Rocacorba Daily: Wednesday, April 17

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In this morning’s Rocacorba Daily we preview tonight’s Ardennes Classic – la Fleche Wallonne, take a look at the less glamorous, more regular side of a pro cyclists life, and have a look at Danny MacAskill’s first episode of “Imaginate” which tells the backstory of his injuries and rehabilitation which come with the incredible riding we see in his videos that propelled him to fame. Enjoy…

Sky controls Trentino

Sky ruled the Giro del Trentino yesterday in Lienz, Austria, with a time trial win. The win places Brad Wiggins in a position to win the overall and indicates he is ready for the Giro d’Italia.

“For preparation ahead of the Giro it is important,” Kanstantsin Siutsou said in a team press release.

“We’ve just got back from Tenerife so we will see how we get on in the mountains. The form is coming and I think it will continue to improve here in Trentino and then obviously we need to be ready at the Giro to help Bradley.

Cadel Evans and his BMC Racing team placed ninth at 49 seconds back. After escaping in the morning stage, Josef Cerny (CCC-Polsat) continues to lead the race.

Today and Friday’s mountain stages appear most likely to shake the classification and allow the climbers to shine.

See full results from Stage 1a and Stage 1b (TTT) at the 2013 Giro del Trentino.

Pinotti returns to racing

Marco Pinotti returned to racing yesterday to help BMC Racing team-mate Cadel Evans in the Giro del Trentino. The Italian fractured his ribs and collarbone in the Méditerranéen Tour in February.

In a press release he said, “The goal is to get a good block of volume and intensity, getting the right amount of fatigue I need to keep building my condition. Achieving that, while also helping the team, would be ideal.”

Pinotti, while on a medal ride, crashed and fractured his collarbone in the World Championship time trial in September.

Porte & Froome give Sky classics boost

Richie Porte and Chris Froome may give Sky its best chance yet to win a classic, coming in for the final two Ardennes Classics. Today in Flèche Wallonne and Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the duo will lead the British team.

Sky’s cobbles squad failed to make an impact, with Aussie Mat Hayman’s third in Dwars door Vlaanderen being the best result. However, Froome and Porte already have three major stage race wins between them this year. Their presence will add muscle to Sky’s Ardennes team that includes Colombians Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Urán.

“No, we don’t feel pressure. We have a strong team here and we hope to do well,” Urán told VeloNews. “We have a very strong team here this week. We have a lot of cards to play.”

Read more on velonews.

Michael Albasini previews la Flèche Wallonne

Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) stormed up the Mur de Huy and onto the Flèche Wallonne podium last year. This year, Albasini shares a leadership role with Simon Clarke. Simon Gerrans, third at Amstel Gold race last Sunday, is resting up ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and not racing. The team that supported Gerrans’ podium remains largely intact for Wednesday’s race.

Fleche Wallonne 2012 podium: 1/ Joaquim Rodriguez 2/ Michael Albasini 3/ Philippe Gilbert.


“We have plenty of confidence coming into Flèche,” said Albasini. “We rode great as a team at Amstel Gold, and we were able to stick to our plan well. Things are looking good for us for the next two Ardennes races.”

The men’s race features 12 rated climbs, most of which are packed into the second half of the 205 kilometre route. The Mur de Huy is the star of the show and the scene of the most decisive action. The route includes three passages up the Mur. The final ascent of the Mur is the race’s uphill finish.

“The finish for Flèche Wallonne is what makes this race special,” said Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage. “It’s made for only a select group of explosive riders. A lot of guys will try to escape before the uphill finish because they realise if they come to the last climb with a specialist, it’s almost impossible to win.”

Even for ‘a specialist’ like Albasini, the uphill finish is brutal.

“The final time up the Mur is a real killer,” he said. “It’s a bit over one kilometre long, but it’s really steep with a maximum gradient of 26 percent.”

Lapage hopes both Albasini and Clarke will make it the base of the Mur de Huy with the race leaders. He expects the team to fully commit themselves to this task.

