Giro d’Italia Stage 13: Contador, the king of climbers

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.

Stage 13 of the Giro was the first real mountain stage, with plenty of climbing. The climbing, however, was situated more as a long climbing slogs as opposed to any steep ramps. This stage perfectly suited Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard), and his defense of the pink jersey. And defend it he did, with a repeat of how stage 9 played out, as Contador rode away from the competition with Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) to seal his lead. Rujano and Contador worked well together the last 9km, with Rujano ultimately taking the stage.

Sprinters abandon

As expected many of the sprinters abandoned after yesterday’s stage, as the mountains loomed. Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw (HTC-Columbia), Danilo Hondo and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD), Manuel Belletti (Colnago) and FransicoVentoso (Movistar) all abandoned before the stage started.

Big Breakaway

A big break of 16 got away relatively soon in the stage. The break included: Pablo Lastras and Branislau Samoilau (Movistar), Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Robert Kiserlovski and Cayetano Sarmiento (Astana), Rafael Valls (Geox), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Angel Vicioso (Androni Giocattoli), Craig Lewis (HTC-Columbia), Lars Petter (Sky),  Andrea Noe (Farnese-Vini), Johnny Hoogerland (Vaconsoliel), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondial), Kristof Vandewalle (Quickstep), Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo), Alessandro Spezialetti (Lampre-ISD). Their biggest gap was 4:50, but the peloton was never content to sit up and let the break go. Euskatel-Euskadi was the most prominent on the front, working to keep the break in check to give their man Igor Anton a chance.

With the penultimate climb looming, the break was working well together, but the peloton was chasing hard behind. As the break started on the Iselsbergpass climb, Kiserlovski attacked. While there was no immediate reaction from the break, soon others tried to follow. This put the hurt on the break, and riders started to drop. Kiserlovski was able to get a lead of almost 1 minute on the chase group, but as soon as Sarmiento, Losada, Lastras, Weening, and Nordhaug caught up to him, Sarmiento and Weening attacked and the rest were dropped, soon to be swallowed up.

Fireworks

With the group back together, at 10km the fireworks really started to fly. Rujano got away, joined by Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Anton and soon passed Saarmiento and Weening, but Contador brought them back, and soon set off on his own. Only Rujano was able to hold Contador’s wheel, the two were off, and it was a repeat of stage 9.

Behind the two leaders, the remaining chase group of about 12 attacked each other back and forth. John Gadret (AG2R-La Mondiale) attacked, soon overtaking his teammate Hubert Dupont, who had attacked earlier. With 2.5km to go, Anton launched his attack and joined up with Dupont. While Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) tried to bridge across from the small chase group, Nibali and Scarponi seemed unable to make any big efforts.

In the last kilometer, the two leaders were still together and as the two approached the line, Contador made no attempt to sprint and Rujano took the stage.

Contador has well and truly put his mark on this Giro. With this stage, Nibali moved into second, but he is 3 minutes down, and with the way Contador has been climbing so far, that 3 minutes could be insurmountable. After the stage, Nibali seemed defeated, saying “We’ve got to try and come up with something but what?” It seems it has become a race for 2nd place.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Jose Rujano VEN (Androni Giocattoli)
  2. Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
  3. John Gadret FRA (AG2R La Mondiale)
  4. Hubert Dupont FRA (AG2R La Mondiale)
  5. Igor Anton SPA (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Top 5 GC
  1. Alberto Contador
  2. Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 3:09
  3. Michele Scarponi ITA (Lampre-ISD) at 3:16
  4. David Arroyo SPA (Moviestar) at 3:25
  5. Roman Kreuziger CZE (Astana) at 3:29
  6. Photo: Graham Watson/CyclingWeekly.co.uk

Tour of California Stage 5: Sagan and the sprint

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. The writers over there (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Stage 5 of the Tour of California offered up some more climbing. While it was nothing like yesterday’s climb, which allowed Chris Horner to attack and win the stage and the yellow jersey, there were still 4 categorized climbs. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) got into the break early and hung until the very end. Hoping to score a stage win for Rabobank, which was sponsoring the stage, he was denied 100 meters from the line, and the stage ended in a bunch sprint, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) handily taking the stage.

