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EuroTrash Thursday: Alonso Team?

The Giro d’Italia is full on now and it can only get better into the mountains; all the reports, comments, video and results. We also go to Norway and Japan for their tours and other cycling news we look at the Alonso team, World Ports Classic preview, Niels Albert retires, Jan Ullrich crashes and we say goodbye to Vito Favero. It’s all here in EuroTrash Thursday!

TOP STORY: Will there be an Alonso Team?
Luis Garcia Abad, personal manager of Fernando Alonso has no doubts that the Spanish cycling team “will succeed” and will be a reality in 2015. The right hand man of the Spanish Formula 1 driver wants to quash the rumours and doubts hanging over the project. “We are very calm that the team will be on the roads in 2015,” García Abad told Cycle 21. “We are working and evaluating the legal, economic viability and the sporting aspects of the team, but I have no doubt that everything will work out in the long-term. That’s the goal.”

There have not been more steps forward simply because “the UCI regulations, deadlines and dates are very clear and obviously we will respect them. Until 1st August you cannot talk to representatives or hire riders and we will not have a UCI licence as a professional team until November 1st, if we are grant it. The deadline for petition begins on October 20th, so until then we cannot make a move on behalf of the team because until then we will not be a team.”

For the same reason the team would not be conducting discussions at the Tour de France: “At that time we are nothing, we can do nothing in this regard and risk a fine of 5,000 Swiss francs and a possible disqualification.”

He also denies information in La Gazzetta dello Sport that claimed that he had been in the UCI headquarters in Aigle (Switzerland), on Monday. “I was in Madrid eating with many people, so Switzerland not possible. I have been asked many jokes about it. But we do maintain regular discussions with the UCI.”

As to a sponsor? “We cannot sign anything with any company right now because we haven’t the capacity to legally sign any riders to the team. However, we are calm in this regard.”

Luis García Abad does complain about the existing legislation. He says it’s not fair that no rider sign until the 1st of August, the International Cycling Union should rethink this rule because it is also something that no team, no rider, and no manager respects. Therefore having laws that undermine the logic is absurd, since most contracts are signed just before starting the Tour (June) and during the race itself (July), but post dated to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of August.

Fernando Alonso needs to have an absolute guarantee of being in the WorldTour in 2015, but the top 16 WorldTour teams in 2014 will remain WorldTour teams in 2015. The last two places are open to teams from this year but also for new projects (Alonso) or professional projects that want to grow (IAM Cycling). The decision depends on points and that is why Alonso and García Abad have to get moving.

Does that mean they have to go against UCI rules? Well it possibly means you have to do exactly what everyone else is doing. Remembering that the UCI has never punished a team signing a rider before the 1st of August. Teams like Sky and Orica-GreenEDGE managed to go directly into the WorldTour, so it is possible.

Who is on the shopping list?
Stage-2  of the Dubai Tour 2014

Giro d’Italia 2014
Stage 10 was always going to be a sprinters day, but one look at the race map for the final 10 kilometres say’s it won’t be easy. Two riders went up the road early: Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) had a lead of 9 minutes which came down to around 4 minutes before they were caught at the start of the action. The Sky team put Dario Cataldo and Edvald Boasson Hagen on the front to blow the race apart, it partially worked but a crash by Tyler Farrar finished off a few dreams. Sebastien Chavanel towed Nacer Bouhanni towards the line for the FDJ.fr man to fight off Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) to the line.

After the stage, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) spoke to the press. A difficult sprint? “Team Sky rode very hard on the climb and made the first selection. I dropped back a bit, but I still managed to cross the climb in about 20th place. In the team meeting this morning we were told that we would have to be among the first 5 at the turn with 500m to go. Sebastien Chavanel took me there, then rode at the front for me. The entire team was formidable today, always around me and working hard all stage. I’m very happy to be at the Giro with this team.”

On another level from the other sprinters? “I don’t underestimate anyone. There are very talented sprinters here, and I need the help of my team-mates to win”

Taking it all in: “It’s true that my first stage win, at Bari, was special. It was my first ever win in a Grand Tour, and the circumstances were special. I had had to wait at the side of the road to change bikes, and everyone thought I was going to miss out, but the team mobilised around me, and to come through and win the stage was a great moment for me.”

Gaining notoriety: “This is the 2nd time I’ve ridden the Giro but, this time. I’ve taken 3 stage wins. I feel that the spectators are starting to recognise me and encourage me from the roadside. It’s a great pleasure when they call out my name. In the mountains, I think they’ll push me and encourage me, because they’ll recognise the Maglia Rossa.”

