Friday 27 April 2012

Cycling Evening News 27.04.12

Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs - Tour de Romandie (video) - Tour of Turkey - Gracia Orlova - Fuglsang cannot ride Giro - Sky reveal Cav-led Giro squad - New sponsor for GreenEDGE - Contador hints at SaxoBank return - Tony Martin plans ultrafast comeback - Landis could face $1 million fine or 30 years imprisonment - Lampre announce Giro squad - Voeckler pays his respects to African riders - New Cleveland velodrome free for under-18s - Keep digging, Griffin - The War On Britain's Roads - Smirk helmet masks - Hit and run caught on helmetcam - Newswire

Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs
For anybody who cares about women's cycling, it's very easy to feel miserable at the moment with races being cancelled all over the world. Be thankful, then, that this weekend brings us that celebration of all things good in women's cycling, the Festival Luxembourgeois Elsy Jacobs. Beginning on Friday evening with a lightning-fast 1.7km individual time trial prologue parcours in Luxembourg City, the race also features stages on Saturday and Sunday.

Top Ten
  1.  Annemiek Van Vleuten Rabobank 2'11"
  2.  Judith Arndt GreenEDE +1"
  3.  Hanka Kupfernagel RusVelo ST
  4.  Marianne Vos Rabobank +2"
  5.  Charlotte Becker Specialized-Lululemon ST
  6.  Linda Villumsen GreenEDGE +3"
  7.  Shara Gillow GreenEDGE ST
  8.  Leire Olaberria Dorronsoro ST
  9.  Emilia Fahlin Specialized-Lululemon +4"
  10.  Amber Neben Specialized-Lululemon ST
Full results (more details) (start list).

Tour de Romandie
Friday's Stage 3 (map) started at La Neuveville, a village that holds city status since it's still protected by well-preserved medieval defensive walls complete with towers (la Tour de Rive features on many a postcard). After a flat start, riders faced a short climb 20km into the stage at Mont Vully followed by a flattish 30km to Cat 3 Arrissoules (640m) - then it was mountains all the way. The first big ascent was the uncategorised climb up to Sarzens beginning after 77km, followed by 23km to Cat 2 Le Chatelard with the summit at 1,002m - with a fast descent that guaranteed exciting, high-speed racing and a big opportunity for a break to increase their lead. The last categorised mountain was the Cat 3 Treyvaux to 810m, but a final climb lurked at the end of the stage before the riders drew up to this finish line in Charmey.

Luis León Sánchez
Anders Lund (SaxoBank), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Leigh Howard (GreenEDGE), Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol) got away soon after the race began and succeeded in gaining a lead of as much as six minutes, then Smukulis put the wind up the peloton by launching an attack 17km from the finish line. His three comrades were soon caught and put back in their places, but he managed to keep going to within 5km of the line before being swept up by the pack as it began preparing itself for a final mass sprint at the top of the last climb. That's classic all-rounder territory, so it no surprise that victory went to a classic all-rounder - an apt description of Rabobank's Luis León Sánchez, who edged over the line with a miniscule lead over the bunch. Gianni Meersman was on his back wheel for second, with Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) right behind them for third. Sky's Bradley Wiggins retains his General Classification lead, but with Sánchez picking up a usefull 10 bonification seconds today the British rider's advantage is down just a second and anything could happen.

Crashes took down two  Lotto-Belisol riders. Adam Hansen was taken to hospital and is reported to be suffering concussion and extensive brusing, whereas Kenny Dehaes was able to get up and complete the stage - he later Tweeted to say that while he was in pain, nothing seemed to be broken.

Top Ten
  1.  Luis Leon Sanchez Gil Rabobank 3h58'29"
  2.  Gianni Meersman Lotto-Belisol ST
  3.  Paolo Tiralongo Astana ST
  4.  Andrew Talansky Garmin-Barracuda ST
  5.  Bauke Mollema Rabobank ST
  6.  Rinaldo Nocentini AG2R-La Mondiale ST
  7.  Maciej Paterski Liquigas-Cannondale ST
  8.  Giampaolo Caruso Katusha ST
  9.  Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui Euskaltel-Euskadi ST
  10.  Fabrice Jeandesboz Saur-Sojasun ST
(Full results and GC when available)

Stage 4, the penultimate, covers 184km between Bulle (don't miss the château, castle fans - it's a good 'un!) and Sion (one of the most important ancient sites in Europe, inhabited for around 8,200 years - the fortified church, which contains one of the world's oldest pipe organs, is even more impressive than Bulle's castle) and takes the riders over the highest mountains in this year's race: the three Cat 1 climbs Col des Mosses (1,452m), Veysonnaz (1,473m) and St-Martin (1,423m), with Cat 2 Basse-Nendaz (1,018m) thrown in for good measure at the end of a 65.5km flat section in the middle of the stage - a section upon which the roleurs, sprinters and chancers could grab a big lead and prevent the climbing specialists having everything their own way.

