Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cycling Evening News 28.04.12

Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs - Tour de Romandie - Romandie judges rule against Meersman complaint - Tour of Turkey (video) - Gracia Orlova - Schleck to lead team at Giro? - CAS decision on British lifetime Olympic ban next week - Merckx disagrees with de Vlaeminck on Paris-Roubaix - Other News - Tweets - Cyclists mobilised on London streets - Berkeley hit-and-run suspect arrested - Newswire

Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs 
Fourth road race victory for Vos this season
Stage 1 followed the famous 102.6km hilly parcours of the GP Elsy Jacobs (map), the one-day race named in honour of the world's first Women's Road Race World Champion and from which this festival grew. It headed north out of Garnich, Jacobs' hometown, then followed a 53.6km loop up to Mersch and back to Garnich again where riders completed five laps of a 9.8km circuit. Those in the know say that it's always impossible to predict how this race will end, and more than once the fates have conspired to allow a relative unknown to take the glory.

Linda Villumsen (GreenEDGE) split the bunch by escaping with Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products-Mistral Home) and Amber Neben (Specialized-Lululemon), then Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto-Belisol) and Tiffany Cromwell (GreenEDGE) tried to bridge the gap with Vos and a few others giving chase and forming a lead group as the race entered the second-to-last lap. Last year, the Dutch superstar stormed the course to wrest victory from Emma Pooley and Judith Arndt, but since the illness that forced her to stay away from the Ronde van Vlaanderen her form has perhaps not been quite as good as it was at this time in 2011. However, even if she ran at 50% Marianne would remain a force more than capable of dominating a race - she was many people's favourite today and she's never been a rider to let her fans down, crossing the finish line at the front of an eleven-strong bunch and taking over the General Classification lead as she did so.

"Not much happened on the main parcours not much happened, but on the Garnish circuit we faced a lot of attacks," Vos explained after the race. "Our rivals aren't going to make us a gift of this race, so I'm afraid we have a lot of work to do tomorrow."

Top Ten
  1.  Marianne Vos Rabobank 2h42'49"
  2.  Adrie Visser Skil-Argos ST
  3.  Pauline Ferrand Prevot Rabobank ST
  4.  Megan Guarnier Team TIBCO ST
  5.  Linda Villumsen GreenEDGE ST
  6.  Emma Johansson Hitec Products-Mistral Home ST
  7.  Noemi Cantele Be Pink ST
  8.  Tiffany Cromwell GreenEDGE ST
  9.  Ashleigh Moolman Lotto Belisol ST
  10.  Joanna Van De Winkel Lotto Belisol ST
(Full results and GC)

Stage 3 begins with another lap of today's main route, but omits the five laps of Garnich in favour of five laps around Mamur - the village where Luxembourg's other most famous cyclist Nicolas Frantz was born, and where Vos again dominated last year. (More on the race) (Rabobank stage report)

Tour de Romandie
Penultimate Stage 4 (map, profile) covered 184km between Bulle  and Sion - the latter being one of the most important ancient sites in Europe, inhabited for around 8,200 years; its Valère Basilica fortified church and the Château de Tourbillon that faces the church on the opposite side of the valley making this the most spectacular stage town of the race by some way. The parcours took the riders over the highest mountains in this edition: the three Cat 1 climbs Col des Mosses (1,452m), Veysonnaz (1,473m) and St-Martin (1,423m), with Cat 2 Basse-Nendaz (1,018m) thrown in for good measure at the end of a 65.5km flat section in the middle of the stage - a section that offered the roleurs, sprinters and chancers a fine opportunity to grab a big lead and prevent the climbing specialists having everything their own way.

Luis León Sánchez
All eyes were on Sky today, and as expected Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas left the race once the stage was over to begin preparations for the Giro d'Italia. For birthday boy Bradley Wiggins, whose General Classification lead began to look precarious yesterday when it was reduced to one second, a very great deal depended on this stage. Get things right and he'd be the last man to go in tomorrow's time trial, possibly even extend his advantage. Get it wrong and his chances of overall victory rest entirely on riding the time trial of his life on Sunday.

