Monday, 12 March 2012

News Digest 12-13.03.12

Chris Froome in Italian accident is reporting that Chris Froome was involved in a training accident on Sunday morning at Latte di Ventimiglia when he collided with a 72-year-old man. Police are said to be investigating the incident and it is not yet clear whether the Kenyan-born British cyclist, who rides for Team Sky and was pulled from Paris-Nice days before the event took place due to a chest infection, was travelling too fast for the road or if the injured man failed to hear him coming and stepped into the road. The 72-year-old is understood to have suffered head and facial injuries,  and he is due to be transferred by helicopter to another hospital for tests. The cyclist, who escaped serious injury, reported the accident and summoned an ambulance.

Joaquim Rodríguez takes Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 6
Rodriguez deserved his win today
(image credit: Petit Brun CC BY-SA 2.0)
Riders dropped out of the race like first-year students from a physics class today; some with injuries, some with illnesses and many so that they can take a break before Saturday's Milan-San Remo monument. All in all, twenty-two either didn't start or quit during the stage.

Philippe Gilbert and Matthew Goss were two of the first to go with neither man starting this morning. They are, apparently, suffering the same virus with symptoms including high fever - up to 38.2C, say Gilbert's BMC team - along with sore throats and headaches. Cycle stage races, perhaps the most physically demanding of all sports, place unique demands upon riders and it's rare for an event to pass without at least a few riders contracting something and dropping out; but in this case, since both them are riding on Saturday, Cyclopunk refuses to believe a word of it unless they can provide us with letters from their mums. We're more inclined to believe Gilbert - his performance has had little of its usual sparkle during the race, but the Belgian rider says that he is not yet on form and plans to peak in time for the World Championships and Olympics. Milan-San Remo has long been a dream of his, too; but it seems one he's unlikely to realise this year.

Next up was Marcel Sieberg of Lotto-Belisol, who  abandoned after 14km complaining of problems with his right leg. He was joined by team mate Vincento Reynes.
Marcel Sieberg ‏ @MarcelSieberg
I had to stop after 14km today....right leg was again not good and I decide that its better to have a rest and recover for Sa San Remo.
Rabobank is down two riders - Lars Boom has decided to abandon as a precaution due to pain in his Achilles tendon and Juan Manuel Garate is suffering neck ache. Sky, meanwhile, is now represented by just three riders - Ian Stannard, Jeremy Hunt and Mathew Hayman -  and as such could theoretically be asked to step down from the race. Juan Antonio Flecha has broken his hand and team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen, winner of Stage 3, simply seems out of sorts ("There's nothing wrong with him, really," says team manager Rod Ellingworth, "he's just had some problems after a crash"); whereas Chris Sutton cited knee problems when he too abandoned. Mark Cavendish - whom we all know wants nothing less than victory at Milan-San Remo - didn't even bother coming up with an excuse as he shuffled off, Bernhard Eisel going with him. Minutes after the news broke, the Missile was back on Twitter:
Mark Cavendish ‏ @MarkCavendishWell, that's my #TirrenoAdriatico done & dusted. Haven't finished today's stage, but good sensations. Now to rest up for @milano_sanremo
A four-man break that had escaped after 161km were caught and put back in their places with 5km to go, leaving Katusha's Joaquim Rodríguez to take well-deserved glory after a courageous solo attack in the last kilometre, crossing the line a good few metres ahead of Liquigas' Vincenzo Nibali and Aqua&Sapone's Danilo di Luca who took second and third. RadioShack-NissanTrek's Chris Horner was right behind them, taking fourth place and recording a time sufficient for him to retain the General Classification leadership as the race moves on to tomorrow's concluding time trial when the remaining riders will compete to be the fastest on a 9.3km parcours. (Stage and General Classification standings here.)

Sky are the top-ranked team
in the world
(image credit: Jun CC BY-SA 2.0)
World Rankings put Sky in the lead
The UCI's World Rankings - for what they're worth - are customarily given a shake-up at this time of the year when we start to find out which teams spent the off-season with the drill sergeant and which ones holed up in the mess hall with the Christmas pudding, and 2012 is no different - after their superb victory at Paris-Nice, during which they put on a text-book display of team tactics every day, British-based Sky are for the very first time rated the best team in the world. The Basques Movistar are in second place, followed by RadioShack-NissanTrek in third, then the new Australian GreenEDGE take fourth despite what some fans have called a "lacklustre" start to the season.

Movistar's Alejandro Valverde, who made his return to competition this year after he was found guilty of doping, has a comfortable lead among the riders with 167 points compared to second place Bradley Wiggins of Sky. GreenEDGE's Simon Gerrans is third, followed by Vacansoliel's Lieuwe Westra - largely as a result of his whole-hearted attempts to keep Wiggins from victory at Paris-Nice. Among the nations, Valverde's homeland Spain is out in front with 205 points while Australia are hot on their heels in second place with 193. Great Britain is third with 112 - extremely impressive for a nation that supposedly has no great love for the sport and some way ahead of cycling-obsessed Netherlands (4th, 92 points), Belgium (5th, 91 points) and France (8th, 62 points).

Other News
The Halfords Tour Series - which features top-class professional cyclists battling it out on short city-centre courses around Great Britain - has been extended by one date. The newest edition will take place on the 25th of May in Aberystwyth. As the Olympic Torch visits the Welsh town two days later, the local authorities have declared the weekend to be a Cycling Festival. The races are televised and shown on ITV4 and some - yet to be confirmed - coincide with rounds of the women's Johnson HealthTech GP, which last year produced some of the tightest and most exciting racing seen in this country for many years. Dates and places (where announced) now look like this:

Round 1 - Tuesday 15th May Kirkcaldy, Fife
Round 2 - Thursday 17th May 
Round 3 - Tuesday 22nd May 
Round 4 - Thursday 24th May  
Round 5 - Friday 25th May Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
Round 6 - Tuesday 29th May 
Round 7 - Thursday 31st May 
Round 8 - Tuesday 5th June Torquay, Devon
Round 9 - Thursday 7th June Colchester, Essex
Round 10 - Tuesday 12th June Woking, Surrey
Round 11 - Thursday 14th June 

Tweets of the Day
WorldTour Verity ‏ @UCI_WorldTour
Are the riders making-out between stages!? What's up with everyone getting sick!? #procycling #ParisNice #TirrenoAdriatico
Richard Moore ‏ @richardmoore73
The riders who remain in Tirreno-Adriatico are racing towards Offida. All 3 of them.
Seneca J. Rose ‏ @sansenmag 
Hmm, perhaps Cipo is (over)promoting himself because he really has (ghostwritten) tell-all bio coming out soon...

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