Visconti wins Giro d’Italia stage 17

Italian Giovanni Visconti soloed to victory in the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday to hand his Movistar team their fourth win of the race.

Giro D'Italia 2013 stage-17

Overall race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) retained the pink jersey with a 1min 26sec lead on Australian rival Cadel Evans (BMC) intact after the 214 km ride from Caravaggio to Vicenza.

Despite having the chance to take a step closer to his first ‘maglia rosa’ (pink jersey) on Thursday’s 18th stage, an uphill time trial over 20.6 km, the Italian refused to rule out the threat of 2011 Tour de France champion Evans.

“I’ve always done well on mountain time trials,” said the Italian.

But he said he would still remain cautious of Evans in the event if he stretched his lead over the Australian to two minutes ahead of two key stages in the high mountains.

“Two minutes would be a good lead. But I don’t want to make any predictions,” added Nibali.
“Evans has always been up at the front of the race and he’s pedalling very well.”

Visconti, meanwhile, showed his tactical nous and physical prowess for the second time in less than a week after a timely attack 17km from the finish brought him his second win following his stage 15 triumph on the legendary French Alpine climb of the Galibier.

As the sprinters, including Britain’s Mark Cavendish, began struggling to keep pace on the Crosara climb, Visconti made his move, attacking from the main peloton and catching, then overtaking, leading pair Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) and Miguel Rubiano (Androni).

Visconti survived a late scare when he entered a sharp left-hander too fast and narrowly avoided a spill in the final kilometre.

The race was marked by the huge number of roadside fans, and Visconti — who late last year served a three-month ban for working with banned sports doctor Michele Ferrari — said: “With 200m to go on that last corner I couldn’t believe how many people were there.

“I was already starting to think about my win and about how my picture would be in the newspapers tomorrow.”
Ramunas Navardauskas was next over the finish line 19sec later, the Lithuanian, who rides for Garmin, raising his hands in the air in the mistaken belief he had won the stage.

Giro D'Italia 2013 stage-17

It is the second such occurence in the race. On stage nine Colombian Carlos Betancur raised his arms in triumph shortly after Russian Maxim Belkov had claimed the honours.

After the 18th stage time trial, Friday and Saturday’s stages are both scheduled to be held at high altitude in the Italian Dolomites, although both could be altered by race organisers due to the expectation of snow and freezing conditions.

Text via AFP.

Goss and Haas out of Giro

Two Australians have had to pull out of the Giro after the 16th stage. Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) has pulled out due to a crash, and Tasmania sprinter Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) has left because of illness.

Haas’s crash saw him suffer bruising and abrasions, but no factures were shown in initial x-rays.

“It’s a shame to leave the race this way,” Haas said in a team statement. “It was a big honour to be selected for my first grand tour and I gave it my all . . . Now I’ll go home heal up and focus on what’s next.

Matthew Goss pulled out of stage 16 with 60km remaining citing ongoing muscle and breathing problems. He had been suffering from a virus for most of the race.

Click here to read more at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Weather could threaten key stages of Giro

Wintry weather in the Italian Dolomites could force changes to the route of the final two mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia, according to organisers on Wednesday.

Concerns over the conditions expected on Friday’s 19th stage from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello, which will take in the Gavia and Stelvio mountain passes, were raised last week due to the unseasonably cold weather in the high mountains.

stelvio

At 2758 metres in altitude, the Stelvio is the highest point of this year’s race, which Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is currently leading with a 1min 26sec advantage on Australian Cadel Evans (BMC).

Organisers said the road over the Stelvio was clear and could be raced, but the climb and descent could be hit by severe weather.

Saturday’s 20th stage, the final day in the mountains, begins in Silandro and takes in four mountain passes with altitudes over 1700 metres, before finishing at the legendary Trois Cimes de Lavaredo (2304 m).

According to Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, whose parent company RCS organises the race, the temperature could fall to as low as minus 14 degrees Celsius on Friday’s stage.

