongst the other competitors vying for victory, plus last year’s winner; Dan Martin. Here are the stages and what the teams have to say:

Volta a Catalunya Stages:
Stage 1: Monday 24th of March: Calella – Calella (169.7 km)
Stage 2: Tuesday 25th of March: Mataró – Girona (168 km)
Stage 3: Wednesday 26th of March: Banyoles – La Molina (Alp) (162.9 km)
Stage 4: Thursday 27th of March: Alp – Vallter 2000-Setcases (166.4 km)
Stage 5: Friday 28th of March: Llanars Vall de Camprodon – Valls (218.2 km)
Stage 6: Saturday 29th of March: El Vendrell – Vilanova i la Geltru (172 km)
Stage 7: Sunday 30th of March: Barcelona (Montjuïc) – Barcelona (Montjuïc) (120.7 km).

Monday, the 24th of March, the 94th edition of the Volta a Catalunya is launched with the first of 7 stages in total and as usual, the peloton is challenged with a delicious course for the climbers. No less than 23 categorized climbs are on the program and Tinkoff-Saxo will be on the spot with a full set of hungry climbers:

Alberto Contador, Jasper Hansen, Chris Anker Sørensen, Bruno Pires, Sergio Paulinho, Rory Sutherland, Jesus Hernandez and Pawel Poljanski.

Throughout the years, the race has been dominated by memorable Spanish legends like Luis Ocana, Miguel Indurain, Fernando Escartin, Joseba Beloki and Alejandro Valverde but other big names such as Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi and Sean Kelly have won the race. And there’s no doubt that this year’s winner will be a strong climber. There are no time trials in the race and the mountainous terrain during stage three and four will make sure, the heavier riders will be out of the GC.

Even though Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador is in great shape, DS, Philippe Mauduit doesn’t necessarily expect another superb overall win: “As you know it’s never easy to win such race. The race level will be at the highest and the profile of the race pretty hard. In the past few years the first two stages were offering a surprising scenario so we have to be ready and never forget that everything can happen. After those first two stages, we enter mountain terrain where I expect a big fight between the GC riders. We will have to do our best to support Alberto and we have the team to do so. Of course after Tirreno everybody expects Alberto doing another spectacular show but we have to bear in mind that he did something incredibly outstanding in Tirreno and it’s really difficult to produce such performance at that level of competition. So we will take it day by day and the team will do their best to give him the support he deserves,” says Mauduit

Lotto Belisol:
Next Monday the Volta a Catalunya starts. It’s the 94th edition of this WorldTour stage race of seven days, which finishes on Sunday the 30th of March. There’s no flat stage, every day the riders have to climb. The second stage to Girona and the sixth to Vilanova i la Geltru are best suited to end with a sprint. Crucial for GC will be day four with finish at ski station Vallter 2000. The last climb is twelve kilometres long and has an average gradient of 7.8%. Barcelona is start and finish place on the final day. The race will be closed with eight local laps of 6.15 kilometres in the capital of Catalunya, in which each time the Montjuïc has to be climbed.

There will be many strong riders at the start in Spain with among other Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Joaquim Rodriguez and Nairo Quintana. For Lotto Belisol Jurgen Van den Broeck will participate. This week he could resume the trainings after his crash in Tirreno-Adriatico. Bart De Clercq will be the man for GC. Dennis Vanendert and Tosh Van der Sande are the riders for the sprint.

Mario Aerts, sports director: “In any case we aim for a stage win. Bart De Clercq is our GC rider. We aim for a top ten. It’s a strong list of participants in Catalunya, almost the strongest of the entire year. Jurgen Van den Broeck comes back in action after his crash in Tirreno-Adriatico. We have to wait and see how he’s doing and how his knee responds to racing. Sander Armée can help Bart and Jurgen uphill.”

“We go to Catalunya partly with a young team; with Broeckx, Vallée, Van der Sande and Dennis Vanendert in the selection. Tosh Van der Sande rides well for the moment, in Nokere Koerse he stayed ahead very long. Also Dennis Vanendert was part of the front group last Wednesday. We count on them for the stages where a sprint will decide about the victory. It’s most likely that the sixth stage ends with a sprint; I also think it’s possible for the second one. The Volta a Catalunya is tough, but isn’t going through the high mountains all the time. In the fourth stage to Vallter 2000 you can talk of a real ‘col’.”

Lotto Belisol Roster:
Sander Armée, Stig Broeckx, Bart De Clercq, Greg Henderson, Boris Vallée, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Tosh Van der Sande and Dennis Vanendert.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Quintana -stage winner plus 4th overall last year- to lead Movistar Team at 94th Volta after recent podium in Tirreno-Adriatico.

Less than 24 hours after Milano-Sanremo comes to an end, the Movistar Team will continue with their WorldTour schedule at the 94th Volta a Catalunya, from Monday 24th to Sunday 30th. The 2014 course, which features no time trials, will see its GC sorted out at the mountain-top finishes of La Molina (Wednesday) and most notably Vallter 2000 (Thursday), which witnessed a Blue one-two last season. 25 rated climbs mark a race with nervous finishes in Calella’s opener; at the late Xavi Tondo’s hometown Valls, on Friday; and in Barcelona’s Montjuïc park, where the race will come to an end.

