8.31.2012

Purito's Vuelta... and more - or less

This morning the pourring rain woke me up very early. After months it rains and it seems a miracle. The air is clearer and fresher, the sun is more gentle today. The summer is over even if it will be quite warm till the end of September. The night comes much earlier tought and I don't like it. I don't like almost anything at the moment and even cycling lets me cold. I turn on my lapton and wonder why in the earth should I care about it. Of course I remember how that started but maybe it came to a end. I feel like to ride my bike more than to write about others riding.
Nevertheless – how much I love this word! - and in spite of all yesterday finish in La Vuelta has been exciting. Purito Rodriguez smashed the field on a nasty short climb. He joined and passed the brave break-away – Cameron Meyer later tweeted: "Going to have a chat with Simon Clarke about how you win these Grand Tour stages. I seem to be missing out in the final few km. Damm" – Contador on his wheel and eventually solo. I have rarely seen such a determined man. In this Vuelta Rodriguez is showing an absolute selfconfidence.
In Milano there was that guy on my head, up the lamppost, with that big Purito's flag, red and blue. On the podium Purito was smiling to his children, wearing a jersey conquered for just one point after he lost the one he wanted the most at the true last second. Hejesdal was rising the Trofeo Senza Fine in the middle of the crowded square while Purito celebrated his bittersweet award on the stage. He wasn't happy and brought all his appetite to this Vuelta. 
It's Spaniards matter: Rodriguez, Contador, Valverde (at 1' just because he crashed earlier in the race). In my opinion Froome is going to lose not to gain more seconds. A last word for Gesink: yesterday he was great. The final podium looks already full but the 4th spot could be still available.
I had 2012 pictures printed today: races and family stuff. Holydays, travels, tries to make images less banal. Last years I was focused on riders but now I'm more interested in situated pictures. I'm not a photographer. As a writer too I prefer now to watch a bit further from the main scene. When you are very engagged in something you forget that is nothing for the most of people and that a whole life goes on around it. Maybe I simply lost my true focus in cycling given that this year I have never seen Andy Schleck racing. I read he will back soon but where I am not sure yet so write nothing. I think it's going to rain again this afternoon. Lets watch la Vuelta and plann some bike rides.

Stage
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:24:32  
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:08  
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:13  
4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:20  
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:23  
GC
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 44:50:35  
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:13  
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:51  
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:20  
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:02:59  
6 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:03:29  
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:22  
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:05:17  
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:05:18  
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:06:01  

8.30.2012

In short: Jens Voigt's blog

Read it all here:
http://bicycling.com/blogs/hardlyserious/2012/08/29/one-more-round-with-radioshack/
I just quote the Andy-related part of it:
"...there is my friend Andy Schleck who’s still trying to come back from his crash in June. And we are still waiting for the outcome in the case with Franky, too. And then there is Fabian Cancellara, who broke his collarbone in the Tour of Flanders and then worked so hard to come back for the team in the Tour de France and saved our asses.
I mean, come on, folks—did anybody seriously think I could just run away from these guys that have been my friends for six, seven, or eight years now? How could I leave them after a complicated or difficult year? How could I leave them behind?
I want to see Andy get back to his normal classy self and I want him to enjoy riding his bike again. And I want Franky to know that I am here for him whatever the future brings."
Yep I want to see that me too and am glad that Jensi will be there one year more.
BDW
According to l'essentiel.lu Frank Schleck has appeared before the Disciplinary Committee of the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) late on Wednesday. But we know nothing about yet. Fingers crossed...

