Friday, March 11, 2011

Paris - Nice stage 6

The dreaded time trial, the race against the clock.  May the fastest man win.  The time trial is the ultimate test of man and machine.  I can look up cliches all day long. Nothing that you can put in print can explain the amount of pain one has to endure to win a TT.  Watch the video of todays stage and you will get more than the 1,000 words.

The Panzerwagon was unstoppable.  There is not much more to say.  Tony Martin is for real, he is one of the only riders out there that will make Spartacus look over his shoulder.  The Panzerwagon put up a 48.5kph average over the 27k hilly course.  For you non metric types that is 30.16mph over 16.77miles.  Hope your jaw didn't break when it hit the floor.

TT stage 6
1 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:33:24
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:20
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:29
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:00:46
5 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:55
6 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:57
7 Andrew Talansky (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:05
8 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:01:10
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack
10 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:01:29

GC standings
1 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 24:59:47
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:00:36
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:39
4 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:01:10
5 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:14
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:01:29
7 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack 0:01:32
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:37
9 Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:51
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:57

Paris - Nice stage 5

Paris - Nice again with the climbs already.  Seven categorized climbs with a category 1 thrown in for let's just say FUN.  What better a place to launch the first attack of the day?  I can't think of many, so did Westra of Vacansoleil which seems like they are trying to say "yes, we made a mistake with Ricco, but we are here to race".  You have to admire their courage to continue on with the bad press they got with Ricco.  De Gendt seemed to turn that all around, but water cooler talk would pose the question: is this guy for real?  Oh the horror.

Westra was chased down and a group of six formed a break that gained a four min break but was quickly chopped to 1min advantage.  Then there were three.  Westra and Dupont (AG2R) then were left to fend for themselves.  FDJ went to the front and set a furious pace that soon splintered into a seven man break that included four of their riders, also in the break was Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).  This group only enjoyed a 35sec lead and then they were brought back with 16k to go.

After some shuffling and attacking a break containing heavy-hitters Martin (HTC), Tondo (Movistar), Kiserlovski (Astana), Carrara (Vacansoleil), Sanchez (Euskaltel), Brajkovic and Kloden (RadioShack) took the reins and didn't let up until they crossed the line.  Brajkovic led out Kloden who was flanked by a surging Sanchez and managed to beat the Olympic gold medalist by a tire.  Kloden took the stage and the leaders jersey, one that he wore almost 11yrs ago when he won the 2000 edition of Paris - Nice.

1 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 4:59:00
2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
4 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad
5 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
6 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Pro Team Astana
7 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack
8 Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:18
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:19

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Paris - Nice stage 4

Breakin' up is hard to do, making it stick is almost impossible.  Don't tell that to a cyclist -there is always a chance that it just might go.  "So you're saying there's a chance?"  I love to watch the perfected lead-out train of the sprinters, but more than that I love it when the break survives and gets a stage as a prize for work done.  Going rogue is a huge gamble that the house/peloton usually wins, but on the infrequent occasion one slips by and the house pays. 

De Gendt (Vacansoleil) who held the race lead for two days before Matt Goss took it from him on stage 3, jumped from the get-go after just 6k in the bag.  De Gendt was joined by Voeckler (Europcar), Pauril (FDJ), De Greef (Omega Pharma), Gregorio (Astana) for close to 190k of work.  Work that would eventually pay, and pay big for De Gendt and Voeckler.

This was the first of the hilly stages with the riders climbing three category 2 and four category 3 climbs.  Not the best of days to escape, definitely not an easy day.  The rogues were given a 5min gap but since De Gendt was 2nd on GC and three others were only 16sec down on GC the break was kept under close watch.

Cat and Mouse.  The motivated peloton went to work to close the gap, but the tete de course was not done.  They lost De Greef, but even with a four man break they kept the surging field to a 23sec gap at the red kite.  De Gendt wanted the jersey back and went to the front and took monster pulls.  Voeckler waited for his chance and took the sprint ahead of Pauriol and De Gendt.  Haussler (Garmin) was first out of the field sprint with a gap of 13sec.  Chalk another one up for the rogues.

1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 5:04:20
2 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ
3 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
4 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Pro Team Astana
5 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:13
6 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
7 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
8 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
9 Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD
10 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team

Paris - Nice stage 3

The plan for the day -get to the front of the race as soon as the neutral zone is done and drop the hammer.  ATTACK, form a break and go to work.  These guys are not playing.  180k of work by the quintet.  That is a long day in the saddle, that is work, no question about it.  It is one thing to be in the peloton rolling along being pulled along by the group, and then you have the break that is a rolling paceline of unadulterated WORK.  If you need me I'll be back here chatting with some of the other guys, sure I grab you some water and a sandwich.

Tomas Voeckler of Europcar (I have a feeling you will be hearing his name and Europcar more this season) in the French tricolor champion's jersey took a little turn as an escapee and was joined by Kadri (AG2R) who was in the first break of the day.  They were able to take some liberties with the bunch and built a small but respectable 20sec gap.  But sadly the peloton had other ideas and they were caught under 5k to go.

The run-in to the finish was no run in.  This thing looked like a crit course from 90degree land.  The final left-hand turn Peter Sagan (Liquigas) crashed and took several riders down.  I watched the video a few times and it looked like his rear tire rolled, well it did roll.  Now, the question is -did it just roll, or did it roll as a result of an impact from tire on tire/wheel on wheel?  It is really hard to see if there was contact other than Sagan and the ground. 

