Monday, 14 May 2012

Cycling Evening News 14.05.12

Racing: Giro d'Italia Stage 9 (+ video) - Tour of California Stage 2 - Top Bakersfield cyclist killed in women's race - Downing wins Lincoln GP - New Grimsby team - Brad Wiggins burglary - Saiz sells cycle selection - Horses like cycling too - Other news Cycling: the news you might have missed

Giro d'Italia Stage 9
On Monday, the race returned to the flatlands again for a reasonably short 166km stage (profile) between San Giorgio del Sannio, beginning with a 244m descent over 8.6km (so expect a fast start!) and no hills of any note along the way. Whereas a couple of the earlier "flat" stages turned out to be rather more difficult than they looked on paper, today's stiffest climbs - 87m over 7km from Benevento (site of a Roman triumphal arch, considered the finest example of its type, and a Roman theatre) at the bottom of the initial descent and, at the other end of the stage, 86m over 6.9km into Frosinone - weren't expected to create any problems. Combined with a a short descent leading into the last 2km, a right turn with 1.65km to go and then a left into the final 500m, it looked set to be another sprinter's stage.

Pierre Cazaux (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Brian Bulgac (Lotto-Belisol) and Martjin Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM) broke away early on and stayed out for much of the stage, but the peloton picked up the pace after 135km and swept them up. Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) tried to get away on the last climb but got nowhere; Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) also liked the lie of the land and blasted away to an eight second lead, but he'd misjudged the hill which turned out to simply not be steep enough to prevent the real sprint specialists easily catching him. 22-year-old Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) had a go after that, but was caught immediately.

Francisco Ventoso
Mark Cavendish was, of course, believed to be in with a pretty good chance of winning today, but once again a crash in the final stretch kept victory from him. Taking place on the last left corner, it also took down Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE), Filippo Pozzato and several others; but it soon became apparent that it had looked worse than it actually was, the doctor who was left behind once all the riders had got up and headed for the finish line looking pleasantly surprised that he had nothing to do. Cav appeared to glance off the barriers and avoid the worst of the impact, but Goss fell hard on his elbow - he'll be off for X-rays this evening.
Matt Goss ‏ @mattgoss1986Well, that was a chance gone begging. Haven't seen the video to see what happened yet, but someone come in way to hot and forgot to turn.
After the race, Pozzato accepted full responsibility for the crash. "The crash was solely my fault," he explained to RaiSport. "I am very sorry to the other riders for my mistake, and I ask them to forgive me.

That Francisco Ventoso of Movistar can sprint is no secret - he proved as much when he won Paris-Brussels two years ago. However, Cav, Goss, Bos and the like have upped the sprinters' game so high over the last few years that men such as him, who a decade or so ago would have been among the best in the world, are more often than not outclassed in competitions such as this one. Today was his chance: with the rocketships caught up behind him, he found himself surrounded by a mixture of non-sprinters and sprinters more his calibre, saw the opportunity and grabbed the win.

Top Ten
  1.  FranciscoVentoso Movistar 3h39'15"
  2.  Fabio Felline Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela ST
  3.  Giacomo Nizzolo RadioShack-Nissan ST
  4.  Damiano Caruso Liquigas-Cannondale ST
  5.  Daniel Schorn Team NetApp ST
  6.  Alexander Kristoff Katusha ST
  7.  Ryder Hesjedal Garmin-arracuda ST
  8.  Matthias Brändle Team NetApp ST
  9.  Manuel Belletti AG2R-La Mondiale ST
  10.  Daryl Impey Orica-Green Edge ST
(Full stage result and GC)

