Vini Fantini’s Oscar Gatto won the semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen outsprinting Astana’s Borut Bozic and Mathew Hayman of SKY. Thomas Voeckler attacked from the winning group of 10 riders with more than 6 kilometers to go but got caught in the final meters, eventually finishing in fourth place. Gatto became the first Italian to win the Dwars door Vlaanderen in its 68 year history.
“This is a great emotion, winning in Belgium, where the best races are ridden,” said Gatto. “As a small team, we do not have many chances, so I had a lot of motivation at the start to show that we are perhaps deserving of more opportunities. To be the first Italian winner is something extra special and feels great.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen – “Across Flanders” – is the opener of the cobbled classics season and the final warmup race for E3 Harelbeke on Friday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.
Dwars door Vlaanderen 2013 Results
1. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 4:43:40
2. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
3. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling (more…)
“The race to the sun” will accomplish its goal on 9th March, Saturday, arriving Nice after this year’s second mountain stage. There was a mountain-top finish in the 5th stage and Team Sky’s Richie Porte attacked to victory and the yellow jersey.
The race starts from Manosque, on the slopes of a 3rd category climb, which is perfect conditions for a breakaway group to start early on. Every team with hopes in the GC will try to control the race and expect them to send at least a rider to the break, including SKY. Thomas Voeckler and Thomas De Gendt may also try to win a stage, if the break gets caught on the combined category 1-climbs expect a new breakaway to form on the ascent of Col du Ferrier.
The stage is quite similar to 2011′s Brignoles – Biot-Sophia Antipolis stage, which was won by Remy di Gregorio after a 20 kilometers solo break.
The Race to the Sun continues south to the Mediterranean on 7th March, Thursday. Brioude and Saint-Vallier are the stage towns and we’re going to have 7 categorized climbs on the way. It is a bit longer version of last two years’ stage 4 parcours. 2 years ago, it was Thomas Voeckler‘s solo breakaway in the rain; last year, bunch sprint won by Gianni Meersman within a select group of 50 riders. Sylvain Chavanel still looks confident and lustful for a stage win and he showed on wednesday that he can stay with the elite group in the climbs so look for him if it comes to a bunch sprint.
The climbs won’t be hard enough to make much change in the GC competition but will be the second shake-up for the overall standings. For the GC to settle, we’ll have to wait for the queen-stage on Friday.
Châtel-Guyon and Brioude are the stage towns and we’ll be heading south once more on 6th March, Wednesday. Similar to Stage 2, the pelaton will loop around Brioude before passing the finish line but this time, they’ll be facing a 2nd category climb within the circuit.
The stage is very suitable for a breakaway group to succeed. Tom Boonen of Omega-Pharma-Quickstep lost more time in the GC, probably deliberately, so it won’t be a suprise to see him in an escape group. I don’t think the pelaton would let Thomas Voeckler or Simon Gerrans to escape unless it is quite a large one, which is very unlikely.
If the breakaway get caught before the Cote de Mauvaganat, it’ll most likely be a group sprint and amongst the sprinters; Jose Joaquin Rojas and Sylvain Chavanel have the best chance of staying with the bunch in the climb. I don’t think the stage will have a big impact with the GC but Elia Viviani will lost his yellow jersey for sure.
Besides the now “19″ pro tour teams, 4 teams are invited with wildcards: Cofidis, IAM Cycling, Sojasun and Team Europcar.
Bradley Wiggins will not be racing to defend his title, and looks like SKY will be aiming for stage wins with the likes of Richie Porte and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke instead of a solid GC attempt. With the big names of the pelaton missing, by the looks of it it’ll be an open race for the yellow jersey.
Last year’s runner up Luewa Westra is back, but lacking last year’s form so far. Thomas De Gendt will also be riding for Vacansoleil though not sure he is in good shape, which can be said also for Blanco’s Robert Gesink. TJ van Garderen from BMC, Rui Costa of Movistar and FDJ’s Jean-Christophe Peraud should be taken very seriously for the overall classification. Watch for Nacer Bouhanni and Marcel Kittel for the sprints and with 2 stages particularly suitable for breakaway groups, we can expect a stage win from the likes of Simon Gerrans, Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and even the grueling Thomas Voeckler if he has the legs for it.