What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Thursday: Roubaix Time!

Its Paris-Roubaix time and we give you the run down on ‘The Hell of the North’ plus race reports from País Vasco, Circuit de la Sarthe and the Scheldeprijs with results and video. In other cycling news: Agostini retires, Giro d’Italia, Richie Porte, BC Superweek, Amgen Tour of California Women’s Races and video from 3M. A cobbled sized EuroTrash Thursday.

TOP STORY: Stefano Agostini Retires: “I renounce the system”
Stefano Agostini has decided to put an end to his cycling career after being banned by the UCI for 15 months for a positive of Clostebol which was in an ointment which he had declared for therapeutic use and had prescribed by a doctor. “I give up on a system that has decided that at the age of 25 I have to quit being a professional cyclist,” proclaimed former Cannondale racer in a letter to UCI President Brian Cookson, WADA expert Francesca Rossi, the president of the CPA; Gianni Bugno and President of the Italian Federation Renato Di Rocco.

Agostini was provisionally suspended by the UCI for an “adverse analytical finding” in a urine sample taken from the Italian rider in an out of competition test on August 21, he was then fired by his team. “I think the punishment that has been decided for me is not correct as I have never used doping and my biological passport is impeccable,” he said in his letter.
His nightmare began when the Cologne lab detected in his urine; 0.7 nanograms (0.000000007 grams) of Clostebol, which an ingredient of an ointment “I had declared at the time of control and had regularly been prescribed by a physician to treat a rash. Everyone knows that you cannot be doped with an ointment, prescribed by your doctor, and sold at any pharmacy or drug store, even without a prescription,” he says.

He stresses that although “the UCI itself has recognized the use of Trofodermin cream for a therapeutic purpose” has imposed a penalty of 15 months, “a grotesque conclusion.” Assuming that the Italian Cycling Federation ratifies the decision of the UCI, he can only resort to CAS, with an expenditure of “€30,000-€35,000” which he cannot afford.

All this leads to “deep disappointment in the values of honesty, justice and equality. I leave professional cycling with dignity, never knowing that I cheated. I think this story has ruined my career and destroyed my dreams, also undermined the credibility, usefulness and the infallibility of its doping control system.”

Recently it has been rumoured (but not confirmed by the UCI) that clenbuteral was not amongst the drugs tested for at last year’s Tour of Beijing because of the high chances of everyone being positive, due to the possibility of the meat containing clenbuteral. Clostebol is a synthetic anabolic steroid and had been used by East German athletes many years ago, but as a skin cream would not have much of a performance enhancing effect.

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco 2014
The Vuelta Pays Basque started with a 153 kilometre long Stage 1 including no less than 8 climbs in and around Ordizia. Four riders decided to form the days long-lasting breakaway: Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-RGA), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Romain Sicard (Europcar) and Davide Villela (Cannondale). While behind, Movistar and Tinkoff-Saxo were controlling the pace of the pack and once again, Alberto Contador demonstrated fantastic form and great confidence.

The hard course resulted in many riders being dropped from the back of the peloton as Tinkoff-Saxo took up the pace and eventually with 50 kilometres to go; the final two escapees re-joined the bunch.

On the final climb, 8 kilometres from the finish line, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) jumped out of the saddle and away from the group of favourites but Alberto Contador hung on to the wheel of his rival until 7 kilometres to go. Here, he launched a powerful counter-attack and soon disappeared in the distance to take a great solo win 13 seconds ahead of Valverde.

“I’m very, very happy to win again on this land that I like so much and where I have been good so many times. A perfect day, good weather, many people on the roads and good legs.” As to the final climb Contador said: “it was impressive in the last climb, with so many people that were there. Impressive. The truth is that I feel at home here, I have spent much time on these roads.” The Tinkoff-Saxo leader said he could not pass up the chance at a stage like this. “We must seize every opportunity. This morning I had good legs and had to seize the day. What is important now is to recover, because it has only just begun and here you must go day by day.”

When Alejandro Valverde attacked, Alberto said he wanted to try, “but knowing that Alejandro was very strong. In the end I was able to get some seconds and that was enough, but Valverde is very strong,” he said in reference to the race being wide open. So, his strategy was simple: “I worked just to endure the pain of the legs and that’s it,” he concluded.

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski finished 34 seconds down on Contador in 3rd place: “I am happy because it’s important to have a good feeling in a race after a period of training,” Kwiatkowski said. “After Milano-Sanremo I trained specifically in Calpe. Of course I am happy about this race, but here at Pais Vasco my goal is to get into the rhythm to try and be competitive for the Ardennes classics. For the rest we will see day by day. Returning to today’s race, the attack of Contador was impressive. I thought it was better to try and keep my rhythm and not to try and follow them. It might have used too much energy to try. At a certain moment I thought it would maybe be possible to catch them on the downhill. But even from the top they went super fast. It was impossible for us to come back. In any case I am happy about my performance.”

Lampre-Merida’s Damiano Cunego was 5th on the sage: “The stage was demanding, because of the many climbs in a short course,” Cunego explained. “Very often in these kinds of stages, especially if they open a stages race, can cause trouble because it could be difficult to be immediately competitive. I had good feelings for the whole race, so I had to think on how to manage my energies in the best way. My compliments to Contador and Valverde, today they realized an impressive performance. I’m happy, I achieved the goal of being in the top five of the stage; now let’s think about how I can be competitive stage by stage.”

World Champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) finished 4:15 down, but he explained: “The Volta al Pais Vasco is an important step for completing the training job I performed when I was in Sierra Nevada and it will be a key passage for improving the shape in view of the Ardennes Classics. Stages like today gives you the opportunity to make efforts on short and tough hills, creating a situation similar to the one of the Ardennes. In Sierra Nevada there was the snow, here the temperature was high, so the temperature leap is considerable and it will require some days for me to acclimatize. I’m happy for Cunego’s performance, he has been great! Cunego in such competitive shape he will be an important rider for Lampre-Merida in the Ardennes Classics.”

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Stage 1 Result:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 4:05:07
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:14
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:34
4. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 0:36
5. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:54
10. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana.

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 4:05:07
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:14
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:34
4. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 0:36
5. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:54
10. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana.

The last climb:

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step rider Tony Martin picked the right moment to go for the solo victory in the 155.8 kilometre Stage 2 on Tuesday.

OPQS teammate Jan Bakelants went on the attack with Martin out of an original breakaway of six riders (Tony Martin & Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Bob Jungels (Trek), Maxime Monfort (Lotto Belisol), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), and David Malacarne (Europcar) with about 17.4km left in the stage. Gorka Izaguirre went with the OPQS teammates.

The rest of the collaboration between the three riders was a chess match as the gap began to drop. Jan Bakelants accelerated with a little more than 12km remaining, which forced Izaguirre to use up important energy to bring him back. Just as Izaguirre pulled back Bakelants, Martin countered and immediately gained a gap with 11.9km to go.

Izaguirre was unable to chase, and the case was the same for the peloton behind. Despite some attacks from GC contenders such as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and even an attempt to bridge by Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Martin used the time trial prowess of a three-time UCI World TT Champion and powered away to a solo victory. Michal Kwiatkowski also contested the podium out of the chase group behind. He placed 3rd behind Ben Swift (Sky).

