Thursday, 8 March 2012

Daily News Digest 09.03.2012

13:52 09.03 - Bauke Mollema is the latest rider to abandon Paris-Nice. The 26-year-old Rababank rider is said to be suffering from 'flu. Further reports state that Ivan Basso has also abandoned, though no reason has been given - the rider has noticeably not been on top form to date in the race.

Just days after the salvation of the Basque Country's two most important races was confirmed, a number of Dutch events are on the block - including the Dwars door Drenthe where organisers are considering whether this year should be the last. "With reduced income from both government and sponsors, it's increasingly difficult to organise an event of this calibre," says John Van Den Akker of the Cycling Service race management company. (More details here.)

It's been rumoured for some time that a number of professional teams are considering forming a breakaway racing league, probably with increased funding from the teams themselves so as to make the league less dependent on commercial sponsorship. Now Bloomberg says it has received information from an un-named source that management firm Gifted Group Ltd. has approached the UCI to get the go-ahead after eight teams expressed an interest in the league, which would see ten major races running alongside existing events - the races would be slotted in around the WorldTour, but clashes with smaller events would be all but unavoidable. Garmin-Barracuda and RadioShack-NissanTrek are both believed to be involved, while some other teams have decided to opt out. (More details here.)

Chloe Hosking beat some
very stiff opposition
indeed today
(image credit: jjron GNU1.2)
Australian Chloe Hosking continued her Specialized-Lululemon team's stunning first season today when she won the Drentse 8 Van Dwingeloo, snatching victory in the final sprint from current World Road Race Champion Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos, frequently rated the best cyclist in the world today. Twelve women fought to the line with the sheer talent on display making the triumph an even sweeter one for the 21-year-old. Sharon Laws of AA was best-placed Brit in 18th place, 11" behind Hosking. (Full results and video available here.)

Lieuwe Westra
(image credit: heb CC BY-SA 3.0)
It's been very obvious that Lieuwe Westra wanted to win a stage at this year's Paris-Nice - the 29-year-old Dutchman has spent much race so far either attacking the peloton or riding out ahead of it in breakaways. His chance came today when he decided he'd have a go at taking on yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins in the final kilometre and surprised even himself by grabbing a 100m advantage: "Unbelievable!" he said afterwards. With three stages to go, Wiggins retains his 6" lead in the overall General Classification whilst Westra knocks 38-year-old American Levi Leipheimer into third place. Alejandro Valverde, winner of Stage 3, was second over the line with Wiggo third. (Stage and overall results available here.)

Tom Veelers is the latest to abandon Paris-Milan due to illness. The 27-year-old Dutchman, who won the Under-23 Paris-Roubaix in 2006 and came third in the prologue at last year's Tour of Qatar, is suffering from a fever and headaches, leaving him unsure if he will be able to join his 1t4i team at the upcoming Milan-San Remo.

Meanwhile, over at the Tirreno-Adriatico, riders faced hills in the first half of 230km Stage 2 followed by a relatively flat second half and sprint-friendly final 500m - and since Mark Cavendish is taking part, there was only ever one likely outcome to that one. The Manx Missile didn't go unchallenged, however: Garmin-Barracuda did an excellent job of getting Tyler Farrar into a position where he had as much of a chance as anyone could ever hope for of beating him, then Katusha's Óscar Freire saw an opportunity to sneak up beside them and came within a hairs-breadth of taking glory for himself in what be one of the most thrilling sprint finishes so far this season. A crash in the last couple of kilometres held up the larger portion of the peloton, ensuring all but the slowest riders get the same time for today and initially looking far worse than it was. (Stage and overall results available here.)

NODE4 Giordano Racing's Marcin Bialoblocki won a very wet and windy 40th Severn Bridge Road Race. (More details here.)

A driver with multiple convictions for speeding has been handed a reduced 18-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of dangerous driving resulting in the death of Commonwealth Games cyclist David McCall. Michael Gerard Croombe was speeding when he hit Mr. McCall in 2008 and at first left the scene, but later thought better of it and returned. He was originally imprisoned for five years when a court found him guilty of causing death by dangerous driving but the sentence was reduced on appeal when it was found that Croombe would probably not have hit the cyclist had a dog not run into the road, though the judge informed that he is someone who drives "in a manner to suit yourself, and other road users have to take actions to avoid you."

A row has broken out in Cambridge over whether or not cyclists should be expected to pay for new bike parking facilities at the strain station in the city, which is said to have one of the highest rates of bike use in the UK. It's been evident for some time that existing facilities are inadequate with cyclists wishing to leave their machines at the open-air bike racks in front of the station often having to spend some time locating a space and sometimes have to find other places nearby - which has led to problems in the past when a small number have locked their bikes to a disabled ramp or blocked pavements. The area around the station is undergoing massive redevelopment with a 3000 space, £2.5 million bike park planned - the largest in the United Kingdom. £500,000 has been supplied by the Government with local authorities and bodies involved in the redevelopment responsible for the rest - which is where the problems come in, as the most obvious way to finance it is by asking the cyclists who will use it to pay for doing so. Some cyclists have branded the scheme outrageous, which has led to accusations that all cyclists are free-loaders, while others support the scheme - not least of all because the bike park would be fitted with CCTV, and bike theft has reached near epidemic proportions in the city.

As Cambridge residents and victims of bike theft in the past, we feel that the proposed £1-per-day (with concessions for monthly and annual ticket holders) is fair and worth paying provided the safety and security of our bikes is guaranteed - in fact, we'd pay more. However, we do foresee an increase in bikes locked up elsewhere by those who don't wish to pay or simply judge their machines to be of too little value to worry about; as is apparently the case with many people going by the sheer number of decrepit bikes that have been locked up in the current park for some time. We think, therefore, that a partial deposit scheme might be a better option - ask cyclists to pay £1 and give back 50p when they collect their bikes, charging them the full £1 for each extra day their bike is left there.

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