Froome boosts Tour de France hopes with Dauphine win

via AFP

Chris Froome reinforced his status as favourite for this year’s Tour de France on Sunday when he won the testing warm-up race, the Criterium du Dauphine.

The 28-year-old, second behind Team Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins in last year’s Tour de France, claimed victory after Italian Alessandro de Marchi won the 155.5km eighth and final stage from Sisteron to Risoul.

Froome, Kenyan-born and brought up in South Africa but who has ridden with a British licence since 2008, was followed in the overall standings by Sky team-mate Richie Porte of Australia, who finished 58sec in arrears.

However, Froome, who said that the whole week had gone like a dream, dismissed suggestions he was favourite for the Tour.

“No, I do not consider myself the ‘favourite’ for the Tour,” he said.

“I have won the Dauphine, and other races before, but the counter is back to zero when the Tour starts. There will be six to seven main contenders for overall victory.

“The names? Contador, Valverde, Rodriguez, Evans, Van Garderen, Quintana, Porte…,” commented Froome, who said he would not be contesting the British national title race prior to the Tour.

Richie Port, Chris Froome, and Moreno Fernandez on the podium for the overall classification at the Dauphine Libere 2013

Richie Port, Chris Froome, and Moreno Fernandez on the podium for the overall classification at the Dauphine Libere 2013

Froome said that the thing that struck him the most about the present era of cycling compared to the drug-filled years of Lance Armstrong and others was that he was able to win races.

“Cycling has definitely changed,” he said.

“The proof is that I am able to be up with the leaders. I remember the years of 2003/04 of Armstrong and Ivan Basso… the sport has changed a lot in 10 years.

“What is shocking is that all the riders are all seen in the same light after the revelations. But one learns from the past and my win proves that things can evolve.”

Froome, who was 36th when he represented Kenya at the 2006 road race world championships, said he would have liked to help Porte win the stage.

“It would have been great to win the stage but we have already won two this week. It just proved impossible to reel in De Marchi,” he said.

Froome’s victory was the third successive British win in the race, Wiggins – who is not defending his Tour de France crown this year – having won it in the past two years.

Froome, who had already been designated as Sky’s leader for this year’s Tour de France before Wiggins announced he was not going to compete because of injury, had effectively clinched victory in the Criterium with his victory in the first mountain stage on Thursday.

Sunday’s stage saw five riders approach the final climb with a lead of more than three minutes and it was de Marchi who was to prove the strongest as he broke free of Belgian Tim Wellens in the final five kilometres.

Alessandro De Marchi on his way to victory on Stage 8 of the Dauphine in a gutsy solo move.

Alessandro De Marchi on his way to victory on Stage 8 of the Dauphine in a gutsy solo move.

The 27-year-old Italian came home 24sec ahead of Froome and American Andrew Talansky.

“It is the first time that I have won since I turned professional,” said de Marchi, who added he expected to help out team leader Peter Sagan in the Tour de France.

“I have been waiting a long time for it, and I am happy that the dream has come true. I have often tried my luck in escaping but I have never succeeded until today.”

Spain’s two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador had a miserable stage, falling on the descent from the col de Vars before sacrificing his chances for a consolation stage win by waiting for Australian team-mate Michael Rogers, who was third overall going into Sunday’s final stage, when he got into difficulty on the final climb.

Dauphine Libere 2013 stage-7

Dreadful weather had prompted many retirements during the stage including French quartet, national champion Nacer Bouhanni, Thomas Voeckler, Pierre Rolland and Sylvain Chavanel.

Froome was oblivious to their difficulties as he rode serenely on to record his ninth win of the season, including the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium International.

His only significant defeat came in March in the Tirreno-Adriatico at the hands of Italian ace Vincenzo Nibali, who went on to win the Giro d’Italia.

Click here for full results of the 2013 Criterium du Dauphine.

Tour de Suisse: Meyer keeps overall lead as Mollema wins 2nd stage

via AFP

Australian Cameron Meyer kept the leader’s jersey as Dutchman Bauke Mollema won the second stage of the Tour of Switzerland on Sunday.

