Tour of San Luis eventually

Hungry of cycling I would watch anything. Still Tour de San Luis ISN`T a great race. I don`t mean to offende anybody - my friend Laura Grazioli was much more esplicit few days ago - but really I got amused by some comments I read around. The funniest - in a double way because it inteded to be ironic and was ridicolous - sounded like that: "We are in January and Alberto Contador already scored more victories then Andy Schleck in all 2011". EHM... Dudes, it`s Tour de San Luis, you know... 
You decide to start your season where you prefer and a soft start is the rule for big tours contenders - sprinters sprint hard also in January - Andy Schleck - like many others - will start in Mallorca Challege in few days - if he made it to Mllorca of course ;) Maybe he will not fly. Not because he got stucked in the airport, I say he will not fly in that first race as he never did. Probably he will use it as a last training and hopefully will show something good: a breack-away, a nice attack on some climb... He looked fit in Calpe and very motivated in Mallorca first training camp. To be honest I never saw him so good in January. But I don`t expect anything. Serious stuff will come much later. 
You can not agree with Andy`s way of interpretate the cycling calendar, but that is. That`s why some people prefer Contador or Gilbert, who always start to win, also...in Tour de San Luis. Can I suggest you a name? Lance Armstrong. He used to target the Tour and ONLY the Tour. His way to prepare it is the farest from the traditional idea of riders who ´honoure the calendar`. I don´t like Armstrong but Andy Schleck does and his Team Manager is named Johan Bruyneel: what do you expect? After a long and painful reflection I concluded that Andy Schleck must be judged conformely to his goals. His GOAL, better. he wants to win the Tour, ok? 
He almost won it three times and got epic stages like Morzine-Avoriaz, Tourmalet, Galibier. He shows talent and class since his first Tour, when he was just 23, wear the White Jersey and ended 12th in spite of a breakdown in Houtacam. Who saw him in the Alpes in 2008 will remember it forever. In 2010 he was the strongest. No matter how many other races he won. I still remember an old interview, he was really young and said: "My dream races are Tour de France, Liege and Olympics". He won a splendid Liege, almost won the Tour and his first Olympics were amazing: he didn`t get a medal just because of a cheater (Rebellin) and an incredible Cancellara. He was also 2nd in a Fleche behinde the same cheater. That finish in Huy is unforgettable. So, regarding his goals, Andy Schleck is doing well, nothing to say. He could have won many other races but he wasn`t interested. Maybe because he was used to win so much in the previous cathergories.
Eventually Leipheimer won the Tour of San Luis.
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 26:32:55
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:46
3 Daniel Diaz (Arg) San Luis Somos Todos 0:01:29
4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Christina Watches-Onfone 0:01:34
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:50
1 Chicchi on JJ Haedo
2 Chicchi on Boonen
3 Contador on Leipheimer
4 TT Leipheimer on Nibali
5 Contador on Diaz
6 Viviani on Haedo and Guardini
7 Boonen on Guardini
Sprinters: Chicchi, Viviani
Well-Coming-Back: Boonen
Try Again: Guardini
Cronomen: Leipheimer and Nibali
Climbers: Contador and Diaz
Who The Hell Is That? Diaz - Really: who is he? I can check but would prefer a nice post by The Inner Ring :)
Bigest Disappointment: Nibali. Not in general but because he made a goal of that small tour so I expected something more.
Not-Well-Coming-Back: Schumacher. Why must we see those faces around again and again? the economic crisis I guess: hardly they can find a different job...

A pic from Barcelona harbour

Stucked in Barcellona airport our fearless hero decided to get a boat... well ´a big one`... to reach his team in Mallorca. What can we say? first of all: yes, you all right - shame on Riis! - Andy is now a serious guy: renounced to a night in Barca to not wast a training day. Second: EHM... fortunately it wasn`t a Costa boat... 
Klöden and Monfort sent moral support messages but both were sceptical about Andy assumption it was going to be ´fun`. They faced all day a very hard wind in Mallorca and the sea was probably heavy.
Waiting for the final tweet by an hopefully survived Andy Schleck, I wish you all good morning.



