News Shorts – 9th May, 2012

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Last week’s headlines in Pro Cycling news and what’s coming up…

Thank you, Gerry; Roberto, che ca**o fai?; Cavendish and Phinney lick their wounds; What’s next?; Hesjedal leads the big guns; SBS Giro Television Schedule; Nuyens returns to race; Nibali waits to re-sign with Liquigas

Thank you, Gerry

Gerry Ryan must have clinched his fist and said ‘yes’ as Matt Goss wove through the chaos to emerge winner of Giro d’Italia stage three. The win in Horsens, Denmark – Orica-GreenEDGE’s first in a Grand Tour – added to a successful campaign that began in a Parisian bar in 2010.

Ryan called then Australian head coach, Shayne Bannan to meet and talk about the possibility of starting a team that would strengthen his nation’s push towards the London Olympics. The power duo met in Paris as Alberto Contador clinched his Tour de France in the Pauillac time trial and began a new odyssey.

They continued to meet and at the last year’s Tour Down Under, announced their intentions to start Australia’s first top-level team. The team would extend its arm to Europe, race in the WorldTour and provide a garden for Aussies to mature.

“We have the upmost confidence in Gerry,” Goss said after his win on Monday. “He’s an amazing man for doing what he did, for getting the team off the ground. I really appreciate him.”

Gerry Ryan, Matt White, and Neil Stephens photographed at the Bay Crits, GreenEDGE's first race.

Ryan and Bannan signed Goss and Simon Gerrans to lead the team. Gerrans is the only Aussie to win stages in all three Grand Tours. Goss, adding to a Giro stage, won last year’s Milano-Sanremo.

Gerrans won immediately, the Tour Down Under overall, and surprised with victory in Milano-Sanremo. Goss helped the team win the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial and on Monday, its first Grand Tour stage.

“We’ve come in with our goals,” Goss explained to a small group of journalists. “Our goals were to win the Tour Down Under, the jersey in Tirreno-Adriatico, be competitive in the classics and try to get stage wins in the Grand Tours. We’ve ticked every box so far.”

Another box was finding a title sponsor. Ryan provided the backing to carry GreenEDGE for three years, during last year’s setup and through 2013. However, he secured a sponsor sooner and spared himself cash. It was the case of another clinched fist and another ‘yes’ when he announced Orica as the title sponsor last week.

“Orica, the extra support is just amazing, to have a major sponsor coming onboard so soon is great,” Goss added. “This is going to be less stress for [Ryan] now with a major sponsor on board. Cycling’s a great sport for getting your money’s worth.”

Roberto, che ca**o fai?

Roberto Ferrari (Androni) sent the Giro d’Italia spinning out of control in the final 250 metres on Monday. The riders, the journalists and the organiser would’ve preferred a straight sprint stage so that they could’ve departed Horsens on time for Verona and the race’s Italian leg.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Androni team manager, Gianni Savio. “Ferrari races on instinct and didn’t know what happened behind.”

Goss revved up front and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) charged on the right, with world champion, Mark Cavendish (Sky) behind. Cavendish won the day before and was favoured to win in Horsens. However, Ferrari clipped his front wheel as he shot right and squeeze behind Farrar.

[royalslider id=”2″]
See the frame by frame footage of Ferrari causing the crash. Also note in the final three slides the Farnese Vini (flouro in yellow) bunny hopping Cavendish!

Cyclists, blood and carbon were scattered behind due to Ferrari’s desperate and dangerous manoeuvre. World Champion Cavendish hit the ground, sliding on his left side. Arnaud Démare (FDJ-BigMat) squeezed by, narrowly missing his head. And Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini) bunny hopped. Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), in the leader’s pink jersey, crashed in the aftershock.

“What happens behind is not important. The jury wants to kick me out? Really?” Ferrari said following the stage. The jury declassified him from ninth place to the back of the bunch. At night, after the transfer to Verona, he changed his tone. “Yes, I made an error,” he told Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I want to say sorry.”

Cavendish congratulated Goss, but then rode straight to the showers before boarding the chartered flight. On Twitter he wrote, “Crashing at 75kph isn’t nice!” Cavendish wrote. “Nor is seeing Roberto Ferrari’s manoeuvre. Should be ashamed to take out Pink, Red & World Champ jerseys.”

