Chris Froome wins Criterium International in Impressive SKY One-Two

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Chris Froome, last year’s runner-up in Tour de France behind team-captain Bradley Wiggins, kept his impressive form in Criterium International winning the queen stage of this mini-tour, the mountain-top finish in Col De l’Ospedale.

SKY took the charge as the riders started climbing the Col De l’Ospedale, Vasil Kiryienka putting a great effort and shaking the peloton down to 20 riders. And with 6 kilometers to go, IAM Cycling’s Johann Tschopp escaped and eventually dropped Kiryienka. But it was Chris Froome destroying the field with his solo attack, later followed by Paris-Nice champion Richie Porte, who finished the stage in second place. Despite huge expectations, BMC’s Tejay van Garderen only managed to grab the last podium spot thanks to his time-trial performance in stage 2.

SKY once again dominated the climb and spread fear amongst their rivals as the grand tours are approaching.

“It wasn’t my intention to attack so early on in the climb but Richie sat off a little bit and gave me a gap and no one chased,” Froome said about his attack. “So I pushed on a bit knowing that he could stay protected behind other wheels, which allowed him to attack in the final couple of kilometres himself. So we couldn’t have asked for better”

Final Kilometers

Final General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 6:55:23
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 32″
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 54″
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 1′ 00″
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 1′ 08″
7. Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1′ 33″
8. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ 1′ 37″
9. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling 1′ 43″
10. John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 2′ 05″

Stage 3 Results

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:43:38
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 30″
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 45″
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Criterium International 2013 Stage 3 Preview

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Featuring six categorized climbs, and ending atop the first-category l’Ospedale summit, Criterium Internatinal’s third and final stage will be the decider of this year’s winner.

Last year, on the same stage, it was Cadel Evans defending his yellow jersey after his Stage 2 TT victory, and in 2011 when it was the opening stage of Criterium International, Frank Schleck won it with a 20 seconds margin.

Team Sky’s Richie Porte and Chris Froome, BMC’s Cadel Evans and Tejay Van Garderen, Garmin-Sharp’s Andrew Talansky and AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Peraud will be the main riders to watch on the l’Ospedale climb.

GC Before Stage 3

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 2:11:53
2. Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1″
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
4. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 2″
5. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 7″
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
8. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 9″
9. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 11″
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team

Col de l’Ospedale Profile

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Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 – Race Report

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Tirreno-Adriatico attracted many big names for its 2013 edition, but eventually it was last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali victorious once again, in Astana colors this time. Team Sky’s Tour De France GC hope Chris Froome finished the podium in second place whereas Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador finished third.

In the initial team time trial stage, it was Omega Pharma Quick-Step to cross the finish line fastest, putting Mark Cavendish into the overall lead. Australian sprinter Matthew Goss from Orica GreenEdge won the first sprint stage of the tour, and it was Cannodale’s Peter Sagan outsprinting Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel in the third stage.

In the queen stage of the race, the pelaton arrived to the mountains for a mountaintop finish in Prati di Tivo, which was goodbye to Maglia Azzura for Cavendish. Froome won the stage and shaked the general standings dramatically and thanks to the TTT performance of OMQ in the first stage, Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski stepped into the overall lead. Despite having only an overnight lead and losing time afterwards, Kwiatkowski still managed to finish the race in fourth place and on top of the young riders’ classification; pretty impressive for the 22-year-old Polish.

The fifth stage had Peter Sagan’s name written all over it, but he cracked on the drag of Pietragrossa with 6 kilometers to go before the finish line and Joaquim Rodriguez was then unrivaled in Chieti. it was Froome’s turn to wear the leader’s jersey this time.

The sixth stage, a transition stage in paper, proved once again how spectacular pro cycling can be. Peter Sagan won his second stage of the tour and Vincenzo Nibali advanced to the overall lead. Nibali now had 34 seconds lead over Chris Froome before the penultimate individual time trial, which he easily defended and won the Tirreno-Adriatico for the second year in a row.

Alberto Contador led the points classification, thanks to mostly his attacks for seconds modifications in the sprint gates; and some were positioned very elegantly indeed. Damiano Cunego of Lampre-Merida won the mountains classification with his breakaway performances in the fifth and sixth stages. Finally, congratulations to Movistar, they finished on top of the teams classification with four riders in the top 40.

Andy Schleck, meanwhile again failed to finish the tour. After Tour Down Under, Tour Mediterraneen and Strade Bianchi, his retirement in Stage 6 was his fourth quit this season. So far, he only managed to finish G.P. Camaiore, 5:30 behind winner Peter Sagan; not promising at all for the grand tours ahead.