8.29.2012

Vuelta 11 and 12

It seems that Florence's air doesn't suit me: I'm sick! It started yesterday with a bad headache and went on with an annoying fever. I feel down. Maybe it's normal after two months of holydays: the coming back is never easy. Maybe I got too tired and that is the revenge of my anemia... Anyway I watched yesterday'sn stage but was too bad to write. 
Moreover because it was basicly a sprint and sprints aren't exactly my thing: the last 3 km are fascinatin - team trains, jumps from wheel to wheel, courage and tactics all at a crasy speed - but all the rest is usually a drag. So about a sprinters stage you can only commentate...well... the sprint. 
Kessiakov Pic by UCI
This one was good especially for me who was watching Daniele Bennati. He said he had the legs but made a mistake. Which one honestly I didn't see. He was on the right wheel: Degenkolb's wheel of course and Degenkolb won. Sprinting to win Bennati finished 3th, passed by Bouhanni last minute. Bouhanni said he isn't happy with his result... In cycling the first one wins and all the rest doesn't count but for sprinters that's also truer. Bravo Degenkolb who was first in all sprints so far.
Today TT was waited with expectations, hope and moreover fear by everybody. Summ up it didn't change that much in the GC. Yep, I think so. In fact Rodriguez kept his jersey even if for just one second, Contador gained the 2nd place but Froome is at only 16 seconds. Valverde, Gesink, Moreno, Roche, Ten Dam and Mollema all kept their position. The only news is that Talansky is now 8th and Anton is no more in the top ten. 
Things to note: 1. it's the first time I see women holding the bike and giving the start on a TT ramp 2. finally tv direction learnt that splitting the screan makes a TT more interesting - or less boring? No, really: it wasn't boring. It was interesting instead to compare Contador's and Froome's styles, so different and both effective. Froome looks less terrific in this Vuelta than in last Tour de France: maybe he's human...! Many - Indurain included - said Contador is too eager so can't wait the right moment to attack and is taking too many risks. Not today: his TT was perfect, he was strong in the climbs and good in the descent. He would have won  if Kessiakoff had not been in the shape of his life.
Yeah, KESSIAKOFF! who beted on him is rich now I guess. He was happy like a child waiting on the 'hot seat'. "I was really focused and we were thinking about that stage since many days" he said. Bravo!
Stage 10
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano 4:47:24  
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat    
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan
TT
1 Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team 0:52:36  
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:17  
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:39  
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:08  
5 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:09  
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:01:15  
7 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:16  
8 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge 0:01:17  
9 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:01:24  
10 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:34  
11 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:39  
12 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:42  
13 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:01:50  
14 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:01:57  
15 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:02:02  
16 Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack-Nissan 0:02:04  
GC
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 40:26:15  
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:01  
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:16  
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:59  
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:02:27  
6 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:02:54  
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:39  
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:04:08  
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:04:22  
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:05:10  

In short: Bruyneel about RSNT and Andy Schleck

There is an interview here:
http://www.marca.com/2012/08/19/ciclismo/1345391984.html
and an English translation here (thx Reno @renovandael ):
http://translate.google.nl/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.marca.com%2F2012%2F08%2F19%2Fciclismo%2F1345391984.html
In short:
1. RSNT goes on: "At a minimum, the team will continue until 2014"
2. The merger is taking more time than expected but it will work: "In the end, I thought change in six months, will need a year. There will also be a natural selection, because some are no longer. So, little by little, you will become reforms, because I have not managed to impose my method."
3. Leaders to stay: "Let's see what happens with Frank (positive for a diuretic Tour). Andy, Cancellara, Kloden, Horner, Monfort, Haimar, Irizar, Machado .... have and will continue to contract. [...] The bike does not work like football and if a rider wants to leave contract must be with the approval of three parts: your computer, which you want and the broker concerned. Otherwise, however much they pay is unworkable.
 4. ...even if they would like to leave: "I did not get the news - about Cancellara -  I do not say anything. But I would not give freedom."
5. Working with Andy "It is not difficult, just different. Andy has another method and moves by feeling, by feelings, and in the past has worked quite well. I also understand that there are things that can be changed and others not."
6. No doubt Andy is very talented but this year motivation was the problem, even before sickness and injury, since the TdF presentation because it didn't suit him at all: "Fortunately, it seems that the next Tour will be different"
7. Andy and Frank should be able to race separed but JB didn't force them. In 2010 - Andy's best Tour - there was no Frank and no Kim Andersen.
8. Things must change: "No one, neither the team nor Andy nor I can afford another year like this. We must take the bull by the horns and pull forward. To date, it is still the worst year of my career."
9. In spite of all JB likes challenge and the next one is "Winning the Tour with Andy Schleck."

My opinion: I still think that Andy wants to win the Tour with Bruyneel, the next Tour suits him much better and he will be able to do it. I have never believed the Schleck was going to Astana or similar and when Jens Voight signed a new contract with RSNT I was almost sure they are going to stay. It isn't a perfect situation and many things must be cleared (Bruyneel judjement. Frank Schleck positivity, Becca finacial estate) but you have to make your way in a world that is seldom perfect.

8.28.2012

Armstrong and Co.