Things looked as though they might go his way as he was expertly paced up the final climb by Richie Porte and the peloton wore down a five-man break consisting of Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Mikel Landa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jesus Hernandez (SaxoBank), John Gadret and Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale), but it was not to be as Luis León Sánchez rode cleverly on the last descent to get himself into a good position for the final sprint, taking the yellow jersey and a nine second lead. Looks like Bradley had better forget about the birthday beers tonight, because he's going to need to have his wits about him tomorrow.

Top Ten
  1.  Luis Leon Sanchez Gil Rabobank 4h56'13" 
  2.  Rinaldo Nocentini AG2R-La Mondiale  ST
  3.  Branislau Samoilau Movistar  ST
  4.  Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui Euskaltel-Euskadi   ST
  5.  Paolo Tiralongo Astana  ST
  6.  Pierre Rolland Europcar  ST
  7.  Andreas Klöden RadioShack-Nissan  ST
  8.  Cadel Evans BMC  ST
  9.  Roman Kreuziger Astana  ST
  10.  Fabrice Jeandesboz Saur-Sojasun  ST
Kenny Dehaes (Lotto-Belisol), Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol,), Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun), Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Matthew Brammeier (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Mark Cavendish (Sky), Geraint Thomas (Sky), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Joan Horrach Rippoll (Katusha),  Allan Davis (GreenEDGE), Daryl Impey (GreenEDGE), Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (SaxoBank) and David Tanner (SaxoBank) did not finish. (Full results and GC)

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was forced to withdraw after strong winds blew a tree branch into his path where it hit him in the mouth. The team reported that he had suffered facial injuries, but it appears he wasn't seriously hurt. Gianni Meersman is reported to have abandoned. One of the official motorbikes crashed on a bend with 16km to go; fortunately no riders collided with it.

Stage 5 (map, profile) is a hilly 16.2km individual time trial beginning at 1.327m Montana village with a gentle rise to 1,302m in the first kilometre, then a 3km descent to the lowest point at 1,102m. Riders then face a Category 1 climb to Aminona, altitude 1,512m - very much the crux of the race, because a rider who can climb it fast and not expened too much energy in doing so will have an obvious advantage going into the final, flat 7.2km to the finish line at the Crans-Montana ski resort. With winds as high as 57kph expected, anything could happen.

Romandie judges rule in favour of Sanchez
Judges have declared that Luis Leon Sanchez did not deviate from his line in order to force Gianni Meersman into the barriers at the end of the Tour de Romandie's Stage 3. Meersman's Lotto-Belisol team launched an official complaint against the Rabobank rider after viewing video footage of the stage, which took place in Friday.

Tour of Turkey
This race too is drawing to its end, today's Stage 7 (map) being the penultimate. It began at Kusadasi before following the craggy coastline for 74km to Seferihisar, where it turned north and inland acros İzmir Province; arriving 21km later at the north-facing coastline by Güzelbahçe. After turning to the east, there were 28.6km remaining before arrival at the finish line in İzmir. One of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean region,  İzmir  remains better known in the West by its ancient name Smyrna, birthplace (possibly) of Homer; though many of the ancient buildings were destroyed in an enormous fire that killed as many as 2,000 people (it wasn't all bad, however - it brought an end to the Greco-Turkish War, which some estimates claim killed as many as 100,000).

Iljo Keisse
Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) looked to be the most likely stage winner when he entered the final 2km with a 14" advantage, having mounted a solo attack from a six-man breakaway at 6km after his attempts to increase their speed met with a lack of enthusiasm. Then - apparent disaster as his rear tyre lost traction and he crashed with less than a kilometre to go. The pack bore down upon him, but he was up in a flash, got his chain back on and pedaled hard towards the line. Somehow, he got up to speed and, thought they were snapping at his heels throughout the last 50m to the line, he held them off to take the stage for what just seconds later Twitterers were calling the most dramatic victory of the race.

