Marcel Kittel wins stage 2 at the Dubai Tour

Last night’s second stage of the inaugural Dubai Tour was the first real showdown between gun sprinters Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) for the 2014 season and it was Kittel who took first honours.

Stage-2  of the Dubai Tour 2014

Cavendish’s lead-out train looked to have him well placed in the closing kilometres but as the finish approached, the OPQS train fell apart and Cavendish was caught out of position and wasn’t able to contest the final sprint.

Kittel took out the 122km stage ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Taylor Phinney (BMC), the American extending his overall lead in the race by one second with the bonus second on offer.

“Phinney went early, and it was a hard battle to pass him, but I managed at 200 meters to go,” said Kittel, who blew a kiss to the heavens. “I have no idea what happened to Cavendish. He was still there at 1.5km to go, but I don’t have eyes on the back of my head, so I don’t know what happened.”

Tonight’s penultimate stage of the race features two short but steep climbs as the riders cover 162km from Dubai to Hatta.

Follow the link for results from stage 2 of the 2014 Dubai Tour. Click here to read more at VeloNews.

Nathan Haas wins stage 1 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

Two days of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, two wins for Garmin-Sharp. On yesterday’s opening road stage it was Nathan Haas, the winner of the 2011 Sun Tour, that prevailed, outsprinting the likes of Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Jonathan Cantwell (Drapac) on the long, uphill drag to the line in Ballarat.


The win is Haas’ first as a professional in Garmin-Sharp colours and one he puts down to confidence gained at the recent Santos Tour Down Under.

“I know that my form’s good now and confidence comes with that,” 24-year-old Haas said. “So [the Tour Down Under] was a nice litmus test for this race, which really is to me probably my most favourite race in the world.”

Haas’ win came with a 10-second time bonus which put him in the overall lead by seven seconds ahead of teammate and prologue winner Jack Bauer with Will Clarke in third.

The early running was made by a three-man breakaway which featured Thomas Hamilton (Jayco Australian U23 National Team), Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and Nathan Elliott (African Wildlife Safaris Cycling). The trio gained as much as 3:26 on the peloton, before being caught shortly after the first KOM up the steep Glenmore Road climb.

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour continues today with stage 2, a 163km ride from Ballarat to Bendigo.

Follow the link for results from stage 1 of the 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

Kirsten Wild wins stage 3 of the Ladies Tour of Qatar

Kirsten Wild has continued a dominant Ladies Tour of Qatar for her Giant-Shimano team, taking the team’s third win in as many stages and her second for the race.

Women's edition of the Tour de Qatar stage - 3

Wild proved too strong in the final sprint, overpowering the remainder of an elite group of 12 riders that survived until the end.

Stage 3, as with the opening two stages, was defined by strong winds which saw splits forming in the peloton from early in the race. With 43km to go in the 93km stage, just 37 riders remained at the front of the race, with virtually all of the big hitters present including all top 10 GC riders.

Turning right with 21km to go the race of attrition had seen the lead group thinned down to 21 riders and not long after it was just 12 riders, thanks largely to the relentess pace-setting of the Orica-AIS team at the front.

There was a flurry of attacks in the final 10km with most of the 12 leaders riders trying their hand at getting away. But it all came back together for a bunch sprint in which Wild proved too strong.

By winning the stage and the two intermediate sprints on the day, Kirsten Wild takes back the overall lead from her teammate Amy Pieters and is now nine seconds clear of Pieters while Chloe Hosking (Hitech Products) is third overall, 21 seconds behind Wild.

Tonight’s final stage takes the riders 85km from Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche.

Follow the link for results from stage 3 of the 2014 Ladies Tour of Qatar. Click here to read Gracie Elvin’s daily reports from the race.

Fernando Alonso visits the Dubai Tour

F1 star Fernando Alonso was spotted at the start of last night’s Dubai Tour stage, chatting with big name riders before jumping in a VIP car to watch the racing.

Alonso confirmed that he is creating a major team for the 2015 season but refused to give any details.

“Our project? We’re working on it but for the moment we can’t say anything. We’re just at the start and when we can announce something, you’ll be the first to know.”

Alonso is reportedly in Dubai to prepare for the F1 season and uses cycling to get and stay fit for his F1 driving.

“It’s warm and sunny here and so they’re ideal conditions to go riding. Cycling is my favourite sport but it’s hard work. Driving is definitely a lot easier…”.

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Tiff Cromwell targets Tour of Flanders and the “Vos Conundrum”

Tiff Cromwell looks like she’s starting to settle into her new Specialized-Lululemon team and the South Australian has spoken about her plans to target the Tour of Flanders this year after her win in the semi-classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last year.

