Giro della Toscana reportage and pics

Lazy days. I was sick you know and could go out. When I finally did, in the late evening of Friday, I couldn't believe it was so warm. It was like in summer: not the gentle air of a spring night but the heavy heat of July, when the city keeps boiling after the sunset and no breeze helps. It was a little shock because when I have got sick the weather was rainy and cold.
It was gloriously sunny on Saturday at my son race and he did very well: never droped and ending at the back of the first group. It was really nice to meet everybody again. On Sunday it was raining cats and dogs when we left by train toward Arezzo for the finish of Giro della Toscana. Fortunately it was cloudy but dry on the line. Fortunately for us: it was raining at the start in Montecatini and I think it kept raining on the race till Florence and more. Riders arrived muddy, exhausted and tense. Amongh them there was Taylor Phinney and I can almost say I was there for him. He is a talent and not just at riding: read his here his blog about Giro della Toscana:
"I feel that it was epic enough to deserve a blog post." he says. At the finish it wasn't that epic thought: we arrived just before the first passage of three in a circuit including a short but steep climb. There was a break away but I was quite sure they were going to be caught at the last lap. Small races are different from a big one: people are different, the atmosphere is just another thing. When a Giro or Tour stage arrives in a small town like that it seems UFO occupy it: pink or yellow stuff were suddenly assembled everywhere, inhabitants are diluted in tons of cycling fans coming from everywhere and you bump everytime in the same people as evrywhere, journalists, photographers, race staff, team staff, the big cyrcus of pro cycling. At small races even team staff are often different, recruited on place. The crowd at the barriers in made of people – old the most - living there and simply actracted by the voice talking loud at the microphone. "Vince Bennati!" one told me "Ha fatto secondo al Romandia!". Ehm... dude... He isn't racing today and wasn't in Romandia... anyway... The press too is local and on the vip tribune there are local authorities and old glories. The most international is Alfredo Martini: you find him everywhere, from children races to Giro stages. Local girls wait on the home made podium. There isn't excitement, just a bit of curiosity when finally the break passes throught. A man shows a pink signal with a blue 2, a Giro stage souvenir probably, and a small wet peloton arrives too.
The final sprint was serious. Ballan won and I could have won a bet. At the BMC bus, while my son wandered collecting team bottles, I waited for Taylor Phinney and when he came asked a short interview. Ballan was still on the podium when we left, the big silver cup in a hand, a big white smile on his face. We took the time to visit the beautifu center of Arezzo and went back home at night. I feel I missed something in that race, as if it was all played away and reading Phinney's blog I see it was.

Check my pictures here:


"A well-oiled machine": Sky wins Romandie - and more

I was in Arezzo today for the finish of Giro della Toscana (Alessandro Ballan won). I'll tell you tomorrow and am working now on my pictures. I managed to follow Romandia last TT on twitter and what I got is Bradley Wiggins did something incredible. Here you have Sky press release...and I read it with you:

Bradley Wiggins produced a sensational ride to claim overall victory at the Tour de Romandie after winning the final stage time trial.

The Brit secured his second stage race victory of the year by 12 seconds after battling back from a mechanical issue out on course, replicating his success at Paris-Nice.

Despite briefly dropping his chain at the beginning of the climb at Crans-Montana, Wiggins regrouped to set the fastest time at the intermediate split and clock a final time of 28 minutes and 56 seconds.

That time was seven tenths of a second quicker than rival Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda) with Team Sky’s Richie Porte rounding out the podium places on the day, 16 seconds back to elevate him to fourth overall.

Michael Rogers also capped an impressive race with fifth on the general classification to ensure not only a glut of WorldTour points, but the race’s team classification went the way of Team Sky in addition to two stage wins earlier in the week. 

Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky Rider:

“It’s really nice to finish it off in a time trial on the last day for the boys.

“I think in terms of pressure I’ve got to grips with that now. But I had a super-strong team this week and they’ve put me in this position going into this final time trial just nine seconds down.

“I think the whole race saw how strong they were this week and without them I wouldn’t have been able to finish the job today. So I’m delighted to win the time trial and seal the GC to pay them back.

“You know you’re in a great team when you’ve got the world champion (Mark Cavendish) riding for you on the front.”

Dave Brailsford, Team Sky Team Principal:

“Obviously Bradley is now demonstrating that he can perform at the highest level in these races, but I think more importantly, from my perspective, is I’m interested in how the overall team performs. Not just the riders but the backroom staff. I’m very pleased with the week in Switzerland.

