Rocacorba Daily: Friday March 1

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In today’s edition of the Rocacorba Daily we’ve got a selection of race results, race previews, and a handful of other interesting tidbits to ease you into the weekend. Thanks for reading and, as always, feel free to leave a comment below.

Coquard storms to stage 8 win at Tour of Langkawi

Team Europcar’s Bryan Coquard won a bunch sprint to take victory in stage 8 of the Tour of Langkawi yesterday. The 165km-long flat stage was expected to finish in a bunch kick and so it proved, with Coquard beating Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and stage 4 winner Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini) in the dash for the line.

Bryan Coquard shows off the tattoo he got after taking silver in the Omnium in the London 2012 Olympics.

The peloton had been driven at great speed earlier in the race before two riders — Low Ji Wen (OCBC Singapore) and Liu Jianpeng (Hengxiang) — got away after 25km, achieving a gap of almost 12 minutes. But then the peloton began to chase them down with Astana, Vini Fantini and Team Nippo-De Rosa doing the bulk of the work.

The yellow jersey holder Julian Arredondo of Team Nippo-De Rosa retained his overall lead by finishing in the bunch. There are two stages remaining in the race.

Click here for results, the general classification and a full report.

Peter Sagan wins GP Camaiore

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) has claimed his third win of the year, sprinting to victory in the GP Camaiore in Tuscany overnight. Sagan made his way into a 12-man breakaway group that separated from the peloton on the final of six climbs up Monte Pitoro.

Sagan was then too strong in the sprint for the line, crossing first ahead of Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2R La Mondiale). Sagan will go into Saturday’s Strade Bianche as one of the favourites.

For not the first time, Peter Sagan was too strong when it came to a bunch sprint.

Last night’s GP Camaiore was also significant for being the first race Andy Schleck has finished since Liège-Bastogne-Liège last April.

Click here to read more on VeloNation.

Daryl Impey wins South African ITT nationals

Orica-GreenEDGE’s Daryl Impey has won the individual time trial at the South African Road Cycling Championships overnight, finishing 16 seconds faster than his nearest rival Jay Thomson (MTN Qhubeka).

Impey averaged 46.2km/h over the 33km course on his way to winning a second national ITT crown in three years.

“I’m happy to take the jersey back to Europe and show it off in Tirreno[-Adriatico],” Impey said, immediately after his effort. “This is the second time I’ve won the elite time trial. I couldn’t race the national champs last year because I was already in Europe. This year, the team gave me the opportunity to do it. I’ve been working with a few people to help me prepare specifically, and I think it really paid off today.”

Click here to read more in a press release on the Orica-GreenEDGE website.

Strade Bianche: a classics indicator?

Tomorrow’s Strade Bianche, held in Siena, Italy, could give us a good idea of who will rule the upcoming classics.

Perennial favourite Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) has won the race twice already — in 2008 and in 2012. In 2008, he enjoyed one of his best seasons, going on to win Milano-Sanremo and take second place in Paris-Roubaix.

Fabian Cancellara will be looking to defend his Strade Bianche crown this weekend.

Cancellara will wear number 1 tomorrow after storming away to victory last year. But thanks to his win in yesterday’s GP Camaiore, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is a hot favourite to zip into Siena’s Piazza del Campo first.

Click here to read more on VeloNews. And click here to learn more about Strade Bianche courtesy of steephill.tv.

Paris-Nice one of the hardest races, says Millar

David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) expects another tough Paris-Nice given the weather and cyclists’ motivation.

“It’s a very difficult one, the first big stage race of the year and the weather’s generally not that conducive to cycling,” Millar explained. “It’s just a tough week and one of the hardest races of the year physically: everybody’s in really good shape, you’ve got a whole peloton motivated and raring to go.”

Millar, 36, won the prologue in 2007. This year, he said the team will be working for young American, Andrew Talansky.

This year’s Paris-Nice gets underway on Sunday and will feature a prologue and seven stages.

Click here to read more on CyclingNews. Click here to learn more about Paris-Nice courtesy of steephill.tv. Click here for a good preview and contenders on Velonews. And click here to watch an extraordinary video of a train-line crossing during from the 1937 edition of the race.

Women’s Giro saved

The women’s Giro d’Italia appears safe for now, according to a report in Cycling Weekly. The Italian cycling federation (FCI) is working with Giuseppe Rivolta to organise the event, which is scheduled from June 28 to July 7 this year.