The Break

About 25km into the stage, a four man break got away, consisting of Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Chris Froome (Sky), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) and Chris Baldwin (Bissell Cycling). However, soon after the first KOM, an attack from the bunch allowed Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank), Pat McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) to join the leaders. McCarty was the leader in the KOM jersey, and clearly was looking to stay there. However, he’d have to battle Anthony for maximum points , as he was only a few points behind. As they reached the 2nd KOM, the aggressive racing continued, with Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), and Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) attacking from the peloton and making across the gap to the leaders. This group of 11 was the break of the day, and their largest gap was 3’30”.

Again, RadioShack worked at the front of the peloton to keep the break in check. Tjallingi tried an attack on the break but only managed 20sec before he was brought back. By the time the break had reached the last KOM, riders had started to fall off of the break. When McCarty took maximum points over the top of the climb, Denifl and Freire took off and left the rest of the breakaway riders in their dust. The two worked together for awhile, but when Denifl got a flat, Freire took off. At 7km to go, he had 1 minute, but try as he might, a solo break win was not to be and he was swept up with 2.5km to go.

All together now

Once everyone was back together, a couple of attacks happened, notably George Hincapie (BMC). Jeremy Vannell (Bissell) also tried, but neither were successful. The pace in the run to the line was so high, the peloton was strung out and fractured.

As the finish line loomed, Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) started the sprint, followed closely by Ben Swift (Sky), but Sagan took them both coming around the outside to get to the line just before Howard, who had left a little too early.

It must be said that Bissell has been the star American team here in Cali. They’ve had men in the break every day and are racing to win (even though they haven’t yet!). For myself, I would love to see a domestic team get at least one stage win, but with only three days left, chances are running out. Today’s stage had no impact on the GC, or the time gaps, and Horner keeps his yellow jersey. Tomorrow is the individual time trial, which will hopefully see Taylor Phinney kicking some heiny!

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Peter sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  2. Leigh Howard AUS (HTC-Highroad)
  3. Ben Swift GBR (Sky)
  4. Paul Martens GER (Rabobank)
  5. Alexander Candelario USA (Kelly Benefit Stratgies)
Top 5 GC
  1. Chris Horner USA (RadioShack)
  2. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack) at 1:15
  3. Tom Danielson USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:22
  4. Christian Vande Velde USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:29
  5. Rory Sutherland AUS (UnitedHealthCare) at 1:30

Photo: AP

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.

Stage 5 of the Tour of California offered up some more climbing. While it was nothing like yesterday’s climb, which allowed Chris Horner to attack and win the stage and the yellow jersey, there were still 4 categorized climbs. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) got into the break early and hung until the very end. Hoping to score a stage win for Rabobank, which was sponsoring the stage, he was denied 100 meters from the line, and the stage ended in a bunch sprint, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) handily taking the stage.

The Break

About 25km into the stage, a four man break got away, consisting of Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Chris Froome (Sky), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) and Chris Baldwin (Bissell Cycling). However, soon after the first KOM, an attack from the bunch allowed Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank), Pat McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) to join the leaders. McCarty was the leader in the KOM jersey, and clearly was looking to stay there. However, he’d have to battle Anthony for maximum points , as he was only a few points behind. As they reached the 2nd KOM, the aggressive racing continued, with Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), and Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) attacking from the peloton and making across the gap to the leaders. This group of 11 was the break of the day, and their largest gap was 3’30”.

Again, RadioShack worked at the front of the peloton to keep the break in check. Tjallingi tried an attack on the break but only managed 20sec before he was brought back. By the time the break had reached the last KOM, riders had started to fall off of the break. When McCarty took maximum points over the top of the climb, Denifl and Freire took off and left the rest of the breakaway riders in their dust. The two worked together for awhile, but when Denifl got a flat, Freire took off. At 7km to go, he had 1 minute, but try as he might, a solo break win was not to be and he was swept up with 2.5km to go.

All together now

Once everyone was back together, a couple of attacks happened, notably George Hincapie (BMC). Jeremy Vannell (Bissell) also tried, but neither were successful. The pace in the run to the line was so high, the peloton was strung out and fractured.

As the finish line loomed, Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) started the sprint, followed closely by Ben Swift (Sky), but Sagan took them both coming around the outside to get to the line just before Howard, who had left a little too early.

It must be said that Bissell has been the star American team here in Cali. They’ve had men in the break every day and are racing to win (even though they haven’t yet!). For myself, I would love to see a domestic team get at least one stage win, but with only three days left, chances are running out. Today’s stage had no impact on the GC, or the time gaps, and Horner keeps his yellow jersey. Tomorrow is the individual time trial, which will hopefully see Taylor Phinney kicking some heiny!

Photo: AP

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