In short: A.Gallopin about Andy Schleck and more

Spoted by Thx! Read it all here: (French)
In short (and English)
1. Ready: "Andreas Klöden late coz of a muscolar problem but Schleck(s) are as readyas they are supposed to be" 
2. Paris-Nice 4 leaders - 2 Schleck, Klöden and Monfort - 1 goal: the final victory. Interesting: JB said it wasn`t a real goal for Frank and Andy. 
3. Tirreno-Adriatico: Horner for the GC.
4. Tony Gallopin schedule: No TdF, Paris-Nice, Flanders, Tour de Bavière, Dauphiné, Nat Champ, maybe WC.
5. Soft but sure changements for Andy Schleck: first of all Dauphiné instead of Tour de Suisse. "On va avancer tout doucement. Mais il y aura certains changements" Ardennes but not as a big goal: Andy and Frank will be not "100 % comme ils en ont l’habitude" 
6. Andy is organizing is life and geting settled, then no more mistakes:  "Andy est en train d’organiser sa vie, de se stabiliser. C’est un grand champion. On ne fait pas trois fois deuxième du Tour par hasard. Il a mûri depuis que je l’ai quitté chez CSC. En 2010, il a laissé passer le Tour avec un peu de malchance. C’est cette année-là qu’on l’a vu le plus fort. Il aurait dû le gagner. Il est en train d’organiser sa vie, de se stabiliser. Il est encore jeune. Il a du temps devant lui. Mais ce n’est pas une excuse. Plus t’es jeune et plus tu peux te permettre des écarts. Ce n’est pas le cas lorsqu’on vieilli. Regardez des gars comme Evans, Klöden, Leipheimer, Voigt ou Horner. Ils ont une vie bien organisée, sont sérieux et ne font aucune faute." 
7. Seriousness: Contador likes parties too, he is just more organized! "Alberto Contador c’est pas un triste non plus. C’est un type rieur qui aime bien faire la fête aussi. La seule chose, c’est que la vie d’Alberto est plus organisée." 
8. Streght: "If Andy wasn`t serious he didn`t end three times 2nd in the Tour. Often talented riders get that remark and Andy is greatly talented. As far as recuperation and engine are concerned he is in my opinion the strongest of all. More he goes forward in a big Tour, more strong he is. He is robust like Fignon. Contador is a purebred. If Alberto attacks many times he gets tired faster than Andy". ("Si Andy n’avait pas été sérieux, il n’aurait jamais fait trois fois deuxième du Tour. On fait souvent ce reproche aux coureurs talentueux et Andy l’est énormément. Au niveau récupération et moteur, il est pour moi le plus fort de tous. Plus il avance dans un grand Tour, plus il est fort. Il est très robuste comme l’était Laurent Fignon. Contador est un pur-sang. Si Alberto fait beaucoup d’attaques, il va s’épuiser plus rapidement qu’Andy.) 
9. TdF no Giro: "Johan is a Tour man and he is all for the Tour. I must say also that sponsors are interested in the Tour Last year Radio Shack had 3 goals: 1.Tour of California, 2.Tour de France, 3.Tour of  Colorado. We were far away from the Giro..."
10. No TOC for Klöden and Schleck(s): it is the main goal for Chris Horner and Tiago Machado.

11. TdF secret strategy:"We will see but yes, I think everybody must sacrifice for just one rider" BUT "Andy is also able to sacrifice himself for Frank. The race will decide. Then if we have a plann we will keep it for ourselves. Johan demonstrated he knows how to win the Tour."
12. TdF first section: Schleck(s), Klöden, Horner, Cancellara, Voigt, Monfort, Zubeldia, Rast, Posthuma, Popovych, Fuglsang, Irizar et Gerdemann. 
13. Giro first selection: Fuglsang, Zaugg, Rohregger, Bennati, Sergent, Roulston "Nothing is decided but Fuglsang will be our leader". "His goal is top 5 but he can do anything."

Andy said...

Ahahaha! It seems he heard us or maybe RSNT press officer did. Last night renovandael tweeted: "Notice that and to a lesser extend have fallen silent on Twitter. Gotten serious. They mean business now!", "He never tweeted that much..." was my reply "I just think isnt interested :) few interviews also "I let them talk and do the work" he said. Right" and we agreed: "True, to some extend :o) Wanted to ask you about it, what your take on it was. I found it remarkable, but maybe it's nothing." It was a cold :) 
I am not sure if poor Fränkie had to fly alone to Mallorca but that`s what Andy said today on http://www.radioshacknissantrek.com/news/andy-schleck-about-next-training-camp-mallorca
"The younger of the Schleck brothers has come to love training camps and says it’s time to start doing more specific training in the Mallorcan sun.
Prior to the Challenge Mallorca (Feb 5-9), all but the riders that are selected for the Tour of Qatar (Feb 5-10) will be holding yet another training camp in Mallorca. Andy Schleck, who will race for the first time since the Tour of Colorado, is looking forward to training with the team. “In my first years as a pro, I didn’t like training camps very much. I was impulsive and only racing counted. Now that I’m older, I start to like training camps a lot. They’re good when you want to build up in shape and they’re real fun.”
“I have been doing a lot of kilometres up until now. When I got home after the last camp, I could still do a lot of training, because the weather in Luxembourg was good. Cold, but you could still go out and have a good time. Despite a little cold and a sore throat, I was able to get some good work done.”
Andy Schleck will race two or more stages of the Challenge Mallorca. “My condition is ok. I’ve got a good base already. The trainers and myself will now determine what the best preparation is for me. We will be increasing the intensity of my trainings: shorter distance, more intensity.”
After the Challenge Mallorca, Schleck will continue racing at the Tour of Oman (Feb 14-19)."
CAS should deliberate today on Contador case. As I said, whatever will be the sentence Andy Schleck will not jump with joy and I don`t expect a personal public reaction. It must have been very VERY frustrating waiting so long, in any case. That Tour I lived in real, on those roads and can`t forget Andy`s face in Paris. In any case, THAT will not change. Andy always said he looks ahead: wisely.
About doping and personal feelings, read Landis interviews by Klimmage if you didn`t yet:
You know, the UCI Overlord - the real one - got annoyed so... well... it`s a good reason to read it, no?


