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EuroTrash Thursday!
The ’14 season is at ‘Full Gas’ now. The Tours of Oman, Andalucía and Algarve with all the usual reports and video, plus we look forward to the Haut Var at the weekend. Today’s Top Story looks at how much early racing some top riders have done. In other cycling news: Froome, Cancellara, Deignan and Pantani all feature. Also the sad news of Kristof Goddaert. Thursday EuroTrash coffee time.

TOP STORY: So Who has been Racing the Most so Far?
Alberto Contador begins his season in Algarve. Chris Froome yesterday pin'd on his first number in Oman. In contrast, Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodríguez have already accumulated11 days of competition and 1,500 kilometres in their legs. Even Nairo Quintana, Cadel Evans and Richie Porte have harvested their first wins.

The race for the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia began months ago from mid-January in Australia and Argentina. Contador takes his first pedal strokes in Portugal, as in 2009 and 2010, his best years; Froome, like last year, Tejay Van Garderen, Andy Schleck and Roman Kreuziger all roll out in Oman; Bauke Mollema takes his first kilometres in Andalusia. Daniel Martin has not started yet. The Tour Down Under, San Luis and Dubai started the season and it has continued in Qatar, Bességes, Mediterranean, Oman, Algarve and Andalusia and it’s still only February.

Joaquim Rodriguez and Vincenzo Nibali have had 11 days of competition (up to Oman) and 1,448 kilometres, and have San Luis, Dubai and Oman under their belts. In Australia, Cadel Evans and Richie Porte raced in the Australian Championships, second and third respectively, beaten by Simon Gerrans, and in the Tour Down Under, second and fourth, with a stage win each. The BMC man reappears this weekend in Haut-Var and the man from Sky in Andalucía, 7 days and almost 1,000 kilometres. The Colombian Nairo Quintana has also raced with his Movistar Team in San Luis; he was untouchable in the mountains and was the ultimate victor, again seven days and 1,030 kilometres accumulated. And what about Michal Kwiatkowski, he kicked off in Mallorca, won a trophy and gave Meersman another. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has raced for 12 days, 7 in San Luis and 5 at the Tour of the Med.

Bradley Wiggins, Rigoberto Uran, Andrew Talansky and Chris Horner started in Mallorca, Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler (after breaking his collarbone before debuting in Australia), premiered at the Tour of the Med. Alejandro Valverde and Rui Costa, also debuted in Dubai with Ryder Hesjedal and continue this week in Andalusia and Algarve, respectively, and Robert Gesink has only competed in the six-day Tour Down Under.

The French hope of FDJ; Thibaut Pinot made his debut in La Marseillaise and then had a fever yesterday and was prevented from starting in Oman. Ivan Basso also accumulates one day of competition at the GP Etruscans.

The season starts earlier every year, but from the list below you can work out who will be riding the Giro and who is aiming at the Tour, although Dan Martin is supposed to be on the line in Belfast but hasn’t turned a pedal in anger yet. Here are the numbers:
Thanks to bibciciclismo for the numbers.

UCI competition days (to 17 February):
12 Betancur
11 Nibali, Rodriguez, Van den Broeck
10 Quintana
7 Evans, Porte, Pozzovivo
6 Barguil, Costa, Gesink, F. Schleck
5 Rolland, Voeckler
4 Hesjedal, Kwiatkowski, Valverde
3 Horner, Uran, Wiggins
2 Talansky
1 Basso, Pinot
0 Contador, Froome, Kreuziger, D. Martin, A. Schleck.

Vincenzo NIBALI:
1447.9 km 11 days.

1447.9 km 11 days.

Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS:
1,030.8 km 7 days.

Richie PORTE:
999.1 km 7 days.

Cadel EVANS:
999.1 km 7 days.

Rigoberto Uran Uran:
497.9 km 3 days.

417.1 km 4 days.

Bradley WIGGINS:
335.9 km 3 days.

Tour of Oman 2014
André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) won Stage 1 of the Tour of Oman. It's the fourth victory for the German champion this season. In the bunch sprint he beat Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF).