“I’ve done it before,” Rivolta said, “and I can try to do it again.”

Evelyn Stevens, who placed third overall last year, said, “Right now, it’s the longest, most prestigious stage race out there – the women’s Tour de France.”

The federation owns the race and outsources it to organisers. It appeared in danger after organiser Sara Brambilla pulled out last year following a three-year stint.

Click here to read more on CyclingWeekly.

Roma Maxima revives the Giro del Lazio

Sunday’s Roma Maxima revives one of Italy’s famous one-day classics, the Giro del Lazio. The race starts in Rome and ends back in town, just outside the famous Coliseum.

Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport announced in February that it would bring back the race after a five-year hiatus. Instead of finishing out of town, as in the most recent editions, the Roma Maxima will this year run straight into the Eternal City.

“It’s like the Champs-Élysées for the Tour de France,” said Max Sciandri, 2000 winner. “It gives you goosebumps when you round the Coliseum.”

Click here to read more on VeloNews.

Giro races ahead with 207 cyclists

This year’s Giro d’Italia will feature 23 teams of nine — 207 cyclists — when it kicks off on May 4. According to Velo-Club.net, cycling’s governing body (UCI) gave organiser RCS Sport the right to go ahead with the extended number.

The unusual situation arose after sport’s high court (CAS) ruled on February 15 in favour of Team Katusha’s appeal to race in the first division. The Giro organiser had already selected its teams on January 8 – 18 first division and four wildcards from the second division – and left out Russia’s Katusha team.

RCS Sport has the OK to field 200+ cyclists, but it must now find the money.

“The wildcards were intentionally announced [early] to help the teams plan their season,” race director Michele Acquarone told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’ve decided on locations, space needed for team buses and cars, booked hotels, ferries for Ischia. And now we have to re-do it all … To add a 23rd team to the Giro has its cost; at least €150,000.”

One year of Italian passion

Strade Bianche marks the first of RCS Sport’s races for the 2013 season. To celebrate it and its other five races — including the Giro d’Italia and Giro di Lombardia — RCS Sport has produced a slick YouTube video which you can see below. We know what we’re doing this weekend!

Boogerd paid €17,000 for drugs

Michael Boogerd, winner of Amstel Gold and stages in the Tour de France, paid nearly €17,000 (AUD$22,000) to drug dealer Stefan Matschiner according to Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. The newspaper reported that he made the payments to the Austrian in 2006 and 2007 and printed the invoices acquired.

The Netherlands’ star cyclist said last year that he paid Matschiner, but it was only for a “small amount” of vitamins. Matschiner questioned that statement, telling the newspaper, “I think you can by a lot of vitamins for €17,000.”

Click here to read more on NRC.nl.

FebFifteeen Challenge – Australia versus the World

Thousands of competitors have entered the CyclingTips FebFifteen Strava Challenge. Since Monday almost 20,000 hours have been ridden and we still have the weekend to go!

According to my analysis, Australia is definitely running behind, all we need to do is add more bodies (each of us are punching above our weight). If every Australian cyclist invites two friends to join the Challenge and all put in a good chunk of riding on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’ll close down the gap to The World.

AUSTRALIA:
6,946 hrs ridden
1,574 riders
4:25:00 average time per rider

THE WORLD
12,660 hrs ridden
2,950 riders
4:18:00 average time per rider

Click here to sign up for the FebFifteen Challenge on Strava and be sure to post photos of your efforts on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #FebFifteen.

Bold branding or PR faux pas?

Earlier this week the Canadian Women’s ice hockey team unveiled the jersey they’ll be wearing for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships in April. The jersey is striking for a couple of reasons: for a start, it’s bright yellow but it’s also sponsored by Livestrong.

Now, we know Lance Armstrong isn’t technically involved with Livestrong any more but still, bold move if you ask us. What do you reckon?

Click here to read more on the Hockey Canada website.

“It’s not about Cav” documentary released

And finally, if you’ve got a spare hour today or over the weekend, we highly recommend watching this beautifully shot documentary about last year’s Tour of Britain. It’s the work of Benedict Campbell who had behind-the-scenes access at the race and captured some stunning and memorable images.

Click here to watch the full film.

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