Tour de San Luis...images from far away

Tour de San Luis... images seem to arrive from another age, from far away in the time more than in the space. Australia is far but videos weren`t different from videos of Giro d`Italia or Tour de France or Tour of California. I am talking of the quality of the streaming but also of the quality of the filming and also of the comment. You know I don`t have a good opinion of the Italian cycling speackers - Pancani, Cassani and Savoldelli are the best ones but still the level isn`t the same as in other countries. However Tour de San Luis speacker sounds like a comic imitation of a provincial makeshift commemtator. Something like the good nice generous people who comment for free my son`s races... or Tour of Portugal ;)  
Few names in the commentary - the most local - and then the latin star: Alberto Contador, "el mas grande ciclista en todo el mundo!". During last night TT that name has been reapeated every ten seconds in excitement and admiration. Contador started last and arrived surrounded by police motorbikes... ok, he is waiting for a sentence, could decide to excape by bike... Mah... His TT was disappointing - the speacker too sounded disappointed announcing he was 6th - but he evenly said it couldn`t be better in January. Leipheimer and Nibali were flaying instead: 1st and 2nd, pulverizing previous road records. January didn`t look earlier for them. Nibali on the podium looked unhappy thought: Tour de San Luis was his first pro victory and he wants it again. Or maybe he is concerned seeing the company he is with in the GC: 1. Lehipeimer 2. Schumacher 3. Nibali 4. Contador (an ex doper, a positive tested and...an ex US Postal)...!
Riders arrived in the last boulevard, small, hiden by the crowd because the tv camera was behinde everybody and the most of the time was showing people, cars and even buses peacefully crossing the road. Small and nameless,  riders arrived burned by the sun light and quickly disapeared into the shadow because the cameraman wasn`t able to adapt the contrast. The speacker`s voice came and went away more then once. Thanks god we have twitter! and thanks to all the twitters who update us during the race.
Ah dudes, we must really love cycling to follow Tour de San Luis! 
A breack-away is on... let me check on twitter, maybe we will have a streaming of the last kms...

Do Not Forget


In short: Jensi Best Team Mate In the World!

Men’s Health interview with Voight: read it all!  
Jens Voigt: 
1. Determination: "It’s about determination.[...] Tour de France winners used to win by 15 minutes. Today, 15 minutes out, you’re in 35th. So the one with the highest pain threshold takes it. [...] you’re out front while everyone else in the back arguing who’s going to chase you. Let them play the poker game. Up front, it’s all or nothing."
2. Experience: "I have experience I’ve paid for with blood, sweat, and tears. It would be just stupid not to pass it on and keep it for myself. I help younger kids by guiding them a bit, and physically, I try to help the boys on top."
3. About supporting role:  "If you’re supporting somebody, you do the best you can and then let them go.[...] You just keep riding with your fingers crossed, hoping everything works out, because you can’t influence it. You have no idea what happened until you cross the line and find someone to tell you. So it’s difficult in a different way. It’s mentally exhausting."
4. Not for money: "If you only do it for the money you’re not going to last very long. It’s too hard to be a mercenary. You have to have passion inside of you. Passion in me feels like a high, full burning flame—it’s not a tiny spark in the dark. It’s still burning and I still love it."
5. TDF "You’ve got to pick someone better, not younger. Find someone more qualified, then take him, but I’m not giving up my spot for free. [...] To start off the year, they name 14 people for the first cut, then only pick the 9 from the group for the tour. I made the first cut, so I’m in there." 
6.The anti-star: "I’m the anti-star. I’m not flashy. [...] I’m that rock in the sea, where waves crash for ages and ages, and I’m still there. I think people like that reliability and loyalty."