The opening stage of the Tour of Oman started at the As Suwayq Castle and finished after 164,5 kilometres at Naseem Garden. Four riders formed the break of the day; Preben Van Hecke & Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) and Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthCare). The lead of the four riders rose up to more than seven minutes at one point, but behind Lotto Belisol led the chase.

In the final a group of riders lost contact with the front of the bunch and a gap was created. The peloton with André Greipel closed it down 20 kilometres before the end and the leaders were caught by the first group. Eventually the peloton regrouped and it became a bunch sprint and André Greipel was the fastest at the finish. This season he has already won stage four and six at the Tour Down Under and stage five in the Tour of Qatar. Greipel is also the first leader in Oman.

André Greipel: "The team took its responsibility in the first 90 kilometres with Lars Bak and Gert Dockx at the head of the bunch. They were controlling the breakaway on their own. There was a split in the bunch in the final, but with the headwinds the first group had no chance. Until 2,5 kilometres to go there was headwind, so it was important to stay together up to that point. In the last straight line there was a crosswind. Bak, Gallopin and Van den Broeck had to bring Ligthart, Sieberg, Roelandts and me in front there. That all worked out well and the guys did a well-timed lead-out. I could hold off everyone in a slightly head crosswind sprint. We deserved that win as we worked all day for it and again it was a nice team effort. I'm proud of the team."

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Lars Michaelsen says: "There was a lot of cross wind action going on out there and the peloton split up on several occasions. After 138 kilometres of racing, the field was divided into four groups but eventually everything came back together. Daniele (Bennati) wasn't feeling well today and finished outside the top ten."

For Tinkoff-Saxo's Roman Kreuziger this was his first race in 2014: "To me this is my first action in 2014 and I'm just happy to finally being back in the field. I enjoyed it and it was a nice day to back on track and to be working in the race rhythm."

Tour of Oman Stage 1 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol in 4:03:31
2. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
6. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin
8. Steve Chainel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
9. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
10. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 1:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol in 4:03:21
2. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 0:04
3. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 0:06
4. Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:07
6. Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek at 0:09
8. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Unitedhealthcare
9. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) at 0:10
10. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step.

Stage 1:

Alexander Kristoff earned his first victory of the season as well as the first for team Katusha in the 2014 racing season, pulling out a definitive sprint win in Stage 2 at the Tour of Oman, 139 km from Al Bustan to Quriyat. “In the final I started a little bit early with 500 meters to go. After a rider passed me, I took his wheel and with 200 meters I started again. I just concentrated on myself and my feelings and I gave my all for a victory,” explained Alexander Kristoff of the closing meters.

Second place went to Leigh Howard from Orica-GreenEdge, while Tom Boonen from Omega Pharma - Quick-Step was third.
“I am very happy with this victory today, - continued an enthusiastic Alexander Kristoff. - In my first race in Qatar I missed something. I went there ready after a good winter preparation, but I had some bad luck and several crashes. Yesterday for the first time I felt well and today for the entire stage I was in great shape. Thanks to the good work of my team I went through the entire stage without any troubles. Today the team worked as one united collective – everything was just perfect. This victory gives me more motivation for the season. I will try to progress day by day to be 100 percent ready for the classics season.”

After today’s victory Alexander Kristoff moved up to second place in general classification, at 2 seconds behind the current overall leader Leigh Howard.

Team director Torsten Schmidt spoke for the team: “We are all very happy. This is our first victory of the season. It came early in the season and this is always good. The atmosphere in the team is a great one and this victory will give us more motivation and confidence for the next stages where we also have ambitions. We are ready to continue in the Tour of Oman.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Lars Michaelsen says: “A breakaway trio launched their attack straight from the sound of the gun and created a gap of more than 7 minutes. We decided to help the sprinter teams reeling them back in and with 9 kilometres remaining, we succeeded in doing so. Our boys finished safely in the bunch with no time losses."

Before the start, there was a moment of silence in honour of Kristoff Goddaert who tragically passed away yesterday in a training accident.

Tour of Oman Stage 2 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 3:12:01
2. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
4. Robert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
6. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
10. Sam Bennett (Irl) Team NetApp-Endura.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 2:
1. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge in 7:15:20
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 0:02
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol
4. Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:08
6. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Paolo Colonna (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
8. Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 0:09
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol at 0:11
10. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek.

