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EuroTrash Thursday: Cav x 3!

Good times for the OPQS team as Mark Cavendish takes his third Turkish stage and Michal Kwiatkowski leads in Romandie. As always we hear what the riders say and have all the video action. In other cycling news: Clenbuterol positive or not, more Giro news, Ricco caught again and what happened in the 2006 Flanders? EuroTrash coffee time!

TOP STORY: Clenbuterol Inconsistencies
Michael Rogers has received no sanctions from the UCI for his clenbuterol positive at the 2013 Japan Cup, which he won. His win has been forfeit, but no further action was taken against him. You are probably thinking I’m going to sight the case of the miniscule amount of clenbuterol found in a sample taken from Alberto Contador, well I’m not. I want you to think about the case of Chinese cyclist Li Fuyu; who when riding for RadioShack was found positive for clenbuterol in Belgium after the Dwars Door Vlaanderen and before he was to ride Gent-Wevelgem. He had flown into Europe directly from China four days previously and said about the clenbuterol positive that he was “sure it’s from food.” He added that “it was a long time I didn’t want to see meat! I think after two months, Ok, I can eat a little bit. Just a teaspoon.”

Li Fuyu received a two year ban and was dismissed by the RadioShack team. He appeared at a hearing before the Chinese Cycling Association where he denied any doping, but the ban probably finished his career. Li Fuyu was the first Chinese rider to sign with a WorldTour team, riding for Discovery Channel in 2007 and then RadioShack in 2010 where he was positive.

At the time of the Contador case (and others) there was much talk of the athlete being responsible for anything found in his system, no matter how it got there. Has this rule been changed or does it not apply to Rogers?

Li Fuyu (RadioShack) 2010.

Tour de Romandie 2014
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski won the 5.57km Tour de Romandie Prologue on Tuesday, carrying great form from the Ardennes Classics to win his first career UCI WorldTour race just two days after Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Kwiatkowski won with a time of 6:22, while his teammate, three-time UCI World TT Champion Tony Martin, finished 5 seconds down in 5th place. Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) finished 2nd, 4 seconds down, and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) placed 3rd (same time).

Kwiatkowski put on the leader’s jersey and multiple other jerseys representing his classification lead, including best young rider as he is only 23-years-old. Kwiatkowski has six victories this season and has been on the podium multiple times at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta ao Algarve, and the Ardennes Classics.

“This is a surprise, actually,” Kwiatkowski said. “I was in good shape after the Ardennes but I wasn’t sure how I would feel today. I’m really happy with what I did. That was the first time I was sitting in the hot seat for so long. I think a few seconds advantage with such good competition here at Tour de Romandie is something special. I knew the course really well and think I did it perfectly, every moment of the race. I didn’t go too fast on the first part. I was trying to save myself for the end. I was on the limit on the finish line. I think I did everything as I was supposed to and it was also think it was good to start earlier, because I knew the weather forecast was going to change. It is hard to say what I will do from here in the yellow jersey. I will look day-to-day in how I can defend my GC lead. Today was a short prologue and I don’t know how recovered I will truly feel from the Ardennes Classics in the next days. This will be my last race before a period of rest after the first part of the season. But as for the team and our GC chances, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team came here with good riders. Tony Martin, Thomas De Gendt, and Rigoberto Uran for example. So, we can see what cards we can play and we are looking forward to the next stages.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Fabrizio Guidi states: “Tour de Romandie is the final step before the Giro and we’re here to test the form. Our leaders are naturally Rafal and Nico. They are coming almost straight from altitude training camp where they worked very hard to work up form. We have a string group and I’m pretty sure that during Romandie you’ll see our jersey close to the front or leading,” said an optimistic Fabrizio Guidi.

Tour de Romandie Prologue Result:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 6:23
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:04
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:04
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek at 0:04
5. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:04
6. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:05
7. Matthias Brändle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:07
8. Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek at 0:08
9. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp at 0:09
10. Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin at 0:09.

Tour de Romandie Overall After the Prologue:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 6:22
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:04
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
5. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:05
6. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:06
7. Matthias Brändle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:07
8. Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek at 0:08
9. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp at 0:09
10. Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin.

The prologue:

ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Michael Albasini sprinted to victory on Stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie, ending a ten year drought for Swiss riders in their home country tour. Popping out from a reduced bunch with the finish line in sight, Albasini easily overtook Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), who was ahead of the bunch after a late race attack, en route to the win in Sion. It is the 13th victory for ORICA-GreenEDGE in 2014; the first for Albasini.

“I’m always really motivated for the Swiss races,” said Albasini. “Of course I want to show something when I’m racing at home. I’m really happy with the race today. It was a good win. It was important that I get some results out of the good shape I have now. It’s been ten years since the last Swiss rider won here, so I know the people here are also really happy about my win.”

“A few weeks ago, we had people wondering when we might get some results in Europe,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “In the past few weeks, we’ve won in Pais Vasco. We won Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and now we’ve won here. We’re ticking the boxes we should be ticking and adding a few bonus results as well.”

Snow forced race organisers to shorten the opening road stage. The length of the stage was more than halved as the start was moved from Ascona to Brigerbad with the climb over Simplon Pass removed from the route. The category two climb that included the early slopes of the road leading up the Crans Montana ski station would prove the more decisive place on the 88 kilometre stage.

