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EuroTrash Thursday!
thu032813 The unofficial World championship (if you are Flemish) is on Sunday, yes the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the best race of the season, probably. We have the results and videos of the Ronde build-up race; Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, plus the teams’ news from Belgium. TOP STORY is the doping laws in Spain and we have all the other stuff to keep you going till the weekend. I think coffee and toast this morning? Just in: No Gilbert at the Ronde!


TOP STORY: Spain Fights Doping
On March the 8th, the Spanish Cabinet approved Mr. José Ignacio Wert’s (Minister of Education, Culture and Sport) the bill of Protection of Athlete’s Health and Fight against doping in sports activities, it had previously been forwarded to the Spanish Parliament

This new law to enter Spanish legislation totally conforms with WADA’s Antidoping Code. This gives new status to the Spanish Agency of Protection of Athletes’ Health. It will be an independent authority in charge of the planning and execution of doping testing within national competitions. As well it will be responsible for procedures, investigation and resolutions of case files concerning athletes with Spanish license within competitions organized by Spanish authorities.

The law includes a strong tightening of sanctions regarding athletes, clubs, sport teams and Federations. In case of very serious violations affecting athletes, sanctions will range from license suspension, for a period as long as four years, to lifetime ineligibility and a fine worth up to 12.000€.

In the case of clubs, sport teams and Federations, sanctions for very serious violations could reach up to 400.000€ fine, loss of points, the round of positions in the ranking of the classification of the competition, or descending to a lower category.

As to team staff, the law allows for sanctions that could imply license suspension or ineligibility to exercise sports-related positions for a period from four years to lifetime; as well it could imply a fine of up to 400.000€.

Another important matter underlined in the Law will be the cooperation between Judicial and Administrative Authorities in the scope of sports. Thus, there is the possibility to request, from judicial authorities, any evidence used in criminal procedures for the instruction of administrative procedures in that scope. The Judge may decide whether or not to give such evidence in. However, he must provide a reasoned answer.

The Minister Mr. José Ignacio Wert said:
“Dear friends, I am proud to state that our Law counts with WADA’s total support. Doping will be, by all means, and with all our strength, fought and punished as never before. Consequences for all those implied in doping practices have been extremely tightened to be as much severe as possible. On the other hand, athlete’s rights will be fully respected and preserved. It will, therefore, be our task, as stated in the Law, to dedicate all our indefatigable efforts to detect and prevent doping, a forbidden conduct that can have no place whatsoever within the scope of sporting activity.”

“This new Law provides Spain with an excellent tool to face all this challenges. Thus, the Spanish government is fully committed to implement this Law with the utmost efficacy.”

Spain now has law’s to prosecute dopers and people who facilitate doping, this has come too late for the prosecution of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes & Co, although they are being prosecuted under different laws. How many other countries have laws that fall in with the WADA Antidoping Code? Not that many.

Further to this; Spain is investigating the doping related activities of Lance Armstron and his Spanish accosiates on Spanish soil. Trafficking and distribution of doping drugs are criminal offenses which can carry prison sentences and fines and there is a lot of testimony in the USADA investigation that points towards these activities.

Statements of Jesus Manzano for RTVE’s 2010 documentary “The Sentinel”. “Here in Spain nothing has changed a bit”




VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde 2013
The three days of De Panne has always been a warm up for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. Starting on Tuesday, the first two days are tough stages of around 200 kilometres, and then Thursday is split with a 112 kilometre road race stage in the morning round De Panne and a 14.75 kilometre time trial in the afternoon.

Stage 1 was won by that man Peter Sagan, the Cannondale rider is on fire at the moment after his second place in Milano-Sanremo and his Gent-Wevelgem win on Sunday. The first break went away in the first 10 kilometres; Marco Haller (Katusha), Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare), Koen Barbe (Crelan-Euphony) and Sam Bennett (An Post-Chainreaction) and managed to gain a lead of over 4 minutes after 80 kilometres and by the first climb of the day, the Edelare they had nearly 9 minutes. After 100 kilometres the lead was down to four and a half minutes on the Berendries climb. First time through the finish for three 30 kilometre laps and the peloton started to chase. Haller forced the pace as Bennett lost contact and Barbe and Haller attacked each other.

Back in the peloton the Orica-GreenEdge team were very active sending riders up the road with Tomas Vaitkus catching Bennett and then they were joined by another group, but all for nothing as the race came together. Into the last 20 kilometres and Peter Sagan started to make strong moves, which eventually put ten riders off the front. Sagan sprinted into the last bend with 200 metres to go cutting off Arnaud Demare (FDJ). There was a complaint from Demare, but Sagan was given the win and the overall lead.