Stage 2:

Volta ao Algarve 2014
Sacha Modolo is not the kind of cyclists that requires a long period to familiarize with a new situation. He joined Team Lampre-Merida in 2014 and immediately he was revealed to be a winning cyclist, and today he took his victory total up to four.

Stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve (160 km from Faro to Albufeira) saw Modolo outsprint his team mate and World champion Rui Costa, ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and Bryan Coquard (Europcar).

The Lampre-Merida team looked after Modolo perfectly, allowing him to hit the target. Rui Costa too was at Modolo's disposal as he chased down Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) on the hill with 1 K to go, allowing Modolo to reach the summit in a very good position that launched the Italian to victory.

Modolo explains his feelings: "It's such a beautiful day, I could rely on the help of my team mates: Cattaneo and Oliveira gave their contribution to the chase of the five attackers, Horner and Polanc were precious when I faced a puncture at 30 km to go, Richeze and Ferrari led me to the head positions of the bunch in the approach of the final part of the race. Then, I could receive the support of the world champion. It's something so amazing, Rui asked me if I was feeling good, I told him that my legs would have supported me, so he chased Kwiatkowski and then he played the role of the pilot-fish in the final 500 metres. These four successes don't change my attitude and my programs: I'll go on training and working in a mild way, I don't want to feel the pressure of to high targets.”

Modolo added: “I think it's important to dedicate a thought to two young men that lost their lifes while cycling: I did not know personally Kristof Goddaert & Yung Hwan Youm, but their passing makes me so sad.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Philippe Mauduit was happy with a fairly easy start of the race: “For a lot of the riders here, this is the first race of the season and they’re here to get back in to the rhythm of the field and our boys all did very well today. Obviously, we’re not here to win sprinter stages and I guess tomorrow’s stage will probably stir up the GC after a quite demanding finale.”

Volta ao Algarve Stage 1 Result:
1.Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 3:51:46
2. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
5. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
6. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Fdj.Fr
7. Edgar Pinto (Por) La Aluminios-Antarte
8. Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp-Endura
9. Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Katusha
10. Juan Lobato (Spa) Movistar at 0:01

Volta ao Algarve Overall After Stage 1:
1. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 3:51:36
2. César Fonte (Por) Radio Popular at 0:01
3. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 0:04
4. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at 0:06
5. Luis Afonso (Por) La Aluminios-Antarte
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar 0:00:10
7. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Fdj.Fr
9. Edgar Pinto (Por) La Aluminios-Antarte
10. Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Netapp-Endura.

Stage 1:

Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol 2014
The 60th Vuelta a Andalucía started off with a bang for the Movistar Team as Alejandro Valverde will wear the leader's jersey on Thursday, following a convincing win in the 7.3km opening Prologue in the outskirts of Almería. The Spaniard had good references from the start of the day thanks to good performances from his team-mates, with Javi Moreno (8th) taking up the hotseat for some minutes, plus Ion Izagirre, who was able to beat the Sky trio of Vasil Kiryienka, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas by four seconds. 'Bala' went flat out into a course combining power straights and very technical sections, where the telephone squad's leader profited from his explosive conditions.

Valverde crossed the finish with a seven-second margin over Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), who had beaten Izagirre, eventually 3rd, minutes later, to claim his first win of the 2014 season, the Blues' fourth so far and the 74th in Alejandro's excellent pro career. The great performance by the whole squad, which now also leads the teams' classification, will go through difficult test tomorrow with a demanding stage one -178km from Vélez Málaga to Jaén- with a total six rated climbs and an exhausting finale through Locubín (Cat-2), Valdepeñas (Cat-2) and up to the finish at the Castillo de Santa Catalina (Cat-3.)