Finish, start and more

TdSL3 Visconti, Nibali, Contador Pic by Team Movistar
Hey there, I am alive and still watching races as you can deduce by my short up-dating. But I had my friend Manuel Moz here and we spent lots of time chattering about cycling, walking in Florence, looking for cycling books in all book shops in vain and playing L`echappee infernale (TdF offical game but in our special version that includes doping tests and other amenities). BDW I don`t know if you ever saw that game: it`s the same as a complicate Gioco dell`oca http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_of_the_Goose where you move three riders (a climber, a sprinter and a roulleur) and the winner is who crosses the line first with all,  a bit like in a teams classification: the last man is more important then the first one. I won the stage with my team leader - a white dressed climber ehehe - and two guys on the podium (1st and 2nd) but Manuel got the Tour because my 3th rider was bloody slow! 
In real cycling a strong and uniform team is important too so RSNT top place in the TDU teams classification is a very good sign. JB team put  Machago on the podium but got no victories. Lotto Belisol got plenty of victories but its best man in GC is Cioleck 13th. GreenEdge didn`t enthusiasm but final results show it was the smartest team as far as the final victory was the goal: they got it with the minimum effort. BMC was kinda saved by Martin Kohler: never present in a sprint, vague about his GC contender, the team was surprised and pleased. It tasted glory well known like Martin it was temporary. It has been a TDU for old dogs. Young riders showed something but it was few, nothing really exciting in my opinion. We didn`t fall in love with anybody. At least I didn`t. 
TDU special prizes
Missed Hero: Rohan Dennis, Michael Matthews
Coppa Del Nonno (Grandpa cup, Traditional Italian Icecream): Petacchi, Freire, Valverde
Smartest Team: Green Edge
Best Team but... : RSNT
Sorry I`m Preparing Olympics: Cameron Meyer
Try Again: Bennati
Salvatore della Patria (Homeland Rescuer): Martin Kohler
Best diarist: Hyden Roulston
Most beautiful train and ugliest leader: Lotto Belisol
Honesty Award: Rabobank
WTF Award: Australian TV that didn´t show the most important race in their continenet!
From Argentina at least we get some streaming of the last kms of Tour de San Luis stages and many videos. The time zone helps: stages finish at 10 pm more or less so I wach it before I go to bed and have the time to post something if I am not too lazy. Or tired. Or awfully weak. My anemia is better but not over. 
Contador case isn`t over too. CAS sentence is expected on Monday. As Mike Kaltoft Jensen tweeted: "Fun fact: By the time there's a verdict in the Contador case, Fuyu Li has just two months left of his suspension for the very same violation." He started in Tour de San Luis telling his shape isn´t good and he still has to lose 7 kg... Yesterday he won stage 3th attacking on the last hard climb.  Chicchi in his new OPQS kit won the previous two (on JJ HAedo and on team mate Boonen), Colbrelli 6th and 7th :) BDW I find a little curious that Chicchi, already winner in TdSL, outsprinted on Boonen who needs a victory so much and since so long... I don`t mean he must let Boonen win but the team could decide to valorize both no?
1 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick Step 4:53:18
2 Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
3 Mauro Richeze (Arg) Argentina
4 Luis Mansilla (Chi) Chile
5 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale
6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox
1 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 3:22:40
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3 Jake Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare
4 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar
5 Jimmy Casper (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
6 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
7 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Colnago-CSF Bardiani
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo Bank 4:29:27
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3 Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni Giocattoli 0:00:05
4 Stefan Schumacher BOOO! (Ger) Christina Watches-Ofone 0:00:09
5 Daniel Diaz (Arg) San Luis Somos Todos 0:00:12
6 Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:26
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
8 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli
9 Luis Mansilla (Chi) Chile
10 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar 0:00:35

1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo Bank 12:45:15
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:04
3 Stefan Schumacher BOOO! (Ger) Christina Watches-Ofone 0:00:19
4 Daniel Diaz (Arg) San Luis Somos Todos 0:00:22
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:36
6 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli
7 Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Liquigas-Cannondale
8 Luis Mansilla (Chi) Chile
9 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar 0:00:45
10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep


BMC Racing Team: Time Trial Simulation

RSNT in Mallorca had a specific TTT training. Now in Calpe BMC  riders spent a whole day simulating an ITT. Shared in two groups every riders raced a 2 kms prologue by TM01 TT bike, then a 10 kms TT
SD John Lelanguea explained the test included the whole day since the wake up till the race and the recovering.
Steve Cummings said it has been very useful: "We have not got a number and there was no crowd but it really was like a race. I managed to make a real effort so was happy. Technically I should change something maybe but it`s just for that we do those tests."
As I said about Bruyneel`s guys cornering, teams training camps are nowadays dedicated to specific works more than to a generic pedaling kms and kms. Accurately preparing for the season means not only to build a good shape and a strong group but also to get a consciousness of the technical side of each situation the rider will face during a race. I think we will see the difference, we already did last year... here and there.


A pic from Luxembourg

Wondering where they are? Just here.On the 23th TrekJordan ( Jordan Roessingh) tweeted: "In the car, heading out for a few hours in Lux behind the 3 amigos: @andy_schleck, @schleckfrank, and Laurent Didier."


