Snow causes havoc for European races

Snow led to the cancellation of several races across Europe over the weekend, including the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne semi-classic.

“Maybe we could have come up with a safe circuit around Kuurne, but there were still concerns,” organisation member Jos Callens told media. “We packed it in and ensured that everyone could head home quickly. The cancellation was the only and correct decision.”

"Race from Hell / Heavenly Finish" (if you finish...or even start)

Freezing temperatures and snow also led to the cancellation of GP Lugano. Combined with the annulment of the Drôme Classic on Saturday in France, it was a slow weekend.

Pop quiz: when was the last Spring Classics race cancelled due to bad weather?

Click here to read more on VeloNews, including an interesting list of races that have been affected by foul weather in the past.


Luca Paolini wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Luca Paolini from Team Katusha has taken out the opening race in the Spring Classics, beating Stijn Vandenburg (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) in a two-man sprint in freezing conditions.

A break-away formed early in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, gaining a maximum advantage of five minutes, but the decisive move came when Vandenburg and Paolini pushed away from the 10-man breakaway shortly after the Paddestraat section of cobbles.

Click here for race results and full write-up. Click here to see a photo gallery from the race.

Tiffany Cromwell wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Tiffany Cromwell (Orica-AIS) won a two-up sprint against Megan Guarnier (Rabobank) to capture the first European race of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With all eight climbs completed and five cobbled sections yet to come, a 16-rider front group solidified. Cromwell took matters into her own hands in the final section of pavé.

Tiffany Cromwell (Orica GreenEdge) pictured winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2013. Congrats Tiff! Photo by Cor Vos

“We had been using our numbers to our advantage and launching attacks that were going nowhere,” said Cromwell. “Finally, I went and Megan came with me. We got a gap immediately but she wasn’t working with me. I still considered it a good opportunity, so I worked – maybe a bit too much. Eventually Megan started rolling through. It was enough to hold off the chasing bunch.”

Cromwell forced Guarnier to the front in the last kilometre. She came around the American to open up the race-winning sprint.

Click here to read the full media release on the Orica-GreenEdge website.

Meiyin Wang leads Le Tour de Langkawi

With four stages complete in the 2013 Tour de Langkawi, Meiyin Wang from the Hengxiang Cycling Team leads the overall classification by 2 minutes and 43 seconds over Colombian rider Julian David Arrendondo Moreno (Team Nippo-De Rosa) and by 3 minutes 29 seconds over Australian rider Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) who sits in third place.

Dutch rider Theo Bos (Blanco) took out the opening two stages of the race in bunch sprints, Meiyin Wang rode solo for 40km to take the victory (and all four jerseys on offer) during a hilly third stage and Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) won stage four from a bunch sprint.

The 110km fifth stage of the 10-stage race starts in the city of Shah Alam today. Stay posted to CyclingTips for further coverage in the coming days.

For race results and reports of the race so far, click on the following links: stage 1stage 2stage 3 and stage 4.

Renshaw wins Clasica del Almeria

Mark Renshaw of Team Blanco has won his first race since stage four of last year’s Presidential Tour of Turkey, taking the sprint in the Clasica del Almeria in Spain on Sunday. He beat Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg (Argos-Shimano) and Francesco Lasca (Caja-Rural Seguros) to the finish line after 183km. It’s the ninth victory for the Blanco Pro Cycling Team this season.

“In the team meeting we discussed the tactics for today. We would aim for a sprint. During the race it was always Juanma Garate and David Tanner looking after me. On the hills Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema, Wilco Kelderman and Laurens ten Dam made sure there were not too many explosions. Stef Clement followed the moves in the peloton continuously, by chasing the breakaways. It was really impressive to have this level of riders helping me to the victory. It was a collective victory of the team,” said Mark Renshaw after the race.

Click here to see full results and read more on VeloNation.

Jason Niblett wins the 115th Austral Wheelrace

Saturday evening saw the 115th edition of the Austral Wheelrace run and won by Jason Niblett. Harking back to 1887 the Austral is the longest running track race in the world.

Niblett riding from 90 metres took out the Men’s Wheelrace in his final race before retirement ahead of Kyle Thompson (150m) and Oliver Phillips (155m). Special mention goes to Phillips who was out all of the previous evening and only made it to the track on time thanks to his 5pm alarm clock. He is certainly living up to the party ideals of a true six-day track racer — chapeau Ollie.

Another highlight was the outstanding performance of Nicholas Yallouris from NSW who won the Invitational Keirin. It was a performance so exciting it had his sprint coach Ben Kersten leaping in elation from the centre field. Leif Lampater from Germany and Franco Marvulli of Switzerland were two of the stand-out international riders in the Victorian Open Scratch Race Championship. They went one-two respectively and all in spite of stepping off their 20-plus-hour international flights just that morning.

Click here to read more about the 115th Austral Wheelrace.

Australia finishes third at Track Worlds

The UCI Track Cycling World Championships finished in Minsk, Belarus overnight with Australia finishing third on the medal tally. The Cyclones snared eight medals — two gold, two silver and four bronze — finishing behind Great Britain (nine medals) and Germany (eight medals).

Click here for full coverage of the Track Worlds over at Cycling Central.

US Government joins Landis lawsuit against Armstrong

The US government decided Friday to join a doping lawsuit filed by one of Lance Armstrong’s former teammates alleging that the disgraced cycling champion defrauded government sponsors.