The LA saga lasted so long I have few to add to what I wrote in the last years, since when I started this blog. It was the end of 2008 and in 2009 he made his coming-back: I wasn't happy because he represented the cycling I had stopped following. He came back with arrogance and cycling madia started talking only about him, I even promoted a fb page called "Too much LA in cycling media: what a drag!" He represented the past for me and I didn't want him to occupy all the lightspot when many young talents were showing up
2008 means CERA for me and a turn point: I strongly believe that since that year doping in cycling became absolutely uncool. It didn't disapear but people became both smarter and cleaner. Some riders probably still dope and how Bassons said "If you break the law of silence, you can assume that you will never win more than one race." Nevertheless we see that the mood has changed: sponsors ran away and the new generation of cyclists seems to look to that matter in a different way. Am I too optimist?
Of course there is a large influence of medicalization in the elite sport: top performances would be impossible without it. It isn't doping but it isn't 'bread and water'. Races are too hard to allow that. Our expectations, our comments, our imaginary require it. We must change that if we really want to stop it. 
Of course there are many people on the team cars and in the power place in cycling who doped and covered doping, we know that, it's clear. LA case showed it without pity and decency. Very good: lets go on and remove those people who affected so badly the sport. Riders always pay for everybody but they are just the weekest part in a large and well established system.
Of course you can't write again the past. I agree that LA exploits made many people feel such a big and deep emotion that nothing will never delete. LA legend, LA fight against the cancer and his victory on it, so beautiful, so bright will never last for who believed in it, for who loved it. That's true for every great story, no matter if it's real or not. Nihilism doesn't help anybody. So I don't want him to be stripped of his titles: I'm sure his opponents agree and not for omerta, not because they are dopers as well and all is the same. A race is a fact in the time and in the space and it will be forever. Who care about a name in a book? you remember the tears, the excitment, the carzy joy and holding team mates and telling yourself you gave all and it wasn't enough. That will never change.
And that is the reason because we must stop doping. When Moser made his record CONI used to prescribe autotransfusions and they were payed by the Health National Service. Talking on tv about Pozzato's bann this summer Moser said: "Many people know Mr. Ferrari and I amongh them given that he was my doctor". Do you understand the truth in those worlds? That was cycling in those years: omerta is bad but hypocrisy is worse. Coppi and Bartali used to dope, Anquetil even claimed the useof the 'chemistery', Simson died for anphetamines you could find in everybody's pocket. And so on. We know that.. 
But we want to change. We ask riders to compete without doping. Since NOW. So lets change the UCI tops and teams staff, lets make races less hard, lets be more soft and human in our comments, lets lower our expectations. Are we able to do that? lets start from us beafore to be so strict with riders. In my opinion they don't break the silence because the feel isolate not in the peloton but in the larger cycling world. Lets turn the page and give a future to clean riders. Past is past: amnesty for truth would be the best solution about old doping cases. Life bann should be the answer for young recidive dopers. 
For the complete LA story, read here:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/index-of-lance-armstrong-doping-allegations-over-the-years