Alejandro Valverde: “I'm the first one who's surprised about this result, not only because of the win but also due to the time gaps against such rivals, in such a short TT. It's true that I had already won last year in front of strong guys, but the field competing here, especially in terms of time trial performance, was really hard to beat. I knew I was doing well with my form, but I didn't know how good. Profiting from our training camp in Almería, we came here on Monday to try the course. We reconnoitred it twice and I rode through it this morning with closed roads. I quite liked it because it had some pace changes. It was the first time on my new TT bike and this debut was impossible to improve. We're very satisfied with how it works - we did ride on them for several days in the Circuit of Almería, that was crucial because it was our first time on them and we had to accustom ourselves to the measures, the geometry... I'm back in the lead here, but there's a really hard race ahead of us. We'll go day by day, trying to keep the team together and doing well. The rivals will have to better us and we'll make it hard for them. I didn't prepare myself really hard to perform well this early in the season, but as I always say, it's easy for me to get into racing form, and the previous months, apart from some days with high fever after Dubai, didn't mean any troubles for me.”

Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol Prologue Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 8:22
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 0:07
3. Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar at 0:09
4. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky at 0:13
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:14
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
7. Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar at 0:15
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
9. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:16
10. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Trek at 0:17.

Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol Overall After the Prologue:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 8:22
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant Shimano at 0:07
3. Jon Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 0:09
4. Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Sky at 0:13
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:14
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
7. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:15
8. Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar
9. Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant Shimano at 0:16
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek.

Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol Prologue:

Kristof Goddaert Killed in Training Accident
Kristof Goddaert (IAM Cycling) died early on Tuesday afternoon when he crashed and a bus was unable to avoid a collision with the Belgian rider.

The accident occurred about 14:10, according to initial reports Goddaert was crossing train lines while training in Antwerp and lost his balance and fell and unfortunately a bus was unable to avoid the rider. Emergency services tried to revive Goddaert but he died on the spot. The bus driver was taken to the Stuivenberg Hospital in shock.

Goddaert had already ridden the Tour of Qatar this year. In 2012, he was second in the Belgian Championships won by Tom Boonen and was third in 2009. He had several top ten places in major classics, third in the Paris-Brussels in 2009 being the best of them. His only win came in a stage of the Tour de Wallonie in 2010. Goddaert made his Continental debut in 2007 with Davitamon and then rode for Topsport Vlaanderen (2008-2009), Ag2r-La Mondiale (2010-2012) and IAM Cycling (2013-2014).

The general manager of the team, Michel Thétaz Michel said he was "devastated, as is all the team, by this terrible news."

"We are primarily thinking of his family and loved ones to whom we offer our sincere condolences and assure them of our support in this terrible ordeal. At IAM Cycling, we lost Kristof Goddaert, an exemplary professional cyclist and a man of quality. He came to this team in December 2012 with a strong desire to meet with us in a new challenge. His good mood every day, enthusiasm and willingness to fully integrate qualities were appreciated.”

We send out condolences to his family, friends and team.

E3 Prijs Harelbeke 2012
Kristof Goddaert in the 2012 E3 Prijs Harelbeke.

Cancellara to go for the Hour Record in August
Allegedly Trek has chosen the D Day for Fabian Cancellara to attempt to break the Hour record on August the 3rd on the Velodrome in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The American Bicycle brand has prepared a full marketing event with live TV. La Gazzetta dello Sport speculates that the Trek cycling team, headed by Luca Guercilena, have "a very detailed calendar" until the 3rd of August, but nothing is official. Based on this information, on 3rd August, a week after the Tour de France, Cancellara could try to beat the hour record held by Ondrej Sosenka, who in 2005 covered 49,700 kilometres in Moscow.

The first question was whether to do it in spring after the classics, or in the summer, after the Tour. The first option was discarded as the Swiss rider wants to win Flanders and Roubaix, and then rest to prepare for the second half of the season.

The Italian sports daily stresses that "the situation is likely to evolve," but everything points to August the 3rd. Cancellara and the team around him train track between April and June and intensified sessions from July 22 (the tour does not end until 27). Do not want to leave anything to chance. "In any case, it is preparing a main event, with live television and major investments in marketing. Trek, for example, has created a panel of fifteen engineers and mechanics to support Fabian” confirms La Gazzetta.

