Michael Matthews wins stage three of Vuelta a España, grabs overall lead

by Shane Stokes

Replicating his stage victory earlier this year in the Giro d’Italia, Michael Matthews showed perfect timing to hit the line first at the end of day three of the Vuelta a España.

The Orica-GreenEdge rider increased his Grand Tour stage tally to four when he outsprinted Garmin-Sharp rider Dan Martin to the line in Arcos de la Frontera, coming off the Irishman’s wheel inside the final 100 metres of the uphill drag to the finish.

Tour of Spain 2014 stage - 3

Matthews finished half a bike length clear of Martin, while there was a bigger gap between the duo and the next riders across the line, namely Joaquin Rodriguez (Team Katusha), Wilco Kelderman, Paul Martens (both Belkin Pro Cycling) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team).

“In the final, Kolobnev attacked [actually Caruso – ed.]. I didn’t think we’d catch him but Chris Froome went over the top to chase him down with Dan Martin on the wheel. It was up to me to jump on Dan Martin and hopefully come over him in the finale. I just got him in the finale. For me and for the team, it was a 110% effort, like we planned.”

Overnight race leader Alejandro Valverde was only 39th, losing seven seconds, and this plus the time bonus up for grabs saw Matthews take over in the red jersey of race leader.

The Vuelta continues tomorrow with a 165km stage from Mairena del Alcor (Sevilla) to Córdoba with two categorised climbs along the way

Stage 3: Cádiz > Arcos de la Frontera - Stage Result

Monday 25th August 2014

1. au
MATTHEWS Michael
Orica GreenEDGE
05:12:14
2. ie
MARTIN Daniel
Garmin Sharp
-
3. es
RODRíGUEZ Joaquim
Team Katusha
-

Click here to read a full stage report at CyclingTips.

Caleb Ewan wins stage two of the Tour de l’Avenir

by Shane Stokes

Caleb Ewan showed it was a wise move to delay his move to full professional status with the Orica-GreenEdge team, with the Australian talent blasting home first at the end of stage two of the Tour de l’Avenir and proving he is one of the big favourites for next month’s world under 23 road race championships.


Ewan outsprinted fellow Orica-GreenEdge signee Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark) to the line at the end of the 143 kilometre stage to Saint Galmier, holding off the chasing rider despite launching his sprint early and getting the final corner wrong.

Alex Kirsch (Luxembourg) led the rest of the bunch in two seconds later, finishing just ahead of Austria’s Michael Gogl and Great Britain’s Owain Doull.

The success follows on from Ewan’s two stage wins last year and underlines his status as one of the fastest young riders in the sport.

The stage was marked by a long distance move by the Swiss rider Fabian Lienhard and the Frenchman Loïc Chétout. The pair pushed ahead after ten kilometres and worked hard on the hilly stage to try to build a decisive lead.

Although they opened a solid gap they were eventually reeled in by the peloton with eight kilometres left, with the Danish team working hard to defend the overall lead of Asbjorn Kragh.

Stage 2: Brioude > Saint-Galmier - Stage Result

Monday 25th August 2014

1. au
EWAN Caleb
03:36:13
2. dk
CORT NIELSEN Magnus
Cult Energy Vital Water
-
3. lu
KIRSCH Alex
Trek Factory Racing
0:02

Kragh holds a 16 second lead heading into the flat 150 kilometre third stage between Montrond-les-Bains and Paray-Le-Monial.

Click here to read more at Espoirs Central.

Martin metres from first win of season at Vuelta a España, pledges to try again

by Shane Stokes

Edged out inside the last 50 metres of stage three of the Vuelta a España by Michael Matthews, Garmin-Sharp rider Dan Martin has spoken of his near-miss, plus his intent to try again for another stage win as soon as possible.

The Irish rider looked to be one of the strongest on the final climb to the finish in Arcos de la Frontera, but Matthews latched onto his back wheel as he made his move, then jumped around him within sight of the line.

stage-3 of the Vuelta a EspaÒa 2013

“Obviously getting second again is frustrating,” said Martin, who was second on the final stage of the recent Tour de l’Ain and also runner-up in Flèche Wallonne earlier this season. “I have been second a fair few times in the last year now, so it’s hard.”

Martin had a testing season with a crash in the finale of Liège-Bastogne-Liège foiling his chances of a second win. He also crashed out on the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia, fracturing his collarbone and missing several weeks of racing.

“I felt good all day and the guys did an incredible job. I reckon I must have had 15 to 20 bottles, drinking 10, 12 litres of water during the day,” he said. “It was really hot out there, 40 degrees, and you could see the effects of that in the final. It wasn’t that hard of a finish but the group was decimated.”

Click here to read the full story at CyclingTips

Froome 10th on Vuelta stage three, Brailsford says he’s impressed by rider’s showing

by Shane Stokes

Although a surge by Chris Froome inside the final kilometre of stage three of the Vuelta a España failed to reap dividends, and indeed saw the Sky rider fade to cross the line back in 10th place, the team principal Dave Brailsford has said that he was happy with what he saw on the road to Arcos de la Frontera.

Tour of Spain 2014 - stage - 2

“I don’t think it tells you too much about GC but I must say I was impressed by Chris’ performance,” Brailsford said after the stage finish. “His starting position at the bottom was 30th so to come out of that corner in first position – he’s moved up well there. It might not be defining but it’s all about little bits of confidence so it’s all good.”

Froome’s participation in the Vuelta a España is his first race since he crashed out on stage five of the Tour de France, ending his bid to defend the title he took in 2013. Brailsford believes that it will take Froome a little time to get back up to race pace, and ditto for his self-belief.

“When you’ve had an experience like the Tour where obviously he had his crash, he had to bounce back from that disappointment, all those little things build up your confidence and put your belief systems back in place.”

