Rocacorba Daily: Tuesday April 2

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Good morning and welcome to the first Rocacorba after the Easter long weekend. In today’s edition we bring you up to speed on the Tour of Flanders races from the weekend, bring you the results from a couple of other races and share some other news from the world of cycling. Got something we should include in the Rocacorba? Let us know: editor@cyclingtips.com.au.

Gerrans wins opening stage of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco

Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) has picked up his third victory for the year, winning the opening stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country).

A crash at the summit of the Alto de San Miguel, with 7.5km left to race, saw the formation of an elite group of 17 riders, including Richie Porte (Sky), Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Simon Gerrans and his Orica-GreenEDGE teammate Pieter Weening. Weening lead the group down the twisty descent of the sixth and final categorised climb and delivered Gerrans to within sight of the line, where the Victorian jumped and took out the win.

During the second hour of racing Laurent Didier (RadioShack-Leopard) and Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) had gained a maximum lead of 5 minutes 15 seconds but that advantage began to tumble as the kilometres flew by and was erased when Txurruka was swept up with 19km left to race.

Image: Orica-GreenEDGE/Graham Watson

Gerrans’ victory gives him the overall lead of the six-day race which will take the riders from Elgoibar to Vitoria-Gasteiz tonight in stage 2.

Click here to see the full results and the final few kilometres from stage 1 of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.

Cancellara powers to second Tour of Flanders win

Fabian Cancellara took his second Ronde van Vlaanderen win on Sunday thanks to powerful attacks on the final two climbs of the day. Cancellara made his first move on the Oude Kwaremont (the penultimate climb), shelling all but Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), the latter of which had been in an earlier breakaway.

When the three riders hit the final climb, the Paterberg, Cancellara stomped away, cresting the short climb with a slight advantage that would blow out to nearly 90 seconds by the time he reached the finish roughly 10km later. Sagan finished second, outsprinting an exhausted Roelandts who was happy to roll in for third place.

Cancellara’s victory was, in part, set up by teammate and two-time Flanders winner Stijn Devolder who did a lot of work at the front to shut down the remainder of the breakaway group.

Click here to see the results from the 2013 Tour of Flanders. Click here to read more about Cancellara’s victory, including our top-5 moments from the race.

Vos wins her first Tour of Flanders

Reigning world champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank) continued her dominant form on Sunday, winning the Tour of Flanders for the first time.

The field had stayed together for much of the race but when Vos attacked on the Oude Kwaremont, only Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) were able to hold on. Shortly after the Kwaremont, Vos’ compatriot Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon) powered across the gap, creating a group of four at the head of the race.

Vos wins her first Tour of Flanders - one of the few big races she hadn't won previously.

The four riders stayed together over the final climb of the day, the Paterberg, and Vos shut down a handful of moves that came in the final kilometres of the race. When it came to the final sprint, van Dijk lead out but it was Vos that made the decisive leap, pulling away for her first Flanders win.

Ellen van Dijk finished second, Emma Johannson picked up yet another third place and Longo Bhorghini crossed the line fourth, more than 2 minutes 30 seconds ahead of the next riders on the road.

Click here to see the full results from the 2013 Women’s Tour of Flanders. Click here to read a full report on bicycling.com.

Sagan apologies for squeeze

Peter Sagan has apologised over twitter and has now gone to his Facebook page to express regret towards his conduct on the podium after Flanders. On a side note, photographer Kristof Ramon just pointed out, “just noticed that the girl he squeezed is also the girl that kissed him a week earlier when he was ‘numero uno’…”

Rico Rogers wins first stage of Tour of Thailand

Melbourne local Rico Rogers (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) has won the opening stage of the UCI 2.2 Tour of Thailand, sprinting to the win in Suphanburi at the head of a 16-man lead group. Local MTB hero Paul Van Der Ploeg snatched second place in his first international road race for Perth-based team Satalyst Giant (formely Plan B).

Aussie up-and-comers have experienced much success at this lesser-known Asian tour, with CyclingTips contributor Jonathan Lovelock (Huon-Genesys) claiming a podium finish for Plan B back in 2010 and Mitchell Lovelock-Fay taking the overall title while riding for the Australian national team last year.

The six-stage race continues today with a lumpy 112km stage from Hua Hin to Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Click here to see the full results from stage 1 of the 2013 Tour of Thailand.

Boonen ends classics season with Ronde crash

Tom Boonen’s (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) classics season was over after only 19km of racing in Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen. A sudden shift in the peloton forced the three-time winner off the road and onto his back.