Cadel Evans (BMC). The final 5 kms: “On paper it already looked a little bit intimidating to me. I think there we’ve got fresher riders, a bigger group coming in to the finish, and of course riders maybe seeing it as one of their last opportunities, the sprinters there, so they’re possibly taking more risks on the descent, and then of course, in the final there, with all the corners, there’s only so much space for so many riders, but a lot more want to be in the front.”

Team-mate Yannick Eijssen’s crash: “We only hear these things on the radio, we don’t know what happens. and I only saw the images on TV after the race at the finish. To see a neck brace on anyone is scary – they say it’s only a precautionary measure – but of course we miss one team-mate. I first met him when he stagiaired in 2009 with our team, and I was really proud of him and I even complemented him on the road today for how good he was going and how much progression he’d made over these last weeks. It’s a big blow as well to us as a team.”

Tomorrow’s stage finish: “Yes, the Giro is characteristic of these types of finishes, on small roads. It’s another day, and we’ll search to be positioned well and pass without problems hopefully.”

BMC Racing Team lost the services of teammate Yannick Eijssen, who crashed with less than 20 kilometres to go and was taken to hospital by rescue squad. Eijssen hit his elbow and landed hard on his chest in the crash. But X-rays revealed no broken bones, said BMC Racing Team Dr. Giovanni Ruffini. The loss of Eijssen, who was riding his first Giro after helping Evans win the Giro del Trentino, will be felt, Sport Director Fabio Baldato said. “It is a big loss because Yannick was doing well and riding strongly,” he said. “It is important to have all of your riders when you are fighting to win the Giro. A lot of other teams have already lost riders and now it is harder for us.”

Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) 2nd overall: “Today it was relatively easy until the last kilometers,” Uran said “I felt well the entire day. Then at about 20 kilometers from the finish, the fight to take the last climb in the best position possible started. The team did a great job another time and I took the climb really in the front. The speed was really high, even in the downhill. I managed to stay in the front surrounded by the OPQS guys. Then in the last few hundred meters, there was that crash. I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I saw a few riders going down on the ground. The crash happened on the left side of the road and I was lucky that I was on the other side of the road and I passed. As I said already, every day something can happen here at the Giro. I’m happy that this stage is behind us.”

Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) showed confirmation of his qualities with another 4th places: “Bouhanni deserved the victory again, he’s so strong in this moment,” Ferrari explained.” I was very focused on this stage, I had studied the hill and the final bends, so I could approach the sprint at the head of the group, avoiding being trapped by the crash. I lost some metres to Bouhanni and when you concede to him even a little advantage, it’s over for you. I’m once again in the top 5, but it’s time to get at least on the podium.”

David Tanner led the Belkin cycling team over the finish line in stage 10. The Australian placed 18th. It followed up his performance on Sunday, the day before the rest day, when he escaped during the stage. “I knew that the last few kilometres were very technical and slightly uphill,” Tanner said. “I was at the front to assist Wilco and thought that this could be a chance for me. “I hoped to give it a try with late attack or something. In a sprint, I don’t stand a chance against those fast men. Unfortunately, a rider who nearly crashed held me up. “I’m very motivated to help Wilco during the remainder of the race and maybe I can show myself again. I feel that my true form is coming back after I broke my collarbone in the Tour Down Under.”

A moment of strong emotion took place on the sign-on stage in Modena, where Team Colombia reached first with all riders wearing a white cockade on their chest, as a sign of mourning for the tragedy that happened on Sunday in Fundacion (Colombia), where 32 children lost their lives in a bus fire. “It was important for us to take part to the National day of mourning, and we are grateful to RCS Sport for giving us the opportunity to step on the stage with the music off and tribute a moment of respect,” Colombian National Champion Miguel Angel Rubiano said. “And we were glad that the other Colombian riders chose to join us in wearing this small symbol in a painful day for our Country as well as for the area we rode through today that was hit hard by a devastating earthquake exactly two years ago. Our deepest sympathy goes to the families of all the victims.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 10 Result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr IN 4:01:13
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek
3. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha
7. Albert Timmer (Ned) Giant-Shimano
8. Ben Swift (GB) Sky
9. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
10. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Neri Sottoli.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 10:
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC in 42:50:47
2. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:57
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:10
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 1:20
5. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC at 1:31
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1:39
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 1:43
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 1:44
9. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 1:45
10. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek at 1:49.

Stage 10:

The recently returned to racing; Michael Rogers of Tinkoff-Saxo won Stage 11 on Wednesday. Leaving aside the fact that he was found positive for clenbuterol at the end of last year, and apart from a self imposed ‘rest’ he has received no punishment and returned to racing in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, it was a very tactical win. The top GC riders had been watching each other all through the stage and were hoping for an easy ride keeping in mind the individual time trial on Thursday. So at the summit of the Nasso di Gatto (Cat 2) when Rogers saw that there was certain hesitancy in the peloton he attacked on the descent into Savona for a 10 second win over the chasers. Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) took second place from Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) and the ever improving Wilco Kelderman (Belkin). When he attacked Trek and Giant-Shimano chased hard with a little help from Cadel Evans BMC team who didn’t waste any energy.