“The changes were a bit of a hassle really,” said Stephens. “In staying that, we know it was a hassle for everyone in the whole peloton. We went to sleep last night with many unanswered questions. We didn’t know if the stage was on, what time it would start or how we would get to the start.”

“As it was, we got up earlier than necessary and our meal times were out of whack,” Stephens added. “We drove a long period in the car to the new stage start, and we arrived three hours before the stage. It was the same for the whole peloton. We were all adversely affected in the same way.”

“I was worried the route change would work against us,” Stephens admitted. “We knew it was a hard punchy sort of finish, but I was hoping we would do the big mountain pass or at least ride around the mountain. I thought Michael needed a more select group or a harder race to win today. As it turned out, the speed was quite high and a small group came to the line anyway. My worries at the start about the shortened stage proved unjustified.”

Despite the logistical challenges the changes to the stage presented, Albasini was happy to avoid the snowy mountain pass. While the shortened stage could have meant a bigger bunch at the finish, he remained confident in his ability to secure a result in Sion.

“If the stage had been longer, we would have ridden through the snow and rain,” said Albasini. “I was quite happy that we didn’t have to do that. I think it was a good decision to change the stage. It would have been really cold and also dangerous. It all worked out well for me, so I’m not going to complain.”

Two Swiss riders, Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling) and Silvan Dillier (BMC), were joined by Boris Vallee (Lotto Belisol) in the early break. A cagey peloton never allowed the trio a long leash, bringing them back ahead of the stage’s only categorised climb. With the peloton intact, several riders attacked from the bunch in pursuit of the mountain points on offer but were brought back to the bunch over the summit.

“I actually felt really good all day,” said Albasini. “I never found myself in any difficulties. On the last climb, I was really comfortable and not over the limit.”

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) used the descent to slip away from the peloton. Well known for his downhill abilities, Nibali established a half-minute advantage over the peloton. It was Nibali’s bid for solo glory blew the race apart.

“When I saw there were not many guys left, I worked my way through the bunch,” explained Albasini. “I became quite confident at that point that I could get a good result out of the stage. It’s not exactly a lottery but when it’s not super controlled, a lot can happen. I knew I needed to react and be at the front. I managed that quite well, I think.”

“I was worried when Nibali attacked and went alone on the downhill,” added Albasini. “It was obvious that they wouldn’t let him go. There were too many guys riding the general classification that were interested in bringing him back. I was quite sure that he wasn’t going to ride to the finish alone.”

Cameron Meyer provided crucial support to Albasini in the finale. When the peloton overtook Nibali at the five kilometre mark, Meyer guided Albasini into position. It was a mutually beneficial effort as Meyer looked to protect his overall ambitions.

“In addition to riding for Michael Albasini today, we also were looking after Cameron,” said Stephens. “As we were coming into the finish I told Cam: ‘Look, if you can be there and give Michael a bit of a hand, do that. Don’t make too much of an effort, but it would be great if we could achieve two things at once today.’ That’s exactly what happened.”

With bonus seconds for the win, Albasini jumps up to second overall behind prologue winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step). Five seconds outside the race lead, Albasini is tied on time with Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) in third. Sixteenth overall overnight, Meyer sits in 12th place following stage one.

“It was a very good day for the team,” said Stephens. “As always, there’s only room on the podium for one winner, but it’s the collective work from all the riders that gets the one guy up there. Congratulations are in order for the other boys as well.”
Thanks to the Orica-GreenEDGE team for the race info.

Tour de Romandie Stage 1 Result:
1. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE in 2:11:11
2. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar
3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
4. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
5. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp
6. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
7. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
8. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin
9. Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Europcar
10. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar.

Tour de Romandie Overall After Stage 1:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 2:17:33
2. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:05
3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
4.Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar at 0:06
5. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling at 0:07
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 0:08
7. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:09
8. Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin at 0:13
9. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr
10. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky 0:00:14.

Stage 1:

Presidential Tour of Turkey 2014
Mark Cavendish’s sick break far from hampered his finishing power as the Briton again outkicked the rest of the Tour of Turkey field to snatch his second stage in two days in Stage 2 in Kemer. But while the first in Alanya on Sunday owed more to his own talent, Monday’s victory in the 170-kms stage 2 was the result of a perfect lead-out job by his Omega Pharma Quick Step team-mates. While Kevin de Weert, Petr Vakoc and Gianni Meersman did most of the leading duties in the last ten kilometres after the break of the day was subdued, Ingo Keisse, Gert Steegmans and Mark Renshaw sealed the work by perfectly launching their team leader in the last stretch. While the Belkin, Cannondale and Lotto Bellisol trains could only watch in bewilderment, the other podium honours went to Italians Francesco Chicchi (Neri Sottoli) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida).

A violent storm swept Alanya before the start but kindly stopped just as the 153 riders who finished stage 1 started on their way to Kemer. The day’s break quickly developed and included the following five riders: Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Pawel Charucki (CCC Polsat-Polkowice), Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk), Mattia Pozzo (Neri Sottoli) and Ahmet Orken (Torku Sekerspor). Italy’s Pozzo won the Turkish Beauties sprint of the day at the Manavgat Waterfall (km 54.4) and collected the following two intermediate sprints.