Blanco’s Mollema beat Swiss rider Mathias Frank and Frenchman Thibaut Pinaut by 11 seconds at the end of the 119.2km stage from Ulrichen to the Crans-Montana ski resort.

2013 Tour de Suisse stage-2 TT

The course should have been 161.3km long but snow caused several peaks, including the 2,478-metre Nufenenpass, to be closed, shortening the race.

Orica-GreenEdge’s Meyer, who won the first stage time-trial, now leads 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal of Canada by 3sec with Frank 2sec further back.

Mollema was over the moon with his success.

“It’s the biggest win of my career and it’s been a long time coming since the last race I won was almost three years ago,” he gushed.

“I opened a good gap on the riders behind me and when I came up to Ryder I knew he was tired from riding alone for most of the climb.”

Bauke Mollema crosses the line first in Stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse

Bauke Mollema crosses the line first in Stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse

Hesjedal was the one who livened things up in the peloton on the final climb up to Crans-Montana.

After his Garmin-Sharp teammate Daniel Martin had put in a good shift on the front of the bunch, the Canadian attacked alongside Astana’s Tanel Kangert.

With 5km left, Hesjedal went it alone and at one point had a 30sec lead on the peloton.

But he was eventually reeled in as Italian Domenico Pozzovivo and American Tejay van Garderen put in bursts that brought him back into view.

Mollema attacked with 800m left and passed Hesjedal with 500m to go before opening up an 11sec gap by the finish line.

Although beaten by Frank and Pinot in the sprint, Hesjedal came home in a seven-strong group on the same time.

Although Meyer kept hold of the leader’s jersey, a host of GC contenders are now within a minute of his time, such as Roman Kreuziger who is sixth, 28sec back.

One who is no threat, though, is the 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck, who trailed in 54th 3min 32sec behind on the stage.

The Luxemburger’s miserable season continues and sees him 56th overall more than 4min back.

Monday’s third stage will take the peloton over 204.9km from Montreux to Meiringen.

Click here for full results of Stage 1 (Prologue) and Stage 2 of the 2013 Tour de Suisse.

Kittel takes Garmin Pro Race

If we’re looking for clues about who’s going well amongst the sprinters before the Tour de France, Marcel Kittel showed us yesterday at the Garmin Pro Race (UCI 1.1) that he’ll definitely be in the mix.

The race came back together for the expected bunch kick in the last 15km and with many of the world’s best sprinters present, it was going to be a good test for Marcel. However, the occasion didn’t get the better of him and he took the race honours in front of his home crowd.

Marcel Kittel wins the 2013 Garmin Pro Race over Matteo Pelucchi and Andre Greipel

Marcel Kittel wins the 2013 Garmin Pro Race over Matteo Pelucchi and Andre Greipel

“I am really happy to win this race, especially as it was in Germany,” said Marcel. “My last race was Picardie and after that I went to the altitude training camp so to win straight off at my first race back feels good.

“With 2km-to-go we were in a good position with the our train on the front. The boys did a perfect job to bring me to the right position, sitting on Tom Veelers’s wheel and I timed my sprint just right.”

This is Marcel’s second win in this race having previously finished fastest in 2011. The win confirms his good sprinting form off the back of a sprint-specific training camp in Spain in the last few weeks . The hard work is already paying off.

“It took a while before the break was gone today, just over 70km,” said coach Addy Engels. “Five riders went away, from smaller teams so there was not much stress. We started to control the race straight away, together with other sprinters teams that were present.

“It was always a small gap and we closed it easily on the final few laps before the boys did what they had to do. It’s a nice win for Marcel in a strong field of sprinters.”

1. Marcel Kittel (Germany / Argos-Shimano)
2. Pelucchi Matteo (Italy / IAM Cycling) all zt
3. André Greipel Germany / Lotto-Belisol)
4. Michael Van Staeyen (Belgium / Topsport Vlaanderen)
5. Roger Kluge (Germany / NetAPpp-Endura)
6. Raymond Kreder (Netherlands / Garmin-Sharp)
7. Rüdiger Selig (Germany / Katusha)
8. Andreas Stauff (Germany / MTN Qhubeka)
9. Grischa Janorschke (Germany / Nutrixxion)
10. Luke Roberts (Australia / Team Stölting)

Full results

Emma Johansson Wins Emakumeen Euskal Bira Overall

via GreenEDGE media release

Orica-GreenEDGE’s Emma Johansson has just won the general classification of Emakumeen Euskal Bira in Basque region of Spain. The Swedish Double National Champion moved into the race lead after winning the second stage in a two-up sprint against Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products UCK). She backed up her first stage win a dominating performance in the individual time trial on stage three. She took third in a four-up sprint on day four to close out the race and take the win.

06_09_13_Bira_04_Stage4_033.232753

“This is a very big victory for me,” said Johansson. “It’s an especially important win because all the big names were here. I’ve had a lot of podium places this year, and I’m happy to finally pull out a win like this. It was so important for me to bring it home today. I had to do it. I didn’t have any other option.”

It is Johansson’s fifth win of the season, her first general classification victory. With two stage wins, Johansson’s overall victory and the team classification win, ORICA-AIS dominated the four day Basque race.

Click here for full results.

Cancellara to skip Tour de France

via AFP

Swiss star Fabian Cancellara said Friday he will skip this year’s Tour de France to focus on the world championships in Italy at the end of September.

“The Tour has given me beautiful things but I have other targets such as the world championships in Florence,” the RadioShack-Leopard riderwas quoted as saying on Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad’s website, information confirmed to AFP by his team.

“I will not ride in the Tour de France. Instead I will do the tours of Austria, Poland and Spain to prepare for the world championships.”

Cancellara, 32, has eight Tour de France stage victories to his name and has also spent time in the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

Tour of Korea – Stage 1

via Tour of Korea Media release

Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka) has claimed his first win of 2013 and the race lead in the opening stage of the 2013 Tour de Korea. The sprinter’s South African teammate, Martin Wesemann, forced the day’s decisive move to follow him until just inside the 5km banner, giving Sbaragli a backseat ride to a career highlight.

2013_Tour_de_Korea_stage_1_80

The first stage of the 2013 Tour de Korea traveled a distance of 172.0 kilometres from Cheonan to Muju, featured 3 categorised climbs.

“The stage was quite hard,” noted Sbaragli. “I thought that it would be much easier. The riders started full-gas, finished full gas, and in the last 20km there was no flat. It was quite up and down, nothing flat.”

“A Nippo-De Rosa rider (Fukushima) tried to attack with one kilometre to go. I had to wait. I waited for 20 seconds and then luckily someone else started to sprint. I had to sprint a little bit longer than normal – from about 300m to go – because I saw the leader of the sprint had a gap. Luckily I passed him and got my first victory.”

“I’m happy for this win but I’m not the general classification rider for this team. We have two guys who are very strong and can fight for the podium and every general classification rider finished today in a big bunch. I don’t think anyone from (our) breakaway is a contender.”

Two teams from Australia are competing in the Tour of Korea: The Australian National Team and WA’s Bianchi Lotto Arbitrage.

Check out CyclingIQ for full race report, results and photo gallery of stage 1. Click here to see the official Tour of Korea website.

Cadel Evans recognised with Queen’s Birthday honors

via ABC.net.au

Cyclist Cadel Evans, the first Australian to win the Tour de France, is among the Australians to be awarded Queen’s Birthday accolades today.

This year’s honours list includes Australians from all walks of life – from legal, academic and political offices to sporting fields and arts stages.

Evans was honoured with the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service to cycling and to the community.

The 36-year-old, who was born in the Northern Territory and now lives in Barwon Heads, Victoria, began his career as a mountain biker. He shifted his focus to road racing in 1994 and won the famed yellow Tour jersey in 2011.

“A few people always believed in me. I always believed in me. And we did it,” he said at the time.

Evans’s work for community charities has also been noted.

He is the originating ambassador of the Amy Gillett Foundation, a charity that seeks to reduce the incidence of death and injury among bike riders.

He is also a financial supporter of Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth, which aims to improve the health and education of Indigenous children.

This year’s honours list includes Australians from all walks of life – from legal, academic and political offices to sporting fields and arts stages.

Read more here.

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