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 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.