“I couldn’t even breathe at the beginning,” Boonen said in a press release. “I understood immediately that something wasn’t good. I had pain especially on the left side of my body. Then I saw also a deep wound on my right knee and I understood that my race was over.”

Boonen’s 2013 season has been interrupted by several hospital visits — for an intestinal problem, an elbow infection, and a crash in Gent-Wevelgem over a week ago.

The most recent crash has forced Boonen to skip Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix, thus ending his classics season on a sour note. By contrast with his poor luck this year, Boonen last year won E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde and Paris-Roubaix.

Click here to read more on Cycling News.

Sagan skips Roubaix for Amstel Gold

Peter Sagan will skip Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix in favour of the more undulating classics in the following week. As part of its pre-season plan, Cannondale has Sagan down for Brabantse Pijl, the Amstel Gold Race and possibly Flèche Wallonne.

“It’s just too much for him this year,” team DS, Stefano Zanatta told VeloNews. “We want to save his energy for the Ardennes classics, where he’s better suited.”

Some of cycling’s greats think Sagan, after winning Gent-Wevelgem and placing second in E3 Harelbeke and Ronde, should race.

“I’d take Peter,” Paolo Bettini said. “He is a beast and would be suited perfectly for those roads.”

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

Kwiatkowski impresses at Flanders

Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has made huge strides this spring, as highlighted by Sunday’s ride in Ronde van Vlaanderen.

The 22-year-old rode 100km in the front in Ronde, only falling to the side when Cancellara attacked.

“At first, we noted him for his [time trial] abilities, but then we saw that he really liked the pavé,” team DS, Brian Holm told French website, Velo Chrono. “He is a very complete rider.”

Michal Kwiatkowski was a common sight at the head of the race on Sunday.

Kwiatkowski also impressed in the main mountain stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, climbing with the likes of Chris Froome (Sky), Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and taking the race lead. He held on to place fourth overall.

Click here to read more at velochrono.fr.

Sky reflects on “dreadful” day at Flanders

Team Sky’s Ronde van Vlaanderen fell apart with Geraint Thomas crashing and Edvald Boasson Hagen unable to follow Cancellara and Sagan when it really mattered.

“I think we had a pretty dreadful day, really,” Sky’s performance manager, Rod Ellingworth said, according to Cycling Weekly.

“Edvald was well positioned to go with Fabian and Sagan … just simply, he just couldn’t do it.”

Thomas was out of gas after chasing back ahead of the final Kwaremont climb. Boasson Hagen maintained perfect position behind Cancellara and Sagan on the Kwaremont climb, but was unable keep hold.

Click here to read more on Cycling Weekly.

Merckx: “Koppenberg has no place in cycling”

Eddy Merckx said that the Koppenberg has no place in cycling after a slip on the climb caused a crucial split in Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen.

“The Koppenberg has nothing to do with cycling,” the cycling great told Belgian paper, Het Nieuwsblad. “I think that it should be removed from course. Someone [Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM)] made a mistake, leaving about fifty riders walking up the climb.”

Click here to read more at nieuwsblad.be.

Evans to race the Giro d’Italia

Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) said that he will return to race the Giro d’Italia after skipping it the last couple of years.

“It’s not about training, it’s about using it to return to my best,” Evans told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “After the 2012 disappointment, adding extra race days in my legs won’t do me any harm.”

In a statement on the BMC website, Evans said that while the Tour de France remains his main objective, he won’t be going to the Giro simply to make up the numbers.

“I am not coming to the Giro just for training. I don’t know where I will be with my form, but for sure, I will give it everything.”

Click here to read more at Gazzetta.it.

Could cyclosportives help to stabilise pro races?

Economic pressures in recent years have seen a handful of races cancelled and left plenty more with question marks over their future. In an article for VeloNews yesterday, Mark Johnson considered whether cyclosportives that run alongside major races could help to stabilise those pro races.

The idea is that amateur events drive attention to the pro events and that greater fan interest, in turn, makes these races more attractive and valuable to race sponsors.

The article comes off the back of Saturday’s Tour of Flanders sportive which attracted 16,000 riders to experience the same roads that Vos and Cancellara would win on the following day.

Click here to read more on VeloNews.

Video: handcrafted steel bikes, for the planet

And finally, this video is a few years old now, but it’s still pretty great. It features Natalie Ramsland from Sweetpea Bicycles in Portland who handcrafts steel frame bikes especially for women, all while doing her bit for the planet.

One Percent For the Planet | Sweetpea Bicycles from FELT SOUL MEDIA on Vimeo.


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