Rocacorba Daily: Monday March 25

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It’s the start of another week and the end of another massive weekend of racing. In this morning’s edition of the Rocacorba we bring you up to speed on a whole host of big races that have been happening around the world, and throw in a few other bits and pieces to help kickstart your week. Enjoy!

Sagan dominates at Gent-Wevelgem

After a series of second places in recent weeks, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) has gone one better at Gent-Wevelgem, claiming his sixth win for the season. Sagan attacked from a breakaway with less than 4km to go in the race and soloed away to victory. With a final margin of 23 seconds, Sagan even had time for a few of his trademark wheelies as he neared the finish line.

The decisive breakaway had come earlier in the day when Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) attacked, drawing a strong bunch of riders with him, including Sagan. There was a flurry of attacks within the last 10km but it wasn’t until Sagan’s move that something stuck.

Sagan closes in on victory at Gent-Wevelgem.

In the days leading up to Gent-Wevelgem there had been some suggestion that the race would be cancelled due to freezing conditions. In the end the race organisers chose to cut roughly 50km from the race, with the riders starting in Gistel instead of Deinze.

Click here to see full results from the 2013 Gent-Wevelgem.

Martin wins Volta Ciclista a Catalunya

Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) finished in the main field in last night’s final stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya to cement his overall victory after a week of racing.

The race’s final stage approached Barcelona via the coast before concluding with eight laps of the Montjuic park in the Catalonian capital. A breakaway of ten riders formed on the approach to Barcelona and with 22km to go Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) bridged across with two other riders. De Gendt was too strong in the sprint finish, beating his breakaway companions to take his first victory of the year.

But the day belonged to Martin who took the overall lead on stage 4 with a decisive attack on the slopes of the Port Aine climb and held on to the top spot for the final three days of the race.

Friday’s fifth stage was won by François Parisien (Argos-Shimano) in a chaotic bunch sprint in the streets of Leida and Saturday’s penultimate stage was won by Orica-GreenEDGE rider Simon Gerrans (see below for more information).

Click here to see the results after stage 5 and here to see the results after stage 6. Click here to see final results from the 2013 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

Gerrans claims second victory of the season

As you’ve already read, Simon Gerrans won stage 6 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya over the weekend, giving the Victoria his second win for the year and his Orica-GreenEDGE team its 11th for the season.

Gerrans made the selection as part of a 40-rider-strong bunch that got away on the slopes of the second category Alt de Lilla climb. An eight-rider breakaway that had moved away earlier in the stage was caught within 5km of the finish setting up the final sprint for a select group.

Gerro sprints to victory in stage 6 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya

Gerrans’ move came on the last corner before the finish, surprising many of the more-likely candidates for a sprint win:

“I came through that last left-hander in tenth wheel or so. I was far back, but I knew the guys in front of me were still lead out riders, so I had time to come around them. I kicked quite hard out of the corner,” Gerrans said. “This gave me the opportunity to move up and use my momentum to pop out in the last couple hundred metres.”

Click here to see the results from stage 6 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Click here to read a full race report on the Orica-GreenEDGE website.

Froome and Porte go one-two at Criterium International

Team Sky has put in a dominant performance in the final stage of the Criterium International in Corsica to take the top two spots on the podium. Richie Porte had been leading proceedings after his stage-two victory in the ITT but on the stage-ending climb to the Col de l’Ospedale in the race’s third and final stage, Chris Froome attacked with roughly 5km to go and went on to win the stage by 30 seconds.

Porte himself jumped with 2km to go, finishing second on the stage and second overall behind his teammate.

The final position on the final podium was occupied by Tejay van Garderen (BMC) who finished 54 seconds behind Chris Froome.

Earlier in the race a 10-rider breakaway — which included Thomas Voeckler and Andy Schleck — had got away and it took some concerted chasing by Sky riders Kanstantsin Siutsou and Vasil Kiryienka to ensure that it wouldn’t stick.

Click here to see the results after stage 1 and click here to see the results after stage 2.