He added that Ferrari should be sent home because in other races he’d been ejected for less.

In the newspaper, former sprint great, Mario Cipollini said that Ferrari risked his life and others’. “It wasn’t only incorrect,” said Cipollini, “it showed a huge lack of professionalism.”

Cavendish and Phinney lick their wounds

Cavendish and Phinney were the stars of Denmark. The two champions were heavily favoured and did not disappoint.

Phinney, 21, smoked the time of Geraint Thomas (Sky) in the opening time trial by nine seconds, finishing in 10-26 minutes. The stage win and subsequent pink jersey, confirmed his star status in only his second pro year. On the track, he’s won two individual pursuit gold medals at the World Championships, and as an under 23 rider, he won Paris-Roubaix twice and the worlds time trial in Geelong, Australia.

Taylor Phinney (BMC) during stage 1 of Giro d'Italia 2012, setting the fastest time.

“In the last few days, I felt I was back into my own rhythm, back to my confident self that I was when I was an under 23,” Phinney explained in a press conference. “Some of that confidence was stripped away last year just getting my butt handed to me in a lot of races. I really stepped up my training, everything. Being a pro, you really can’t just by on talent alone, you have to work. I feel like I’m back to the Taylor Phinney that’s happy and confident with his abilities.”

His dad, Davis, was the first US rider to win a Tour de France stage and his mum, Connie, won the 1984 Olympic road race in Los Angeles.

Cavendish won his first race since becoming a father on April 3 and his first Grand Tour stage with his new team, Sky.

Mark Cavendish winning stage 2 of the Giro last Sunday.

“I wasn’t so sure I’d be sprinting. I haven’t been sprinting for a long while,” Cavendish said. “My Sensations were good. It was okay, I was able to kick again.”

The Giro celebrated a likeable American, who’s fluent in Italian, and the World Champion. What more could it want? What it didn’t want was the Ferrari incident. Their teams, BMC Racing and Sky, will now likely suffer in the time trial. And Phinney, may be forced out of the Giro.

While others went to their hotels in Verona on Monday night, Phinney went to the hospital for X-rays on his right ankle. The good news, it’s not broken, the bad news is that it is swollen and required three stitches. The stress and energy wasted may cause him to pay dearly.

“It is 11:30am and I’ve just woken up!” Phinney tweeted on the rest day. “Good start to an important rest day… Icing, Normatec boots, elevating and eating is the plan!”

Cavendish came away with road rash. Sky’s team doctor said, he “is very uncomfortable but we’re taking care of him.”

What’s next?

The Giro d’Italia is back in Italy and everyone is smiling. Riders face a team time trial today, a flat sprinters’ stage tomorrow and medium mountains on Friday through Sunday.

Verona is famous for Romeo and Juliet, and its Roman arena in Piazza Bra. It has hosted the World Championships in recent years, both times won by Oscar Freire, and the finish of the Giro, in the arena, in 2010.

The time trial heads northwest of town, climbs a small hill and finishes in Piazza Bra after 33.2 kilometres. Orica-GreenEDGE starts at 16:25 local time. Teams go off every three minutes, starting with AG2R at 15:25. Liquigas goes at 16:04, Sky at 16:16, Garmin-Barracuda at 16:25 and the last team, BMC Racing at 16:28.

Geraint Thomas is favoured to take the pink jersey, trailling Phinney by just nine seconds.

Giro d’Italia SBS Television Schedule

This year Australian viewers are able to enjoy more cycling coverage than ever before. Beginning this Friday, SBS is showing eight unmissable stages of the Giro live. And for those of us who can’t stay up until the wee hours of the morning, all stage highlights are broadcast at 6:00pm.

Stage 6 – 11:10pm Friday 11 May – SBS TWO
Stage 7 – 11:10pm Saturday 12 May – SBS TWO
Stage 14 – 11:10pm Saturday 19 May – SBS TWO
Stage 15 – 11:10pm Sunday 20 May – SBS TWO
Stage 17 – 11:10pm Wednesday 23 May – SBS TWO
Stage 19 – 11:10pm Friday 25 May – SBS TWO
Stage 20 – 11:10pm Saturday 26 May – SBS TWO (if you only see one stage, this is the one! Caldes/Val di Sole-Passo dello Stelvio)
Stage 21 – 11:10pm Sunday 27 May – SBS TWO

If you’re interested in seeing a timeline of cycling coverage on Australian television, look here.