General Classification

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 28:08:17
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 23″
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 52″
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 53″
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 54″
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 1′ 21″
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 2′ 03″
8. Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 2′ 42″
9. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 3′ 19″
10. Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 3′ 35″

Points Classification

1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 27 pts
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 26 pts
3. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 25 pts

Mountains Classification

1. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida 20 pts
2. Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-Endura 13 pts
3. Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 10 pts

Young Rider Classification

1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 28:09:10
2. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 16′ 34″
3. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ 16′ 47″

Teams Classification

1. Movistar Team 83:57:42
2. Sky Procycling 2′ 30″
3. Katusha 15′ 40″

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 Preview – Stage 7

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It is the last day of Tirreno-Adriatico and in the penultimate stage will be an individual time-trial, in one of the most important touristic centers of Adriatic Coast, San Benedetto del Tronto on 12 March, Tuesday. The stage is flat and relatively short, 9.2 km in length. And it won’t be enough for Chris Froome or Alberto Contador to close the gap.

Both Froome and Contador are excellent time-trialists but Vincenzo Nibali in maglia azzurra will not lose his 34 seconds margin unless he slips in a corner. We may have rain showers in the afternoon but they’ll all start back to back and suffer equally and to be honest, I don’t think Nibali will risk it much.

There are no time bonuses, and most recently Nibali finished the Tour de San Luis 19 km time-trial stage in fourth place, Michal Kwiatkowski was third, 3 seconds faster than Nibali and Contador was 43 seconds behind.

It’ll be Froome’s first time-trial this season. Last year in TdF, he came second after Bradley Wiggins where Nibali was in the Top 20 of both time-trial stages. And within the 90 km combined, Froome managed to make a difference of 3:52. If you do the math, with last year’s performance repeating itself, Froome will still only ride 23.5 seconds faster than Nibali; that won’t be enough…

The stage suits Tony Martin very well and he should be written down as the strongest candidate to win the time-trial, Fabian Cancellara and Lars Boom are also close to winning.

And finally, podium prediction:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Chris Froome
3. Michal Kwiatkowski

GC before Stage 7

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astan a Pro Team 27:57:26
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 34″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 37″
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 48″
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 58″
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 1′ 05″
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 1′ 20″
8. Pryzemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 2′ 54″
9. Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 2′ 58″
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM 3′ 08″

Sagan wins Stage, Nibali in Maglia Azzurra!

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Despite the quite strong 16-rider early breakaway today, SKY and Cannondale worked in the front all day long and as the riders approached Muro di Sant’Elpidio for the last time, whatever was left from the break finally got erased. Last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the technical descent followed by Peter Sagan, and later joined by Stage 5 winner Joaquim Rodriguez and formed a very strong late break.

Alberto Contador as well attacked on the descent but got stuck in the chasing group. Race leader Chris Froome, losing all his SKY lieutenants, found sanctuary by catching Cadel Evans‘ group. SKY now owes Thor Hushovd a big “thank you” for his efforts in the final kilometers.

The leading trio entered the final kilometers with more than 30 seconds ahead of Contador’s group and it came to a sprint finish between them to decide the winner. Sagan easily blasted home to grab his second win in this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico.

“In the breakaway were too many riders. Sky was on the front all of the race. When I felt good to make a good stage, I told my riders t to bring back Cunego and the other riders in the breakaway,” told Sagan. “Anyway, I am very happy. Vincenzo did a very good attack on the climb and afterwards on the descent, then we did the last climb also with Joaquim who came on the front. From there it was only ten kilometres to the finish – I am very happy.”

Vincenzo Nibali took the race leader’s jersey from overnight leader Chris Froome and will wear the blue jersey – Maglia Azzurra in the penultimate time-trial.

GC after Stage 6

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astan a Pro Team 27:57:26
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 34″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 37″
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 48″
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 58″
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 1′ 05″
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 1′ 20″
8. Pryzemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 2′ 54″
9. Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 2′ 58″
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM 3′ 08″

Stage 6 Results

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 5:45:17
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 2″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
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Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 Preview – Stage 6

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Stage 6 is a looping circuit around Porto Sant’Elpidio in the Fermo province on 11th March, Monday. There is only 1 categorized climb, which will be passed 3 times though it is a rolling circuit. We’re heading with this transition stage to tomorrow’s penultimate time-trial, and the fatigue of back to back mountain stages makes it very unlikely for the GC teams to chase a breakaway. Only SKY is expected to work with Maglia Azzurra on the shoulders of Chris Froome, though they’ll be more interested in keeping the GC as it is rather than winning the stage.

Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel are without a victory so far in Tirreno-Adriatico. They may both want the stage but OPQ may be more willing to keep podium candidate Michal Kwiatkowski away from trouble. Both Francesco Chicchi and John Degenkolb abandoned the race whereas Matthew Goss and Peter Sagan each won a stage so far. And I don’t think FDJ, AG2R, MTN-Qhubeka or Lampre-Merida has the strength to chase a break and then enter the sprint with a good positioning.