Lampre-Merida’s Davide Cimolai explained his sprint: “It would have been great for the team and for me if I could have reached the top five, but my energies were not so high in view of the arrival and so I could not be competitive in the sprint.” Cimolai explained.” I’m satisfied for having made the proper move in the key moment of the race. It’s a pity Favilli missed to join the attack for few meters: it would have been better to be two team mates in front of the race.”

VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Stage 1 Result:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale in 5:00:27
2. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
8. Jerome Cousin (Fra) Europcar
9. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ.

VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Overall After Stage 1:
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale in 5:00:17
2. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ at 0:04
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:06
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:10
5. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
8. Jerome Cousin (Fra) Europcar
9. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ.

Stage 1.




The Omega Pharma – Quick-Step team took hold of the finalé action to split the field coming into Koksijde on Stage 2 for ex-World champion Mark Cavendish. This put Cav over the line first and put Tuesday’s stage winner; Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in trouble and the overall passing to Arnaud Demare (FDJ) who was 4th today and 2nd yesterday.

The early break consisted of: Mattia Pozzo (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Niko Eeckhout (An Post-Chainreaction), Kevin Claeys (Crelan-Euphony), Tim Mertens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), and Matt Brammeier (Champion System) had 8:25 after 90kilometres. A large group of around 30 riders split off the front of the peloton in the last 100 kilometres, this brought the break back to around 1 minute with peloton around 1 minute behind them. With 55 kilometres to go the race was all together, but 5 kilometres later Koen Barbé (Crelan-Euphony), Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) and Dimitriy Gruzdev (Astana) took their chance. Orica-GreenEdge, Katusha and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step rode very hard smashing the peloton and bringing the leaders back with 8 kilometres to go. Tom Boonen came to the front with the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step lead-out train which split the off the front but was chased down by Lotto Belisol, Mark Cavendish was left on the front early, but went for a long sprint and held off Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Francesco chichi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia).

“I didn’t feel that great actually earlier on in the day,” Cavendish said. “We talked this morning about doing what we can to dig in for a bunch sprint. Halfway through I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do it today.’ I didn’t feel great, but as the finish grew near we just kind of got to the front. It wasn’t even spoken about. We were just doing it, like we were going for the sprint. Everyone stayed in the front and as you could see, the last lap was incredibly fast all together. The guys were in great form to not just do fast pulls, but really long pulls as well at the end. That just put me in position for the final corner. I wanted to be two or three back out of the last corner and that is exactly where I was. So, I was really, really happy. With one kilometer to go I just sat there waiting, waiting, waiting. I wanted to go at 450 meters really. I felt the sprint going early on my left, so I had to kick out earlier than normal. In a headwind if you kick out too hard you die out and riders come from behind. So I didn’t go full gas. I just kept accelerating and accelerating as guys were coming through.”

“The team was phenomenal for me today,” Cavendish continued. “Big pulls at the end and it was a hard finish. I’m really happy. The guys had to go long just because of the wind. We wanted to keep it lined out in that last big road, and then we had to use guys to try and get to the corner before the small road at 450 meters to go. Iljo and Niki had to take some big, big pulls. But they were really strong and I am really proud of them.”

“One of the biggest stars who has ever been in cycling, he’s one of the guys who has got the most faith in me,” Cavendish said of Tom Boonen, who did plenty of work setting up the leadout and chasing down breaks earlier in the race. “That’s incredible. I spoke to Tom last night, and I said ‘It really means a lot that you’re here.’ It’s the first time we’ve raced to a final together this year, as at Gent-Wevelgem he crashed out. But seeing the confidence he had in me yesterday, and I mean all the guys as well, it’s really nice. I spoke to them last night about that and you’ve seen the same again today. These guys are flying. It could be easy for them to take their own opportunity to win races here in Belgium. But they’re committed to the new guy on the team and it means a lot to me. I am so happy for the commitment from all the guys. Some guys thought we were going for the sprint yesterday. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Yesterday’s stage is never, ever finished in a bunch sprint. We were going for our GC guys, and I was there to help. I’m happy they were able to turn around and help me today. So we’re in good position. We’ve won a stage and we’re still up there in the GC. We’re looking forward to the final day.”

Boonen also took some time to talk about the race and his condition. He will not take the start tomorrow.