Organisers said they are “studying all possible routes” with a view to making last minute changes if necessary”.

Adverse weather conditions have already forced changes to the route.

Text via AFP.

I’ve paid my dues, says emotional Visconti

Former three-time Italian champion Giovanni Visconti said he had paid his dues for past doping misdemeanours after notching his second stage win inside a week on stage 17 of the Giro.

Looking tired after his win — the Movistar team’s fourth on the race after Britain’s Alex Dowsett won the stage eight time trial and Benat Intxausti’s win on Tuesday — Visconti was also emotional as he described the recent “dark period” in his life.

At the end of last season the 30-year-old Italian was among several riders suspended for collaborating with banned sports doctor Michele Ferrari — the man accused of doping Lance Armstrong and may other riders on the disgraced American’s former team, US Postal.

It is a crime for any athlete in Italy to work with Ferrari and Visconti, like Filippo Pozzato and Michele Scarponi, was handed a three-month ban.

Although it ended in January, Visconti suffered from depression before beginning the new season hoping to re-build his battered reputation.

It is only now he feels his career is taking off again, and he said he has learned his lesson.

“When you make a mistake, you pay, you close the chapter and talk about another,” said the Italian.

When asked what had learned from his experience, he added: “When I look back I see that you have to learn to trust your own means and have faith in yourself without looking elsewhere.”

Text via AFP.

Greipel wins Tour of Belgium opener

The Tour of Belgium started today with a flat stage between Lochristi and Knokke-Heist. Soon after the start four Belgian riders set up a breakaway: Olivier Chevalier, Laurens De Vreese, Dieter Uyttersprot and Alphonse Vermote. They got a lead of more than four minutes.

In the peloton Lotto Belisol took charge in support of leader André Greipel. The team kept the gap under constant control. Chevalier and De Vreese stayed in front the longest out of the escape group lasting until 26 kilometers before the finish.

With two kilometers to go the Lotto Belisol train moved up to the front and led André Greipel to the victory. He outsprinted Belgian champion Tom Boonen and Ramon Sinkeldam. Tomorrow Greipel will start in the leader’s jersey. Roelandts is now fourth in the GC at seven seconds.

Baloise Belgium Tour stage-1

After the race André Greipel said: “It was a victory from the text book. The final was hectic with many turns, but we were well organized and could stay together. The guys perfectly prepared the sprint. My gear was a bit too big, but I finished it off. I am very happy with this win. We work together very well, other riders search us in the way up to the sprint because we have such an excellent train.”

“We are racing together again for the first time since Tirreno-Adriatico. From now on it’s one line to the Tour de France via the Tour of Zeeland Seaports, Berlin and the ZLM Tour. We now have to get confidence and sharpen the automatisms. Tomorrow’s stage suits Jürgen Roelandts very well, but it will also be difficult to get rid of me on the climbs.”

Text via Lotto-Belisol team website.

Rasmussen claims Bayern Rundfahrt opener

Garmin-Sharp rider Alex Rasmussen has won the opening stage of the five-stage Bayern Rundfahrt, finishing ahead of Ben Swift (Sky) and Juan-Jose Lobato del Valle (Euskaltel) in the sprint finish.

A breakaway of three riders got away soon after the start of the 194km stage from Pfaffenhofen to Munich but with Team Sky pushing the pace at the head of the peloton, the break’s lead was whittled away and erased with 5km to go.

Stage 2 will take the riders 193km from Mühldorf a. Inn to Viechtach with several challenging climbs along the way.

Follow the link to see the results from stage 1 of the 2013 Bayern Rundfahrt.

Arredondo leads Tour of Japan after stage 3

With three stages remaining in the 2013 Tour of Japan, Julian Arredondo (Nippo-De Rosa) leads the race after finishing third on a brutal 148km stage from Minami to Shinshu. The stage was won by Vini-Fantini rider Pier Paolo De Nigri ahead of Arredondo’s teammate, Fortunato Baliani.

