July 19, 2008

Oscar wild on Stage 14

Rabobank's Oscar Freire extended his lead in the green jersey race in the sweetest way possible, with a stage win at Digne les Bains.

A late climb marooned 4-stage winner Mark Cavendish in a 2nd group, so his Team Columbia worked instead for Kim Kirchen, but to no avail. Erik Zabel was well-placed, following Marcus Burghardt into the final 300 meters, but when Freire got his cranks turning, he easily outdistanced Zabel and Leonardo Duque for his 4th career stage victory.

Freire extended his green jersey lead, as Thor Hushovd could manage only 10th on the day.

Stage 14 Top 10:
1. Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, in 4:13:08
2. Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, Colombia, same time
3. Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
4. Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle, New Zealand, s.t.
5. Steven de Jongh, QuickStep, Netherlands, s.t.
6. Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
7. Ruben Perez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, s.t.
8. Jerome Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, France, s.t.
9. Matteo Tossato, QuickStep, Italy, s.t.
10. Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.

Overall standings are, once again, unchanged. That will probably change tomorrow.

General Classification, after Stage 13:
1. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, in 59:01:55
2. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ :01
3. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ :38
4. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Germany, @ :46
5. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ :57
6. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Span, @ 1:28
7. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 1:56
8. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, Russia, @ 2:32
9. Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 3:51
10. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, @ 4:18

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2008 in 2008 Stage 14, Erik Zabel, Julian Dean, Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2008

Manx cat pounces again: Cavendish takes 4th stage win

Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish continues to dominate the sprints of this year's Tour, today riding away from the field to take his 4th stage win of the 2008 Tour.

It was clearly a day for the sprinters, but former French champion Florent Brard and Milram's Belgian track star Niki Terpstra spent most of the day in a breakaway that took top points at all the day's intermediate climbs and sprints.

Milram, Liquigas and Columbia powered the peloton in the final kilometers, but the orderly leadout trains tangled up in the last 1000 meters, leaving a classic field sprint.

Silence-Lotto's Robbie McEwen, who has been largely invisible so far this year, marked the Manxman's wheel in the final 200 meters, but just couldn't ramp up the horsepower to get by Cavendish. It's the 6th career stage win for Cavendish, just 22.

Top 10, Stage 13:
1. Mark Cavendish, Columbia, Great Britain, in 4:25:42
2. Robbie McEwen, Silence-Lotto, Australia, same time
3. Romain Feillu, Agritubel, France, s.t.
4. Heinrich Haussler, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
5. Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, s.t.
6. Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
7. Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, Colombia, s.t.
8. Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
9. Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle, New Zealand, s.t.
10. Sebastian Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.

Freire will extend his gap on Thor Hushovd in the green jersey race, while Cavendish moves into a tie with Hushovd at 2nd.

Niki Terpstra takes the aggressive rider red number for today's stage.

The overall is unchanged, as well.

General Classification, after Stage 13:
1. Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, in 56:48:47
2. Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, Luxembourg, @ :01
3. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ :38
4. Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner, Germany, @ :46
5. Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ :57
6. Carlos Sastre, CSC-Saxo Bank, Span, @ 1:28
7. Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ 1:56
8. Vladimir Efimkin, AG2R-La Mondiale, Russia, @ 2:32
9. Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ 3:51
10. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, @ 4:18

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2008 in 2008 Stage 13, Erik Zabel, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Romain Feillu, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2008

Cavendish makes good on Stage 5

Legendary Tour de France commentator Joe Namath once said, “It's not bragging if you can do it.”

That's the motto for today's stage, the first (but doubtful the last) won by Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish.

Everybody and his brother thought today was a stage for Mark Cavendish. Team manager Bob Stapleton was even talking about whether his Team Columbia would be able to get help chasing down the breaks today.

It's insanely difficult for a sprinter to pick his stage -- it's so easy for someone to grab his wheel, and slingshot by for the win at the line. But Cavendish delivered the win in a finish complicated by the catch, at 50 meters (!) of French champion Nicolas Vogondy, who spent all day in the break.

Stage 5 results
1) Mark Cavendish, Columbia, Great Britain
2) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, same time
3) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
4) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, s.t.
5) Baden Cooke, Barloworld, Australia, s.t.
6) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, s.t.
7) Leonardo “El” Duque, Cofidis, Colombia, s.t
8) Robbie McEwen, Silence-Lotto, Australia, s.t.
9) Francesco Chicchi, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
10) Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle, New Zealand, s.t.

There was essentially no change in the yellow, white, or polka-dot jersey competition, but Thor Hushovd takes over the green with his 4th on the stage.

General Classification after Stage 5
1) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany, in 19:32:33
2) Kim Kirchen, Columbia, Luxembourg, @ :12
3) David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle, Great Britain, @ :12
4) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, Australia, @ :21
5) Fabian Cancellara, CSC-Saxo Bank, Switzerland, @ :33
6) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle, USA, @ :37
7) Georgie Hincapie, Team Columbia, USA, @ :41
8) Thomas Lövkvist, Team Columbia, Sweden, @ :47
9) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, Italy, @ :58
10) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 1:01

Out of the race today was Maurcio Soler of Barloworld. Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler took a serious spill with less than 4 kms to ride, but finished the stage 6:30 behind Cavendish.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2008 in 2008 Stage 5, Baden Cooke, Erik Zabel, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 05, 2008

Valverde makes a statement in Stage 1

Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde showed tremendous power in closing down late attacks by Kim Kirchen and Stefan Schumacher and smoking to the first stage victory and overall leadership.

Stage 1 Results and Overall Classification (updated)
1) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne
2) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, @ :01
3) Jerome Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, s.t.
4) Kim Kirchen, Team Columbia, s.t.
5) Riccardo Ricco, Saunier Duval-Scott, s.t.
6) Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto, s.t.
7) Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank, s.t.
8) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, s.t.
9) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.

It's the first day in yellow for Valverde, in his 4th Tour. He also leads the green jersey competition, which Philippe Gilbert will wear tomorrow. Valverde made time on all the contenders, from 1 second on Evans, 7 on Sastre and Menchov, up to 3:04 on Mauricio Soler, who crashed late in the stage.

Thomas Voeckler takes the first King of the Mountains jersey, by finishing ahead of Bjorn Schroeder, with whom he's tied on points.

Riccardo Ricco is the first leader of the white jersey competition.

Lillian Jegou was awarded the red most combative race numbers for tomorrow.

First lanterne rouge is Aleksandr Kuschynski of Liquigas, 4:56 back.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2008 in Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Oscar Freire, Oscar Pereiro, Riccardo Ricco, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2007

Stage 6: Boonen gets his groove back

Tom Boonen's reputation was suffering in this year's Tour, as he finished second to his leadout man Gert Steegmans in Stage 2, and couldn't quite close the deal in the other field sprints. With Thor Hushovd and Robbie McEwen nursing injuries, today was the last opportunity for Boonen to take a stage win until Wednesday's Stage 10.

In an all-hands sprint into Bourg-en-Bresse, Boonen outkicked Rabobank's Oscar Freire and yesterday's green jersey, Erik Zabel, to retake the green jersey. Barloworld's Robbie Hunter jumped a little too soon, and '07 Tour sprint revelation Romain Feilleu was coming on strong at the line after waiting too long, but Boonen timed it just right.

Only two riders left the shelter of the peloton today. Bradley Wiggins of Cofidis attacked after 2 kilometers and rode alone for 190 kilometers/115 miles, and at one point was the virtual race leader with a 17:00 gap to the field. Andrey Grivko of Milram briefly tried to join Wiggins, but quickly returned to the pack. It was clear that the sprinters had marked this stage on their race bible, as they pulled Wiggins back within 2 minutes and let him dangle, finally making the capture with only 7 kilometers/4.5 miles to ride.

Top 15 (all same time)
1) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium
2) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain
3) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany
4) Sébastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway
6) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy
7) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany
8) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa
9) Romain Feillu, Agritubel, France
10) Murilo Fischer, Liquigas, Brazil
11) Francisco Ventoso, Saunier Duval, Spain
12) Jérôme Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, France
13) Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto, Australia
14) Danilo Napolitano, Lampre, Italy
15) Geraint Thomas, Barloworld, Great Britain

Boonen retakes the green jersey.

In the overall, Freire gains enough bonus time to move ahead of George Hincapie, up into 5th overall. Gusev holds white, Chavanel holds the polka-dots, and Brad Wiggins gets the red race numbers (“most combative rider”) for tomorrow. A lot of riders on the list below won't be on the list below tomorrow night.

Overall standings after Stage 6:
1) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland, in 29:49:55
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at :33
3) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, at :35
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval, Great Britain, at :41
5) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, at :43
6) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, at :43
7) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, at :45
8) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at :46
9) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, at :48
10) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at :49

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2007 in 2007 Stage 6, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Filippo Pozzato, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Romain Feillu, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2007

Stage 5: Pozzato powers through, but where's Vino?

Filippo Pozzato was as good as his word Thursday. The Liquigas classics specialist, winner at Milan-San Remo in 2006, told CyclingNews that Stage 5 was right for him, and he followed through with a magnificent sprint through a select group of power riders that survived over a hilly course.

Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis built a healthy lead in the King of the Mountains competition by leading the race over 7 of the day's 8 climbs, in a break with FdJeux's Philippe Gilbert, Credit Agricole's William Bonnet, and break latecomer Gianpaolo Cheula of Barloworld.

Meanwhile, many of the race favorites spent time on the tarmac, most notably Alexandre Vinokourov, who finished 1:21 back on the day after spending almost 25 kilometers/16 miles chasing, first with 6 teammates (all but Klöden and Kashechkin) then behind the team car, and finally with the help of Tom Boonen and other dropped traffic he collected as he made up time. Astana's team competition lead (the yellow race numbers) was lost, as well, and Team CSC takes over the team lead.

As the field came to the finish, 74 riders were together, but most of the marquee sprinters were dropped, including Boonen, McEwen, and Thor Hushovd, so the classics specialists came to the fore, with Zabel and Freire initially looking strong, then Hincapie and Bennati closing them down, before Pozzato came on through the center for the win, less than a foot ahead of Rabobank's Oscar Freire.

Top 20 (all same time):
1) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy
2) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain
3) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy
4) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg
5) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany
6) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA
7) Christian Moreni, Cofidis, Italy
8) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, Germany
9) Bram Tankink, Quick Step, Netherlands
10) Jérôme Pineau, Bouygues Telecom, France
11) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia
12) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland
13) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain
14) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA
15) Fränk Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg
16) Martin Elmiger, AG2R, Switzerland
17) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile, Germany
18) Inigo Landaluze, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain
19) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, T-Mobile, Australia
20) Laurent Lefevre, Bouygues Telecom, France

Once again, Fabian Cancellara did the yellow jersey proud, personally heading the peloton when Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych made a late break, and finishing 12th on a day when many expected him to lose the yellow jersey. As expected there was a heavy shuffle of the overall classification:

Overall standings after Stage 5
1) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland, in 28:56
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, @ :33
3) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, @ :35
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval, Great Britain, @ :41
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, @ :43
6) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, @ :45
7) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, @ :46
8) Mikel Atarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, @ :49
9) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, Netherlands, @ :51
10) Benoît Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, France, @ :52
11) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ :53
12) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ :55
13) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, @ :55
14) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ :55
15) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, @ :55
...
22) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, @ 1:00
23) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, @ 1:00
...
25) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, @ 1:03
...
81) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ 2:10

Zabel, the 6-time winner, is in the green jersey for the first time since 2002. Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis takes the King of the Mountains jersey from teammate Stéphane Augé, and Gusev maintains the lead in the young riders' white jersey competition.

And let's have no more talk of Dave Zabriskie as the Lanterne Rouge, please, as Dave Z finished in a big group @ 11:15 back, and jumps to 178th, 18:24 behind teammate Cancellara. Geoffroy Lequatre, a Cofidis rider who appeared to injure his right arm in a heavy fall and wobbled in 44:04 back, is 45:38 behind Cancellara to lead the Lanterne Rouge standings.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2007 in 2007 Stage 5, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Filippo Pozzato, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Stefan Schumacher, Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Dekker, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 11, 2007

Stage 4: Hushovd holds off Hunter

Thor Hushovd took his 1st victory of the season on Stage 4 of the Toru de France today. Hushovd's teammate Julian Dean provided an incredible leadout to put Hushovd in perfect position to outlast a charging Robbie Hunter at the line.

It was Hushovd's 5th career stage win, at the end of a chaotic sprint, that followed a day-long breakaway by 5 men: Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank, Matthieu Sprick of Bouygues Telecom, Christian Knees of Milram, and Gorko Verduga of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Top 10:
1) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway
2) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, S. Africa, same time
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, s.t.
4) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
5) Danilo Napolitano, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
6) Gert Steegmans, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
7) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
8) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
9) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
10) Mark Cavendish, T-Mobile, Great Britain, s.t.

The stage bonus moves Hushovd up to 2nd in the overall classifcation, and Sylvain Chavanel (brother of 9th place Sebastien Chavanel of FdJeux) collected some time throughout the stage to move up to 6th in the GC.

Caisse d'Epargne's Xabier Zandio was involved in a crash, the 2nd significant crash of the Tour for him, and broke his collarbone. He exited the Tour during today's stage, leaving 186 riders in competition.

GC Top 10:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland
2) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, at :29
3) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at :33
4) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Great Britain, at :41
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, at :43
6) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, at :43
7) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, at :33
8) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, at :45
9) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, at :46
10) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at :46

Tom Boonen holds the green jersey, but still lacks a stage win, while Stéphane Augé holds the King of the Mountains jersey for another day, with some real climbs arriving tomorrow.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2007 in 2007 Stage 4, Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Sylvain Chavanel, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage 4 on the road

A five-man breakaway, including Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis, Matthieu Sprick of Bouygues Telecom, Juan Antonio Flecha of Rabobank, Gorka Verdugo of Euskaltel, and Christian Knees of Milram, is away. Their lead has yo-yoed out to 4 minutes, back almost to 2 minutes, and is gradually extending beyond 3 minutes to 3:15 with about 100 kilometers/63 miles to ride.

With 80 kilometers to ride, the gap is 3:49. I doubt the peloton will let the capture go to the last kilometer today, but this is a high-quality break. Flecha won a stage in 2003 out of a 3-man break.

With 55 kms, the gap is 1:55.

Sylvain Chavanel has been picking up bonus time at the intermediate sprints, and will move up the leaderboard tonight. He's also kept the polka-dot jersey of teammate Stéphane Augé from being attacked over 4 minor climbs, and moved up in the competition himself.

At 33 kilometers, it's 1:37. I don't think the sprinters' teams will wait until the last kilometer today, not after yesterday's surprise attack by Fabian Cancellara.

With 25 kms/16 miles, the gap has fallen under a minute.

At 15 kms/10 miles the leading 5 are almost in site, just 50 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. Predictor-Lotto, Lampre, and Quick Step are leading the chase for their sprinters.

With 10kms/6.2 miles, the gap is only 20 seconds. A few hundred meters later, the break splinters, as Matthieu Sprick attacks. Flecha and Knees match him, and Sylvain Chavanel and Gorka Verdugo are reabsorbed by the peloton. Knees attacks, matched again by Flecha, but the two can't hold out against the field, and with 7 kms to ride, they're captured.

It's a classic sprinters finish, with a wide boulevard to finish, and the teams with a sprint threat all make an appearance on the front of the field in the last kms. Quick Step is the last to drive the field, with around a kilometer to ride, and then, the field fractures into 3-4 little trains, and there's Julian Dean leading the fastest of them, and he pulls off, and Thor Hushovd goes hard for the line, Robbie Hunter closes in, and it's Hushovd at the line! Hunter 2nd, Rabobank's Oscar Freire 3rd.

The best way to follow the stage and the site in real time is to subscribe to my Tour de France Twitter feed, which you can route to your IM client or cell phone. It's also being featured at the Ubilabs Tour de France tracker which brings together heart rate, GPS, and Google Maps data on each stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2007 in 2007 Stage 4, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Sylvain Chavanel, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2007

Stage 2: Steegmans leads self out for win

The story of the day is a late-stage crash, which took out a number of key riders with about 2 kms/1.25 miles to ride. It appeared a Milram rider pulled out of his pedal, slid out on the narrow road, and took a number of riders with him. Yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara went down hard, and riders filtered in for several minutes after the day's winners.

Most of the sprint specialists were positioned in front of the wreckage, including Stage 1 winner Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, and Robbie Hunter. Quick Step had Tom Boonen's leadout underway before the crash, and they followed through almost to perfection. The team asked Steegmans, Boonen's final draft, to stay on the front longer than normal because of a finishing hill. Boonen then had trouble getting around his big Belgian teammate, and Steegmans led Boonen across the line for a Quick Step, and Belgian, 1-2 on the day.

Afterward, Steegmans said if Boonen let him win, “it's the best present I have ever had,” Steegmans said.

“Anyway the important thing is we were first and second. It's my biggest win and at the best possible place and I won my first race as a child just 200m from this finishing line. I was overjoyed at the end.”

Top 10
1) Gert Steegmans, Quick Step-Innergetic, Belgium
2) Tom Boonen, Quick Step-Innergetic, Belgium, same time
3) Fillippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
4) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa, s.t.
5) Romain Feillu, Agritubel, France, s.t.
6) Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, s.t.
7) Erik Zabel, Team Milram, Germany, s.t.
8) Heinrich Haussler, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
9) Oscar Freire, Spain, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, s.t.

UCI rules neutralize the effect of late crashes by giving everyone held up by the crash the same time as the winner, so there's no significant change in the overall standings.

Overall standings after Stage 2:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland
2) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany
3) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Great Britain
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA
5) Bradley Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain

Boonen takes over the green jersey and moves up to 7th in the GC based on bonus time awarded for his 2nd on the stage.

The Guardian reports that Cancellara's wrist is a “minor injury,” but that Lampre's Daniele Bennati was taken to a local hospital after injuring his hip in the crash. Over at ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.), Cathy Mehl reports George Hincapie appears to be all right after lacerating his knee in the crash, and Tomas Vaitkus may have broken his thumb.