Fourteen riders eventually broke clear, they were: Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani-CSF), Moreno Moser (Cannondale), Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr), Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Yonathan Monsalve (Nero Sottoli), Perrig Quemeneur, Romain Sicard & Björn Thurau (Europcar), Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano), Daniel Moreno & Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Nicolas Roche & Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Philip Deignan (Sky). The group had a nice lead, but the Androni Giocattoli team had missed the escape and were put on the front to pull it back. In the end the big break was caught on the Nasso di Gatto in time to watch Rogers do his stuff.

Stage winner Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). The ex-time trial specialist: “Look, I’ve always loved time trials, but I made it to the top of the tree and, to be honest, I wanted to try my hand in 3-week stage races. I didn’t succeed and, in a sense, I regret letting the time trials go. I lost a lot of weight and strength. At my age, in recent years, it’s difficult to get it back. Sometimes I manage it, and in short stage races, I can get results.”

Tomorrow’s time trial: “I haven’t seen it. Tomorrow morning we’ll go and look in the car. From what I understand, it’s very hard. There are 15 kms at a gradient of 3-4 %, and then it rolls up and down. I think it’s a route for a rider with legs. It’s been a nervous, difficult Giro for the peloton, with some hard stages and bad weather, and the peloton is very tired.”

His former team-mate: “I know [Cadel] well. Being Australians, we grew together as amateurs. Cadel has always been a classy rider. The first part of his career was on a mountain bike and sometimes he came to find us in the Under-23 Australian team. We were happy when he did, because he won races, and we made some money out of it [laughs]. He’s always been mentally strong, with lots of heart. He has a very strong team, they’re riding well, and he has a great directeur sportif in Valerio Piva, who has lots of experience and is very intelligent. I think they use the team very well. They know their strengths, and Cadel’s experience in 3-week races is almost unrivalled.”

Overall leader Cadel Evans (BMC). Tomorrow’s Time Trial: “It has 3 climbs. The first is a rolling, gentle climb, with 6 curves on the downhill. The second climbs a little bit harder and takes longer, from what I remember. The last pitch to the finish is quite steep. It’s comparable to the time trial we had in last year’s Giro, with the steep finish. With rolling roads, hilly, and a real mix, it seems most adapted to a climber who has some power on the flat as well. On paper it looks like the time trial course should suit my characteristics.”

Rivals: “Like any other day, I’d like to improve my margin on my rivals. Rigoberto Urán seems good and is improving day by day, and another name who might be able to do a result and is riding well is Majka. He seems a rider we should pay attention to. As for Quintana, we haven’t seen him much so far. I don’t know what to expect. I’m concentrating on my own result. We’ll see in tomorrow’s results.”

Second overall Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step): “Today was the hardest day of the Giro so far,” Uran said. “The speed was incredible since the beginning. We flew over the first part of the parcours. But the guys were super for me again. They kept me out of trouble all day and brought me into great position at the foot of the Naso Di Gatto. We had a bad crash of Vermote and Serry but they fought until the end. I hope they can recover fast. Tomorrow we have the time trial,” Uran continued. “I like the parcours. We came here on the 5th of March to perform reconnaissance. The parcours is not easy. For the GC guys this will be an important test, as we then hit the mountains over the weekend.”

Wilco Kelderman moved up a spot in the general classification of the Giro d’Italia today. The Belkin team leader placed fourth in the sprint behind solo stage winner, Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). He jumped to seventh after Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) crashed and lost time. “It was a long day, but certainly not a boring one,” said Kelderman. “All day, the pace was very high and that kept me from getting bored. In the final, I still felt good and since my sprints are going well this Giro, I wanted to get in the mix. I would’ve liked to take some bonus seconds, but I’m happy with fourth. It’s a good result.”

Kelderman’s ability to sprint surprised him given nearly two weeks of racing has passed. “I didn’t expect that. The final climb went smoothly, as well. I hope that I can hold on to this so that I can start the tough final week with a lot of confidence.”

The Giro’s cyclists face the first individual test of the race tomorrow: “It’s a very important day,” said Kelderman. “I’ve already been thinking about this stage for a couple of days and wherever I could, I tried to save energy. Hopefully, I can pull in some of the riders who are ahead of me in the GC. I also would like to make a bid for the young rider’s jersey.”