Ivaïlo Gabrovski (Konya Torku Sekersport) remains General Classification leader

Top Ten
  1.  Iljo Keisse Omega Pharma-QuickStep 2h52'38"
  2.  Marcel Kittel Argos-Shimano ST
  3.  Alessandro Petacchi Lampre-ISD ST
  4.  Andrea Guardini Farnese Vini-Selle Italia ST
  5.  Mark Renshaw Rabobank ST
  6.  Robert Förster United Healthcare Presented By Maxxis ST
  7.  Jean-Pierre Drucker Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda's ST
  8.  Daniele Colli Team Type 1-Sanofi ST
  9.  Alexey Tsatevitch Katusha ST
  10.  Juan Jose Haedo SaxoBank ST
Cameron Meyer (GreenEDGE), Luke Roberts (SaxoBank) and Geoffroy Lequatre (Bretagne Schuller) did not start the stage. (Full results and GC)

On Sunday, Stage 8 (map) takes place on an urban parcours situated entirely in Istanbul. Starting out from Sultanahmet Square; fittingly the site of the Hippodrome of Constantinople and once the Byzantine Empire's version of Elis' Olympia or the Pythian Games at Delphi. It then passes out of the neutral zone on Kennedy Street, crosses the Galata Bridge and heads north-west along the shores of the Bosphoros, dipping briefly inland to get onto the Bosphorous Bridge which, at the time construction was completed in 1973, was the longest suspension bridge anywhere in the world other than the USA. When the riders reach the south-eastern bank, they have officially left Europe and are in Asia. When riders reach the Cadde Bostan Coastal Road, they will begin the first of eight laps of a 12.2km circuit.

Gracia Orlova
Stage 3 (map) began at Lichnov before heading south into the mountains where, after 30km, the riders face a climb to 1,000m - the highest point in the race. A fast descent led for 10km to the foot of an 800m climb lying just over 50km into the stage, then a third climb to 900m begans at around 70km. One last climb at 105km reached around 575m and, especially in the final part, looked horrendously steep; a real leg-breaker as the riders approached the last of the 122.4km on their way back to where they started.

Trixi Worrack
Specialized-Lululemon seem to have decided that the best way ahead is to win every stage in this race; today being the turn of Trixi Worrack.

Evelyn Stevens leads the General Classification with an advantage of 1'13".

Top Ten
  1.  Trixi Worrack Specialized-Lululemon 03h02'14"
  2.  Alena Amialyusik Be Pink +6"
  3.  Evelyn Stevens Specialized-Lululemon ST
  4.  Sharon Laws AA +1'53"
  5.  Tatiana Antoshina Rabobank +2'13"
  6.  Olena Sharpa +4'08"
  7.  Olena Pavlukhina +5'19"
  8.  Paulina Bentkowska-Brzezna +6'14"
  9.  Andrea Graus Vienne Futuroscope ST
  10.  Ellen van Dijk Specialized-Lululemon ST
(Full results and GC)

Sunday brings Stage 4 (map), the last of this year's race - and it's an tough-looking 100.2km parcours consisting of six laps of a 16.7km circuit including an 11% 50m climb in the last half of each.

Schleck "should lead his team in the Giro d'Italia"
Frank Schleck is the most likely candidate to replace Jakob Fuglsang at the Giro d'Italia, says the French language, Luxembourg-based L'Essentiel website following yesterday's announcement that the 27-year-old Danish rider would be unable to take part due to inflammation of the articular capsule and ligament in his left knee. Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport also believes Schleck will take his place, but at present nothing has been confirmed nor denied by RadioShack-Nissan - though several sources are reporting it as fact. Twitter reveals that many fans think Linus Gerdemann is a more likely choice.

CAS decision on BOA lifetime ban policy this week
The Court for Arbitration in Sport will publish its decision on whether British athletes to have been subject to a doping-related suspension in the past will be permitted to compete in the Olympics on the 30th of April. The case began with an appeal to the CAS made by the British Olympic Association after the World Anti-Doping Agency had ruled that the lifetime ban policy violates existing rules.