Tour de San Luis 1

2°JuanJ.Haedo  Saxo Bank
3°M.Richeze FACPyR 
4°LuisMansilla Chile 

TDU 6 and final

Sorry, I am late. And I am in a hurry too. Some busy day prevented me to cover the last day of TDU and now I have as a guest my friend Manuel Moz by http://ciclismopst.blogspot.com/ 
I will come back on the subject. A great TDU anyway and a great RSNT: first in the team classification with three riders in the top ten. GreenEdge got the first victory of the year, maintaining the promise to be competitive at the top level. We saw some old glories still shining and some young guns rising in the lightspot. Names will come and maybe some interview :) stay tuned!

1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 1:56:48  
2 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank    
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 20:46:12  
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar    
3 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:08  
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:14  
5 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia    
6 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:16  
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:18  
8 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar 0:00:23  
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:29  
10 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha 0:00:32  
11 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:34  
12 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:42  
13 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:47  
14 Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar 0:01:15  
15 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 0:01:16  
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 29  pts
2 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil -DCM 24  
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 24  
4 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 18  
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 16  
6 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda 16  
7 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar 12  
8 Jay Mccarthy (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 10  
9 William Clarke (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 10  
10 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 8  
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 56  pts
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 50  
3 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ - BigMat 39  
4 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank 33  
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 32  
6 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan 32  
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 27  
8 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 27  
9 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 27  
10 Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha 25  
1 RadioShack-Nissan 62:19:53  
2 Sky Procycling 0:00:24  
3 Movistar 0:00:31
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 20:46:26  
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:04  
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:15  
4 Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar 0:01:01  
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank 0:02:19  
6 Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:19  
7 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:03:27  
8 Gorka Izagirre Inausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:04:34  
9 Cameron Meyer (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:08:47  
10 Jay Mccarthy (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 0:11:11  


TDU 5: Willunga glory flavor

It isn`t easy to ignore an ex doper when he wins the queen stage of the first race of the season. He payed, didn`t he? and it was a different period in cycling, wasn`t it? I agree. But I feel more confortable with such statements about Millar then about Valverde, who comes back saying "I did nothing wrong". Tonight/today he really didn´t thought. No mistakes, a perfect race. He´s right to be proud and so are the GreenEdge boys who put Gerrans on the higher step of the podium. A priceless O´Grady, a well timed strategy and then of course a racer able to make it true. A climb that isn´t the Alp d´Huez but already gained his place in cycling holy topology: Willunga. Fireworks were expected there and so has been, with RadioSchack Nissan Trek pulling with all the team to drop dangerous opponents and prepare Machado`s attack. Bravi Haas (Garmin-Barracuda) and Dennis (UNI SA).
Read all in the main characters` words.  
BDW I´m happy to read that Rabobank is disappointed: in a world where everybody seems forced to show smiling faces in spite of poor results, an healthy admission of disappointment is like fresh air. Moreover: Rabo news in English are really apreciated!
“It’s been an excessive emotions, being able to show off all the fury I was keeping inside... I couldn’t resist to tears at the finish. To a sentimental value, I’d say this is the most special victory in my career. It’s been hard months of training at home, taking care of myself with no competition... and you remember all of that. This victory is dedicated to all the team, because they supported me 100%, and especially to Xavi Tondo. Also to all those ones who were always on my side. They know who they are. For my wife, my kids, my family.”  
“I was anxious to come back racing and also looking forward to getting my first win. More than the pressure from the crowd, it was pressure from myself to get back in winning ways. I knew I was strong, but needed to see myself back up-front, and in this race I found myself better and more relaxed each day. This victory gives me total tranquility on this sense. I was desperately awaiting for it and I got it into the first real opportunity I had, so it tastes so good.”

“All stages were important, but this one was marked red. The team worked superbly. They all left us the responsibility from the beginning and Erviti was the one to control the break for many kilometers so the gaps didn’t get huge, before other squads came up to help. At the first climb, López selected the group, but there was strong headwind and it was difficult to split it. We knew that there were some kilometers of plain after the climb with crosswinds, and there Rojas and Gutiérrez were decisive and broke up the peloton even more. At the end, first Madrazo and then, above all, Javi Moreno did a great work. It was difficult for me at the sprint because I took the wide side of the last turn, but even though I rode more meters I had good legs and I could overtake Gerrans at the end.” 
“For the moment, we’re going to enjoy this victory and whether we keep this position or not, we’ll finish this race happy. Obviously, if we can win, we’ll play all chances, but if we finish this way, I’m content with the result. We don’t discard anything, but we’ve got to be conscious it’s really hard and tomorrow is a special stage. It’s glory flavor what we have after what we did up to this moment.”
Simon Gerrans ...by Matt White