BMC’s Steve Morabito was involved in a crash with 75 km to go. “I could have avoided it, but the guy behind me hit me going full gas and sent me flying into the air,” Morabito said. “I hit the same wrist I broke in this race last year. But I am sure nothing is broken. It is painful, but we have a good staff here who can help make sure I am OK.” Morabito, who is fifth overall, said he is not sure if he will race to hold onto his own spot in the top 10. “It is kind of weird, as I have not been in this position in a race after two weeks,” he said. “Today, when I came back from my crash, I wanted to be there for Cadel. That is my No. 1 job: to protect the pink jersey.”

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) was also involved in a crash: “Some riders made a mistake in approaching a turn on the downhill, so all the other cyclists that were following could not avoid the crash,” Ulissi explained. “I hit my knee and back, thanks to the quick help by Niemiec and Mori, I could immediately restart, but later I had pain, especially in the back that prevented me breathing normally. I’m sorry, I hope to recover soon in order to live new good moments in this Giro d’Italia, that until now, has been giving me satisfaction.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Result:
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo in 5:48:07
2. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:10
3. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin
5. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
8. Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Neri Sottoli
9. Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia
10. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 11:
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC in 48:39:04
2. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:57
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1:10
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 1:20
5. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC at 1:31
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1:39
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 1:44
8. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 1:45
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek at 1:49
10. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale at 2:01.

Stage 11:

Tour of Norway 2014
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won Stage 1, just like he did in last year’s event. He won the uphill sprint in Larvik after 147.5 kilometres ahead of Sondre Holst Enger (Sparebanken Sør) and Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise). Earlier; the break of the day escaped after only 5 kilometres, Adrian Kurek (CCC Polsat), Davide Frattini (Unitedhealthcare), Oysten Stake Laengen (Motiv3), Adrian Gjølberg (FixIT.no), Krister Hagen (Øster Hus-Ridley), Eliot Lietaer (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Ruben Fernández (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) had a maximum lead of over 4 minutes after 40 kilometres, but when the strong teams of Katusha, Belkin and Tinkoff-Saxo started to chase the break was doomed and it was all over in the last 10 K’s. Katusha performed a perfect lead-out for Kristoff for his fourth win of the season.

Stage winner Alexander (Katusha) explained: “I am glad to take a victory from the beginning. For me the Tour of Norway is a very important race, so to be successful here really counts for me. The final of the stage was not ideal for my abilities, the last km was pretty hard, but thanks to my team I was able to win. During the whole stage the guys worked hard for me – they supported me and controlled the breakaway. In the final, I received huge help from Marco Haller. I am really happy to finish the perfect team work with such a victory.” Adding: “At the final km the road was slippery with some dangerous points. But we were able to pass it without problems. Before the final corner with 300 meters to go I was in a good position, but maybe not ideal. It was Nordhaug from Belkin who attacked, but Marco Haller helped me – he closed the gap and led me to the front. All I had to do – just to start my sprint.”

Unfortunately, Katusha’s Petr Ignatenko (Katusha) crashed badly inside the final kilometer, getting a serious injury of his right shoulder. He was able to finish the stage, but afterwards was immediately taken to the hospital for checking. He will not start in the second stage due to a right collar bone fracture. Surgery will be performed soon to fix the fracture.

Tour of Norway Stage 1 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 3:24:18
2. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) Team Sparebanken Sør
3. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin
5. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
7. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
8. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
10. Jo Kogstad Ringheim (Nor) Team Joker.

Tour of Norway Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 3:24:08
2. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) Team Sparebanken Sør at 0:04
3. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:06
4. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin at 0:10
5. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
7. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
8. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
10. Jo Kogstad Ringheim (Nor) Team Joker.

Cycling: 105th Milan - Sanremo 2014

Tour of Japan 2014
Will Clarke and Jordan Kerby have kicked off Drapac Professional Cycling 2014 Tour of Japan in style claiming the top two placing in the Stage 1 Prologue in Sakai.

Clarke was the fastest man around the challenging 2.65km circuit, winning in a time of 0:03:14.09 to repeat his 2012 victory, averaging a time of just over 49km/h. Two seconds off the pace, was Australian Under-23 individual time trial champion, Jordan Kerby. Lampre-Merida’s Filippo Pozzato rounded out the podium three-seconds in arrears of Kerby.

In a great result for the team, Drapac finished with five riders in the top-20 – the only squad to do so. Drapac lead the team classification by seven seconds from Avanti, with Lampre-Merida a further second back. “It’s a great team performance first and foremost with some outstanding individual performances across the board,” said Drapac’s Director of Performance, Keith Flory. “We really couldn’t have asked anything else from all of the riders today.”