The staff of the Trek Factory Racing with Guercilena at the head, has tested what may be the best scenario. In Europe and outside Europe. The velodrome of Aguascalientes, in Mexico is nearly 2,000 meters above sea level, with a clear advantage. Eddy Merckx in 1972 (49.431) and Francesco Moser in 1984 (50.808 and 51,151), the latter outlawed by the UCI because of the special bike, achieved these records in Mexico.

For their part the Trek team have issued this Press Release:
“An article in Tuesday’s Gazzetta Dello Sport on Fabian Cancellara’s hour record attempt brings the management of Trek Factory Racing to issue an official statement.

General Manager Luca Guercilena: “We haven’t taken any decision whatsoever about the time and the place for an attempt. As we have said before, the team will communicate in the appropriate time. Any other information that circulates around a possible attempt is premature.”

Guercilena confirms that the hour record attempt is a real project for Trek Factory Racing and an ambition for both Cancellara and the team in 2014.

“We are working on this project since some time now and we have a series of people managing the project, including engineers at Trek Bicycle. However, there is no present-day reference for this kind of endeavor and we are still studying all of its facets. We are in discussions with several tracks around the world, and in terms of timing, I can only confirm that we are no longer considering the period after the Classics for an attempt. The focus for Fabian is now fully on the Classics and an attempt to repeat the success of last year. After Paris-Roubaix, we’ll turn our attention to the hour record and we will have more details.”

The team would like to ask the members of the press to respect this position and will not make any further reactions to what should be dismissed as rumors.”

Meanwhile Cancellara has been racing in Oman, Dubai and Qatar.

Championat du Monde Cyclisme Route - TT elite men
Fabian Cancellara in Hour Record style?

Sánchez Debuts For BMC Racing Team At Haut Var
Press Release: The BMC Racing Team's roster for Tour du Haut Var this Saturday and Sunday will include a pair of former world road champions – Cadel Evans and Thor Hushovd – and past Olympic road race champion Samuel Sánchez, who will be making his season debut.

Several Options For Success
Hushovd was runner-up on a stage at the Tour Méditerranéen last week while helping teammate Stephen Cummings to overall victory. Last year, the reigning Norwegian national road champion won the opening stage of the two-day race. Sánchez finished second in his only participation in Haut Var in 2003 and says he is ready to test himself. "I am looking forward to finding my race rhythm and to joining the team in competition," he said. "I think we will be very strong with Cadel and Thor. I expect to be able to adapt myself to the squad fairly quickly and to be able to enjoy the help of my teammates." Evans will be starting the race for the first time but already owns a runner-up finish at the Australian national road championships and he scored the team's first win of the season on the way to runner-up honors at the Santos Tour Down Under. "Second places are not always as rewarding as they should be," Evans said. "But overall, they are good indications that things are returning to normal for me. That bodes well for the year ahead. I have had a good period of training since Tour Down Under here in Switzerland." BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said the team has a number of options for success. "We have a good team with two or three riders who can win stages, especially Thor on the first day," he said. "The second day will be a good test for Cadel before Tirreno-Adriatico."

Download the BMC Racing Team's official roster card (PDF with line-up, bios, statistics, etc.):

BMC Racing Team Tour du Haut Var Roster (Feb. 22-23):
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Cadel Evans (AUS), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Steve Morabito (SUI), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Larry Warbasse (USA).
Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA) & Yvon Ledanois (FRA).

Europcar to the Tour du Haut Var
The Tour du Haut Var runs this weekend; 22nd and 23rd of February.

Europcar line-up:
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Jérome Cousin, Cyril Gautier, Tony Hurel, Davide Malacarne, Brian Nauleau, Pierre Rolland, Angelo Tulik.
DS: Ismaël Mottier.

Tommy Voeckler in the 2011 Haut Var:

Luis Leon Sanchez Not 100% in Andalucía
Luis Leon Sanchez did not start the Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol yesterday (Wednesday) at 100% due to a stomach virus that has affected him in recent days. This would have been the Spanish Caja Rural-RGA rider’s fourth race of the 2014 season after the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, the Challenge Tour of Mallorca and the Mediterranean. Luis Leon Sanchez said "since last Saturday I’ve had a stomach virus and did not really know how I would be, I hope that all is good. We will see how the day goes and see how my body reacts.”