While their lead at the most reached five minutes, the peloton, mostly led by Omega Pharma Quick Step Lotto Belisol riders, decided to maintain a stable gap of around two minutes most of the way down to Kemer. Shortly after Pozzo won the second sprint of the day in Serik (km 135), the bunch abruptly raised the tempo, gradually pulling the escapees back. Charucki had first been reined in 50 kms from the line, then the bunch kept the four within 30 seconds before chasing them down with 15 kilometres to go.

The sprint battle started early but Cavendish, who had already showed signs of impatience by finishing third in the last intermediate sprint in Beldibi, was far too strong in the finale and easily strengthened his Turquoise jersey.

Questions for Mark Cavendish:
What are your feelings after this second stage? “It was really nice to get a second stage in as many days. Today, it was a hard sprint, with a head wind on big roads. But Omega Pharma Quick Step did an incredible job, a textbook job to keep me from the wind, to keep the break down. In the last ten kilometres, Kevin and Petr were riding strong until the five kilometres. Gianni took over until 2 km. Then it was Iljo and Geert Steegmans, Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Renshaw who led me out. They had to go deeper to do that because of the head wind so I’m super-happy I could win.”

What are you going to do with all these miles you’ve won here? “I go to California next but since my mother comes here often on holiday I’ll come here again for sure.”

Tomorrow stage is a hard stage with big climbs, how do you see it? “Tomorrow is just about getting through. I won’t be able to get a third win. We came here with a dominantly sprint team, it was a tough day for the guys today after yesterday. We’ll try to get through as best as possible. There’s no way I can try to defend the jersey. But it’ll be an exciting stage for the race and for the fans.”

Last year you had a heavy programme with the Giro then the Tour. Do you think your programme this year will keep you fresher for the Tour? “As you said, hopefully I’ll be fresher. My form is really good. I feel like I’m not going deep in the race, that I’m not struggling throughout the race, that I’m able to just ride and get my form from the race, which is exactly what I wanted. I cannot exactly know what my form is going to be on the Tour de France, I can only try to guess.”

You said the last two kilometres were a textbook effort. How does it compare to yesterday’s sprint? “Really it was not so textbook… The guys had to go long because of the headwind. Conditions made it more difficult and longer. I could see their legs going, their bodies going before they turned. When I can win this way, it gave me as much satisfaction as any sprint I’ve won on my own.”

Will you be going to the Olympics in Rio? “Well I don’t know how it goes I already rode at the Olympics and the next are in Rio and for sure I’d love to go but there are many races to do before then. Well see.”

Francesco Chicchi (Neri Sottoli), 2nd: “I was a little late at the start of the sprint, 5th or 6th at the 300 metres and when I saw the 200 metres board, I went to the left. But Mark (Cavendish) was far too fast. This result is still a satisfaction for me. It gives me a lot of motivation for the Giro, which is my objective. To do the sprints here allows me to see that I’m in good condition. I’m really confident.”

Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida), 3rd: “I didn’t expect to do that well on this Tour of Turkey as a neo-professional. But the team gave me freedom to express myself because Sacha Modolo is not in a condition to do the sprints. He suffers from his ribs after his crash in Paris-Roubaix. I was the youngest rider in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. The classics helped me feel more at ease in the peloton before coming to Turkey. I’m glad I had two chances to sprint in two days.”

Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare), best climber: “My back hurts less each day. Today, I struggled to defend my jersey. No, I’m kidding (there was no KOM climb on the course today). Tomorrow will be an entirely different race. I have no ambitions for the overall so I’m going to try to go in a break to score points in the mountain standings.”

Presidential Tour of Turkey Stage 2 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:50:18
2. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Neri Sottoli
3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Belisol
5. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Ken Hanson (Usa) UnitedHealthcare
7. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
8. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin
9. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
10. Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani-CSF.

Presidential Tour of Turkey Overall After Stage 2:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 7:06:00
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
4. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin
5. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Ken Hanson (USA) UnitedHealthcare
7. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac
8. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Neri Sottoli
9. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Stage 2:

Only a month after a larynx operation, Estonian champion Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) struck back to win the queen Stage 3 of the 50th Tour of Turkey in Elmali and take the Turquoise jersey off Mark Cavendish’s back. One of the most gifted riders of his generation, but often hampered by injuries and sickness, the man who finished 11th in the 2011 Tour de France surged mercilessly in the last 300 metres to drop Briton Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE), with whom he had launched the decisive move three kilometres from the line. All the other favourites at the start of the 185-km ride from Finike were unable to react and had to settle for the honour places, Eritrea’s Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) finishing fourth ahead of Italian veteran Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat) in fifth place.

The queen stage of this Tour of Turkey started without Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), still suffering from earlier wounds. Before the peloton started tackling the climbs, Mattia Pozzo (Neri Sottoli) snatched the Turkish Beauties sprint at Santa Claus’s birthplace ahead of Frederique Robert (Wanty-Group Gobert) and robbed the Belgian of the white jersey.

The first ascent on the menu already saw some 50 riders lose ground and while Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana) was fastest at the top, a break developed quickly afterwards, involving five riders: Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen), Nico Sijmens (Wanty-Group Gobert), Frekalsi Debesay (MTN-Qhubeka) and Christophe Le Mevel (Cofidis), who joined them later. While Eritrea’s Debesay was dropped in the second ascent to Kuruovabeli, he was replaced in the group by Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthcare), who came back to the front from behind.

At kilometre 65, Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) crashed and was forced out of the race with a fractured collarbone. His brother would later avenge the loss.

In the fist category climb dedicated to 1963 TUR winner Rifat Çaliskan, Frattini, Le Mevel, Vanspeybrouck and Sijmens, in that order, reached the top with a 3:00 lead over the main bunch, led by MTN-Qhubeka riders.

Team Astana took the pack reins over in the long stretch towards the last climb, maintaining a steady gap with the break and as the peloton was riding into Elmali (km 155), a collective pile-up sent a dozen riders down on the tarmac, including pre-stage favourites Rebellin (CCC Polsat) and Yoann Bagot (Cofidis).

The break was reeled in the first kilometre of the final climb and Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen), followed by Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF), were the first to try their luck in the finale. More serious but just as vain were the attempts by 2012 winner Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) and Kudus. Taaramae’s perfectly timed surge was punishing and only Yates was capable of joining him before striking in the last 500 metres on his way to a commanding stage victory.

Overall, the Estonian now leads the Briton by six seconds and his French team-mate Romain Hardy by 38 seconds. Hardy was, like Taaramae, on team Cofidis sick list recently having just recovered from toxoplasmosis.

Questions for stage winner and overall leader Rein Taaramäe:
What’s your impression two and a half years after your last international victory in La Farrapona on the 2011 Vuelta? “It’s just beautiful to be riding in such condition. I thought I would never find it back again. In the past, I was a very good rider but these last two years, I thought my engine had blown. I was climbing with the sprinters and sometimes they even dropped me. Nobody knew what was wrong. I was actually suffering from a laringal obstruction and I had asthma. I had too much skin on the larynx and the air did not get through. I couldn’t breathe. I received surgery in Estonia on March 12 and it changed everything. I didn’t expect to be back to my best that quickly. It’s wonderful.”

How did you decide to attack three kilometres from the finish line? “I must first of all thank my team-mates who perfectly paved the way for me. I didn’t ask anything but they did their utmost to place me ideally. We were supposed to be riding more for Yoann Bagot but he didn’t feel too well after his crash. I didn’t want to attack too early because of the headwind. I thought everything would be decided in the last two kilometres. 2.8 km from the summit, Tomasz Marczynski attacked hard. Everybody was full gas and I told myself it was time to go. I took a tight curve at full speed. Only a rider from Orica (Adam Yates) could take my wheel. I don’t know how old he is but I guess I have more experience than he has. My legs were hurting but so were his. I was really confident.”

At the start of he first stage of the TUR, you recalled that one of your compatriots, Aavo Pikuus, had won it in 1979. Do you think you could soon emulate him? “Of course, I want to win the overall, I have a lot of confidence in my team but it won’t be easy. The race is still long and everything remains possible. I already held the Turquoise jersey in 2010 but at the time, I had been warned by my team I was doing the Tour of Turkey at the last minute. I was in the middle of a break. Now I feel great.”

Adam Yates (Orica Greenedge) 2nd: “I’ve been all right. I was the team’s plan B. Plan A was for my brother Simon but he crashed. I didn’t know if I could step up to that level but it took me a lot of work to get here. In the first climb, I could see Taaramäe was strong so I decided to follow him if he’d go in the last climb. I knew who he was and I chased him down.”

Romain Hardy (Cofidis), 3rd: “I’m really glad about Rein’s victory and personally I was surprised to finish that well. Our two leaders, initially, were Yoann Bagot and him but Yoann crashed, he was unwell and his knee was hurting. So in the last climb it was all for Rein. Nicolas Edet also did a great job. When Rein attacked, the others didn’t quite recognise him with his Estonian champion jersey and I started to impose a false tempo so that our rivals thought there was no Cofidis in the front. I had started feeling good for a month, 4th in Paris-Camembert and I was good at the Tour du Finistere as well. Today marks the end of two years in the doldrums for me after my toxoplasmosis in 2012. I really thank Cofidis for their patience. I lived eight months without riding and I couldn’t do anything until the summer 2013. The team adapted a programme to help me back into shape and here we are, I really feel I’m back at my level”

Presidential Tour of Turkey Stage 3 Result:
1. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis in 5:40:31
2. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:06
3. Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis at 0:38
4. Merhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka
5. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Polsat Polkowice
6. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol at 0:43
8. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida at 0:44
9. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Torku Sekerspor
10. Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF.

Presidential Tour of Turkey Overall After Stage 3:
1. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis in 12:46:31
2. Adam Yates (GB) Orica GreenEDGE at 0:06
3. Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis at 0:38
4. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5. Merhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Polsat Polkowice
7. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol at 0:43
8. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Torku Sekerspor at 0:44
9. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale
10. Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF.

The last climb of stage 3:

Rain tried to steal the show in the 132-km Stage 4 to Marmaris but while causing a long neutralisation of the race could not stop the Omega Pharma Quick Step train from handing Mark Cavendish his third stage victory in this 50th Tour of Turkey while the aptly named Rein Taaramäe retained his Turquoise jersey.

The stage was neutralised for over an hour after heavy downpours caused numerous crashes in the bunch on the descent of the only 3rd category climb of the day (km 32.5). Last year’s winner in Marmaris Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) was among the riders affected, and to avoid further damage, a restart was given some 75 km from the finish line, taking into account the gap before the forced break.

At that stage, five men, Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Adam Phelan (Drapac), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) were leading the main pack by 2:30, a lead they retained when riding resumed.

