Archive for May, 2009
Despite three hard weeks of racing, Britain’s Ben Swift was a key protagonist in the main break of the Giro d’Italia’s penultimate stage to Anagni. The Team Katusha rider led the charge from the peloton and slipped away at kilometre four with Robert Förster (Team Milram), Felix Cardenas (Barloworld), Angel Gomez (Fuji-Servetto), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d’Epargne), Anders Lund (Team Saxo Bank), Francesco De Bonis (Diquigiovanni-Androni) and Guillaime Bonnafond (AG2R-La Mondiale) for company. “I actually attacked first and I got away on the cobbled climb. I wasn’t expecting to get a gap but the roads were really tight and I almost over-cooked it on the corners,” Swift told Cyclingnews at the finish in Anagni. “After I attacked a group came across and we worked well but the bunch never really wanted us to get away.” The break worked together smoothly, its lead peaking at over three minutes, before a fast moving train lead by LPR Brakes and Silence-Lotto began to chase. “I was caught just as Menchov and started sprinting for some bonus points, but I’m happy that my Giro ended on a bit of a high.” Swift is competing in his first Grand Tour after a having a strong start to the season with his new squad. And after a string of promising places in the sprints over the last three weeks, and surviving the tough parcours the race threw at him, he’s learnt a lot about himself. “The last three weeks have definitely been a good experience and I’ve really enjoyed it. Okay, the last five days have been tough and that eight hour stage really, really hurt me, but now I can rest before the national championships and I’ll crack on from there,” he said.
Three days from Rome and on an overcast Thursday afternoon where scores of white sheep clouds smothered the percorso in hazy shades of blue-grey, an escape found success at the 92nd Giro d’Italia as the favourites for the overall title rested their legs as best as they could.
Given the road that lies ahead, where on Friday, after a 164-kilometre slog around the ankle of Italy’s boot, the riders finish atop Mount Vesuvius – most likely in ones, twos and threes – the eighteenth stage was a clearly a case of polarised objectives for the 171 remaining soldiers left in this Centenary Giro.
On one hand, there was a bunch of blokes who knew they had no more than two opportunities left to win a stage in a race where, so far, only six teams have tasted the overly sweet spumante that accompanies victory. When sixth stage victor Michele Scarponi of Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni took his second win Friday in Benevento following another 100 kilometre-plus breakaway, still only six teams have tasted success.
Though surely, after two incredibly arduous escapes in a Grand Tour raced at the highest level, it’s lopped off a year or two off the 29-year-old’s life?
“Haha!” Scarponi first laughed with the shrill of a school-kid – one who has just heard the 3 p.m. afternoon bell ring, allowing him to run home and ride his bike with his friends.
Katusha’s Serguei Ivanov won the first stage of the Tour of Belgium in Tervuren on Wednesday, just barely holding off the sprinters after a last kilometre solo breakaway. The Russian had just enough time to raise his arms in victory as the rush to the line came from behind, just barely edging out Rabobank’s Graeme Brown, Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil) and Belgian champion Jurgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto).
“I felt like I was going to win. I was sure in the last 200m the wind was in my favor,” said Ivanov, who last year took third overall. “This year I want to try to better my result from last year. I won the stage, so I am already happy, if I can win the whole race it would be fantastic.”
The first attack went just 10 kilometres into the 185.4 out and back circuit. Ivanov’s Katusha team worked to control the race as nine riders escaped with some dangerous riders present.
Team Katusha will participate at the next Tour of Belgium, from 27 to 31 of May, with the follow roster:
Sport directors: Laysen, Braeckevelt.
Team Katusha may have found itself a new sprinter: Russian Nikolay Trusov. The former track pursuiter took a convincing victory over Thor Hushovd, Cervelo‘s proven sprint winner. Trusov, who lived in the region as an amateur said he was familiar with the roads and this gave him an advantage in the finale.
It was “Normally [Alexei] Markov does the sprints, but today he was dropped with 10 kilometres to go, I seized my own chance,” Trusov said, according to AP. “I accelerated for the line from a long way out, and I thought with 100 metres to go that Hushovd would catch me.
“But this time round, I just managed to hang on and take a really important victory for me.”
1 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha 4.28.58 (44.905 km/h) 2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 3 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas 4 Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Columbia - Highroad 5 Pablo Urtasun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 7 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 8 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Fuji-Servetto 9 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C. 10 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank
fter being denied on stage two and taking his chances in a breakaway on stage one, Australian Robbie McEwen finally got the win he was looking for in stage three of the Tour de Picardie. Coming to the line ahead of his lead-out man Danilo Napolitano, the Katusha pair left the rest of the sprinters in their wake.
Under a light drizzle, the 112 remaining riders lined up for the first of two stages on Sunday. At the top of the first climb of the day, the Côte de Pont St. Mard (5 km), Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Diquigiovanni) took the points ahead of Alexandre Usov (Cofidis ) and Kristoff Vandewalle (Topsport Vlaanderen).
A breakaway formed at km 16 with four riders: Damien Gaudin (Bouygues Telecom), Rémy Cusin (AG2R), Andreï Amador (Caisse d’Epargne ) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Besson Chaussures). The quartet fought to stay clear, but lost Gaudin after 9km. He was replaced by is taken up by the peloton while Florian Guillou (Roubaix Lille Metropole), who had bridged to the move.
