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.

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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

Giro d’Italia Stage 6: Ventoso victorious

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.

A stage that wasn’t particularly tough ended with a close sprint between Alessandro Petacchi and Francisco Ventoso. Petacchi did not have anything left in his legs to shut down Ventoso, who was able to take the win by a good margin.

So far in this race, the biggest contenders haven’t been making too much noise- but it’s still early in the race and the big mountains have yet to be ridden. Of the favorites, Vincenzo Nibali was the highest placed at the start of this stage, in 6th at 24 seconds behind. The real hills start tomorrow, so the climbers did what they could to save their legs today.

The break of the day was made up of Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma Lotto), Kristof Vandewalle (Quickstep), Yaroslav Popvych (Radioshack), Sacha Modolo (Colnago), Frederik Veunchelen (Vaconsoleil), which was formed within the first 10km. Popvych was highest placed in the GC in 59th, at 5’53”. This group was never allowed more than 5’40”, as the sprinters’ teams were on high alert.

It was a pretty calm stage until there was about 40km left. By this time, Modolo was unable to hang on anymore, and dropped off the back of the leaders. After spending a fair amount of time in purgatory, he was caught by the peloton with 22km to go. Just one kilometer down the road, Veikkanen dropped as well.

It was about this time when the sparks started to fly. Attacks started with Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago)  and didn’t stop until the finish line. Attacks were happening everywhere, initiated by everyone and every team. Nothing was able to snap the elastic, and everything was reeled back. Even though the break was doomed at this point, it didn’t stop Vandewalle from attacking out the break. With 7.5km Popvych was caught and Vandewalle was truly alone.

With 2km to go, peloton had Vandewalle in its sights, and quickly swallowed him up. Now the teams started to jostle for position, trying to get something in place for a sprint. Within the last 100 meters, Danilo Di Luca (Katusha) shot off the front in this flat finish, hoping to make it away, but Petacchi and Ventoso were hot on his heels. Ventoso lead the run to the line, with Petacchi right behind him. Petacchi tried to get around Ventoso, but a few pedal strokes after coming around him, his burst to chase down Di Luca caught up to him and he all but sat up, enabling Ventoso to take the win. After the stage, when asked why he seemed to sit up and give the win to Ventoso, Petacchi responded that there were just too many attacks to mark: “Di Luca went very hard and I took Bozic’s wheel. I thought he was the man to beat as he still had teammates up there. I let Ventoso come past initially as I had already made the effort to follow Di Luca, but then I went.” Unfortunately, he found he had nothing left in his legs to give, and quickly sat up.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Francisco Ventoso SPA (Movistar)
  2. Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
  3. Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli)
  4. Danilo Di Luca ITA (Katusha)
  5. Davide Appollonio ITA (Sky)
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. Pablo Lastras SPA (Moviestar) at 22 sec

Photo Graham Watson

Giro d’Italia, Stage 5: Back to the bike

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.

Stage 5 saw the Giro get back to racing, as Fitzalan Gorman reports. Pieter Weening took the pink jersey from David Millar at the end of this stage.

Photo: Graham Watson

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Pieter Weening NED (Rabobank)
  2. Fabio Duarte COL (Geox-TMC)
  3. Jose Rodolfo COL (Androni Giocattoli)
  4. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo)
  5. Oscar Gatto ITA (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli)
Top 5 GC
  1. Pieter Weening
  2. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  3. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  4. Christophe Le Mevel at 5 sec
  5. Pablo Lastras SPA (Movistar) at 22 sec