Mollema wins Vuelta 17th stage, Nibali retains lead
Dutch rider Bauke Mollema of the Belkin team won the 17th stage of the Tour of Spain in Burgos on Thursday as Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall race leader’s red jersey.
Mollema, 26, attacked at the end of the 189-km ride from Calahorra to take the stage win ahead of Sky’s Norwegian rider Edvald Boasson Hagen and Argentina’s Maximiliano Richeze, of Lampre, who were second and third respectively.
The Dutchman’s move completely took by surprise the peloton, containing the leading riders in the general classification, to recover some pride from a race in which he had been left trailing in the overall standings.
“I knew that this was my only chance to win a stage,” Mollema told Spanish television at the end of a stage that had been earmarked as one for the sprinters.
“I came to the Vuelta with ambitions to do well in the general classification, my team had designated me for that role, but it hasn’t been possible and so we decided to go for stage wins instead,” added Mollema, who became something of a cult hero in his native Netherlands on his way to finishing sixth at this year’s Tour de France.
Nibali and his principle rivals – the American veteran Chris Horner of RadioShack and Spanish duo Alejandro Valverde of Movistar and Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha – reached the finish just behind Mollema and were given the same time as the stage winner.
However, several riders lost time after cracks appeared in the peloton when Ireland’s Nicolas Roche and his Saxo-Tinkoff team attacked in crosswinds with just under 30 kilometres to go.
France’s Thibaut Pinot and Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo were among the riders worst affected, with both losing 1min 31sec on Nibali.
Horner sits second at 28sec, with Valverde third at 1min 14sec and Rodriguez fourth at 2min 29sec.
This year’s Vuelta concludes in Madrid on Sunday but, before that, the peloton must prepare for a first-category finish on Thursday on the Pena Cabarga, where ‘Purito’ Rodriguez won in 2010.
And on Saturday there will be a finish atop the unclassified Alto de l’Angliru, at an altitude of 1,557 metres.
text via AFP
See here for full results from stage 17 of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana.
New venue for Tour Down Under’s opening day
The 2014 Santos Tour Down Under will feature a new city circuit around the River Torrens for the People’s Choice Classic.
Announcing the route for the January 19 race, Tourism Minister, Leon Bignell, said the new course offers fans great vantage points of some of the most picturesque parts of Adelaide.
“The People’s Choice Classic is always an exhilarating preview to the six-stage Santos Tour Down Under and in 2014 we’ll see riders start the closed-circuit race on Victoria Drive,” Mr Bignell said.
“The peloton will test their legs on a route that takes them over the River Torrens and through Adelaide’s beautiful parklands, with plenty of great vantage points for fans to enjoy the action while perhaps enjoying a picnic by the river.
“For the first time the race will travel past the scenic northern edge of the University of Adelaide.”
How an SMS message saved the iconic Basque team from disappearing
Acting on a hunch and a touch of desperation, Kiko García, Oakley marketing manager, picked up his mobile in late August and sent a SMS to the one man he believed could single-handedly turn things around for Euskatel-Euskadi: Fernando Alonso.
That one SMS was the spark that unleashed a chain of events that delivered the news last week that Alonso would take over ownership of the struggling Euskaltel-Euskadi team, saving it from extinction.
McQuaid proposes policy to restructure team model
UCI President Pat McQuaid has unveiled new policy proposals which aims to prevent doping by ensuring that teams are no long structured on the historic model that left riders without adequate mentoring, support and supervision.
McQuaid stated in a press release that the UCI had a pivotal role to play in supporting teams and riders in creating an environment that continues to be conducive to the cultural change within cycling.
“Today’s riders should never be faced with having to make the same choices as previous generations,” said McQuaid in a press release.
McQuaid announced that the foundation of his new policy was the proposed introduction of a skills certification standard to ensure that those working within professional cycling as doctors, coaches and sports directors are suitably qualified and approved to do so.
The UCI President is proposing new team structures to ensure that there is one doctor, one coach and one sports director, each with separate responsibilities, for every seven riders.
“This will enhance the level of monitoring care and support available to each rider, thereby helping riders to better manage their workload, race schedule and recovery,” said McQuaid.
McQuaid acknowledged that the UCI must also introduce a sustainable and long lasting economic model to assist teams in implementing the initiatives that he is proposing.
“This may well require the UCI to reduce the size of teams at UCI World Tour level and UCI Continental level by five or more riders respectively,” he said.
McQuaid expressed his intention work with teams to introduce and implement his proposed policies, which he described as a roadmap for the direction that cycling must take in the immediate future.
David Veilleux makes surprise retirement announcement
David Veilleux (Europcar) announced his retirement from professional cycling on Wednesday morning through a statement on his website.
The 25-year-old said he wants to continue his studies in mechanical engineering at Universite Laval in Quebec City. Veilleux became the first Quebec-born cyclist to appear in the Tour de France this past summer and finished 123rd.
Veilleux will officially retire after taking part in Grand Prix cycliste events in Quebec City on Friday and in Montreal on Sunday. In a statement, he said he’s proud of his accomplishments and that he has achieved his sporting goals.
Judge supports Lance Armstrong’s right to lie in his books
A federal judge has ruled that Lance Armstrong had a right to lie about himself in his books and has thrown out most of a lawsuit against the former cyclist filed by readers who accused him of fraud.
“The Court concludes, despite plaintiffs’ allegations that the Armstrong books contained false and misleading statements, that the content of the books is afforded full First Amendment protection,” said U.S. District Judge Morrison England who issued the ruling this week after hearing arguments last month in Sacramento.
A group of readers had filed suit against Armstrong in January, seeking more than $5 million in refunds and other costs for Armstrong’s books, including his autobiographies It’s Not About The Bike and Every Second Counts.
Does pro cycling need the Vuelta?
The Vuelta a Espana plays third fiddle two its other two Grand Tour counterparts. Most fans watch the race with only a passing interest, and many riders view it as part of the process to prepare for the World Championships and pull out before it’s even finished:
I see a lot of people wondering if 25% of riders dropping out of Vuelta is unusual. Here's a graph of last 20 years pic.twitter.com/frjqkaOad6
— Cillian Kelly (@irishpeloton) September 8, 2013
Is a third Grand Tour too much? Philip Gomes from Cycling Central has a good blog post which asks this very question. Read more here.
And in cased you’ve missed the past few days, here are a few things that you’ll find interesting:
- Mongolia Bike Challenge – like no other race on Earth
- The Tour of Alberta – A trip down memory lane (photo gallery)
- Vuelta Skelta Strava challenge: a mid-competition update
- Cam Wurf’s Vuelta Diary: stage 15