Tour of Turkey
Stage 6 (map), 180.3km long, began at Bodrum (site of an imposing 15th Century Crusader castle; those who worked on it during construction received a guaranteed reservation in Heaven courtesy of a papal decree dating from 1409) after which riders headed north-east to Beçin, then north-west to Didim - the Didyma of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (which wasn't written by Homer), a ruined temple to the god mentioned in the Hymn still exists here (the temple in the Hymn was destroyed in the 5th Century BCE). The remainder of the parcours leds north to Kusadasi, a town that has lost much of its native charm due to unsympathetic development - however, tourists who are willing to venture away from the beach and shiny hotels can still find remnants of the ancient city including traces of the defensive walls, the 17th C. mosque and little shops that sell the things the locals need. Once again, there were no high mountains but a serious of steep climbs rose to between 140 and 300m; the three that fell between 40 and 70km looking especially daunting.

It's not really been Matthew Goss' race this year - the Australian GreenEDGE rider came off second-best in Stages 1, 2, 4 and then again today when he was out-sprinted by Sacha Modolo who took a second stage win for his Colnago-CSF team. Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) was right behind them for third, recording the same time. Maxim Belkov (Katusha) Philip Deignan (United Healthcare) and Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) were the day's biggest crowd-pleasers with a break from early on in the parcours that remained out on front for much of the stage before a counter-attack finished them off. Ivaïlo Gabrovski (Konya Torku Sekersport) remains General Classification leader with an advantage of 1'33".

Sacha Modolo
Top Ten
  1.   Sacha Modolo  Colnago-CSF  4h34"
  2.   Matthew Goss  GreenEDGE  ST
  3.   Mark Renshaw  Rabobank Cycling Team  ST
  4.   Lucas Sebastian Haedo  SaxoBank  ST
  5.   Alexey Tsatevitch  Katusha  ST
  6.   Rafael Andriato De Mattas  Farnese Vini-Selle Italia  ST
  7.   Daniele Colli  Team Type 1-Sanofi  ST
  8.   Davide Vigano  LampreISD  ST
  9.   Marco Coledan  Colnago-CSF  ST
  10.   Blaz Jarc  NetApp  ST
Jimmy Casper (AG2R-La Mondiale), Sylvain Georges (AG2R-La Mondiale), Boris Shpilevsky (AG2R-La Mondiale), Assan Bazayev (Astana), Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol), Johan Esteban Cháves Rubio (Colombia-Coldeportes), Thomas Bertolini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Leonardo Giordani (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) did not finish. Full result and GC.

Stage 7 (map), the penultimate in this year's edition, begins at Kusadasi and follows the craggy coastline for 74km before turning inland at Seferihisar to cross İzmir Province and arrive at the north-facing coastline by Güzelbahçe approximately 21km away. After turning to the east, there are 28.6km remaining before arrival at the finish line in İzmir - one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean region, it remains better known in the West by its ancient name Smyrna, birthplace (possibly) of Homer; though many of the ancient buildings were destroyed in an enormous fire that killed as many as 2,000 people (it wasn't all bad, however - it brought an end to the Greco-Turkish War, which some estimates claim killed as many as 100,000).

British rider Katie Colclough took fifth place
Gracia Orlova
The Gracia Orlova entered Stage 2 today, a 26km individual time trial from Havířov, past Senov, then back to  Havířov, beginning with a fast downhill before arriving at four 10m climbs along the way with a maximum gradient of around 6.3% (map).

Specialized-Lululemon's Ellen van Dijk, who also won the prologue TT made it her second stage victory when she beat team mate Evelyn Stevens by one hundredth of a second - a serious show of strength by the team, currently in its first season, as they beat third place Tatiana Antoshina (Rabobank) by one minute and three seconds. Lululemon riders filled the rest of the spaces in the top 5 too, with Trixi Worrack and Katie Colclough equalling Antoshina's time for fourth and fifth.