Borghini takes out the Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products-UCK) has won the second round of the UCI Women’s World Cup after launching a solo attack with 30km to go in the race. A small breakaway of four riders (including Orica-AIS’s Shara Gillow) had taken the lead near the start of the race but was eventually shut down after 73km of racing.

When Borghini made her move no-one could stay with her and she increased her lead in the remaining 30km, eventually winning by 1 minute and 44 seconds. Second place went to Orica-AIS’s Swedish champion Emma Johansson who continued her terrific start to the season, outsprinting Ellen Van Dijk (Team Specialized–lululemon) who finished third.

After two rounds of the World Cup, the top of the leaderboard is as follows:

1. Marianne Vos (Rabobank Women Cycling Team): 99 points
2. Ellen van Dijk (Team Specialized–lululemon): 85 points
2. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS): 85 points

The next World Cup race, the Tour of Flanders, will be held next Sunday.

Click here [PDF] for full results from the 2013 Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

Wild wins Women’s Gent-Wevelgem

Kirsten Wild (Argos Shimano) has won the second edition of the women’s Gent-Wevelgem in a sprint against her select breakaway companions Sanne Paassen (Rabobank) and Kelly Druyts (Lotto).

There’s not much race coverage in English that we can find, but if you can read Flemish (Google Translate isn’t doing a good job) you can read all about how the race panned out here.

Cancellara solos to third E3 Harelbeke win

With 35km to go in Friday’s E3 Harelbeke, on the Oude Kwaremont climb, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard Trek) put in one solid attack, and ensured he would win this race for the third time. “Spartacus” powered up the 2.2km-long climb before switching to time-trial mode and widening his gap in the run to the finish. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won the sprint for second ahead of Daniel Oss (BMC) and Geraint Thomas (Sky), 1 minute and 4 seconds behind Cancellara.

With 60km left to race five-time winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had launched an attack on the Taaienberg, creating an elite group of eight riders — including Cancellara and Sagan. But when the group hit the Oude Kwaremont Cancellara took control and with little organisation in the chase group, he was able to pull away to win.

Cancellara wins his third E3 Harelbeke.

The win is an ominous sign for Cancellara’s rivals with just a week before the Tour of Flanders.

Click here to see the full results, a highlights video and a report from the 2013 E3-Harelbeke.

Sulzberger holds on for overall win at Tour of Taiwan

Australian rider Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac) has maintained the lead he took in stage 4 of the Tour of Taiwain, going on to win the race overall on Sunday afternoon.

The race ended with a 52km-long criterium around the streets of Taipei City in which 23-year-old Japanese rider Hayato Yoshida (Shimano Racing) sprinted to victory. Two of the race favourites, Anuar Manan (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) and Anthony Giacoppo (Huon Salmon-Genesys) went down in the final sprint.

Sulzberger held on to win the Tour of Taiwan.

Sulzberger finished the final stage out of harm’s way in the main field, holding on to win the Tour of Taiwan by 24 seconds over stage-5 winner Tsgabu Grmay (MTN-Qhubeka) and 25 seconds over stage-1 winner Kirill Pozdnyakov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project).

“This is definitely the biggest win of my career”, Sulzberger said. “This is a massive win for myself and for my team that has been 100% committed from when I had the jersey.”

Click here [PDF] to see the final results from the 2013 Tour of Taiwan.

Cannondale makes Ronde war plan for Sagan

Cannondale is planning for star rider Peter Sagan in Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday after Gent-Wevelgem.

“Gent-Wevelgem is great, that’s what Peter wanted, a classic. He and the team, though, always want more,” General Manager Roberto Amadio said.

“Flanders will be something else, 260 kilometres. Clearly, if [Fabian] Cancellara is able to do something like [the Kwaremont attack] again, it’ll be hard for us. We hope Tom Boonen is going well, we want him there for a fair fight.”

Boonen crashed and potentially injured his knee overnight in Gent-Wevelgem.

Amadio and Cannondale’s other top brass met with Sagan on Saturday to discuss their strategy. Their concern is that others are racing against Sagan. They want to avoid a scenario like E3 Harelbeke, where Cancellara rode away solo and the others refused to work with Sagan until it was too late. Ideally, they’ll pull off a Gent-Wevelgem style victory with Sagan riding a wheelie over the line.