Twenty-nine-year old Clarke is enjoying a hot run of form, finishing runner-up on the second stage of the recent Tour d’Azerbaïdjan. Encouragingly, Clarke’s winning time on Sunday was nearly six seconds faster than his result in 2012. “It’s great to win here in Sakai,” he said, adding that it being his father’s birthday was added motivation to race well. I had been looking forward to coming back to this stage for a while now and definitely focused on it,” Clarke continued. “I am a lot stronger now than I was when I won here two years ago.”

“The key to a good result on this circuit is to go full gas and carry as much speed as you can through the corners.”

Kerby returned to racing earlier this month in Azerbaïdjan after recovering from a broken collarbone and said that today’s effort was confirmation that his hard work in rehabilitation had paid dividends. “It feels good to get some results back on the board after having such a long time off racing,” the 21-year-old Queenslander explained. “It was also an awesome feeling to be on the podium with a teammate. For me, Azerbaïdjan was a lot about getting back in the swing of racing and bringing up the form. I recovered well from last week and was ready to race here in Japan.”

The result gives Kerby the lead in the Young Rider classification, with fellow Australians Jack Beckinsale and Brenton Jones from Avanti Racing trailing by two seconds.

Clarke will now wear the green leader’s jersey when the Tour of Japan continues on Tuesday with a 160.7km stage in Mino, which is likely to be decided by the sprinters. “Overall it’s a great result for the team with the 1-2 alongside Kerby,” said Clarke. “Today’s result puts us in a brilliant position going into stage 2, with the 1-2, leader’s jersey and the lead in the points classification,” continued Flory.

“Stage 2 is suited to Wouter Wippert, so we’ll see what we can do there.”
Thanks to the Drapac Team.

Tour of Japan Stage 1 Prologue Result:
1. William Clarke (Aus) Drapac in 3:14
2. Jordan Kerby (Aus) Drapac at 0:03
3. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:05
4. Jack Beckinsale (Aus) Avanti
5. Brenton Jones (Aus) Avanti
6. Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:07
7. Taiji Nishitani (Jpn) Asia Race Team
8. Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9. Taylor Karl Gunman (NZ) Avanti at 0:08
10. Takayuki Abe (Jpn) Utsunomiya Blitzen.

Tour Of Japan Overall After The Stage 1 Prologue:
1. William Clarke (Aus) Drapac in 3:14
2. Jordan Kerby (Aus) Drapac at 0:03
3. Filippo Pozzato Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:05
4. Jack Beckinsale (Aus) Avanti
5. Brenton Jones (Aus) Avanti
6. Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:07
7. Taiji Nishitani (Jpn) Asia Race Team
8. Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9. Taylor Karl Gunman (NZ) Avanti at 0:08
10. Takayuki Abe (Jpn) Utsunomiya Blitzen.

The feeling of Niccolò Bonifazio with the Japanese roads was not stopped in Stage 2 of Tour of Japan. The winner of Criterium of Sakai obtained the 2nd place in the massive sprint that took place on Mino’s final straight. After 160.7 km, the bunch reached the final kilometre and a long sprint began. Bonifazio chose the left side of the road and began his action very early, but he was caught by Wouter Wippert (Drapac), who beat the Lampre-Merida rider by few centimetres. Third place for Jones and fourth position for Bole.

Clarke is still the leader of the overall classification, Lampre-Merida occupies four places in the top ten (Pozzato, Bonifazio, Conti & Palini).

Stage winner Wouter Wippert (Drapac): “When you plan the way you want a stage to work, and then the team executes it perfectly and you win, it’s even more special,” said Wippert. “The team – Will, Jai and Adam – dropped me off perfectly and Lach and Jordan worked all day to ensure the break didn’t go away too much. They were just perfect.”

Wippert, who also takes the lead in the points and young rider classifications following his stage victory, said he was pushed all the way by the Lampre-Merida rider but felt confident in victory. “There was a head wind so, so it was important to wait a bit longer than normal in the sprint and I was in perfect position with 200 metres to go,” he explained. “I was disappointed with the crit on Sunday, but it wasn’t the main motivation to win today. Today was one of a few chances to win in Japan so when there’s a chance I have to try!”

2nd on the stage Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida): “I was feeling very good, so I really wanted to repeat the winning sprint that gave me the success in the Sakai Criterium Sakai,” Bonifazio explained. “The will to be protagonist again made me start the sprint too soon. I was convinced I could keep the ahead of the bunch until the finish line, but I noticed that on the centre of the road Wiper recovered. This defeat taught me to be more patient, it’s an important lesson for the future.”