Also:

SportingLife.com | Steegmans prevails as crash mars finish

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2007 in Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Romain Feillu, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 08, 2007

Stage 1: Rapid Robbie scratches for the win

Struck from behind while waiting for a crash to clear with about 20 kms/12.5 miles to ride, Robbie McEwen went over the bars, injuring his wrist. Adding insult, he then had to organize a chase to get back to the peloton, and only hooked back up with less than 5 miles to ride.

But it apparently takes more than that to slow the fastest man on two wheels, who struck like lightning in the stage's last 200 meters, whipping the other sprinters' Canterbury tails. From at least 10 places back, McEwen catapulted past Tom Boonen and Thor Hushovd and won with a bike length to spare.

It was McEwen's 12th career Tour stage win, ahead of Thor Hushovd and Tom Boonen.

Top 10:
1) Robbie McEwen, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, 4:39:01
2) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, same time
3) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, Belgium, s.t.
4) Sebastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
3) Romain Feillu, Agritubel, France, s.t.
6) Robert Förster, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
7) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, s.t.
8) Marcus Burghardt, T-Mobile, Germany, s.t.
9) Francisco Ventoso, Saunier Duval-Prodir, s.t.
10) Tomas Vaitkus, Discovery Channel, Lithuania, s.t.

McEwen said he landed on his knee, hand, and wrist in the fall. “At first, I couldn't bend my leg,” he said. “The guys rode like a team time trial to get me back in the bunch” for 13 or 15 kilometers, finally catching up in the last 5 miles of the stage.

McEwen takes over the green jersey, David Millar takes the cheap King of the Mountains, and Vladimir Gusev holds the white jersey.

Overall standings after Stage 1:
1) Fabian Cancellara, Team CSC, Switzerland 4:47:51
2) Andreas Kloden, Astana, Germany, @ :13
3) David Millar, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Great Britain, @ :21
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, USA, @ :23
5) Brad Wiggins, Cofidis, Great Britain, @ :23
6) Vladimir Gusev, Discovery Channel, Russia, @ :25
7) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, @ :26
8) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, @ :29
9) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, @ :30
10) Thomas Dekker, Rabobank, Netherlands, @ :31

There are 188 riders left, after Eduardo Gonzalo of Agritubel crashed through the rear window of a Caisse d'Epargne team car, and had to leave the race.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2007 in Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Romain Feillu, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (7)

June 14, 2007

Rabobank announce Tour squad

Cyclingpost.com | Rabobank ready for Tour de France

CyclingPost.com reports that Rabobank has named its final Tour squad:

    Rabobank Tour squad:
  • Michael Boogerd (Netherlands)
  • Thomas Dekker (Netherlands)
  • Bram de Groot (Netherlands)
  • Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain)
  • Oscar Freire (Spain)
  • Denis Menchov (Russia)
  • Grischa Niermann (Germany)
  • Michael Rasmussen (Denmark)
  • Pieter Weening (Netherlands)
Alternates are Spain's Pedro Horrillo and Koos Moerenhout of the Netherlands.

Menchov is the team's GC threat, and was best young rider of the Tour in 2003. Rasmussen won the king of the mountains competition in 2005 and 2006. Six Rabobank riders have won Tour stages: Boogerd, Flecha, Freire, Menchov, Rasmussen, and Weening.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2007 in 2007 team rosters, Denis Menchov, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Freire, Thomas Dekker, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 07, 2006

Freire to skip worlds

BBC Sport | Injury-hit Freire to miss worlds

Three-time world road champion Oscar Freire won't become the first four-time world champion in Salzburg this month.

Freire pulled out of the Tour of Poland yesterday, complaining of a continuing neck injury. He's ending his season immediately.

Posted by Frank Steele on September 7, 2006 in Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 26, 2006

It's Vuelta time

It's time to kick off the year's 3rd grand tour, and it feels more like the 15th round of a prizefight.

Even though all riders passed their pre-Vuelta blood screens, one rider will miss the start over doping concerns. Saunier Duval-Prodir has dropped their Vuelta leader Koldo Gil on a belief that he's implicated in Operación Puerto. It apparently results from his days with Manolo Saiz and Liberty Seguros, but Saunier Duval's Joxean Fernandez told AS (in Spanish) “we don't want to take any risks over a potential problem that has nothing to do with us.” Gil rode strongly at the Tour of Switzerland, coming second to Jan Ullrich.

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, back from a broken collarbone at the Tour de France, is the race favorite, with Tour winner-in-waiting Oscar Pereiro as his superdomestique.

CSC's Carlos Sastre has never met a grand tour he didn't like, as he takes the start of his 5th consecutive GT, last missing the 2005 Giro.

Conversely, Alexandre Vinokourov wasn't allowed to start the Tour in July, but Astana (who has signed to use BMC's funky Swiss carbon-fiber frames now that Phonak is leaving the sport) will have a full squad backing Vinokourov in the Vuelta, while wrangling continues over the future of the team's ProTour license and management.

Best hope for the United States is Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, riding his first GT as the undisputed team leader. Danielson, 28, talked with Andrew Hood of VeloNews about his Vuelta hopes.

Milram's Alessandro Petacchi is back to racing, but poormouthing his Vuelta chances, tapping teammate Erik Zabel for the sprinter's jersey. Robbie McEwen looks to join Petacchi as the 4th rider to win multiple stages of all 3 GTs in a single year -- Petacchi in 2003 as well as Miguel Poblet in 1956 and Pierino Baffi in 1958 are the others.

Reigning Vuelta champ Denis Menchov, who won the race when Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO and was stripped of the title, says the Vuelta was his “secondary objective” behind the Tour, and he doesn't “feel as sharp and this affects you physically as well.” Menchov's Rabobank squad won't be distracted trying to set Oscar Freire up for wins, as Freire pulled out earlier this week, citing a neck injury.

The TV coverage is debuting a “seatpost camera,” that will mimic the rear-facing cameras used in NASCAR, and rotate among riders daily. Also new will be in-car cameras for interviews with team directors. On the other hand, the Vuelta will dispense with publishing heart rate monitor data, since most teams wouldn't allow their key riders' data to be published. In the US, to see the coverage, you'll have to subscribe to Cycling.TV's web streaming feed.

Resources:

Vuelta a España official site | (in English) | (in Spanish) | (in French)

cycling4all.com | Vuelta a España 2006 start list

Previews: CyclingNews | Cycloblog

Posted by Frank Steele on August 26, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 16, 2006

Tour Salad: Stage 13

The Tour is all about shifting on-the-road alliances, and Landis may have burned some bridges on that front on Saturday.

Bobby Julich's diary entry at ESPN.com discusses this: He thinks Phonak not making a limited effort to help Rabobank chase once the stage was won was “a bad P.R. move,” although he still picks Landis to win the overall.

Rabobank's Denis Mencov warming up Maybe Phonak's refusal to ride tempo with Rabobank results from a rumor making the rounds that Oscar Freire was more than just tired at the end of Stage 12. CyclingNews mentions it in a quick interview with Alessandro Ballan, who finished 2nd Friday when Oscar Freire sat on his wheel as Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych attacked several times and took the stage win. The rumor says Discovery and Rabobank, whose director Erik Breukink is a former teammate of Discovery director Johan Bruyneel, agreed that Freire wouldn't contest Friday's stage, and that Discovery would help Rabobank out in the Alps, where they'll be looking to put Denis Menchov in yellow and possibly Michael Rasmussen in the climber's jersey.

I'm not sure Popovych wouldn't have won that stage straight up: It reminded me of his powerful attack over Clocktower Hill in Rome at the Tour de Georgia this year.

Martin Dugard notes another team that was frustrated with Phonak's performance Saturday: Davitamon-Lotto, whose Cadel Evans suggested “I'm not sure he gave it away on purpose,” and whose Robbie McEwen was still whining over having to chase down Hushovd and Bennati when they got in a break on Friday. And Sherwen and Liggett suggested AG2R was unhappy that Phonak allowed another rider to leapfrog Christophe Moreau (and Cyril Dessel, I suppose). Not unhappy enough to come to the front and work, but, you know, unhappy.

Favorite headline on Stage 13 is probably at Daily Peloton, where Dave Shields calls Phonak's strategy “The Brilliantly Executed Fumble.”

Hincapie at PrologueAn article in the Sunday Herald suggests Lance Armstrong, visiting the Tour tomorrow, may use whatever influence he has left in the peloton against Landis, who author Jeremy Whittle says discussed and refused an offer to return to Discovery Channel next year.

Podium Cafe looks at why Hincapie is having a rough Tour: You can, apparently, be too thin. In a story from the Gannett News Service, George's brother Rich says Hincapie arrived for the Tour down around 155 pounds, against his usual 175 (Hincapie is 6'3“ tall), and is having trouble eating enough to keep up with the Tour's demands.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Tour de France 2006, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 15, 2006

Voigt wins Stage 13; Landis hands Pereiro yellow jersey

Floyd Landis gave his current Phonak teammates an easy day and former teammate Oscar Pereiro some time in the race leader's yellow jersey.