Finally, the four edged out 30 seconds on the bunch by the sprint in Manicamp (km 30.5), which was won by Engoulvent. But the sprint-hungry peloton never allowed the leaders to gain a minute. Guillou took the summit of the Côte de Bethancourt en Vaux before the peloton reeled them in close enough for Anthony Ravard (AG2R) and Sébastien Joly (FdJ) to get across.
Amador flatted out of the break, but the move had been doomed from the start and were brought back into the fold with 3km to go. Joly gave a valient solo effort, but Katusha controlled the pace to bring the peloton together for the final sprint. McEwen won handily ahead of his teammate Napolitano and the Italian Mattia Gavazzi (Diquigiovanni).
“It was important for me to come back into form soon after my fall in the Scheldeprijs that cost me my place in the Giro,” said McEwen. “It’s really important for a sprinter to win races.”
The finish was almost usurped by a rider from Caisse d’Epargne, but Napolitano quickly got onto his wheel, and McEwen and his teammate sprinted side by side to the line with the Italian respecting the prescribed order and taking second. “This afternoon, it may be Napolitano‘s turn,” said McEwen.
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 1.55.03 (44.07 km/h) 2 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha 3 Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli 4 Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne 5 Stéphane Bonsergent (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller 6 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 7 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 8 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom 9 Kevin Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 10 Alberto Loddo (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli
1 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 3.52.09 (46.263 km/h) 2 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Besson Chaussures-Sojasun 0.28 3 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha 4 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator 5 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 6 Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse D’Epargne 7 Robert Wagner (Ger) Skil-Shimano 8 Anthony Ravard (Fra) Agritubel 9 Nadir Haddou (Fra) Auber 93 10 Florian Guillou (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
If you tried saying his name ten times over, you might find your tongue twisted. But if there’s one rider to remember for the future, it’s Friday’s winner of the Giro’s seventh stage to Chiavenna, Edvald Boasson Hagen.
The 21-year-old – who is two days short of his 22nd birthday – Norweigan’s physical features and pathway to success bears an strong resemblance to that of his countryman, Thor Hushovd, 10 years his senior.
In height, they’re within two centimetres of each other, though Hushovd has a few kilos on him. Both have been national road and time trial champions, their natural strength soon translating to field sprints and Belgian Classics-style road races. And while Hushovd’s palmarès is littered with many more victories of note, Boasson Hagen’s April victory in Gent-Wevelgem this season – coming seven years earlier than Hushovd – demonstrated he’s got the goods to emulate – perhaps even surpass – “The God of Thunder”.
On a freddo (cold) day and wet, winding, pericoloso (dangerous) descent, Boasson Hagen and four others took massive risks to bridge to lone leader Alessandro Bertolini of Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, who had won this way before.
Out of the lead quintet, he was the least experienced and there were two other sprinters to speak of. But this 1.81 metre-tall blond played the last kilometres like a wily, seasoned pro, covering all the moves to ensure victory would come down to a sprint.
Regardless, he must have known he was the strongest – he won by a mile.
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - Highroad 5.56.53 (40.685km/h) 2 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld 3 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Team Katusha 4 Davide Viganò (Ita) Fuji-Servetto 5 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli 6 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD 0.31 7 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0.40 8 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step 9 Robert Forster (Ger) Team Milram 10 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Katusha
With the gorgeous seaside town of Trieste providing the backdrop to the 156-kilometre opening road stage of the 2009 Giro d’Italia, LPR’s Alessandro Petacchi – once considered the top sprinter in the world – beat the man who many consider to be the best sprinter in the world.
On the long, wide-open, Riva III Novembre boulevard, it was vintage Petacchi: the 35-year-old from La Spezia choosing to jump a massive 300 metres from the line, arms bent, torso still, chin almost touching the stem, and powering his massive 11-cog down the right-side barriers. Cavendish tried to overtake him, but it was useless: Petacchi 1, Cavendish 0.
“Today [Sunday] was the first real win of the year,” said Petacchi, whose victory punch – his 24th at the Giro – would have delivered a knockout blow, had he been in the ring with the Anglophone.
Speaking of Anglophones, a trio of English speakers rounded out Stage 2′s top five, British rider Ben Swift (Katusha), Aussie Allan Davis (Quick Step) and American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) third to fifth, respectively.
“Sprints at the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta are totally different,” said Petacchi. “I didn’t know much about Cavendish; I saw him win Qatar, I saw him win in Milano-Sanremo, but again, Sanremo is very different to stage races. I wanted to see if he was that fast.
“I started my sprint really far out,” he continued, describing the finale. “I took a risk doing so but I knew [long sprints] don’t suit his characteristics. Sure, I won easily, but it’s not certain that tomorrow or the next time will be the same.”
Said fifth-placed Farrar, “To be honest, I was just thinking about winning the stage; today, winning and taking the pink jersey were going to be one and the same thing.
“Unfortunately I didn’t quite have the right positioning. It was very wide between about four and two kilometres to go, then there were a few bends and your finishing position was pretty much the position in which you went into those bends. And it was chaotic even before that, coming off the climb. I think that’s perhaps why Columbia went too early, just as we hit the front too early with around three kilometres to go.”
It may have been Petacchi‘s 164th career win, but it’s been a long time coming.
“I wasn’t happy watching the Giro on TV last year,” he said, referring to his suspension last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for testing non-negative to asthma medication Salbutamol (which Petacchi has clearance to use), resulting in him being fired from his previous team, Milram. “So to win the first stage at the Giro [after my suspension] is very important to me. I’m really happy to be back.”
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini 3.43.07 (41.951 km/h) 2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - Highroad 3 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Katusha 4 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step 5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream