Gent-Wevelgem 2013 – Preview and TV Guide

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Covering only 10 cobbled hills, last of them 35 kilometers from the finish line, Gent-Wevelgem is a true sprinters’ classic. Similar to Milan-SanRemo, the race very occasionally ends with a successful breakaway.

The hills, positioned too far away from the finish line, may not allow a breakaway to succeed but play a very important role deciding which of the sprinters can keep up with the pace. Peter Sagan, coming second to Tom Boonen last year, and finishing both Milan-SanRemo and E3 Harelbeke in second places this year, will definitely want to win the race.

3-times winner Tom Boonen, failed to stick with the front group in E3 Harelbeke 2 days ago, will be ready for a bunch sprint; not that sure for his new team-mate Mark Cavendish though, who failed to finish past 2 editions of Gent-Wevelgem. Also watch out for Orica Greenedge’s Matthew Goss and John Degenkolb from Argos; both showed good form recently. SKY, with their elite classics crew can have a rider on the podium, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Ian Stannard or maybe Bernard Eisel.

Sporza and RTBF in BelgiumNOS in Netherlands, and RAI Sport in Italy will broadcast the race live on TV.

For live streaming options, check out the below links though some may be geo-location restricted;

SporzaRTBFRai Sport

Milan-San Remo 2013 – Pre-Race Interviews

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Winner of five stages so far, all in sensational fashion, Milan-San Remo is Cannondale’s Peter Sagan‘s to lose, and all the teams will put some tactics on the field to overcome the Slovakian.

“I feel like I have two chances to win: either a sprint from a group or by following an attack on the Poggio,” says Sagan. “It’s my third attempt here and I have learned that the Cipressa and Poggio are key to understand if you can win or not. I’ll see for myself and not think too much about what the others can do, and I’ll count on my teammates. They can help make the difference.”

Whereas Manx-Missile Mark Cavendish played the underdogs, just like the year he won the race: “I was obviously asked if I want to target this and I honestly don’t want to target this. So, the pressure just on myself has been a lot less.”

Tom Boonen was a bit more confident, “Milan-San Remo is the next step in the evolution to my target races. It’s not the biggest objective of the Spring Classics, but I think maybe I will be ready to do a good race on Sunday. I’ve started to feel like my normal self and it is about time.”

And Vini Fantini’s Mauro Santambrogio, after his great run in Tirreno-Adriatico spoke even more boldly: “I will have to do well, this is the Carpe Diem moment for me and I don’t want to miss it. I know that the weather could seriously impact on the race, but I am ready for anything and in Tirreno the possibility of competing in the water was certainly not missed.”

“So many strong riders have a plan for this race: Cancellara, Sagan, Hushovd – in any normal circumstance they can all win,” said Astana’s general manager Giuseppe Martinelli. “But our strategy for the race is 100 percent behind Vincenzo Nibali, and if the weather is bad, then for us this is optimal, because everybody knows he rides better in the rain and cold.

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 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.

Milan-San Remo 2013 Preview

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— UPDATE: Due to heavy snow on the Milano-Sanremo route, the riders will be transported by bus from kilometer 117 to kilometer 207 (Finale Ligure). The race will be re-started at 3.00. —

During Tirreno-Adriatico, we’ve seen even Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel are not invincible, Peter Sagan is in top notch form, same also true for Sylvain Chavanel, considering his GC run and stage win in Paris-Nice.

Edvald Boasson Hagen was ok in Tour of Qatar and Tour Down Under but we haven’t seen him race since then. Fabian Cancellara was not impressive at all so far, but still someone you shouldn’t ever ignore for a second. Last year’s winner Simon Gerrans, despite winning a stage in Tour Down Under, failed to finish Paris-Nice, did no start stage 5 due to breathing problems.

Alongside Cavendish and Greipel; Marcel Kittel and Matthew Goss looked strong, each winning a stage past week. If Milan-San Remo ends with a bunch sprint, expect lead out trains checking each other in the front and a frenzy gallop between these riders.

If it comes to a breakaway within the last 30 kilometers, Peter Sagan will definitely follow and can be unstoppable in the final meters. Neither Philippe Gilbert nor Tom Boonen looked strong enough to win with a solo escape. And even if Cancellara or Chavanel tries that, just remember Sagan in this year’s Tour of Oman 2nd stage; closing the 200 meter gap alone before the final kilometers against a 3-rider breakaway and then passing them for his first win of the season.

But the most possible scenario is a select group of maybe 30, 40 riders making it to the final 20 kms. And from that point, we’ll see everyone playing their cards open and a clash of tactics in the field where only both physically and mentally tough riders can react.

Milan-San Remo final 30 kms

Expect to see some attacks on the Cipressa and the front group getting thinner and thinner as early breakaways get swept. But the race is %95 of the time won or lost in Poggio. With his recent form, it is Peter Sagan‘s race to lose but we’ve witnessed SKY cracking him on the drag of Pietragrossa in Tirreno-Adriatico very recently. But  also saw him take his “revenge” by attacking with Nibali on the Muro di Sant’Elpidio just the day after.

It is the longest and one of the fastest single stage races and positioning is key more than ever.

Also check out pre-race interviews and TV Guide / live streaming options.

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Milan-San Remo 2013 – Riders’ List

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6 teams are invited with wildcards besides the 19 pro tour teams: Androni Giocattoli-VenezuelaBardiani Valvole – CSF Inox and Vini Fantini-Selle Italia from Italy, IAM Cycling from Switzerland, French Team Europcar and South Africa’s Mtn-Qhubeka.

Peter SaganMark CavendishAndre GreipelMarcel KittelMatthew Goss and Sylvain Chavanel are this year’s favorites. But Milan-San Remo is an endurance test rather than a regular sprint stage. Check out Race Preview for more detail and predictions.

The startlist of the 104th edition of Milan-San Remo
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Milan-San Remo – A Brief History

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Milan-San Remo, the 298 km single stage race, the first monument of the cycling calendar will be held on 17 March, Sunday this year. It will be 104. edition of “la Classica di Primavera” – the spring classic with its first edition dating all the way back  to 1907.

It is a sprinters’ classic, but an endurance race rather than a gallop sprint within bunch. Some great cyclists won the race including the legendary Eddy Merckx (7 times), Costante Girardengo (6), Gino Bartali and Erik Zabel 4 times each. More recently, both pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Matthew Goss and Oscar Freire (3 wins) or puncheurs like Fabian Cancellara or Simon Gerrans won the race.

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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Sagan Beats Cavendish and Greipel Under Heavy Rain

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This time it was the Slovak sensation Peter Sagan out-sprinting Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish in the second and final sprint stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

It was another rainy day, and the soggy conditions made it easy for Cesare Benedetti from NetApp Endura, Garikoitz Bravo of Euskaltel and Vini Fantini’s Francesco Failli to jump clear and break away. But eventually, they got caught with 21 km to go by Cannondale’s efforts. A couple of unsuccessful attempts brought us to a bunch sprint, and this time both Greipel and Cavendish were positioned pretty well before the sprint frenzy, but it was Peter Sagan accelerating past Greipel to hit the line first.

Mark Cavendish, with a last second move, clinched second place in the podium and kept his Maglia Azzurra, where Greipel finished third.

Stage 3 Results

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 5′ 15′ 12
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol
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Goss claims victory over Cavendish and Greipel in a frentic sprint

Tirreno Adriatico 2013

It was a glorious day for Australian team Orica-GreenEdge; Michael Albasini won the  4th stage of Paris-Nice and Matthew Goss was the first to cross the line in the frentic sprint of 2nd stage in Tirreno-Adriatico. Manuel Belletti from Ag2r La Mondiale came second, while Gerald Ciolek of  South African pro-continental team MTN Qhubeka came third.

“This is my first road race in Europe this season and I’ve won, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season now. I know if I’m in good shape I can do a good Milan-San Remo next week. It’s definitely a goal for me”, told Goss. The general expectancy was a  duel between Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel but neither of them managed to get a spot in the podium. Peter Sagan opened the sprint with 500 meters to go, Greipel burned himself being forced to open the sprint earlier than desired and Cavendish could not even find an opening in the front.

“I was 30 riders back in the last kilometre but I still fought and had a chance with 300 meters to go, even less than that”, told Cavendish to the press. “I came to the right but the peloton swung on the right at the same moment. I just had to slam my brakes with 200 meters to go and so that was the end of the chance of winning. I feel we could have got a lot more out of that race than we actually did today, but we will try again tomorrow”. With the 2 seconds gain from the intermediate sprint, Cavendish still leads the GC and will keep wearing the “Maglia Azzurra”, Matthew Goss leads the points classification and will wear the red jersey tomorrow and Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Garikoitz Bravo from the breakaway group will wear the green mountains jersey.

Check out Tirreno-Adriatico jersey colors, they are quite different than what is considered the norm.

Stage Results

1. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 5:48:41
2. Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
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