Wednesday 4 April 2012

News Digest 04.04.12

Cav becomes a dad - Energiwacht Tour Stage 1  - $100k on offer at women's Exergy Tour - Tour of the Basque Country Stage 3 - Scheldeprijs - new Weylandt memorial - Crash for Galimzyanov - Leukemans may miss Paris-Roubaix - Guesdon to retire

A warm welcome to Delilah Grace Cavendish 
Delilah Grace Cavendish, daughter of Mark Cavendish and Peta Todd, came into the world late last night - Mark announced the news shortly after midnight on Twitter:
Mark Cavendish ‏ @MarkCavendish
Delilah Grace Cavendish was born a couple of hours ago. She & @petatodd are doing very well. So proud of my girls! Happiest day of my life.
Delilah was a day early - she's already fast! 

Stage 1 - click to enlarge
(image credit: Energiwacht Tour)
Energiwacht Tour Stage 1
Stage report and results here.
For 2012, the women's Energiwacht Tour has grown to five days - a promising sign in these times when so many races are disappearing for lack of sponsorship or, worse, interest. There's not much in the way of hills in this part of the world (in fact, at a few points along the way the riders will be below sea level), which makes some people think it won't be an interesting race; however, that couldn't be further from the truth - flat stages such as these promote breakaways and attacks, leading to a fast and furious sort of race.

Stage 1 is a 15.1km individual time trial heading west out of Appingedam (53°19'13.91"N 6°50'48.52"E) and through the flat pastureland to Garrelsweer (53°18'48.25"N  6°47'0.82"E) where it turns east to head back, following the canal past some grand country houses. With good roads and no hills, it promises to be a very fast parcours indeed despite a cold north-easterly wind - definitely territory for the time trial specialists (but one where a sprinter might also do well), which is why current World Time Trial Champion (won on a parcours not too dissimilar to this) Judith Arndt is the rider to watch today. There's an up-to-date start list here and the route details are here.

(image credit:
If you're fortunate enough to find live coverage or even get to the race, there's plenty to see along the route (in addition to racing, of course). The outward trip to Garrelsweer passes through some typically Dutch countryside with a number of little churches and cottages dotted among the wide, flat fields and there's a traditional windmill located on the corner of Meedenweg and Hoeksmeersterweg (53°17'51.76"N 6°47'9.31"E - which, for its views and two corners to slow the riders and prevent being nothing but a brightly-coloured flash of movement as they pass by at full speed, looks a good spot from which to view the race). On the return journey, the entire Alberdaweg follows the attractive canal back to Appingedam with views of the boats on the right and the country houses on the left.

Local TV RTL7 is broadcasting a short highlights show daily, today's being at 16:45 BST (+1 hour for local time/CEST). Follow @ewachttour for regular updates.

$100k on offer at women's Exergy Tour

The organisers of the 2012 Exergy Tour - due to take place in Idaho, USA from the 24th to the 28th of May - have managed to put together a women's prize fund of $100,000. It's believed to be the largest pot in the history of women's professional cycling - note that the prize fund for the women's race at Gent-Wevelgem was €1000 ($1,314.20) in total.

“One of the primary reasons we founded the Exergy Tour is to help gain notoriety and exposure for the advancement of women’s professional cycling and to encourage media, corporate sponsors, governing bodies, spectators and fans to recognize the value of women’s competitive athletics,” said James Carkulis, CEO of Exergy Development Group, the race's main sponsor. “Offering a significant payout for this race elevates the excitement to a level equal in stature to men’s pro cycling. Our hope is for the Exergy Tour to bring opportunities for both marketing and the media to open up more possibilities for women’s cycling in the USA and abroad.” (More from PRWeb)

It's good to see a sponsor put their money where their mouth is in supporting women's cycling!

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Stage 3
Stage report and results here.
The Tour of the Basque Country continues rolling through the mountains; but whereas Stages 1 and 2 provided opportunity for the sprinters, Stage 3 is one for the climbers - it ends with a summit finish 580m up on the Alto de Usartza at Eibar, a city made famous by the manufacture of guns and scooters and which will also mark the finish of Stage 3 in the Vuelta a Espana this year. There's an introductory video, route details and start list available at Diario Vasco.

Stage 3 - click to enlarge
(image credit: Diario Vasco)
The stage begins in Vittoria-Gasteiz, the Basque Country's second-largest city and, like all Basque cities, a place where beautiful ancient and modern architecture exist side-by-side to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The first 35km is flat, which is likely to encourage early breakaways hoping to make good use of the descent from first climb Alto de Kruzieta (Cat 2), but from 55km onwards it's climbs all the way with two Cat 2s, a Cat 3 and a Cat 1 in the following 100km - so if an early break does form, its members are almost certainly doomed to failure and replacement by later attempts.

Riders to watch: Frank Schleck probably isn't going to win today, but he's worth keeping an eye on - how well he does on the climbs (especially the last one) will give us some indication of his own and brother Andy's form. Damiano Cunego may do well and Euskaltel-Euskadi's Gorka Verdago could do too. Whoever you're backing today, save an extra cheer for Thomas Löfkvist - it's the Swedish-born Team Sky member 28th birthday today.

The Basque EITB TV station is covering the race and will provide a legal, free online stream each day from 14:15 BST.

The 100th edition of Scheldeprijs Classic took place in Flanders today, covering 202.2km between Antwerp and Schoten. It's usually considered a sprinters' race, and several cobbled sections make it far from an easy one.

Scheldeprijs profile - click to enlarge
(image credit: Flanders Classics)
Marcel Kittel
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
Mark Cavendish is a three-time winner, including 2011, but stayed away this year due to the birth of his daughter last night (see above). When the race ended with the expected sprint, specialists Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) literally threw themselves at the line - Kittel proved the fastest by fractions of a second, taking the first victory for his team. A crash just down the road just after they finished left one Europcar rider lying in the road and a photographer being taken to hospital.

  1.  Marcel Kittel Argos-Shimano 4:30:53
  2.  Tyler Farrar Garmin-Barracuda ST
  3.  Theo Bos   Rabobank ST
  4.  Romain Feillu Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team ST
  5.  Manuel Belletti AG2R-La Mondiale ST
  6.  Elijah Favilli Farnese Vini-Selle Italia ST
  7.  Alexander Porsev Katusha ST
  8.  Sebastien Turgot Europcar ST
  9.  Giacomo Nizzolo RadioShack-Nissan ST
  10.  Guillaume Boivin Spider Tech Powered By C10 ST

Map here, start  list here. Full results (when available) here.

Other news
As announced in early March, a plaque in honour of Wouter Weylandt was unveiled yesterday in Middelburg. Netherlands - site of the rider's Stage 3 victory in the 2010 Giro d'Italia. Weylandt was killed during the Giro 364 days later. (Full story from Cycling News)

Luke Durbridge (GreenEDGE) won Stage 2 at the Circuit de la Sarthe, completing the 6.8km individual time trial parcours in 8'15". @ccgdd and @tourdejose reported that Katusha's Denis Galimzyanov, Stage 1 winner, has been involved in a serious crash in the event. More when further details emerge.

Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoliel-DCM) has "inflamed knees," leading to uncertainty as to whether he'll be able to ride in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

Frédéric Guesdon, the oldest rider in the UCI WorldTour at 40.5 years, will retire after Paris-Roubaix says his FDJ-BigMat team.

bikeradar ‏ @bikeradarBug-Bike 

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