Volta a Catalunya 2013 – Riders’ List

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In addition to the 19 pro tour teams, the three wildcard entries; Caja Rural from Spain, Cofidis and Sojasun from France make up this year’s Volta a Catalunya.

Last year’s winner Michael Albasini will be absent but some big GC names including Bradley Wiggins, Joaquim Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde, Robert Gesink, Ryder Hesjedal, Michele Scarponi, Chris Horner and Thomas de Gendt are attending this year. We have seen both Rodriguez and Horner were in very good shape during Tirreno-Adriatico, whereas Scarponi was still building up his form. Elsewhere in Paris-Nice we saw Gesink struggling and abandoning in stage 6, same also true for de Gent.

Last time we saw Wiggins was in Tour of Oman in early February, where he was barely keeping up with the peloton. He was in Tenerife training till then, so his recent form is a big unknown at the moment, which is also true for last year’s surprise Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal who will be riding for the first time in a stage race this year.

The startlist of the 93th edition:
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Volta a Catalunya – A Brief History

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Volta Ciclista a Catalunya ranks second behind Vuelta Espana in popularity but its history predates the latter. It is the fourth-oldest stage race in cycling history, only after Tour de France, Tour of Belgium and Giro d’Italia. The race was first organized by the Barcelona club in 1911, and this year’s edition will be its 93th.

Past winners include Mariano Canardo (7), Miguel Indurain (3), Sean Kelly (2), Emilio Rodriguez (2). Most recently, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Michele Scarponi and Michael Albasini each clinched a title.

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″

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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