Nibali smashes rivals to tighten Giro grip

Italian Vincenzo Nibali took a giant step towards his maiden Giro d’Italia triumph by smashing his rivals on his way to winning a rain-soaked 18th stage uphill time trial from Mori to Polsa on Thursday.

Australian Cadel Evans began the day only 1min 26sec behind the Italian, but the 2011 Tour de France champion battled his way to 25th place at 2:36 behind.

Giro D'Italia 2013 stage-18

Ahead of two key mountain stages in the Dolomites, which will be altered depending on the severity of the wintry weather expected at high altitude, Nibali now leads Evans by 4:02.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran is third overall at 4:12 with former pink jersey winner Michele Scarponi, who is aiming for a podium finish, fourth at 5:14.

It was Nibali’s first stage win of this year’s race, and third Giro win overall, and should be enough to see him become the first Italian to win the Giro since Scarponi was handed the 2011 title after Alberto Contador of Spain was disqualified for doping.

“I have a significant advantage now and that will allow me to control the coming two stages in more tranquil fashion,” said Nibali, who rides for the Astana team.

Nibali, the 2010 Tour of Spain winner and runner-up on the 2011 Giro d’Italia, came to this year’s race extra determined having been pushed into third place by Bradley Wiggins at last year’s Tour de France. However despite being well suited to the rolling, uphill test, few expected the Italian to dominate as he did.

Nibali said after Wednesday’s stage to Vicenza that Evans had been “pedalling well”. On Thursday the Italian said: “I thought he [Evans] would be better today. But he’s been hidden in the peloton in recent days so we didn’t know what to expect from Evans.”

Spaniard Samuel Sanchez set the early pace from among the big names in a time of 45:27 — when the course was still fairly dry.

He took the provisional lead with a time that was 22secs faster than Italian Damiano Caruso but, despite heavy rain hitting the course later on, Sanchez was unceremoniously pushed into second place when Nibali, punching his arms in triumph, posted a time that was 58secs faster.

“I’m happy with my performance,” said Sanchez, the 2008 Olympic champion.

“It wasn’t enough to beat the pink jersey, but he’s been the strongest rider here. To beat Nibali today was mission impossible.”

Wiggins began the Giro as Nibali’s main threat, but the Englishman, as well as Canada’s defending champion Ryder Hesjedal, quit the race due to illness last week.

Evans, too, said Nibali would be a deserving winner.

“Nibali here is in a class of his own. Maybe, more than maybe, he deserves to win the Giro,” added the Australian.

Click here for full Giro d’Italia stage 18 results and video highlights. Text via AFP.

Evans loses time: ‘Not For Lack Of Trying’

Cadel Evans finished the 20.6-kilometer test in rainy conditions in 47:05 (25th place) while Nibali’s winning time was 44:29, 58 seconds ahead of runner-up Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Evans remains 10 seconds ahead of third-placed (overall classification) Rigoberto Uran (Sky Procycling), who finished sixth on the stage.

Giro D'Italia 2013 stage-18

The 2011 Tour de France winner said his performance was not what he was looking for or what he was expecting.

“It’s not for lack of trying that I lost a minute or two minutes,” Evans said. “I came to this Giro with high hopes, but not high expectations. My real objective was to give my best, and, until this point, I’ve made a few mistakes, but nothing big. So in that regard, in terms of giving my best, that’s great. But when you need winning, of course you want to be winning – and that’s maybe when your hopes rise above your capabilities.”

With two straight (albeit altered) mountain stages to come and a flat finale on Sunday, Nibali is 4:02 ahead of Evans. “I’m unlikely to win, but I came here for training for the Tour de France,” Evans said. “Second place at this point is not so bad.”

via BMC press release

Tech indecision in the Giro time trial

Last night’s uphill time trial in the Giro d’Italia saw different riders opting for different aero setups for the 20.6km climb. Some riders preferred to ride their normal road rig, with the assumption that there’d be no aerodynamic advantage in using a time trial bike, while most opted for aero bars attached to their regular road bike frame.

This slightly more aerodynamic setup would prove effective on the flatter sections of the course, while not requiring the riders to commit to a full TT setup which would have been more difficult to climb while providing limited aerodynamic rewards.

In this gallery at VeloNews, Caley Fretz shows, in pictures, a number of the different setups chosen for last night’s stage.

Sprick suffers stroke

Argos-Shimano rider Matthieu Sprick is in hospital after suffering a stroke, also known as a cerebral thrombosis, and is currently displaying some symptoms of paralysis.

The French rider’s early season was marred by a broken foot and the stroke happened just as he returned to training. Sprick turned professional in 2004 and has been riding with Argos-Shimano since 2011.

Frick will remain in hospital for some time for “tests, observation and treatments”.

Sprick had not been racing at this time and his last major race (that we could find) was Brabantse Pijl back in April which he DNF’d.

Click here to read more on Shimano-Argos’ website.

Embattled Giro organisers launch mountain Plan B

Giro d’Italia organisers have made plans to start the race’s 19th stage on an alternative route as wintry weather conditions continue to play havoc with the course.

On the first of two consecutive days in the Dolomite mountains Friday, the peloton was due to tackle two major mountain passes – the Gavia and the Stelvio, the latter, at 2,758 metres, being the highest point of the 96th edition.

Giro d'Italia 2013 - Tappa 16

However as road workers battled to clear snow and ice from both mountain passes amid fears the peloton could be forced to ride in temperatures as low as -14 degrees Celsius, an alternative course was announced.

It will still start in Ponte di Legno but now take the peloton over the Tonale mountain pass (1,883m) with the second climb being the Passo Castrin (1,706m). The 22.4 km climb to Val Martello, which featured on the original stage profile, is the third and last climb on the stage and will host the stage finish.