Tour Of Japan Stage 2 Result:
1. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac in 3:47:36
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
3. Brenton Jones (Aus) Avanti
4. Grega Bole (Slo) Vini Fantini Nippo
5. Taiji Nishitani (Jpn) Asia Race Team
6. Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Vini Fantini Nippo
7. Sebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Matrix Powertag
8. Yusuke Hatanaka (Jpn) Shimano
9. Saya Kuroeda (Jpn) Japan
10. Thomas Moses (GB) Rapha Condor JLT.

Tour Of Japan Overall After Stage 2:
1. William Clarke (Aus) Drapac in 3:50:50
2. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac at 0:01
3. Brenton Jones (Aus) Avanti
4. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Jack Beckinsale (Aus) Avanti
6. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7. Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Taiji Nishitani (Jap) Asia Race Team
9. Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Taylor Karl Gunman (NZ) Avanti.

Stage 2:

The Italian Pier Paolo De Negri (Vini Fantini-Nippo) won the Stage 3 of the Tour of Japan after 148 kilometres from Minami to Shinshu, on a demanding circuit of 12 laps. He beat the Frenchman Thomas Lebas (Bridgestone), and De Negri is the now new overall leader.

Tour Of Japan Stage 3 Result:
1. Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Vini Fantini-Nippo in 3:55:16
2. Thomas Lebas (Fra) Bridgestone-Anchor at 0:02
3. Grega Bole (Slo) Vini Fanini-Nippo at 1:13
4. Jack Beckinsale (Aus) Avanti at 1:55
5. Jose Vicente Toribio Alcolea (Spa) Team Ukyo at 1:55
6. Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Vini Fantini-Nippo at 2:33
7. Miyataka Shimizu (Jpn) Bridgestone-Anchor at 3:32
8. Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical at 3:32
9. Kohei Uchima (Jpn) Bridgestone-Anchor at 4:57
10. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 5:25.

Tour Of Japan Overall After Stage 3:
1. Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Vini Fantini-Nippo in 7:46:11
2. Thomas Lebas (Fra) Bridgestone-Anchor at 0:12
3. Grega Bole (Slo) Vini Fantini-Nippo at 1:12
4. Jack Beckinsale (Aus) Avanti at 1:55
5. Jose Vicente Toribio Alcolea (Spa) Team Ukyo at 2:01
6. Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Vini Fantini-Nippo at 2:43
7. Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (Ira) Tabriz Petrochemical at 3:42
8. Miyataka Shimizu (Jap) Bridgestone at 3:45
9. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 5:26
10. Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 5:27.

The best video of stage 3:

World Ports Classic
The World Ports Classic runs over Saturday 24th and Sunday May 25th 2014 and is made up of 2 stages and will cover a total distance of 354 kilometres. Stage 1 starts in Rotterdam, Holland and finishes in Antwerp in Belgium. Sunday’s stage 2 goes back from Antwerp to Rotterdam but uses a more inland route. Seven WorldTour teams and eleven ProConti teams will line up in Rotterdam.

Website: https://www.letour.com/indexWPC_us.html


Giant-Shimanoteam for the World Ports Classic
This weekend Team Giant-Shimano are back to racing on home soil at the World Ports Classic, starting on Saturday.
Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) starts the two-day race following a strong showing at the Tour de Picardie in France where he showed how much his sprinting ability has developed, taking three podium spots and finished second overall.

He is joined by Thierry Hupond (FRA) who took his first professional victory at last week’s 4 Jours de Dunkerque – a nice reward for years of hard work on the team, at a race where Nikias Arndt (GER) also performed well in, taking second on the stage behind Hupond, and Arndt also starts this Dutch race.

Team Giant-Shimano coach, Rudi Kemna (NED) said: “We will be looking for a strong team race here at the World Ports Classic and we have several sprinters here who can get good results at this race.

“The weekend presents two nice stages where crosswinds usually play a factor and for this reason riding as a unit is important. With Jonas, Nikias and Ramon we will work for results on the stages and see how we sit overall after day one.”

Giant-Shimano Line-up:
Jonas Ahlstrand (SWE), Nikias Arndt (GER), Brian Bulgac (NED). Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Sea Keong Loh (MAL), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED).
Coach: Rudi Kemna (NED).

OPQS to World Ports Classic
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in World Ports Classic, a 354km two-day race on May 24th and May 25th.

“It’s a race of the wind,” Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. “We won already the last two years, with Nikolas Maes in 2013 and Tom Boonen in 2012. This year we have a good team at the start, with riders who have the skills for this kind of parcours. Tomorrow they predicted a bit more wind than Sunday, so tomorrow it’s important to be there in front and try to go for the stage. Then, we will see what can happen. But of course our goal is to try to go there and do as we did in the last two years.”