“I want Alba [Albasini] and Clarke to start that last climb in a good position,” explained Lapage. “Pieter [Weening] will be saved for the late action, and Wes [Wesley Sulzberger], [Michael] Matthews, Travis [Meyer] and Christian [Meier] will cover moves during the second part of the race. Michael Hepburn is coming in for Gerro [Simon Gerrans], and he plays an important role in protecting our two leaders.”

“The team understands that it will be very important to stick to the plan we develop,” added Lapage. “Other teams have noticed that we are strong, so they will not make it easy for us. Because our condition is good, our confidence is great. We have several cards to play at the moment.”

Albasini shares Lapage’s confidence.

“At the end of the day, we know how to ride as a team,” Albasini said. “We showed that at Basque when we won two stages, and we showed that at Amstel to put Gerro on the podium. No matter how the race unfolds, I’m confident of our ability to feature in the finish.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Flèche Wallonne:

Christian Meier
Michael Albasini
Michael Hepburn
Michael Matthews
Simon Clarke
Pieter Weening
Travis Meyer
Wesley Sulzberger

Contador forced into Ardennes Classics

Alberto Contador races the final two Ardennes Classics, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, reluctantly. Team Saxo-Tinkoff called him and told him to pack his backs for Belgium following a disappointing ride in País Vasco.

“Saxo-Tinkoff wanted me to be here and, of course, they are races that everyone likes to run, but to prepare the Tour de France is perhaps better to discard them,” the Spaniard explained in a press statement. “But I only have to extend another week the competition schedule, so I’ll try to do the best I can.”

Contador raced in Argentina to Oman at the beginning of the year. With Tirreno-Adriatico, País Vasco and several one-day races, he has 30 race days. His main Tour de France rival, Chris Froome has 15 in comparison.

Van Summeren gardening after Amstel escape

You might think life as a pro cyclist consists of filling your days with lab testing, wind tunnel adjustments, and other scientific improvements, but here’s the reality. Just three days after escaping in Amstel Gold, Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp) is back at home doing the gardening. Jasmine Vangrieken, who he proposed to after winning the 2011 Paris Roubaix, snapped a shot of him mowing the lawn.

“The large garden gnome is back to work,” she wrote on Twitter.

Armstrong positive more than once in 1999 Tour

Lance Armstrong failed four tests, not just one, for corticosteroids on the way to win his first Tour de France in 1999.

According to Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad newspaper, the cycling’s governing body, the UCI recognises four positives: July 4, 14, 15 and 21.

At the time, Armstrong’s team produced a backdated Therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for the one positive test.

Read more on cyclingnews.

Coming up tomorrow on The Bike Lane

Scott, Matt and I are looking forward to another episode of The Bike Lane which will be featured here tomorrow. We’ll discuss many things including a brief recap of Amstel Gold race and provide our insights. Also, after Black Caviars half brother went for $5M, we pose the question: “who among the off-spring of cycling’s royal couples would bring the biggest price?” We’ll also have a good chat about some of the reader’s topic suggestions including our thoughts on riding in ProTeam kit if you’re not on a pro team. Television presenter, author and comedian Charlie Pickering will also be on the show telling us why he rides, and last but not least, we put in our tips for Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

MacAskill’s Imaginate: Episode 1

And before we close off the Rocacorba today, how can we pass up on a new video featuring the talented Danny MacAskill. This one shows a different side of him though. Today sees the release of the first instalment of ‘MacAskill’s Imaginate’. A project that has been two years in the making, the first episode is titled ‘In the balance’ as Danny works to overcome struggles with back and knee injuries, part of the untold back story behind those videos that propelled him to fame.

In the episode, MacAskill heads to Newport Beach, California, to visit a sports spinal injury specialist for treatment on those injuries, where he also hooks up one of his own heroes, trials star Hans Rey – who seems to have designed his front garden with stunts in mind.

Watch the feature, “MacAskill’s Imaginate“, here.

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