8.27.2012

Vuelta a Espana sofar

Daniele Bennati's bike
The first week came to a end and I have seen nothing: that's so new that I'm surprised because la Vuelta is my favourite stage race and I had never lost a second of it before. La Vuelata a Espana is the last one of the three big Tours so very often used as a revange or compensation field for riders disappointed by their Giro or Tour even more often as a training for the World Championship. At the begining of the season very few riders say their main target is la Vuelta. It was different when it was in spring. But climbers should love it for its brutal mountain stages, for its amazing finishes atop nasty ramps. Hardly a rider can win here who is not a very good climber.
Sky risked to win it by Froome last year but prefered to lose it by Wiggins and now, after the victory in the Tour by Wiggins but with the decisive help by Froome, it gave the leadership to the young British Kenyan. Too late? Froome worked hard in the Tour and then in London for the Olympic Games RR. At the moment he's 2nd in GC at 53'' from Purito Rodriguez: not bad.
Rodriguez didn't like his 2nd place in last Giro d'Italia so started to win. His season was very good, is team well support him. His leadership is solid because in la Vuelta mountains still count more than the clock. Contador and Valverde are both hungry for victories and came from a - more or less - long forced abstinence. Valverde has already got the race rhythme, Contador still seems a little awkward, both look as strong as ever: dangerous mates for the main contenders.  Very hungry of victories - but out the GC - also Gilbert: the 2011 cannibal just scored his first victory in 2012 yesterday...
Outsiders: Anton, Gesink and Mollema. The first one is maybe the only one who often race la Vuelta as his season main goal but is already 3 minutes down at the moment and even a podium spot looks hard... However all can happen in two weeks and he's a strong motivated climber. The Rabo duo seems not as brilliant as expected: Mollema got dropped by the strongest riders group in some occasions, Gesink is in 5th now at 2' and I don't see how he coudl improve given that in front of him there are the best guys in the bunch....  
Nevertheless Rabobank is the best team sofar and should aim to keep that position: RSNT isn't a threat here because doesn't have a serious GC contender and in general sent its best riders to Colorado. Things are different about sprinters: Daniele Bennati is a strong rider and a serious threat. Once 2nd, twice 5th he is always in front even if the victory didn't arrive yet. Somebody noted he has got an incredible ammount of 2nd places. As he said, to win he need a train and I wnder if he has it at RSNT. With Cavendish and Greipel in Denmark and Farrar in Colorado, the king of sprinters in Spain is the young Degenkolb: three stage victories already and it's still a long way to Madrid.
RESULTS
Stage 1 TTT
Movistar
Quick-Step
Rabobank
Stage 2
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano 4:38:40
2 Allan Davis (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge
3 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling
4 Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
Stage 3
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 3:49:37
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank
5 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:06
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
Stage 4
1 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge 4:30:26
2 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:02
3 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:22
4 Marcos Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural 0:00:55
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan
Stage 5
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano 4:10:37
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan
3 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
Stage 6
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:35:22
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:05
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:10
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:19
5 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
6 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
Stage 7
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano 3:48:30
2 Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Allan Davis (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan
Stage 8
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 4:06:39
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:15
Stage 9
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 4:45:28
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:07
4 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:00:09
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan
GC now
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 34:44:55
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:53
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:01:00
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:07
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:02:01
6 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:02:08
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:34
8 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:07
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:03:18
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:03:27

Points Jersey
 1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
KOM
 1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
Combination classification
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
Best Team
Rabobank

USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Pic by RSNT
Few things about it: first of all USPro 2012 sounds a bloody good race. I couldn't watch it at all but followed it on twitter and must say at night I was eager to check it in the dark of my tent. Second: it sounds very american! Once upon a time European racers plus one or two strong US pros used to come and compete in that exotic show for New World inhabitants. That time is over: American riders won all stages - excluded stage 5: Jens Voigt masterpiece - and the top ten is almost all American - excluded Kloden, Fugslang and Brajkovich. Note that the first two race for an US team: RSNT.  
Tour of Colorado is now a well designed important race, just like Tour of California, and its start list is important as well: the first one compete already with the Giro and the second one started actracting more than the Vuelta: it's shorter but hard so more suitable for riders who come from the Tour de France and look forward the Worlds. Vincenzo Nibali for example. American teams brought their stars, some European teams brought instead their youn promising guns and we could see how well they behaved: Caruso and Bazzana just to tell two names. 
Tayler Farrar came back to the victory - two stages and Points Jersey - and so Thomas Danielson. Tejay van Garderen and Jen Voigt confirmed a splendid season. Taylor Phinney and Christian Vande Velde didn't shine like that since the Giro and Vande Velde finally got a GC victory for himself after a season spent in helping team mates and displaying a terrific shape. 
US cycling looks very good and if Levi Leipheimer is disappointed about his 3th place he should consider that's great at his age. But age seems to be nothing for some old boys like Jens Voigt, once more breaking away, once more winning a stage solo, once more signing for fans and ready to teach his team leaders how you shout up your legs. Bravo Jensi! he won a stage and got the Mountain Jersey. 
RSNT won again [!] the teams classification so... don't dare to say it isn't a good team! Dudes: RSNT won it in almost ALL the races it entered. That's a fact. The best youth was Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team: a name that tells me few but Axel Merks' team is guarantee of young talents.
RESULTS
Stage 1
1 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Sharp 4:42:48
2 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi
3 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
Stage 2
1 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 3:52:24
2 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp
3 Ivan Rovny (Rus) RusVelo 0:00:06
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:08
Stage 3
1 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp 5:02:06
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:02
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) RadioShack-Nissan
Stage 5
1 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 3:54:00
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:58
3 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
5 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
Stage 6
1 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Sharp 3:58:27
2 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
3 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi
Stage 7
1 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:17:25  
2 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:00:10  
3 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:19  
4 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:21  
5 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:00:29  
6 Tom Zirbel (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:00:31  
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:37  
8 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 0:00:40  
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:43  
10 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:00:45  
11 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:48  
Final GC
1 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp 25:57:34  
2 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:21  
3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:24  
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:01:08  
5 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:01:14  
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) RadioShack-Nissan 0:01:24  
7 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:01:28  
8 Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 0:01:32  
9 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:01:39  
10 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:01:40  
Best Youth
Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
Points Jersey
Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Sharp
KOM
Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
Best team
RSNT
And here you have RSNT press release about Jensi's fantastic victory:
Participation in a break turned into an impressive solo stage win for RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK’s Jens Voigt  in the USA Pro Challenge as he attacked on the climb of 3686m/12095ft Independence Pass to stay away for more than 146km/90mi to arrive in Beaver Creek with almost three minutes to the next finishers.  The effort by 40-year old Voigt was his first big win since stage 4 in the 2010 Volta a Catalunya.
Jens Voigt:  “Once in awhile I can almost see a video clip running in my mind that shows me how things will be.  Today I was in the break and I could see it all happening.  I saw myself attacking and never being seen again.  I told myself ‘Go now!’  With the rain, all the uphill, the downhill, wind, whatever else was happening to make the race sticky and nasty – I knew it was affecting the others more than me.  It paid off in the end and I’m more than happy with this win. I was nervous until I saw the 1k to go banner but my director Lars Michaelsen came up to me then and told me I still had five minutes.  So I slowed down a little bit, tried to relax and waved to the crowd.  I was just soaking up the emotions.”
Voigt wasn’t the only team rider feeling strong on Thursday in the USA Pro Challenge. Andreas Klöden, 37, sprinted in for second place on the stage, an effort that moved him into the top ten on the classification at 17-seconds behind race leader Tejay Van Garderen of BMC.  
Andreas Klöden:  “At 20k to go we knew Jens would win.  I felt good today on the climbs so I saw the chance to do a short sprint at the end.  It was a little hard because it was uphill but the path opened up and I just went for the line.  Our sponsors RADIOSHACK, NISSAN and TREK give us so much.  This is only a small thing that we can give back since our season has not been as good as we had hoped.  But we had good morale all day and to see Jens do such a good race today really lifted our spirits.  I will have to check the GC now as I look for the Saturday and Sunday stages to move up and maybe be in the top five here in Colorado.”  The race continues through Sunday with the final stage an individual time trial in Denver. 
Team Director Lars Michaelsen added: "It's extraordinary what Jens did today. Only a few guys in the peloton are capable of doing this. He's an inspiration for everybody: for Alain Gallopin and me in the car, for the young riders, for every rider in the peloton. You need the physics to do it but also the fighting spirit and the angriness to achieve this. After only twelve km, with just a 20 second gap, he was determined to go for it, and of course he made the right decision. This is so nice."
Last May at the Amgen Tour of California Voigt earned a second place position in the time trial and noted that perhaps it would be the last time in his career that he’d be on a podium.  Today’s effort clearly put that concern to rest.
Voigt: “I tried to make my own destiny today.  I’m about 20 days short of turning 41 and I want to keep walking the walk and talking the talk.  Today was a moment I could give it my best one more time.  It was painful but very enjoyable.
“I think I earned this win the hard way.  I knew if I had two minutes at the top of Independence Pass that they would never see me again.  I was trying not to get ahead of myself and think about the win and stay focused on my ride.  I did have to say ‘Shut Up, Legs!’ a few times, but I am just really happy.  I call this the Indian Summer of my career, not the Winter.  I still receive enormous satisfaction out of helping the boys win.  I like looking after them and delivering them to the bottom of a climb in a good position.  Then later when they come and say thank you to me, well, that just makes my day.”


8.26.2012

Tour of Denmark

Cav wins the last stage
Just back from holyday I'm checking races results. Once I have been in Denmark to watch this tour last stage and that time - not the first one not the last one - Jakob Fugslang had won. This year he not even raced it. He was in Colorado, doing well. 
Well done for Lieuwe Westra instead: 2012 has been a great year for him and TDK overall victory is just the last nice results. 
Sprinters had got many chances and Greipel won 2-1 against Cavendish this time. 2-2 Sky/Lotto however because Nordhaug won a stage as well. If I do a balance of the season I think that Sky really ruled almost in every race. 
Westra's victory is the second and only big result for Vacansoleil in a season sum up disappointing. Or maybe two really big results (3th in Giro and TDK win) are better than many small good ones?
Stage 1 Greipel
Stage 2 Greipel
Stage 3 Nordhaug
Stage 4 Kristoff
Stage 5 Westra
Stage 6 Cavendish
Final GC
1 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 20:41:47
2 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:10
3 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:14
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team 0:00:24
5 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:25
6 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team 0:00:27
7 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:31
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Christina Watches - Onfone 0:00:35
9 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:38
10 Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:41

Holyday's over...