Everything went kind of pear-shaped after Sagan's incident with bodies and bikes flying -no joke watch the footage.  The sprint just kind of went off when the crash happened and Goss (HTC) was in a drag race with Haussler(Garmin), Rojas (Movistar), Thomas and Henderson of Sky.  Let's just say Goss earned his paycheck today, the hard way.  For you bean counters out there, you can chalk up number 7 for Goss.  Did anyone set the alarm for Cavendish?  If this is not a wake-up call, I don't know what is, good thing they are on the same team.  My question is: Who is working for who?                 -"Who do you work for #2?"

1 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad 5:16:48
2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
3 Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha Team
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
6 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling
7 Anthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
9 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
10 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale

Paris - Nice stage 2

I was starting to wonder if this stage was going to have any finishers.  It turned into a crash-up derby.  The early season and the crosswinds shredded the peloton and caused several kits to be torn and new road rash to be formed. I've seen cleaner Cat IV races, of course we were riding one tenth as far and about half as fast.

Bouet (AG2R) and Gallopin (Cofidis) attacked before the morning coffee even had time to settle.  They were joined with Offredo (FDJ) and the trio racked up a 6:15 gap before Sky punched the clock and went to work.  Sky did some damage but the peloton came back together and then Vacansoleil kept tempo for their young leader in Yellow, De Gendt. 

All the crashes and we even had a train crossing that caused the bunch to catch the escapees, but they were given their time by the race director who set their gap at 45sec.  With just a little more than 30k to go the rogues were caught and more crashes.  Seriously it would be easier to list the riders not involved in a crash.  Astana put some time in on the front to keep there man Vino out of trouble and to possibly launch an attack.  The group stayed together and the bunch sprint was a mess, there was no real evident lead out trains.  Everyman for himself.  There had to be some gun-shy riders in the field after all of the bodies and machines that had lined the roads and ditches during the day.

Sky put in a little work to get Henderson up to the front and he out kicked Goss (HTC) and amazingly Haussler (Garmin) was up there after his tumble into a ditch just a few K's before the line.  Crazy Chaos.

1 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling 5:00:56
2 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad
3 Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha Team
4 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
6 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
7 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
8 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team Astana
10 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team

Monday, March 7, 2011

Paris - Nice stage 1

The race to the sun.  Talk about an old fashioned barn burner -not sure where that saying comes from, because I would think that a burning barn would be a bad thing.  I did grow up on a farm.  Talk about a great race.  This edition started in Houdan in northern France about 63k west of Paris with a circuit race of 154.5k of mostly flat farmland with a little cat 3 bump.  Fast fast fast, and windy.

Photo credit © Isabelle Duchesne
And the attack was on at 15k with Gaudin (Europcar) and Izaguirre (Euskaltel) getting some TV time for their sponsors.  They were given a long leash and stayed away until Sky and Garmin decided it was time to bring the rogues back into the fold.  Europcar is new to the UCI WorldTour, or is it?  They were previously sponsored by Bbox Bouygues Telecom, and are now competing under a Professional Continental license.  Since they are French based look for them to gain wildcards into French races.  Laurent Fignon rode for Cyrille Guimard with a previous iteration of this team.

Oh, and the catch was made.  Can you say counter attack, I knew you could.  What is this?  Did someone set the clock back to 2003?  Jens Voigt in the break, I almost thought he should be wearing a Credit Agricole kit.  Somethings just never change.  Jens (Leopard) was joined by Roy (FDJ) and De Gendt (Vacansoleil) 2k after the peloton made the initial catch.  The trio went to work, at what seemed like a doomed escape, they never gained more than 50sec.  What would it be to work in a break with the master, cycling royalty, Jens the King of the breakaway?  I've been in a few breaks before and I know when I brought a knife to a gunfight, it's a good feeling to work with stronger riders -but you know what is coming at the 1k to go.

Photo credit © Bettini
The doomed break stayed away, and when it seemed like they were going to get caught, they just stayed out of reach.  At the red kite the gap was 13sec and the peloton was closing with force.  De Gendt made a move that Voigt and Roy countered just a little too late.  Haussler (Garmin) was the first one out of the field followed by Sagan (Liquigas) to catch Voigt, but could not close it at the line to nip De Gendt or Roy.  Talk about heartbreak for Jens, but a great one to "chalk it up" for the break.  You have to love it when the break does the work and sticks it to the peloton.  I won't lie, it would have been perfect for Jens to have outkicked his companions and nabbed a win for ol' times.

1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4:05:06
2 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ
3 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
5 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek
7 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard Trek
8 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
9 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
10 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Paris - Nice -preview

Perry - Niece, good now that you have pronounced it correctly you are on your way to sounding like a cyclist.  If you say it like it looks you will end up sounding like a caveman that is visiting the City of Lights for the first time.

The "Race to the Sun" first edition was in 1933.  This year's edition will see several of the "heads of state" working the legs back into stage-race form.  Paris-Nice is a launching pad for the Grands.  Some of the riders who will be wearing the team's "1" include Frank Schleck (Leopard), the youngster Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Nicolas Roche (AG2R), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin).  There are others and I don't mean to leave anyone out, but these are the 1s that you should keep an eye on.

The race will be shown on VS so check your local listings. also will have links to interweb viewing.

Stay tuned to StBL for race recaps and comical insight.