Andre Greipel wins stage 5 at the Tour of Qatar

Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) has won the Tour of Qatar’s fifth stage overnight, a 159km ride from Al Zubara Fort to Madinat Al Shamal.

Tour de Qatar 2014 - stage 5

Greipel prevailed in a sprint finish ahead of Lithuania’s Aidis Kruopis (Orica-GreenEDGE) with Dutch rider Theo Bos (Belkin) taking third.

Niki Tersptra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) retained his lead in the overall standings ahead of tonight’s sixth and final stage after finishing ninth behind Greipel. Barring misfortune Tersptra is poised for victory on Doha’s Corniche on Friday.

Terpstra leads his Omega Pharma teammate Boonen by 17 seconds with a 20-second advantage over Belgian Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol).

“We controlled the stage today well, not taking any risks and letting the other teams work in the final section. I’m optimistic for tomorrow,” said Tersptra.

Tonight’s final stage takes the riders 113.5km from the Sealine Beach Resort to the Doha Corniche.

Follow the link for results from stage 5 of the 2014 Tour of Qatar.

Froome to forego Criterium International title defence

Chris Froome (Sky) won last year’s Criterium International as part of a successful lead-up to the Tour de France but the Briton won’t ride this year’s edition after Team Sky chose not to apply for a place.

Tour de France  2012 stage - 11

Instead Froome will head to the Volta a Catalunya as he starts to build some early-season form.

With Sky and BMC choosing not to enter the race, the first, second (Richie Porte) and third-placed (Tejay van Garderen) riders in last year’s edition won’t be there. But the line-up will still be strong with eight WorldTours team represented and the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) expected to attend.

The two-day, three stage race starts on Sunday March 29 and features two road stages and an individual time trial.

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Will a new-look Paris-Nice attract star riders over Tirreno-Adriatico?

Last week the organisers of the Tour de France, ASO, revealed the route for the 2014 edition of Paris-Nice a race that, this year, won’t feature any time trials or high-mountain finishes.

Richie Porte won last year's edition of Paris-Nice after winning the ITT and a mountain-top stage.

Richie Porte won last year’s edition of Paris-Nice after winning the ITT and a mountain-top stage.

It was a bold move that will change the way the race is contested, but as Gregor Brown writes in VeloNews, the question is whether the race — traditionally an early-season form indicator for the Tour de France — will still attract the big-name riders.

The issue is that Paris-Nice is held at the same time as Tirreno-Adriatico, another stage race that also vies for the attention of the top riders.

This year’s edition of Tirreno features a TTT and an ITT, a medium mountain stage and a high-mountain finish, all factors which would seem to make the Italian race more appealing than its French counterpart.

As Gregor Brown concludes:

“Despite changing its format for 2014, and the presence of hopeful Tour contender Nibali, it appears as though Paris-Nice will once again lose out in the sweeps to attract the most star power in March. But it will be a few months before we see which race served as the better launch pad for the classics and grand tours.”

Click here to read the article over at VeloNews.

Talansky looks for consistency as leadership role grows

Twenty-five-year-old Garmin-Sharp rider Andrew Talansky had an impressive 2013 season, finishing second overall at Paris-Nice (including a stage win) before going on to finish 10th at the Tour de France.

USA Pro Challenge Stage 5

This season, the American says, he’s looking for more consistency and to build towards the peak of his career in a few years’ time.

“Obviously the goal for me is to improve a bit each year. I’m not looking for a massive jump all of a sudden. Last year I proved I can race at the front in the one week races and I’m already a top ten GC rider for the Grand Tours”, he told Cycling News.

“I want to improve on that, to go to the Tour and not have a bad day in the mountains, but really I just want to be consistent all year. I’ve set some targets for Tirreno and Romandie and I want to turn up for those races and go for the podium there.”

And it appears Talansky is looking well beyond this season.

“I have another three or four years until we can really see what I can do and each year is a stepping stone to get there. On the way it’s about learning how to be a leader on and off the bike,” he told Cycling News.

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Vos delays road season opener to Fleche Wallonne

It won’t be until April that we get to see Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) begin her 2014 road campaign with the multiple world champion across a number of disciplines delaying her season to target later season races and, she says, start her ideal preparation for the Olympics in two years.

“With Rio in sight, I decided to opt for a longer rest time between ’cross and road,” Vos said via the team’s website.

In recent years Vos has raced road, cyclocross and MTB, often with little rest in between, but this year, her team manager Koos Moerenhout says, they need to start giving Vos more rest.

“The seasons ran into each other and they went from climax to climax, but that took a lot of strength. Last year, we got to know our limits. There had to be a different approach. Sometimes you have to kick on the brakes. Even Marianne, who sometimes cannot stop.”

Vos will start her season with Flèche Wallonne Féminine which takes place on April 24 and finishes atop the Mur de Huy. She will later focus on defending her road world championship title when the worlds head to Ponferrada, Spain.

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

€100,000 of gear stolen from Cannondale’s headquarters

Team Cannondale is the latest professional cycling team to fall foul of thieves with the Italian team having roughly €100,000 worth of frames and components stolen from its headquarters overnight.

The Cannondale theft follows a haul of a similar magnitude from the Lampre-Merida base near Milan in November.

An investigation into the Cannondale theft is currently underway.

Click here to read more at road.cc.

Armstrong on Pantani, 10 year after the latter’s death

It’s ten years since the death of one of cycling most entertaining yet troubled characters, Marco “Il Pirata” Pantani. The Italian is widely regarded as one of the best climbers in the sport’s history and his exploits on the mountains of Italy and France in particular will continue to live on in memory (and on YouTube).

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On the anniversary of Pantani’s death, one of his greatest rivals, Lance Armstrong, has written a piece for Cycling News reflecting on the Pantani he knew and the great battles they had over the years, on and off the bike.

Here’s an excerpt:

“So much of that hostility came down to what happened on the Ventoux in 2000. I’m not here to glorify anything, everyone knows what happened that day, but we were at the head of the race and trading pulls. I told him, in my shitty Italian, ‘you can have the win’. He thought I was saying ‘you need to go faster’.

“My Italian was so bad though, I could have been saying anything, but we were going plenty fast enough, believe me. What happened that day didn’t help things, and from there on things were never the same.”

Here’s a video of that now-famous duel:

Putting the indiscretions of both riders aside for one moment, Armstrong’s piece is well worth a read and a great reflection on who Pantani was.

Click here to read the full article at Cycling News.

Why cycling’s review is a step forward but isn’t enough

Earlier this year the UCI announced an independent commission to investigate pro cycling’s past, an investigation entitled “Cycling Independent Reform Commission” or CIRC.

Steve Maxwell and Joe Harris, authors of “A Roadmap to Repair Pro Cycling” have written an opinion piece for VeloNews explaining why they think CIRC is a step in the right direction but that the process has a number of considerable flaws.

To quote:

“But there are a number of shortcomings with respect to the published structure and operating plan for the CIRC that jeopardize its effectiveness, and call into question its ability to truly reform the sport.

“Four problems in particular stand out: the lack of power to compel participation; limited authority to grant leniency or enforce sanctions; a subordinate position relative to national laws; and an insufficient historical timeframe of review.”

Maxwell and Harris go into some detail about each of these four issues before concluding:

“The CIRC must do as much as is possible to break the omerta and root out the corrupting influences. It must take counsel from unconventional sources, criticism from its strongest opponents, and testimony from all sides.

“Without these contributions, the CIRC may not fully understand and appreciate the real causes of today’s problems, or be able to clear a path for the UCI to take cycling towards a more prosperous future.”

Click here to read more at Velo News.

Three days of cycling to celebrate the Giro’s Irish start

This year’s edition of the Giro d’Italia starts with three stages in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and two weeks later, everyday riders will get their own chance to ride the challenging terrain of Northern Ireland with the Curadmir Ulster Cycle.

The organisers are calling it the toughest route in the British Isles with a course that covers 360 miles (580km) in just three days on some remote roads near Ulster, including some steep and challenging climbs.

The sportif takes place from May 24 to 26.

Click here to learn more at the Curadmir website.

The Rocacorba Recap

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


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Today’s feature image comes from John Pierce at PhotoSport International and was (obviously) shot during the Tour of Qatar.