The move by Phonak is at once an expression of confidence in Landis and of concern at the team's strength, as Landis can now look to Pereiro's Caisse d'Epargne team to help pacing the peloton for the next few days.

Jens Voigt, who gave away a stage at the Giro in May, took his second career Tour stage win after a very long break on the Tour's longest day, 230 kilometers. Pereiro was 2nd, followed by Sylvain Chavanel and Manuel Quinziato.

Voigt also pulled off a minor miracle, being named the day's “Most Agressive Rider” after being in a break with a Frenchman, Chavanel. That's a consolation prize that usually goes to the home team, but Voigt has been agressive all week, and deserves those red bib numbers.

Robbie McEwen led in the field sprint ahead of Bernhard Eisel and Tom Boonen. He's got a 30-point lead in the green jersey competition, 252 to Boonen's 222 to Freire's 207.

The stage also catapulted CSC into the lead in the team category, 15:53 ahead of Caisse d'Epargne, and 22:05 up on previous leader T-Mobile.

Reaction around the web varied; my favorite was probably Strange days in Montélimar from Men (in tights), who suggested 4 lessons from Saturday's stage:

  1. Don't play poker with ex-mennenite cyclists.
  2. Don't let Oscar in a break when he's wearing his angry red socks.
  3. Don't ever pick a break with Jens.
  4. Don't look directly at Boogards teeth.

As for me, I'm down with it, but I was also touting Savoldelli as Discovery's GC threat after the Stage 7 time trial.

Top 10:
1) Jens Voigt, CSC, Germany
2) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, same time
3) Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis, France, at :40
4) Manuel Quinziato, Liquigas, Italy, same time
5) Andriy Grivko, Milram, Ukraine, at 6:24
6) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, at 29:57
7) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, same time
8) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, Belgium, s.t.
9) Carlos da Cruz, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
10) Arnaud Coyot, Cofidis, France, s.t.
Full results

Overall:
1) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain
2) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, at 1:29
3) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 1:37
4) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 2:30
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 2:46
6) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:21
7) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 3:58
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 4:51
9) Juan Miguel Mercado, Agritubel, Spain, at 5:02
10) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 5:13
Full standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 15, 2006 in Jens Voigt, Oscar Freire, Oscar Pereiro, Stage results, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 14, 2006

Popovych outsmarts the sprinters

When Johan Bruyneel threw in the towel for Discovery Channel's overall hopes yesterday, he said the team would concentrate on stage wins.

That's exactly what they did today, getting George Hincapie and then Yaroslav Popovych into breaks, and Popovych cracked two top-rank sprinters to take the stage.

Riding along with Lampre's Allesandro Ballan and Rabobank's Oscar Freire, Popovych attacked 4 times, dropping Credit Agricole's Christophe Le Mevel but not the two danger men. Ballan and Freire reeled him in every time, but more slowly after each attack, and when Popovych launched a 5th attack, the two sprinters watched him go.

Popovych moves back up into the top 10 overall.

Top 10:
1) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine
2) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, Italy, at :27
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, Spain, at :29
4) Christophe Le Mevel, Credit Agricole, France, at :35
5) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, Belgium, at 4:25
6) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 4:25
7) Francisco Ventoso, Saunier Duval, at 4:25
8) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, at 4:25
9) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, Italy, at 4:25
10) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at 4:25

Overall:
1) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA,
2) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at :08
3) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 1:01
4) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 1:17
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:52
6) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 2:29
7) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 3:22
8) Juan Miguel Mercado, Agritubel, Spain, at 3:33
9) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 3:44
10) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, at 4:15

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2006 in Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (7)

July 07, 2006

McEwen launched to third stage win

Tom Boonen was denied again, as Gert Steegmans launched Robbie McEwen like a booster rocket today straight up to his 3rd stage.

Boonen was in perfect position for the sprint, trailing a couple of leading teammates coming up the left side of the road, with the field stretching out behind him. But the field sprint launched before he did, swamping Boonen and holding him against the rail, so that by the time he kicked hard, he had to work through traffic to finish 3rd.

Boonen retains the yellow jersey, but honestly might just as soon be rid of it, and he will be tomorrow night. Tomorrow is the first long time trial of the Tour, where we'll finally separate the pretenders and contenders. I think that will make for better organized sprints on Sunday and Tuesday (rest day Monday), as it's likely one team will be defending the yellow jersey, and others trying to set up the sprint, instead of QuickStep doing both, as we've had the last couple of days.

Wednesday, the race hits the mountains.

Top 10:
1) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto
2) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, same time
3) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, s.t.
4) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
6) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
7) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
8) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, s.t.
9) Gert Steegmans, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
10) Inaki Isasi, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
Full Stage 6 results

Overall:
1) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, in 29:21:00
2) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, at :12
3) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :21
4) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, at :25
5) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :25
6) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at :27
7) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :35
8) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :36
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at :37
10) Sergei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :37
Full GC standings

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 06, 2006

Freire fastest on 5; Boonen holds yellow

Rabobank's former world champion Oscar Freire launched a perfect sprint to win the Tour's Stage 5. Freire uncoiled from about 12th place in the field at about 250 meters to go, put on an incredible burst of speed up the right side of the road, then just kept his head down to the line, as current world champion Tom Boonen couldn't close him down.

Euskaltel-Euskadi's Inaki Isasi takes 3rd, for what must be Euskaltel's earliest stage podium in a recent Tour. Usually, you only see them pacing crashes and flats back into the field until the mountains start.

Boonen pads his lead, by virtue of the 12 bonus seconds for 2nd. A few other GC changes, as misfortune claims Egoi Martinez, and Freire powered to the podium, sitting 3rd, for now.

Dollars to donuts Dumoulin will be the most combative rider, by virtue of being a Frenchman in a suicide break.

Top 10:
1) Oscar Freire, Rabobank
2) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, same time
3) Inaki Isasi, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
4) David Kopp, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
5) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, s.t.
6) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.
7) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
8) Francisco Ventoso, Saunier Duval, s.t.
9) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.

GC
1) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, in 25:10:51
2) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :13
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, at :17
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :17
5) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at :19
6) Robbie Mcewen, Davitamon-Lotto, at :24
7) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :27
8) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :28
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at :29
10) Sergei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :29

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 04, 2006

Tour Salad: Stage 3

rec.bicycles.racing | The Millar Line Explained

On rec.bicycles.racing, Ryan Cousineau is keeping track of the “Millar Line:” since Saunier Duval's David Millar is so loudly proclaiming that he's clean, anyone who finishes before him in a flat stage must therefore be doping, right?

Sprinters are excepted, by decree. There's some very funny stuff in the related threads.

Today, not so good: Millar Line Stage 3: They're all Guilty.

Also from rec.bicycles.racing, here's Bob Martin's summary for Stage 3. Michael Rogers isn't a complete slouch in the mountains. He may make things interesting.

Near the finish on Flickr: Kessler, Boogerd, Boonen, Freire, Bennati, then Totschnig (maybe Wegmann) and Rogers.

Oskar van Rijswijk is back! He had closed down his weblog for June, but he'll be joining the party now. Oskar's got a very complete list of Tour and ProTour links that he's currently updating.

PodiumCafe.com offers links to many of the rider diaries from around the web. I try to keep up with these, but it's a low-percentage play -- so many of them get updated before the prologue, and then sit idle for stage after stage. Of the listed diaries, O'Grady's was updated last night (understandable: he has a cracked vertebra), Leipheimer's is post-Prologue, Zabriskie's is from before the Tour, and Backstedt's was written before Stage 2.

Maybe it's a team budget thing, because a notable exception is Discovery Channel, which presumably knows how to run a network: Chris Brewer makes sure they have more than daily updates on their fansite, including daily Liz Kreutz photo galleries (here's today's) at ThePaceline.com (free registration required): Where else can you find out that Discovery sports director Johan Bruyneel got Belgian fritjes (i.e. french fries) delivered to the team car today, Vincent Vega-style.

They've also got daily Disco-centric updates on the team page, and an honest-to-God podcast.

T-Mobile also has an excellent (and linkable -- not all in Flash) site: Andreas Klöden's Tour diary is fresh, and there's an interview with today's winner Matthias Kessler already up: He says he won today “Vino-style.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, David Millar, Georg Totschnig, Links, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kessler gets his stage, Boonen gets his yellow jersey

Matthias Kessler attacked over the Cauberg and kept his lead to the line, avenging his last second loss yesterday, earning T-Mobile probably its first bright spot of the 2006 Tour.

Just 5 seconds behind, world time trial champion Michael Rogers led in a group of strongman sprinters and GC candidates. In 3rd on the day was Lampre's Daniele Bennati, ahead of world champion Tom Boonen, who had made no secret of his intent to take today's stage.

He can take solace in the yellow jersey, the first ever for the 25-year-old world road champion, as Thor Hushovd came in 62nd, at 17 seconds back. He'll wear it in Belgium tomorrow, where he's a huge celebrity. Boonen also takes the lead in the green jersey competition as Robbie McEwen came in 34 seconds back in 89th. Lampre's Daniele Bennati, 4th on the day moves into 2nd in the points competition: Boonen 67, Bennati 66, McEwen 65, Hushovd 62, Zabel 59.

