News this weekend: Cav crushed at MSR - Small triumph at Classica Cita di Padova - Demare and Cordon take Cholet - Vuelta a Asturias loses two stages - Merckx's MSR predictions - Vachon victory at Classic Loire Atlantique - Mansilla caught in dope test
Races this weekend
Mark Cavendish, a favourite for San-Remo, suffered a humiliating defeat when his legs gave out on him as he climbed Le Manie in 2012's first Monument. With numerous riders realising their chances to win had thus been massively increased, the Poggio di San Remo turned into a free-for-all with Fabian Cancellara leading right into the final few metres before being beaten by a tiny margin... more.
(image credit: Optum ProCycling)
20-year-old Arnaud Demare of FDJ-BigMat won the 35th edition of the men's Cholet Pays de Loire after escaping the pelotn accompanied by Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun, second place). Mickaël Delage (FDJ-BigMat, third), Adrien Petit (Cofidis) and Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat) in the final part of the race (full results when available).
Audrey Cordon of Vienne Futurscope won the women's race when she crossed the finish line alone 45" ahead of a 34-women group that included her team mate Pascale Jeuland (second place) and Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products-Mistral Home, third). Claire Thomas was best-placed British women in 10th place (full results).
A full list of the weekend's ongoing stage races and single-day events is available here.
Vuelta a Asturias shortened
The Vuelta a Asturias, like so many races in the current economic climate, is experiencing financial difficulties. In response, organisers have been forced to reduce their event from five days to three. The start date has not yet been announced, but is expected to be at the end of April.
Eddy Merckx on MSR: "I think Cav has a good chance"
Belgium's favourite son was the first rider inducted into the Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame on Friday, chosen as he's the only living rider to have won the race five times (Alfredo Binda, the first to five wins, died in 1986 and Fausto Coppi, the second, died in 1960.
|Merckx is the only living rider to have|
won five editions of the Giro d'Italia
(image credit: Nationaal Archief, public domain)
He also believes Vincenzo Nibali has a chance, but could easily throw it away: "Nibali is going well, he’s a classy rider, I saw him win a stage in Oman. However he’s got to learn to use his head more and race more intelligently. He lost Oman because he made a mistake. If he’s going well, he could get away on the Poggio and so perhaps win Milan-Sanremo."
Who else? "Cancellara looks good, so too does Sagan, Boonen and Van Avermaet. Nobody has talked about Oscar Freire but he’ll be there after 300km and could win his fourth Sanremo."
Florian Vachon of Bretagne-Schuller won the Classic Loire Atlantique after a two-man sprint that saw him pitted against Vacansoleil-DCM's Mirko Selvaggi.
A sample provided by Luis Mansilla at the Vuelta Ciclista a Chile on the 10th of January this year, has been found to contain traces of the banned red blood cell-boosting EPO. The 25-year-old Chilean rider, who says he is innocent, was 8th overall at the Argentinian Tour de San Luis earlier this year, coming behind Levi Leipheimer (1st), Alberto Contador (2nd) and Vincenzo Nibali (4th) but ahead of Sylvain Chavanel (9th). If traces of the drug are now found in his B sample, he may face a ban of up to two years.