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It was another big day of racing in Europe overnight and in the Rocacorba this morning we’ve got a bunch of race results and write-ups for you. We’ve also got a handful of other cycling news items that piqued our interest, as well as a few other bits and pieces to kick-start your day. As ever, if you’ve got something you’d like to see in the Rocacorba, let us know: email@example.com.
Henao climbs into Vuelta al Pais Vasco lead
Sergio Henao (Sky) claimed victory on the third stage of the Tour of the Basque Country and the overall lead in the race with an impressive late surge Wednesday up the steep mountain finish in La Lejana.
The Colombian rider chased down a late breakaway by Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) and Carlos Alberto Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the final kilometre to win the 165km stage.
The daunting 500m climb in the last 10km of the stage was always going to favour the stronger climbers in the peloton, but for the third consecutive day Amets Txurruka was at the front of a breakaway group of five riders. The Caja Rural rider, along with teammate Omar Fraile, Mikel Landa (Euskadi), Larent Didier (RadioShack) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) built up a lead of over five minutes just before the 100km mark. The peloton then began to work their way back towards the leaders and eventually caught them with just under 10km to go.
Henao, Contador and Quintana then began to position themselves towards the front of the pack on the climb up to La Lejana and it was Henao who made the first break with 3.5km remaining. Caruso and Betancur then hit the front just over a kilometre later, but they couldn’t hold off Henao on the line as he surged to his second stage victory of the season.
Quintana finished in fourth, eight seconds behind, with Porte and Contador arriving together just two seconds later in sixth and seventh respectively.
With the win, Henao has opened up an eight-second lead over compatriot Nelson Quintana (Movistar) in the overall standings, with teammate Richie Porte and two-time winner of the race Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) just a further two seconds back.
Click here to read a race report and see full results from stage 3 of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.
Kittel holds of Cavendish to win at Scheldeprijs
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) has taken out a chaotic final sprint to claim his second consecutive win at Scheldeprijs ahead of three-time winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep).
Strong winds made for slow going in the early part of the race and after 50km the peloton was split into echelons to best deal with the crosswinds. A group of nine rides formed an early escape but they were absorbed back into the peloton with 85km still remaining in the 204km race.
Once the race was back together another break of three riders went up the road — including Matthew Brammeier (Champion System) and Stefano Borchi (Vini Fantini) from the earlier break. And while they managed to gain 3 minutes over the main field, the peloton took control and reeled in the break with around 35km to go.
In the run to the line no single team was able to stamp its authority by forming a full lead-out train and the dash for the finish was a bit of a chaotic affair.
Click here to see full results from the 2013 Scheldeprijs.
Kirsten Wild takes stage 1 of the Energiewacht Tour
Kirsten Wild (Argos – Shimano) has taken out a chaotic first stage of the five-day and six-stage Energiewacht Tour in the Netherlands. English reports from the race are few and far between, sadly, but we do know that there was a four-up sprint at the finish in which Wild overpowered Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon), with Iris Slappendel (Rabobank) third and Orica-AIS’s Loes Gunnewijk in fourth.
The race was perhaps most notable for some rather interesting interruptions. To quote Orica-AIS’s head coach Martin Barras: “today’s race was stopped by a train and a boat, sent the wrong way and stopped due to rider protest on the finish circuit with one lap left to race”.
Check out Martin’s full article here. Click here to read a first-hand account of the drama-filled stage by Orica-AIS rider Gracie Elvin. And click here for full results from stage 1 of the Energiewacht Tour.
Durbridge time-trials into Circuit Sarthe race lead
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) has repeated his success from a year ago, winning the stage 3 individual time trial in the four-day, five-stage Circuit Cycliste Sarthe in France. Durbridge completed the 6.8km course in 8 minutes 18 seconds, less than a second faster than Bob Jungels (RadioShack-Leopard) and one second faster than teammate Cameron Meyer.
Durbridge’s win gives him the leader’s yellow jersey over Jungels and Meyer with two stages left to race.
Durbridge won last year’s time trial as well and was able to hang on to the leader’s yellow jersey in the remaining days of the race.
Click here to see the full results from stage 3 of the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe.
Scheldeprijs crash threatens Cancellara’s Paris-Roubaix chances
A crash 50km into the mid-week semi-classic Scheldeprijs could jeopardise Fabian Cancellara’s chances of backing up his Tour of Flanders win with a victory on the pave of Paris-Roubaix.
The incident wasn’t captured by TV cameras but a short time later Cancellara was seen clinging to his team car with ripped shorts and a bloodied left backside.
Cancellara didn’t finish the race but RadioShack-Leopard team manager Luca Guercilena didn’t seem to be too concerned.
“We’re quite confident that everything will be fine”, Guercilena said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s fine.”
Click here to read more on VeloNews.
Vos backs up Flanders win with MTB race victory
The day after winning her first Tour of Flanders, world-beater Marianne Vos was back on the bike and winning another race, this time on knobbly tyres. The Dutch world road champion won the UCI Mountain Bike race in Nieuwkuijk, beating Annefleur Kalvenhaar (Giant) and Anne Terpstra (Superior Brentjens).