This was a “declare your intentions” day for the GC; if you're not riding for the overall, why break your legs on the Cauberg? Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Carlos Sastre, Paolo Savoldelli, Yarolav Popovych, Jose Azevedeo, Denis Menchov, Andreas Klöden, David Millar, Sergei Honchar, Cadel Evans, and even Gilberto Simoni all made the break to come in 5 seconds behind Kessler.

Bookie favorite Alejandro Valverde crashed and broke his collarbone with about 20 kilometers to ride in an overlap of wheels -- a wide-open Tour de France is even more so this evening. Also out are Freddie Rodriguez and Erik Dekker, who went down together and were taken to a local hospital.

Chris Horner came in 159th on the day, at 8:05. Stuart O'Grady rode in alone after an accident, 11:35 back, and Magnus Backstedt and Filippo Pozzato, 18:36 back, were the day's final finishers.

Top 10:
1) Matthias Kessler, T-Mobile, in 4:57:54
2) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :05
3) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, same time
4) Tom Boonen, QuickStep, s.t.
5) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
6) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, s.t.
7) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
8) Eddy Mazzoleni, T-Mobile, s.t.
9) Georg Totschnig, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
10) Fabian Wegmann, Gerolsteiner, s.t.

General Classification:
1) Tom Boonen, QuickStep
2) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :01
3) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :05
4) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, at :07
5) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :15
6) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, at :15
7) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :16
8) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at :15
9) Sergei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :17
10) Matthias Kessler, T-Mobile, at :17

Posted by Frank Steele on July 4, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Chris Horner, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Filippo Pozzato, Georg Totschnig, Magnus Backstedt, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 02, 2006

Casper the stage, Hincapie in yellow, Hushovd injured in sprint

Race leader Thor Hushovd was taken away in an ambulance at the end of Stage 1 in Strasbourg. It appeared that Hushovd, sprinting right along the right edge of the road, caught a fan's hand-shaped poster, cutting his arm with less than 50 meters to race.

It was a chaotic sprint, and favorite Tom Boonen went too soon, and couldn't go top 10 (cyclingnews.com says Boonen may also have hit a fan). Robbie McEwen switched off wheels from Hushovd to Boonen, and as he does, appeared in the thick of it at the last instant, but he waited a touch too long, and the French got their first stage win of the year: Jimmy Casper of Cofidis, who edged McEwen and Milram's Erik Zabel.

Discovery Channel's George Hincapie takes the race leadership, after a cagey attack for an intermediate sprint that gave him 2 seconds bonus, against the possibility that none of the riders near the top of the GC competition would take bonus time from a top-3 finish on the day.

Top 10:
1) Casper, in 4:10:00
2) McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, same time
3) Erik Zabel, Milram, s.t.
4) Daniele Bennati, Lampre, s.t.
5) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, s.t.
6) Isaac Galvez, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
7) Stuart O'Grady, CSC, s.t.
8) Bernard Eisel, Française des Jeux, s.t.
9) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, s.t.
10) Oscar Freire, s.t.

General Classification:
1) Hincapie, Discovery Channel
2) Hushovd, at :02
3) David Zabriskie, CSC, at :03
4) Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, at :06
5) Alejandro Valverde, at :06
6) Stuart O'Grady, CSC
7) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :08
8) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :10
9) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :11
10) Benoit Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, at :11

Wegmann takes the first (cheap) mountains jersey, while Vaugrenard, involved in a long break where he took some bonus time, takes the young riders' white jersey.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Dave Zabriskie, Erik Zabel, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

Rabobank finalizes Tour team

CyclingPost.com | Rabobank reveals Tour de France line-up

It will be a double-Dekker squad at the Tour for Rabobank, which will introduce budding superstar Thomas Dekker to the Tour, riding alongside 12-time Tour rider Erik Dekker.

Denis Menchov is showing excellent form, taking the stage to the top of Mont Ventoux during this month's Dauphiné Libéré. He'll have help in the mountains from last year's King of the Mountains, Michael Rasmussen.

There are stage wins all over this team: Erik Dekker has 4, Freire, Boogerd, Rasmussen, Juan Antonio Flecha, Pieter Weening (nipped Klöden on Stage 8 last year); and that doesn't even mention Menchov's Vuelta championship (when Roberto Heras was DQ'ed) or his white jersey at the 2003 Tour.

    Rabobank 2006 Tour de France squad:
  • Denis Menchov
  • Michael Boogerd
  • Erik Dekker
  • Michael Rasmussen
  • Thomas Dekker
  • Oscar Freire
  • Juan Antonio Flecha
  • Pieter Weening
  • Joost Posthuma
    Reserves:
  • Bram de Groot
  • Pedro Horrillo

Posted by Frank Steele on June 18, 2006 in Denis Menchov, Erik Dekker, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Freire, Thomas Dekker, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2006

Freire takes cagey win at Tour de Suisse

Oscar Freire took a shortcut to a stage win on Friday.

Freire survived a 20-rider break that went off around the 50-kilometer mark, along with Matthew White of Discovery Channel. T-Mobile's Michael Rogers and Lampre's Salvatore Commesso were in a six-man group that bridged up shortly later.

Commesso and Rogers went off the front at 12 kilometers to ride, and Freire and White bridged 5 kilometers later, to create a high-quality break, with Commesso notably avoiding any work.

Then, with only about 5 kilometers to ride, and Davitamon-Lotto and QuickStep driving the peloton nearer and nearer, Freire bunny-hopped up onto and across a median as the break took the long way around a divided highway.

By the time the break went right, straight, and back to the left to join the lane Freire had followed, the triple world champion had 5 seconds on the trio, and rode all out to the line. His breakmates were absorbed in the last kilometer, and the peloton was breathing down his neck, but Freire took the win, with just enough time in hand to zip his jersey.

Daniele Bennati, Erik Zabel, and Sebastian Hinault led in the field 3 seconds back.

Sixteen riders exited the race today, with Michael Rasmussen not taking the start, and Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Marco Velo, and Dario Cioni, among others, not finishing. Six Team LPR riders exited, leaving only Mikhaylo Khalilov in the race for the Italian squad, which was apparently hit by il virus intestinale.

There was a gap in the field, so Koldo Gil lost 4 seconds from his lead in the overall.

Current GC:
1) Koldo Gil,Saunier Duval-Prodir, in 33:22:21
2) Jorg Jaksche, Astaná-Würth, at :30
3) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at :50
4) Angel Vicioso, Astaná-Würth, at 2:03
5) Jose Gomez, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 2:15
6) Frank Schleck, Team CSC, at 2:22
7) Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, at 2:36
8) Giampaolo Caruso, Astaná-Würth, at 2:45
9) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile Team, at 3:30
10) Alexandre Botcharov, Credit Agricole, at 3:42

Also:

CyclingNews Stage Summary | Results | Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 16, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Oscar Freire, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 10, 2006

Tour of Switzerland kicks off today

Cycling4all | Tour de Suisse start list

Cycling4All offers a final Tour de Suisse start list. Of course, Jan Ullrich is the biggest Tour GC threat at the race, starting today, but there are a lot of other Tour players involved.

Top sprinters Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen are here, and are the favorites for the Tour's green jersey this year. Thousand-time (okay, six-time) green jersey Erik Zabel is here, as well, leading Team Milram.

Others in competition: Michael Rasmussen, Paolo Bettini, Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, and Bradley McGee.

Web streaming coverage is available from Cycling.TV's premium subscription service, where £19.99, or about $37, gets you a full year of racing. Today and tomorrow, subscribers have both the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de Suisse to choose from.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 10, 2006 in Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

Milan-San Remo wrapup

PezCycling News | Milano-Sanremo 2006: New Prince Crowned in Primavera!

Pozzato's perfect move
Pozzato's perfect move
AP/Antonio Callani
I just finished watching the OLN coverage of Milan-San Remo. What an awesome race. Filippo Pozzato played it exactly right both strategically and tactically. Reading the live text feeds on the web, I couldn't tell whether the Frank Schleck group with Sanchez and Pozzato got swallowed up or not, and now I see why.

The peloton made contact with the six leaders, who were fighting every inch of the way, so instead of the typically engulfing end to the break, the break members stayed out at the tip of the spear. As Milram tried to set up its finishing sprint, coming around the break remnants, Igor Astarloa (the OLN commentators thought it was Rinaldo Nocentini of Acqua e Sapone) just put the hammer down. Pozzato not only caught him, but came around him, charging super hard, and the gap held up. Astarloa wound up 11th.

If you watched the TV coverage, VeloNews fingers Ivan Gutierrez as the Caisse d'Espargne rider trying to wave off the motorcycles -- he thought they were hovering a little too close to Petacchi's chasers, giving the peloton a bit of a draft.

Petacchi was all class in defeat:

"I was in top form, but I didn't have the luck today," Petacchi said. "You need to have the luck to win Milan-San Remo. Our team rode great today and I wanted to pay back their efforts with a victory. But my compliments go to Pozzato. Quick Step worked the tactics perfectly with Pozzato on the wheel and they left the chase up to us."

Top 10:

1) Filippo Pozzato, Quick Step, in 6:29:41

2) Alessandro Petacchi (I), Milram, same time

3) Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, s.t.

4) Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step, s.t.

5) Danilo Napolitano (I), Lampre, s.t.

6) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.

7) Stefano Garzelli, Liquigas, s.t.

8) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.

9) Martin Elmiger, Phonak, s.t.

10) Matteo Carrara, Lampre, s.t.

Also:

VeloNews.com | Pozzato outfoxes favorites to win Milan-San Remo

Daily Peloton | 97th Milan-San Remo Rider Comments

rec.bicycles.racing | What's written on Pozzato's right arm?

VeloNews.com | Full Results

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Igor Astarloa, Milan-San Remo 2006, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

Classics kick off Saturday with Milan-San Remo

IHT.com | Cycling: Sprinters savor the classics

With Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico out of the way, we can look forward to La Primavera, Milan-San Remo, the first classic of the year, running this Saturday in Italy.

It's the longest of the classics, at more than 180 miles and about 7 hours in the saddle. Last year, Alessandro Petacchi finally took his first win in San Remo, ahead of Danilo Hondo (and whatever became of him?) and Thor Hushovd.

In 2004, Erik Zabel timed his sprint perfectly, and looked to have his 5th Milan-San Remo locked up, only to sit up early and lose to Rabobank's Oscar Freire.

Over at the International Herald Tribune, Samuel Abt handicaps the 2006 edition of the race. The obvious favorites are Petacchi and Tom Boonen, both of whom are winning sprints seemingly at will this year. Both of them have some extra baggage, their teammates Zabel (with Petacchi at Milram) and Paolo Bettini (with Boonen at Quick Step), who won the race in 2003.

Bettini is banged up from a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, but told Eurosport he'll definitely be racing on Saturday:

"I'm going to start the race on Saturday and then worry about getting to San Remo," he added on Tuesday ... "My back and my knee still hurts when I stand on the pedals but I'm optimistic things will improve," he said ... "Unfortunately, Milan-San Remo is the longest race of the season. I just hope my back and knee don't hold me back during the final part of the race."

Boonen toured the race finish Monday. If he could win here, he would be just the 5th man to win the race while world champion. Even so, he's my pick.

Also:

cycling4all.com | Milan-San Remo provisional start list

Milan-San Remo Maps and Profiles

Wikipedia.com | Milan-San Remo

CyclingRevealed | History of San Remo: The Beginning | Coppi's Grand Journey

Posted by Frank Steele on March 14, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, Erik Zabel, Milan-San Remo 2006, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2005

Freire doubtful for Vuelta

Eurosport | Freire unlikely for the Vuelta

Like Alejandro Valvderde, Oscar Freire of Rabobank is unlikely to make a start at the Vuelta in late August.

Freire, current world champion, had a gluteal tumor removed in June, and has already missed the Tour while recovering.

He has yet to resume normal training:

"As soon as I can, I'm going to focus on specific training exercises and I hope to take part in a few races in Italy. But for the time being, neither I, nor my team are thinking about making any plans," continued the 29-year-old.

"The world championships are very important for me but it's not any old village race. You've got to turn up in a good condition.

"My situation is as follows: I'm going to have to start preparing myself as if we were in the middle of winter."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 28, 2005 in Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 25, 2005

Di Luca still heads ProTour rankings

UCI ProTour | Results/rankings

Lance Armstrong, who would generally take over the World Cup lead with a strong Tour showing, moves only into 2nd in the new ProTour's post-Tour rankings, trailing Danilo DiLuca by 45 points. Alexandre Vinokourov will move up when Armstrong is removed from the listings: He's third, just 3 points behind Armstrong.

Top 10:

1) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, 184 pts
2) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 139 pts
3) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, 136 pts
4) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 120 pts
5) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 111 pts
6) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, 98 pts
7) Santiago Botero, Phonak, 95 pts
8) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 94 pts
9) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 92 pts
10) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 89 pts

Other Americans in the Top 20 are Levi Leipheimer, 15th at 80 points, and Bobby Julich, 16th at 79.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Bobby Julich, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 22, 2005

Freire sitting pretty: Gluteal tumor removed

procycling | Freire has tumour removed

Three-time world champion Oscar Freire of Rabobank had surgery Tuesday to remove a tumor from his "gluteal area".

ProCycling quotes his doctor:

“It was superficial and not dangerous, and consequently we expect him to return to training in two weeks.”

Freire had a terrific early season before the tumor made itself known, then had to pull out of the Tour de Suisse early. He'll look to return to form in time for the world championships in Madrid in September. He'll also miss the Tour, for the second straight year.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 22, 2005 in Oscar Freire, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

Freire to miss Tour de France

Yahoo! Sport | World champion Freire out of Tour de France

Reigning world champ Oscar Freire of Rabobank will miss the 2005 Tour de France -- and for the same reason he missed last year's race. Cyclingnews.com might describe it best: “a chronic infection in the saddle area.”

Freire, who had a terrific spring campaign, will also pull out of the Tour of Switzerland before tomorrow's stage start.


Posted by Frank Steele on June 15, 2005 in Oscar Freire, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 11, 2005

Tour de Suisse kicks off Saturday

Eurosport | Tour Of Switzerland

Saturday's a big day, as the king stage of the Dauphiné covers 4 major climbs, and the Tour of Switzerland kicks off.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich is the defending Tour de Suisse champion, but Ullrich told cyclingnews.com it's a training ride this year for him.

"Repeating last year's victory is not on my mind, it's all about a measured build-up to the Tour de France," Ullrich said. "I'm convinced that I am a bit further ahead compared to the same time in previous years. I still have about three pounds to lose but that's intended. Now I must race again in order to achieve a fine cross section of fitness. That means I must convert the strength I have into speed."

There may be a stronger field taking the start of the Tour de Suisse than is contesting the Dauphiné, despite the presence of the top American GC threats at the Dauphiné; the Swiss tour includes Ullrich, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire, last year's Dauphiné champion Iban Mayo, Tom Boonen, and Americans Bobby Julich, Freddie Rodriguez, Saul Raisin, Jason McCartney, Guido Trenti, and Chris Horner.

Also:

CyclingNews.com Tour de Suisse preview - map - stage list

The Tour de Suisse official page is available in French or in German.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 11, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Saul Raisin, Tom Boonen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 30, 2005

Di Luca holds ProTour lead

UCI ProTour | Rankings as of 5/29/05

Danilo Di Luca continued to lead the inaugural UCI ProTour competition, ahead of Tom Boonen and Alessandro Petacchi.

Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli leapfrogged into 5th overall with his Giro d'Italia win, while Bobby Julich and George Hincapie, still deadlocked at 75 points, are now tied for 8th in the standings.

Current Top 10:
1) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas-Bianchi, 184 pts
2) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 112 pts
3) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 111 pts
4) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 94 pts
5) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 89 pts
6) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, 86 pts
7) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, 80 pts
8) Bobby Julich, Team CSC, 75 pts
9) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 75 pts
10) Jens Voigt, Team CSC, 72 pts

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Bobby Julich, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

Di Luca takes Flèche Wallonne

VeloNews.com | Flèche Wallonne win gives Di Luca ProTour lead

Danilo Di Luca rode smart and strong to win Flèche Wallonne today.

With CSC strongman Jens Voigt (2nd at last year's Tour de Georgia) whittling down a seven-man break, Di Luca's Liquigas squad, led the peloton in chasing Voigt, who had been with the leaders for 150 km, and spent 40 kms on his own. Voigt was reeled in with 4 kms to ride.

"It was only when we reached the foot of the last climb that I thought of winning," Di Luca finally said. "The strongest riders were all at the front and I knew what I had to do. I made a mistake last year on the steep [19 -percent] turns and I finished second to Rebellin."

Top 5:
1) Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi)
2) Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo)
3) Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
4) David Etxebarria (Alkorta), at :04
5) Oscar Freire (Rabobank), at :04

Di Luca takes the ProTour lead away from Tom Boonen, who he now leads by 19 points.

Also:

Eurosport | Di Luca hits the Wallonne target

Posted by Frank Steele on April 20, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Oscar Freire, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 15, 2005

Amstel Gold previews

cyclingnews.com | Amstel Gold preview: Rebellin back for another crack at gold

BBC Sport | Hincapie targets Amstel triumph

Davide Rebellin is the returning Amstel Gold champ, the first in his 2004 three-run of Amstel, Fleche Wallone, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This season, he was second at the Tour of the Basque Country to Danilo Di Luca, both of whom bear watching on Sunday.

Discovery Channel DS Johan Bruyneel says George Hincapie is good to go:

"George is in great shape, both mentally and physically," said Discovery director Johan Bruyneel.

Other riders to watch include Paolo Bettini, Oscar Freire, and Michael Boogerd. Tom Boonen, who is seemingly winning at will, won't be racing, nor will Peter Van Petegem, who's hurt.

Update: VeloNews has posted a preliminary start list for Amstel Gold.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 15, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 27, 2005

Freire takes Brabantse Pijl; Armstrong back in pack

Eurosport | Freire wins Brabantse Pijl

Oscar Freire continued his strong spring, winning at Brabantse Pijl/Fleche Brabanconne in a breakaway with QuickStep's Marc Lotz and Davitamon's Axel Merckx. Neither Lotz nor Merckx had the finishing kick to sprint with the current world champion after riding away from a group of 15.