“We’ve had a flawless performance on the bike. People don’t see it but it’s becoming a well-oiled machine both on the road and off the road. That’s very pleasing and people are really starting to establish themselves in their roles.

“The other key thing was that there was a lot of discussion pre-race about Bradley and Mark riding together. Obviously that has been a positive and I think when you see Mark riding on the front up a second category climb it tells you more than any words can.”

Why not? Schleck(s) and Giro

In Calpe RSNT press conference I asked only one question and it was about the Giro. To be exact it was: "Andy, given you don't decide to start or not in a race just for a personal feeling and given that next Giro suits you better than next Tour de France, I'd like to know which is the reaon you and your team dismissed that option." Maybe you remember Andy got confused and Bruyneel answered this one. Bruyneel answer didn't persuade me, to be exact he didn't answer at all and just said: "We didn't decide their schedule yet. We must be flexible." but added "Tour de France is the big goal". As far as Andy he just said: "I want to winn de Tuer". And Frank? He said: "We want to win the Tour" and "I can win the Tour me too". At RSNT presentation in Luxembourg Andy said also that Giro is a beautiful race but Tour de France is something more: "When I will have won a Tour I will think to win a Giro. The opposite would be a setback in my career". It could sound irrealistic, but that is. And Frank? He said: "I'm in my maturity, I believe I can win the Tour".
My question in Calpe was for Andy but adsumed he and Frank were going to race in the same big tour, France or Italy, but together. Many think they must be separed, I don't agree. First of all because they don't want. Second, because probably it wouldn't work as you can expect. If they are right here http://allezandy.blogspot.it/2012/01/in-short-une-relation-fusionnelle.html their performances could be worse not better. Andy's performances expecially. And there we go: do you think Andy will end in the top five in next Tour de France? hardly. If I listen to my head: hardly. If I listen to my heart... well, he can do anything especially if he has got a strong motivation. In 2010 he didn't win the Tour 'without' Frank but 'for' Frank. In 2009 and 2011 he gave all to win but also to bring Frank to the podium. I don't think those two goals could be separed. Andy and Frank Schleck want to win the Tour together and given that next Tour doesn't suit them at all they should go there together to achieve the best realistic result.
BDW talking about results: in my opinion Frank Schleck is a great climber and a rider for short stage races while Andy Schleck is a pure champion. Their palmares doesn't look so rich only because of our big expectations. BUT lately their career has been affected by several bad management changes. Face it: Leopard Project was a complete flop and the actual team doesn't work. I don't know why because honestly I liked it in Calpe and wrote it here. There is something deeply wrong there that prevents the machine to work. They have - and had - good riders, money, good DS but no way: they can't get a result. Cancellara won alone when he could but you don't win a Tour de France without a team. Or a Liège. 
That's the point: I have got very often the impression riders and staff have problems to collaborate, there is like a passive resistence, a back breaking arm wrestling or silent neverending confrontation that emerges sometimes but is always denied. Transparence never was a strenght point for that team. So you get astonished reading that on Friday evening Frank Schleck ignored all about Jakob Fugslang's injury and would be surprised to be sent to the Giro. If Jakob was suffering since two weeks how could his team manager say he could target top 5?  given that the Giro was Fuglsang's main goal how is it possible he started in Romandia even if injuried instead of trying and recovering? 
An explaination is that the team management wanted to send Frank Schleck to the Giro but that was aginst his will and against Fugslang's aim. Remember that Fuglsang expressed all his disappointment for the LT RS merge and linked his staying to the leadership in the Giro - plus other smaller races. He used to race always with Andy Schleck and now he never does. He used to lives in Mondorf too... Not sure he still does but it sounds weird Frank Schleck ignored all about him. Is Fuglsang really sick? Sorry, I can't avoid to wander it. I hope that doesn't make me a troll. Was Frank really unaware and preparing his suitcase for Sierra Nevada? Can you distort like that a top rider's schedule? Bruyneel remembers Contador in 2008 but he was sure he was NOT going to ride the Tour so that was a big opportunity for him. There were no options Frank excluded? Bennati for stages and Zaug for the GC? too audacious? I thought Bruyneel likes challenges.
Finally: in my opinion it would have made sense to send both Schleck(s) to the Giro and start the Tour with less ambicious - more realistic - goals. Andy and Frank in THIS Giro could have had good chances to win stages and GC. It would have been a great show. Frank can get some good results... maybe. I still wait for the official start list but you can't have a strong team for the Giro AND for the Tour. So? Andy will be even less supported in next Tour and I don't think that is good for his moral. Of course he would be happy if Frank wins the Giro and maybe more motivated: they could be the first bros to win both Giro and Tour in the same year - or ever. But do you really see that? in 2012? in that Tour de France? with that team supporting them in Italy and in France? 
Ok...I close my eyes and dream: why not? don't wake me up!