Stage winner Tony Martin said after the finish: “I came here to try and do something good in the GC,” Martin said. “But yesterday the final was too hard for a rider like me. So after yesterday I decided to focus on the breakaways and of course the TT. This morning I was really motivated. Everybody wanted to try and go. Jan and I went, and for OPQS it was the perfect situation. We collaborated really well with the other guys in the breakaway. The final was really hard. It wasn’t really long climbs, but a lot of up and down like a small Amstel Gold Race. At 15 kilometres to go we knew to try and win this race it would be important to go 100 percent and not wait. So, I attacked the breakaway. Bakelants and Izaguirre followed me, and then together with Jan we played a game of attacking one-by-one. When we were with three guys, Bakelants attacked, Izaguirre answered, and at that point I counter attacked. When I went, to me it was kind of like a time trial until the end. I knew in the last 10 kilometres it was possible to win with a 1 minute gap. I want to also thank Jan, because he let me go and he gave up his chance in my favour. This is the team spirit of OPQS and the victory is also for him and the whole team. The last time I won a race that wasn’t a TT was at Tour of Beijing in 2012 when I attacked on the descent. Normally when I win on the road the races are at smaller stage races. But I have to say a win like today is also really special. I think I was strong in my head also and in the final of the stage I thought of the stage of La Vuelta last year. I said to myself ‘this time, it won’t happen again.’ So I am really satisfied, I have good morale, and I also have good condition and I will try to take advantage of this in the time trial. I checked the profile and there are two climbs, which is not so easy for me. But, with the morale and this condition, I will go 100 percent for this race.”

“I’m very happy about this victory,” Sport Director Davide Bramati said. “This morning we decided to let four riders free to do the race: Pieter Serry, Jan Bakelants, Tony Martin, and Carlos Verona. The race exploded immediately, enough that there was already a breakaway of seven riders after 10 kilometres. Tony and Jan both made it. We went a little bit above three minutes as a maximum advantage, but the peloton always control the breakaway, keeping the gap stable around two minutes or two and a half minutes. When the gap started to go below two minutes I told Tony and Jan it was time to try something. Tony attacked the breakaway with Bakelants and Izaguirre. Then, at that point, they put Izaguirre in the middle. When Izaguirre closed on the attack from Bakelants, Tony went alone. He had really great legs today and he deserved this victory. Especially after last year at La Vuelta a Espana, where he was caught in the final meters after a great solo attack.”

For the overall leader Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff-Saxo team it was all about controlling and defending the overall lead during today’s stage of Vuelta Pais from Ordizia to Dantxarinea. But as it was a group of quite big name riders forming the days breakaway the gap was kept to around two minutes. As the finale was tailor-made for the sprinters and none of the escapees were a threat for Alberto Contador’s lead, the sprinter teams started their engines in the peloton entering the final 35 kilometre of the race. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) didn’t miss the opportunity to launch an attack on the final, short and steep climb but Alberto was on his tail immediately defending his leader’s jersey superbly: “As the leading team we took responsibility of the rhythm of the pack from the start of the stage and towards the finale, the sprinter teams wanted to bring Martin back but they were too late. From our point of view, I think Alberto responded well to Valverde’s accelerations and he defended the jersey in great style. We had a feeling that Valverde wanted to try something and we would probably have done the same thing. So we respect him for trying. Tomorrow’s stage will be a bit flatter than today but with a challenging finale,” said Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Philippe Mauduit.

Damiano Cunego showed again to be competitive, giving Lampre-Merida for the second time in two stages a place in the top five at Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The Italian rider was 4th in the 2nd stage. Cunego reached the finish in the first chase group, which had been reduced to 50 riders on the penultimate hill under the force of Contador and Valverde. Damiano was well supported by World Champion Rui Costa and sprinted at the head of the group, allowing him to jump to 4th overall standing, 36 seconds down Contador.

“I’m satisfied today too, especially because I was in the lead positions when the pace in the group was raised by the attack of Valverde and Contador,” Cunego explained. When the two Spanish riders attacked, I prefer to manage my energies, then I test my legs chasing an attack by Evans. In view of the final kilometres, Rui Costa gave me an impressive support, it’s so good to race behind Rui, and he’s skilful in moving in the group and saving energy. I really want to thank him for the help.”

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Stage 2 Result:
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:46:17
2. Ben Swift (GB) Sky at 0:30
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin
6. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
7. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
8. Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Europcar
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
10. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 7:51:54
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:14
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:34
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:36
5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky
8. Iurii Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:54.

Stage 2:

They had twice won in Vitoria. “GreenEDGE Wins in the Green City,” the headlines proclaimed. The pressure was on to make it three for three, and the Australian outfit did not disappoint. From the early chase work to the final-lead, the ORICA-GreenEDGE Vuelta al Pais Vasco squad combined efforts to deliver Michael Matthews to victory on the third stage of the Basque tour. “We’ve never lost in Vitoria,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens, who makes the Basque region of Spain his home. “This stage is a big one for our team. The fact is that the guys can handle the pressure. It’s not always easy to win when you’re the clear favourite, but the boys did it. They assumed responsibility from start to finish.”

“Everyone did their part today,” confirmed Matthews. “The team rode on the front, stayed around me all day and Simon Gerrans’ did a perfect lead-out. It was a huge team effort. Everyone committed to one goal and one plan. All I needed to do was ride the last 200 metres. I had the easy job today.”

Inside the first ten kilometres a group of six riders slipped clear from the peloton. True to the tactical plan they had outlined, Christian Meier and Esteban Chaves quickly assumed their spot on the front of the bunch to close the gap to the leaders. Four kilometres later, the race was back together. “We had a very clear plan,” said Stephens. “We were not to let any substantial move get away today. If the move wasn’t one that we could bring back at a moment’s notice, we either needed to be in it with Albasini or Gerrans or we needed to shut it down.”

Ruben Fernandez (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) launched the next attack. This solo breakaway was acceptable to the Australian outfit. They allowed Fernandez to extend his advantage out to the ten minute mark before they gave chase. “When he got out to nine minutes, that’s when we came to the front,” said Stephens. “We started chasing after that. Esteban and Christian did the early work. Later on Adam [Yates] pitched in to give Esteban a bit of a break. Those three rode fast enough to maintain the breakaway before slowing bringing it back to the bunch. It was a very controlled chase.”

At the mid-point of the race, Chaves, Meier and Yates had pegged back Fernandez to just under six minutes. Inside the final hour, the gap had fallen below a minute. Fernandez rejoined the bunch with 33 kilometres still to race. “From there, we left the guys at the finish to do their work in the finale, which they did,” said Stephens. “They’ve done it for the last couple years now, so they knew exactly what we needed to do.”

“Viewers would have seen us on the front during the chase,” Stephens continued. “After the catch, we were less visible. The boys moved from the front to a couple rows back. If you looked closely, you would see us somewhere in the first 30 percent of the field. There was no reason we needed to be at the front until we hit the last descent, which is exactly when you saw Gerro start to move Matthews into position.”

“It was a pretty hectic final,” Matthews added. “Not many teams had a lead-out train. It was easy to have just me and Gerro in the last three kilometres. He moved me up at the perfect time and then he gave me the perfect lead-out.”
After the peloton negotiated their way around the final round-about, Gerrans hit the front with Matthews on his wheel. He did a long pull before dropping off Matthews to unleash his sprint.

“I had to trust Gerro’s positioning and timing,” said Matthews. “He’s done this finish a lot of times. He hit out around the last round-about, which came at 500 metres. He dropped me off at 180 metres, and all I had to was put out as much power as I could until I hit the finish line.”

“It was obviously always our plan to go for this stage,” Matthews added. “Having won it two times already, we committed two or three guys to ride from kilometre zero. Having the team totally back you up and fully commit like that makes my job a lot easier. It’s a relief to finish off their work.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador maintained the overall lead of the race by finishing 16th.

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Philippe Mauduit: “This was an obvious opportunity for the sprinters in the peloton and it was only natural that they took control of the pace while we embraced the chance to rest as much as possible. However, we looked after Alberto and made sure he was brought safely across the finish line before tomorrow’s long and quite more demanding stage with several bumps along the way. But we’re confident and we trust the boys are in control.”

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Stage 3 Result:
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge in 5:02:09
2. Kévin Reza (Fra) Europcar
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Ben Swift (GB) Sky
5. Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin
6. Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Europcar
7. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
8. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
9. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana
10. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol.

Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco Overall After Stage 3:
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 12:54:03
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:14
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:34
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:36
5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Iurii Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
8. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Sky
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:54
10. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana.

Stage 3:

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire 2014
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) got the better of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) and Juan José Lobato (Movistar) at the end of Stage 1 after 197 kilometres into Saint-Géréon on Tuesday. The break of the day escaped in the first kilometre and had a lead of 7 minutes at one point. The group of Thomas Sprenger (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Duber Quintero (Colombia) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was pulled back by the sprinters teams and FDJ.fr kept Bouhanni out of trouble in what was a dangerous sprint, the happy Frenchman said: “With two curves before the end, it was necessarily a bit dangerous but it went well. I positioned myself in third place with 350 metres to go, and I launched my sprint at 250m. With the tailwind, I preferred to start from far out in order to avoid taking any risk. I was supposed to follow my teammates Anthony Roux, Laurent Pichon and Sébastien Chavanel in that order, but I lost them all, and I had to make my moves by myself.”

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Stage 1 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr in 4:50:00
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
3. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
6. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
9. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
10. Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Giant-Shimano.

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Overall After Stage 1:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr in 4:49:50
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek in 0:04
3. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar at 0:06
5. Duber Armando Quintero Artunduaga (Col) Colombia
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar at 0:10
7. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
8. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale
9. Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli.

Stage 1:

Jonas Ahlstrand sprinted to his first professional victory for Giant-Shimano in Stage 2 on the morning of the second day of racing at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe. After losing teammates and being out of position for the sprint on yesterday’s stage, Jonas made up for it today taking a well-earned victory in front of a quality field of riders.

The second stage of the race was always going to be a fast one at just 88 kilometres in length, and a bunch sprint looked on the cards throughout. A small break of three got away early on but never got much distance between themselves and the chasing bunch. The race came back together in the final 6 kilometres and Giant-Shimano set about working to get Jonas in position at the front and ready for the sprint finish. He executed this in fine form to savour his first professional win and the team’s 16th of the season so far. Much like many of the young talented riders on Team Giant-Shimano before him, Jonas is showing the fruits of the hard work that he and the team staff put in and that the way the team operates results in progression and victories on the road.

At just 24, Jonas is still young and progressing as he develops under close guidance of the team’s coaches. Having joined the team in 2013, Jonas has worked hard on his sprinting and his finish, and the experts have studied what type of rider he is and tailored his training to develop his strengths and work on his weaknesses.

A very happy Jonas said after the finish: “At last! That felt good. The finish was really fast today, with a downhill run-in. The team did a good job in getting me to the front with three kilometres to go and from there I followed the FDJ train. It was a technical finish and they had the numbers so I followed them and coming out of the last roundabout I was in about sixth position. We were at over 60kmh and I knew that if I came from behind with speed they wouldn’t be able to come past me.”

“I jumped just inside 300m to go and gave it everything to the line. I was confident that I was feeling good after yesterday’s stage already and we knew this was a good opportunity. The team were great and it feels so good to finally get the win. I had a good winter and worked a lot with the trainers on my strength and also on being fresh for the sprint at the end of a race. Winning is a nice reward for the hard work we have put in and I thank the team for helping me to get here.”

“It’s great to see Jonas get his first win and show the talent that he has as a sprinter,” said a proud coach, Christian Guiberteau. The plan was similar to yesterday, to focus on keeping Tobias Ludvigsson out of trouble and then help Jonas at the end for the sprint. He showed great composure to stay in the wheels and then timed his sprint perfectly. The racing is far from finished here as we will now focus on a strong time trial this afternoon and see how the guys are sitting overall this evening.”

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Stage 2 Result:
1. Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Giant-Shimano in 1:59:40
2. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
5. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
6. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
8. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
9. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar.

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Overall After Stage 2:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr in 6:49:28
2. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar at 0:04
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek at 0:06
4. Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Giant-Shimano
5. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Tony Hurel (Fra) Europcar at 0:09
7. Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:10
8. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:12
9. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale
10. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp.

Stage 2:

Alex Dowsett (Movistar) confirmed in the Wednesday afternoon Stage 3 time trial in Angers what he looked able to do after his sixth place in the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial. The British ITT champion made a convincing display over the 6.8km urban course to take the win and the yellow leader’s jersey.

Dowsett clocked the fastest time halfway through the competition, beating provisional leader Kristof Vandewalle (Trek) by 12 seconds and clocking an astonishing 8.05, which neither the specialists, such as Dennis and Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp), second and third respectively, nor the riders with bonus seconds amassed in the first two mass sprint stages could beat.
It’s Dowsett seventh victory as pro cyclist; his three national championships, the 2013 Giro d’Italia’s long TT and stages in Poitou-Charentes and the Tour of Britain (2012) and Movistar Team’s twelfth in 2014. Movistar is set to defend his first spot on the two hard days. Stage four will feature six climbs of the Mont des Avaloirs into Pré-en-Pail’s finishing circuit, for a total 196 km.

Stage winner and new overall leader Alex Dowsett: “I already thought of this race in the first training camp in November, and I said to the team: ‘I think I can maybe win this race, because in the past, time triallists have won here.’ it was quite similar to the Giro time trial – obviously much shorter, but it was hilly and technical. I took some risks on the corners and I really thought like I had made a good job of it after the finish. I have not enjoyed the classics much this year – I always kept in the back of my mind that I could do well here, and I thought that if I had a bad crash, it would stop my chances, not only here but my preparations for the Tour de France. That made difficult for me to take any risks in Belgium.”

“I think I’m good shape at the moment. It doesn’t matter if this is a big win or a small win: it’s nice to see your name at the top of the list. It’s also nice for me to pay back the team, always supporting me. I think we have a really good, strong team here. The main goal now is to keep the jersey and I think we have a team that can help me to do this – that will be the main target, but it’s not going to be easy. The French teams do not want a Spanish team to win in France and I guess they will fight hard, but I think we can do a really good job here.”

