Thursday 5 April 2012

News Digest 05.04.12

Energiewacht Tour Stage 2
Stage results and report
Stage 2 visits Germany - click to enlarge
(image credit: Energiewacht Tour)
Kristin Armstrong rode an excellent time trial to begin this years' edition of the Dutch race, completing the 15.1km in 19'42" and beating Clara Hughes and Marianne Vos into second and third place. Whether she can retain her lead on today's parcours remains to be seen - it's similarly flat, but with more corners and apparently more suited to Dutch champion Vos.

Held in Bad Nieuweschans (53°10'60.00"N 7°11'60.00"E), it takes us further out into the countryside andcovers 107.3km with four circuits of the route; making a sortie over the border into Germany. Once again, there are no hills, which makes this an ideal parcours for a breakaway - a group of fast riders who manage to get away early on and keep going might just succeed in escaping the peloton for the rest of the race, but with that 2.2km flat prior to the last set of corners before the finish they'll have their work cut out for them as the stage reaches its climax.

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 before and during the race. Official site here.

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Stage 4
The Tour of the Basque Country is already more than half completed with the riders today facing a selection of flat sections and peaks in Stage 4. They begin at Eibar - in the town, rather than from the mountain upon which Samual Sancez won yesterday - then enjoy 20km of flat riding before reaching Cat 3 Alto de Itziar. The earlier part of the stage runs partially along the beautiful Basque Country coastline, making this stage one of the highlights of the race.

Stage 4 (click to enlarge)
(image credit: Diario Vasco)
At only 225m, Itziar isn't much of an obstacle and won't be likely to put too great a dent into the advantage of any breakaway that succeeds in escaping the peloton during the route there - and with around another 50 flat kilometres on the other side, a break might prove able to stay away for a good chunk of the stage. Chances are it'll meet its doom at 85km, though, because Alto de Aritxulegi is a much tougher climb; rated Cat 2 and topping out at 440m it's very capable of finishing off any rider who has expended too much energy earlier in the race. Alto di Agina lurks just beyond it, another Cat 2 and higher at 545m (though as the ascent begins at higher altitude, there's less climbing to be done) and then there's another Cat 2 in the shape of Alto de Ibardin just a short way off.

The final 26km features a couple of small hills, nothing likely to cause problems, and as such could prove encouragement for a late break in addition to plenty of scope for the peloton to work on bringing it back. However, the stage ends with another Cat 1 summit finish, this time into Bera-Ibardan - and it's a hard one, with a short stretch in the final couple of kilometres that's almost too steep for goats, never mind bikes. Yesterday, Sanchez showed us how good a climber he is. As he combines that ability with a skill most unusual among climbers, an ability to descend fast, he could well make use of the mountains along the parcours today to get himself into the right place for another unbeatable assault on the finish line. (Map from Steephill)

Rain is forecast throughout the stage with temperatures unlikely to rise much above 9C. Winds should be light, but it'll be chillier on the mountaintops.

Euskal Irrati Telebista provide a free and legal stream of the race each day from 14:15 (BST - add 1h for CEST).

Numerous injuries at Scheldeprijs
Several riders were hurt in yesterday's Scheldeprijs, the worst being SaxoBank's Jonathan Cantwell who was left with fractured ribs and a punctured lung after a pile-up caused when a rider lost control on the wet roads and careered into Taz Darling, a photographer working for Roleur magazine. Darling received even worse injuries and is now in hospital with fractures to her collar bone and eye socket and a ruptured spleen. Vacansoleil-DCM's Wouter Mol also sustained a broken collar bone after crashing 8km before the finish line. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to all of them.

Rouleur ‏ @rouleurmagazine
Latest on Taz: she is out of surgery and doing well but in a lot of pain. So many kind messages, thank you all.

Luuc Eisenga ‏ @EisengaLSteven Kruijswijk won't start today's stage, due to a viral infection. Couple of days rest, programm remains unchanged. @RaboCycling (Retweeted by Rabo Cycling)

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