Obviously...Franky goes to Giro

I'll tell you tomorrow why I don't like that. But here you have RSNT press release:
Fränk Schleck will start next Saturday in the Tour of Italy (May 5-27). The number three finisher in last year’s Tour de France will lead the nine-man squad during the three weeks through Denmark and Italy. Schleck, initially not slated to ride the race, replaces Jakob Fuglsang, suffering from an inflammation of the articular capsule and ligament of the left knee.
“My season was directed at peaking in the Tour”, said Fränk Schleck. “but when you think about it, this situation creates opportunities. For sure, I will come to the start with a different preparation than the other GC riders, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. My condition is not so bad and it can only grow the coming weeks. The Tour of Italy is one of the big monuments of cycling as well, so it is at least a big challenge for me.”
“I see a lot of opportunities for Fränk as well as for the team”, commented Team Manager Johan Bruyneel. “Fränk is a born leader and a team needs a leader. Moreover – though bad luck and circumstances did not provide the right results - he has shown in the last few weeks that his condition has already reached a high level. I am confident he can surprise us in the coming weeks. It all reminds me of the 2008 Tour of Italy when, one week before the start, we got an invitation for the race. In the end we won the Overall.”


No Giro for Fuglsang! RSNT press release

Jakob Fuglsang didn't take the start in the 3rd stage of the Tour de Romandie because of an inflammation of the articular capsule and ligament of the left knee. The team management and medical staff have decided to take the Danish rider off the team's roster for the Giro d'Italia.
“I am very disappointed,” commented Fuglsang in Basel. “The Giro was my big objective for this year. Yesterday I had so much pain in the last 40K, I was just miserable. At that point I realized that it might be the end of my Giro dream. Moreover I was already running behind my schedule after the scaphoid bone fracture in the Tour of Catalunya.”
The pain in the knee started two weeks ago at an altitude camp in Sierra Nevada, Spain. From there Jakob Fuglsang took it easy and in agreement with the medical staff, he decided to ride the same way at the Tour of Romandie.
“This is an absolute clear diagnosis,” added Team Doctor Andreas Gösele. “Jakob is a great young rider and we all have a responsibility for him. With a quick and intensive therapy, Jakob would possibly be able to start at the Giro, but with how much risk? A good result would be out of the question and if he would have to drop out after ten stages, what would we have accomplished? From a medical point of view, it is impossible to guarantee that he will be fine. It's never good to take an injured rider to the start of a Grand Tour, and neither is it good to take out the leader of a team during such an important race. We don't want to jeopardize his season and his career. In normal conditions, he would need at least ten days of rest and then a steady build-up, but now we are eight days away from the start in Denmark...”
For RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK this injury is another setback after the bad luck the Team already encountered in the Spring Classics with Fabian Cancellara’s collar bone fracture.
“This makes me very sad,” said Team Manager Johan Bruyneel, “because Jakob had made the Giro his big season goal. He invested a lot of time and even personal funds for altitude camps to be in his best shape at the start of the race. I'm really sorry for him, but it's unrealistic to bring him to the start and believe in a miracle. The Giro is a very important race for our team and now we need to study how we can alter our strategy for those three weeks.”
“The Giro was particularly special for me, because it starts in Denmark,” concluded Jakob Fuglsang. “We would even have stayed in a hotel in the city where I grew up. My hand injury was already a setback. Now, with this on top, I can only agree with the doctors and not take any risk. I will look ahead. I am young and there will be other Grand Tours for me in the future.”

Cav, Uran and more Team Sky press release about Giro

Just the time to post that interesting and well written stuff. I belove Sky  British English, so rich and never banal even i a short tweet. Nice to read that Uran will be the team leader in the second part of the race and will target a good place in GC. Cavendish of course is the fast man - the fastest! - for stage victories and Thomas will work a strong TTT. Ben Swift is an extra card for Sky that can't really be accused to bring a second row squad.

Team Sky’s squad for the 95th edition of the Giro d’Italia has been finalised and sees Mark Cavendish head up a formidable nine-man line-up.