With the havoc caused by the slips and spills it went almost unnoticed that Phelan had been first at the top of the ascent.

Led by Taaramäe’s Cofidis team-mates, the peloton rode safely from then on, slowly bridging the gap on the five escapees. While Andrea Fedi won the Turkish Beauties Sprint (km 102), defending the white jersey held by team-mate Mattia Pozzo, Lluis Mas Bonet jumped on his pedals with 26 kms left as the gap had gone under a minute. But his attempt was quickly reined in. Mas was soon on the move again with Belkov until the break was definitely quashed 11 kms from the line. A last brave effort by David de la Fuente (Torku Sekerspor) was the utlimate attempt to avoid a bunch sprint.

The last ten kilometres were another perfect stage for Cavendish’s team-mates to rehearse their sprinting routine. The black procession escorted their leader safely towards the finish line and took turns one by one until Mark Renshaw – himself third in the stage behind Argentina’s Maximiliano Richeze – finally led-out the Briton to the line for an undisputed treble.

In the overall standings, Taaramäe kept an unchanged six-seconds over Briton Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) and 38 seconds over team-mate Romain Hardy.

Questions for stage winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step): “You said at the finish you were extremely satisfied, can you elaborate? I was very happy. The team was tremendous. They helped me the whole day and it was not an easy stage with the 3rd category climb that went wet. The roads in the inland they get like marble when it’s wet. It was unbelievable, even in the climb itself the wheels kept sliding. Everyone started crashing. It was a wise, wise decision to neutralise the race because there were guys all over the place. It was wise to consider the riders safety. Anyways the race got back and we didn’t know if it was going to rain. We said we’d ride and see if it was dangerous and treacherous in the finale. It was OK in the end. The team stayed with me in the final climb and in the sprint I didn’t have to do anything with such an extraordinary team around me. It’s incredible. It’s exactly what Patrick Lefevere was expecting when he put that team together. I’m super happy.”

It was really a textbook sprint this time? “Yes, to the point that I only had to pass Mark (Renshaw) with 100 metres to go. I could not accelerate any more. In Tirreno, a crash marked the finale or it would have been exactly the same. It showed that Tirreno-Adriatico was not just a fluke if I won by such a margin, it was the strength of the guys.”

Nobody can beat you in this Tour? “Well, Andre Greipel has not been sprinting this week. So we don’t know. He’s still working on his form. I’ll look forward to that in the Tour de France.”

Do you think the train improved again this year? “We’ve got a strength of lead-out specialists throughout the team not like Lotto or Giant Shimano have. It works with these guys who have this desire to win and sprint as fast as they can and when it comes together it’s a fearful thing to be behind. When it works as it does, it’s emotional to see. It’s obvious it’s coming together. When you win in that fashion, there’s nothing more you can say, We can’t say a word about what went wrong today because it was 100 pc perfect in my opinion.”

You suffered yesterday, don’t you like climbing? “I like climbing. It’s my physiological make. Considering my physiological make, I climb fairly well. I won Milan-San Remo, I completed several Tours de France. It would be disrespectful to think that I don’t train on climbs. I do quite the opposite. I’m not that bad. It’s just that when I get dropped on a climb, the camera’s on me, not on the other 40 guys dropped too.”

Race director Abdurrahman Açikalin: “I first want to congratulate Mark Cavendish for being such a great third time winner for the 50th anniversary of the Tour of Turkey. Secondly on behalf of the organising committee and myself the race director, I really want to give special thanks to him, he behaved exceptionally, he really helped us a lot to coordinate this temporary chaotic situation therefore we are greatly thankful to him.”

Max Richeze (Lampre-Merida), 2nd: “There was nothing to do against Mark Cavendish. He has a great train and all his team-mates are in great form. It was a very fast sprint in which my team-mates could not keep stay in the wheels so I took Cavendish’s. You only had to stay in his wake to finish second.”

Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), 3rd: “I knew the roads of today’s stage but they were extremely slippery today. A lot of guys were crashing in front of us so we had to not brake. Other than that, the scenario was what we expected this morning. We waited as long as we could to bring the break back. We wanted to stay together with Cav’. We went to the front quite early to avoid any trouble. We were close to make a 1-2 at the end. It’s always nice to be 1-2 but I’m just happy to keep winning with Cav’.”

Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis), overall leader: “The road was very slippery. I had never seen a thing like it. We could not go down slower than we did and still we all crashed in the third turn. Luis Leon Sanchez crashed in front of me. Impossible to avoid him so I crashed too. My right knee is scratched and my thigh hurts a bit but it’s nothing. I fell much more heavily in Paris-Camembert two weeks ago. There I really hit my head and it hurt for ten days. I also had team-mates who crashed. Romain Lemarchand hurt himself a bit but he rode well afterwards and the race was eventually pretty easy to control.”

Mattia Pozzo (Neri Sottoli), leader of the Turkish Beauties Sprints: “To have a team-mate (Andrea Fedi) in the break suited me fine to defend my white jersey. But today I was also interested in the stage victory. I wanted to try my luck in the sprint but I couldn’t find my team-mates in the finale. I really want to bring this jersey home on Sunday. To win the intermediate sprint tomorrow would boost my confidence. In any case I look at the second half of the TUR with ambitions.”

