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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Paris-Nice 2013 – Race Report

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Despite losing the top dogs to Tirreno-Adriatico, this year’s Paris-Nice was once again full of drama. We saw the maillot jaune crash and quit, SKY’s dominance on the climbs and a classicist in top form early in March.

The race started with a very short prolog, won by Europcar’s Damien Gaudin – a big surprise for everyone, even within the pelaton. Next day, in French road champion colors Nacer Bouhani won the opening sprint stage, but unfortunately later crashed and had to quit the race, this time wearing the yellow jersey. Argos’ German sprinter Marcel Kittel later won sprint frenzy in Stage 2.

As the climbs starting to appear one after the other, the general classification started to shape up. In Stage 3, Garmin’s American rider Andrew Talanksy stepped in to the maillot jaune after winning from a successful breakaway that formed on the ascent of Cote de Mauvagnat. Michael Albasini won Stage 4 while Talansky managed to keep his jersey the day after.

As we approached the queen stage of the race, Talanksy was leading the GC only by 3 seconds, and a record number of 6 riders were following him all under 10 seconds behind. It was Richie Porte attacking to the yellow jersey, thanks to SKY’s climbing lieutenants. Porte kept his lead in the 6th stage, which was won by Sylvain Chavanel in sensational fashion.

As we approach the decisive time trial on the ascent of Col d’Eze, Porte was leading with 32 seconds which proved to be more than enough as he won the stage 17 seconds ahead of runner up Andrew Talansky. Jean-Christophe Peraud moved to the last spot of the podium with his last day performance, moving on top of Chavanel and last year’s runner-up Lieuwe Westra.

Sylvain Chavanel won the points classification, Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling won the mountains classification whereas runner-up Talanksy finished on top of young riders’ classification and won the white jersey. It was Katusha, leading the teams classification with 4 riders in the top 30.

General Classification

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:59:47
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 55″
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1′ 21″
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 1′ 44″
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 1′ 47″
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 1′ 48″
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 1′ 54″
8. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2′ 17″
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 2′ 22″
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2′ 28″

Points Classification

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 88 pts
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 83 pts
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 68 pts

Mountains Classification

1. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling 64 pts
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 27 pts
3. Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano 24 pts

Young Rider Classification

1. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 30:00:42
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 49″
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 59″

Teams Classification

1. Katusha 90:06:49
2. Ag2R La Mondiale 1′ 23″
3. RadioShack Leopard 3′ 38″

Porte became the first Australian champion of Paris-Nice

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Richie Porte of Team SKY retained his yellow jersey on the up-hill time-trial in Col d’Eze. Porte was 32 seconds ahead of his closest rival, American Andrew Talansky, and extended his lead to 55 seconds at the end of the day. Talansky, finished the stage second and grabbed the second place on the podium and kept the young rider’s classification jersey. AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Peraud finished the stage at fourth place, but the time difference was enough to bring him to the last podium spot.

Stage six winner Sylvain Chavanel finished seventh, good enough to finish Paris-Nice leading the points classification and Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling already had the mountain classification lead.

“I can’t believe it. It’s just an honor to have my name up there with Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin, all the big champions,” said Porte. “I’m still doing my apprenticeship, and I’m still learning off Bradley and Chris. I don’t expect to go to the Tour and ride for general classification. I’m in a good place at the moment and I don’t want to change anything. I’m going to take it as it comes. Whatever happens we’re gonna have a hell of a team for the Tour de France.”

Richie Porte finished the stage in 19′ 16″, 1 minute 40 seconds faster compared to his last year’s performance where he was working as a domestic for Bradley Wiggins, only 6 seconds slower than Wiggins’ last year performance. This simply proves how mental time-trialling is, if you have too much to lose, you simply do astonishing things.

Final General Classification

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:59:47
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 55″
3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1′ 21″
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 1′ 44″
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 1′ 47″
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 1′ 48″
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 1′ 54″
8. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2′ 17″
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 2′ 22″
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2′ 28″

Stage 7 Results

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:19:16
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0′ 23″
3. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0′ 27″
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Chavanel wins in Nice, Porte holds on to Yellow

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Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-Quicktep outsprinted Philippe Gilbert, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Samuel Dumoulin to win his first race of the season. It was Team SKY setting the pace all day long for their leader Richie Porte; they erased an 11-man early break and a late escape attempt by Chavanel and Astana’s Andriy Grivko. Porte kept his yellow jersey and is now 32 seconds clear of his rivals, still Col d”Eze will be a real test for him.

Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling was on the break once again, collecting 33 more mountain points and won the mountains classification of Paris-Nice with a huge lead, one stage early on. With this win, Sylvain Chavanel is now leading in the points classification and will wear the green jersey on the final stage of Paris-Nice and will most probably keep it at the end of the day. Chavanel also moved above Lieuwe Westra in GC and now sits at thirs position. Andrew Talansky, lost his green jersey but is still leading the young riders’ classification and will wear the white jersey tomorrow, though Teejay Van Garderen is 20 seconds behind and he is better time-trialist compared to Talansky.

Check out Paris-Nice Stage 7 Preview for more detail.

General Classification

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 29:40:31
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 32″
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 42″
4. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 49″
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 52″
7. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 53″
8. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 54″
10. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 1′ 08″

Stage Results

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 5:14:23
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
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Richie Porte Attacks into Yellow in Stage 5

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Team Sky lead the peloton on top La Montagne de Lure, getting it thinner and thinner every second. They were down to 40 riders when Jens Voigt from the break got caught, and down to 15 with 2 kilometers to go. Yellow jersey holder Andrew Talansky made a couple of unsuccessful attempts but it was Sky’s long-time domestic Richie Porte‘s break that shaped the podium. With 1.3 kilometers to go, Porte surged ahead of Talansky, caught Denis Menchov of Katusha who finished the stage second later on, and rode solo the rest of the way.

Porte finished the stage 26 seconds ahead of Menchov and an another 7 seconds clear from the rest of the contenders including Talansky and last year’s runner-up Lieuwe Westra, and now leads the GC with 32 seconds. “I’ve done an apprenticeship if you like under Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome and also before that Alberto Contador,” told Porte after his first win over a year. “You don’t always get the opportunity to ride for yourself in a team like this so when it comes you have to grab it with both hands. It’s just nice to get a big victory and I’ll take the rest as it comes.”

Andrew Talansky is now in green jersey, leading points classification and young riders’ general classification. An another American rider Teejay Van Garderen of BMC will be wearing the white jersey. Thierry Hupond was on the breakaway group and collected 24 mountain points but came short of Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling who still leads the Mountains jersey with 31 points.

GC after Stage 5

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 24:26:08
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 32″
3. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 42″
4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 49″
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 52″
6. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 53″
7. Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 54″
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 56″

Stage 5 Results

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 4′ 50′ 54″
2. Denis Menchov (Rus) Team Katusha 26″
3. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 33″
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Albasini won Stage 4, Talansky still in yellow

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Last 2 years’ stage 4 winners, Thomas Voeckler and Gianni Meersman were on the break today, but they couldn’t succeed and consumed by the peloton with 14 kms and the final categorized climb to go. Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling was the first to pass the first five mountain gates and collected 29 points, which put him on top of the mountains jersey classification.

With the final climb, an elite group formed in the front and similar to Stage 3, lots of riders including Sylvain ChavanelNicolas Roche and Robert Gesink tried to escape from the groupetto that formed after the descent. But all those break attempts only increased the pace, and positioning mattered. It was Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Albasini who clinched his first victory of the season with a very long sprint in the final 500 meters. Maxim Iglinskiy from Astana came second while Peter Velits came third.

24-year-old Andrew Talansky defended his yellow jersey in this tricky stage, but the GC race is now even more tight. And we’ll be heading a mountain-top finish on Friday and an up-hill time-trial on Sunday, which will be quite a challenge for the young American. Even if Talansky doesn’t lose time in the mountain stages, he is no better time-trialist than neither Andriy Grivko nor Lieuwe Westra.

GC after Stage 4

1. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 19:35:17
2. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 3″
3. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 4″
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
5. Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 5″
6. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 6″
7. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 7″
8. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 13″
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 15″

Stage 4 Results

1. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge 4:55:41
2. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
3. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
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