Luis Leon Sanchez wins the 2009 Paris-Nice:

No Classics for Froome, Again
Chris Froome will follow a similar schedule to last year on his way to try to win the 2014 Tour de France, a total of five stage races and no classics in its program.

From his debut on Tuesday in Oman, the Sky team leader has confirmed his next races will be the Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie and Criterium Dauphine, plus two training camps in Tenerife, one in April and one in May. Finally, Froome has ruled out any classics, neither the Milan-San Remo nor Liege. The Volta a Catalunya is new in his schedule for a total of 34 days of competition, before the Grand Depart in Yorkshire on July the 5th, compared to 30 last year. In 2013, he won in Oman, was second in the Tirreno-Adriatico, and won the Critérium International; he participated in Liège, the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné before putting the icing on the cake in Paris.

The best of Chris Froome 2011-2013:

Broken Collarbone for Deignan
Sky’s new signing; Philip Deignan did not start the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday because he broke his right collarbone while training at his home in Monaco. Deignan said on the Sky web-site that: “The medical team have taken a good look at it and we've decided not to have surgery, so I'm back home in Donegal now getting ready to go again.” This is his second broken collarbone in five weeks, the first in the Tour of Britain. In his statement he added: "My collarbone's a lot more mobile than the last time this happened so I'm hoping I’ll be back on the bike sooner rather than later. It's frustrating more than anything else when something like this happens. I was happy with the way things went at the Tour Down Under and I was looking to continue building my form at the Ruta del Sol. It's not the end of the world though, it could have been a lot worse, so I'm trying to look at it in a positive way." Deignan will recuperate in Ireland.

Santos Tour Down Under stage-3
Philip Deignan in the Tour Down Under.

PANTANI: ‘The Accidental Death of a Cyclist’ Biopic to be Released in Late April
New Black Films’ highly anticipated new feature documentary PANTANI: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist has been completed and is to be released in UK cinemas late April.

Ten years on from the death of one the most gifted climbers in the history of cycling, PANTANI: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist, tells the tragic story of the demise of one of the sport’s most intriguing characters.

A New Black Films and Media Squared Films production in association with 4 Rights, the work charts the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of Marco Pantani, the cyclist affectionately known as ‘Il Pirata’ for his diminutive, pirate-like image. Born in 1970 to a humble family in Cesanatico in northern Italy, by the late 1990’s Pantani had become the most successful, flamboyant and popular cyclist of his era.

In 1998, Pantani won both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia - a titanic feat of physical and mental endurance that no rider has repeated since. He was a hero to millions; at the time, the saviour of cycling following the doping scandals, which threatened to destroy the sport. However, less than six years later, aged just 34, he died alone, in a cheap Italian hotel room.

PANTANI: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist explores the startling truth behind one man’s remarkable descent from being amongst the finest athletes on earth to his tragic end in a sport riven by intrigue. The film combines scintillating race archive with contemporary news footage, stylised reconstructions, and interviews with Pantani’s friends, family, colleagues, and rivals, including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Evgeni Berzin and Greg LeMond.

Anticipation around the film in Italy, the UK and across the world has been high, with intrigue surrounding the enigmatic Pantani as strong now as in his heyday. Revelations about cycling’s dark doping history in the years since his death – and the inevitable accusations of his own participation in that culture – have done little to diminish the regard in which his outstanding natural talent is held. Public interest in the reasons behind Pantani’s flaws and a desire to learn his own side of his story has led to its telling on film for the first time.

PANTANI was made by the successful British partnership behind previous sporting documentaries One Night in Turin and The Battle of the Sexes. Multi-talented writer and director James Erskine also took on production duties together with Victoria Gregory, whose credits include the BAFTA Award-winning Senna and Academy Award-winning Man on Wire.

The film was launched last Thursday in Milan, Italy, and was attended by Pantani’s family, including his mother Tonina – who appears in the film – and father Paolo. It is now being shown across Italy in one of the largest ever releases for a feature documentary, and is set for a UK cinema release in late April 2014.

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