Presidential Tour of Turkey Stage 4 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:14:23
2. Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
3. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
5. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
6. Jetse Bol (Ned) Belkin
7. Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare
8. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha
9. Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor
10. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Presidential Tour of Turkey Overall After Stage 4:
1. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis in 16:00:54
2. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:06
3. Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis at 0:38
4. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5. Merhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka
6. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto-Belisol at 0:43
7. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Torku Sekerspor at 0:44
8. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale
9. Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Alexsandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Astana.

Stage 4:

2014 Giro d’Italia News:

Important Appointments in Belfast:
Wednesday 7th May 2014
Belfast – Belfast Waterfront – 2 Lanyon Place
• Top Riders Press Conference: 3.30pm

Belfast – City Hall, Donegall Square
• Opening Ceremony And Team Presentation: 5.30pm – 7.30pm

Friday 9th May 2014
Belfast – Titanic Quarter – Slipway Gardens
• 1st Stage Start: 5.45pm (First Team Start)

Belfast – Donegall Square
• 1st stage finish: 8.00pm (last team finish).

Lampre-Merida: Waiting for Giro d’Italia
Waiting for the disclosure of the official selection of riders for Giro d’Italia 2014, Team LAMPRE-MERIDA reveals an important medical research project.

Dr Luca Pollastri, team physician and member of the Science and Health Department of Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca, during the Pink Race will be the person in charge for an original research, whose aim is to prove, by the means of physiological measures, the link between performance and specific metabolic stress indexes.

Dr Pollastri will daily perform physiological surveys on blue-fuchsia-green athletes, before and after the race, with the aim of collecting data that could be useful for the goal of the search and that could be precious for improving the team knowledge about the athletes, so that the team could rely on a database made of interesting info that could support the care about athletes’ health.

This is the introduction of the project by the Science and Health Department of Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca:
”The cooperation of Science and Health Department of Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca with Team LAMPRE-MERIDA gives the chance to join the experience of the research in human physiology to the capability of realizing top level performances.

During a sport competition as Giro d’Italia, it’s necessary that the health of all the apparatus of the body (breathing, hearth, circulatory, muscular) could properly bear high workloads. Some researchers from Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca, created a research protocol that will allow to realize a scientific study respecting the necessary accuracy for the pondering of important standards of the performance.

In the past months, some researchers of Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca, who are specialist in sport medicine and in training physiology, have been working in order to create a search protocol that allows to complete a scientific study that could evaluate with accuracy some parameters of the performance. This study is original because it will be possible to ponder for the first time some physiological measures in connection with the specifical metabolic stress indexes of the cyclists. Of course, the needs and the internal organization of a World Tour team will be respected, considering that Giro d’Italia is one of the main appointments of the season. The researchers of Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca will cooperate with LAMPRE-MERIDA medical staff during the whole competition, with the endorsement of Giro d’Italia medical commission.

The aim of the project is to set, by the means of the power meters instruments, the intensity of the performance during the whole Giro d’Italia. These data will provide to physicians and trainers the basis for the safeguard of the health and the performances of the athletes. The physiological feedbacks to the daily efforts of the cyclists will provide data that will be useful to check the links between performances and personal effort feelings of the athletes.

After the preliminary tests in Sport Service di Lunata, the early tests and the early measures will be performed in Ireland in Giro d’Italia start.”

BMC Racing Team Announces Giro d’Italia Roster
The BMC Racing Team’s roster to support Cadel Evans at the Giro d’Italia includes a plethora of riders who have helped him to success at past grand tours and in smaller stage races this year.

‘Happy With The Support’
Joining Evans for the three-week race that begins May 9 in Belfast, Ireland, are three riders who helped him win the 2011 Tour de France: Brent Bookwalter, Steve Morabito and Manuel Quinziato. Daniel Oss and Danilo Wyss teamed with the 2009 world road champion at last year’s Giro when Evans finished third. Last week, Yannick Eijssen and Ben Hermans joined Bookwalter, Morabito and Oss on the winning team time trial squad that started Evans on his way toward overall victory at the Giro del Trentino. And Samuel Sánchez rode in support of Evans when he finished seventh at Vuelta al Pais Vasco. “I am delighted with the Giro team we have,” Evans said. “I think it will be the best one we have had as a team and I am very happy with the support I will have. They are absolutely committed riders and these are really my guys I trust and know I can rely on.” Evans said Sánchez’s wealth of experience – the past Olympic road champion will be riding his 15th grand tour – is a bonus. “We are both reasonably experienced riders who have similar habits and a very similar way of racing,” Evans said. “Having a lieutenant like Samuel is far more than I could have hoped for.”

Bringing Confidence To The Start
Sport Director Baldato said the quality of the squad around Evans exceeds any edition the BMC Racing Team has fielded since it first began competing in the Giro in 2010. “It is an amazing team, a strong team,” Baldato said. “Coming from our success at Trentino, a race which brought us a lot of confidence and motivation, I know the shape is there and the team can work well around Cadel.” The 97th edition of the Giro d’Italia begins with a team time trial, includes individual time trials of 42 and 26.8 kilometers in weeks two and three, plus five major mountain stages with summit finishes. “For sure, the last week will be pivotal,” Baldato said. “Cadel has seen most of the route and most of the roads of the time trials, or he knows them from last year or past Giros. So we will be confident from the start that we can do a good team time trial for Cadel and for the morale of the team.”

