Tour of California Stage 4: Horner crushes on the first climbs

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Yesterday’s stage of the Tour of California featured the first of the real climbing. Chris Horner smashed the competition on Mt. Hamilton, and rode his way into the yellow jersey. Check out Fitzalan’s recap!

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Chris Horner USA (RadioShack)
  2. Andy Schleck LUX (Leopard Trek) at 1:15
  3. Rory Sutherland AUS (UnitedHealthCare) at 1:15
  4. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack) at 1:15
  5. Tom Danielson USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:22
Top 5 GC
  1. Chris Horner
  2. Levi Leipheimer at 1:15
  3. Tom Danielson at 1:22
  4. Christian Vande Velde USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:29
  5. Rory Sutherland at 1:30

Photo: Casey B. Gibson/VeloNews.com

Giro d’Italia Stage 12: Cav takes win two

It was a badly kept secret that after today most of the sprinters would head home, as the road headed directly upwards in stage 13, as it climbed Mt. Etna. And sprint they did, with Mark Cavendish taking his 2nd win of the race.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Mark Cavendish GRB (HTC-Highroad)
  2. Davide Appollonio ITA (Sky)
  3. Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
  4. Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli
  5. Gerald Ciolek GER (Quickstep)
Top 5 GC
  1. Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 59 sec
  3. Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 1:21
  4. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:28
  5. Michele Scarponi ITA (Lampre-ISD) at s.t.

Giro d’Italia Stage 11: Gadret sneaks in a win

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. I am sharing recap writing duties with the other writers of both the Giro and the Tour of California.

Today, the riders of the Giro were treated to a lumpy, lumpy stage. While it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t easy either and while there was potential for a breakaway to succeed on this stage, the lone breakaway rider to last until the end, Daniel Morano (Katusha), was overtaken in the last 100 meters by John Gadret (AG2R-La Mondiale).

Frequent attacks

The start of the stage saw a lot of riders, from all over the GC, attacking all over the place. A big group of riders escaped right away, but owing to the presence of names like Kiryienka, Ventoso, De Clercq, Petacchi, Brutt, it was not allowed to stay away for long. Another group of 12 tried to get away on the first climb, with no success. Finally, with only 80km to go, another 10 tried. The group, made up of Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo), Daniel Morano (Katusha), Marco Marzano (Lampre-ISD), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale), Carlos Alberto Betancur  and Fabio Taborre (Acqua & Sapone), Simone Stortoni (Colnago), Ignatas Konovalovas (Movistar), Tiago Machado (RadioShack), Lars Nordhaug (Sky), and Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank), was urged on by Le Mevel to keep the pace high, and finally managed to snap the elastic.

Le Mevel, as the highest placed GC contendor in the break, was a marked man. Being in the break could mean a jump in the standings (or even take the pink jersey) if he could stay away until the end, but it could also kill his GC chances, working hard in the break all day. The gap was kept steady at around 2 minutes, which was close enough for the peloton (and the pink jersey) to feel comfortable, but far enough away to have a chance at taking the stage and the pink jersey.

Attacks in the break

Even the break wasn’t immune to multiple attacks toda. With 30km to go, Morano attacked out the break and managed to get a good gap. 15km later, Betancur attacked, followed quickly by Le Mevel, Kruijswijk, Konovalovas, Stortoni, and Marzano. Soon, however, Konovalovas attacked out of that group of chasers and quickly pulled away. He blazed up to Morano, where they started to work together. The chasers continued to work behind them, with Le Mevel trying hard to make them work together, but to no avail- the chasers soon started attacking each other. Kruijswijk and Stortoni attacked Le Mevel and the rest at 8km, and were quickly pulled back only to have Kruijswijk attack again. Le Mevel’s chances at staying away or gaining enough time to get the pink jersey were dwindling fast.

Lost gamble

Despite Le Mevel’s valiant efforts to keep the break working together and away,  by the 3km to go mark, the chasers were caught.

Within the last kilometer Morano was out of the saddle, dropping Kovovalovas and trying to keep ahead of the peloton, which was nipping at his heels. Despite one last, desperate dig by Morano, John Gadret  timed his attack out of the peloton and easy passed Morano on the uphill finish to take the stage.