“I’m very happy about the victory of Mark, he deserves it and the team supported him very well today,” Boonen said. “Concerning me, it was a ‘good day at the office’.” After the race I did 30 minutes on the hometrainer just to relax the muscles after the race. The knee is quite good, even if it hurts a bit when I am full gas. But I can live with it. Now It’s important to recover well at home in the next 24 hours and on Friday I will join the rest of the team to get into the mood of the race. I wish to the guys here in De Panne all the best for tomorrow. I’m sure they can get again good results.”

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) will not start Thursday’s stages.

VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Stage 2 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 4:46:57
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
3. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
4. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
6. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
7. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Blaz Jarc (Slo) NetApp-Endura
9. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano
10. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Overall After Stage 2:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ in 9:47:18
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:02
3. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:05
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:06
5. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
7. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 0:11
8. Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ at 0:14
9. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
10. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol at 0:15.

Stage 2:




No Train Delays for Flanders!
The trains in Belgium will stop for the Ronde Van Vlaanderen on Sunday so there will not be any closed railway crossing during the race. Thomas Baeken, a spokesman for the Belgian train company told Het Laatse Nieuws “In tiny Flanders it is nearly impossible to organise a race without crossing the tracks, the Tour of Flanders has eight level crossings. You shouldn’t have to worry about a train upsetting the race in the final 50 kilometres.” He reassured travellers that there would be minimal delays to the train services.

Rail crossing in the 2006 Paris-Roubaix:




Roelandts Injured in Gent-Wevelgem
Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) had to quit Ghent – Wevelgem in the final kilometres. During the changing of a wheel after a puncture he was hit on the head by a car of the race organization. Roelandts had a good night on Sunday, will take it easy Monday and Tuesday, hoping that from Wednesday on he can prepare himself for the Tour of Flanders.

Gent-Wevelgem by Cannondale Pro Cycling:




***HOT OFF THE PRESS***
Gilbert, Phinney Withdrawn From BMC Tour of Flanders Roster

Press Release: The BMC Racing Team revised its roster for the Tour of Flanders Thursday, replacing Philippe Gilbert and Taylor Phinney with Adam Blythe and Klaas Lodewyck.

Leaders Still Hushovd, Van Avermaet
Gilbert is suffering from a minor cold that he picked up at Paris-Nice, while Phinney experienced pain above his right knee during Gent-Wevelgem last week. BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said the roster changes will not significantly affect the team’s strategy for the 256.2 kilometer race on Sunday. “We still have a good team with guys like Thor Hushovd and Greg Van Avermaet, who are our main leaders,” he said. “But we have also seen in E3-Harelbeke that Daniel Oss is very strong. And we have a good back-up team with Marcus Burghardt, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schär and two teammates in Blythe and Lodewyck who were already prepared to race. So we are still confident that we will be there in the final.”

Primary Objectives Still Ahead
Gilbert said he wants to be healthy and on-form in time for his major objective: the Ardennes classics next month. “With my current condition, I know I cannot be successful at Flanders,” the world road champion said. “I want to give everything for the Ardennes classics, so I have decided to change my program and go to Vuelta al Pais Vasco to prepare. I need a stage race where I can go hard on the climbs. It’s always better for me to race than train because you can go much deeper in a race.” Phinney said he wants to be 100 percent for next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix, his goal race for the spring. “I’m confident if I stay at home in Italy and have a couple more days of recovery, I can be back 100 percent for Paris-Roubaix,” he said. “I could probably push through the injury but I wouldn’t be at my best. I would have to ride conservatively and that’s not the right position I want to be in for the team.”

Download the official BMC Racing Team race sheet (PDF with roster, statistics, bio, etc.): http://bit.ly/10LdYGF.

BMC Racing Team Tour of Flanders roster (March 31):
Adam Blythe (GBR), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).

Directeur Sportif: John Lelangue (BEL).
Assistant Director: Fabio Baldato (ITA).

The Tour of Flanders:




Underdog in the Tour of Flanders
Press Release: The Blanco Pro Cycling Team will begin Sunday in the Tour of Flanders as an underdog. According to Sports Director Nico Verhoeven, the team could provide for a surprise in the “Best of Flanders.”

“We’ve not played a meaningful role in the races running up to Flanders, but are certainly in a position to pull off the upset”, according to Verhoeven who will be assisted in Flanders by Jan Boven.

Boom appeared in Gent-Wevelgem to be his old self. “He flatted only at the deciding moment”, said Verhoeven, who added, “that was frustrating and because of that, it’s not entirely certain how he stands in comparison to a Peter Sagan for example.”

Vanmarcke took a nasty spill in Tirreno-Adriatico and injured his knee. The Belgian rode in the E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem but could not compete with the best. “Sep rode the race but was not racing and therefore without the proper preparation remains a question mark.”