Focused On The Giro
BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the team’s performance at the Giro d’Italia is pivotal to achieving its season-long goals. Through the first four months, the BMC Racing Team has won 12 races – including three individually by Evans – and compiled 32 podium finishes. At this same point last year, the team had tallied four wins and 21 podium results on the way to a team-record 30 victories. “Our staff and Cadel have put a professional effort into preparing every detail for this year’s Giro d’Italia,” Ochowicz said. “Following our early season successes and on the heels of a successful campaign in the Ardennes classics and the Giro del Trentino, we are confident we will carry this momentum into this year’s Giro.”

Download the BMC Racing Team’s Giro d’Italia roster card (PDF with bios, statistics, etc.):

BMC Racing Team Giro d’Italia Roster (May 9-June 1):
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Yannick Eijssen (BEL), Cadel Evans (AUS), Ben Hermans (BEL), Steve Morabito (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

President/General Manager: Jim Ochowicz (USA)
Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA)
Doctors: Giovanni Ruffini (ITA), Dario Spinelli (ITA)
Chief Communications Officer: Georges Lüchinger (LIE)

Staff: Bus Drivers: Matt Rompion (FRA), Freddy Viaene (BEL). Chefs: Walter Grözinger (GER), Jean Patrick Simonneau (FRA). Mechanics: Antonio Biron (ITA), Peter De Bleecker (BEL), Danny Debuck (BEL), Aaron Fairley (USA), Alessandro Gaia (ITA), Jürgen Landrie (BEL), Jean-Marc Vandenberghe (BEL). Soigneurs: Marcello Bartoli (ITA), David Bombeke (BEL), Bernd Coutteau (BEL), Matt Excell (AUS), Anthony Lafourte (BEL), Gunther Landrie (BEL), Stefano Rubino (ITA), Luca Vaiente (ITA).

Team Giant-Shimano confirms final nine-rider line-up heading to the 96th Giro d’Italia
Team Giant-Shimano is pleased to announce the final nine-rider line-up for the first Grand Tour of the 2014 season, the Giro d’Italia that starts in Belfast on 9th May.

The team announced earlier in the month that Marcel Kittel (GER) would definitely be lining up in Belfast, and he will be joined by a strong team with both lead-out capabilities and also riders who can take their chances in the breakaways if and when the opportunities arise.

As well as Kittel, Team Giant-Shimano target the sprints with young Slovenian, Luka Mezgec (SLO) who has already got four wins under his belt this season, showing the progress he has made since 2013.

The opportunists in the line-up include Simon Geschke (GER) who will head to the Giro following a strong showing in the Ardennes classics, as well as Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE) who has also experienced success this season as well as proving his strength against the clock.

“Our first goal for the Giro d’Italia is to go for a stage and there are plenty of early opportunities for this with several flat days,” said Kittel.

“I got the Tour de Romandie off to a strong start yesterday in the prologue and hope to have a good week of preparation here with some hard racing kilometres to get me ready for the start of the Giro next week.”

Speaking about the line up for the Giro, Team Giant-Shimano coach, Addy Engels (NED) said: “The first goal for the Giro with Marcel in the team will obviously be for the sprints, and for the stages that are slightly too hilly for him we can ride for Luka too.

“We have a strong line-up of riders who will be able to support this in terms of chasing down the breaks and also for the lead-outs.

“Then there’s a part of the team that will be looking for results from the other stages and taking their chances when they can – guys like Tobias, Simon and Georg. Opportunities like these are great for learning and development, as being out front in the final stages of a Grand Tour stage is no easy feat.

“This worked well last year and Tobias very nearly pulled off a big result, finishing fourth on stage 9 after a long breakaway. We will be looking for similar stages and will take it day-by-day without an immediate focus on the overall GC.”

Line-up for the Giro d’Italia:
Bert de Backer (BEL), Simon Geschke (GER), Marcel Kittel (GER), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Georg Preidler (AUT), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Tom Veelers (NED).
Coach: Addy Engels (NED).

The Giro selection of Lotto Belisol
The Lotto Belisol selection for the upcoming Giro d’Italia, which starts on Friday 9th of May in Belfast, is ready. These nine riders will defend the team colours: Sander Armée, Lars Bak, Kenny Dehaes, Gert Dockx, Adam Hansen, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert and Tim Wellens. Sports director Bart Leysen talks about the selection, the goals of the teams and gives his opinion of the course.

Stage victory as main goal, top 10 with Monfort
Bart Leysen: “A stage win is the main goal of the team. The past five years we were always able to take a victory. With Maxime Monfort we hope to get a top ten in GC. Of course he could also win a stage. The first individual time trial of 41.9 kilometers suits Maxime. In the climb time trial on the last Friday the GC men will come to the front anyway. The Giro will be decided in the final week, in the first two weeks we have to see that Maxime doesn’t lose any time. For the team time trial on day one we definitely have the riders to end up in top ten. If we succeed in that, the Giro will have started well for us.”

“Kenny Dehaes is our man for the flat stages. Tim Wellens gets a free role. He shouldn’t think about the GC, just try to join breakaways. Lars Bak, Adam Hansen and Tosh Van der Sande can also let a break come to a good end. It’s the job of Gert Dockx and Dennis Vanendert to help prepare the bunch sprints. Next to that they can also protect Maxime. Sander Armée has to stay with Monfort as long as possible in the mountains.”