While there had been talk of Contador letting the pink jersey go, in the end, Le Mevel’s gamble did not pay off, as he was not able to take the pink jersey. However, all was not lost, as he did move up to 4th in the GC, only 1’28″ behind Contador.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. John Gadret FRA (AG2R La Mondiale)
  2. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver SPA (Katusha)
  3. Giovanni Visconti ITA (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli)
  4. Jose Rodolfo COL (Androni Giocattoli)
  5. Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
Top 5 GC
  1. Alberto Contador
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 59 sec
  3. Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 1:21
  4. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervlo) at 1:28
  5. Michele Scarponi ITA (Lampre-ISD) at s.t.

Photo: Bettini/CyclingNews.com

Giro d’Italia, Stage 10: Cav delivers

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

During stage 10, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) finally achieved the elusive victory at the Giro. Having been pipped at the line in stage 2 by Petacchi, it is sure that Cav was happy to pay Petachhi back by beating him to the line in today’s stage, despite a 4% gradient to the finish. Fitzalan Gorman recaps the stage, which saw Contador keep the pink jersey.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Mark Cavendish GBR (HTC-Highroad)
  2. Francisco Ventoso SPA (Movistar)
  3. Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
  4. Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli)
  5. Davide Appollonio ITA (Sky)
Top 5 GC
  1. Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 59 sec
  3. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:19
  4. Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 1:21
  5. Michele Scarponi ITA(Lampre-ISD) at 1:28

Photo: Sirotti/Cyclingfans.com

Tour of California Stage 3: Team Sky, Take 2

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California. Also, be sure to check out Fitzalan’s take on the stage from the ground!

A stage that was destined to end up in a sprint surely did. The riders started in crap weather conditions, with rain, wind, and 52 degree weather. Thankfully, the rain let up as the stage went on, but the wind and the cold did not. Despite a strong crosswind near the end, the wind did not end up being much of deciding factor in this stage, and the bunch was together at the end when Greg Henderson, of Team Sky, took the stage win.

Domestic riders in the break

Like yesterday, a passel of Domestic riders got into the breakaway within the first few kilometers. Seven riders made up the eventual break: Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Barta (Team NetApp), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling, and the brother of yesterday’s breakaway rider, Ben Jacques-Maynes), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder), Mike Creed (Kelly Benefits Strategy) and Jamey Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), who was in the break yesterday and took home the Most Courageous Rider’s jersey. Their lead settled in at around 6:40 until the reached the halfway point, when the peloton started to pick up the pace behind them. However, this increase in pace did not mean a quick scoop up of the break- it continued to toil away until it reached Modesto. Gaimon was the first to drop from the back, with 73km to go.

By 30km to go, Jacques-Maines and Barta were alone at the front, while the peloton behind them coped with crosswinds. The field was split up something fierce, with many favorites caught out the back, but soon another road change direction helped bring the peloton back together.

Soon Barta was by himself at the front, but that was short lived, as they came into Modesto. Once the peloton came into Modesto for two laps of a 4.5 circuit, he was swept up.

Crashes in Modesto

As the peloton came into the first circuit, Spidertech took control and lead for the whole circuit. It was during these laps that crashes started to happen. First it was Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek), Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad), and Will Dugan (Team Type 1). Then it was Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-Sungard) and Micheal Matthews (Rabobank). Everyone got up from their crashes and finished the race on their bikes. Into the last lap Saxo Bank-Sungard came to the front for JJ Haedo and with 3km to go, Sky came forward for their sprinter, and yellow jersey wearer, Ben Swift. As Sky, and the peloton, came out of the last corner, Greg Henderson motored away, intending to be the leadout man for Ben Swift. However, Swift had been caught in the field and as Henderson quickly gapped the field, he realized Swift was not coming around him and handily took the win in front of Haedo, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo).

Henderson said after the stage that the plan had been to go for Swift, but in the chaos of the run to the line, Swift lost his wheel and when Henderson opened up his lead out, Swift was not there, so he went for the line himself.

Henderson’s win put him tied with Swift for first place, time-wise, but has taken over the yellow jersey. With the climbs starting tomorrow, Henderson said Sky holds no illusions about keeping the jersey for another day.