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Stage 3 Result:
1. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar in 8:05
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:05
3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp at 0:07
4. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:10
5. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:10
6. Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Trek at 0:12
7. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:15
8. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:15
9. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:16
10. Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling at 0:17.

Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire Overall After Stage 3:
1. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar in 6:57:45
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:05
3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp at 0:07
4. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement at 0:10
5. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
6. Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Trek at 0:12
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
8. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0:15
9. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr
10. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis at 0:16.

Alex Dowsett (Movistar) takes stage and overall:

Scheldeprijs 2014
Marcel Kittel has taken his third win in a row at the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, asserting his dominance on this sprinters classic. Having targeted this race for a while, the team set about executing the plan of protecting Marcel and riding for a bunch sprint. Everything worked to plan and Marcel jumped with just over 200m to go to take a superb victory.

The break of the day nearly pulled it off, Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare), Luke Rowe (Sky), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana), Jan Ghyselinck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) and Ivan Balykin (RusVelo) made good their escape and had a maximum lead of 5 minutes before a closed railway crossing stopped them in their tracks. When the gate opened again they were given the same lead (plus a little) and Giant-Shimano, FDJ.fr, Belkin and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step started to chase. Coming into the last 10 kilometres; Luke Rowe attacked as the peloton were 1 minute behind them. He was caught inside the 3K mark as Fedi made his attempt, but it was all together with just over 2 kilometres remaining. As second placed Tyler Farrar said after the finish; “Giant-Shimano has the strongest lead-out train this season, so we had no chance.”

Marcel was all smiles after the win, saying: “It really means a lot for me to win here for the third time, especially after a superb job by my teammates. “I knew that I could go early at the end as we had a tailwind. My plan was to jump 280m from the line and after perfect preparation for the sprint this was made possible. We showed today that we are one of the top teams – we stayed calm and finished the job perfectly. I’m really happy.”

Team Giant-Shimano coach Aike Visbeek said when back on the team bus: “Everyone was so motivated to make it three from three today here. From the start everyone was really sharp and we knew that we had to stay in control behind the break. The teamwork was spot on again here even when it was a bit of a showdown against the other lead-outs, but the guys got Marcel where he needed to be. When Marcel is in the shape he is and can really sprint he is the fastest and he showed that today.”

RusVelo’s Ivan Balykin was in the long break: “We managed to go away as early as 15 km into the race. We worked well together; at least as long as we realized that the bunch doesn’t let us create a really big gap. Nevertheless, when we hit the final laps in the city, I started to believe in our chance. Unfortunately, there was no collaboration any more, closer to the finish line. The killer stretch for us was the road along the wide channel – with the front wind that hard our speed was much lower than that of the chasing pack with fresher legs in it. In a sprint from a small group I would have had a good chance, it’s a pity it didn’t materialize, but I feel like keeping trying.”

Scheldeprijs Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 4:33:53
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
3. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek
4. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Sam Bennett (Irl) NetApp-Endura
6. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
9. Yannick Martinez (Fra) Europcar
10. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling.

The Scheldeprijs finalé:

Paris-Roubaix 2014
‘The Hell of the North’ what can you say about the craziest race on the WorldTour calendar that has not been said before. This is the 112th edition and this year there are 51.5 kilometres of bone jarring cobbles to cross, the first section in Troisvilles comes after 97.5 kilometres in the 257 kilometre course. Mons-en-Pévèle is the longest section, 3 kilometres long with a difficulty of 5 star rating comes after 208 kilometres. The Trouée d’Arenberg after 161.5 kilometres (2.4 km long) and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre after 240 kilometres (2.1 km long) also get 5 stars, the others you can see below. It’s never easy in Paris-Roubaix, but if it rains, well that’s a different story.

Men to look out for: Obviously Fabian Cancellara is in good form and Tom Boonen will want to show he can still do it, apart from those two there is a queue of possibles’ and it would be a brave man to predict the winner in Roubaix.

25 teams, the main contenders:
Team Netapp-Endura: Bárta (CZE) and Bennett (IRL)

Orica-GreenEDGE: Durbridge and Hayman (AUS)

Lotto-Belisol: Sieberg (GER), Roelandts (BEL) and Bak (DEN)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Boonen, Vandenbergh (BEL), Štybar (CZE) and Terpstra (NED)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Van Bilsen (BEL)
Wanty – Groupe Gobert: Leukemans (BEL)

Movistar Team: Gutiérrez and Rojas (ESP)

United States:
BMC Racing Team: Hushovd (NOR), Phinney (USA) and Van Avermaet (BEL)
Garmin-Sharp: Farrar (USA) and Millar (GBR)
Trek Factory Racing: Cancellara, Rast (SUI) and Devolder (BEL)
United Healthcare: Maaskant (NED)

Ag2r-La Mondiale: Minard, Gaudin and Turgot (FRA)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Petit, Sénéchal and Fouchard (FRA)
FDJ: Ladagnous, Offredo and Démare (FRA)
Bretagne-Séché Environnement: B. Feillu and Koretzky (FRA)
Team Europcar: Cousin and Gène (FRA)

Great Britain:
Sky ProCycling: Boasson-Hagen (NOR), Wiggins, Thomas and Stannard (GBR)

Lampre – Merida: Pozzato (ITA) and Richeze (ARG)
Cannondale: Sagan (SVK) and Bodnar (POL)

Astana Pro Team: Božič (SLO)

Belkin Pro Cycling: Boom, Tjallingii (NED) and Vanmarcke (BEL)
Team Giant-Shimano: Degenkolb (GER), Veelers (NED) and Janse Van Rensburg (RSA)

Katusha Team: Kristoff (NOR) and Paolini (ITA)
Tinkoff-Saxo: Bennati, Tosatto (ITA) and Mørkøv (DEN)

IAM Cycling: Haussler (AUS) and Kluge (GER).

The 28 cobbled sectors of Paris–Roubaix:
28. Troisvilles (km 97.5 – 2,200 m) +++
27. Viesly (km 104 – 1,800 m) +++
26. Quiévy (km 106.5 – 3,700 m) ++++
25. Saint-Python (km 111 – 1,500 m) ++
24. Solesmes (km 119.5 – 800 m) ++
23. Saulzoir (km 126 – 1,200 m) ++
22. Verchain-Maugré (km 130.5 – 1,600 m) +++
21. Quérénaing – Famars (km 135 – 1,200 m) ++
20. Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 140.5 – 1,600 m) +++
19. Haveluy (km 153 – 2,500 m) ++++
18. Trouée d’Arenberg (km 161.5 – 2,400 m) +++++
17. Wallers – Hélesmes, aka “Pont Gibus” (km 167.5 – 1,600 m)
16 Hornaing (km 174.5 – 3,700 m) ++++
15. Warlaing – Brillon (km 182 – 2,400 m) +++
14. Tilloy – Sars-et-Rosières (km 185 – 2,400 m) ++++
13. Beuvry-la-Forêt – Orchies (km 191.5 – 1,400m) +++
12. Orchies (km 196.5 – 1,700 m) +++
11. Auchy-lez-Orchies – Bersée (km 202.5 – 2,700 m) ++++
10. Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208 – 3,000 m) +++++
9. Mérignies – Avelin (km 214 – 700 m) ++
8. Pont-Thibaut (km 217.5 – 1,400 m) +++
7. Templeuve – Moulin de Vertain (km 223.5 – 500 m) ++
6. Cysoing – Bourghelles (km 230 – 1,300 m) ++++
Bourghelles – Wannehain (km 232.5 – 1,100 m) +++
5. Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 237 – 1,800 m) ++++
4. Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 240 – 2,100 m) +++++
3. Gruson (km 242 – 1,100 m) ++
2. Hem (km 249 – 1,400 m) ++
1. Roubaix (km 256 – 300 m) +


Check-out Ed’s preview here.
Roubaix website: https://www.letour.com/indexPRX_us.html

The team rosters:

Giant-Shimano to Roubaix
Paris – Roubaix this Sunday marks the final cobbled classic before the peloton heads to the hillier Ardennes region.
John Degenkolb (GER) and the team have had a strong classics campaign, including a win at Gent-Wevelgem, and they will be looking to finish on a strong race here in France.

Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) also returns to this race after a strong showing in last year’s edition, and he will be looking to play an important part in this race once again.

The riders will also be using a customised Giant Defy Advanced SL for the race, with adjustments made to the current model to remove some of the stresses that arise when riding over the cobbles.

“John is our main man for Roubaix and if everything goes well on the day we have other guys who can be there at the end to help him,” said Team Giant-Shimano coach, Marc Reef (NED). “Powerful breakaways can go far in this race and we will be aware of this and see if we have to be there to cover that. Paris – Roubaix is another really special race and we are ready for this last cobbled classic. We showed last weekend at Flanders that when we have to be there we can be and that is one of the strengths of the team.”

Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (BEL), John Degenkolb (GER), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), Koen De Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Tom Veelers (NED).
Coach: Marc Reef (NED).

Eurpcar team for Roubaix
Riders: Jérome Cousin, Jimmy Engoulvent, Antoine Duchesne, Yohann Gene, Vincent Jerome, Yannick Martinez, Alexandre Pichot, Bjorn Thurau.
Directeur Sportifs: Dominique Arnould, Jean-René Bernaudeau, Lylian Lebreton.

Team Belkin eyes win in Hell of the North
The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM hopes to top the strong Belgian Classic campaign off with a good result in Paris-Roubaix. After top finishes by Sep Vanmarcke in the Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, E3-Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem, the team hopes to triumph in the Hell of the North.

“With Sep’s recent results and his second place in last year’s edition in mind, we’ll definitely aim for a victory,” says Sports Director Nico Verhoeven. “We’ll start with a team that has worked together this whole year and raced together last year. It was a long term process and you see that everything falls into place now. In all classics until now, we have been able to fight for the win. That gives us a lot of morale.”

Verhoeven trusts his leaders Lars Boom and Sep Vanmarcke. “Sep has proven that he’s really strong at the moment. As for Lars, we will have to wait and see how things pan out. In Flanders, he looked good, but because of bad luck, he wasn’t able to ride the race he wanted.”

Sep Vanmarcke
Vanmarcke, second in 2013, is eager to bag a big result on Sunday. “After last year, I know I can handle the final. That gives me a lot of confidence. Besides, I’m a lot stronger now. To finish second is never fun, though, and last Sunday, Fabian beat me again. Hopefully I can defeat him this time. I recovered well after Flanders. My neck is still a bit painful, but I don’t expect any problems.”

On the French cobbles, Vanmarcke will ride Bianchi’s Infinito CV. The Belgian feels at ease on the bike. “I’ve been riding the Infinito since the beginning of the season, especially for the classics. I feel very comfortable on the bike.”

Lars Boom
Lars Boom run-up to Paris-Roubaix has been rough. The Dutchman is trying to not get distracted by it too much. “Of course, it sucks that I’m not having an ideal preparation but I must not dwell on it too long. On Sunday, I will try to go all out and ride the final with Sep.”

Maarten & Maarten
With Maarten Tjallingii and Maarten Wynants the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM fields two other riders who have proven themselves in Paris-Roubaix in the past. Tjallingii was third in 2011, while in 2012 his Belgian team-mate ended up tenth. Tjallingii dreams of success in the velodrome of the French industrial city.

“When I think of Paris-Roubaix, I think of a lot of cobblestones, a big crowd, great action, a beautiful race and a fantastic arrival. It’s really my race. I would love to hold that stone trophy,” Tjallingii said. “Sep is really good and needs to be protected. That creates opportunities for others, as well, as everyone will be looking at Sep. That was the key to my third place in 2011, so something like that can happen again on Sunday. “During Milano-Sanremo, I was in a leading position up to nine kilometres from the line. Roubaix suits me even better and hopefully I can hold on a little longer on Sunday. My recent form gives me a lot of confidence.”

Wynants agrees with Tjallingii. “We hope to win with Sep. I’ll see how far I can get myself. If you work for someone else, it can be an advantage for yourself as well.”

TEAM line-up:
Lars Boom, Jos van Emden, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.
Sports Directors: Jan Boven and Nico Verhoeven.

Eight Italian Cyclists for the Hell of the North
The team LAMPRE-MERIDA selection for Paris-Roubaix will be completely Italian.

The eight riders that on Sunday 13th April will face the Hell of the North are all born in Italy: Filippo Pozzato, who was second in Roubaix in 2009, will be the main blue-fuchsia cyclist and with him there will be Bonifazio, Cimolai, Favilli, Ferrari, Modolo, Palini and Wackermann.

The team will be directed by Maini and Marzano and in the staff there will be mechanics Baron and Bortoluzzo, masseurs Capelli, Del Gallo and Santerini, driver Bozzolo and physician Ronchi.

“Considering our team, Pozzato is the rider that, during his career, had shown the highest predisposition for cobblestones, so he’ll be the main cyclist of our selection,” sport director Maini explained. “In addition, we’ll rely on riders that have recently demonstrated that they can face in a competitive way this kind of races: I mean Cimolai and Modolo, but also Palini that in 2013 completed the race and in Tour des Flanders pedalled for many kilometres in the main breakaway. There will be also young guns that could join attacks in the early part of the course”.

On Friday 11th April, LAMPRE-MERIDA’s cyclists will perform a recon on the course: in the late morning, they’ll start training from Arenberg and they’ll pedal for 70 km on the course of Paris-Roubaix.

BMC Racing Team Roster For Paris-Roubaix
The BMC Racing Team announced its roster for the 112th edition of Paris-Roubaix on Wednesday, the eve of its pre-race press conference.

Roster Nearly Identical To 2013
Ronde van Vlaanderen and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad runner-up Greg Van Avermaet starts Sunday’s race for the sixth time and and will be joined by Norwegian national road champion Thor Hushovd, an 11-time starter and podium finisher in 2009 and 2010. Two-time Under 23 Paris-Roubaix winner and Dubai Tour champion Taylor Phinney will make his third start, Marcus Burghardt his ninth, and two others make their seventh: Manuel Quinziato and Swiss national road champion Michael Schär. Danilo Wyss is a five-time starter and Silvan Dillier, the only one of the eight who was not on the BMC Racing Team’s roster for Paris-Roubaix last year, will take the start in Compiègne for the first time.

Download the BMC Racing Team roster card (PDF with bios, statistics, etc.): https://bit.ly/1eb7bQ6

BMC Racing Team Paris-Roubaix Roster (April 13):
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).
President/General Manager: Jim Ochowicz (USA)
Sporting Manager: Allan Peiper (AUS)
Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA) & Max Sciandri (ITA).

Orica-GreenEdge: Mat Hayman, Sam Bewley and DS Matt Wilson Preview Paris-Roubaix
Paris-Roubaix was first given the nickname ‘The Hell of the North’ by journalists in 1919 because of the devastation World War I inflicted on the countryside in northern France and southern Belgium. Ask the riders today what ‘The Hell of the North’ means to them and they will describe a scene that is less about the surroundings and the history and more about the brutal course.

To the riders, it might feel like the closest thing to hell on a bike as they attempt to ride their machines over the most treacherous, brutal sections of cobblestoned roads between Paris (or Compiègne to be exact) and Roubaix. Yet, as the riders cross the finish line in Roubaix, they may feel as if they’ve just stepped into heaven.

Positioned on the calendar as the third of the five Monuments, Paris-Roubaix stands out as the toughest, most epic, most unpredictable one day race of all. Don’t let its pan flat profile trick you into thinking this race, the Queen of the Classics, is another calculated affair in which a sprinter emerges victorious after his team has strategically delivered him to the line. Oh no. The story of the day will be anything but predictable even if a pre-race favourite emerges as victorious.

Beginning at kilometre 97.5, the peloton will contend with 28 sectors of pavé. Those 28 sectors range from a measly 300 metres in length to a cruel 3.7 kilometres. In total, the race will pass over 51 kilometres of uneven, rugged, askew, erratic ground. There is only one sector with the simple rating of one. There are three sadistic five star sectors – the Arenberg Forest at kilometre 161.5, Mons-en-Pévèle at kilometre 208 and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre at kilometre 240. What unfolds over these sectors will require courage, grit and luck.

Prior to the start of Paris-Roubaix, riders Mathew Hayman and Sam Bewley and Sport Director Matt Wilson answer questions about the battle that awaits them.

Mat Hayman – 12 previous starts at Paris-Roubaix, 10th place 2011, 8th place 2012

Q: You have a long history at Paris-Roubaix. What stands out as your best and worst moments in your previous starts?

Hayman: My best memories are my top ten finishes in 2011 and 2012. Riding for other teammates who have done well also ranks high.

On the flip side, I’ve been involved in bad crashes, of course. Aside from crashing, the worst memory would have to be the year I gave [Juan Antonio] Flecha a wheel, which essentially took me out of the race. I was 20 minutes behind the last group, but I didn’t want to give up. I soldiered on to the velodrome. Near the finish I hit a woman crossing a cobbled section. I got up and finished. I have always made a point of getting to the finish line at Paris-Roubaix, but having to ride 100 kilometres alone was certainly a lowlight.

Q: In many races, riders out of contention or domestiques who have done their job for the day abandon a race. What is so special about Paris-Roubaix that makes riders go through hell to make it to the velodrome?

Hayman: Ever since my first ride at Paris-Roubaix there has always been excitement surrounding this race. Everyone is excited. The race is so different, so special. I remember them all.

You do your work first. Then you do what you can to get to the finish line. It’s a monument in itself just to finish.

Q: What has changed for you since your first Paris-Roubaix?

Hayman: Before my first Roubaix, I was scared of the race – the length and how hard it was going to be. I’ve ridden it a number of times so now I’m more familiar with it.

Things changed for me when I started getting some general results in the top ten, top 20. People recognized I’m actually a racer and can do quite well. If lady luck shines, I might even have a chance. It was a big change in going from doing your job for someone else to being the one who finishes the job off for the team.

Q: What does Paris-Roubaix mean to you?

A: Paris-Roubaix is my favourite race. It’s the one I like doing most. The one I look forward to every year. Once it’s finished I almost get depressed knowing I have to wait 365 days for the next one. But it wouldn’t be Paris-Roubaix if it were held every month.

Sam Bewley – first time starting Paris-Roubaix

Q: You tweeted the other day that you were watching old Paris-Roubaix clips. Is that one of your strategies for getting mentally prepared?

Bewley: Obviously, this is my first Roubaix, the professional version anyway. I rode the U23 version a few years back, but I don’t have much memory of it or the sectors. There are guys out there who know the name of every sector, where they are in the race and the effect they have on the race. I am not one of those people because I have no experience in this race.

In preparation for Roubaix, I thought I would watch some videos on YouTube of the last few editions. I want to get an idea of how the race plays out, what sectors have an impact on the race and where those sectors are placed.

I will certainly be picking the brain of guys like Mat Hayman. I’ll listen to all he has to say about the race beforehand and during.

Q: What are your personal expectations?

Bewley: My expectations are a little loose. I guess the only thing I can accurately expect is that it’s going to be hard, very hard. Positioning is crucial. You have to be prepared to fight the war for those positions.

I am going into this race with an open mind but with a very clear objective of helping out our leaders. My role will be sticking close to them in the race, getting their bottles and helping out if they have any mechanical issues (let’s hope not too many). If I can do my job well and contribute to helping our leaders meet their personal expectations, then that will be a success for me.

Q: What are you most looking forward to on race day? What are you most nervous about?

Bewley: I haven’t ridden this race before but I have been around the block long enough and done big enough races that I can contain my nerves pretty well. I am normally quite relaxed leading into a race and I don’t plan on making this race any different. I guess if there is anything to be nervous about it’s the potential crashes. But I can’t say I think too much about them – that’s a waste of energy.

I am looking forward to the weekend as a whole. There’s the course recon on Friday, getting some hot tips from the guys, the teams’ presentation in front of thousands of the most passionate fans in the sport and, of course, everything that the race brings, which will hopefully include riding into the famous Roubaix velodrome even if I am 20 minutes behind.

Sport Director Matt Wilson

Q: For someone who is tuning into their first Paris-Roubaix, what can they expect?

Wilson: There is no other race on the calendar like Roubaix. It’s almost like a mountain bike race at times, especially if there is bad weather. Fans will see something very different, very unique. It is action packed. There are a lot of crashes, all sorts of problems. Even the winner doesn’t get through without some issues.

Q: Can you describe the star ratings for the various cobbled sectors? Are the five star sectors where the race usually unfolds?

Wilson: The stars are used to rate the difficulty of the sectors with one being the easiest and five being the most difficult. The ratings are based on length, the unevenness of the cobbles, the overall condition of the sectors and their location.

The Arenberg Forest is unbelievable. I can’t even describe it. The strongest guys will get across in the front. If they decide to go hard in the Arenberg, that’s the race right there.

Q: The road is too treacherous for team cars to drive through the Arenberg Forest. What happens to the riders if there is a puncture or mechanical in this section?

Wilson: There are neutral spares to help with problems. We will have our soigneurs placed at the end of the sector with spare wheels. If there is a puncture, the rider has to get to the end of the sector to get a new wheel.

This is where the support guys have to be near the leaders to give a wheel or swap bikes if there is a wheel or bike malfunction.

Q: Based on how Flanders played out, do you have any expectations for Paris-Roubaix?

Wilson: We can expect Quick-Step to be firing bullets early. Of course, Trek has [Fabian] Cancellara and [Stijn] Devolder who are on really good form. Quick-Step and Trek are the two dominating teams right now, but we have to go out and do our own race. If we wait for them, it will be too late.