Top Ten
  1.  Ellen Van Dijk Specialized-Lululemon 35'27"
  2.  Evelyn Stevens Specialized-Lululemon ST
  3.  Tatiana Antoshina Rabobank +1'06"
  4.  Trixi Worrack Specialized-Lululemon +1'13"
  5.  Katie Colclough Specialized-Lululemon +1'31"
  6.  Sharon Laws AA +1'32"
  7.  Alexandra Burchenkova S.C. Michela Fanini Rox +2'08"
  8.  Olena Sharpa +2'15"
  9.  Laura Trott Ibis +2'27"
  10.  Larisa Pankova +2'26"
Full results and GC

Saturday's Stage 3 (map) is a 122.4km road race starting at Lichnov before heading south into the mountains where, after 30km, the riders face a climb to 1,000m - the highest point in the race. A fast descent leads for 10km to the foot of the next climb just over 50km in and rising to 800m, then a third climb to 900m begins at around 70km. One last climb at 105km reaches around 575m and, especially in the final part, looks horrendously steep.

Fuglsang cannot ride Giro
Jakob Fuglsang
Jakob Fuglsang will not ride in this year's Giro d'Italia due to inflammation of the articular capsule and ligament in his left knee, RadioShack-Nissan have confirmed. The 27-year-old Dane had stayed away from the Tour de Romandie in the hope that the injury - which first made itself known at a training camp two weeks ago - would heal, but team doctors now say it will require at least ten days complete rest. The race starts on the 5th of May, eight days away.

I am very disappointed,” said Fuglsang, who had been hoping to perform well in the first three stages which are to be held in Denmark. “The Giro was my big objective for this year. Yesterday I had so much pain in the last 40K, I was just miserable. At that point I realized that it might be the end of my Giro dream."

Team doctor Andreas Gösele explained that, with intensive therapy, recovery might have been possible in time for the start; but he advised against it out of concern for the rider. "Jakob would possibly be able to start at the Giro, but with how much risk? A good result would be out of the question and if he would have to drop out after ten stages, what would we have accomplished? From a medical point of view, it is impossible to guarantee that he will be fine."

It's the latest disaster in what has been a very unfortunate season for the new team, formed by the merger of RadioShack and Leopard Trek late in 2011. Team leaders Andy and Frank Schleck have, so far, failed to perform well and Fabian Cancellara sustained a quadruple collarbone fracture at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Sky reveal Cav-led Giro squad
Team Sky will be led by Mark Cavendish at the Giro d'Italia, which ought to bring at least a couple of tage wins for the British outfit. Whether he will finish the race remains to be seen - there's some serious climbing to be done, and he'll have the Tour and the Olympics in mind. However, managers have a plan: let Cav do his stuff in the sprints, then hand responsibility over to the Columbian climbers Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Urán. Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas are also going.

New sponsor for GreenEDGE
GreenEDGE - Australia's first UCI Pro Tour team - are on the verge of announcing a new big-name sponsor. At present, the team's main sponsor is owner and businessman Gerry Ryan but a superb start to their first season - especially by the women's squad, which has won race after race - has evidently been enough to attract other backers, which will help ensure its long-term survival.

Contador - further indication of SaxoBank return
Alberto Contador - who has 100 days remaining until the end of his controversial ban - has told the Spanish sports news website that he hopes to know "soon" if he'll return to SaxoBank and says that he "cannot imagine riding with any other team."

"Bjarne Riis and the team have given me such support, it's been great," he explains. "That's important to me, priceless, so SaxoBank is my priority. As of yet, there's no done deal but both parties are amenable and I think we'll have an agreement soon."

The main obstacle to date has been a UCI rule that results obtained by any rider returning from a doping ban cannot be counted towards a team's world ranking for a period of two years. Considered unfair by managers, riders and fans alike - "It's the same as if Lionel Messi was re-signed to play for Barcelona after a ban and scored goals, but his goals were not counted. It's grotesque," says Riis - SaxoBank lawyers are looking at the possibility of challenging the rule and having it repealed.

