Milan-San Remo 2013 – Pre-Race Interviews

milan-san-remo-peter-sagan

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

tirreno-adriatico-2013-race-report

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

tirreno-adriatico-stage-7-map

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!

tirreno-adriatico-stage-6-sagan

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
(more…)

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 Preview – Stage 5

tirreno-adriatico-stage-5-profile

The second and last mountain stage of Tirreno-Adriatico starts from Ortona and ends in Chieti on 10th March, Sunday and favors Peter Sagan more than anybody else. Expect a bunch sprint from a select group shaped on the ascent and descent of Passo Lanciano.

Last year, it was Peter Sagan outsprinting Roman Kreuziger, Vincenzo Nibali and some other GC riders in the final meters. In 2010 and 2011, Michele Scarponi won the stage but Sagan was in Paris-Nice that time instead. Only Joaquim Rodriguez can have a chance against Sagan if he keeps up with the front group on the descent.

It will be an interesting day for GC qualification as well. Michal Kwiatkowski is a very good time-trialist in GC standards so if he keeps the “Maglia Azzurra” at the end of the day, the 22-year-old Polish may very well grab his first World Tour title.

Last 2 climbs before Ultimo KM

tirreno-adriatico-stage-5-last-2-climbs

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 Preview – Stage 4

tirreno-adriatico-stage-4-profile

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

prati-di-tivo-profile

OPQ wins TTT – Cavendish became the first leader

opq-tirreno-adriatico-stage-1

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″
(more…)

Roma Maxima 2013

bilal-kadri-roma-maxima

Roma Maxima is the new installment of Giro del Lazio, a 1.HC semi classic from Italy in the UCI Europe calendar, which was not run since 2008 and Blel Kadri from Europcar got his most prestigious win of his career so far on 3 March, Sunday.

After spending 90 kms in a 4-rider breakaway, Bilal Kadri made a second break and soloed the last 35 kms alone to win the 75th edition of this semi classic. Another 4-rider chasing group led by Cannodale’s Vincenzo Nibali failed to catch Kadri and got caught by the bunch group in the final kilometer. Which resulted to a bunch sprint on the cobblestones of central Rome, won by Filippo Pozzato of Lampre, celebrating, believed he had won the race for a second. With no race radio allowed, probably he was not the only one unaware of Kadri, but still the 26-year-old Frenchman won this race on a day he was not supposed to race at all, replacing Steve Chainel since he was ill.

Roma Maxima 2013 Results

1. Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 4:26:27
2. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida 37″
3. Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
(more…)

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 – Riders’ List

vincenzo-nibali-tirreno-adriatico

3 teams are invited as wildcard entries besides the 19 pro tour teams; Vini Fantini-Selle Italia from Italy, Team NetApp-Endura from Germany and MTN Qhubeka from South Africa.

There will be quite some interesting competition from the likes of Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez, Chris Froome and last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali for the blue jersey. Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara, Taylor Phinney are amongst the several names that can win a stage or two in here.

(more…)

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 – Introduction

tirreno-adriatico-2013

Tirreno-Adriatico will be held between March 6 and 12 this year. This year’s race consists of seven stages including both indivual and team-time trials.

The 16.9 km long team-time-trial will serve as a teams presentation much like last year’s Vuelta, but the final 9.2 km long flat individual time-trial will decide whether the rider wearing the blue jersey will keep it or not. We have 2 stages for sprinters, 2 for classics man preparing specifically for Milan-San Remo and a real mountain-top finish in Prati di Tivo which was won by Vincenzo Nibali 16 seconds ahead of Roman Kreuziger.