The 26-year-old World Road Race Champion is set to make his fourth appearance in Italy’s biggest bike race and looking to add to his tally of seven stage wins.

Joining Cavendish are Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Sergio Henao, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas and Rigoberto Urán.

Eisel (31) and Flecha (34) make the team on the back of strong Classics campaigns which saw them take podium places at E3 Harelbeke and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad respectively. The duo have amassed 27 Grand Tours between them and that experience will aid the team greatly in their drive for success.

Kennaugh (22) and Swift (24) are returning to the road after their gold medal-winning performances at the World Track Championships along with the ever-impressive Thomas (25), who backed up his team pursuit win in Melbourne with a victory for Team Sky in the opening prologue at the Tour de Romandie. Stannard (24) is the fifth British rider and will play a vital team role, just as he did in the Classics.

Colombian duo Henao (24) and Urán (25) round out the squad and both will be aiming to impress in the mountains.

The action gets under way in the Danish town of Herning on Saturday 5 May and culminates in Milan on Sunday 27 May.

Mark Cavendish said:
“The Giro is one of my favourite races of the season and I’m very happy to be riding it. We’ve got a good squad to go and win stages. Geraint, Pete and Swifty have just come off the track so they should have that explosive power which will be important in the first week, and the rest of the team have all done well in the Classics. We want to win the team time trial as well and hopefully that will get us the pink jersey. If we could achieve that it would be a massive honour for the team. It should be a really good three weeks because we’re all friends and have a good understanding on the road. The Tour de Romandie has allowed me to get some miles in the legs so come the start in Denmark I’ll be raring to go.”

Geraint Thomas said:
“I’m really looking forward to the Giro, especially as I haven’t ridden a great deal on the road this season. I took part in the race once before in 2008 and found it to be a lot less stressful than the Tour de France. The atmosphere is fantastic and Italy is a special country to ride in. Starting in Denmark should also be interesting and I will be motivated to ride a good prologue. Then I’ll be looking to help Cav in the sprints and getting stuck in with the team time trial. The last week looks hard but I can’t wait to get going.”

Ben Swift said:
“The Giro will always be a special race for me because it was the first Grand Tour I rode back in 2009 and I lived in Italy whilst on the British Academy. I’ve always had a good relationship with the Italian fans too and they are very knowledgeable and passionate about cycling. My main job will be helping Cav but if an opportunity arises for a stage win myself I'll definitely try and take it, whether that's in a sprint or from a breakaway. It's going to be a great experience starting in Denmark and there should be plenty of chances for Team Sky to show what we can do.”

Sports Director Steven de Jongh said:
“We have a very strong squad here which we feel can be competitive on several fronts. In Mark Cavendish we have the fastest sprinter in the world and he will be looking to get some stage wins under his belt as quickly as possible. The team time trial is another big target of ours and we’ll definitely be looking to show what we can do there as well. Once the race hits the mountains Rigoberto and Sergio will become our focus and if Rigo can continue the good form he showed over the spring then he is more than capable of achieving a high placing in the General Classification.”

