3.28.2014

Volta a Catalunya 5, 3EH, Coppi&Bartali: CONFUSED!

I must admit I am. Not only because I followed three races at once - fortunately Coppi&Bartali wasn't on streaming - but because they have been quite confused themselves. Lets start with the easier: Team Sky is rouling in Coppi&Bartali (also because, I suspect, contenders are not such high level...): Peter Kennaugh took today his first pro victory and the race leader jersey.
More complicated to explain what happened in Volta a Catalunya: the peloton didn't let a break-away till late in the stage. Finally Burghardt, Kruijswijk, Madrazo, Owsian, Preidler, Rolland and Roy managed to gain a gap and  Koch joined (YES also today). With less than 45 km to go Preidler and Burghardt were 3' ahead of Kruijswijk and Rolland. The peloton not chasing yet at 5'. All riders over the road got caught 27 km to go and things became more complicated. Many attacked on the 2nd cat. climb: Hesjedal 15 to go, then Contador, finally Fuglsang in counter and solo with just 8 km to go. He was looking good to be honest. But he got also caught and they went to a massive sprint. Luka Mezgec had said this morning: "It's going to be hard for me this time" but it has been not the case. He won again and classy.
As far as E3 Harelbeke... I give up reporting it. Look on Cyclingnews. Those kind of races are a complete mess: everybody attacking all day long, crashes at every corner, a continous changing of the situation and a never settled plot. All I can tell is that Fabian Cancellara crashed and was left behind, chased like a lion bravely helped by Stijn Devolder, even tried to jump solo to the leading group but couldn't. He's great also in the defeat. In front there were four terrific riders: Peter Sagan, Niki Terpstra, Geraint Thomas and Stijn Vandenbergh. In this order the went to the line: a small group sprint dominated by Peter Sagan.
I'm really happy for Geraint Thomas: he deserved it especially after the big disappointment in Paris-Nice, where he crashed out from being 2nd overall. I'm sure he's going to win in the next weeks, he's form is splendid in spite of the crash. 
A good day for Team Sky, sum up - Froome still not 100% kept is 6th in GC - and a quite bad day for Trek Factory Racing down to 5 riders in Catalunya - but Kiserlovski still 10th in GC - while Cancellara finished 9th in Belgium. A good news by that side:Frank Schleck became dad again, it's a little girl again and her name is Nayla. Where in the earth did they find such a name?
VOLTA A CATALUNYA
What Luka Mezgek said:
"During the stage I didn't think it was going to happen as my legs felt empty but with Georg up the road we could concentrate on getting over the climb. The guys stuck with me and when I heard that there was a head-wind the otherside I got a confidence boost and knew that it would slow. I went all out and got over the top with the main group, then the guys started to control the bunch. In the final kilometre Warren Barguil did a great job keeping it together and I had the easy job of finishing it off. It's great that even with a young team out here we can play such a big part in this race."
What Julian Alaphilippe said:
“Today the stage was super fast at the beginning. It was really hard to stay there near the front. In the final, before the last six or seven kilometers, there was a small climb. There I was well placed thanks also to the job of Pieter Serry and Gianluca Brambilla. Then we went downhill and I was good, but in the last kilometer I was a little bit far from the head of the peloton. I was more or less in 15th position. I had to do a real sprint to be near the front. I did a second sprint to try and win the stage, but of course it was impossible and I think the strongest won the race. But, also, I think I had good legs in this Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.  At this point I’ve finished 4th, 3rd, and 2nd in sprints. So I can’t blame myself. I am also here to learn as I am young. Tomorrow it will be more of a stage for pure sprinters. If there is a chance I will try.  On Sunday, I will try to honor a race until the end even if the parcours is difficult.”
RESULTS
STAGE
1 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Giant-Shimano 5:16:00
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
3 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
5 Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
6 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
7 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica Greenedge
8 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
9 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol
10 Davide Vigano (Ita) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA
11 Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
12 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp
13 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp
14 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
15 Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica Greenedge
16 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
17 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
18 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar
19 Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice
20 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
GC
1 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 23:03:34
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:04
3 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07
4 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:10
5 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:17
7 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 0:00:18
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:26
9 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:42
10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:48
11 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 0:00:51
12 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:00
13 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:01
14 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:01:20
15 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:22
16 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:24
17 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 0:01:26
18 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:43
19 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:01:49
20 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:54
3EH
What Geraint Thomas said:
"I think I rode it as best I could. Going up the Kwaremont I thought I’d just get stuck in, attack and see what happens. Obviously it forced that group away but heading into the final with two Quick-Steps and Sagan it was pretty tough. I just felt I didn’t have the punch that Sagan and Terpstra had, so I thought I’d just gamble it all in the finish. You never know if you don’t see what happens. 
When Vandenbergh went I wanted to be first to go after him and hopefully get a bit of a run to hold off a couple of the others. Unfortunately Terpstra got round me on the line but I gave it everything. That’s all I had and I’m pretty happy with that.
[About his early crash ahead of La Houppe] We were pretty far up in the top 20 or so but the crash was right in front of us. I just got caught up in it. My bars were a bit skewed all day. That’s not an excuse for the sprint. The boys were really good for me. Luke (Rowe) and Gabba (Gabriel Rasch) helped me get my bike sorted out, gave me a wheel and helped get my bars almost straight. I got back going with Bernie (Eisel) and Christian (Knees) shepherding me at the front and then did everything I could on the run-in."
What Fabian Cancellara said:
 “The crash happened and I was in the middle and it took a while before the back wheel was changed and I could continue,” explained Fabian Cancellara about the critical crash that cost him a chance at victory. “I did what I could do after this to continue the race and not give up, but it was the most important point of the race to be in the front here with the Paterberg and Kwaremont coming.
In the end I am still happy, I did what I could, the team did a great job for me all day. And Stijn at the end gave his all,” continued Cancellara. “It was still important to see how others riders and other teams are going. It was an interesting day we saw a strong Peter [Sagan] we saw a strong QuickStep that did not get the win - I am not sure why as I had Tom [Boonen] and Stybar on the back, that in my opinion were almost stronger, but that is how it is, that is racing.
But overall, it’s okay like this. Yes I am not on the podium, but the weather was warm and no wind, a different parcours this year, and all these things play a part in making a race different each year. The focus was there, and now we close today and are looking to Sunday.”
RESULTS
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
2 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
4 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
5 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
6 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol
7 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
8 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Sharp
9 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
10 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team

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