Contador is widely expected to use this year's Vuelta a Espana to make a triumphant return, pulling out all stops to dominate the race, and says he has been training for it - including watching videos of racing and the riders he's likely to face. Watching cycling is almost a part of my training," he says. "You can learn a lot by analysing the riders - how they'll react, how they descend, how rain or dry conditions effect them, little details that can give you the edge in a race."

Has he, in that case, got any tips for the Tour de France, which will be over by the time his ban expires? "A lot depends this year on Andy Schleck. If he's 100% and can break away from the five top riders, he could surprise a lot of people," says the rider, presumably with Andy's less-than-satisfactry form thus far this year in mind.
"However, he's going to need to do better in the time trials. Based on strength and experience, I'd have to say Cadel Evans."

Tony Martin plans comeback
Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Tony Martin does everything fast, which is why he's the current world time trial champion, but his planned comeback after sustaining numerous injuries when he was hit by a car during a training ride earlier this month is speedy even by his standards - he'll race at the Rund um den Finanz Platz on the 1st of May, three weeks since his accident (so no doubts that he's keeping well clear of anabolic steroids, then! - CP).

"I'm thrilled I can get back to the races," the 26-year-old German says on the team's website. "These last two weeks I've been concentrated exclusively on my recovery. In the last few days I've even managed to do some more intense training sessions. The pain due to the fractures and the fall are diminishing day by day and I'm feeling better. However, I still have to be careful and try to take as few risks as possible. Overall my return to the races will be useful for me to get my racing groove back and understand how my body will respond in competition. I really wanted my comeback to be in Frankfurt, in my country, and this is what I've been working towards. On a mental level it was important to have an objective like this one."

Landis faces mail and wire fraud charge
Floyd Landis
Floyd Landis probably felt glad it was all over by the time he announced his retirement from cycling, but in reality his problems were only just beginning. Having been stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory after a sample tested positive for synthetic testosterone, the rider strenuously denied wrong-doing and started a "Floyd Fairness Fund" and asked fans to "donate anything they could" - it is believed that the Fund generated a total of around $1 million towards legal costs. However, his attempts to clear his name were unsuccessful and, in 2010, he finally admitted that he had in fact doped.

Although the Fairness Fund closed five years ago, it's come back to bite him. After last year receiving a suspended sentence for computer hacking, he is now under investigation for accepting money on a false premise; ie, requesting donations to prove his innocence despite knowing that he was guilty of the charge he then faced, which may constitute mail and wire fraud - a federal offence under US law since 1872, carrying a maximum penalty of a $1 million fine or 30 years imprisonment.

Lampre-ISD Giro squad
Lampre-ISD has revealed its provisional Giro d'Italia team roster. Damiano Cunego and Michele Scarponi are protected team leaders, supported by Przemyslaw Niemiec, Matteo Bono, Adriano Malori, Daniele Pietropolli, Daniele Righi, Alessandro Spezialetti and Diego Ulissi.

Thomas Voeckler
Voeckler pays his respects to African riders
Europcar's Thomas Voeckler won the third stage of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo à Akiéni yesterday and used his victory as an opportunity to praise the African riders he beat.

"Of course, I'm happy to win here - but we professional riders, we need to remember we're lucky to get the salaries we do, we're so well-paid compared to the African riders. I've kept that in mind during this race," says the 32-year-old Frenchman.

"Compared to these guys, I have no right to complain about anything," he explained, but was careful not to become patronising: "I'm here to do a job. Winning is my way of showing I respect them." (Stage results and GC)

New Cleveland velodrome will be free for under-18s
Any nation that wants to encourage more young people to take up cycling (and reap the rewards of their Olympic success a few years down the line) could learn a lot by following the example set by Cleveland, Ohio - after five years of planning, the city is about to open a $300,000 not-for-profit velodrome.

The idea is simple: build a world-class velodrome, using as much voluntary labour as possible to keep costs to a minimum, then charge adults to use it. Meanwhile, let riders aged less than 18 use it for free - including the provision of bikes for those who are new to the sport and haven't yet got machines of their own. "This velodrome is a welcome addition for cycling enthusiasts in the city of Cleveland," says city mayor Frank Jackson. "It will allow for people of all ages in the city to be exposed to the culture of the international sport of fast-track cycling and give them an additional form of physical activity to engage in."