A pink circle

Pic by Anthony McCrossan
"A day on the calendar will get a red circle". How many times we read a rider picked a up a date and that always reminds me a quote by Bertold Brecht. It's in "Stories for a calendar" I think. It's about the war: it's coming, everybody know, it's just matter of time, matter of days. A day it will starts and that day will get a red circle on the clandar. It already got it but people ignore wich one and wait, scared and somehow eager. When something have to come... let it come! We will face it and breath again.
When I have to write something more then a summary I often postpone, try to empty my mind, just look around me and lazyly collect usefull stuff: Giro's altimetry, old Gazzetta's articles, riders tweets... but inadvertenly other things come together, weirdly linked and I find myself deeply remembering about the first wonderful page of "A Farewell to Arms" by Hemingway – "There was fighting in the mountains..." - or "Il treno ha fischiato" by Pirandello.
Rethoric of cycling is way too similar to rethoric of war: heros and troups, fightings and victories and bitter defeats. Breathtaking landscapes crossed with just an aim in your heart and still so many times they say – riders and soldiers – of long hours of waiting or sudden insights. Men and women need challenges and that's why we get excited by sport – even if it's 'useless' – and war – even if we strongly dislike it. That's what we call 'greatness'. We can be confort addicted but nobody remain cold in front of it. Greatness of course is also in intellectual fields – fightings and sacrifices are required everywhere you push the limit. So there is a 'small greatness' in everybody life when people decide to really live it.
I admit my lack of modesty: nobody will prevent me to go and try. I always aimed to greatness: to fully live my life. Moreover I like to go and watch. Opinions could be interesting but stories are more and you immediately understand when the firsts come from experience or not.
"Il treno ha fischiato" is a short tale whose main character is a stressed employee who one day lost his mind for the toot of a train. His mind suddenly excapes from the deadly routine of the office to wander through countries and cities and villages and lands... Dreaming open eye he thinks of all the places he never saw and that he wuld like to go... just to break away, just to live a proper life. We should stand for it.
Like in Pirandello's tale my mind is wandering from Lago Laceno – never been there - to Milano – so many times! From Danmark flats to Alps. Sick in my bed I checked my mail box and found loads of Giro related stuff so realized – eager and somehow scared – it's coming in a really few days. I have my accreditations for all stages but some days will get a red circle, oh yeah! And I'll fill my suitcase again and drive my car and take some trains... My mind started spinning like a wheel at the sprint: I must prepare my camera... Where am I going to sleep? .... Will I survive to my anemia?... I know serious reporters organize things early, but my life is a just-in-time and I'm proud it usually works. That's also a challenge, isn't it? In add I can go where I want and change my plann when I prefer. I can  ignore where I'm going to sleep but am absolutely sure I'm going to have fun.
Would you like to read something about next Giro now? First of all I don't like that start abroad: Danmark is too far and Italy loses a week of racing. Unfair. Moreover because I lose BMC press conference and all the start cerimony. The route is good thought, I like it. It looks more balanced then last year race even if almost divided in two parts: easier the first, harder the second. Both sprinters and climbers will get many chances to shine. I don't see 'epic' stages but some of them will be interesting for sure, relatively new and probably 'open'. I mean, few riders can attack on the Zoncolan but many can try something on less scaring climbs, and we'll have a great show. Many complain the lack of main characters, that is 'big names'. I don't agree. A good story creates its main characters. I don't like sequels. Who daily follows cycling knows many young talents are growing up and that is one of the most exciting side of the last years: a generation change is on, old glories resist or fall while young guns rise, some promises are blooming, some others end. I puts no names – yet – but that makes the story. I'll be glad to interview an obscure victorious rider and proud to find a Yes We Like confirmed.
I don't like to talk 'in general' and many particular topycs will soon arise in the debate - some already did. The new Mountain Jersey is awful in my opinion: it must stay green. Jakob Fugslang can hardly wins but top 5 is possible. It's pacific that Frank Schleck will not ride it: I think it's right because he needs to be all focused on the Tour to help Andy to get the best result he can. About bonus for atop finishes I'm uncertain... what do you think? Do you agree with their elimination? Some extra seconds to gain there could persuade ousiders to an exploit. It could be worth a try. By the other side no bonus means you have to build an advantage in some other way and gaps in GC will be probably smaller... Somebody said Giro organizers should pay more money to have cycling stars at the start, as I told I prefer to see young talents but it's true that Aquarone's marketing politics didn't work with teams. It probably worked with people: I see Giro is very popular in social networks, more than before. Any hope to see RAI level improved? It has been embarrassing in last races. Fortunately I'll be on the road: there are people who know their job at the start and finish of a race. Ehm...usually...
So far I'm still sick in bed and can only wander, imagine, dream. That helps.
Teams for the Giro

  • AG2R La Mondiale Fra ALM
  • Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela Ita AND
  • Astana Pro Team Kaz AST
  • BMC Racing Team Usa BMC
  • Colnago-Csf Inox Irl COG
  • Euskaltel-Euskadi Esp EUS
  • Farnese Vini-Selle Italia GBR FAR
  • FDJ-Big Mat Fra FDJ
  • Garmin-Barracuda Usa GRM
  • GreenEDGE Cycling Team Aus GEC
  • Katusha Team Rus KAT
  • Lampre-ISD Ita LAM
  • Liquigas-Cannondale Ita LIQ
  • Lotto Belisol Team Bel LTB
  • Movistar Team Esp MOV
  • Omega Pharma - Quickstep Bel OPQ
  • Rabobank Cycling Team Ned RAB
  • RadioShack-Nissan Lux RNT
  • Sky Procycling GBR SKY
  • Team NetApp Ger APP
  • Team Saxo Bank Den SAX
  • Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team Ned VCD
Some of them already comunicated their line-up but I prefer to wait the official start list.
Official site http://www.gazzetta.it/Speciali/Giroditalia/2012/it/index.shtml


Romandie 2: what a Wiggo!