Everything favors some strong breakaway to succeed, a good rouleur with fresh legs can score a very prestigious win here.

Rodriguez Unmatched on Final Climb

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Team SKY once again worked very hard and managed to drop Peter Sagan 6 kilometers to go on the drag of Pietragrossa. Overnight race leader Michal Kwiatkowski stayed within the group until the final ramp in Chieti but Joaquim Rodriguez‘s solo break with more than a kilometer to go was the end of his jersey dream. Katusha’s Rodriguez soloed all the way to the top to collect his second win of the season, while the rest of the GC contenders upped the pace even more, cracking Kwiatkowski.

Bauke Mollema of Blanco came second, winning the sprint amongst the elite climbers and Alberto Contador came third, getting the last time bonus. Despite finishing the stage in 5th spot, Chris Froome is now the race leader as we’re heading to a spectacular 9.2 km time trial on Tuesday. For tomorrow, we’ll have a transition stage, very likely with little impact on GC. Contador, with his attacks for the sprint gates, now leads the points classification and will wear the red jersey tomorrow.

GC after Stage 5

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 22:11:53
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 20″
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 24″
5. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 37″
6. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 52″
7. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 55″
8. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 57″
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1′ 27″
10. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 1′ 51″

Stage 5 Results

1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 6:06:43
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 8″
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
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Froome wins Prati di Tivo, Kwiatkowski stepped into Maglia Azzurra

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SKY proved once again how strong their team is, it was BMC that led the peloton to the footsteps of Prati Di Tivo, then SKY took the lead with Sergio HenaoDario Cataldo and Rigoberto Uran respectively to carry their leader Chris Froome to the top; ignoring the attacks from Alberto Contador only by keeping their pace high.

We saw Cadel Evans and Joaquim Rodriguez losing contact with the front group; and just before the final kilometers, it was down to 7 riders. Froome, with 1 kilometer to go, made the attack no one could respond to and won the queen stage of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico.

“I’m really happy with that victory, it was a really good day for us,” told Froome. “I only ended up doing a kilometer in the wind myself. It really was an armchair ride. My team did great work. They all helped me to be up there in the finale and fresher than everyone else.”

Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma-QuickStep, despite finishing the stage in 4th place, thanks to OPQ’s astonishing TTT in the first stage, now sits on top of GC. Another OPQ rider, Mark Cavendish still leads the points classification and will wear the red jersey.

GC after Stage 4

1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 16:04:59
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 4″
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 16″
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 30″
5. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 33″
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 40″
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 55″
8. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team 1′ 04″
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1′ 16″
10. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha

Stage 4 Results

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 04:41:31
2. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 6″
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 11″
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Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 Preview – Stage 4

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The queen-stage of Tirreno-Adriatico between Narni and Prati Di Tivo on 9th March, Saturday will be the real duel between the general classification contenders.

The same riders in the field today, seeking a stage win in Prati Di Tivo were also present in Tour of Oman this year. It was Joaquim Rodriguez winning the Green Mountain stage, Chris Froome with 4 seconds behind grabbed the yellow jersey and kept it later on; Cadel Evans came third 22 seconds behind and it was Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali with 30+ seconds behind finishing 4th and 5th.

Green Mountain is a 10%, 6 km climb with sectors reaching 18%, Prati Di Tivo is a 14.6 km with 7.1% average climb, 12% at max. It can be a bit hard for Rodriguez to attack in the final kilometer or sprint in the last meters this time, but still we’ll have to wait and see to find out who is in better form.

Last year, it was Vincenzo Nibali winning, 16 seconds ahead of Roman Kreuziger in the snow-capped hills of Prati Di Tivo. It will be the day Mark Cavendish says goodbye to Maglia Azzurra and the GC race gets shaped.

Final Climb – Prati Di Tivo

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OPQ wins TTT – Cavendish became the first leader

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Omega Pharma Quick-Step was the fastest team in the Tirreno-Adriatico opener and they put Mark Cavendish into the overall lead. They were down to 5 riders for the final kilometers, but thanks to German powerhouse Tony Martin, OPQ finished 11 seconds ahead of Movistar and 16″ away from BMC.

Amongst the pre-race favorites, Cadel Evans has now 4 seconds margin over last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali, 9″ over Chris Froome and 13″ over Alberto Contador. “The differences are important, we lost 16 seconds with BMC and also lost time to Astana and Sky, who are direct rivals, but we cannot think that this is definitive. It is true that these races are won or lost by a few seconds, but well, this is just beginning,” told Contador after the stage.

Results

1. Omega Pharma-Quick Step 19′ 24″
2. Movistar Team 11″
3. BMC Racing Team 16″
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