Q: What will have to go right for ORICA-GreenEDGE to have a successful day?

Wilson: Like we were in Flanders, I expect us to be part of the race. We need to ride well as a team. Mat Hayman is capable of a top ten and maybe even better. To have Hayman in the top ten would be good. To have him in the top five would be amazing.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Paris-Roubaix:
Aidis Kruopis
Jens Keukeleire
Jens Mouris
Luke Durbridge
Mathew Hayman
Michael Hepburn
Mitch Docker
Sam Bewley.

Paris-Roubaix promo:

The Queen of Classics por tourdefrance

The Most Compelling Giro d’Italia of all Time Benefits from Revised Regulations
Improvements to bonuses at the finish and on intermediate sprints. The Maglia Rossa is now better suited to sprinters. The Maglia Azzurra is now the goal of pure climbers.

Press Release: The Giro d’Italia Management has made significant changes to the race regulations, improving on those used in the 2013 edition. The intention is to ensure that the “Corsa Rosa” – scheduled from May 9th to June 1st, departing from Belfast (Northern Ireland) and finishing in Trieste (Italy) – is a more and more compelling spectacle from a technical, racing and entertainment point of view.

Finishing and Intermediate Sprints Time Bonuses Reduced
Improvements have been made to finish line and intermediate sprints bonuses. These bonuses are reduced to create a better balance of reward for consistently high performers in big sprint finishes rather than breakaways, contributing to more exciting racing.
The stage winner will be awarded a 10-second bonus; a 6-second bonus goes to the second place rider; and the third to cross the finish line receives a 4-second bonus.
On the intermediate sprints, time bonuses are: 3 seconds for the first place rider; 2 seconds for second place; and 1 second for third.

The Red Jersey – Individual Points Classification
The scores pattern of the Maglia Rossa has been improved by dividing the stages into three categories. In the first category, points awarded to the top 20 finishers – including 50 points for the first-placed rider.
In the second category, points are awarded for the first 15 – with 25 points for first place.
In the third category, points are awarded to the top 10 – with 15 points for first.

There are similar changes for the intermediate sprints.
In the first category, points are awarded to the top 10 ranked – with 20 points for the first-placed rider. In the second category, points are awarded to the top 5 – with 10 points for first place. In the third category, points are awarded to the top 3 – with 8 points for first.
This is to allow the true sprinters to fight for this shirt.

Individual Points Classification In Details:
At the finish of each stage (except for the team time trial), the following points will be awarded to riders arriving in order:
First Category (top 20): 50 points (for first place), 40 (for second place), 34 (for third place), then 28, 25, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 point for 20th position.

Second Category (top 15): 25 points (for first place), 22 (for second place), 20 (for third place), 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 point for 15th position.
Third Category (top 10): 15 points (for first place), 12 (for second place), 9 (for third place), 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 point for 10th position.

For each intermediate sprint, the following points will be awarded in the same way:
First Category (top 10): 20 points, 16, 12, 9, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Second Category (top 5): 10 points, 6, 3, 2, 1.
Third Category (top 3): 8 points, 4, 1.

The Best Climber – Maglia Azzurra
The scores for the GPM (Best Climber) ranking have been revised to bring out the qualities of the best climbers who compete in the Giro d’Italia.
The scores have been changed by exponential increasing the scores of the hardest climbs categories to give them proportionally higher value.

For the first category, points are awarded to the top 8 riders: 32 points (for first place), 20, 14, 10, 7, 4, 2, and 1 point for 8th place.
For the second category, points are awarded to the top 6 riders: 14 points (for first place), 9, 6, 4, 2, and 1 point for 6th place.
For the third category, points are awarded to the top 4 riders: 7 points (for first place), 4, 2, and 1 point for 4th place.
For the fourth category, points are awarded to the top 3 riders: 3 points (for first place), 2, and 1 point for 3rd place.

The Cima Coppi, which is always attributed to the highest elevation of the Giro d’Italia and this year will be the 2758m Stelvio Pass, the score will be awarded to the first 9 riders classified separately with 40 points for the winner, then 28 points for second place, 21, 15, 10, 7, 4, 2, and 1 point for 9th place.

Giro d’Italia 2014 – It all starts here – Big Start Northern Ireland:

No Giro for Porte
Richie Porte will not ride this year’s Giro d’Italia and instead will ride Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Tour de Romandie and the Dauphine before working for his Sky team leader; Chris Froome in the Tour de France. Sky’s Head of Performance, Tim Kerrison, said in a statement on the team’s website: “Richie was always going to ride the Tour de France this year but this now means that he can fully focus on being in the best possible shape without having the added challenge of having to ride the Giro as well. He played an invaluable role in our Tour wins in 2012 and 2013 and we want him to do the same again this year. We’re always reviewing our line-ups and looking how we can best support our riders and give ourselves the best possible chance for success.” Porte abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico when the Australian was in fourth place in the general classification, 34 seconds down on leader Michal Kwiatkowski, but became ill overnight and was unable to take the start line in Amatrice on the Sunday morning. Team Sky Doctor Alan Farrell said: “Unfortunately, due to illness which occurred overnight, it has been decided that Richie is too unwell to start the race this morning. We expect him to recover quickly and hope to have him back in training within the next 48 hours. He is really disappointed but recognizes that this is the best course of action to prepare him for his upcoming races.” We can only presume that Porte has recovered sufficiently to race in Liege.

Richie Porte profile:

BC Superweek Opens 2014 Registration, Unveils New Website and Logo
Press Release: BC Superweek is pleased to announce that registration is officially open for this year’s races, the launch of a new website at www.BCSuperweek.ca and reveal a new logo for 2014.

Online registration is officially open for this year’s BC Superweek, which includes the Tour de Delta, UBC Grand Prix p/b Mahony & Sons, Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, Giro di Burnaby p/b Appia Development and Tour de White Rock. New for 2014 is the Women’s White Spot | Delta Road Race on July 6th becoming a UCI 1.2 sanctioned event and joining the men’s race on the international cycling calendar, as well as the inclusion of the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix event in the USA CRITS Challenge Series.

For stage racers, BC Superweek is a perfect tune-up for the Cascade Classic, which starts in Bend, Oregon on July 15th.

More than $120,000 in cash and thousands more in crowd primes is on the line in this series, with some of the biggest crowds in the sport cheering on the competitors.

Online registration is available on the new BC Superweek website, with early registration discounts in effect until June 6th. Discounts are also available to riders entered in all stages, and teams that sign up six riders for the entire BC Superweek series can register an additional three riders at no cost.

“BC Superweek is becoming one of North America’s most recognized professional road race series,” said Race Director Mark Ernsting. “Our goal is to provide spectators, athletes and sponsors with a series to be remembered. Also, we look to inspire youth across the province who have the opportunity to experience cycling at its best, and in turn, become the future stars in the sport.”

The new-look BC Superweek website is sleek and stylish and full of new features, new imagery and refreshed copy to make it more user-friendly and encourage user interaction.

“From a visual standpoint, the website and logo represent a total redesign. Our goal was really to bring the online representation of the event in line with the quality and level of racing,” adds Ernsting. “Plus, we wanted to pull as much social media content and connectivity into the site – allowing social links back out to all the other individual race sites.”