Central to the case, though not directly involved due to his own decision to stay out of it, is David Millar - the cyclist who served a two-year suspension for EPO before returning to cycling as one of doping's more intelligent and outspoken opponents. Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director, has said that if the appeal is unsuccessful (as is widely considered likely) he will invite Millar to join the Olympic team. Millar, however, is reluctant; saying that he does not wish to be seen as a black sheep but hopes the Court will favour WADA so that he can compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Merckx won Paris-Roubaix in 1968, 1970
and 1973
Merckx on Paris-Roubaix and Philippe Gilbert
Roger de Vlaeminck might not have been very impressed with this year's Paris-Roubaix - "there wasn't much excitement," he said rather sniffily, going on to say he hoped Fabian Cancellara would be around to provide Tom Boonen with some competition in 2013 - but the race has received Eddy Merckx's seal of approval.

"I was enjoying it from my armchair," says the winner of 525 professional victories. "And I know what I'm talking about - in the 1969 Tour of Flanders and the 1970 Paris-Roubaix I undertook such raids. I rode into the the Velodrome with a lead of five or six minutes on de Vlaeminck and the rest of the peloton. Tom is extremely important for the Belgian cycling. I've been saying since January that he'd win." Many people are wondering if Philippe Gilbert's amazing 2011 season was a fluke, but Merckx he'll return to form - "Only he knows why he's not riding as expected. I refuse to write him off." (More from Het Nieuwesblad)

Other News
British star Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten-Focus) has had to abandon the Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs as she's still suffering headaches after her crash at Borsele last week.

Europcar took a third stage victory at the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo when Yohann Gène won Stage 5 this morning. Gène also won the first stage with Thomas Voeckler taking Stage 3.

"British Cycling’s Olympic Mountain Bike Coach Phil Dixon has hailed Annie Last’s first ever World Cup win in the new UCI Cross Country Eliminator World Cup as an essential factor in qualifying for the Olympic Games – and a trend that will continue" (British Cycling)

Look out, racing world - there's a new Voigt about to make his mark...
Jens Voigt ‏ @thejensieAnd tomorrow first race of my son with a real license!! And i amfraid i am more nervous than my son- hahahaha
Russell Hampton ‏ @RussellHamptonKeisse big respect today #coolasacucumber

Cyclists mobilised on London streets
The London Big Ride - a mass participation event that seeks to put cyclist safety issues at the top of the capital's mayoral candidates agendas, attracted more then 5,000 riders despite torrential rain.

"The Big Ride is our best chance to show the next mayor we're serious about redesigning our streets to make them safer for everyone," says Ashok Sinha of the London Cycling Campaign, which organised the event. "Some of the mayoral manifestos show very weak commitments to cycling, so every person who comes to the Big Ride can help push safer cycling up the next mayoral agenda."

Man arrested after Berkeley hit-and-run
Police in Berkeley, California, have arrested a man wanted in connection with a hit-and-run incident in which two cyclists were "side-swiped" on Wednesday. Neither cyclist was seriously injured, but their clothing and bikes were damaged.

The car was reported as stolen on the same day, but it is not yet clear if the report was made before or after the accident - it's not unknown for drivers who have been in an accident to abandon their vehicle then claim it's been stolen in an attempt to escape charges and that he has subsequently been charged with "felony hit-and-run" suggests police believe this may have been the case. When arrested, he was found to be in possession of heroin and illegal ammunition, as well as being in breach of the terms of a probation order.

A video of the accident, caught on a helmet-mounted camera, has received more than 103,000 views on Youtube.

Cycling campaigners in Swansea are winning widespread support for their manifesto from across the political divide" (This Is South Wales)

"National Women’s Cycling Championship from May 1" (Daily Times, Pakistan)

"I touched a nerve with my most recent column debating the issue of whether cyclists need to show more respect on the road" (Marin Independent Journal, USA)

"His wife Hasmah Ibrahim is ailing but former national cyclist Shaharudin Jaffar still finds time to get involved in organising cycling related events" (Star Online, Malaysia)

"Cycling races demand that competitors have a team spirit. The windbreak that lead riders give the group and opportunities to sprint ahead of the pack follow a code of fairness. To underline the importance of good sportsmanship in cycling, the Spy Optics Belgian Waffle Ride held in April gave a “Wawful Freddy” distinction to the three cyclists who demonstrated the worst in sportsmanship" (The Coast News, USA)

"Cycling may be new product to draw tourists" (Bernama, Malaysia)

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