Wednesday 25 April 2012

Cycling Evening News 25.04.12

Tour de Romandie - Tour of Turkey - Van Dijk wins Gracia prologue - Froome still has bilharzia - Minougou Noufou triumphs in Tour of Togo - 2012 Tour de Pologne biggest ever - Maxifuel partners Tour of Britain - Another blow for women's cycling as Tour du Languedoc-Roussilon cancelledKathryn Bertine on racing - Korean stage cancelled - Bus driver who forced student off road may face action - Manchester to benefit from "bike hub" - Geraint Thomas, ambassador for dubious alternative medicine gadget - Newswire

Tour de Romandie
If Wiggo does at the Tour de France
what he did today...
Stage 1 saw the riders ace a 184.5km parcours beginning at Morges, flat for the initial 70km and then swinging  sharply upwards for a climb to Rochefort at 750m above sea level before reaching Category 2 Les Bugnenets after 90km (1,116m), Cat 2 Haut de la Cote at 156km (1,035m) and Cat 3 Le Communal de la Sagne at 171km (1,158m). Sky's Geraint Thomas set out in the yellow jersey after achieving the best time of 3'29" for the prologue time trial, but did so with a lead insufficient to guarantee he'd keep it at the end of the stage; especially as - with a flat final section on the way to the finish line at La Chaux-de-Fonds, this one looked like being a day for the sprinters.

It wasn't, however, because Sky's Bradley Wiggins (with a little help from the weather, to be fair, because the sprinters won't have enjoyed the wind) decided today was the day he was going to show the world what he plans to do in the Tour de France - and if he does there what he did today, British cycling might just get the winner they've been hoping for ever since Tom Simpson died in the witches' cauldron of Mont Ventoux. Mark Cavendish, who on paper looked to be the team's best hope today, once again came off worse in a battle with a climb and was irretrievably dropped 30km from the finish line on the Haut de la Cote, as was team mate Geraint Thomas, leaving Sky's chances looking distinctly shaky when as the race entered the final 20km.

When Wiggins got into mechanical difficulties and had to be helped back to the front, it looked like it was all over - but Wiggins has the one ability that sets the greatest all-rounders apart from the rest, and that's the power of speedy recovery. Entering the final sprint, he found an untapped reserve of strength and literally catapulted himself past the bunch to cross the line solo with a lead of seven seconds; and while there will be those who rapidly point out that it was a sprint free of the real Points competition specialists (they're right, and Wiggo will be under no illusions that had the weather have been more to their liking this stage would not have been his) it remains a very impressive win.

Team mate Michael Rogers took second place, Rabobank's Bauke Mollema and Stef Clements were two seconds behind Rogers. The rest? Er - who?

Top Ten
  1.  Bradley Wiggins Sky 4h53'51"
  2.  Michael Rogers Sky +7"
  3.  Bauke Mollema Rabobank +9"
  4.  Stef Clement Rabobank ST
  5.  Andrew Talansky Garmin-Barracuda 0+11"
  6.  Wilco Kelderman Rabobank ST
  7.  David Zabriskie Garmin-Barracuda +12"
  8.  Simon Spilak Katusha ST
  9.  Ruben Plaza Molina Movistar ST
  10.  Tiago Machado RadioShack-Nissan +13" 
  Denis Menchov (Katusha) and Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) did not finish. (Full results and GC)

Tomorrow, the race moves over the border and into France to start at Montbéliard (with a castle that should not be missed), then covers 134.6km across Cat 3 Bourrignon (876m), Cat 2 Les Ecorcheresseses (920m) and and Cat 2 La Caquerelle/Col del Rangieres (856m) before ending with a 14.5km uphill drag to Moutier in the Swiss Jura.

Tour of Turkey
Stage 4 pitted the riders against one another on  parcours along the craggy south-western coast of Muğla Province. As a complete contrast to Stage 2's 1,850m ascent of the Göğübeli Mountain Pass, the highest climb, located at Göcek, was only 300m - Göcek, according to legend, is the place that Icaraus fell into the sea and drowned after flying too close to the sun; with a steady gradient of 10% this climb, though not high, is equally capable of ending the dreams of inexperienced would-be high-flyers. No fewer than seven similarly steep climbs of varying length were spaced evenly across the 132km route with the second biggest of the day, rising to around 260m, coming in the last 20km before a steep descent and arrival at Marmaris an the finish.