Vulci
It's amazing how Death can manifest itself in the full shining of the day. Vulci is one of the largest necropolis in the worls: not a cemitery but a city of deads, because Death is the true life for Etruscans and life just a short sleep. Their houses were huts, their tombs were palaces builded for the Eternity. Nothing remains of them but holy streets bored in a soft stone named tufo, covered above in trees, fresh and invisible - the 'vie cave' in Pitigliano – and the silent invisible world under the pastures, vast, bare and still.  
Vulci was one of the biggest city of the Estruscan federation, rich and strong, when Romans decided to conquer it. It took them two centuries. Esterminated the inhabitants, they ruined it completely and builded a new town, Cosa, nearer to the sea. City of deads up and inside the ground stained with blood, Vulci was abandoned for centuries, unhealty for the malaria and lost in the memory, just a legend telling of a fabulous time. 
In 1700, when Napoleon conquered Italy like a second Caesar, legends and memories led archeologs on the path of history and to the buried city. Francois was looking for the shadow in the cruel heat of the afternoon, wandering in Vulci desolated pastures and imagine a world behinde the world, when he saw four oaks in a circle as if their roots were drinking at a fresher cup deep in the ground. He started the first escave and found the big, splendid tomb then named after him: the 'tomba Francois'. 
Vulci: buttero
He felt the Death in the scaring silence and distance and void. Like a presence and premonition. You can feel it as well standing here and watching around, nothing to stop your look but solitary trees, white stain of cows, a buttero on a brown horse far away against the sky in the unbearable sunlight. You walk finally by an escaved tomb, simple and small, just a minimal part of something enormous, and you shake because you understand it is all under your feet.
I am back from my holyday in Maremma, in the coutry home again, and the visit to Vulci has been one of the higlights of it. We spent a week in a camping place where the association Fra Terra e Cielo was holding its sea camp while the mountain camp is in Garfagnana, north of Tuskany. "Can you live with simplicity?" is the camp's slogan and we try. To be honest we are used to. Of course sleeping in small tent on sand and sharing macrobiotic vegan food with strager people is different than to be moderate at home. Our day used to start at dawn with the yoga session on the beach, in the morning we went often to visit places around – Vulci, Pitigliano, the WWF oasis of Burano – and in the hot afternoons I attended to a seminary about Sciamanism
Pitigliano: via cava
After dinner we all used to dance near the sea and the last night some Lybian friends involved us in a concert for dishes soon evolved in a wild party. Moving our bodies in the dark just following the rhythm of the improvised drums was great, the invisible sea softly singing close.
Pitigliano: the Lente fall
Burano WWF oasis
Burano WWF oasis
At midnight in our tent I used to check news on my phone: Armstrong's life bann, Voigt's victory in Colorado, O'Grady's and Impey's crashes, day by day stories from la Vuelta to imagine and desire. But also the big silence from Luxembourg... nothing about Frank's doping case, nothing about Andy's recovering. I had often fallen asleep thinking of him, wondering if he's fine and what his future will be. All is quiet and once again I must walk in the dark, blind eyes.