Top 5 Stage finishers

  1. Greg Henderson NZL (Sky)
  2. Juan Jose Haedo ARG (Saxo Bank-Sungard)
  3. Thor Hushovd NOR (Garmin-Cervelo)
  4. Peter Sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  5. Leigh Howard AUS (HTC-Highroad)
Top 5 GC
  1. Henderson
  2. Ben Swift GBR (Sky) at same time
  3. Sagan at 4 sec
  4. Haedo at 4 sec
  5. Hushovd at 6 sec

Photo: AP/Getty Images

Tour of California Stage 2: Race day

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

The racing finally got started in California yesterday with a modified, shorted stage to accommodate for the closure of Donner Pass (good thing, too. Would have for the riders to be stranded and have to start eating each other. Teehee.) that ended with three laps around Sacramento. It was a rather boring stage, but it ended with a great sprint, with Ben Swift (Team Sky) taking his 5th win of the season. Here’s Fitzalan’s report from the ground, and Peter’s recap of the stage!

Top 5 finishers/GC

  1. Ben Swift GRB (Sky)
  2. Peter Sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  3. Matt Goss AUS (HTC-Highroad)
  4. Kevin Lacombe CAN (Spidertech)
  5. Juan Jose Heado ARG (Saxo Bank-Sungard)


Photo: Casey B. Gibson/VeloNews

Tour of California Stage 1: Snow day

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Unfortunately, the first day the Tour of California was cancelled due to crappy road conditions near Lake Tahoe and over a portion of the roads they were supposed to race. However, Fitzalan Gorman is in California now, and gave an eyewitness account to all the weather issues going on. She will be in Cali for the next few days and will be writing reports about her adventures there.

Giro d’Italia, Stage 9: Contador smokes ‘em

He brought out the finger pistol. I'm not amused.

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

In a slightly surprising turn of events, race favorite Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) made a huge move today, attacking on Mt. Etna in the last 5km. His attack allowed him to take the stage and put on the pink jersey. Read Peter Alvelais’ recap.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
  2. Jose Rujano VEN (Androni Giocattoli)
  3. Stefano Garzelli ITA (Acqua & Sapone)
  4. Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  5. Roman Kreuziger CZE (Astana)
Top 5 GC
  1. Alberto Contador
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 59 sec
  3. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:19
  4. Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 1:21
  5. Michele Scarponi ITA (Lampre-ISD) at 1:28

Photo: AP

Giro d’Italia Stage 8: Gatto steals the sprint

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. I am sharing recap writing duties with the other writers of both the Giro and the Tour of California.

Today’s relatively flat stage featured a tricky uphill finish. Those who had done their homework, researching the stage, knew that two hairpin turn close to the finish would be a place to win or lose the stage. Oscar Gatto (Farnese Fini) had clearly done this homework, and a perfectly timed attack after the hairpins was only able to be followed by Alberto Contador, who had to settle for second place.

The break got away within the first couple of kilometers, with two Italians, Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Leonardo Giordani (Farnese Vini), taking to the front for the majority of the race. Their gap was only allowed to get to 11 minutes, and was quickly brought down to 7 minutes, where they stayed to the 50km to go mark.

By this time, the peloton  started to work in earnest to bring back the two in front. Caught with only 7km to go, teams, especially those with sprinting hopes, started to jockey for position in the front of the group, as they knew they would need good positioning going into the narrow hairpin turns near the finish. Unfortunately, all the fighting for position was for naught, as Gatto had perfect positioning and legs good enough to attack and make it stick. Only Contador followed, a surprising move for a favorite. After taking the 12 second time bonus that came with second, Contador moved into 5th place on the GC. Afterwards, Contador said the attack wasn’t planned, but he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, with the legs to follow, so he did.

Tomorrow stage, with a double climb of Mt. Etna will either be a real corker, with lots of attacks and destroyed riders, or a real stinker, with no one taking any risks this early in the race.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Oscar Gatto ITA (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli)
  2. Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
  3. Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
  4. Alexander Kristoff NOR (BMC)
  5. Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli)
Top 5 GC
  1. Pieter Weening NED (Rabobank)
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  3. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  4. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 5 sec
  5. Alberto Contador

Photo: Bettini/Cyclingnews.com

Giro d’Italia, Stage 7: De Clerq on the summit

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Fitzalan Gorman recaps Stage 7, which featured 13 miles of climbing with Bart de Clarq (Omega Pharma Lotto) attacking in the last 10km and, holding off a last second sprint by Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), took the stage win. Weening is still in pink.

Top 5 Stage results

  1.  Bart De Clercq BEL (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
  2. Michele Scarponi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
  3. Roman Kreuziger CZE (Astana)
  4. Stefano Garzelli ITA (Acqua & Sapone)
  5. Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale)
Top 5 GC
  1. Pieter Weening NED (Rabobank)
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  3. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  4. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 5 sec
  5. Michele Scarponi at 14 sec

Photo Graham Watson

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