Line-up:
Lars Boom, Sep Vanmarcke, Maarten Wynants, Maarten Tjallingii, Rick Flens, Jos van Emden, Robert Wagner and Jetse Bol.
Sports Directors: Nico Verhoeven & Jan Boven.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 1976:




RADIOSHACK LEOPARD TREK’s line-up for Ronde van Vlaanderen
Riders:
Fabian Cancellara, Stijn Devolder, Tony Gallopin, Danilo Hondo, Markel Irizar, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast & Hayden Roulston.
Director: Dirk Demol.



Lotto Belisol: Count down to the Ronde van Vlaanderen
Press Release: In less than one week the Tour of Flanders will take place, D-day of the Flemish spring. This year it coincides with Easter, what a feast! In these last days before the “Ronde”, an all-time classic that will be ridden for the 97th time, Lotto Belisol wants to get you into full cycling mode by Sunday with “Count down to the Ronde”. We shed light on the training of the riders for the Tour of Flanders. The week before the race especially rest and recuperation are important. For our leader Jürgen Roelandts there’s only an intensive training planned on Thursday, this is combined with a recon of the course of the “Ronde”.
Sunday finally comes the moment that a lot of riders have been preparing for months. Already during the training camp of December in Mojacar the classic riders of the team did specific trainings.

Bert Ackaert, Energy Lab: “On training camp the riders are divided in groups according to their profile and race programme. For the classic riders we choose a route that looks like the spring classics, so not with very long climbs or very steep parts. They get specific exercises, they have to ride on the head of the group in turn for a certain amount of time for example. Often they sprint to get used to the high intensity on a flat and on a slightly hilly road.”

The past few weeks the races followed each other fast, Jürgen Roelandts rode the Tirreno, a freezing Milan – Sanremo, the E3 Prijs and then Ghent – Wevelgem. In between the different races a rider doesn’t train much, because each time he needs to recuperate after and before another race. Although La Primavera passed off very atypically this year, the sun was never there, it didn’t ask a different approach in the days after.

Bert Ackaert: “After a race you always need one or two days of recuperation, then you have one or two days with a longer training, often on the course of the next races. That training is ridden at race speed or close to it, so that you put a pressure on specific muscles, which will also be the case during the race.”

In the week before the Tour of Flanders the Three Days of De Panne – Koksijde is on the cycling calendar. Jürgen Roelandts won’t be riding over there. After Ghent – Wevelgem two calm days will follow and in the middle of the week a recon of the “Ronde” is planned. The next days it will be again more calm with possibly a training behind the scooter or car. So no big exertions anymore. Bert Ackaert explains what a rider has to keep in mind in the final week.

Bert Ackaert: “A rider has to see his tank is completely full with energy on Sunday. The days before the “Ronde” he has to absorb a lot of sugars and carbohydrates, so the muscles are full with energy, and he has to drink sufficiently to optimally fill the fluid reserves of the body. Of course he has to make sure he stays healthy. By not taking part in the Three Days he avoids the possibility of crashes or illness because of riding in bad weather. Anyhow, an extra race isn’t necessary anymore if you have sufficiently raced in the previous weeks. In the final week it suffices to train and recuperate. A good night’s sleep and staying relaxed is also important. As a rider you have to see that you recover optimally from the trainings and past races, so that the day of the “Ronde” you are completely fit and you can stand at the start with full batteries and without any problems.”

We often hear from cycling connoisseurs: “Everything has to be perfect on the day of the “Ronde” to be able to win.” The preparation for that day starts much earlier, with the nutrition. A rider that doesn’t eat or drink sufficiently during the race can forget it, ask any great champion. And what before the race? When does a rider start to take in adjusted nutrition? We asked this to an expert in sports nutrition, Stephanie Scheirlynckx of our partner Energy Lab.

Stephanie Scheirlynck, Energy Lab: “For a long one day race the specific adjustment in nutrition already starts three days before the race. This means that the riders as from Thursday will adapt their nutrition to the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. They have to build up a big stock of carbohydrates, the rider has to take in as much food with sugar as possible. Carbs are mainly in pasta, rice, bread and potatoes.”

“That stock of carbohydrates is really important to the riders because the stock will be used up on the day of the race, so riders can carry on longer because of that stock of carbohydrates. A rider who doesn’t pay attention to this and takes on many fats will feel this on the day of the race. He won’t be able to go on that long unlike a rider that has had the right nutrition and he will sooner have physical discomforts.”