Top 10:
1) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 3:38:56
2) Marc Lotz, QuickStep, same time
3) Axel Merckx Davitamon-Lotto, same time
4) Wim Van Huffel, Davitamon-Lotto, at :37
5) Karsten Kroon, Rabobank, same time
6) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, same time
7) Nick Nuyens, QuickStep, same time
8) Simon Gerrans, AG2R, same time
9) Vladimir Gusev, CSC, same time
10) Sébastien Joly, Credit Agricole, same time

Lance Armstrong returned to racing, riding in support of George Hincapie, who got into the lead group, and finished 6th on the day. Next up for Armstrong is Paris-Camembert on Tuesday, then the Tour of Flanders Sunday, where Freire must head the list of favorites.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 27, 2005 in George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 17, 2005

Milan-San Remo previews

procycling | No rainbow jersey at San Remo

When I saw procycling's story, I thought a disaster had befallen last year's Milan-San Remo winner, Oscar Freire, coming off a victory and three stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico, and he wouldn't be riding Saturday.

Turns out, he's been told he can't wear his rainbow jersey, representing his current world championship, because his win at Tirreno-Adriatico vaulted him into the lead of the UCI ProTour competition.

Since the UCI sets the rules, the white jersey awarded to ProTour leaders has precedence over the rainbow (as the rainbow takes precedence over national championship jerseys).

Freire said he has practical reasons he would prefer to wear the rainbow jersey:

“I’d be better wearing the rainbow jersey because people let you pass when you’ve got it on.”

Even the UCI's road racing coordinator admits the situation is "not ideal:"

“Imagine if Freire has a fantastic season and remains leader of the ProTour throughout, then we would never see the world champion’s jersey in the big events all year. The UCI’s management committee has asked us to mull over this issue.”

Also:

cycling4all.com | Milan-San Remo provisional startlist

CyclingNews.com | 96th Milan-San Remo: Five firm favourites

Their picks: Freire, of course; Paolo Bettini, who won in 2003; Erik Zabel, who should be out for blood after blowing last year's race at the line; Alessandro Petacchi, who may not have the gas for a race this long; and Australia's Allan Davis of Liberty Seguros.

PezCycling | Milan-San Remo - A Primer

Daily Peloton | Milan-San Remo - Team News

Posted by Frank Steele on March 17, 2005 in Erik Zabel, Milan-San Remo '05, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

Petacchi takes a 3rd stage, Freire the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico

VeloNews | Petacchi takes another at T-A; Freire wins overall

Alessandro Petacchi took another stage at Tirreno-Adriatico Tuesday, his 3rd stage of the race and 12th victory of the season.

Rabobank's Oscar Freire didn't contest the sprint, and took the overall victory, after winning three consecutive stages himself. Freire becomes the 2nd leader of the UCI's new ProTour competition, bumping Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich.

Mario Cipollini was 2nd on the day, and Gerolsteiner's Danilo Hondo, who has factored in almost every sprint in a sprinter's tour, was 3rd.

The overall top 10:

1. Oscar Freire (Rabobank), 32:37:19
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), at 9 secs
3. Fabrizio Guidi (Phonak), at 25 secs
4. Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner), at 25 secs
5. Laurent Brochard (Bouyges Telecom), at 33 secs
6. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), at 36 secs
7. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Liberty Seguros), at 37 secs
8. Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), at 40 secs
9. Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), at 40 secs
10. Andreas Klier (T-Mobile), at 42 secs

Attention now turns to Sunday, and La Primavera, Milan-San Remo.

Also:

CyclingNews | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 7 photo gallery

Eurosport | Petacchi win in vain as Freire takes Tirreno

Eurosport notes that Robbie McEwen went down in the last 3 kms and finished at the back of the pack.


Posted by Frank Steele on March 15, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

Petacchi takes Tirreno-Adriatico stage, Freire maintains lead

Eurosport | Petacchi holds off Freire

Alessandro Petacchi isn't giving up without a fight at Tirreno-Adriatico. His Fassa Bortolo team did its thing, pulling off rider by rider, then letting Petacchi dance to the line.

Mario Cipollini tried to jump off Petacchi's wheel, while overall leader Oscar Freire looked to outsprint Petacchi on the opposite side of the road. It was not to be, as Petacchi took his 11th victory of the young season, and 2nd of the race.

"Contrary to the first day, this was a much harder sprint," he told Italian television. "It was punctuated by a number of irregularities. Freire launched the proceedings, but he's more at ease in slightly uphill finishes and I came back strongly."

Freire then tapped Petacchi on the arm on a gesture of goodwill between the two hot favourites for Saturday's Milan-San Remo.

Freire was 2nd on the day, Robbie McEwen 3rd, with Cipollini easing off to 7th and Baden Cooke 8th.

With the time bonus, Petacchi moves to within 19 seconds of Freire, with only Tuesday's stage remaining.

Also:

procycling | T-A 6: Petacchi back in the groove

CyclingNews | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 6 photo gallery

RoadCycling.com | Tirreno-Adriatico Results - Stage 6 (and overall standings)

Posted by Frank Steele on March 14, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

Knaven takes Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 5

cyclingnews.com | Knaven smart solo win

In a move reminiscent of his stage win in the 2003 Tour de France, QuickStep's Servais Knaven took shelter in a daylong breakaway, then soloed late to the line to take the day.

Rabobank's Oscar Freire retains the overall race leadership, leading Alessandro Petacchi and Danilo Hondo by 23 seconds with two stages to go.

Along with Knaven, the early escape included Discovery's Pavel Padrnos, CSC's Andrea Peron, Saunier Duval's Marco Pinotti, and Credit Agricole's Christophe Le Mevel.

Also:

The Paceline (free reg. required) | Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage Five - Discovery Channel Team Report


Posted by Frank Steele on March 14, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 12, 2005

Freire, Freire, Freire!

Yahoo! Sport | Fabulous Freire makes it three on Tirreno-Adriatico

It's like everybody is just racing for 2nd at Tirreno-Adriatico this week, as Oscar Freire of Rabobank took his third consecutive stage, outsprinting Danilo Hondo and Fabrizio Guidi.

Freire was "aw-shucks" about the three-peat:

"I didn't go out to win this stage especially, I wasn't even that well positioned for the final sprint. I had to make a special effort to get back to the front."

Also:

Cyclingnews | Tirreno Adriatico Stage 4 photo gallery

Looks like Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico are changing fortunes: The riders in Italy are now the ones riding aside snowdrifts.

cycling4all | Stage results and overall standings

Posted by Frank Steele on March 12, 2005 in Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 11, 2005

Freire holds lead with another sprint win at Tirreno-Adriatico

VeloNews | Freire does it again at Tirreno-Adriatico

Oscar Freire hit a railing in the last kilometer, but sprinted free of the bunch to take a 2nd consecutive stage at Tirreno-Adriatico. As he was yesterday, Laurent Brochard of Bouyges Telecom was 2nd, and Gerolsteiner sprinter Danilo Hondo was third.

Discovery's George Hincapie was 6th.

Freire holds the overall lead, 10 seconds free of Alessandro Petacchi, who was 8th today.

The day's top 10:
1. Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 5:52:07
2. Laurent Brochard, Bouygues Telecom, same time
3. Danilo Hondo, Gerolsteiner, same time
4. Emanuele Sella, Ceramica Panaria, s.t.
5. Mirco Lorenzetto, Domina Vacanze, s.t.
6. George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, s.t.
7. Ruggero Marzoli, Acqua & Sapone, s.t.
8. Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, s.t.
9. Fabian Wegemann, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
10. Fabrizio Guidi, Phonak, s.t.

Also:

Cyclingnews.com | 40th Tirreno-Adriatico photo gallery

Cycling4all | Tirreno-Adriatico results and standings

Posted by Frank Steele on March 11, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Freire takes lead at Tirreno-Adriatico

VeloNews | Freire takes over at Tirreno-Adriatico

Three-time world road champion Oscar Freire of Rabobank took Stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico Thursday, outsprinting fellow former world champ Laurent Brochard and Angel Vicioso in Tivoli.

Discovery Channel's Stijn Devolder was 4th on the day, while Stuart O'Grady was 6th in the field sprint.

You can throw a blanket over a big chunk of the field, as the top 42 are within 10 seconds of each other.

TDFBlog favorite Magnus Backstedt is 19:36 back, in 180th overall.

Full stage and overall standings are available at RoadCycling.com.


Posted by Frank Steele on March 10, 2005 in Magnus Backstedt, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

Tirreno-Adriatico set to kick off

cyclingnews.com | Sprinters galore in 40th Tirreno-Adriatico

If you're wondering where the superstars of racing are, and why they're not at Paris-Nice, it's because they're in sunny Italy, readying for the 2nd race of the ProTour, which kicks off tomorrow in Civitavecchia.

Most of the world's best sprinters are on hand, including both Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi, Stuart O'Grady, Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire, and Paolo Bettini, last year's winner.