Former Australian National Champion Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) sits third overall, six second behind Arredondo, with his teammate Robbie Hucker a further four seconds back in eighth place.

The riders will today take on the infamous Fujisan hill climb: an 11km mass start race up Mt. Fuji that has an average gradient of more than 10%.

Click here to read more at Cycling IQ and follow this link to see the results from stage 3 at the 2013 Tour of Japan.

Jens Voigt interview after stage win in Tour of California

The Tour of California might have finished last week but this video interview with stage-4-winner Jens Voigt is too good not to share. How could you not love this guy?

Click here to see the interview.

Uran to go to Quickstep?

Rigoberto Uran (Sky) currently sits third overall in the Giro d’Italia and with his contract coming to an end this year, it would appear that the Colombian is looking for another team to join.

Speaking to L’Équipe at the Giro, Uran’s agent, Giuseppe Acquadro, said the Colombian is likely to leave Sky.

“Unlike [Sergio] Henao, who is in the same situation, Urán won’t be staying with Sky because he wants to ride the Tour next year as a team leader, and Sky already have Froome, Wiggins and Porte, so there are too many ambitious riders and not enough space to accommodate them.”

It would appear that Omega Pharma-QuickStep is the most likely destination for Uran; a team that has no shortage of big-name riders, but no real GC contenders when it comes to grand tours.

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Katusha confirms Menchov’s contract has been mutually terminated

A couple weeks ago The Secret Pro wrote about a former Grand Tour winner who has been sidelined for biological passport irregularities. It was speculated that rider may have been Dennis Menchov after his sudden retirement.

21e etappe Ronde van Italie 2009

Katusha’s website said: ““Russian Katusha Team rider Denis Menchov has announced early retirement from professional cycling. The reason of the rider’s decision is the knee problem which doesn’t allow him to get a normal preparation for participation in the most important races of the season,”

“The 2013 contract of Denis Menchov was terminated by the mutual agreement of Katusha Team management and the rider.”

Shane Stokes from Velonation asked a UCI spokesperson about suggestions of a positive case. “Currently there is no disciplinary procedure open on the basis of the biological passport,” stated UCI Communications Manager Devra Pitt Gétaz, referring to Menchv.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Ag2r won’t ride the Dauphine

In the fall-out from Sylvain Georges’ positive test for the banned substance heptaminol, the Ag2r team has confirmed that it won’t be taking part in next month’s Criterium du Dauphine.

Under the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), to which Ag2r belongs, any MPCC member team that has two positive tests within 12 months must suspend itself from racing for eight days as of the start of the next WorldTour race.

This suspension will see Ag2r miss the Dauphine but the French team is still planning on riding the Tour of Switzerland which starts six days after the Dauphine.

Click here to read more at Cycling News and click here for some great perspective on the issue courtesy of The Inner Ring.

Haas and Stetina’s rules for racing Grand Tours

Australia’s Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) has left the Giro after crashing on stage 16 but on the second rest day he sat down with teammate Peter Stetinas to give some insight into the ups and downs of riding in a three-week grand tour. Check out the video below, courtesy of Cycling News.

Melbourne cyclists get warning of danger spots

Researchers have identified the five areas in Melbourne in which cyclists are most likely to get injured or killed:

  • Around the Johnston and Brunswick streets intersection, Fitzroy
  • On Swanston Street between Collins and Flinders streets, CBD
  • Around the Macarthur Street and St Andrews Place intersection, CBD
  • Around the Richardson and Canning streets intersection, North Carlton
  • Around the Swanston and Victoria streets intersection, CBD

The research was done by “mapping experts and bicycle enthusiasts” for Fairfax Media, the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Australian National Data Service and Melbourne University, and drew on nearly 10,000 VicRoads accident reports from between 2007 and 2012.

Click here to read more at The Age.

Born and raised: a documentary

Here’s a great little doco by filmmaker Mike Parenteau that goes behind the scenes of a MTB World Cup race from July of last year. Check it out here.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally, here are a couple of things you might have missed in the past 24 hours:

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