"It is a great way to get kids into cycling," adds Brett David, president of management company FastTrack Cycling. "It is safer than driving on some of these roads, battling cars." (More from

Other racing news
New Zealand announces "strongest ever" Olympic team (NZHerald)

NZ talent causes headaches and heartaches (NZHerald)

Asian Cyclists to make U.S. debut at SRAM Tour of the Gila (Silver City Sun-News)

Bengaluru gets India’s first professional cycling team (Citizen Matters)

Keep digging, Griffin
Lubricating the cogs of the Conservative Party to the tune of a quarter of a million quid wasn't enough to save Addison Lee's government contracts after the firm was handed an injunction due to chairman John Griffin's decision to encourage drivers to illegally use London's bus lanes. Now it seems he's also realised that his recent comments regarding the capital's cyclists were ill-advised too, and he's grabbing the brake levers like his business life depends on it.

If I have upset cyclists, I apologise. It was not my intention,” he told the Evening Standard newspaper, explaining that what he really meant was “car drivers need to be more aware of cyclists and cyclists need to be more aware of their vulnerability.”

However, he remains unrepentant regarding his "get trained and pay up" comment, though he apparently now realises that nobody pays road tax. "We need to look at the question of either insurance or tax. If you run into my car and it’s not my fault, I’ve got no redress against you," he says - and even the most militant cyclist has to admit that's a tricky point for those of us who prefer two wheels. But once again, Griffin hasn't done his homework: he says he wants to see the reintroduction of the cycling proficiency test, which he credits as being the reason that he "never had a single accident" while cycling seven miles to school and back during his childhood - he's obviously forgotten that the test was entirely voluntary (I never did it) and has now been replaced by the considerably more comprehensive Bikeability scheme, which is available for children and adults alike. He also says he doesn't support the introduction of Amsterdam-style bicycle lanes, offering as his reason the fact that "Amsterdam is a very flat town," though he's forced to agree that Central London "is pretty flat" when journalist Jasmine Gardner points it out to him.

BBC to show controversial documentary
The BBC is to broadcast an hour-long documentary entitled The War On Britain's Roads, featuring footage from cameras mounted on bikes and cars to illustrate the issues that arise between cyclists and drivers.

"As more and more people take up cycling as a way of beating the traffic or just keeping fit on their commute, the potential for conflict between cyclists and drivers has increased massively. Now cameras installed on bikes and in vehicles will use heart-stopping footage of interactions between road users to reveal a shocking picture of life on Britain’s roads. The film will follow current cases as they go through the courts and revisit the tragic stories of some of those who have lost their lives on Britain’s roads," goes the gumpf. CEO of Leopard Films, the company that produced the documentary, adds: "This timely documentary highlights a growing issue on Britain’s roads, from the viewpoint of both the motorist and the cyclist. BBC One is the perfect home for this insightful and at times shocking film."

It'll make good viewing, of course, but cyclists and drivers have raised concerns. To make Britain's roads safer for both groups (which, since the majority of adult cyclists also drive, are not really distinct groups at all), we need to increase awareness among a minority of cyclists and drivers that both have equal rights. Polarising them, either in reality or in the public mind, is not the way to do this; this film, and its ridiculously sensationalist title, helps nobody.

It's not yet known when the documentary will be screened.

Smirk's helmet masks
German company Smirk Masks has launched a range of what it calls "fixed gear helmet masks," which would seem - as the name suggests - to be aimed at fixie riders, though this is apparently not the case: "You can use all our masks to ride your fixie if you like, although that was just an idea we had to give the people the chance to look as cool as their bikes," says Smirk himself, also known as graphic artist Mirco Erbe.

Inspired by hockey masks and sci-fi headgear, the high price (around £600) will put most people off - as will the fact that, since they're not approved safety gear, they're not really suited to cycling at all. As for the aesthetics... personally, I like, even though they're not for me; though not everyone will like them - but hey, "denim effect" lycra shorts have been considered stylish within living memory, so there's every chance that Smirk's creations will make an appearance among the more trustafarian branches of fixie hipster society in a city near you soon.

Hit and run river side-swipes cyclists, caught on helmetcam

Festival of cycling in Alford (Donside Piper and Herald)

Cycling your way to a healthier life (Hello!)

World Naked Bike Ride: the environmental protest with a difference (Ecologist)

Fatal bike trail wreck raises safety concerns (Mansfield News Journal, Ohio)

How to get urban dwellers cycling: make it normal (Globe and Mail, Vancouver)

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