The rider has followed the nutrition rules from Thursday and wakes up on Sunday, what does he eat at breakfast? Nobody better to answer this question than soigneur Kurt Wouters of Lotto Belisol.

Kurt Wouters, soigneur Lotto Belisol: “The breakfast before a long one day race is different than the one in a stage race. First the riders eat the everyday things at breakfast: white bread with syrup, jam, oatmeal,… It doesn’t end with that, the riders have to take in carbs again by eating pasta, rice or an omelet.”

Now the breakfast has been digested the riders arrive at the first feeding zone, what do the riders get in their musette? Which nutrients do they have to absorb in a race and how much?

“The general rule is that a rider takes in seventy grams of carbohydrates per hour of racing. In a bidon there are thirty grams of carbs and an energy bar contains 25 grams. In the first feeding zone the musette will only contain some energy bars and gels, cakes and a sandwich. The second time the riders get more fluid nutrition and sometimes a cola.”

In the Tour of Flanders, and in other spring classics, people of Lotto Belisol stand on the side of the road with wheels and bidons. In the most recent E3 Prijs unfortunately this was illustrated when Jürgen Roelandts had to change his wheel on top of the Oude Kwaremont. Sports director Bart Leysen will map out the route for this Sunday. Together with a soigneur and mechanic he will ride a parallel Tour of Flanders. We also asked sports director Herman Frison to share his experience with us and tell us how this is organized.

The day before the race the road book is checked to see if there are any changes in the course. Then the most crucial points are chosen, like the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg and the Haaghoek. Only for Paris-Roubaix this route is really drawn on a map. The day before the “Ronde” the riders will be briefed about the places where they can get help. In the race this is also mentioned to the team direction through a text message or the radio, they give that information to the riders through the communication system. The VIP buses of Lotto Belisol, of which the drivers are former riders, have two sets of wheels and bidons with them. Each time they make a stop they inform the team car. Our people along the route are always easy to recognize, they wear a jersey of the team. Experience in the team car and as a rider is of high importance to know where you have to stand and how you can take shortcuts.

Herman Frison, sports director: “If one of our guys has a flat tyre on one of the hills we can inform him through his earphones that he should try to ride until the top because someone of the team is standing there with another wheel. That happened when Jürgen Roelandts had a puncture last week on the Kwaremont. Of course that doesn’t always succeed, but last Friday it did. This system isn’t only of high importance when a rider has bad luck, but also to hand out drinks. A rider should drink about three bidons an hour, now it’s not that warm, but normally in spring the temperatures can already rise high and if a team car has a high number in the caravan we can’t immediately get to our riders. Especially in the hill section it is important that our riders can take on bidons from the VIP buses or our extra car.”

The parallel Tour of Flanders is hectic. Experience is of high importance. The cars have to be careful not to get blocked in traffic. Each time you have to stand on the right because otherwise you have to wait until the whole caravan has passed before you can cross the road and get back into your car. Especially in big races like the “Ronde” there are many followers, an official certificate that you’re part of the race makes it easier to be let through by the police and people of the organization. Sunday Bart Leysen will cut off the course with a soigneur and mechanic in a car and they will wait for the riders with wheels and bidons on about eight spots. Each time it’s necessary to have a good escape route.

Bart Leysen, sports director: “That the Tour of Flanders for a big part consists of three loops since last year, makes it a lot easier for us; we have to move less. We like to stand near the top of a hill, because when it’s uphill it’s easier to hand out bidons. That’s why you’ll hardly see us on a flat part of the course. When everything is still together and the team cars are close behind the peloton, it isn’t necessary to have someone on the side of the road. A few kilometers before the places where we do stand Marc Sergeant will remind the riders that we will be there with wheels and drinks.”
Thanks to the Lotto Belisol team for the insight into their Flanders preparation.

2012 Ronde final:




Liège-Bastogne-Liège Route Change
Road works have forced the Belgian race organizers to drop the climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. An alternative has been difficult, the Côte de Tilff was suggested but it has a temporary bridge, also the Côte du Sart Tilman (which used to be on the route until 2007) has been rejected due to a horse show the same day. The most likely climb to be used will be the Côte de Colonster which is 2.9 kilometres long with a 5.5% gradient, but has a sharp bend on the approach.

The 2005 Liège; a good year for Vino:




Blanco: Territorial Battle in Limburg
Press Release: It is the only race that Sports Director Frans Maassen requested before the season: the Volta Limburg Classsic. The race will be run this Saturday (30 March) , and for Maassen, born in Limburg, it is a territorial battle

“Personally, I find it one the more appealing races of the year. A race in the Netherlands is already special but being in Limburg adds another dimension. I am going to try to impart my enthusiasm on the riders. For me, it is a question of honour. Jos van Emden was once very close to victory (in 2010 he was second) but we’ve never won it outright. That is something I would like to see change.