“He’s actually enjoying his racing. I think he’s having fun, which is a great thing. We want to forget anything to do with his past, forget what he’s won, and just think: ‘right, you’re here. You’ve got the condition you’ve got, you’re a bike racer. You enjoy doing it, so go out and do it.’”

Click here to read the full story at Cyclingnews.

Valverde loses race lead after crash, hopes there will be no lingering effects

by Shane Stokes

The uphill sprint to the line of stage three of the Vuelta a España was something which many felt would suit Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), but instead the race leader had a modest showing and lost seven seconds in the finale. Valverde finished back in 39th place and lost his grip on the red jersey.

Tour of Spain 2014 - stage - 3

It passed instead to Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), while Valverde’s teammate Nairo Quintana moved ahead of him in the general classification. Valverde is concerned by what he said was the reason for his time loss; a crash inside the final 20km which brought himself, Jonathan Castroviejo and Adriano Malori down, and left the co-leader with some after-effects.

“One of the team-mates in front of me crashed while trying to pick up a musette and I went to the ground, too,” he said after the stage. “More than sweeping the ground, it was a sharp blow, with no bruises: I hit a team-mate’s bike and hit my back, but I could recover and go ahead.”

“My back hurts a bit after the crash, but I hope it’s not serious and I can recover well. I’m not feeling really sad after losing the jersey – it was more that I wanted to win this stage. I couldn’t, but this is cycling, things like that happen and we must carry on.”

Alex Howes extends contract with Garmin-Sharp for three years

Alex Howes, who won the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge over the weekend, has extended his contract with the team currently riding as Garmin-Sharp. The outfit will merge with Cannondale in 2015 and will face a name change.

USA Pro Challenge 2914  - stage - 3

“We re-signed him about a week ago,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews following Howes’ win in Colorado. “It’s a three-year deal with Alex. It just shows that he wanted to stay with the team and I wanted to stay with Alex. He’s the only guy we have on a three-year deal: 2015, 2016 and 2017.”

Vaughters wasn’t able to confirm whether other Garmin-Sharp riders at the USA Pro Challenge with expiring contracts would be back next year.

“[Janier] Acevedo is already on a two year deal,” Vaughters said. “[Phil] Gaimon has done an incredible job this year. He’s not signed, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be. With Caleb [Fairly], we’re still looking at that and still in negotiation.”

“It’s all open,” Vaughters said, when asked about Thomas Dekker’s future. “We have to see where we end up with the eight Cannondale riders if they’re actually all coming over or not. So it’s a little tricky in that regard with the merger, as any merger is – I’m sorry, marriage. Don’t call it a merger.”

Click here to read more at Cyclingnews.

Chris Horner hoping for 2015 contract despite Vuelta exit

Despite being forced out of the Vuelta a Espana in controversial circumstances, Chris Horner is hoping he’ll still be able to secure a contract for 2015.

stage-21 of the Vuelta a España 2013

Horner was blocked from starting the Vuelta after illness saw his cortisol levels drop below the minimum level required for teams part of the MPCC, including his Lampre-Merida team.

“Hopefully that doesn’t affect the contract talks for next year,” Horner said. “Clearly, it’s going to come into play sooner or later. This team has looked out for me. I hope they understand. I’ve heard nothing negative from the team about this.”

Horner is currently on a one-year deal with Lampre-Merida after his Vuelta win last year.

“I think I am having an exceptional year, under the conditions with the accident [ed. a crash in training before the Giro]. I think I did an amazing Tour considering I was sick, and where I had come from. Utah went well, we were second and third, [and won the] team classification,” Horner said. “I think the team knows what I bring.”

Lampre-Merida manager Brent Copeland wouldn’t provide specific details but flagged a potential interest in Horner next year.

“Chris has been a great addition to the team this year. He is not only always ready to race, but he brings a good attitude to everyone on the team,” Copeland said. “We invested a lot in Chris to bring him here this season. We will be talking about trying to work something out.”

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

Cycle the Iron Curtain

The division between eastern and western Europe that was once described by Winston Churchill as “the iron curtain” is the inspiration behind a new, 7,000km long cycling trail.

The Iron Curtain Trail begins in the town of Kirkenes in Norway and passes through more than 20 countries, through the division between East and West Germany, and finishes on the Black Sea in Turkey.

eu_engl_2012_01

The trail is the brainchild of German Green Party MEP, Michael Cramer who first proposed the trail nearly 10 years ago in European Parliament.

“If 23 years ago I’d have proposed the creation of a cycle path along the Iron Curtain, people would have said ‘this guy is crazy!'”, Cramer told the St Petersburg Times.

“There are parts of the track, particularly on the Russian-Finnish border, where you won’t see a car for several days, but then all of a sudden a herd of reindeer will appear!”

The trail is largely flat and is all but ready to ride, with just directional signage to be installed.

Click here to read more at the Iron Curtain Trail website and here at road.cc. Click here for a high-res map of the trail.

Sign up for the Dig Deep Coaching webinar

Earlier this month we published the first piece in a collaborative series with Dig Deep Coaching in which the coaches and experts at Dig Deep answer your questions about training, racing, nutrition and cycling performance generally.

Part two of the series is coming soon so if you’ve got a question you’d like the team to answer, be sure to email us and we’ll pass your question on.

In exciting news, the team at Dig Deep Coaching is also hosting a free webinar where they’ll answer a whole host of questions sent in by CyclingTips readers. That webinar will be held between 6.30pm and 7.30pm Melbourne time on Thursday September 11. Click here to sign up now.

The Rocacorba Recap

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

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Today’s feature image comes from Jered Gruber and was shot somewhere in Japan.