“The goal has always been the overall,” said Sports Director Matt White. “I didn’t think we would be this close with one stage left. We have the jersey, and we’ll need to do a bit of calculations to see what’s happening tomorrow.”
“Simon rode a smart, technical race,” said White. “He used the advantage of other teams on the final climb, and he attacked at the perfect time.” “Basically, we need to be sure that Valverde doesn’t get any time bonuses,” explained White. “We’ll want a break to go up the road to take away the intermediate sprints. After that, it may be whoever crosses the finish line first. A race of this level has never been decided this way. Usually there’s a prologue or a time trial to provide a hundredth of a second to default to in determining a leader. Without that here, if Simon and Valverde remained tied on time after tomorrow’s race, the lowest aggregate over the course of the entire race will take the overall.”
....and in his own words:
"So close! Hats off to Valverde for taking the stage. I'm absolutely wrapped to have the Ochre. Thanks again for supporting me!"
“In hindsight maybe I could say I should have waited to go when Valverde went, but in my opinion if you are waiting and waiting, there are too many riders that try to go in the last k and maybe I would have only gotten 5th or 6th.  So I thought I would try something else and this way I got third and a podium position.” http://www.radioshacknissantrek.com/news/machado-makes-his-move-team-impressive
Read also Roulston blog here: http://haydenroulston.co.nz/tdu-stage-5-2/
LL Sanchez by Rabobank
“We had high expectations of Luis Léon Sanchez today. There’s no hope now for us in the classification. This is very disappointing as we were very sure that we could win this race. Not so much with Michael Matthews, but certainly with Luis Léon" http://www.rabosport.com/news/item/11971

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 3:45:48
2 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE
3 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:02
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:04
5 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 0:00:07
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:12
7 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar 0:00:13
8 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan
9 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:26
10 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha
11 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:29
12 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:32
16 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:01:18
17 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 18:49:24
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
3 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:08
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:14
5 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:18
7 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:19
8 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar 0:00:23
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:29
10 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha 0:00:32
11 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:36
12 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:42
13 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:47
14 Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar 0:01:15
15 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 0:01:16
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 29  pts
2 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil -DCM 24
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 24
4 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 18
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 16
6 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda 16
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 46  pts
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 35
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 32
4 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan 32
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 27
1 Radioshack-Nissan 56:29:29
2 Sky Procycling 0:00:24
3 Movistar 0:00:31
4 Rabobank 0:04:40
5 Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:04:45
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 18:49:38
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:04
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:15
4 Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar 0:01:01
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank 0:02:19
6 Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:19
7 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:03:27
8 Gorka Izagirre Inausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:03:58
9 Cameron Meyer (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:06:34
10 Jay Mccarthy (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 0:11:11


TDU 3 and 4 Breaks and sprints

Stage 3 - A break: Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan) Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil) and Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Bakelants attacks at each intermediate sprints but De Gendt is faster each times, even gives him a friendly poke after the last one. Around, a white bald rocky landscape, the peloton curves on the side of the mountain and the riders descending look like small coloured  candles on a birthdayday cake.
A sprint: all together again toward the finish and Greipel takes them back, stage and jersey. Still breathless but satisfiedly smiling he explains: "It was our intention to keep the breakaway in sight with a good gap The crosswinds have made the race faster. The 1km to go mark was the most important point of today's stage. I told my team-mates ‘I need to be on 5th or 6th position at that point'. They did a great job to put me there and I finished it off. I'm happy to get back into the lead but the time bonus I got again isn't important in my mind." http://www.cyclingnews.com/tourdownunder/stage-3/results 
Martin Kohler is philosophical about the lost of the top position.

1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 3:21:55  
2 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ - BigMat    
3 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
4 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank    
5 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) GreenEDGE    
6 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana    
7 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda    
8 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan    
9 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
10 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 11:54:52  
2 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 0:00:08  
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:12  
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil -DCM 0:00:14  
5 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:00:16  
6 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan    
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling

Stage 4: A break: Jay McCarthy (UniSA), Gatis Smukulis (Kathusa) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) gaining a small advantage. Joined by Blel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale). A short fight for the KOM points: Rohan Dennis (UniSA) gets 16 for being first and the lead in the classification.Then Javier Moreno,  Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge), Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan), Jack Bauer (Garmin-Barracuda) and Linus Gerdemann (RadioShack-Nissan).
A sprint: the old fox Freire doesn`t tell his last word in cycling. Behinde Cioleck and Bennati are so close that it takes the photofinish to demonstrate RSNT rider is behinde. No matter: good legs are there and Johan Bruyneel tweets to congrats his guy: "Good job coming in 2nd today in . The first win is not far away for the boys of ."
Martin Kohler is philosophical again about his regained leadership: "I didn't expect to be back in the lead but we dropped Andre Greipel in the climb and then we were riding hard to make the gap bigger," said Kohler. "Tomorrow there will be 10 or 15 riders contesting the win at the top of Willunga Hill. It's going to be very hard and I don't know if I can keep this lead or not but I'm already happy with what I'm doing here. Our team BMC feels at home with all the support we get but of course we are the team of Cadel Evans."http://www.cyclingnews.com/tourdownunder/stage-4/results

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha 3:08:34  
2 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep    
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan    
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank
1 Martin Kohler (Sui) BMC 15:03:34  
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:02  
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha    
4 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:06  
5 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:00:08  
6 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan    
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
8 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan    
9 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha    
10 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 0:00:09  
11 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:10  


TDU 2:unbelievable!

Martin Kohler in the leader jersey
Both Clarke and Kohler repeat the same word: "This is unbelievable really," said Clarke. "This is the biggest win of my career. It's my first win in the WorldTour. I knew my form was good - but this is unbelieveable."
 "This is unbelievable" Kohler said "We followed the plan and it worked". BMC plann was simple: going to take the bonus. Clarke plann was even simplier: just going and keep on going. Till the finish! Martin Kohler came back to the peloton once his mission has been accomplished, Clarke seemed to want to make the same but then... he started gaining seconds again. The peloton couldn't catch him. Maybe they underated the young Aussi. No sprint for Bennati, no sprint for anybody. Just the smiling exhausted surprised face of two brave guys.
I watched it, I did. I watched the highlights and they were really short. That was one of those boring and thrilling stages, too long when you watch, too short when you report. But the race was in that: kms and kms in heat breaking and catching, wondering who will win, the fox or the dogs, usually supporting the fox but still feeling for the sprinters all day on the dogs wheels, waiting for a moment that could not come. It didn't come in fact today, the fox exults. On the dogs wheels also the ex-fox Martin Kohler exults: he's a fox inside. The plann worked, his boss Andy Rihs admires Verbrugghe's strategy and his rider: "I found it unbelievable, I didn't expect it! It's superb by Martin, BMC Racing Team and Cadel Evans's team in Australia." "It's for sure one of the best day in my career" Kohler says. He already wore a few coloured jersey (best sprinter in TDU 2010, King of Mountain in the last Giro, TT Swiss national champion...) but never a race leader jersey. He's realistic: hard to defend it. But we will see! 

Stage 2
1 William Clarke (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 3:58:35

Peloton 0:01:02

1 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 8:33:05
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 0:00:02
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:04
4 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:00:08
5 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 0:00:09
6 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha 0:00:10
7 Xavier Florencio Cabrè (Spa) Katusha 0:00:12
8 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
9 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan
10 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
27 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan

33 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
34 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan
48 Cameron Meyer (Aus) GreenEDGE

1 William Clarke (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 21  pts
2 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 20
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 18
4 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 15
5 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 14
6 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 13
7 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ - BigMat 13
8 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas - Cannondale 12
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 12
10 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan 11

1 William Clarke (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 10  pts
2 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 8
3 Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan 4
4 Marcello Pavarin (Ita) Vacansoleil -DCM 3
5 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil -DCM 2
6 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 1

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 3:59:37
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
3 Cameron Meyer (Aus) GreenEDGE