Pic by Team Sky
25 of April is holyday in Italy: we are supposed to celebrate Resistence and Antifascism  and somebody do. Many other just enjoy the sun. When it's sunny. And today it was. 
I used to say it's a day of fight. Now I go to the park and sit on a bench like an old lady. I'm not old but today I feel so weak I can't really fight anything.
Team Sky fought hard in Romandie, successfully: a Sky rider started in yellow and another one will do tomorrow, Bradley Wiggins. Perfect race by the men in black: full control all the day, an amazing team work to bring Wiggins in front after a flat, a splendid long sprint. It's the sencond yellow jersey that Wiggins wears this year... not the last one I think.
 “I had a lot of adrenaline after I punctured with 25k to go." he said "When that happened the boys dropped back for me and did a fantastic job. Then in the final I was kind of on my own and marshalling everything and I just wanted to pay them back for everything they’d done, they were incredible. I’ve got them to thank and it was really nice to be able to finish it off like that.
I went a bit early and had to sit down to rest for a bit and then went again but it was good to get the win!
“I want to win Romandie, that’s for sure. I’ll take what I can every day and it’s really nice to win a sprint like this because normally I only ever really win time trials.”
Team Sky result looks even more impressive because when Wiggins git that flat the race simply exploded in attacks and breaks by everybody. Thrilling show. A thought for Fabian Cancellara forced to watch it on tv :( Another Swiss rider, Martin Kohler, was in the early daily break: he aims to the mountain jersey and almost got it today. BMC was active in the peloton in spite Cadel Evans isn't in shape yet. In a super shape is Bauke Mollema instead: now 3th in GC! Allez Bauke! he cheered me up a bit :)

  Stage 2
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:50:23  
2 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Pro Team Astana    
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team    
5 Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale    
6 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team    
7 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
8 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
9 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda    
10 Pieter Weening (Ned) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
11 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
12 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
13 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team    
14 Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
15 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
16 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack-Nissan    
17 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
18 Mikel Landa (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
19 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Pro Team Astana    
20 Molina Ruben Plaza (Spa) Movistar Team    
21 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Barracuda    
22 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team    
23 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Barracuda    
24 Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
25 Jerôme Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
26 Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
27 Cyrille Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar    
28 Jesus Hernandez (Spa) Team Saxo Bank    
29 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team    
30 Maxime Mederel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
31 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
32 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Team Saxo Bank    
33 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
34 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
35 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
36 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale    
37 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar    
38 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
39 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
40 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
41 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda    
42 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan    
43 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Barracuda    
44 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan    
45 Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
46 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
47 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana    
48 Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Movistar Team    
49 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
50 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Movistar Team    
51 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team    
52 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team    
53 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Pro Team Astana    
54 Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar Team    
55 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
56 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team    
57 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling    
58 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Barracuda    
59 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
60 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:11  
61 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling    
62 Allan Davis (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
63 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
64 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
65 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale    
66 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
67 Petr Ignatenko (Rus) Katusha Team    
68 George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan    
69 Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
70 Jeremy Roy (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:44  
71 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:49  
72 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana 0:01:15  
73 Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
74 Jose Cayetano Sarmiento (Col) Liquigas-Cannondale    
75 Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Movistar Team    
76 Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Pro Team Astana    
77 Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
78 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Team Saxo Bank    
79 Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
80 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
81 Christian Meier (Can) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
82 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team    
83 Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
84 Kevin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar    
85 Jean-Christophe Perraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
86 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) Sky Procycling    
87 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:02:03  
88 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:00  
89 Leigh Howard (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:02:27  
90 Jorge Azanza (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
91 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
92 Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:04:02  
93 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team    
94 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha Team    
95 Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
96 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan    
97 Nelson Oliveira (Por) RadioShack-Nissan    
98 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
99 Luke Durbridge (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:05:32  
100 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team    
101 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana    
102 Martijn Keizer (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
103 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
104 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
105 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale    
106 Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha Team    
107 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
108 Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
109 Morris Possoni (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
110 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
111 Jakob Fugslang (Den) RadioShack-Nissan    
112 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank    
113 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:07:16  
114 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
115 Ricardo Garcia (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
116 David Tanner (Aus) Team Saxo Bank    
117 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:07:22  
118 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
119 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan    
120 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar    
121 Mathieu Perget (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
122 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
123 Lars Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol Team    
124 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
125 Alex Rasmussen (Den) Garmin-Barracuda    
126 Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar    
127 Said Haddou (Fra) Team Europcar    
128 Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar    
129 Cedric Pineau (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
130 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
131 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Barracuda    
132 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
133 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ-Big Mat    
134 Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Lampre - ISD    
135 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
136 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD    
137 Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
138 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
139 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
140 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
141 Maarten Neyens (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
142 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep    
143 Rippol Juan Horrach (Spa) Katusha Team    
144 Franck Bouyer (Fra) Team Europcar    
145 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
146 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
147 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
148 Chris Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:11:17  
149 Daryl Impey (RSA) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
150 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling    
151 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
152 Travis Meyer (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team    
153 Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
154 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team    
155 Alan Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
156 Kenny De Haes (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team    
157 Danny Pate (USA) Sky Procycling    
DNF Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team    
DNF Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:53:51  
2 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:07  
3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:09  
4 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:11  
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
7 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:12  
8 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team    
9 Molina Ruben Plaza (Spa) Movistar Team    
10 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:13  
1 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
1 Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 8 pts
2 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team 8  
3 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack-Nissan 6  
1 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 4:54:02  
2 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
3 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:04
1 Sky Procycling