Like all riders that want to target races like the Tour of Flanders, Cromwell will find herself contending with the problem of Marianne Vos.

“She is a very talented athlete and she’s so strong whether she has teammates around her or not, but it is about isolating her,” Cromwell told Cyclingnews.

“We saw a few times last year that when we had her isolated and teams just attacked and attacked, we did manage to get some changes in the results.

“With Vos, you need to try to break her by attacking in turn and then hope that she’s the one who has to chase, rather than her teammates. Isolating her and forcing her to chase is key, but it’s still a question we’re always asking – how do you beat Vos?”

Cromwell is currently riding in the Ladies Tour of Qatar and will turn her attention to Europe thereafter.

Click here to read more at CyclingNews.

Rui Costa praises arrival of Chris Horner at Lampre-Merida

Reigning world champion Rui Costa has told reporters that he is delighted by Lampre-Merida’s last-minute signing of last year’s Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner.

Rui Costa (Por) beats J Rodriguez (Esp)

“They were looking for a rider to lead the squad in the Giro and the Vuelta, and I think they’ve got it right [signing Horner] even if I don’t think our race programs will overlap,” Costa told Spanish sports daily MARCA on Thursday.

“We have to applaud him for racing at the level he does at the age he is. I’ve got a long way to go before I get to that age!”

Costa comes to Lampre-Merida from Movistar and fended off suggestions that he left because of Nairo Quintana’s rapid rise and the potential for the Colombian to limit Costa’s GC ambitions.

“My decision to go was a personal one, and had nothing to do with them, both he and [Movistar co-leader Alejandro] Valverde are good friends and good team-mates. [Lampre] had offered me everything I wanted, mainly leading the team in the Tour, which is what I wanted when I left Movistar.”

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Interview with Chris Horner

Here’s a roughly 40-minute interview with last year’s Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner in which the he talks about his battles with injury over the past year, his eventual signing with new Lampre-Merida rider and plenty more besides.

Click here to get to the interview over at Competitor Radio.

Brian Cookson on cyclocross at the winter Olympics

In an open letter on the UCI website, president Brian Cookson has shown his support for the inclusion of cyclocross in the Winter Olympics.

The letter reads, in full:

The new IOC President Thomas Bach put out a clear message of change and modernisation for the Olympic Sports Programme at the 126th IOC session in Sochi this week, and the UCI is keen to be part of this refreshing outlook.

I believe that Cyclo-Cross – which takes place during the northern hemisphere winter – would be an exciting addition to the Winter Games.

Cyclo-cross requires endurance, explosive power and incredible bike handling skills. Many youngsters wishing to take up cycling pass through the school of Cyclo-Cross, and the breathtaking performances of the Junior athletes at the recent UCI World Championships in Hoogerheide clearly demonstrated the depth of young talent around the globe.

Athletes representing 23 countries and five continents competed in the 2014 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships last weekend. Two nations – Macedonia and Serbia – sent athletes to the Worlds for the first time. The Women and Junior categories experienced the biggest jump in participation levels, a true demonstration of the growth the Cyclo-Cross discipline is currently experiencing.

Cyclo-Cross would offer equal medal opportunities for men and women, the infrastructure and related costs required to install a circuit are minimal, and the principle is clear-cut: first across the line is the winner.

But above all it is a sport that reaches out to an incredibly wide cross-section of the population. Anybody who witnessed the wonderful scenes in Hoogerheide knows that this is a sport that appeals to the young.

Rule 6 of the Olympic Charter states that “only those sports which are practised on snow or ice are considered as winter sports.”

That may be the case as things currently stand but President Bach has signalled his appetite for change.

So I look forward to a debate about whether Cyclo-Cross, and indeed other sports practised in the winter season, should be part of the Winter Olympic Games.

Brian Cookson
UCI President

Text via the UCI website.

Stybar vs Nys in stop-motion

Here’s a cute little recreation of the terrific Stybar vs Nys battle at last weekend’s cyclocross world championships made in stop-motion using little figurines.

You’re a cyclist, so it’s your fault

This piece on The Age website by Michael O’Reilly has attracted plenty of attention in the past 24 hours, as most cycling-related articles do on the Fairfax websites.

O’Reilly talks about a couple of psychological phenomena — the perception of “the out group” and “confirmation bias” — and how they apply to cycling and the wider public’s perception of cyclists.

He suggests that in the eyes of non-cyclists, all cyclists are part of the same group; that the actions of individual cyclists are seen as representative of the group as a whole.

The piece is well worth a read and you can find it here. As ever with such pieces, it’s worth avoiding the comments section.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed:

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Today’s feature image comes from Cor Vos and was taken during last night’s second stage of the Dubai Tour.