BC Superweek features $120,000 in prize money available during nine races over 10 days. BC Superweek runs from July 4-13, and is made up of the Tour de Delta (July 4, 5, 6), UBC Grand Prix (July 8), Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 9), Giro di Burnaby (July 10) and the Tour de White Rock (July 11, 12, 13). For more information, visit www.bcsuperweek.ca.

Teams Finalized for the 2014 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Races
Circuit Race and Time Trial Poised to Bring Unparalleled Women’s Racing to the U.S.

Press Release: In what is shaping up as the most competitive women’s cycling series ever staged in the U.S., the 2014 Amgen Tour of California will welcome 20 high-caliber teams from around the world to compete in a women’s circuit race on May 11, followed by a time trial with nearly two dozen of the sport’s best on May 12. This is the first time in race history the Amgen Tour of California will host both a women’s time trial and a circuit race, bringing fans more women’s competition than any other event of its kind. The events are presented by SRAM.

For the circuit race, World and National Champions, Olympic medalists, and women from the top professional, national and composite teams will face off in Sacramento with the State Capitol as the backdrop following the start of the men’s eight-day stage race.

The U.S. professional teams selected for the circuit race include Team Specialized-lululemon, UCI’s second-ranked women’s team and World Team Time Trial Champions for two years running; UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, which has earned overall victories at the Tour de San Luis and the Tour of El Salvador in their debut year as a team; TWENTY16 Pro Cycling presented by Breakaway from Cancer®, the only U.S. women’s road team to earn medals in the London Olympic Games; Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, whose roster includes several riders for the U.S. national team as part of a Spring Classics campaign in Europe; and Team TIBCO, the top NRC-ranked team in the U.S in 2013, and the longest running women’s team in North America.

“Our thanks go to the race organizers for including women’s racing over two days this year,” said two-time Olympic time trial gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, who serves as the high performance director for the TWENTY16. “This is an incredible time to showcase the sport and an opportunity for women riders and teams to introduce the sport to the incredible viewership that the Amgen Tour of California generates. The next generation may be out there and inspired!”

The circuit race will be capped at 115 riders, a massive field that will add to the excitement as these stellar athletes race around California’s State Capitol building along a four-corner, 1.25-mile circuit course. The top three finishers will secure their team a coveted individual time trial position, allowing those teams to put their best time trial specialists in the mix the following day.

“We are thrilled to up the ante for women cyclists with two days of world-class racing at the 2014 Amgen Tour of California, and proud to provide powerful platform to promote women’s cycling,” said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “The fields feature the top women cyclists in the sport today, and we know the excitement of hosting both events will be shared by cycling fans around the world.”

With team rosters yet to be announced, the complete list of teams participating in the 2014 Amgen Tour of California women’s circuit race includes:

· BMW Development Team
· Canada National Team
· China Chongming-Giant-Champion System Pro Cycling
· Colavita/Fine Cooking Women’s Pro Cycling Team
· CRCA: Stan’s NoTubes presented by enduranceWERX
· DNA Cycling presented by K4
· FCS|Zngine presented by Mr. Restore
· Folsom Bike/Cervélo
· JETCycling
· Metromint Cycling
· Monster Media Racing Team
· Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
· Pinnacle-Reactor Racing Team presented by JL Velo
· SPY GIANT RIDE Elite Cycling Team
· Team Specialized-lululemon
· Team TIBCO
· TWENTY16 Pro Cycling presented by Breakaway from Cancer
· Threshold Sports powered by Leadout Endurance Coaching
· UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
· Vanderkitten Racing

“We’re obviously very proud to be a part of these events, and we anticipate two very fast and seriously exciting days of women’s racing. We hope the trend of more women’s events continues,” said Michael Zellmann, SRAM’s road public relations manager.

In what will be a thrilling time trial in Folsom on May 12, covering the same fast and flat 12.6-mile course the men will race later in the day, the invitation-only women’s individual event will feature some of the best time trialists in the world racing against the clock: returning champion Evelyn Stevens of Specialized-lululemon; top-ranked time trialists Alison Powers of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team and Carmen Small of Specialized-lululemon; Amber Neben, who recently returned to competition riding for FCS|Zngine presented by Mr. Restore after a season-ending injury last year; and Paralympian and UCI Paracycling World Champion Greta Neimanas of the U.S. Paracycling Team.

“This will be my third time racing the Amgen Tour of California Time Trial, and I am thrilled. It is wonderful to have the chance to partake in part of one of the big U.S. stage races – the fans are always great, and the courses are always challenging,” said 2013 Amgen Tour of California Time Trial champion Evelyn Stevens.

“After a horrific crash at last year’s race, the first cycling goal I set was to be healthy enough to race in the 2014 version of the Amgen Tour of California Time Trial,” said Amber Neben, a world time trial and national road race champion. “I am very excited to be able to accept the invitation to compete in both the time trial and the new circuit race. It is special for me to make it back to this level, and it is important for the sport of women’s cycling to have opportunities like the Amgen Tour of California.”

The start list for the May 12 Folsom time trial follows:
1. Evelyn Stevens, Team Specialized-lululemon
2. Carmen Small, Team Specialized-lululemon
3. Jasmin Glaesser, Team TIBCO
4. Anika Todd, Team TIBCO
5. Laura Brown, Colavita/Fine Cooking Women’s Pro Cycling Team
6. Annie Ewart, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
7. Brianna Walle, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
8. Kristin McGrath, TWENTY16 Pro Cycling presented by Breakaway from Cancer
9. Alison Tetrick, TWENTY16 Pro Cycling presented by Breakaway from Cancer
10. Gillian Carleton, Vanderkitten Racing
11. Amber Neben, FCS|Zngine presented by Mr. Restore
12. Hong Yu Liang, China Chongming-Giant-Champion System Pro Cycling
13. Greta Neimanas, U.S. Paracycling Team
14. Robin Farina, SPY GIANT RIDE Elite Cycling Team
15. Alison Powers, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
16. Mara Abbott, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
17. Kathryn Bertine, Saint Kitts and Nevis National Team

The final three spots will go to the top three finishers of the May 11 circuit race.

“I’m super excited to be racing the Amgen Tour of California Time Trial this year. It’s one of the highest profile events for women’s cycling in the U.S., and being invited to compete is an honor,” said Paralympian Greta Neimanas. “Hopefully by racing in Folsom, it will bring a bit more attention to paracycling and show that we’re serious athletes, just like the able-bodied pros. I’d like to thank the race organizers, sponsors and SRAM – I can’t wait to race!”

The cyclists will compete for a combined prize of $20,000 over the two races, one of the highest payouts in domestic women’s cycling. Both women’s races will be streamed live via the Amgen Tour of California Tour Tracker, available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com, and will be featured in the race’s television broadcast later in the day.

The Strength of 3M!
Here is an amazing video from the 3M team, it shows the strength of the ‘Post-it’ Super Sticky Notes and the team riders.


Take a look at our new Instagram page for a live feed of #PeloPics, #DailyDistractions, and giveaways straight from your phone: https://www.instagram.com/pezcyclingnews


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


Any comments drop me a line, email address: [email protected] or Twitter. And there is the PezCyclingNews Twitter and Facebook Fan Page.

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.