Wednesday 21 March 2012

Cyclopunk's News Digest 21-22.03.12

Today's News: Terpstra and Van de Ree victorious at Vlaanderen - Cav dropped by discarded bidon - Many abandon as Brajkovic wins in the Catalonian snow - Five riders banned for ephedrine use

Terpstra triumph and Van de Ree victory at the Dwars door Vlaanderen
Niki Terpstra
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY 3.0)
Niki Terpstra won the semi-classic, marking the beginning of Vlaamse Wielerweek, on Wednesday. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider escaped in a large break during the latter half of the 201km race with some riders staying off the front for almost 90km, then left them behind after launching an attack of his own during the last 30km on the 20% gradient slopes of Paterberg. He soon proved himself the strongest man of the race and crossed the line unchallenged, team mate Sylvain Chavanel a short way behind him for second and Koen de Kort of 1t4i third.

For me, it's the best victory ever together with the 2010 national road championship," the 27-year-old Dutchman said after the race. "Today I had super strong legs. Going solo was something I have done in the past, so I know it is possible to finish in a great solo like today."

Chavanel, back after a bout of bronchitis, was equally pleased: "It doesn't matter who is the winner, whether me or Niki. I am super happy for him and the team. For me, the most important thing is I am in good shape after the bronchitis I had. Now I feel better and I look forward to the next races." (Results)

Monique van de Ree
(image credit: 1t41)
1t4i did even better in the women's race with Monique van de Ree beating Gilke Croket (Top Sport Flanders-Ridley 2012) and Petra Dijkman (Kleo) in three-rider sprint to the end. Team mate Adrie Visser picked up the points in the intermediate sprint earlier on in the race. Best Brit was 39-year-old Claire Thomas in 26th, then Sarah Coney in 29th and Emma Silversides in 56th, while Emma Trott didn't finish. (Results)
Monique van de Ree ‏ @MoniquevdrHell yeah, I did it! Just WON Dwars door Vlaanderen!! Really happy, and also thanks to my team mates!#that's the spirit!#1t4i <3 winning ; )
Good news for women's cycling: while some fans felt that this year's women's event - the first in the Dwars' history - felt like it had been rather hurriedly put together, organisers are pleased with how it went and hope to improve it over the coming years.

Britain's Mark Cavendish (Sky), best-placed Brit with 58th, performed far better than expected considering how tough the Flanders hills can be, but was in an accident caused by a discarded bidon (dropped, he says, by a Katusha rider) late in the race. Luke Rowe (Sky) was 64th, while the best Sky rider was Australian Christopher Sutton in 35th.
Mark Cavendish ‏ @MarkCavendish
200km on Belgiums worst roads. All ok. 15km from finish, peloton's riding easy & a dickhead throws a bottle in my front wheel. Crashed hard.
Coming just a day after Alejandro Valverde crashed out of the Volta a Catalunya in almost identical circumstances, it would appear that all riders need to be reminded to throw empty bidons away from the road - not least of all because doing so makes it easier for trophy-hunting fans to retrieve them. "Said it before: EVERYONE involved in a bike race should take a written & practical test to get [a] licence," he added.

Volta a Catalunya
Stage 4 (click to enlarge)
Stage 3, the intended Queen Stage, ended 55km short of the original finish line on Wednesday after the decision to locate it at ski resort with almost a month of the ski season still to go proved questionable when riders faced heavy snow and freezing rain over much of the parcours; forcing organisers taking the decision to cut the overall distance to 155km with a  repositioned finish 10km from the summit of Port del Canto. Astana's Janez Brajkovic took full advantage, unexpectedly finding himself with a chance to win and the peloton nowhere in sight after spending most of the race in a ten-man break. The stage results will not be counted towards the overall General Classification, leaving GreenEDGE's Michael Albasini as race leader. (Stage results / GC)

The finish

In addition to the six riders who didn't start this morning, a total of 33 riders including Sky's Bradley Wiggins abandoned at various points along the parcours; some saying they were shaking so much with cold they could not to continue. Schleck's reasons are not yet known, leading many to suggest he might not be on good form for the upcoming Ardennes Classics.  However, those who have followed his career will understand that Andy's one of those riders, not uncommon among climbers who have very little body fat, who can perform at his best only on a fine day - the cold will have taken a lot out of him on this stage. Among the many other ridersl other riders to quit were Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Julian Dean (Garmin-Barracuda), taken to hospital after a crash 10km into the race.

The stage may have been cut short, but mountain fans have no need to despair - this is Catalonia, in the Pyrenees, and they don't bother with any of that flat stage rubbish round here. Stage 4 has three Category 2 climbs - 675m Alt de Fontllonga and two ascents of 510m Coll de Paumeres; then there are several more before the end of Stage 7. (Stage 4 map.)

Other News
One Spaniard and four Brazilian riders have been suspended from competition after failing anti-doping tests at races in 2010 and 2011. Spanish Constantino Zaballa, who announced his retirement earlier this year, will be stripped of all results for a nine-month period after a sample he provided at the 2010 Tour of Asturias. Brazilians Flavio Reblin, Wagner Alves, Elton Silva and Tiago Damasceno were all banned for two years due to positive tests for the same drug at the Volta ao Sao Paolo and Tour of Rio in 2011.

A new Eddy Merckx biography says that the Belgian rider could have died at any moment during his racing career. While writing the book, author Daniel Friebe consulted cardiologist Dr. Giancarlo Lavezzaro who revealed that he had noticed irregularities in Merckx's cardiograms, believed to be nonobstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - a disease in which part of the heart muscle is thicker than it should be and a leading cause of sudden death in young athletes and which today would prevent the rider, who won 525 races, from being issued with a licence. (More at Cycling News)

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