lunedì 2 marzo 2015

No Paris-Nice For Injuried Fränk Schleck

He crashed in Ruta del Sol and got a deep muscular hematoma in his quadriceps. It isn't over yet. TFR’s squad for Paris-Nice will be: Bob Jungels, Riccardo Zoidl, Giacomo Nizzolo, Gert Steegmans, Kristof Vandewalle, Gregory Rast, Eugenio Alafaci, and Marco Coledon.

Fränk Schleck: 
“I am recovering, but it has not gone as fast as I had hoped. It’s still painful, especially walking; on the bike it actually feels better. So I am able to train a couple hours on the road now, but obviously this is not enough to be ready for a race like Paris-Nice.
I am obviously very disappointed; when I crashed, even though it was super painful, I always thought I would be at the next race. It has been a frustrating injury and a slow healing process, but it is still early season and I will be back. I should be fine for GP Nobili (March 19).”

domenica 1 marzo 2015

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne: Much Ado About Nothing... and Cav

Nine hills - Edelareberg, La Houppe, Kanarieberg, Kruisberg, Hotond, Côte de Trieu, Oude Kwaremont, Holstraat and Nokereberg. 
A breakaway - Mattia Pozzo (Nippo - Vini Fantini) Sjoerd van Ginneken (Team Roompot), Engoulvent (Europcar), Xandro Meurisse (AN Post), Fredrik Backaert, Dimitri Peyskens (Team 3M), Thomas Vauborzeix (Veranclassic-Ekoï) Zhupa, Never more than 3'. Etixx and Katusha controlling. 
Open battle on the cobbles, up the paved climbs, crossing villages and towns.
Peloton splitting. Ettixx making the race hard. Team Sky staying, with Stannard and Viviani.
Oude Kwaremont: Vanmarcke attacks, Boonen follows. A large front group forms - Tom Boonen (EQS)  Ian Stannard (SKY)  Zdenek Štybar (EQS)  Maarten Wynants (TLJ)  Philippe Gilbert (BMC)  Elia Viviani (SKY)  Sep Vanmarcke (TLJ)  Mark Cavendish (EQS)  Yves Lampaert (EQS)  Sam Bennett (BOA)  Matteo Trentin (EQS)  Kris Boeckmans (LTS) Alexander Kristoff (KAT)  Scott Thwaites (BOA).
Embedded image permalinkBoonen pushing the pace again with 50.6km to go. Cards reshuffled. A new front group - Tom Boonen (EQS)  Zdenek Štybar (EQS)  Maarten Wynants (TLJ) Philippe Gilbert (BMC) Sep Vanmarcke (TLJ)  Mark Cavendish (EQS)  Yves Lampaert (EQS)  Kris Boeckmans (LTS)  Alexander Kristoff (KAT)  Scott Thwaites (BOA)  Ralf Matzka (BOA)  Jempy Drücker (BMC)  Alexander Maes (SKT)  Marcel Sieberg (LTS)  Tom Van Asbroeck (TLJ)  Frederik Backaert (WGG)
 Jimmy Engoulvent (EUC) Thomas Vaubourzeix (VER) and  Xandro Meurisse (SKT).
Team Qhubeka missed and the split and is leading the chase, but also Team Sky is pulling and finally only Boeckmans is left on the road.  All back together with 34 km to go, two laps of the final circuit. Katusha sets the pace, then Etixx and Sky. 
Teams are organising trains. Stannard is working hard, for Viviani this time. But from behind Gilbert attacks: 4 km to go. He can  make it. He keeps going, open mouth. LottoNLJumbo reacts, the chase is furious. And successful. And it's a bunch sprint. And it's a great Mark Cavendish winning again, on Kristoff and Viviani.
Embedded image permalinkMuch ado about nothing. But Mark Cavendish, the fat fast man, climbed all those climbs in the front group and never missed the right move. Chapeau!


Mark Cavendish:
“I’m not a bad bike rider and I’m in by far the strongest team. You saw that yesterday too. Ok, it was a bit of a fuck up in the end but it was still a big show of strength by the team yesterday and it was the same today. After being caught, to be able to change the tables and commit 100 percent to the sprint was great you know.
Yesterday I was sat on my bed watching it so I can’t really talk about it. I won’t lie, I was a little bit nervous going down to dinner but we had a good atmosphere. Ok, it wasn’t nice what happened yesterday but everybody turned their head towards the next goal, which was today.
Tom’s won here three times but he said this morning on the bus, ‘Yeah, I’ll do the lead-out for Cav for it.’ It could have been easy for him to want to go for his fourth but he committed to the sprint on behalf of the team and tried to guarantee the win as best we could. It was nice.
I’m happy to beat Kristoff, he’s one of the best riders in the world right now. He’s had super form and I’m happy to have won in the first showing against him this year.
It wasn’t easy, fucking hell, it was Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. It was hard all day you know. It wasn’t easy but I had great support and I was able to sprint for the win.”

"I am super happy to win here in Kuurne. Raced it two times and won it two times. Especially after the unfortunate result of yesterday, it was nice to get a win today on the Classics Opening Weekend. The lads were super good. They committed 100 percent to me the whole day. We had a strong team here and they looked after me. Even in the front group that formed after the Oude Kwaremont, there were 19 guys there and we had five of our riders present. I think we're one of the strongest teams and this shows the strength and depth of Etixx - Quick-Step. You saw it yesterday too. I mean, sure they didn't win, but it was still an incredible display of strength by the team. So, we did the same today and to be caught, and flip the table so everyone then became 100 percent committed to the sprint, it was great. Tom's won here three times, but he said on the bus this morning that he'd be my leadout today. It could have been easy for him to want to go for his fourth win. But to commit for the sake of the team, and do what we had to do to win a race here is nice. Everyone turned their eyes to today and it was a good atmosphere from before the race all the way to the finish line. As for the sprint, it was far from easy against guys like Kristoff and Viviani. Kristoff is one of the best sprinters in the world and he is in super form. I'm proud to get a victory in my first sprint against him this year. It was hard all day and it wasn't easy in the sprint. But I had great support from Etixx - Quick-Step and I'm happy to finish the job for the team. I think we've had a dozen wins now, and this is already a fifth of what we had last year for the entire season. I'm happy that I've contributed six of them, including my overall victory in Dubai. Everything is going well and I'm super motivated with this kind of support from Etixx - Quick-Step. Now I go next to South Africa for Cape Argus to represent Etixx - Quick-Step, and our partner Klein Costantia. It will be nice to go down there, see our owner Mr. Zdenek Bakala, and also support the charity action of MAD Charity. I will then come directly back for Tirreno-Adriatico. I am very happy with my form and we will see what happens next."


Elia Viviani:
"There was a lot of action on the Kwaremont and with me and Ian up front it was a good move. I thought it would be okay if it went to the finish. Okay Cav and Kristoff were there but with 19 riders it is more simple if it ends in a sprint. When I saw the group coming back I knew we had to think only about the final sprint. We came to the front early with the whole team. It's a Belgian race on narrow roads so we thought maybe it's better to stay up front.
Embedded image permalinkWe lost some positions in the last corner and I needed to come from behind. I made it to the sprint and when I got there I thought maybe I'd go straight away as there was just 150 metres to go. But I was on the wrong side because there was a lot of wind coming from the right. I came from behind so I had good speed but when Cav started his sprint he took some metres and in the final 50m I knew I was going to the finish line but not for the win.
I am really happy with my condition after two weeks on the track. The road legs are good. We did 200km today in a strong Belgian race. I really like this event and the Belgian races. I finished third and I came from 20 positions back. I think it bodes well for the coming weeks. I have a big focus on Tirreno and the sprints there before Gent-Wevelgem. I want to try and come back and beat Cav."

Embedded image permalinkSep Vanmarcke:
"So.... Mixed feelings after this belgian openingweekend. Great feeling, but not the results that I wanted! #nexttime.
"Again, teammates were important this weekend! Some work was on tv, lots wasn't! #thanks"

“After the first round, I saw that there wasn’t enough side wind for an attack in the last kilometres. But I’m happy with the fact that I proved to be in good condition, in general. Today, I was a little bit worse than yesterday, but still good enough. It’s no surprise that I am not at my best after a hard day like yesterday. Everyone has that problem, so I was able to show off at the Oude Kwaremont.”

Tom Van Asbroeck:
“The last round was a true team effort. All of them kept me out of the wind. I had a quick chat with Sep and he told me that he was going to give it all for me. That was just perfect. I was at the right place at the right time. I made a little mistake myself when I lost Robert’s slipstream. I had to pay for it in the end, the fourth place was the highest I could reach today.”

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step  
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha  
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky  
4 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
5 Daniele Colli (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
6 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team  
7 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
8 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka  
9 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot  
10 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling

sabato 28 febbraio 2015

Extraordinary Stannard

Embedded image permalinkIan Stannard: 
"I was worried but I got an easy ride. It was hard in the end. I just had to be strong and put my head down. I expected Boonen's attack as he had stopped riding. I preferred to go to the finish with Terpstra instead of Boonen. It was a gambling not to work but I had to play on that. It's a good start and hopefully I will be more successful than last year."
“I couldn’t be happier. It’s nice to do the double sweep at the race, but after the difficulties I had last year breaking my back it’s nice to have got myself back to where I was.  
Being with those three guys I knew they were all committed to trying to win. As a team they haven’t won it for 10 years and it’s a big one missing off Boonen’s palmares. I knew they were going to race hard. With Sep Vanmarcke and Greg van Avermaet chasing behind it put the pressure on them. I could just sit back, play a bit of poker and enjoy the ride.
I just wanted to get a free ride for as long as I could. That was my idea. When they all started attacking me it wasn’t a great feeling. When Boonen went I was thinking ‘right, what do I do here?’ I knew if I rode him back I’d get attacked. I paced myself back a little bit. I could feel the wheel behind was trying hard to stay with me. So I felt like it was going pretty good and then I just took my chance.
Embedded image permalinkAll the guys got me into the climbs perfectly. I felt a bit of pressure when you’ve got a Tour de France winner putting it all on the line for you. You can only really finish it off can’t you! The whole team has really lifted a level since last year. We were always at the front and always perfectly positioned. Quick-Step took me to the end and I only had to race the last 4km (laughs)!”


Tom Boonen: 
"Today we made a mistake in the final. We were in control of the race with three riders in the front group. In the final kilometers we attacked. Niki went first, Stannard reacted, and then I countered with my move. I was pretty sure at that time that it was the right moment to do it. But Stannard had the strategy to ride on the wheels of us three in the lead group, and save his energy until the final kilometers, so he was a bit fresher. He was also strong today. So, he caught me. The best thing to do at that point would have been to stay calm and wait for the sprint. But we had been full gas for the last hour, so really it was about instinct at that point. So, Niki attacked again, then Stannard, and then the final sprint was between those two guys. There is a thin line between a great race and a costly mistake and unfortunately we took the risk of not waiting for the sprint, and it didn't work out. It would have been great to win the race, but that's cycling. Congrats to Stannard. He rode a smart tactical race and his reactions to our attacks were impressive. His sprint was also strong. As a team we rode super strong today and while we unfortunately fell short of victory, we know what we are capable of for future races."

Sep Vanmarcke:
"I did what I could after my flat tires but it wasn't enough.
Vanmarcke fought for what he was worth, but the gap was never smaller than 16 seconds.
Ahead of the Taaienberg I was exactly where I wanted to be, but with a few hundred meters to go to the foot, I flatted. Maarten Wynants gave me his wheel and told me I still had a chance. Thanks to an adrenaline boost I was able to return to the front.
I knew at that point that I had to make it a hard race, for tactical reasons. Unfortunately I punctured again and Etixx-QuickStep and Stannard benefited from this. We were one man short in the chase, otherwise we could have bridged to the leaders.”

1 Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky 4:58:42  
2 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step  
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:03  
4 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:12  
5 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:24  
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:29  
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:04:35  
9 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky 0:04:55  

10 Arnaud Demare (Fra)

venerdì 27 febbraio 2015

Bradley Wiggins About Cobbles

Bradley Wiggins:
“I feel good. I’m coming off the back of a good block of training and I’m ready for what I consider to be the start of my season proper now. I used the Tour of Qatar as a preparation race, but this next month of racing is where it really matters.
There’s still a long way to go until Paris-Roubaix and for me, it’s all about continuing to work and going through the process in the build up to that.
For Omloop Het Niuewsblad, we’ve got last year’s winner in Ian Stannard, and he’s trying to do the double, so my job will be to put him in the best position to win.
I’d like to be there when it matters in the final. It’s not going to be a case of emptying the tank in the first 100km and then swinging over, my goal will be to finish, to finish well, and be there in the last 30-40km when there might be a break that needs chasing down or we to drive things ourselves.
After everything these guys have given me over the years, I’m looking forward to do a job for them as they go for the win.
Getting yourself into the right mind-set for the cobbled classics is far different to any other race. These races are over in one day and you don’t get a second chance. It’s a case of laying everything on the line, taking risks, and every one of them is a warzone. We all know the score and the strongest guys generally win.
[Omloop Het Niuewsblad 2005] I didn’t finish that day and it doesn’t hold many significant memories to me other than it was a hard day out.
The biggest difference between this race and the other cobbled classics is the cold. Obviously, it’s still February and it’ll be a good 10-15 degrees warmer in five or six weeks’ time when the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix roll around. Tomorrow it’ll be around 5 degrees and that’s the thing that wears people out. Last year it rained as well and that really sorts the men from the boys.
That said, the mood in the camp is good, everyone’s happy and we’re all ready to go.” 

In Short: Bauke Mollema about Balance: "We are living on the edge"

Photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2015
He started writing a diary for Cyclingnews and in his first entry there is an interesting part about that. Read it all here.