8.17.2012

No Colorado for Andy Schleck. But Fugslang goes

Old good pic...
We got this morning RSNT line-up USA Pro Cycling Challenge and it includes: Bennett, Matthew Busche, Jakob Fuglsang, Chris Horner, Ben King, Andreas Klöden, Jens Voigt & Oliver Zaugg. No Andy Schleck how you see, in spite that had been anounced as his first race after the bad crash in Dauphiné.
Surprisingly there is Jakob Fugslang instead, who just yesterday had said to Cyclingnews:  ”No I stand by what I said, I don’t regret it. I said the truth and what I was feeling. I think you should be disappointed as a bike rider, who wants to compete, when one of your objectives gets taken away, even though you are showing good form. Then I think you have the right to be disappointed.” (http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/fuglsang-i-have-the-right-to-be-disappointed).
 The Dane signed a three years contract with Astana as leader in Tour of France and/or Vuelta a Espana while Vincenzo Nibali will target the Giro. BDW that confirms also that the Schleck(s) will not go to Astana.
RSNT press release adds no comment to the bare list but according with www.denverpost.com "Team RadioShack-Nissan spokesman Philippe Maertens said: "When he trains up to three hours, he still has pain in his back. His training level is not good enough. He can't do a long training ride." (Read more: Andy Schleck ruled out of USA Pro Challenge in Colorado - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/cycling/ci_21330420/andy-schleck-ruled-out-usa-pro-challenge-colorado#ixzz23nKx8laY  ).
I'm really sorry to hear that, even if Colorado is far away from Luxembourg and I think Andy prefers to stay  close to his brother Frank now and wait together the ALAD decision about his positive dope test in the Tour de France. I'm optimist regarding that: ALAD could give Frank a short bann and UCI has got no reasons to ask for more. Anyway it's an hard situation especially because rumors say they are going to leave their present team. But they always denied and still have a contract. 
Not easy to find a new team now, with Andy injuried and Frank suspended risking a bann. Not easy because Teams already look quite definite as far as transferts are concerned: Astana signed Nibali and Fugslang, Liquigas is building a team around young guns Sagan and Moser, Rabobank is full of Dutch talents and so on. And there is no sign of a new team (German? Haribo-Nutella? Hulrich?). In my opinion they should avoid risky adventures and choose a serious existing team. If they can. Can they?
I'm leaving tomorrow for a camping place near Capalbio, south of Tuskany, without internet. I had booked it when Andy was supposed to race the Tour de France. I'll lost the first week of the Vuelta a Espana but will enjoy the rest of it: my favourite stage race. My plann B was ready to watch anyway US Pro but given that Andy will not race it... well... I'm in holyday. 
But I booked for the Worlds: lets hope my rider will be in shape at the end of September!

8.15.2012

Vuelta a España: RSNT line-up and preview

Pic by G.Wattson
This is RSNT press release and how you can see... they are on the good way for another best time award. In fact they have at least three leaders doing each one his own race, five helpers free to play their cards in stages and a sprinter warmly invited to sprint at his top. Now: Daniele Bennati needs a train to win, he told that many times. And in the mountains RSNT leaders will meet some very motivated guys with very strong teams devoted to them. Best Team award isn't bad we would simply  like to see that team working as a team sometimes and not like a summ of good individualities trying to put themselves in the best spot available in the final GC. Well... good luck!
RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK will participate in the Tour of Spain with an ambitious team. Daniele Bennati, Jan Bakelants, Laurent Didier, Linus Gerdemann, Markel Irizar, Tiago Machado, Maxime Monfort, Greg Rast and Hayden Roulston will be directed by José Azevedo and Luca Guercilena.
Azevedo: "We bring a diverse team to the start. Monfort, Gerdemann and Machado are our three GC riders and we will try to bring them in the best possible position to defend their overall ambitions. Maxime is very motivated for the Vuelta and with his 6th place overall in 2011, he proved to be a strong Grand Tour racer. He took a large break after the Tour, in order to be fresh both physically and mentally. With 11 altitude finishes the route will suit Tiago Machado very well too. Tiago is ready for this race. The Vuelta has been his goal for the whole season and he is confident. The key stages for him - and for everyone else - will be the Asturian stages. Gerdemann, finally, came out of the Eneco Tour with very good feelings. He was at the front in every stage and that is always a good sign."
"Our three GC riders will be surrounded by a nice group of helpers with Bakelants, Didier, Irizar, Rast and Roulston. These five riders will at times be allowed to defend their chances as well and fight for stage wins. Especially Jan Bakelants is an expert at that. He has been very close to victory in every Grand Tour he has ridden."
"In theory six out of the 21 stages can conclude in a bunch sprint. Our Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati has already won five stages in the Tour of Spain in the past. We hope to see him knit on a sixth one somewhere between Pamplona and Madrid!"

8.14.2012

Clasica San Sebastian LL Sanchez grabs the victory

Pic by Renaat Schotte @wielerman
Breaks on breaks, attacks on attacks in today Clasica San Sebastian: from the green of  Jaizkibel mountain - climbed twice - to the breathtaking blue beauty of Bahia de la Concha.
Many big names in the peloton: Henao, Uran, Porte, Valverde, Ulissi, Zubeldia, Rodriguez amongh the others and Vinokurov with Olypic circles on his jersey.  
Finally in a messy crazy final LL Sanchez put down the decisive move. Porte made the more serious try to follow but in vain. 
Behinde the fight was just for the group sprint.
Watch last km here:  http://www.sporza.be/cm/sporza/videozone/MG_sportnieuws/MG_wielrennen/1.1402590?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it
RESULTS
1. LL Sanchez (Rabobank)
2. Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) 
3. Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) 
4. Le Mevel 
5. Mollema
BDW
Bauke Mollema spotted in front: looking forward the Vuelta!

