Today's News: Dwars door Vlaanderen - Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 3 ends in a snowstorm - Annemiek van Vleuten is back - Pooley rates self and Vos for Worlds - Wilkinson wins in Normandy - UCI toughens up on lawyer tabs
Dwars door Vlaanderen today
Vlaamse Wielerweek, the ten-day "week" that includes several of Northern Europe's finest races, kicks off today with the Dwars door Vlaanderen. It concludes with the Ronde van Vlaanderen on the 1st of April and features rather a lot of the finest cycle racing and a whole lot of cobbled climbs in between.
The Dwars is known for being a tough race with plenty of the short but steep climbs that characterise cycling in that part of the world. So guess what the organisers have done this year? That's right - they've seen to it that it's even harder than year. This is, after all, Flanders; where the riders are riders and the cobbles are nervous. (More details including map and altimetry here).
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Stage 3
|Click to enlage|
Yesterday, GreenEDGE had done a fine job of getting Michael Albasini - more of an all-rounder rather than a climbing specialist - over the mountains and into the final kilometre where he was able to follow Sky's Rigoberto Uran to within 200m of the line before using his considerable skills as a sprinter to power past and take a second stage win. Today was supposed to be all about the climbing specialists. However, the wisdom of locating the finish line at a ski resort with almost a month of the ski season still to go proved questionable when riders faced heavy snow; organisers taking the decision to cut the stage to 155km with the finish being repositioned to a point 10km from the summit of Port del Canto. (Map.)
The stage started in La Vall d'en Bas, a village located among the wooded lower slopes of the Llancers y por el Puigsacalm mountains that is famous for its sausages. Numerous riders, including our top tip Andy Schleck, abandoned as the weather turned inclement even before the decision to cut the stage was announced, then the race turned into a free-for-all the moment word got round that they unexpectedly only had 10km to go. Fortunately, it had turned into a battle against the elements by this time and nobody could manage much f a turn of speed - which gave the snowploughs time to clear the final 6km section.
Astana's Janez Brajkovic was first over the line, an unexpected win for an all-rounder who had spent the majority of the race in a ten-man break. It's not yet clear, however, if judges will allow today's results to count in the General Classification standings. Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was second and Mickael Cherel (AG2R-La Mondiale) was third.
Movistar's Alejandro Valverde and Javier Moreno, Rabobank's Grischa Niermann, Saxobank's Daniel Navarro and Joan Horrach of Katusha failed to start, Valverde following a crash yesterday that was caused when he lost control after hitting a discarded bidon near the feed station. Moreno is said to be suffering a stomach problem and also elected not to begin the stage, reducing Movistar to six riders. Amir Zigari of AG2R-La Mondiale abandoned after the stage got under way. Schleck took Tiago Machado and Ben Hermans with him today, reducing RadioShack-Nissan to five men.
|Annemiek van Vleuten|
(image credit: Rabosport)
Annemiek van Vleuten to ride Trofeo Binda
Rabobank's Annemiek van Vleuten, who has been away from competion for six months following surgery on a narrowed artery, will make her comeback at the Italian race that constitutes the second round of the Women's World Cup.
The team had originally planned for her to be with them as the season started, but recovering from the operation took longer than predicted. "I look forward to being able to race again," the 29-year-old says. "I'm very glad that it's over, so I get an opportunity to see where I currently stand."
Emma Pooley has had a look at the Limburg World Cup parcours and found it to her liking - but she also thinks it'll suit Marianne Vos. (More here.)
Endura Racing's Ian Wilkinson won this morning's short 61km Stage 3 at the Tour of Normandy - the first British victory in the race. Stage 1 went to Swede Michael Olsson of Team Cykelcity.se and Stage 2 to Frenchman Jérôme Cousin of Europcar. (Full results when available.)
The UCI have introduced various new laws and plan on getting stricter on some existing ones, especially with regard to lawyer tabs... (more from Velonews)
Other races today
Women's Grand Prix GSB, El Salvador
Settimana Coppi e Bartali - Stage 2