At 160 km long, the stage is 21 km longer than the original. However the two new mountain passes, on paper, appear easier than either the Gavia or the Stelvio.

text via AFP

Greipel goes back to back at the Belgium Tour

After winning the first stage of the Tour of Belgium André Greipel has also won stage two. In Ninove he won a close sprint before 19-year-old Danny Van Poppel and Belgian champion Tom Boonen.

The second stage left from Knokke – Heist to the Flemish Ardennes, with both the Bosberg and Congoberg being tackled twice. After about 35 kilometers a breakaway of five was formed, including rouleur Mikhail Ignatyev. The front group never had more than five minutes lead. Lotto Belisol controlled the peloton.

stage 2 of the Baloise Belgium Tour

Echelons were formed in the pouring rain with 33 kilometers left to go. At the top of the Bosberg for the second time Ignatyev, the last escapee, was caught. World champion Philippe Gilbert jumped away on the Congoberg with Francesco Gavazzi and Niki Terpstra. Then it was 12 kilometers to Meerbeke, where the Tour of Flanders finished until 2011.

The cooperation wasn’t great in the front group. Lotto Belisol pulled everything together and 700 meters before the finish the three were reeled in. André Greipel sprinted to his second victory in a row and holds on to the overall lead in the race.

André Greipel said: “Two out of two is of course a good result. The guys did an awesome job, especially in the chase on those last three escapees. In the sprint I couldn’t shift my gear to eleven, so I couldn’t go full from the start. Still I could come out. The weather wasn’t good today, which didn’t make the job any easier, but everyone did their best to defend my leader’s jersey.”

“Tomorrow in the time trial it’s only following the course from start to finish. With that time trial and the stages this weekend it won’t be evident for me to defend the jersey. The next days we’ll look more to other guys in the team, depending on who’s performing best in the time trial.”

Click here for full results of the 2013 Tour of Belgium. Text via Lotto-Belisol press release.

Impey wins Bayern Rundfahrt stage 2, leads overall

Daryl Impey put his stamp on stage two of Bayern Rundfahrt, taking his third win of the season. The stage victory now puts him in the overall leader’s jersey with three stages to go in the tour.

Two wins in the early part of the season, stage two Pais Vasco and the South African Time Trial Championship, demonstrated that Impey is very capable of winning races over varied terrain. Today’s win in Germany shows that his form is back after taking a long break from racing while at home with his wife and new baby.

Bayern-Rundfahrt 2013 - stage -2

“I would like to dedicate this win to my wife and newborn son Ayden,” beamed Impey. “They give me extra motivation.”

“The boys were excellent today,” said Impey. “They took care of me from start to finish. Clarkey did a great job setting me up for the sprint, Gerro [Simon Gerrans] was at my side all day and the rest of the boys made sure I was fuelled up right. It’s a nice win for me and the team.”

Click here for full results.

Ochowicz confirms Evans will lead BMC at the TdF, not Van Garderen

As he has done at the Giro d’Italia, Cadel Evans will also lead BMC at the Tour de France, BMC team boss Jim Ochowicz confirmed yesterday. Ochowicz told wielerland.nl, “He [Evans] deserves it by his performance in the Giro.”

Last year Van Garderen showed that he was stronger than BMC team leader Evans in the Tour de France, finishing fifth overall and winning the young riders’ classification while Evans finished seventh.

‘Nothing to hide’ over Armstrong – UCI boss

Cycling’s governing body has “nothing to hide” in relation to the Lance Armstrong doping affair, International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid told AFP on Thursday.

McQuaid also announced that the UCI planned to allow an external inquiry into the role played by those in charge during the Armstrong years.

The Irishman, who is set to stand for a third term in charge of the UCI in September, hit back at those, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, who have criticised the lack of action taken since the fall from grace of the former Tour de France winner.

“That’s not correct. We have worked since Armstrong,” said McQuaid.

He said that the UCI had set up an “independent commission” to investigate whether anyone was complicit in helping the Texan during the years when he managed to cheat his way to the pinnacle of the sport, but added that the commission had to be dissolved shortly after opening at the end of January because of a lack of support from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

“I am sorry that it has to be abandoned but we could not afford the money that we wanted to spend on it and, having the report for just one side and the fact neither WADA nor USADA were prepared to collaborate to this commission, put us in a situation where we had no option but to cancel it and look at a different approach,” McQuaid said of the commission’s failure.

McQuaid added that he hoped an external inquiry into the UCI’s activities could begin as soon as possible.

Text via AFP.

Hannah Grant – Saxo’s gourmet treatment

Join Team Saxo-Tinkoff chef Hannah Grant as she prepares the everyday “fuel” for the riders — served up with perfection, love and team spirit.

Men vs women power analysis from the Tour of California

Comparing men’s to women’s power files can like comparing apples to oranges, but at the Tour of California there was a chance to compare two world-class time trialist’s power data after racing the same TT course on the same day.

Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) shared his Powertap data and American Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis for MS) shared their data with Velonews and you can read the analysis here.

The Bike Lane – Giro d’Cali: From pasta to burritos

Need something to feed your cycling addiction this weekend (after your ride of course)? How about checking out the latest episode of The Bike Lane?

With the Giro d’Italia in its final stretch we discuss how we see it unfolding, and also talk to Matty Lloyd to see why he’s not there. We also talk to Nicki Vance about her report on Orica-GreenEDGE, we look at the Tour of California, talk to a VIS nutritionist about the benefits of sugars in a cyclist’s diet, and do a Hot Lap with former AFL great Danny Frawley.

We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

See the new episode here.

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