Mark Renshaw
Mark Renshaw proved that Rabobank knew exactly what they were doing when they signed him up for 2012, despite the nay-sayers who claimed he was no good for anything other leading out Mark Cavendish, crossing the line with a lead no greater than a spoke's thickness ahead of fellow Australian Matthew Goss (GreenEDGE) - and since Goss is one of the fastest sprinters of the current crop, it was a victory that leaves no doubt that Renshaw has more than one string to his bow.

Top Ten
  1.  Mark Renshaw Rabobank 3h14'01"
  2.  Matthew Goss GreenEDGE ST
  3.  Daniele Colli Team Type 1-Sanofi ST
  4.  Boy Van Poppel UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis ST
  5.  Davide Vigano Lampre_ISD ST
  6.  Alexey Tsatevitch Katusha ST
  7.  Florian Vachon Bretagne Schuller ST
  8.  James Vanlandschoot Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s ST
  9.  Lucas Sebastian Haedo SaxoBank ST
  10.  Sébastien Turgot Europcar ST
Coen Vermeltfoort (Rabobank), Michael Schwarzmann (NetApp) and Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Caja Rural) did not finish. Muhammet Atalay (Konya Torku Sekersport) did not start. (Full results and GC)

Stage 5 begins at Marmaris, heads across country and then continues along the coastline before heading north across the Bodrum peninsula to the medieval city of Beçin where the riders turn west to Turgutreis. The 177.8km parcours features numerous steep climbs right from the start, rising to 400m at the highest point.

Brits do well in Gracia Orlova as Van Dijk wins prologue
Ellen van Dijk, now with Specialized-Lululemon
The Gracia Orlova began with a 2.2km individual time trial in the Czech city Havířov; the long straight off the start line leading into a short twisty section with a fairly steep climb before a lightning-fast straight back the way the riders came apparently suiting Specialized-Lululemon's Ellen van Dijk very well indeed as she blazed around the course to finish in 2'47". Team mate Trixi Worrack finished only a second slower while GreenEDGE's Melissa Hoskings was 3" down.

It proved a good day for the British riders, too, with Laura Trott (Ibis) taking fourth place, also +3", followed by Katie Colclough (Specialized-Lululemon) in fifth at +5". Sharon Laws (AA was 13th with +10" and Laura's older sister Emma Trott (Dolmans-Boels) was 18th, also +10".

Top Ten
  1.  Ellen Van Dijk Specialized-Lululemon 2'47"
  2.  Trixi Worrack Specialized-Lululemon +1"
  3.  Melissa Hoskins GreenEDGE +3"
  4.  Evelyn Stevens Specialized-Lululemon ST
  5.  Laura Trott Ibis ST
  6.  Katie Colclough Specialized-Lululemon +5"
  7.  Marijn De Vries AA +7"
  8.  Alexandra Burchenkova S.C. Michela Fanini Rox +8"
  9.  Laura Van Der Kamp Dolmans-Boels ST
  10.  Isabelle Soderberg AA +9" (Full results when available)

Froome still has bilharzia
Team Sky's Chris Froome is still suffering from bilharzia, the tropical disease that affected his 2011 season and from he thought he'd recovered. Also known as schistosomiasis, the condition is caused by a parasitic trematode worm that enters the body usually via contact with infected water inhabited by snails that carry the parasite. Symptoms include diarrhoea, fever, fatigue, genital lesions and a high white blood cell count as the worms feed on red cells while in the liver.

A chest infection that lasted longer than expected prevented Froome from taking part in Paris-Nice this year. On his website, the rider says that tests "revealed active bilharzia parasites in my system, which I have been trying to get rid of for the past 18 months. This would explain why the chest infection affected me so severely and it took me so long to get over.”

Minougou Noufou triumphs in Tour of Togo
Minougou Noufou won the 21st International Tour of Togo yesterday (Tuesday) after leading the General Classification since the second stage, while his Burkina Faso squad won the Teams Category against competitors from Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, France, Nigeria and Togo. It's the third Togo victory for the 24-year-old rider as he also won in 2010 and 2011.

Biggest Tour de Pologne ever
25 teams will take part in this year's Tour de Pologne - the most in the 84 year history of the race, which was held sporadically after 1928 before becoming an annual event in 1952.

The race has been scheduled three weeks earlier than its usual late July/early August start this year to avoid clashes with the Olympics. All 18 ProTour teams - Ag2r-La Mondiale, Astana, BMC, Euskaltel-Euskadi, FDJ-BigMat, Garmin-Barracuda, GreenEDGE, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Liquigas-Cannondale, Lotto-Belisol, Movistar, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Rabobank, RadioShack-Nissan, Sk, Team SaxoBank and Vacansoleil-DCM - will attend, as will wildcards the Polish National team, Argos-Shimano, Caja Rural, Colnago-CSF Inox, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Team Type1-Sanofi and Utensilnord Named.

