Rocacorba Daily: Friday March 22

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The weekend is nearly here but before that rolls around, why not take a look at today’s Rocacorba? We’ve got the usual mix of race results, cycling news, and a bunch of other bits and pieces (and videos) that might be of interest. Have a great weekend and remember, if you’ve got something you think we should include in the Rocacorba, let us know:

Martin claims stage 4 and overall lead in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya

Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) has ridden away from a 23-man breakaway to take a solo victory on the Port Ainé-Rialp summit finish to stage 4 of the Volta Ciclicsta a Catalunya. The breakaway formed roughly an hour into the 218km-long queen stage and was gradually whittled down in the closing stages of the race, with Martin proving too strong on the 19km-long hors categorie climb to the finish.

Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez finished second with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) right behind him, both riders 36 seconds behind Martin.

Martin’s victory puts him at the top of the general classification just 10 seconds ahead of Rodriguez and 32 seconds ahead of Quintana with Bradley Wiggins (36 seconds) and Michele Scarponi (39 seconds) rounding out the top five.

There are three stages remaining in the race and tonight’s fifth stage takes riders 157km from Rialp to Lleid and features a category 2 climb to Port D’Ager at the halfway mark.

Click here to see full results from stage 4 of the 2013 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

Sulzberger takes overall lead in Tour of Taiwan

Australia’s Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac) has raced into the overall lead in the Tour of Taiwan after finishing third in yesterday’s fourth stage.

Earlier in the day Feng Chun Kai (Champion System) attacked from the startline creating a breakaway of 17 riders who managed to stay away until 36km into the 115km stage. Another breakaway would form later in the day, including second-place winner Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), but with a handful of others, Sulzberger bridged to the leading group before the final sprint.

The race was eventually won by Canadian Zachary Bell (Champion System) who finished ahead of Thomas Vaubourzeix (La Pomme Marseille) and Sulzberger.

Zach Bell takes out stage 4 of the Tour of Taiwan.

Sulzberger now leads the general classification by 28 seconds over Meintjes and Kirill Pozdnyakov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project Team) with fellow Australian Nathan Earle (Huon-Genesys) sitting in fourth after his victory on stage 2.

Click here for full results from stage 4 of the 2013 Tour of Taiwan and to read more about how the stage unfolded.

Valverde crashes and abandons Catalunya

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is on his way home after crashing in the Volta a Catalunya overnight. He crashed on a small descent during the queen stage of the seven-day race with team-mate Eros Capecchi also coming a cropper. Valverde’s Movistar team said in a press release:

“Number 111 has become a curse for Alejandro Valverde in the Volta a Catalunya. For the second year in a row, the Movistar Team leader was constrained to abandon with that bib in the Spanish event. While last year’s race saw him leaving the race after concluding an eventful stage two to Girona, with wounds and [having been] dropped, Valverde could not get back on his back today during the fourth day of racing [this year].”

Quintana being groomed for Tour win

Nairo Quintana’s win ahead of Bradley Wiggins (Sky) on Wednesday’s stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya highlighted just how strong the Colombian climber is. In fact, Quintana’s Movistar team is currently grooming him as a potential Tour de France contender.

“I want to be a leader on this team and challenge for some big races. I believe that I am capable,” the Colombian told VeloNews. “Whether I can some day race to win the Tour remains to be seen. First, I must go to the Tour to learn.”

The Spanish squad is planning to race 23-year-old Quintana alongside Alejandro Valverde at this year’s Tour. This idea pleases Tour boss Christian Prudhomme, who spotted Quintana as a future winner after the Colombian took out stage 6 of last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné.

Click here to read more on VeloNews.

Marianne Vos inspects Worlds course in Tuscany

Reigning world champion Marianne Vos has visited Tuscany with her Rabobank Women’s Cycling Team to inspect the course for the elite women’s 2013 road world championships which will be held in late September.

This short video shows Vos and her team riding the course and being interviewed:

E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem: a big weekend of semi-classics

The Spring Classics season is upon us and this weekend will be chock full of Belgian racing goodness with E3 Harelbeke on Saturday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. Both races are known as semi-classics and function as warm-up races for next weekend’s Tour of Flanders.

E3 Harelbeke is raced over 210km and features a number of the same climbs that are tackled in the Tour of Flanders. The race has been won five times by Tom Boonen, including last year, but the Belgian champion doesn’t appear to have the same early-season form that he’s enjoyed in previous years. Boonen has also won the past two editions of Gent-Wevelgem (and a total of three overall) but is unlikely to make it three on the trot.

No Australian has ever won Gent-Wevelgem but Henk Vogels came close in 2003, finishing second. Phil Anderson is the only Australian to have won E3 Harelbeke.

Weather forecasts suggest both days of racing are likely to be cold (4-5C) and wet.

Click here to read a preview of E3 Harelbeke and click here to see the startlist. Click here for the startlist for the 2013 Gent-Wevelgem.

Free helmets for bike share

The Victorian government has announced that it will give away 200 free helmets in an attempt to breathe some life into it’s bike-share program which, according to The Age newspaper, is yet to break even after three years.

Helmets are currently subsidised by Victorian taxpayers and are available at 7-Eleven stores, but Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder has admitted such measures aren’t enough:

“The big hitch from day one was the issue with helmets,” Mr Mulder said. “It really wasn’t given enough consideration when the program was put into place in Victoria.

Click here to read more on The Age website.

Dates released for the Australian Cyclocross Series

Cyclocross Australia has taken to Facebook to release the dates for the 2013 Australian Cyclocross Series. The dates are as follows:

– June 8/9: Adelaide (Port Adelaide CC)
– July 13/14: Sydney (Manly Warringah CC/MTB)
– August 10/11: Melbourne (Brunswick CC/Dirty Deeds)

The Saturday of that final weekend will include the first National Championships, hosted by Cycling Australia and Mountain Bike Australia in partnership with Cycling Victoria. The overall series winners will be announced on August 11.

2013 Giro Donne promo

There’s only one remaining Grand Tour in women’s cycling: the Giro Donne. The race has been under threat for a number of years and it was only last month that the 2013 version was confirmed as going ahead. See below for a promo for this year’s version of the race.

The Giro Donne will be held from June 28 to July 7 which, sadly, clashes with Le Tour de France.

What it’s like to ride with Peter Sagan

As well as being one of the best sprinters in the world, Peter Sagan has a reputation for having exceptional bike-handling skills. Indeed, we saw those skills on display in Sunday’s Milan-San Remo when he closed down the gap to the leading riders on the treacherous descent of the Poggio. In this entertaining article for VeloNews Matthew Beaudin writes about the experience of riding alongside Peter Sagan earlier in the season.

Click here to read the article on VeloNews.

Horner heads home due to knee pain

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) abandoned the Volta a Catalunya in Spain on Tuesday due to knee pain. The problem could sideline the 41-year-old in the lead-up to the Tour de France.

“Chris even had trouble walking,” sport director José Azevedo said in a press release. “Chris will have his knee examined in a hospital in Basel.”

The American placed sixth in Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this month.

Team Italy hires new sports director

Team Italy will race in the Florence World Championships with Max Sciandri at the wheel. The BMC Racing sports director will work with out-going Paolo Bettini this year and become the head DS by 2014.

The national federation confirmed his role at a meeting on Tuesday in Rome. Sciandri will work it in with his BMC Racing responsibilities, deciding at the end of the year if he will stay with the team.

The Bike Lane returns

And finally, if you haven’t already checked out the first episode in season 2 of the Bike Lane, you can watch it below. Enjoy!

Bike Lane Season 2, Episode 1 – The Spring Classics from cycling tips on Vimeo.