Hesjedal leads the big guns

Ryder Hesjedal leads the overall favourites thanks to his ride in the time trial on Saturday. The Canadian captains team Garmin-Barracuda with Christian Vande Velde’s support. The two helped Brad Wiggins place fourth overall in the Tour de France in 2009. Hesjedal had his go the next year, when he when he placed seventh overall.

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Barracuda) finished 17th during the individual time trial on stage 1 of the Giro

Little will change between now and Friday’s stage to Porto Sant’Elpidio. The sixth leg, at 210 kilometres, is a mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège, going up and down all day, topping out midway with the Passo della Cappella, 772 metres.

The ‘bigs’ GC:
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda)
Roman Kreuziger (Astana) at 7″
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) 10″
Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) 14″
Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) 30″
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) 1’06”

Basso is now favoured to win at 3:1, Scarponi has 7:2 odds.

Nuyens returns to race

Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) returned to racing last week in the Four Days of Dunkirk stage race. The Belgian, who celebrated his 32nd birthday in stage two, finished the first three stages before pulling out in the final stage.

“I feel I’ve made real progress in these days racing,” he told Belgian TV, Sporza. “I need more medical checks; I’m going on Tuesday [yesterday]. My condition is improving.”

He crashed in the opening time trial at Paris-Nice in March and slightly fractured his right hip. As a result, he was unable to defend his Tour of Flanders title.

Nibali waits to re-sign with Liquigas

Vincenzo Nibali said that he’ll wait until after the Tour de France before announcing his future. He was due to renew with Liquigas-Cannondale, but postponed the decision. BMC Racing, Astana and OmegaPharma are reportedly interested in the Italian.

Team manager, Roberto Amadio said to Italian press this week that Nibali is going to “go his own way.” He explained that Nibali didn’t respond to his team’s contract offer.

Vincenzo Nibali on the podium with Michele Scarponi and Albert Contador during the final stage of the Giro d'Italia last year.

The offer is reported to be for two years at €1.8m (AUS2.29m) annually. BMC Racing and Astana are reportedly offering €500,000 extra.

Nibali dashed away solo in an attempt to win the Liège-Bastogne-Liège last month, but in Grand Tour’s he already proved successful. He won the Vuelta a España in 2010 and earlier in the year, he placed third in the Giro while helping Basso win the overall title.

In July, he’ll race the Tour de France. The last time he participated, he placed seventh.

Tour of California

The Giro d’Italia isn’t the only thing in professional cycling going on next week. The Tour of California, America’s largest bike race, begins on Sunday with SBS showing all eight stages live:

Stage 1 – 7am Monday 14 May on SBS TWO
Stage 2 – 7am Tuesday 15 May on SBS TWO
Stage 3 – 7am Wednesday 16 May on SBS TWO
Stage 4 – 7am Thursday 17 May on SBS TWO
Stage 5 – 7am Friday 18 May on SBS TWO
Stage 6 – 7am Saturday 19 May on SBS TWO
Stage 7 – 7am Sunday 20 May on SBS TWO
Stage 8 – 3am Monday 21 May on SBS TWO

Sixteen teams in total will compete over the 1174km stage race. Many of the World Tour teams will be there alongside the US Domestic teams racing to prove their stuff:

UCI ProTeams
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Rabobank Cycling Team (NED)
Garmin- Barracuda (USA)
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (LUX)
Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA)
Omega Pharma – QuickStep (BEL)
AG2R La Mondiale (FRA)
Orica-GreenEDGE (AUS)

UCI Professional Continental Teams
Team Spidertech Powered By C10 (CAN)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
Project 1t4i (NED)
Colombia-Coldeportes (COL)

UCI Continental Teams
Team Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Bissell Pro Cycling (USA)
Team Exergy (USA)
Bontrager Livestrong Team (USA)

See the Tour of California website for all the race details and here for the race route (PDF).

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