Maassen will have a fit team at his disposal in Limburg. That will figure importantly, according the Sports Director, as it should be a challenging and rather tactical race. “We’ll have to do business with some very serious contenders. Katusha has a good team and moreover the winner of Milan-San Remo, Gerard Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka), is also in the race. We want to contend for the victory. We don’t have any leading contenders but we are going to make the going as difficult as possible for the others.

Team line-up:
Theo Bos, Graeme Brown, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Paul Martens, Bram Tankink and Moreno Hofland.
Sports Director: Frans Maassen.

Volta Limburg Classic 2012 – Final kilometers:




Valverde, Quintana recon Pyrenean Tour stages
Movistar Team riders profit from geographical proximity after the end of the Volta, do recon of Pyrenean stages of this year’s Grande Boucle

Press Release:
After a Volta a Catalunya full of contrast for Alejandro Valverde and Nairo -the Spaniard crashing out while wearing the leader’s jersey; the Colombian losing the overall podium after a brilliant stage victory-, the duo took advantage of the finish in Barcelona to take a short trip and recon the Pyrenean stages of the 100th Tour de France.

Accompanied by DS José Luis Arrieta, the two Movistar Team riders spent two days on French soil inspecting the routes of stages eight and nine -to be ridden on the weekend of July 6 and 7-, finishing at Ax 3 Domaines and Bagnères de Bigorre, respectively. Monday saw the Blue expedition covering the finale of Saturday’s trek, the first mountain-top finish of the race, with Ax 3 Domaines (8km / 8%) preceeded by the infamous, long (15-kilometer) ascent of Pailhères (2,000 meters above sea level), as well as the first three climbs of stage nine. In turn, Valverde and Quintana rode the rest of Sunday’s stage yesterday – the 165km between Saint Girons and Bagnères de Bigorre do not feature a hilltop end, but to include five major climbs across the route: Portet d’Aspet, Menté, Peyresourde, Val Louron-Azet and the Hourquette d’Ancizan, the latter one just 30k from the finish.

On their way back home in Pamplona, the telephone squad completed their busy schedule with the climb towards Formigal, where stage 16 of the Vuelta a España will finish. Both Quintana and Valverde will stay in Navarra for the team time trial training together with the rest of the Movistar Team at the Circuito de Navarra (Thursday and Friday) before getting back into racing: Valverde will return in the GP Miguel Indurain (Saturday), while Quintana is set to race the Vuelta a La Rioja (Sunday).

Alejandro Valverde: “It was a huge load of climbs and long trips into the team car these two days, but it really was worth the effort. Though we have raced in the Pyrenees many times, there were climbs like the two ones on the first day, Val Louron and the Hourquette, that I didn’t know, so it was good to know perfectly what we’re going to tackle this July. Even with the snow alongside the routes, we could climb all ascents, and that’s important. Any of those two stages might become decisive, because both are quite hard. Though everything will be left to the finale on stage eight, the road before Pailhères is also difficult and the group will be really stretched. The two climbs are difficult, but Pailhères seemed really difficult to me, to be honest. It will be the first mountain stage in this year’s Tour de France and that makes it even more dangerous. The second one is not so long, but there isn’t a single meter of rest. It’s gonna be a fast, nervous one, and if you have a bad day there… I’m fully recovered from Catalunya’s crash and I’m feeling well on the bike. Now I’ll be racing at Estella, Rioja and Amorebieta before the classics.”

Nairo Quintana: “It was important to recon these stages to get used to what we’ll find in July. I didn’t know the climbs and I quite liked them. All of them have steep slopes and some, like Pailhères, are rather long – that suits me. Weather was king with us and we could take on all climbs except the final part of the Pailhères and the last climb of stage nine. There’s still a very long way to go, many months, but doing this recon makes me even more excited towards my Tour debut. That’s the dream of every single cyclist, and also mine.”

Tour De France – The Pyrenees:




Two tests in Brittany up for the Escarabajos
Press Release: Team Colombia’s season continues in France, with two tests in Brittany (North-West France) characterized by treacherous routes and cold temperatures. On Friday, March 29th, the team will race at French semiclassic Route Adélie de Vitré, whose final is set to show a battle between brave escapees and the sprinters’ teams. The riders will face two circuits, the first of about 21 Km to repeat 6 times, and the second of 9 Km to be repeated 8 times for overall 198 Km. The finishing line, located in the center of Vitré, is preceded by a 300 metres, slightly uphill final drag.