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Kevin De Weert (BEL), Andrew Fenn (GBR), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Gert Steegmans (BEL), Petr Vakoc (CZE), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL).
Sports Director Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

Lotto Belisol: World Ports Classic
This weekend, the Word Ports Classic is scheduled on the Europe Tour calendar. The first two editions of this two day stage race started the last Friday in August, but since this year the race has moved to the weekend before the Belgium Tour.

Between Antwerp and Rotterdam
The World Ports Classic visits the port cities of Antwerp and Rotterdam. This year Rotterdam is the hosting city for the start. The first stage goes from Rotterdam to Antwerp. The day after, it’s the other way around, but the route changes. Each year the stages are switched. The first stage goes along the Oosterschelde, with an intermediate sprint on Neeltje Jans. About 40 kilometers from the finish the peloton passes the cobblestones of the Hogerwaardweg (2,300 m). The peloton enters Belgium via Zandvliet, with 25 kilometers to go. One day later it goes via Brecht to Baarle-Hertog, where the first of three cobblestone sections is located. Via Breda the peloton goes to the Hollands Diep where the riders cross the water towards the province of Zuid-Holland. From then there’s only 30 kilometers left to the finish.

In the Lotto Belisol team two riders make their comeback after an injury. Jürgen Roelandts rides his first race after his crash during the Tour of Flanders, which made an end to his participation in the spring races. Frederik Willems returns after a double fractured collarbone which he incurred in the Three days of De Panne-Koksijde. The captain of the team is André Greipel. He can count on the support of his sprint train. StigBroeckx, winner of the youth classification last year, is also part of the selection. We asked Herman Frison, sports director, after the ambitions for this weekend.

Test for the sprint train
Herman Frison: “Our goal is to win at least one of the two stages. Of course we’d like to win both. We start with a very strong team, which should give a good result. The fact that the race is now organized in May is an advantage. This way the sprint train can be tested in preparation for the Tour de France. After the classic season many riders had a rest period and some of them had to recover from injuries. For most of the riders it was a period without race kilometers. Jürgen Roelandts and Jens Debusschere for example had a training camp in Sierra Nevada.”

Winning would give us a boost
“The development of the race will depend on the wind. The race has a flat and open route, on narrow roads with a few cobblestone sectors. It’s been a while since our last victory, although the Giro selection isn’t doing too badly. A win in the World Ports Classic would be nice and would give a boost to the team, certainly with the Tour in mind. We have a team with riders of equal value, consisting of many fast riders. In case the race would not end in a bunch sprint we still have riders like Roelandts and Debusschere who can strive for the victory.”

Selection Lotto Belisol: Kris Boeckmans, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Frederik Willems.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Team Katusha in World Ports Classic
The Russian WorldTour Team Katusha starts in the two-day race World Ports Classic (UCI 2.1), which will be held on May 24th and 25th in the Netherlands and Belgium from Rotterdam to Antwerp and back to Rotterdam.

The roster of the team: Pavel Brutt, Mikhail Ignatyev, Vladimir Isaychev, Pavel Kochetkov, Alexander Kolobnev, Aleksandr Porsev, Alexander Rybakov and Alexey Tsatevich.
Sports directors: Dmitry Konyshev and Gennady Mikhaylov.

Belkin hopes for three in a row in the World Ports Classic
The Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM has been successful in the first two editions of the World Ports Classic, a two-day Belgian-Dutch stage race. In 2012, Theo Bos sprinted to victory in Rotterdam and last year, Maarten Tjallingii rode away solo to Antwerp. This weekend, May 24 and 25, the team wants to make it three in a row.

“If it comes down to a bunch sprint, we can rely on Theo and will support him,” said Sports Director, Merijn Zeeman. “We have several options, however. We have some guys who can do something similar to what Maarten Tjallingii did last year.”

Weather forecast by Weerplaza
Zeeman and the team’s other DS for race, Michiel Elijzen, want that their riders arrive sharp and ready for the opening stage from Rotterdam to Antwerp on Saturday. The next day, they will have to race in the opposite direction, from Antwerp to Rotterdam. “The rain and wind always influence races like the World Ports Classic”, said Zeeman. “We’re going to prepare ourselves the best we can with the help of Weerplaza’s weather forecast, but one thing is already clear, we will make it an attractive race.”

Theo Bos
Theo Bos looks forward to the World Ports Classic. The Dutch sprinter is hoping for a repeat of 2012 and perhaps more…

“I think it’s a nice race. The wind always plays a big role and so it is important to be attentive and make sure that you’re always in the first echelon. “Two years ago, I won the second stage after I pulled the sprint for Mark Renshaw in the first, which cost me some seconds. This time I want to do well in both stages. After the first stage, I’ll see where I sit in the GC, but if I want to win a stage race for once, this is a suitable race.”