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal reported the government will add its weight to the suit and claim that Armstrong defrauded tax-payers by using performance-enhancing drugs while on the state-funded US Postal Service team.

NBC News said the Justice Department filed papers in a federal court on Friday to join the lawsuit filed by Floyd Landis, himself an admitted dope cheat who lost the 2006 Tour de France crown because of doping.

Click here to read the full article.

Scarponi on short leash after doping suspension

Lampre-Merida’s top brass and Michele Scarponi reached an agreement on Friday that will allow the Italian cyclist to return to competition following a doping suspension.

After being banned twice, Scarponi remains on a short leash. According to Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Lampre stated, “[Scarponi] voluntarily signed a resignation clause that would come into effect if he is linked in a sporting or civil investigation.”

The 33-year-old served a suspension stemming from the 2006 Operación Puerto blood doping case. Police reports connected him to doping doctor Michele Ferrari last year, which brought about a second suspension. The team will use its discretion to decide to end Scarponi’s 2013 contract early if deemed necessary.

Click here to read more at La Gazetta dello Sport.

U23 (Espoirs) Paris-Roubaix cancelled

The 47th edition of the U23 Paris-Roubaix scheduled for May 26, has been cancelled due to financial difficulties and rising costs. Held in late May, the 180km course is shorter than the pros race but tackles many of the same cobblestones featured in the “Hell of the North.” Like the pro race, the U23 event finished inside the Roubaix velodrome.

This is not the first time the race has been threatened or cancelled. In recent years the race had been rescued from cancellation by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

The 2012 the U23 Paris-Roubaix winner was Luxembourge’s Bob Jungles who took his place among an illustrious list of past winners including the likes of Taylor Phinney, Koen de Kort, Yaroslav Popovych ,Thor Hushovd , Marc Madiot and Stephen Roche.

Click here to see the full U23 Paris-Roubaix honour roll.

Sky heads for Tenerife

Team Sky will punctuate its classics campaign with a visit to Spanish island of Tenerife. Instead of using Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, the team will train at altitude off the west coast of Africa.

It will come as quite a shock to Geraint Thomas (Sky), who recorded his best ever place in a northern classic in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. He placed fourth in the sprint behind winner Luca Paolini (Katusha). The plan is for him to race Wednesday in Belgium’s Le Samyn and then board an airplane for Tenerife.

Thomas told VeloNews, “It’s worth giving [the Tenerife training camp] a good go; I don’t see why it shouldn’t work. It might be a couple of percentages either way. Maybe in April it might be totally different or it might go really well.”

Click here to read more from VeloNews.

Andy Schleck’s problems continue

Andy Schleck’s horror run on the bike continues and according to the head of the Luxembourg Cycling Federation, Jean Regenwetter “the evidence indicates that his winter’s training simply didn’t work.”

Regenwetter told Wort.lu that “Andy hasn’t been good enough in training over the last two years. He’s got to get himself together, otherwise he might as well write off the 2013 season.”

Schleck pulled out of the Tour Down Under on the final day last month and abandoned Tour Méditerranéen. The same respiratory problem that led to the Med DNF saw him nix Tour du Haut Var last week. He is due to return to racing in the one-day, GP Camaiore in Tuscany on February 28 and is currently in Mallorca to train.

Click here to read more on Wort.lu.

Giro 2014: highlights trend sport’s foreign fondness

The Giro d’Italia announcement last week of a Belfast start in 2014 continued a trend in sports, going abroad to appease foreign investors. The Guardian printed an editorial piece on Friday that read “The geographical ties that once bound sporting events to their traditional locations are being discarded in favour of lucrative marketing deals.”

It will be the Giro’s 11th foreign start, adding to its most recent trip to Herning, Denmark, last year.

The Tour de France too will have a foreign start in 2014, with the race kicking off in Yorkshire, England. The Tour is benefiting from cycling’s huge popularity in Great Britain and Yorkshire’s bid is rumoured to have come at an estimated cost of £10m, but will give its area a 10-fold economic impact.

“If Ulster can oust Umbria in the Giro and Leeds can displace Lyon in the Tour, there is no reason why other previously location-specific events should be left behind in sport’s latest dash for cash,” The Guardian’s article continued. “Bring the New York marathon to Newcastle, for example, the Hong Kong Sevens to Inverness, or the Isle of Man TT to the Isle of Dogs.”

Click here to read more on The Guardian.

The FebFifteen Strava Challenge begins

The CyclingTips FebFifteen Strava Challenge gets underway this morning with Australia taking on the world. The challenge is to ride 15 hours this week with the total hours accumulated by Australian riders compared with those ridden by riders elsewhere in the world.

As of this morning, more than 4,500 riders have signed up and we’ll have a country-by-country breakdown for you soon. Judging by the weather in much of Europe, this is going to be a walk in the park for the Australians …

So, get out there and start racking up the hours and be sure to post photos to Twitter and Instagram using the #febfifteen hashtag!

Click here to sign up for the CyclingTips FebFifteen Strava Challenge.

Today’s edition of the Rocacorba Daily was written by Wade Wallace, Matt de Neef and Jono Lovelock. If you’ve got an interesting piece of news you think we should cover, send the details to editor@cyclingtips.com.au.