Click here to read more on VeloNews.

Snow wreaks havoc on early-season European races

Snowstorms are creating problems for the big European races this season, causing several cancellations or alterations.

Gent-Wevelgem risked cancellation over the weekend. The race went ahead Sunday, but the organiser cut the distance to around 192km kilometres and cut one ascent of the Casselberg.

Philippe Gilbert attempts to protect himself from the cold.

It follows Milan-San Remo, where snow-covered roads made the Passo del Turchino impassable. The organiser cut the climb and descent from the race and also axed Le Mànie (due to rain and mud), making the race nearly 50km shorter.

Several races have already been cancelled, including Drôme Classic (February 23), GP Lugano, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (February 24), Dwars door Drenthe (March 10) and Nokere Koerse (March 13).

Click here to read more on CyclingWeekly.

Anti-doping association warns of dangerous GW501516 drug

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and cycling’s governing body, the UCI, sent out warnings to athletes who may be doping with GW501516.

The drug reportedly helps weight-loss and together with the drug AICAR (Acadesine), increases endurance. Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline halted trial studies in 2006, but the drug made its way into the black market.

WADA said that testers have already seen athletes testing positive for the drug. It is concerned as GW501516 caused tumours in lab mice.

Click here to read more on Cycling News.

Wiggo eyes all three Grand Tours

Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) said at a press conference in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya that he may race all three Grand Tours. The Giro d’Italia and Tour de France are already on his programme, which could be expanded to include the Vuelta a España.

“The chances are I will probably do the Vuelta a España as well,” Wiggins told journalists after Friday’s stage at the Volta a Catalunya. “The plan is still Giro, Tour, and managing that fatigue. That’s the challenge, like the Tour and the Olympics like last year.”

The Brit aims to win the Giro and then help Chris Froome in the Tour. If he raced the Vuelta, he would seemingly do so to win. In 2011, he placed third overall.

Click here to read more on VeloNews.

Roelandts tests battery-powered gloves

Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) has spent another cold weekend of racing testing battery-powered heated gloves.

Each glove contains a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which runs for between two to six hours depending on the heat required. Manufactured by 30seven, the gloves cost around €199.

Click here to read more.

Tour of Britain route announced

Event organisers have revealed the course for the 2013 Tour of Britain and for the first time in the race’s short history, it will feature a “summit finish”. Stage 6 will see the riders finish with the roughly 5km-long climb to Haytor — a finale that could be crucial to the race overall.

The eight-stage tour begins on September 15 in Peebles, Scotland and finishes in London on September 22.

Click here to read more at The Telegraph website.

Merckx’s heart requires operation for pacemaker

Cycling great Eddy Merckx had an operation on Thursday in Gent, Belgium, to be fitted with a pacemaker. The Belgian, 67, suffers from irregular heartbeats.

Last year, the book Eddy Merckx, the Cannibal revealed that he suffered heart problems through his career. Merckx said at the time that he never had any heart problems, though he added that it was a problem in his father’s side of the family.

Click here to read more on Cycling News.

70,000km of bike tracks open in Europe

Here in Australia we’ve got a terrific network of bike trails including tracks that criss-cross our major cities and a great system of rail trails. But we don’t have a continent-wide bike track network that’s 70,000km long.

The epic European network (called EuroVelo) is divided into 14 long-distance cycle routes and the first of those, La Vélodyssé, has just been opened. The 1,200km+ route runs from Brittany in the north west of France, all the way to the Spanish border in the south west.

Click here to read more about La Vélodyssé and click here to read more about the EuroVelo project.

Behind the scenes at the Orica-AIS TTT training camp

If you’ve been reading the Rocacorba Daily in the past few weeks you’ll know that we’re quite fond of Gracie Elvin’s videos from behind-the-scenes at team Orica-AIS. Well, today, we’ve got two new videos for you.

Both of them are from the recent Orica-AIS team time trial training camp (trying saying that five times fast) in Italy, the first from Gracie herself, and the second from the team at Orica-GreenEDGE/Orica-AIS. Enjoy!

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