1 UNI SA - Australia 25:38:49
2 Sky Procycling 0:01:02
3 RadioShack-Nissan

TDU 1: apology and more

I made a mistake yesterday. You should never write about a race you didn't watch. The new season finally arrived but the first race of the year is Down Under: starts and finishes at night or early morning if you prefer. Anyway the early morning is a serious stressing stuff in a single mom's life, even when she – me – temporarly mustn't run – or ride - to work outside. The early morning is to sleep exhausted, to get up still sleepy, turn on the heating, open the windows and gently shake up my deeply sleeping son: "I go to the toilet first, prepare your clothes". The eraly morning is cold and that's old big home takes a while to get warm so we have an electric stuff in the toilet and use to get dressed there. While my still very sleepy son is in the toilet is puting his clothes over his pijama – once he went to school like that: I found out at 5 pm – I prepare our breakfast - tea and biscuits.- listening to the radio for the news. We have ten minutes to eat and drink, at 8am Liv passes the door   and I turn on my pc.
Yesterday I was eager to see some cycling finally. The race was just over, the first results were out and I couldn't believe: Martin Kohler 3th in the GC? WOW! What about Bennati? Just 9th? It didn't look that good, then I saw he was 5th at the sprint and that's quite different. Some hours later I read his comment on RSNT site: that downhill sprint didn't suit him at all. Also Hayden Roulston in his blog wrote: "benatti run 5th today… which was a pretty good effort with no real lead out train.. " (http://haydenroulston.co.nz/tdu-stage-1/ : read it! Cool stuff!).
But how did Martin Kohler manage to get 3th? At first I thought he was 3th at the sprint. Why not? He's a good sprinter and in I saw there had been a big crash so maybe best sprinters had got involved... The news told about a photofinish between Greipel and Petacchi, Martin could have won a group sprint behinde those two. Not so: he got the podium in his own way, breaking away! He gained so many seconds in the intermediate sprint he was 3th in GC even if he didn't sprint at all  at the finish because he was involved in the crash. Nothing serious for him but... well... he didn't beated The Sprinters at The Sprint. If there was a King of Break-away jersey, Martin Kohler deserved it in almost all races he started. He's a good, brave guy. Brave above all. I remember a day he was down because he had been schedulated for all the Classics, got sick just before a race, didn't know what to do, finally decided to start anyway but after 70 km he felt too bad and stoped. He could have say: I'm sick, will stay in bed. But I know what you are thinking now: cyclists are like that, aren't they? Brave and a bit mad.
The second news I saw yesterday - or probably the first one but I wanted the winner – was about the awful crash. I adsume you saw the video. Lotto-Belisol's Roelandts has a break in the 6th cervical vertebra but many riders fell and Montagutti (AG2R) was reported for a suspected collarbone, Guesdon (FDJ) for a possible broken hip. Fortunately Montaguti is fine (his gf says), Guesdon isn't but his conditions are less serious then expected. “As far as I saw they went too far right on that side of the road” Jens Voigt explained “They ran off the smooth surface of the road and got caught in the loose gravel or they hit a spectator. Maybe someone just hit a spectator and caused the chain reaction in the peloton with another ten or twelve riders going down. It was a fast crash and looked pretty painful too.  Nobody from our team was hurt. We delivered Bennati just in front of that and we were more on the left side so we were safe. I mean it was stressful and it was close, but we were safe.” Just after the race riders looked stressed and also a bit shocked. By the heat and by the crash:
Adam Hansen tweeted: " @tourdownunder riders are asking for barriers in the final kms for the safety of the riders please." How many kms? The discussion is on. In my opinion there wasn't a barriers problem there, as we can see by the video.
Sprint finish are always very stressful, especially when you are not a sprinter. In add yesterday the heat was simply  incredible: "today was the hottest day I’ve ever experienced on a bike" Roulston wrote  http://haydenroulston.co.nz/tdu-stage-1/  and Andy Fenn agrees: "So today I found out what riding in a Sauna would be like. I was right yesterday,  Stage 1 of Tour Down Under was a hot day, and the hottest race I've ever ridden. It was just a challenge keeping cool, and making sure we drank enough. The team always tries to be over prepared, but we even managed to run out of bidons, luckily only 5km from the feed, were we got a fresh cooler full for the car.
To make things worse it was a headwind for pretty much the whole day, so it meant we were out soaking up the heat for longer, with everybody's jerseys starting to look similar by the end, covered in salt. I even managed to catch the sun through my jersey, which was a first for me.
It did cool off towards the end, maybe just a bit closer to 30 degrees than 40, but it had obviously taken its toll on all of us. Even some of the Aussie guys who have been enjoying their summer over here said they weren't finding it easy in the heat. It's not normal with 10km to go for it not to be pretty full on like it was today." http://www.omegapharma-quickstep.com/en/news/show/andy-fenn-s-blog-sun-tan-under-the-jersey-definitely-a-scorcher/41
Alex Dowsett tweeted: "So yday was ok, avoided the crashes but unfortunately came down with a bit of heat/sun stroke and had a rough evening, all good today though"
It isn't easy to race in such a sauna and it was weird to read of it from our winter fridge.
When I finally managed to watch the highlights of the stage... I remembered why I love cycling so much! You can't avoid to feel for the guys in the break seeing their faces covered in sweat, you can't avoid to exult at Martin Kohler rising his fist on the intermediate sprint line, you can't avoid to thrill at the finish when sprinters curve and stretch their backs on the bike like cats and the victory is  matter of cents of seconds, you can't avoid to scream when a guy loses control and goes off road into the crowd while others brake and it's a general fell. Even if it happened a few hours ago and you already know, you can't avoid to fell upset. Cycling involves risks. We know, we accept that, we must do everything to make it safe but 100% safe is impossible when you ride a bike 70 km/h or more in group of 200 riders. Brave and mad, cyclists know better.
Results are important but stories are what we love. And faces. That's why the internet is great: we have daily tons of  pictures and videos, we watch live a race from the other side of the world. But I still believe in the power of writing. I remember a Vuelta that we couldn't watch because we were far from any tv or pc and we used to read on the Gazzetta every day after school. My son – who was 6 -  sometimes tells me: "It was cool mom to read about it, to imagine, to wait for the news..." I found the same feeling in "La fiamma rossa" by Mura... memories from a time when cycling was few seconds on your road – if you were lucky – and every day on your newspaper, usually pink if you were in Italy.
What about stage 2? I'll write when I'll have watched it. But yes... Martin Kohler leads the race. How proud!