Two days later (Sunday, March 31st), on Easter day, the riders guided from the team car by Valerio Tebaldi and Oliverio Rincon will be contention at the Val d’Ille Classic. Once again, two circuits will compose the day’s route: the first loop, almost 20 Km long, will be repeated 8 times and the second one (6,3 Km) 5 times, for total 190 Km.

For both races, Tebaldi and Rincon will field a 6-man line-up. Punchy riders like Leonardo Duque could be comfortable on such routes, but Juan Esteban Arango, Edwin Avila, Carlos Julian Quintero, Duber Quintero and Juan Pablo Valencia will also get the chance to show up in France. Sports Director Tebaldi looks confident his team will be up for the challenge: “We are going to France with a combative line-up, with three riders – Duque, Carlos Quintero and Avila – in good condition and poised for good results. On the other hand, Arango Duber Quintero and Valencia have less days of competition under their belt – for different reasons -, but I still expect a gutty and selfless performance by them. It’s going to be a tough couple of races, but I am confident in this group’s chances to be in the mix, even on routes that don’t suite the typical Colombian rider profile.”

Route Adélie de Vitré (March 29th) – Val d’Ille Classic (March 31st):
Team’s Line-up:
Juan Esteban Arango, Edwin Avila, Leonardo Duque, Carlos Julian Quintero, Duber Quintero, Juan Pablo Valencia
Sports Directors: Valerio Tebaldi, Oliverio Rincon.

Route Adélie de Vitré 2012 – Report:




It was a Great Show at the Gala Evening for The Tour De Pologne
A party to present the 70th edition and retrace the first eighty years of the Polish race

Press Release:
On Sunday, March 24th, the BG¯ Arena in Pruszkow, Warsaw, set the stage for the evening gala celebrating the 70th Tour de Pologne.
The evening was presented by Barbara Pedrotti and Maciej Kurzajewski and punctuated by music and breath taking light shows as it recalled the most memorable stages from the first 69 editions of the Polish stage race, covering more than 80 years of history since its inception, with black and white images of the pioneers in Polish cycling up until the more recent editions of the UCI World Tour Tour de Pologne. The night’s most magical moments were also broadcast on television by channel TVP Info.

As always, Director General of the Tour de Pologne Czeslaw Lang did the honors of host. Once again this year the Tour de Pologne enjoys the patronage of the President of the Republic Bronislaw Komorowski, confirming itself as the nation’s most important sports event and the most important race in all of Eastern Europe. Numerous guests from the world of sports and politics were involved in the event, including: Waldemar Pawlak (vice premier and ex minister for the economy), Beata Stelmach (vice minister of foreign affairs) and Katarzyna Sobierajska (representing the Polish ministry of sport and tourism).

“To celebrate edition number 70 I wanted to give cycling fans and lovers something special,” explains Czeslaw Lang. “To start off from Trentino in Italy is a dream come true for me; the Dolomites have written the legends of cycling and this is why I’ve always wished to also bring the Tour de Pologne to these climbs. I thank everyone present, particularly the delegations from the cities that will host the stages in the 2013 race and all our sponsors, from Skandia, Tauron, Lotos and Bank BG¯, who always support us and without which it would not be possible to organize the race every year.”

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of the loop at the BG¯ Arena, which has already been the theater for Track World Championships (2009) and European Championships (2010), young and super young talents from Polish cycling participated in a exhibition competition as the attending crowds cheered them on.

It was a terrific party which then retraced the route for the 2013 Tour de Pologne scheduled from July 27 to August 3. The greatest novelty for 2013 is definitely the start from Trentino in Italy. There are two stages scheduled to take place in Trentino. The stages will be Rovereto – Madonna di Campiglio and Marilleva Val di Sole – Passo Pordoi. At the gala Trentino was represented by Tiziano Mellarini, Councilman for Agriculture, Forests, Tourism and Promotion for the Autonomous Province of Trento.

“The late great Polish Pope, John Paul II, was very fond of the territory of Trentino and we are close friends with Poland,” says Councilman Mellarini. “We are honored to host the start of the 70th edition of the Tour de Pologne. For us this important initiative represents a further increase of our presence in Poland. The organization mechanism is well under way. Cycling is a major factor in our tourism offers and this is why we will be able to best receive the race and the entire Tour de Pologne caravan. Trentino is already well known in Poland for skiing and snow. The race will be the perfect occasion to also get to know the Dolomite climbs that make these Natural World Heritage mountains legendary in great cycling. We are really looking forward to hosting the Tour de Pologne and all Polish people.”