TEAM line-up:
Theo Bos, Graeme Brown, Jonathan Hivert, Nick van der Lijke, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Robert Wagner and Dennis van Winden.
Sports Directors: Michiel Elijzen and Merijn Zeeman.

The World Ports Classic 2013:

Niels Albert Retires
Niels Albert has announced the end of his career at 28 years of age at a press conference in Leuven. “Much sooner than I had anticipated I have to end my career. I am forced to say goodbye. I have arrhythmias that can be fatal,” said the double world champion. “My greatest passion is taken from me.”

Albert read a letter of his farewell. He spoke with strong emotion and left the room as soon as he had finished his message. “The bike has always been the biggest passion of my life, but after six years, I have to abruptly give up my professional life.” Adding: “I am forced for health reasons to say goodbye to my professional cycling career.”

During a pre-season health check; doctors found a heart problem and a second check-up in Leuven confirmed that he could have a fatal heart attack during high intensity competition. “Saying goodbye to my life as a professional athlete was the only advice I could get, since there exists no solution to my problem. The Bike has always been the biggest passion of my life, but after six years I must abruptly give up my professional life. Way too fast my love for cyclocross is denied me, that makes it very bitter. ”

“In my short career, I have been able to experience many highlights. I was twice world champion. I assumed that a lot of highlights would follow,” Albert said.”I was firmly convinced that my strongest years were to come.”

“In these difficult circumstances, I would like to thank all those on my side: my family, friends, wife Chantal, the whole team and entourage, sponsors, supporters, all the organisers. My future is totally uncertain. My life was devoted to cycling. It goes without saying that I will go through a , but I’ve already decided that I want the second part of my life with the same winning mentality.”

Goodbye Niels:

Marco Pantani Biopic in UK Cinemas and on Video
Launched in over 20 cities across the UK, including London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and Birmingham, PANTANI is showing in cinemas from the 16th May – information on showings can be found on the Pantani Film website, and will be regularly updated with new venues. The film will also be released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 26th, and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

A New Black Films and Media Squared Films production in association with 4 Rights, the work charts the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of Marco Pantani, the cyclist affectionately known as ‘Il Pirata’ for his diminutive, pirate-like image. Born in 1970 to a humble family in Cesanatico in northern Italy, by the late 1990’s Pantani had become the most successful, flamboyant and popular cyclist of his era.

In 1998, Pantani won both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia – a titanic feat of physical and mental endurance that no rider has repeated since. He was a hero to millions; at the time, the saviour of cycling following the doping scandals, which threatened to destroy the sport. However, less than six years later, he died alone, in a cheap Italian hotel room.

PANTANI: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist explores the startling truth behind one man’s remarkable descent from being amongst the finest athletes on earth to his tragic end in a sport riven by intrigue. Based on two years extensive research and inspired by Matt Rendell’s The Death of Marco Pantani, the film combines scintillating race archive with contemporary news footage, stylised reconstructions, and interviews with Pantani’s friends, family, colleagues, and rivals, including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Evgeni Berzin and Greg LeMond.

For further information, please visit www.pantanifilm.com.

Official trailer:

Jan Ulrich in Car Crash
Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich was involved in a car crash on Monday evening in Thrurgau in Switzerland. He was unable to stop at a cross-roads and hit two other cars, one rolled over and like Ullrich’s car landed in a field. Ullrich was unhurt, but two other people were taken to hospital. It appears that Ullrich was driving under the influence of alcohol and has had his driving licence taken away. In a statement the German said: “It is inexcusable, that I was driving while under the influence of alcohol. That was a huge mistake, which I deeply regret. I will and must face the consequences; what these will be, of course no one can yet say.” He added: “I am sorry. Thank God there were no deaths. I was in stress, coming back from a meeting and wanted to get home as quickly as possible.” He also admitted to driving too fast. This is his second case of drunk driving.

Vito Favero; Riposa In Pace
It was with sadness that we learnt of the death of Vito Favero at the weekend. The Italian rider Favero started his pro career in 1956 and in the 1958 Tour de France he was 2nd overall, just 3 minutes behind Luxembourg climber Charly Gaul, and he wore the yellow jersey for six days. You can read our interview with Vito back in 2009 here. Everyone at PEZ sends their condolences to his family and friends.

Vito with his 1958 yellow jersey:

The Giro Time Trial with Uran
This afternoon (Thursday) the very important 42 kilometre individual time trial will set the scene for the final week in the mountains for the Giro d’Italia. Earlier this year Omega Pharma – Quick-Step’s overall hopeful; Rigoberto Uran went with team trainer Koen Pelgrim to Barolo to see what to expect:


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