Stage 10
Stage 10 takes us back into the medium mountains for a 166km run between Civitavecchia and Assisi (profile). There's only one categorised climb, right at the end of the parcours and it's only a Cat 4. However, those riders who dismiss it as unchallenging without looking more closely are in for a surprise, because it's a lot harder than its category and small size (422m) suggest - the gradient is 15% for a 600m section just after the 3km to go point, then the first half on the final kilometre is cobbled. It is, by no means whatsoever, an easy climb. Earlier on, the terrain is best described as rolling with no point higher than 555m (Montecchio, 145.5km) and nothing too tough, though the combined effect may prove difficult for the riders who really don't like to climb. Civitvecchia, on the Tyrrhenian coast, is one of Italy's most important ports and the entry point for many tourists who arrive by sea, its most noticeable feature the massive Forte Michelango that protects the harbour - it looks impressive and impregnable rather than attractive. The city was the birthplace (in 1971) of the cyclist Roberto Petito, whom some fans will remember as the winner of the 1997 Tirreno-Adriatico race. Viterbo, 55.4km away, is famous for its 13th Century papal palace and the almost perfectly preserved Medieval Quarter. Amelia (97.9km) retains its medieval walls, solid and constructed of vast stones without cement, punctuated by a number of gatehouses of which the most impressive is Porta Romana. Amelia is beginning to become known as a tourist destination, but today the local economy is primarily based on the growing of figs.

The Basilica, Assisi
Finally, Assisi is best known for its association with 12th/13th Century Saint Francis, who spent his whole life in the city, but it was also the birthplace of Saint Clare (co-founder, with St. Francis, of the order now known as the Poor Clares) and 19th Century Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows along with no fewer than four other saints. The city traces its history back far beyond the invention of saints to around 1000BCE when Umbrians built fortified villages on the hilltops, these then being developed and combined first by Etruscans and then by the Romans. The greatest sight the city has to offer is the Basilica of St. Francis, begun two years after the saint died and of vast importance for its architecture and art in addition to being a place of religious significance (St. Francis deserves the respect of those of us who are not Christian, too; he believed that Christians should seek to emulate Christ by showing humanity to all living things and remaining tolerant of other beliefs - his attempts to have Muslims recognised and respected by the Church as "custodians of the Holy Land" after the fall of the Crusader Empire did more good for  Christian/Muslim relations than just about anything before or since).

High winds that have affected the region should drop to a manageable 25kph on Tuesday with temperatures ranging from 12 to 17C. Rain is not expected anywhere along the parcours.

Tour of California Stage 2
Stage 2 begins in San Francisco Marina and passes the Golden Gate Bridge en route for the Pacific coastline, with the first of three intermediate sprints at Pacifica 27.9km into the race. The second is at Half Moon Bay after 41.6km, then the race continues south down the coast through San Matteo County and on to Santa Rosa County. Having turned north-east, the riders face a climb up Cat 1 Empire Grade to 800m after 112km, followed by a fast descent to the next climb beginning at 144.8km - Bear Creek Road, rising to 686m. The third sprint begins at 165.6km, then the race arrives at Soquel and, after a right turn at 188.3km, the final straight 200m to the finish line. (Mapprofile)

Stage results when available

Stage 3 begins in San Jose, the only city to have been a stage town in every Tour of California to date, but this year the riders don't have to face the difficult Cat 1 Sierra Road, instead climbing  Calaveras Road to 455m (8.4km). The stage's first intermediate sprint is at Livermore (45.5km), after which there are 42 rolling kilometres to the biggest climb of the day, Cat 2 Mount Diablo. The Midway Road sprint starts at around 158km and is followed 12km later by Cat 3 Patterson Pass, topping out at 460m and followed by a long descent back into Livermore. The 500m after the final left turn are straight and slightly downhill, making a high speed finish likely. (Map, profile)

Top Bakersfield cyclist killed in women's race
Reports say that a woman described as "one of Bakersfield's best women cyclists" was killed on Sunday morning in an accident during Stage 4, the Bootjack Road Race, of California's Mariposa County Stage Race (formerly known as the Kern). The rider's family have confirmed the fatality and originally asked the race organisers and press not to reveal her name for the time being. She has since been identified as Suzanne Rivera, a 48-year-old member of the BT49 team, who took up cycling only nine months ago.

