Wednesday 14 March 2012

Cyclopunk's News Digest 14-15.03.12

No women's race at the Smithfield Nocturne
Since the IG Markets Nocturne began five years ago, it's grown into one of the most popular cycling events in Britain with a combination of top quality hard criterium racing and fun events (including the now-legendary folding bike race) that have ensured thousands of people show up for a night of free family entertainment. It also receives TV coverage.

That, obviously, is precisely the sort of event that can benefit women's cycling - the audience, infrastructure and cameras are already in place; giving the teams a chance to prove that women's cycling is every bit as exciting, competitive and interesting as the men's. Nocturne organisers recognised this fact and decided that they'd benefit too - after all, Britain's female professional cyclists are at the pinnacle of their sport and have a small but dedicated following who will flock to any such an event.

Brilliant. Fantastic. Win-win, hunky-dory, spiffing and sorted. Except for one thing: "outside influences," namely British Cycling, have prevented a women's race from going ahead due to another race taking place the next day - a race organised by British Cycling, funnily enough. Are the riders' pretty little heads likely to become confused as to which race they should enter? Are they too weak and feeble to do both? Or is it just sour grapes due to the fact that the Nocturne is a bigger, more successful event than the British Cycling race?

Team Mule Bar Girl responded to the news on their Facebook page:
"So British Cycling have asked Smithfield Nocturne NOT to hold a women's race because it makes the girls tired for a big BC race the next day. The last I checked we weren't living in North Korea and we are allowed to choose how we spend our time. The Nocturne Women's race is one of the most talked about on the calendar, it's the one we get bubbly with excitment for. It took a big effort and some beautiful support for it to happen in the first place, just to have it taken away, it totally sucks!!!"
With that sort of attitude from the National Federation, those who wish to promote women's cycling and ensure it receives the exposure it has for so long deserved have an even harder task ahead of them than was previously thought. Keep an eye on Mule Bar Girl for petitions and further details - and you can contact British Cycling to share your opinions on their misguided decision via this link.

Chicci becomes 15th foreigner to win Nokere Koerse
Francesco Chicchi
(image credit: johnthescone CC BY 2.0)
Today brought us the 67th edition Flanders semi-Classic Nokere Koerse, traditionally the domain of second-division tough guys while the A-listers are preparing themselves for Milan-San Remo and a race that had been won only fourteen times by non-Belgian riders - fifteen, now that 31-year-old Italian Francesco Chicchi of Omega Pharma-QuickStep has added his name to the list of victors.

A 12-man break was caught with 40km to go, at which point a larger group of 14 riders escaped before being reeled back in just 18km from the finish, then various hopefuls tried and failed to launch attacks in the last 9km but were all chased down and pulled back in. Boy Van Poppel (3rd) of United Healthcare and Vacansoleil's Kris Boeckmans (2nd) tried hard to get the better of Chicci as the UCI 1.1 race entered its uphill closing straight, but Chicchi powered away form them and right up to the line.

The race brought misfortune for Rabobank's Jos Van Emden, however - the Dutch 27-year-old crashed and is believed to have broken his shoulder, though medical confirmation has yet to be announced. (Race results available here.)

Definitive Milan-San Rem start list revealed
See it here. Team Sky looks like this...

  201    CAVENDISH, Mark
  202    HAGEN, Edvald Boasson
  203    HUNT, Jeremy
  204    EISEL, Bernhard
  205    HAYMAN, Mathew
  206    LÖFKVIST, Thomas
  207    STANNARD, Ian
  208    KNEES, Christian
Chavenel out of Milan-San Remo
Omega Pharma-QuickStep star Sylvain Chavanel's hopes for Milan-San Remo have been smashed after he suffered an attack of bronchitis on Thursday morning. The 32-year-old Frenchman, who was eighth at Paris-Nice and ranked among the favourites for Saturday's Monument, began to cough and experience breathing problems during a training ride. Team doctors and managers decided to pull him from the race in order to give him time to recover for the upcoming Northern Classics. He will be replaced by Matteo Trentin.

Nibali to Astana rumours
Has €4 million persuaded Nibbles todefect?
Smells like rot, we say.
(image credit: Richard Masoner CC BY-SA 2.0)
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Tirreno-Adriatico winner Vincenzo Nibali has secretly signed a €4 million, two-year deal to ride with Astana in 2013/14. The 27-year-old Italian, nicknamed The Shark (or, by English-speaking fans, Nibbles), was thought to be discussing a contract extension with his current Liquigas team, making the rumour seem likely to be unfounded.

"Imagine you're the guy deciding whether to renew Liquigas' sponsorship and you read that??!!" Garmin-Barracuda boss Jonathan Vaughters told us.

Other News
28-year-old Dries Devenyns will not ride in  Milan-San Remo this year after suffering a broken shoulder, ay Omega Pharma-Quickstep management .Tom Boonen will lead the team, which also consists of Sylvain Chavanel, Gerald Ciolek, Nikolas Maes, Jérôme Pineau, Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and Peter Velits.

Team Sky's time at the top of the UCI rankings proved fleeting - they've been replaced in the wake of Tirreno-Adriatico by RadioShack-NissanTrek, previouly in third place. Sky are now in second, while Movistar move down to third. Alessandro Valverde is still far ahead in the riders' category with 167 points, while Tirreno-Adriatico victory places Vincenzo Nibali into joint second place alongside Sky's Bradley Wiggins. Spain continue to lead the nations, having upped their points from 205 to 250; while Australia, who were previously second with 193 have added only four and as a result are overtaken by Italy with 217. Great Britain slips from third to sixth and is now trailing behind the Netherlands and the USA (but we'll soon see about that when Cav wins Milan-San Remo).

X-ray results have confirmed that Rabobank's Theo Bos sustained no fractures in his Nokere Koerse crash. The 28-year-old, who won the Dwars door Drenthe earlier this year, will resume training next week.

Fabian Cancellara ‏ @f_cancellaraModern style of the hotels for the future. #emtpyminibars.They put just a vending machine toward the elevator. #unclass view photo
the Inner Ring ‏ @inrng@f_cancellara are you sure Chris Horner just didn't get there before you?

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