Saturday 10 March 2012

Weekend News Digest 10-11.03.12

Marianne Vos wins the first round of the World Cup
Saturday brought us the Ronde van Drenthe, Round 1 of the 2012 Women's Road World Cup which, as such, is arguably the most important date on the Elite Women's racing calendar so far this season. The top cyclists in the world were in attendance, including World Champion Giorgia Bronzini, Martine Bras, Ellen Van Dijk, Trixi Worrack, Lizzie Armitstead, Kirsten Wild, Nicole Cooke, Janneke Kanis, Loes Guunewijk, Judith Arndt, Emma Johansson and - current favourites for the Cup  - Marianne Vos, in her second road race of the year after a stellar cyclo cross season, and last year's winner her Rabobank team mate Annemiek Van Vleuten.

2011 Cup winner Annemiek Van Vleuten
(image credit: K.J. Schilstra CC BY 3.0)
Several of the women have won on this route before: Vos last year, Gunnewijk in 2010, Johansson in 2009. Bronzini finished third in 2011 and 2010, meaning she'll be eager for success today - however, Bronzini is likely to be basing her season around a performance peak in time for the World Championships and a third consecutive win, which left the majority of fans expecting Vos - who seems to be able to peak 365 days of the year - to take this one, and as ever the 24-year-old Dutch phenomenon did not disappoint: once the group of favourites, having led for much of the race, had been whittled down by the narrow roads and testing cobbled sectors, the Rabobank team went to work for their leader and finished off the competition one by one. Chantal Blaak made a brave attack but the Rabo women let her exhaust herself, leaving Vos to demonstrate again just how good she is with a fast and furious twelve-women sprint to the finish line. Vos, despite having won more races than just about any currently-active rider of either gender, still manages to look overjoyed and thankful with each new triumph she adds. Today was no different - looking every bit as excited as a neo-pro minutes after their first victory, she told reporters how thankful she is to have such a great team supporting her.

Thanks Women's Cycling for the post-race video
"In the sprint, I joined Kirsten Wild’s train. When she started it, I went along with her immediately and rode blind to the finish in the hope that nobody else would get past us. I’m really pleased with this win, but particularly pleased with the fact that the team worked so well together. The communication was excellent and we now seem to be in tune with each other. Iris Slappendel, Roxane Knetemann and Sarah Dünster put in a lot of work into the pursuit." - Marianne Vos
Vos: "I'm just very glad I was able to win again!"
The 132.8km parcours was a tough one with some cobbled sections and no fewer than three ascents of the VAMberg, the green and lush 75m "mountain" that is spelled in the unusual way that it is because it's really a rubbish dump created by waste disposal company Vuil Afvoer Maatschappij. The dump has been turfed over, making what was a blight on the landscape into a very beautiful feature among the flat surrounds, and in parts it's very steep indeed - as much as 16.7% at one point, making it one of the steepest climbs in professional cycling. Emma Johansson of Hitec Products-Mistral Home, back from a double clavicle fracture sustained in a training accident earlier this year, did remarkably well therefore to take third, recording the same time as Vos; especially since her team started the race with only five riders after Lise Nøstvold became ill. Best placed Brit was Lizzie Armitstead with 17th place, 3" down on Vos. (Full results here,)

Dolmans-Boels take first win of 2012
Mascha Pijnenborg
(image credit: Dolmans-Boels)
Mascha Pijnenborg, Lensy de Bout and Maaike Polspoel powered away from the leading group in the Omloop van Oostduinkerke today before battling one another all the way to the line. However, de Bout and Polspoel could not match the 30-year-old Dutch woman's stunning turn of speed in the last few metres and could only watch as she scored the first victory for Dolmans-Boels since it grew out of the Dolmans Landscaping Team at the end of the last season.

Levi Leipheimer's hopes dashed at Paris-Nice
American rider Levi Leipheimer has put in an incredible performance so far this year at Paris-Nice, remaining a real contender for the overall General Classification throughout the earlier stages despite his team mates' apparent inability to ride at his level. That makes it all the more tragic that any hope of finishing among the best riders seem to have come to an end today after he crashed twice descending the Col de Vence. What's even worse is that one of the crashes should never have happened, taking place when a motorbike rider stopped in the middle of the road just around a blind bend, contravening everything the drivers of the support vehicle are trained to do.

Sky took control of the race once again, letting Movistar have their time at the front whilst they guarded yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins and kept the peloton ticking along at a respectable rate of knots. However, Vacansoleil's Thomas de Gendt was the star of the stage and, for many, of the entire race after he pulled away from the pack with Rein Taaramae early on in the race, the two men at one point leading the peloton by twelve minutes. Taaramae tried to get the better of him but was totally outclassed on the Col du Vence, where de Gendt simply stepped up the pace and left him floundering, crossing the line with an incredible advantage of 6'18". Wiggins took 31st place 9'24" later, while the unfortunate Leipheimer was 129th, just sixteen places from last and 16'50" down on the winner. The top three places in the General Classification remain unchanged with Wiggins hanging onto his 6" advantage - little comfort as he goes into tomorrow's final stage, a 9.9km time trial to the summit of the Col d'Èze, during which he is going to need to put in the ride of his life.

Goss gives up the leader's jersey at Tirreno-Adriatico
Peter Sagan won Stage 4 with a whole lot of help from his of Liquigas-Cannondale team mates at Tirreno-Adriatico today, the squad going all-out to help him over the mountains and deliver him at the finish line in a state still able to take on the five-rider lead group and outsprint them. Christopher Horner, riding for the new RadioShack-NissanTrek team, recorded the same time and took fifth place to take the overall lead from Matthew Goss, who finished 121st.

Unsurprisingly, Mark Cavendish didn't enjoy the stage as the climbs took their toll, settling for 146th place and doubtless considering himself lucky just to reach the end within the permitted time. The best-placed Brit was Ian Stannard with 81st.

Vaughters on doping in the NFL
Garmin-Barracuda manager Jonathan Vaughters highlights news that three players on the Denver Broncos American football team have been suspended from six games after providing non-human urine samples to anti-doping control. Would they have been suspended from six races had they have been cyclists? Probably not. Two years would be more likely.

Article of the Week
UCI President Pat McQuaid has saved women's cycling (c/o of the excellent Cyclismas)


Team Sky ‏ @TeamSky
Neither will start today but a special shout out to @GeraintThomas86 and @ChristianKnees for their hard riding this week at #ParisNice
Levi Leipheimer ‏ @LeviLeipheimer
Thank you to everyone (inside & outside the peloton) for the messages of support. I'm still going to give it my all today.

No comments:

Post a Comment