Today's News: E3 Harebeke - Women's Cycling this weekend - Chicchi wins Handzame Classic - Cav and Boonen on Milan-San Remo - Flecha for Dwars door Vlaanderen - Gilbert backs Spartacus
The big E3 fight - Boonen v. Cancellara
|Altimetry - click for enlargement|
First held in 1958 (though it developed from races held here since 1955) when it was won by Armand Desmet, the unusual name comes from the E3 motorway that has since been renamed the A14 - and this year the race looks all set to offer an epic battle as Tom Boonen, Belgian winner of a record four consecutive editions between 2004 and 2007, seeks to wrestle victory from the mighty Swiss Fabian Cancellara who won in 2010 and 2011. It's a tough one - don't miss it. (Start list / parcours details)
Women still at work this weekend
Milan-San Remo dominates the European racing scene this weekend and the press will all but ignore everything else as a result. However, women's cycling continues as always, with two major events taking place. The first is the Classica Cita di Padova, a UCI 1.2 covering 113.8km of beautiful countryside over in the north-eastern corner of Italy this Saturday. It's one of the biggest events to fall at this time of year and provides an excellent opportunity for the teams to get some race miles under their tyres during Classics season, so several top teams are sending their very best riders.
|Emma Johansson for Padova|
|Bergseth for Cholet|
(image credit. Hitec Products-Mistral Home)
Cheeky Chicchi grabs second win this week
Francesco Chicchi has won the second edition of the UCI 1.1 Handzame Classic, which took place on Friday the 16th of March on a route with some reasonably difficult climbs. This is the second victory in three days for the 31-year-old Italian of Omega Pharma-QuickStep - he won the Nokere Koerse on Wednesday.
A 15-man break got away early in the race but were not permitted to get anywhere, being reeled back in after achieving a lead of no more than 30". Four others tried again with 30km to go but they too failed, being caught within the last 7km where the peloton regrouped for a predicted bunch sprint to the line. 1t4i's Marcel Kittel was second and BMC's British rider Adam Blythe took third. (Start list / parcours / results.)
Cav on MSR: "We've got it covered"
Mark Cavendish is confident that Team Sky can propel him to a second victory at Saturday's Milan-San Remo. The race, which is the first Monument of the 2012 season, is also known as La Primavera and the sprinter's classic - the latter epithet ensuring that Cav, widely considered the fastest sprinter cycling has yet produced, was always going to be a favourite.
|Cav: "We've got it covered."|
(image credit: Richard Masoner CC BY-SA 2.0)
Boonen on MSR: "I'm not afraid of Cav"
|Tom Boonen has dominated the|
Classics - except this one
(image credit: Tete de la Course CC BY-SA 2.0)
"I have confidence in a good outcome," he told Het Nieuwesblad. "If I have the legs that I had in 2010, I can win on Saturday." This race is known as the Sprinter's Classic and Team Sky's Mark Cavendish is known as the fastest sprinter in the world, but Boonen is mindful of the fact that if Cav's going to win in the last section beyond the Poggio climb he's got to first ride 292km. "Intrinsically, it is the fastest [who will win]," he says, "but after 300km it's a different kind of sprint. I'm not afraid to take him on."
Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha, recovering from a hand injury, will not ride Milan-San Remo but plans a return to competition next Wednesday (21st of March) when he will take part in the Dwars door Vlaanderen. Team mate Mark Cavendish will also ride, despite the tough climbs in the second half making this seem somewhat less than idea territory for him. For Flecha, it's all about getting used to the cobbles - the 34-year-old, who has performed so well in the Northern Classics that he's earned the nickname The Spanish Flandrian, has a greater goal firmly within his sights: "I don't think I will be on top form at the Dwars door Vlaanderen, but I will give it my all," he says. "Then I can be at my best and fight for victory at Paris-Roubaix."
Philippe Gilbert rates Fabian Cancellara as the favourite for Milan-San Remo and admits that his own form has not been good so far this season. “My feeling is that Cancellara [is the favorite] for a fortnight, in the races he likes: Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix,” he told VeloNews.
Andreas Klier @KlierAndreas
In my opinion 2morrow we are not in the position to say we are favorites for the MSR12-Race..but that's fine.Our spirit will carry us far..