Bauke Mollema: 
"As riders, I think it's important for us to find a good balance between our top form and not getting sick. We train hard everyday, it's common to ride for four or five hours, and sometimes six or seven hours too, even during these winter months where we train and race in the cold weather. There's also bad weather sometimes in the races and so our resistance to becoming sick can become low, and if you have bad luck you can get really sick.
Especially for me, as a climber, I have a naturally very low fat percentage. In December, for example, we did a check with the team doctors and my fat percentage was only 4.2 per cent. I think it was the lowest on the team. I didn't do anything to achieve a low percentage of body fat. I've always been skinny. I remember during the holidays when I was a kid, my friend's mum approached my parents to ask if they thought I was too skinny. She could almost count my ribs. I have never had to watch what I eat at Christmas!
It's also maybe an advantage. The reason why I'm a climber is because I don't have to take so much weight up the climbs. It's also the reason that I get sick maybe a little bit more because I don't have too much fat, so sometimes my resistance for getting sick is a little bit lower.
It's really important for all professional riders to find a balance between the right amount of training, staying healthy and feeling good, and riding your bike. I think riding your bike is really healthy and a good thing, but being a professional bike racer… I don't think it's really that healthy. I think we are really looking for our limits, we're living on the edge sometimes between training so hard and racing so hard in the rain and the cold, especially at this time of the season when we have a lot of changes in the weather conditions. We travel from Australia and Qatar, where it's very warm, to Europe in the rain and the cold. That's all really hard on our bodies. And I'm not even talking about all the crashes, so professional cycling is not really that healthy.
It's also hard to stay healthy for long stretches of time during the season. For example, right now it's only February but the main goal is in July. In the winter we don't train with too much intensity, of course, now we start racing in January more and more, but generally the wintertime is good for building the foundation for the whole season. We train for a lot of hours during the winter and so it's very important that we listen to our bodies. If you feel like you are weak and have a cold then it's always better to take it easy for a few days instead of training for a few hours more because then you can get really sick and lose a whole week of training."

I can't agree more! 
Next races for Mollema:  Classic Sud Ardèche on Saturday and La Drôme Classic on Sunday. First real goal: Tirreno-Adriatico in March, 

Good luck Bauke!

No More World Tour For Astana? UCI press release and first Team reaction

"The UCI requests withdrawal of Astana Pro Team licence
27 February 2015
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today confirms that it has now reviewed the audit produced by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) (1) on Astana Pro Team and its anti-doping culture, policies, structures and management systems. The audit was one of the conditions attached to the registration of the team in the 2015 UCI WorldTour. 

After careful review of this extensive report, the UCI strongly believes that it contains compelling grounds to refer the matter to the Licence Commission (2) and request the Astana Pro Team licence be withdrawn.
The UCI considers that the ISSUL audit has, among other things, revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the Licence Commission in December and the reality on the ground.

In addition, the Italian authorities have provided the UCI with the sections of the Padova investigation which it has been authorized to share. As some evidence concerns Astana Pro Team members, the file has been passed to the Licence Commission as part of this referral. . 

For the sake of due process, the UCI is not in a position to comment further on the content of the audit report, nor the Padova investigation, until the Licence Commission has assessed the situation and rendered its decision. But this decision to refer the matter to the Licence Commission was reached taking all circumstances and potential consequences into consideration. 

The UCI will not make any further comment until the Licence Commission has rendered its decision.

Background to the ISSUL audit

The ISSUL audit was one of the conditions attached to the registration of Astana Pro Team in 2015. It was commissioned by the Licence Commission in December 2014 to look into the circumstances of doping cases in Astana Pro Team last year. The ISSUL audit has sought to determine whether and to what extent the Astana Pro Team and/or its management was responsible in doping cases concerning its riders, Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy (EPO), and Ilya Davidenok (anabolic steroids), a trainee with the Astana Pro Team since August 1st, 2014.

The ISSUL was asked to assess the team’s internal structures, culture and management systems to understand whether these are adequate to ensure that the highest ethical standards are upheld.

(1) The Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL), attached to the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences is a centre of excellence in training and research. The ISSUL produces numerous works, published in journals and publishers of reference, dealing with different aspects of sport practice (sociology, physiology, biomechanics etc). The institute often carries out assignments on behalf of national and international organisations.

(2) The Licence Commission is the competent body for issuing, reviewing, withdrawing and attaching conditions to UCI WorldTour licences and ensuring that licence-holders continuously comply with the terms of the licence. It is made up of 4 professionals who work independently of the UCI and its President is Mr. Pierre Zappelli, a former Swiss Court Supreme Judge."

Team Astana to Cyclingnews:
“We are fully mindful of this and were informed of the decision late yesterday. We have been consulting with our lawyers and we will issue a full statement later this afternoon."

mercoledì 25 febbraio 2015

No Hour Record for Dekker (It seems...)

Embedded image permalink
Thomas Dekker missed the hour record by 200m.
It seems. Coverage was a disaster and... well... timing too.
52.221.29 km. 
It seems...