“On paper the first two Giro weeks are less tough than the past years. The final week is as hard as ever. According to me the stage to Val Martello, which goes over the Gavia and Stelvio, and the stage to Oropa are the most crucial stages. The last one has a climb to the finish with an average gradient of 11 per cent. The long transfers between the stages made the previous editions of the Giro extra tough. This year that’s less the case. The organization has listened to the worries of the teams.”

Team Colombia announces Giro d’Italia line-up
Fabio Duarte to lead the Escarabajos at the Corsa Rosa

After the final test at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Team Colombia’s technical staff selected the nine-man line-up that will take the start of the 97th Giro d’Italia in Belfast (Northern Ireland) on Friday May 9th.

The nine riders, who will wear dossard numbers from 71 to 79, will be guided from the team cars by Sports Directors Valerio Tebaldi, Oscar Pellicioli and Oliverio Rincon.

Six out of nine riders in Team Colombia’s line-up already took part to the team’s Giro debut 12 months ago: Miguel Angel Rubiano and two GT debutants – Jeffry Romero and Rodolfo Torres – will be the novelties. The latter’s spot in the Corsa Rosa’s line-up was confirmed after x-rays on his left wrist after a heavy crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege did not reveal any serious consequence.

Leader of the Colombian team will be Fabio Duarte, whose strong display at the recent Giro del Trentino resulted in an overall fourth place, less than a second away of the third podium spot. After finishing 5th on the Col du Galibier and 2nd in Tre Cime di Lavaredo snowstorm in 2013, Duarte will be looking to finally clinch a Giro d’Italia stage win this time out.

With a Giro d’Italia stage win already in his palmares, Miguel Angel Rubiano will bring the Colombian National Champion’s jersey back in the Giro peloton. Jarlinson Pantano and Robinson Chalapud are set to make their return to the Corsa Rosa after several strong breakaway showings last term, while Carlos Julian Quintero is determined to leave a mark on the race he was forced to leave in advance due to a tendinitis 12 months ago.

For sprint finishes, Team Colombia will rely on experienced Leonardo Duque, a Grand Tour veteran with 11 participations under his belt, and talented two-time Point Race World Champion Edwin Avila, now expected to make a significant quality leap out of the velodromes.

“Compared to last year, we have one more year and a Giro of experience, and that will make some real difference” – General Manager Claudio Corti explained. “Even in the setup, the riders clearly were much more aware of what is in store for them, and that’s why I believe we will get to the Giro in a much better condition than last year, with every chance to improve the good showing of last year. After some weeks of worry and tension, we are finally receiving the first UK Visas, and we hope the issue will be completely solved in time to leave to Belfast.”

“Our main goal – Corti said – will be taking the stage win we got just close to last year, possibly even more than one. In order to do that, we will race on the attack, particularly in the toughest mountain stages – that’s what everybody expects from an all-Colombian team, after all. We will focus on one day and one stage at the time, and if that approach will bring one of our riders up in the standings, we won’t definitely back down. Our main priority though will be making an impact on this race, no matter what.”

Edwin Avila, Robinson Chalapud, Fabio Duarte, Leonardo Duque, Jarlinson Pantano, Carlos Julian Quintero, Jeffry Romero, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Rodolfo Torres.
Sports Directors: Valerio Tebaldi, Oscar Pellicioli, Oliverio Rincon

Europcar Team for the Giro d’Italia
Riders: Yukiya Arashiro, Tony Hurel, Davide Malacarne, Maxime Mederel, Perrig Quemeneur, Pierre Rolland, Romain Sicard, Bjorn Thurau, Angelo Tulik.
Directeur Sportifs: Dominique Arnould and Benoit Genauzeau.

Androni-Venezuela Giocattoli Riders for the Giro
The Androni-Venezuela Giocattoli today announced the names of the nine riders who will contest the Tour of Italy which starts on May 9 in Belfast: Franco Pellizotti, Marco Bandiera, Manuel Belletti, Marco Frapporti, Yonder Godoy, Johnny Hoogerland, Jackson Rodriguez, Diego Rosa and Emanuele Sella.

“We are proud,” stressed manager Gianni Savio, “to have achieved in the last Giro del Trentino title of runner-up team, going up on the final podium with Kazakh Astana and the French Ag2r teams. Now in the Giro d’Italia we will tackle with enthusiasm and determination, as always, to once again to honour the race.”

The 2014 Giro d’Italia course:

Riccò Caught Red Handed (again)
According to the Italian website Il Tirreno the banned rider Riccardo Riccò has been arrested by the police in Livorno while making a drugs exchange. Apparently Riccò and another un-named rider met with two dealers in the car park of McDonalds where 30 doses of drugs were found. In a search of the dealers’ house 100 more doses were found along with a large amount of money. One of the dealers is said to be a hospital worker. Although Riccò is banned he had announced he would attempt set records on the most famous climbs.

2006 Flanders Sold?
According to retired Canadian professional Michael Barry; Discovery Channel team mate Leif Hoste sold the 2006 Ronde van Vlaanderen win to the then World champion Tom Boonen. In Barry’s book Shadows on the Road, he describes how Hoste attacked taking Boonen with him leaving team mate sprinter George Hincapie in the chase group. Barry claims that money decided the race outcome and not strength or speed. Hoste explained to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws that “it’s not unusual to talk and negotiate in that type of situation. There was talk, but not about money.”

Hoste makes his attack:


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