I'm sick in bed so don't expect much by me in these days. I had some very heavy long days at school, that don't suit well my anemy so now I'm forced to rest. I need some extra blood tests and can't barely stand up. My mood is quite down too, you can imagine. 
Few days ago I texted a dear friend I didn't meet since a long time. He's having a rough time and that makes me sad. I just wanted he knows I am with him. He thanked me and didn't deny something is wrong. It has been like touching him throgh a wall with just one finger. 
Nobody can really help you sometimes but you can find the strenght to help yourself realizing you are not alone. Although people really caring are maybe few, it doesn't matter. When I am sad a friend is enough to make me feel better, even when she/he's far away. I know she/he doesn't have a solution for my problems. Friends are not there for to solve them but for to support. Make me laugh and it will be all right again :)
After Lège I had few time for cycling. When I feel so weak I also feel somehow 'empty' and lost interest in almost everything. I read Theo Bos won Tour of Turkey 1st stage (bravo Pelucchi BDW) and couldn't avoid to remember when he threw Daryl Impey against the barriers a few years ago. I wondered how did Bos feel riding again in that race.
Romandie started too. I like that race. I like Geraint Thomas. In spite of my lack of interest I was glad to find Sky press release when finally checked my mail box. That is:
Sky rider in yellow today

"Geraint Thomas powered to victory in the opening prologue at the Tour de Romandie to move into an early race lead.

The Brit put his track training to good use across the 3.34-kilometre course to set a blistering time of three minutes and 29 seconds as the Swiss stage race got under way.

The 25-year-old moved into the yellow leader’s jersey by a four-second margin after his time stood up against some intense competition, largely from his own team-mates.

Mark Cavendish put in a superb performance to clock a time of 3:35, good enough for third place while Michael Rogers claimed fourth in what was a resounding success for the team.

The rain began to fall as the later runners left the ramp, yet just as in Paris-Nice, Bradley Wiggins was able to pull out an impressive ride in difficult conditions to register a time just nine seconds off that of Thomas. 

Geraint Thomas, Team Sky Rider:

“I always knew that I had a good chance. But it’s one thing knowing that you have a good chance and another thing winning. It’s very nice. Obviously the weather played a big part in that but there was only really one corner and you can only lose so much time. But it’s great to win and at a lovely race as well. I raced here last year so it’s great to come back and get this win.

“Today was an objective as it’s similar to the track but for the rest of the race I’ll help Cav in the sprints on which ever stages come down to that and then look after Bradley. He’s here to do a good ride on the GC. The team have come here with big ambitions looking to do well every day and hopefully we can get a few more stage wins and Brad can pull off the GC.

“The team has stepped up a level each year now. As we saw in Paris-Nice it is a strong team. Obviously I’m not going to be anywhere near the lead come the end, but I think it’s good for the team to get the win and get the jersey. It’s always good for morale. This race means a lot to the team and we’ve got big ambitions here.”

Sean Yates, Team Sky Sports Director:

“The goal when we came here was to try and win GC. I think we have more than a realistic chance of winning it come Sunday. Today was a bit of an extra bonus. If it had been dry it wasn’t out of the question that Bradley might win the prologue. G coming off the track obviously has the ideal preparation for a three kilometre prologue. But a great performance on the track doesn’t always equate to a great performance on the road.