Nairo Quintana will be back in the Volta, where his excellent list of victories started in 2013, leading a telephone squad willing to take him into the overall podium after missing out by just eleven seconds in 2013. Igor Antón, Eros Capecchi, Jonathan Castroviejo, José Herrada, Pablo Lastras, Javi Moreno and Rubén Plaza complete the Movistar Team’s eight-man roster, with José Luis Laguía and Chente Garcia Acosta as sports directors.

Last year Nairo Quintana showed well:

The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM plans to compete with the best in the world in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, March 24 to 30. The team, directed by Michiel Elijzen, wants to ride high in the overall and win a stage in the Spanish stage race.

“Those are our goals,” said Elijzen. “With Laurens ten Dam, Wilco Kelderman and Steven Kruijswijk we have three GC riders with us in Spain. All three will have a protected status, but after Paris-Nice it is clear that Wilco is the man in form. He should be able to put in a good result. “Laurens has had a tough winter and Steven has yet to approach his best after his surgery. We will finalise our plans during the week based on who’s in the best condition.”

Nice test
The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM will face some stiff competition in Catalonia, including the top four of last year’s Tour de France: Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Contador. Daniel Martin, the 2013 winner, also starts. “A strong field will be at the start in Callela,” said Elijzen. “After the Tour de France this is perhaps the hardest stage race of the year. This is a good test for us. The course is hard, as well. Our focus is on the third and fourth stage, but we will have to pay attention every day.”

Joker Paul Martens
Paul Martens is the joker of the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM. The German returns after a knee injury and sets his sights on a stage victory. “Paul has the right morale and knows his way around the hilly stages.”

Wilco Kelderman
Kelderman looks forward to another GC battle after Paris-Nice. In France, he finished outside the top ten due a mechanical. He hopes to bounce back in Catalonia. “I’m really looking forward to Catalonia,” he said. “I like the fact that there are longer climbs than in Paris-Nice. We start the race with a strong team, which gives me a lot of confidence. It’s a real race for climbers and some of the best in the world will be at the start. “I’ll focus on myself with the idea to see how far I can go. I want to finish as high up as possible in the overall classification.”

TEAM line-up:
Jack Bobridge, Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Martijn Keizer, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Paul Martens and David Tanner.
Sports Directors: Michiel Elijzen and Frans Maassen.

Strong Support For Sánchez At Catalunya

The BMC Racing Team has assembled a strong team around Samuel Sánchez to support the past Olympic road race champion at Volta a Catalunya, which begins Monday.

Van Garderen Back To Good Health
Overall runner-up in 2012 and a stage winner here in 2007 and 2012, Sánchez said he is ready for his first major stage race of the season. “I am feeling better as time goes by and also with each race I do,” Sánchez said. “During Roma Maxima, I was there at the end and I expect to continue my improvement, step-by-step.” A recent training camp in Italy was extremely helpful, he said. “It was a very positive experience at all levels in a professional environment: from food to masseurs, coaches, mechanics, directors and osteopaths. I also had the chance to meet more teammates and begin a friendly relationship.” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said helping Sánchez go for the overall will be the goal. “This will be a hard race, but Samuel is ready and motived and Tejay van Garderen has recovered well,” he said. “We have a good team here and I have confidence they will help our leader make a good result.” In his first race of the year, van Garderen was runner-up at the Tour of Oman. But he was stricken by sickness before Paris-Nice and forced to withdraw on Stage 1. “I may be lacking some race rhythm, but I was able to train well the past 10 days,” van Garderen said. “My hope is to get stronger throughout the race, earn a top 10 result, and help my teammates if needed. I am also excited to do my first race with Sammy.” Among those also on the roster are Peter Stetina, who helped a teammate win Catalunya last year, and Darwin Atapuma, who was ninth in January at the Tour de San Luis.

BMC Racing Team Volta a Catalunya Roster (March 24-30):
Darwin Atapuma (COL), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Yannick Eijssen (BEL), Martin Kohler (SUI), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Peter Stetina (USA), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Larry Warbasse (USA).
Sport Directors: Yvon Ledanois (FRA) & Jackson Stewart (USA).

Samuel Sánchez in the 2012 Volta a Catalunya:

In order to face in the best way the demanding course of the Volta a Catalunya 2014 (20-30 March), LAMPRE-MERIDA endorsed the top climber of the team, including them in the selection that will take part in the Spanish race.

Chris Horner and Przemyslaw Niemiec will lead very competitive climbers as Anacona, Cattaneo, Durasek, Polanc and Serpa. Ferrari will have the responsibility to fight in the possible sprints.

The team will be directed by the duo Matxin-Vicino, who’ll receive the support by masseurs Chiodini, Napolitano, Negri and Leboso, by mechanics Coelho, Pengo and Romanò and by doctor Pollastri.