This year will witness an all-new phenomenon. It will be the first time the Tour de Pologne travels abroad and the first time a foreign World Tour race takes off from Italy. After Trentino and the Dolomites the Tour de Pologne will return within its national borders and continue firing up the crowds with another 5 stages: Krakow-Rzeszow, Tarnow-Katowice, Nowy Targ-Zakopane, Bukovina Terma Hotel Spa-Bukowina Tatrzanska and the final time trial at Wieliczka-Krakow.

Part of the evening was also dedicated to the collateral events catering to the public which contribute to the success of the race. The Nutella Mini Tour de Pologne is the event dedicated to kids, which for its sixth year will witness tomorrow’s young champions pedalling and challenging each other in good fun every day on the finish lines of each stage before the arrival of the big race. The Tour de Pologne Amatorów is the race that will bring all cycling enthusiasts together to pedal in the tire tracks of the pros in the reigning stage at Bukowina Tatrzanska.

Tour de Poland 2012:




Rapha Condor-JTL at the Tour of Normandy
Press Release: Rapha Condor JLT’s young team completed their first major challenge of the season at the Tour of Normandy last week.

The tough seven-day race once again proved a punishing test for the men in black, with untimely punctures and crashes hampering the team’s best efforts.

After a strong start on the first two stages, where the riders managed to avoid the numerous crashes the perilous run in on stage one, on stage three the team lost all hope of an overall challenge on the narrow finishing circuit in Elbeuf-sur-Seine. In the space of only five kilometers, a puncture each for Ed Laverack and Luke Mellor saw them both drop out of contention before a large crash in the bunch took out the rest of the team, leaving Richard Handley concussed and barely able to finish the stage.

Team manager John Herety was philosophical about the team’s performance in the race. “I’ve never seen a team going so well have so much bad luck all in one go. The boys have been performing really well so far this year and it was apparent that they had the legs, they just didn’t have the luck.”

“The racing at this time of year is always dangerous, so you have to accept these things happen, but more than anything I felt frustrated for the boys because they were going a lot better than the results show.”

Indeed, both Kristian House and Richard Handley, the two riders who undoubtedly had the potential for a high overall finish in the gritty French race, both lost over six minutes following the crash on stage three. While House was able to battle on Handley, who’d had to finish the stage under the supervision of the doctor, was unable to start stage four.

Despite the tough luck though there were several performances that Herety pointed out the team should be very happy with. Most notably that of Ed Laverack who, at eighteen years old, was the youngest rider in the race and whose tenacious display of riding to finish the event was a huge achievement for the youngster.

“I was impressed with Ed in what was his first real European stage race. This is a hard race, it’s not age restricted so you have long stages and a lot of strong riders who are at their physical peak. We didn’t ask anything of Ed but to look after himself and get round, and he did exactly that.”

“It was a tough baptism no doubt but, in terms of his and all of the young guys who completed this race for the first time this week, it marks a big step in their development.”

The team will now return briefly to the UK before heading back out to France this Thursday to ride the Boucles d’Artois stage race next weekend.

Tour de Normandie 2013 – Stage 3 – Highlights:




ORICA-GreenEDGE Tour de France Packages
Press Release: We are proud to announce ORICA-GreenEDGE has partnered with Phil Anderson Cycling Tours to create an exclusive Tour de France tour package.

With Le Tour celebrating its 100th birthday this year, we wanted to create something truly special to provide you with an amazing experience worthy of 100 years of celebration.

Throughout the 5 day, 4 night tour through the beautiful Loire region, you will get a chance to meet the ORICA-GreenEDGE riders racing the 2013 Tour de France along with the team managers, directors and staff. Tour the team bus and gain access to places normally only seen via our Backstage Pass videos while enjoying your own tour of France on the bike or as a spectator only.

Places are extremely limited to ensure this inner sanctum experience with the team. We look forward to having you join us on for the very special 100th edition of the Tour de France.
Click here to for more information and to reserve your ORICA-GreenEDGE Tour de France package.


Orica-GreenEDGE Backstage Pass – Tour de France stage 9 Time Trial:




Saxo-Tinkoff Team: Matti Beschel
Saxo Cycling will be releasing exclusive films featuring their riders celebrating the 100th Tour de France. The first video Danish cyclist Matti Breschel looks forward to the Spring Classics, Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix and reflects on his return to the team and Bjarne Riis.





Any comments drop me a line, email address: alastair@pezcyclingnews.com or Twitter. And there is the PezCyclingNews Twitter and Facebook Fan Page.


 

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