Tom Boonen wins stage 4 of the Tour of Qatar

Belgium’s Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), swept along by high winds, has claimed the Tour of Qatar’s fourth and penultimate stage overnight by a matter of centimetres from Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).

Tour de Qatar 2014 - stage 4

The Omega Pharma rider, who also took Monday’s second stage, moved up from fourth to second, 17 seconds adrift, behind his teammate Niki Terpstra in the overall standings with only tonight’s fifth and final stage remaining.

Boonen won the blustery 135km ride from Dukhan to Mesaeeid in a tight bunched sprint finish, denying Greipel by just five centimetres, with Barry Markus of the Netherlands in third.

The riders were pushed by the strong winds on their backs to produce a super-fast average pace of 56.8km/h — one of the fastest races in history. The stage finished 35 minutes quicker than forecast, catching — among others — catering staff in the riders’ village unawares.

This was the 33-year-old Boonen’s 22nd stage win in Qatar where he’s seeking to add to his previous overall wins in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.

After a tiring day’s riding the evergreen Belgian commented: “With this wind on your back we were really made to suffer. To control the peloton which is going so fast is no easy thing to do. Once again we’ll sleep well tonight.”

Boonen’s performance here this week has proved he is back in form after missing the second half of last season, including the world championships in Florence, with a perineal cyst.

“I really like the 2014 Boonen as it takes after the 2012 model (Boonen won four races in 2012),” said Omega Pharma manager Patrick Lefevere.

The race concludes Friday with a 159km ride from Al Zubara Fort to Madinat Al Shamal.

Follow the link for results from stage 4 of the 2014 Tour of Qatar. Text via AFP.

Former South African track champion dies while racing

South African track cyclist Jeanne Nell has died after a crash while attempting to qualify for the Commonwealth Game in Glasgow, officials said on Wednesday.

Nell, a former national sprint, time trial and keirin champion, fell during a keirin race in Cape Town on Tuesday and suffered head injuries. He later died in hospital.

His coach Ricky Kulsen described Nell as “one of the best sprinters South Africa has ever had…a true champion lost to South African cycling.”

Nell represented South Africa at the UCI Track World Cup in Manchester last year. Nell’s death follows that of South Africa’s Olympic cyclist Burry Stander died after being knocked down by a car last year.

Click here to read more at road.cc. Text via AFP.

Vuelta a Espana to include a women’s race in 2015

Mere weeks after the announcement that the Tour de France will feature a women’s race this year, organisers of the Vuelta a Espana have revealed that from next year, when the stage race returns to Madrid, the Spanish Grand Tour will also host a one-day women’s event.

stage-21 of the Vuelta a España 2013

Race Director Javier Guillén told Spanish sports daily AS, “Like the Tour de France is doing in Paris this year, hosting a women’s race on the final day, the Vuelta wants to do the same next year in Madrid.”

An official announcement about the women’s race at next year’s Vuelta is yet to be made.

Click here to read more at Cycling Weekly.

Cancellara playing a long game ahead of the Spring Classics

Tom Boonen appears to be in stellar early-season form, suggesting a strong showing at this year’s Spring Classics. Meanwhile, Fabian Cancellera (Trek), Boonen’s main adversary in recent editions of the Classics, is taking a different approach to his preparation.

Tour de Qatar 2014 - stage 3

Cancellara hasn’t featured in the races he’s contested so far this year and in the Dubai Tour and Tour of Qatar time trials he’s looked well off the pace. But the Swiss powerhouse isn’t concerned, saying he’s more focused on base miles.

“It’s not my goal to win the race. I have other ambitions, other goals”, Cancellara said. “I just do what I have to do, which is just making race kilometres and coming out of this race without crashes.”

“Of course, today is not April,” Cancellara said. “I see many riders today already in great shape. Whether I am bad or they are too good, I mean, that’s always the calculation you make by yourself.

“Maybe they are really well prepared to come here to do high-intensity racing, and then go a bit slower towards Omloop [Het Nieuwsblad] or the races that come after. Everybody is doing his own thing. I don’t stress about it. I’m just focused and I’m working.”

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Heinrich Haussler on his updated training methods

Australian-registered rider Heinrich Haussler has made a bit of a name for himself for his little idiosyncracies on and off the bike, not least his love of big blocks of cross country skiing in his offseason.

Heinrich Haussler (AUS)

And while Haussler still spent eight weeks skiing over winter he’s now using some more modern training techniques, including a power meter for training for the first time.

“With the old East German style of long hard training with big gears, you can only get to a certain level,” Haussler told Cycling News in Qatar. “Now I’m working on my VO2 max, my lactate threshold and stuff like that.”

“With Garmin, we had to use [power meters] as part of the team, but this is the first time I’ve actually worked with someone and done interval training, motor pacing, sprints and proper weight training,” he said. “All this kind of stuff is new and it’s something I’m getting a big advantage from.”

Haussler is currently racing the Tour of Qatar, a race he’s performed well at in the past, but this season he’s got his sights set on the Classics.

“This year I’ve just come to Qatar and Oman trying to use them as races to really peak for the Classics,” he said. “I’m really trying 100% to be really good for those two or three weekends.”

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Road race and TT courses revealed for Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Organisers have revealed the road race and ITT routes for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with the road race to be held on the same course as last year’s British National Road Championships.

Cycling-Road-Map-Web

The 14km circuit, which will be raced 12 times for the men (168km) and nine times for the women (128km), starts and finishes on Glasgow Green. Mark Cavendish won last year’s British national road race on the circuit and is keen to replicate the feat while riding for the Isle of Man in the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s not that often you can get to represent the Isle of Man. I’m British and proud to be, but it’s nice because I get to be racing with guys I’ve raced with my whole life,” Cavendish said.

“There’s me, [Team Sky rider] Pete Kennaugh, Mark Christian who was with Sean Kelly’s team and now he’s with Raleigh, Andrew Roche who rode the Commie Games in India, Joe Kelly too. I love doing it because it’s with all my mates, the guys I grew up with, we’ve been bashing around since we were juniors.”

Click here to read more at road.cc.

Debunking myths around lactic acid

Here’s an interesting article over at VeloNews about the myths most of us cyclists believe when it comes to lactic acid. For instance, that burning sensation we get during a hard effort on the bike? Not lactic acid at all. In fact, to quote from the article:

“During intense exercise, you can drive [your blood’s pH, a measure of acidity] down into the high sixes,” Hickey said. This is well above the pH required to produce true lactic acid. If you had lactic acid in your blood, you’d have to have a pH under six, and you’d be getting rushed to the hospital.

Click here to read and learn more.

Ride2Live: first aid for cyclists

Here’s a project being put together by South Australia graphic designer and cyclist Adam Carpenter who had a heart attack during a charity ride last year and was lucky enough to have medical professionals riding behind him.

Carpenter is putting together a book and app with cycling-specific first aid advice in the hope of potentially saving the lives of cyclists of all types. The book covers basic life support skills, common medical conditions and specific problems often faced by cyclists.

To learn more and/or support the project, head to the project’s IndieGoGo page.

Promo video: the Women’s Tour (of Britain)

Here’s the newly-released promo video for the Women’s Tour, a five-stage British race starting on May 7:

Click here to visit the race’s official website.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed:


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Today’s feature image comes from Jered Gruber and was shot during last year’s Tour of Flanders. It might only be February but already there’s plenty of excitement about this year’s Spring Classics, not least because Tom Boonen appears to be in stellar form after a forgettable season last year.