8.13.2012

Tour of Utha summ up

Wilko Kelderman :)
In spite of some evidences I keep thinking that Eneco Tour is a more serious race than Tour of Utha. According with some other evidences too. Who is Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski for istance? He was the best young rider there and I'm sure he is because he beated Ian Boswell – ok! - but also George Bennett and Wilco Kelderman. The last two guys I know, and you know them also I guess. They are good, Kelderman especially. But they are also very young, those kind of riders you friendly check in the finish order and say: "A top ten, wow! Sign down that name: it's the furure coming!" About them teams use to tell in press release "We are not going to put any pressure on him". Too fair. In fact they also use to send them to race in small races. Like... mhm... Tour of Utha?
This race is an important race in the States and American races became as important in the UCI calendar as American sponsors are important for cycling teams. Radio Shack is obviously interested in a good result in the USA given that in Europe we can even go so far to apreciate it as a sponsor but have no way to enter their shops and give them back some money. Teams like RSNT, and Garmin, but also BMC and of course the continental USA teams do those kind of races. Other teams, like Rabobank or Liquigas send there young riders and that's why Tour of Utha is interesting. By the way: who is Leopold Koenig? We will discover soon – maybe - as a matter of fact he behaved well in Utha.
That race is a serious target for US riders like Leipheimer, Horner, Vande Velde and very serious one for riders like Rory Sutherland or even Thomas Danielson – in better company in the previous years but now back to the continental level I see. Leipheimer won a stage but finished 6th, just in front of Horner... who won nothing. The two Old Dogs of US cycling achieved few but I expect them both in Colorado. Still bad Tyler Farrar, only a 3th place and not against Cavendish or Greipel.
RSNT won again a team GC [!].
Rabobank Matthews won a stage and the Sprint Jersey, the team was also 2nd in the TTT and put Kruijswijk on the podium in stage 6th. In a season landscape summ up disappointing those are quite good results. But I think that the Dutch team is going through a renewal phase and must be patient: young talents are coming in age, old champions are ending their career. It's just matter of time and Rabobank will be at the top again... if it will manage to keep his pupils.
BMC won the Tour. Of Utha. Tschopp I know from many and many break-aways in many many races. Nice to see him up there. He is the one who denied Gilberto Simoni his last kom victory before the retirement, in Giro 2011. Stubborn Swiss guy! This victory is not going to change his life but still it's a good one. Especially for his team: not very brilliant in 2012.
I must add that I didn't see a single meter of this race because it was too late and too far. Of course I am going to watch Tour of Colorado and will not miss a single meter of it... but you know, that's a completely different story...
RESULTS
Stage 1
1 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 5:25:41
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
Stage 2 TTT
1 Garmin 
2 Rabobank
3 RSNT
Stage 3 
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team 3:24:07
2 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
3 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
4 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Stage 4 
1 Jacobe Keough (Usa) Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling Team 4:47:06
2 Marco Benfatto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Tyler Farrar (Usa) Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
Stage 5 
1 Johann Tschopp (Sui) BMC Racing Team 4:18:20
2 Leopold Koenig (Cze) Team Netapp 0:00:43
3 Joseph Dombrowski (Usa) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:00:47
Stage 6 
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 3:06:54
2 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:49
3 Leopold Koenig (Cze) Team NetApp
4 Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team
5 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp
6 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
7 Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
8 Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
9 Lucas Euser (USA) Team Spidertech p/b C10
10 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
Final GC
1 Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team
21:26:32
2 Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:43
3 Leopold Koenig (Cze) Team NetApp 0:00:49
4 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:00:58
5 Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:01:03
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:08
7 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 0:01:19
8 Lucas Euser (USA) Team Spidertech p/b C10 0:01:21
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:29
10 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:01:31
11Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:01:32
12 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:02:56
13 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:03:13
14 George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan 0:04:08
15 Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (Col) EPM - Une 0:06:04
16 Chris Butler (USA) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 0:06:22
17 Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Competitive Cyclist Racing Team 0:06:39
18 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:06:56
19 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:07:10
20 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
Jerseys
Sprint Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
KOM Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
Youth
1 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team 21:27:30
2 Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:00:05
3 George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan 0:03:10
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:05:58
Team RSNT