In this edition of the Rocacorba Daily we bring you up to speed on Paris-Nice, continue the build-up to tomorrow’s start of Tirreno-Adriatico, share a bunch of other cycling stories that are making news and finish with something a bit lighter. Enjoy!
Nacer Bouhanni wins Stage 1 of Paris-Nice
French national champion Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-Big Mat) has won Stage 1 of the 2013 Paris-Nice in a bunch sprint ahead of veteran Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Elia Viviani (Cannondale).
Three riders attacked at the very start of the flat, 195km-long stage and eventually gained an advantage of more than 7 minutes. But then the Argos-Shimano, Europcar and FDJ teams started working at the front and the lead was gradually whittled away, setting up a bunch sprint.
Bouhanni’s victory puts him into the overall lead on the same time as prologue-winner Damian Gaudin (Europcar) and one second ahead of Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma – QuickStep) who sits in third.
Tonight’s 200.5km second stage takes riders south from Vimory to Cérilly.
Boswell offers insider look at Paris-Nice (audio)
After every stage of Paris-Nice Team Sky’s Ian Boswell will be speaking to VeloNews about how the day unfolded and how the race is coming along for Team Sky and their leader Richie Porte. Click here to listen to Ian’s take on the prologue, and stay posted to this page for further instalments.
Team MTN-Qhubeka to make history
On Wednesday, Team MTN-Qhubeka will become the first African team to line up for a WorldTour race. The Pro Continental team will compete in Tirreno-Adriatico (which runs from March 6-12) and will be led by German Gerald Ciolek and Spaniard Sergio Pardilla.
The race starts Wednesday with a team time trial in San Vincenzo and ends seven days later with an individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on the Adriatic Sea. One of the highlights of the “Race of the Two Seas” is the mountain-top finish at Prati di Tivo on Saturday.
Motorist drives through team time trial in El Salvador
A motorist has struck a group of riders competing in the 11km team time trial at the Women’s Tour of El Savador. One rider, Colombian Nicole Estrada was taken to hospital but was later cleared of any fractures or other serious damage.
The accident was captured on video by El Salvador’s Channel 33:
Click here to read more at lapagina.com.
Tirreno-Adriatico welcomes stars
According to Cycling Weekly, Chris Froome (Sky), who won the Tour of Oman earlier in the season, is the favourite to win Tirreno-Adriatico. In an article, Cycling Weekly listed its five-star and four-star contenders for the race.
“[Froome] appears to be going Brad Wiggins’ way to the Tour, meaning GC wins. Though Vincenzo Nibali is defending champion, the Brit is the man to beat.”
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) all received four stars while Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), the 2011 winner, earned three.
So, who’s your tip for Tirreno-Adriatico?
Are South African cyclists still doping?
Retroactive testing of cyclists who competed in 2012 events hints at the continued use of EPO in South Africa. While the samples weren’t conclusive enough to lead to doping charges, they have been labelled as “suspicious”.
The samples were taken from a total of 50 riders who competed in a range of road and mountain bike events held in 2012. And while the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport (SAIDS) didn’t indicate how many of the 50 samples were suspicious, the organisation did reiterate a hardline stance to doping.
“In light of these results we will be changing up our strategy so that cyclists are aware that we are very serious about cleaning up sport,” SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant said in a statement.
Click here to read more on Sport24.
Armstrong’s team-mates return to racing
After serving six-month bans related to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, American cyclists Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson and Levi Leipheimer are able to return to racing.
The first three race for Garmin-Sharp and are expected to race soon. Leipheimer is still searching for a team after Omega Pharma – QuickStep fired him. Michael Barry (formerly with Sky) and George Hincapie (BMC Racing) also served six-month bans, but have since retired.
The group were a handful of the 11 former Armstrong team-mates that testified in the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation last summer. They told of doping and admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, but only received the minimum six-month ban as a result of their cooperation.
Tour de France wildcards narrowed, Endura hopeful
Tour de France organiser ASO announced over the weekend that six teams are in the running for three wildcard spots at Le Tour.
IAM Cycling, NetApp-Endura, Bretagne-Séché, Cofidis, Europcar and Sojasun will all fight for the chance to race alongside the 19 WorldTour teams, including Orica-GreenEDGE.
NetApp is a German team, but recently took on a British backer Endura and thus has received more interest from organiser ASO over the winter.
“This young team with clean riders would certainly not go to the Tour de France to win. But we are confident enough to help shape the best cycling race in the world,” Endura team manager, Ralph Denk said. “At the Giro d’Italia last year we proved that we are good for a surprise at a Grand Tour.”
Click here to read more on Cycling News.
Italy welcomes new generation of riders
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport has celebrated Saturday’s Strade Bianche win by Moreno Moser (Cannondale) with an opinion piece in the paper entitled “Moser’s win in Siena opens the door to a cycling re-birth.”
Doping scandals and the lack of new stars have shaken the once-strong cycling nation. The 22-year-old, nephew of Francesco Moser, re-sparked the nation’s interest on Saturday.
“His win takes on greater importance because it was in a serious race and against big names (like Fabian Cancellara), who weren’t starting to prepare but to win,” read the article.
“In Tuscany, home of the artistic and cultural Renaissance five centuries ago, a new Italian cycling Renaissance opens with Moser’s win. After many dark years.”
Click here to read more.
French cycling Renaissance?
And it’s not just the Italians claiming a national cycling rebirth.
After the Festina scandal of 1998 and Lance Armstrong’s doping admissions, France is welcoming a cycling Renaissance. According to VeloNews, several cyclists and key figures are pushing French cycling “back into relevance in a sport that’s grown ever more international over the past decade.”
The article listed several personalities shaping the local landscape: Movement for a Credible Cycling head and Former Crédit Agricole team manager, Roger Legeay, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme and newly elected European Cycling Union president, David Lappartient.
“French insiders like to point out that as the peloton has cleaned up its act over the past few years more French riders and teams are once again becoming more competitive,” read the article. It pointed to Sunday’s wins by Damien Gaudin (Europcar) in Paris-Nice and Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in Roma Maxima.
Click here to read more on VeloNews.
New helmet to feature built-in lights and indicators
It hasn’t been built yet, but this concept for a new type of helmet caught our eye. The DORA helmet features built-in front and rear lights and indicators that are turned on and off via handlebar-mounted bluetooth controls.
What do you reckon: will the design catch on?
Click here to read more on road.cc.
New experimental propulsion technique for cyclists
And finally, here’s a Danish TV commercial that proposes a novel way of giving riders an advantage over their rivals. Enjoy.