Eyewitnesses say that the rider apparently failed to notice that a support vehicle had stopped on the parcours to assist another cyclist, then braked hard and lost control before colliding with the vehicle. It is not known which class she was racing in. A doctor and three nurses competing in the race attempted to resuscitate her.

Russell Downing
Russell Downing wins Lincoln
Russell Downing (Endura Racing) scored a fourth victory at the Lincoln GP yesterday, beating second place Marcin Bialoblocki (Node 4-Girodani) by 15". Bialoblocki caught him on the final lap, but Downing powered away up the tough Michelgate climb. (British Cycling results and report)

Top Ten
  1.  Russell Downing Endura Racing 3h55'38"
  2.  Marcin Bialoblocki Node4-Giordana +15"
  3.  Kristian House Rapha-Condor-Sharp +1'18"
  4.  Simon Richardson IG Sigmasport +1'21"
  5.  Russell Hampton Raleigh-GAC +1'28"
  6.  Pete Williams Node4-Giordana +2'38"
  7.  Dan Craven IG Sigmasport +2'44"
  8.  Dean Windsor Endura Racing +2'47"
  9.  Scott Thwaites Endura Racing (U23) +2'50"
  10.  Liam Holohan Raleigh-GAC ST

New Grimsby team
Grimsby businesses Ettridge Cycles and Alp Action have joined forces to create a new cycling team which will give local riders a chance to compete in national competitions. (More from This Is Grimsby)

Brad burgled
Thieves broke into the home of Bradley Wiggins in Chorley yesterday and stole the commemorative medal he was awarded for competing in the 2008 Olympics. It's not known if they were opportunists, taking the medal simply because it looked valuable, or if they knew whose home it was and mistook the medal for one of those he won at the Games in 2000, 2004 or 2008.

Catherine Wiggins broke the news on Twitter: "Phone went on way back from rugby, Lancs Police informing me we'd been burgled. Brads participants medal from Beijing Olympics most ... distinctive thing taken so if anyone hears of it please inform police, who were brilliant this morning. Raging! That is all."

Saiz sells collection
One of the rarer Saiz machines is this one, fitted with a
mid-90s Black Hole hubless wheel and steering
Manolo Saiz, the manager of ONCE-Deutche Bank who withdrew the team from the 1998 Tour de France a the Festina Affair broke, has put his collection of 57 rare and collectible bikes up for auction on Ebay. The auction had a little over two hours to go at the time of writing with a top bid of $50,100, but the reserve had not been met. Among them are some extremely rare time trial bikes, a few of which are probably unique. Ever wanted your own bike museum...?

Horses like cycling too
We all remember the time in 1997 when that horse jumped the fence after deciding it wanted to join in as the peloton went by, then ran alongside or a few miles before dropping to lot of them and galloping off ahead - and those of us who follow cycling will remember that it happened during the Criterium International, too, not in the Tour de France as those people who only know about it from "Amelie" seem to automatically assume ("You mean...there are other bikes races...?")

It turns out that Scottish horses are as into cycling as their French cousins - a rather fine-looking palomino joined in the fun at the Etape Caledonia Challenge this weekend, racing alongside the cyclists for a short while after they passed its field some 89km into the event. Unlike the Criterium International horse, however, this one didn't get its chance to show the riders a thing or two about muscled legs as it was caught by race officials after a few minutes. (...and so do Dolphins)

Other News
"Freewheeling Ryan stays on right road" (Independent, Ireland)

"Victoria Pendleton in shape of her life" (WalesOnline)

The News You Might Have Missed
"Saddle up for cycling fest on the prom" (Eastbourne Herald)

"Lies, damn lies, and statistics about red light jumping: Do 57% of UK cyclists jump red lights? One motoring organisation claims so – on very flimsy evidence" (The Guardian)

"Vancouver could see more bike lanes for cyclists" (News1130)

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