Joaquim Rodriguez to lead Team Katusha in Catalunya

The Russian team Katusha is preparing for their participation in the 94th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (UCI WorldTour), which will be held in Spain from March 24th to 30th.
The seven-day race includes two summit finishes.

The 2013 UCI WorldTour winner Joaquim Rodriguez will lead Katusha Team at the Tour of Catalunya. Purito Rodriguez was successful in this race in previous years as an overall winner in 2010 and runner-up in 2013.

This year the full roster of the Russian team is: Joaquim Rodriguez, Daniel Moreno, Pavel Brutt, Maxim Belkov, Giampaolo Caruso, Alberto Losada, Eduard Vorganov and Angel Vicioso.

The team will be directed by Dmitry Konyshev, Uwe Peschel and Xavier Florencio.

The week long WorldTour stage race will see Warren Barguil (FRA) return to racing along with Luka Mezgec (SLO) who recently notched up his first win of the season in Belgium.

Over the seven road stages there are opportunities for the sprinters, climbers and attacking opportunists and as a result Team Giant-Shimano head to Spain with eight riders to cover most possibilities.

“We will look to go for a good GC positioning with Barguil and also for stage results, for most of which we will focus on Mezgec.

“It is quite a young line-up and it will be a good opportunity for some of them to race a WorldTour stage race, with the guidance of road captain, Johannes Fröhlinger.”

Warren Barguil (FRA), Thomas Damuseau (FRA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Tom Peterson (USA), Georg Preidler (AUT).
COACH: Addy Engels (NED).

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step:
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, a 1177.1km UCI WorldTour stage race from March 24th until March 30th. There are no time trials in this race, making all seven stages quite hilly, including two summit finishes in stages three and four. Stage 3 finishes on Category 1 La Molina, while Stage 4 includes a summit finish on the highest point of the race: HC Vallter 2000. There are five 25 categorized climbs in the entire race. Other stages have some climbs to conquer close to the finish, and Stage 6 may be the lone opportunity for the skills of a sprinter.

“We have a team built to do well in the mountain stages and in the GC,” Sport Director Jan Schaffrath said. “Uran will be our leader and he will be supported by a good group of climbers. There’s no time trial, so it will be mostly undulating or mountain stages we are dealing with at this WorldTour stage race. The first big goal is to try and do well in the GC, and then we will look stage-to-stage. As a team we are prepared to support Uran for the GC as best we can. Young guys like Carlos Verona, Julian Alaphilippe, and Petr Vakoc are in pretty good shape. The middle stages will give chances to go in the breakaway. Let’s see how far we can go, giving our young guys a chance to try.”

Retro action from the 1994 Volta a Catalunya:

Garate takes Belkin to Court
Spanish rider Juan Manuel Garate is going to the Dutch courts claiming that the Belkin Pro Cycling Team must pay him, even though he is out of contract with the team. Garate signed for the Rabobank team in 2009 and his lawyer argues that he is entitled to a wage from the team as he was never dismissed or given any notice of the end of his employment. It is also aledged that the team had offered him a new contract for the 2014 season, which he verbally accepted but never signed, although the contract was for less than half of his previous salary. In February this year, Garate did not have a contract, but he was at the team’s pre-season training camp.

Milano-Sanremo Now has a Permanent Museum
The Milano – Sanremo Gallery, an Area 24/RCS Sport initiative, curated by La Gazzetta dello Sport, was opened today by Eddy Merckx.

Sanremo, 22 March 2014 – The new ‘Milano – Sanremo Gallery’ was declared open this morning in the presence of seven-times Milano – Sanremo winner Eddy Merckx. Area 24, a Sanremo-based organisation that has redeveloped the disused railway lines along the stunning Ligurian coastline, has worked together with RCS Sport to create a walk, run or cycle-past museum inside a 1,750m tunnel between Sanremo and Ospedaletti. The Museum completes the 24 km cycle path between San Lorenzo al Mare and Ospedaletti, along the old railway route that follows the western part of the Riviera, now open only to walkers, runners and cyclists.

Curated by La Gazzetta dello Sport, which created the race in 1907, the Milano-Sanremo Gallery features 100 crescent-shaped panels with photographs and texts that, together, tell the history that has made the Milano-Sanremo the great one-day monument of the early season. Thirty tweets judged the most meaningful among all those sent in by fans and followers around the world have been embossed in the asphalt inside the tunnel.

Eddy Merckx said: “This beautiful initiative gives a new lustre to one of the historic classics of world cycling. Ii is a race I hold dear, because of its timeless fascination. The Milano-Sanremo Gallery justly celebrates the springtime Classicissima and the riders who have made it great.”

From left: Eddy Merckx, Sanremo Mayor Maurizio Zoccarato, Area 24 Chairman Giuseppe Argirò and Ospedaletti Mayor Eraldo Crespi.

OPQS Rubik’s Cube Battle: Cavendish vs. Petacchi
After the battle between Sky and Orica-GreenEdge at paper, Scissors and stone, we now have the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Rubik’s Cube battle between Mark Cavendish and Alessandro Petacchi. Youth over experience:


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