Vos has had great success on the road, on the track and, more recently, at cyclocross and she is now throwing herself into MTB as well — a terrifying prospect for MTB riders everywhere.
Click here to read more on Cycling Weekly.
Mitch Docker’s power data from Flanders
Orica-GreenEDGE’s Mitch Docker might have finished in the grupetto at the Tour of Flanders, more than 13 minutes behind the winner Fabian Cancellara, but he certainly didn’t have an easy day on the bike.
Docker has made his Flanders power data available to the VeloNews website and it makes for some interesting reading. He had a normalised power of 309 watts for the day and when it came down to the final climbs of the day — the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg — Docker was pushing out between 5-6 watts/kg — not too shabby at all.
Click here to read more on VeloNews and to view Docker’s power file.
Cancellara visits Wouter Weylandt’s widow after Flanders win
The day after winning the Tour of Flanders, Fabian Cancellara headed to Gent to visit the widow and daughter of his former teammate Wouter Weylandt who was tragically killed during the 2011 Giro d’Italia.
Weylandt’s death shook the cycling world and the Leopard Trek squad in particular. Weylandt’s partner An-Sophie De Graeve was five months pregnant with their child at the time of Weylandt’s death. Alizée Weylandt was born in September 2011.
Click here to read more on nieuwsblad.de.
Sagan’s podium “bottom-pinch” inspires Slovak craze
Slovaks have been pinching the bottoms of strangers this week in solidarity with cyclist compatriot Peter Sagan, who is embroiled in a sexism row for pinching the bottom of a podium girl after the Tour of Flanders.
More than 4,500 people have “liked” a group which popped up on Facebook challenging Slovaks to pinch a stranger’s bottom to support Sagan’s risque manoeuvre last Sunday — and post pictures of themselves doing so.
Sagan, 23, smirked towards the camera as he grabbed the bottom of a blonde hostess, one of two giving congratulatory kisses to race winner Fabian Cancellara, who beat Sagan for top spot.
The ensuing storm has encouraged some Slovakians to turn the issue on its head.
“The hostess kissing the winner — a complete stranger — is a shocking case of harassment in the workplace,” wrote Tomas Teicher in his blog on Slovakia’s leading daily SME’s website.
“It’s good to know that if someone pinches my bottom tomorrow at work they will do so to support Sagan,” Zuzana Kostolnakova wrote on the Facebook group called “Assupport Peter Sagan”.
Sagan later tweeted it was not his “intention to disrespect women today on the podium. Just a joke, sorry if someone was disturbed about it.”
“I promise to act more respectfully in the future,” he said in a video published on his official website.
— Stephanie Clerckx (@StephsClerckx) April 3, 2013
Even Maja is joking about it now…
Frank Schleck can return to racing this July
Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) can return to competition on July 14 after the sanction handed down by the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) went unchallenged by WADA and the UCI.
An in-competition test after stage 13 of last year’s Tour de France saw Schleck test positive to the banned diuretic Xipamide. The result was announced a few days later and Schleck withdrew from the race.
Schleck was initially unhappy with the one-year ban he received from ALAD but he ultimately decided not to challenge the decision. The UCI and now WADA have also accepted ALAD’s sentence, meaning that Schleck can race again in mid-July.
Click here to read more on VeloNation.
WADA to launch an app to help athletes track their whereabouts
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is launching a free smartphone app later this year to help athletes log and keep track of their whereabouts information.
According to WADA, “Using their smartphone, athletes can enter, check, change and submit their whereabouts details at any time with just a few clicks. Using mobile notifications, it also helps the athletes to remember their obligations to submit whereabouts, including the relevant deadlines to do so.”
Under WADA rules, athletes are required to inform anti-doping officials where they will be for a one-hour period, each day, to allow out-of-competition tests to be done.
Click here to read more at road.cc.
Armstrong will race again … just not on the bike
Lance Armstrong is back racing this weekend, competing in the Masters South Central Zone Swimming Championships in Texas. U.S. Masters Swimming isn’t under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Anti Doping Agency, the organisation which gave Armstrong a lifetime ban from competition last year.
Click here to read more on statesman.com.
CT interviews Bicycle Network CEO about upcoming NSW challenge ride
At the recent 3 Peaks Challenge at Falls Creek Wade Wallace spoke with Bicycle Network’s CEO, Craig Richards, about a new challenge ride being launched in NSW later this year, the role Bicycle Network plays in the world of cycling and more.
Click here to see the interview on the Bicycle Network website.
Road pedals that can be used with any cleat system?
Here’s something a little different: a US patent application for a pedal mechanism that appears to be compatible with any type of shoe cleat. According to the inventors, the new design will also require riders to use less energy unclipping from the pedals, while still ensuring that one’s feet don’t accidentally come out of the pedals.
Click here to see the full patent application.
Video: Preparing for the Tour of Flanders
And finally, here’s the latest instalment in the video diary of Orica-AIS rider Gracie Elvin: a piece about her preparation for last weekend’s Tour of Flanders. Gracie and her teammates are currently racing in the Energiewacht Tour.