“G has been around for a while now on the road and the course in particular suited him in that it was very high speed. He’s very aerodynamic and he also had the power to use to his advantage. His time in the final kilometre was quite astounding. He was flying!”



LOL I must copy and paste SORRY because YOU say that - not me.
As the Ardennes classics come to a close after today's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, team manager Johan Bruyneel assesses the lackluster results from the team in the first part of the season, hoping personal motivations will drive the next part of the season to more success.
“This is absolutely not the result we expected from the team,” [WELL I HOPE SO!!] said a discouraged team manager Johan Bruyneel after the race.  “If we consider that today is the end of the first part of the season, here at the end of the classics, we are far from satisfied.  For the first part of the spring classics on the cobbles,  I was feeling quite confident with our team and with our leader Fabian Cancellara.  We had a good start with Milan Sanremo, but then once Fabian was injured, we lost hope for those classics.  Next we looked to the Ardennes classics and we hoped to see improvement here.  But all of it was far from what we expected.  Today we had no one in the top 20 and we can’t be happy with that.”
An attack from Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) with 20k to go gave the Italian a solid lead to begin the final climb.  But Kazakh Maxim Iglinskiy had other plans, chasing down Nibali in the closing kilometers and passing him to secure the victory by 21-seconds after almost seven hours in the saddle.  Finishing behind Nibali for third was Iglinkisy’s teammate Enrico Gasparotto at 36-seconds back in the 257.5km/160mi Liège-Bastogne-Liège.  Fränk Schleck arrived with a group at 2:11 as best-placed rider for the team, along with teammate Maxime Monfort in the same group. 
Monfort explained the racing action, saying, “The key point in the race was the 10k before La Redoute and at that point you have to fight to be in good position.  But right then it was raining and so cold it was almost snowing.  We were thinking more about getting our rain jackets instead of moving up.  Of course we should have taken more clothing before that moment. [PLEASE!!]  Fränk was feeling confident all week.  I know him very well now and I felt he could do a good result.   His attitude and condition were good.  As for me, my shape was not too bad today.  I was in a good group.  But in my mind I was thinking about getting warm, not getting a result,” he concluded.
“It just didn’t go as planned," said Andy Schleck. [DEF] "There were crashes of course, but we can’t always be blaming the weather.  We have to start dealing with the situations better that develop during the race since it’s the same for everyone.  I can’t say this has been a bed of roses; it has not been a good year for us.  We have not been lazy, everyone has worked hard.  But we cannot blame anyone else.  We can only blame ourselves.” [YEP BUT THAT EXPLAINS NOTHING] 
Horner was present until the critical final 20k. [LOL: UNTIL? IT WAS BETTER 'SINCE' NO?] “I started at the back on La Redoute and of course it exploded,” [OF COURSE SO AS EXPECTED: WHY AT THE BACK?] said Chris Horner.  “There was good speed and good pressure the entire day, so it was a good, strong race today.  But you need to start La Redoute at the front for sure. [INDEAD] My form was pretty good, not top ten, but maybe top 20, but if you start at the back on an important climb, you aren’t going to make anything happen and today I got too cold so things went bad there.  Hopefully now with a little bit of rest my health will continue to get better.  Same for Andy.  His form is on the way up and it’s not July.  That’s more than two months away and it’s completely different when Fränk and Andy can train in good weather before a big event.  These last three weeks in Europe have been nothing but cold and rain.  That’s not an excuse, [INDEAD] that’s a fact. [THE SAME FOR EVERYBODY THOUGHT] It’s difficult to race when you weigh 63 kilos (139lbs) and it’s this cold.”  Horner abandoned near 20k to go, with hands numb from the cold and unable to brake.
“It was a difficult race for sure,” continued Johan Bruyneel.  “After 220km Frank came back to the car, he was shaking, quite frozen on the bike.  So that’s the explanation, but not an excuse since the weather was the same for everyone.  But here at the first part of the season it is a not a success for us.  I hope this will serve as motivation for the second part of the season.  If we look back there isn’t a good explanation for why things haven’t worked, other than that both of the Schlecks have had some illness this season.  So we have to use this lack of results as motivation and tell ourselves that we start from zero and try to get back to earning good results.”  Regarding the powerful win by Iglinskiy, Bruyneel added, “I worked with Max Iglinskiy for two years and he’s had some success in spring classics.  He’s on a much better level now than when I was managing Astana years ago.  Chapeau to what he did today.”