Originally oganised as an amateur event and entered chiefly by Polish riders, the Tour has attracted an international field ever since 1993 when it was opened up to professionals and has grown into one of Europe's most anticipated stage races, becoming part of the UCI's ProTour in 2005 with results counted towards the World Ranking since 2009.

"We received many inquiries about the possibility of taking part in this year's Tour of Poland. We're very happy about this, because it shows that the race is growing every year," says race director Czeslaw Lang.

Maxifuel partners Tour of Britain
Maxifuel - "the UK’s preferred endurance brand from sport nutrition experts Maxinutrition," according to the official press release (I rely on tea and cakes personally, but there you have it) - has announced that it will be the new sports nutrition partner to the Tour of Britain and the Halfords Tour Series. Financial details have not been revealed, but the manufacturer "will provide amateur riders with individually-tailored nutritional support to complement their lifestyle, training and racing schedules as well as support professional participants and race enthusiasts through sampling opportunities at the various events."

"I’d like to welcome Maxifuel to The Tour family of events, and we look forward to working together in what is a very important year for British sport," says Tour director Mick Bennet. "I am sure spectators and our Tour Ride participants will be looking forward to exploring Maxifuel’s range of products with the aim of helping them to improve their performance."

Other News
The 2012 Women's Tour du Languedoc-Roussilon has been cancelled, further evidence that while the UCI are busily slapping each other's blue-blazered backs over the financial health of men's cycling the women's sport continues to suffer.

"That's bike racing? Really?" (Kathryn Bertine on racing and the Energiwacht Tour, ESPN-W)

Stage 4 at the Tour of Korea was cancelled today (Wednesday) due to torrential rainstorms. Organisers issued a press release shortly after the announcement, stating the following: "Due to adverse weather conditions, Tour de Korea race officials made the difficult decision to cancel today’s fourth stage from Yeosu to Geochang shortly after the race left the neutralized zone."

Bus forces Leicester cyclist off the road
A Leicester student, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he was cycling on the city's Belvoir Street when a bus overtook him at a narrow "traffic calming" point and forced him onto the pavement - and the driver then stopped the vehicle, got out and started shouting at him for riding in the middle of the road.

The incident was captured on the rider's helmet-mounted camera and the driver could now face disciplinary action.

Manchester to benefit from "bike hub"
Manchester is to spend part of a £4.9 million grant awarded to promote sustainable transport on the construction of a 200-space "bike hub" in the basement of the city's Piccadilly Gardens - the first of thirteen planned bike hubs throughout the city.

The facility will be accessible to cyclists who pay for a smart card and will include secure cycle parking, a changing area and a bike shop which will also offer repairs - and it could be open as early as this summer. (more from the Manchester Evening News)

Geraint Thomas, Bioflow ambassador
Geraint Thomas, star cyclist and hippy
Sky and Team GB's Welsh star Geraint Thomas says he's "delighted to be teaming up with Bioflow and joining their stable of elite athletes" and adds, "I wore my Bioflow Sport wristband for the first time when I was out in Melbourne and we broke the World record and won gold! I‟m looking forward to enjoying more success with them as well as the long-term benefits Bioflow's magnotherapy technology has to offer."

Magnotherapy, for those who remain ignorant of its supposed benefits, is a pseudoscientific "alternative medicine." Practitioners claim a range of desirable effects including pain relief and even cancer management, but there is no reliable, peer-reviewed scientific evidence that it has any effect whatsoever - which is why most countries ban practitioners from calling it medicine.

Britain: Halfords, Britain's biggest bike retailer, has announced a 5.7% increase in sales of bikes and bike accessories during the final quarter of the last financial year. Meanwhile, overall sales - which includes car parts and motoring accessories - fell by 2.7%. (More from Bike Europe)

Britain: Revealed: the country’s worst roads for cyclists (The Times)

Britain: Don Maclean (34) from Liverpool is to be part of a team of 8 wounded personnel who will compete in the 3,051 mile cycle Race Across America (RAAM) this June (Click Liverpool)

Pakistan: Punjab University dominate second day at Women's Cycling Championship (Daily Times)

Tibet: Explore Tibet, a sustainable Tibetan-run travel company based in Lhasa, introduces a 20-day cycling and camping tour across the most scenic landscape in the world (SFGate)

USA: National and international professional cycling returns to St. Louis May 11-13 with the Missouri Professional Cycling Series (West End Word)

USA: Share the road with cyclists (Times-Standard)

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