We'll get a look at Joseba Beloki, who's back on a Spanish squad with Liberty Seguros, T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden, CSC's Ivan Basso, and Discovery's George Hincapie.

Tirreno-Adriatico runs seven stages, and most of these riders will also contest Milan-San Remo a week from Saturday.

Also:

Cycling4all.com | official startlist

Daily Peloton | Tirreno-Adriatico Preview

Posted by Frank Steele on March 8, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Andreas Klöden, Erik Zabel, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Joseba Beloki, Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tirreno-Adriatico '05 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 22, 2004

Rabobank names Tour squad; T-Mobile's likely lineup

cyclingnews.com | Rabobank names Tour team

Rabobank has announced its Tour de France squad. Likely GC contenders are American Levi Leipheimer and Tour rookie Michael Rasmussen. South Africa's Robert Hunter, coming off two wins in last week's Tour of Switzerland, is the team's reserve.

The full lineup (* denotes a former Tour stage winner):

• Levi Leipheimer
• Michael Rasmussen
• Michael Boogerd (*)
• Erik Dekker (*)
• Marc Wauters (*)
• Karsten Kroon (*)
• Bram de Groot
• Marc Lotz
• Grischa Niermann

Team director Erik Breukink said the loss of Oscar Freire to surgery gives the team one less way of winning:

"For the line up of our team, we have looked at the qualities of Rasmussen, Leipheimer and Boogerd for the mountain stages plus an attacking way of competing in the other stages," said Erik Breukink. "Now that we're missing Freire, unfortunately, we're out for the bunch sprints, but for the other stages we have the qualities."

It's a fairly old team, but also very experienced: 42 Tour starts and 31 (!) finishes.

Cyclingnews also quotes from a Belgian newspaper that T-Mobile's squad is chosen, and will be announced on Friday. Their sources name:

• Jan Ullrich
• Cadel Evans
• Giuseppe Guerini
• Andreas Klöden
• Matthias Kessler
• Daniele Nardello
• Santiago Botero
• Erik Zabel
• Rolf Aldag

It will be interesting to see whether Erik Zabel can make anything happen in this year's Tour; he had a string of 2nd-place finishes early in the season.

Botero just missed the podium in 2002, finishing 4th while riding for Kelme, partly on the strength of a stage victory in the long time trial, where he was the first person since 1999 to beat Armstrong in the Tour's long time trial. He'll be a big motor for T-Mobile in the team time trial, along with Ullrich, of course.

Update 6/23 12:10 a.m.: Cyclingnews now says they may have jumped the gun on the T-Mobile listing, and that Cadel Evans has learned that he's the first reserve, without naming who would take his place.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 22, 2004 in Cadel Evans, Erik Zabel, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Oscar Freire, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2004

VeloNews on Milan-San Remo

VeloNews | Zabel celebrates but Freire wins at Milan-San Remo

Freire was gracious:

"Until you cross the line you can never say you've won," said Freire, "I've waited a long time for this. I've had good form in the past, but I've lost because I didn't have luck. Sometimes you have to have the luck to go with the legs to win the big races."

VeloNews also detailed a crash on the Cipressa that may have affected the outcome:

Disaster struck the animated Team CSC on the twisting descent. Michele Bartoli, riding with a bandana tucked under his helmet in honor of Marco Pantani, spun wide through a corner, clipped a guardrail and fell hard on his right hip. Crashing into him were Rebellin and Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo). All three carried on, but it took Bartoli out of the hunt.

"The plan was for Bartoli to follow Bettini if he attacked on the Poggio," said Team CSC sport director Alain Gallopin. "It's too bad because he was very strong and very motivated for today's race. It's frustrating, but we are optimistic for the upcoming classics because Bartoli was clearly strong."

Postal's Van Heeswijk believed today might be the day after the peloton cleared the Poggio, the last climb of the day:

"I was right on Zabel's wheel and I never felt so strong, so good at Milan-San Remo," said the Dutch rider, who had to settle for fifth. "But I lost his wheel coming through the final two turns. I lost 10 to 12 places and I had to make my sprint from 15th position. I've never felt so good on the Cipressa and Poggio. This just gives me confidence for the classics."

VeloNews also offers a live coverage page, that details the action as it happened.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Milan-San Remo: Zabel blows it at the line

Procycling.com | Milan-San Remo: Zabel's suicide means glory for Freire

T-Mobile's Erik Zabel, a 6-time Tour green jersey winner and 4-time Milan-San Remo winner, made a rookie mistake on Sunday to blow his chance at a first victory this season, throwing his arms up in triumph before crossing the line, and letting Rabobank's Oscar Freire, world champion in 1999 and 2001, nip him on the finish line.

“I can’t believe it,” Zabel said tonight. “I came round Petacchi and was so sure that I’d won. I raised my arms to celebrate. Then I saw Freire under my right shoulder.”

Zabel adds to a string of second-place finishes this year, with Stuart O'Grady of Cofidis third, and Italian super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo relegated to fourth, the first bunch sprint he's lost this year.

Milan-San Remo's length (about 180 miles), and a couple of climbs in the last 20 miles, tend to sap the legs of the specialist sprinters. Mario Cipollini fell off the lead bunch on the penultimate climb, and never rejoined the leaders:

“Mario simply isn’t competitive at the moment,” Cipollini’s team manager Vincenzo Santoni told us. A few metres away the Lion King was keeping his own counsel in the Domina Vacanze team-bus. “At least a ‘campione’ won,” Santoni continued. “Petacchi? It’s one thing to win a sprint after 200km, another thing to do it after nearly 300.”

Other results of note: US Postal's Max van Heeswijk was 5th overall, and George Hincapie of USPS was 13th. Defending Milan-San Remo winner Paolo Bettini, who tried to repeat last year's success with a breakaway attempt on the Poggio, couldn't stay away in a stiff headwind, and finished 8th.


Also:

Bike.com | Freire pips Zabel to claim Milan-San Remo

Bike.com quotes Petacchi:

Petacchi made his move with 100 metres to go and Zabel followed suit before overtaking the "disappointed" Italian, who admitted he may have misjudged his final sprint.

"I lost just like I did at Paris-Tours," said the Italian, who last season became the first ever rider to win at least three stages in all the Tours of Italy, France and Spain.

"I had a great team around me and I've let them down. The Cipressa and Poggio (climbs) were raced at a very fast pace and I think I paid for that in the sprint, where my legs just gave out. "I think I probably attacked too early."

On winner Freire:

Freire is now hoping to maintain his lead in the World Cup - with a view to taking the rainbow jersey from two-time defending champion Bettini.

"Last year the World Cup jersey was my main aim, but I couldn't get near it," said Freire who should compete in all ten races this season except for Paris-Roubaix on April 11.

"This time I hope to be able to maintain my run of results until the end (of the competition). I'm likely to meet Bettini a lot along the way, so it's not going to be easy."

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 16, 2004

Tirreno-Adriatico full results

Roadcycling.com | Tirreno-Adriatico Results - Stage 7

Roadcycling.com has full stage and final standings for Tirreno-Adriatico. Bettini's final margin of victory in the GC was only five seconds over Rabobank's Oscar Freire, with T-Mobile's Erik Zabel 3rd at 11 seconds and two Cofidis riders, Igor Astarloa and Stuart O'Grady rounding out the top five at 18 and 21 seconds.

Zabel was second to Petacchi in the Stage 7 sprint finish, with Saeco's Gabriele Balducci third.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 16, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2004

That's a photo finish


(Click through for photos)

cyclingnews.com | Another notch for Bettini

Paolo Bettini won an incredibly close sprint at Tirreno-Adriatico today to hold on to the race leader's jersey with one stage to race. With the win, Bettini leads Oscar Freire in the GC, but by only 7 seconds. Considering the winner's time bonus for tomorrow's stage, Freire could win the overall by taking the stage and keeping Bettini out of the top three.

Bettini, of the QuickStep-Davitamon team, also won Saturday's Stage 4. He's the defending champ at Milan-San Remo, scheduled for Saturday, and clearly has the early-season conditioning to place well there.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 15, 2004 in Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 13, 2004

Tirreno-Adriatico: Freire takes stage and lead

Eurosport | Freire takes control

Oscar Freire of Rabobank took Stage 3 at Tirreno-Adriatico Friday in a bunch sprint at the end of a stage hard enough to separate the overall contenders from the pure sprinters.

Freire beat Vladimir Duma of Landbouwkrediet to the line, just ahead of fellow Rabobank rider Michael Boogerd. Danilo Hondo of Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile's Erik Zabel rounded out the day's top 5.

The win gives Freire, twice world champion, the overall lead, replacing Alessandro Petacchi, who won the race's first two stages.

Also:

Bike.com | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 3: Freire Takes Over

Posted by Frank Steele on March 13, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 23, 2004

Freire takes Trofeo Luis Prig

PezCycling News | Solo Win For Oscar Freire

Spain’s Oscar Freire won Sunday's Trofeo Luis Prig, and it wasn’t in a field sprint. Twice world champion, Freire is known for his sprinting, but got away with a break and held off a strong field for a win Sunday.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 23, 2004 in Oscar Freire | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack