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OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — Taylor Phinney made his mark in his Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) debut. The American in BMC Racing’s red and black kit escaped, survived the front group’s elimination through the Flemish countryside, and learned some valuable lessons on Sunday.
“I learned that it’s a race that you can’t give up on,” 23-year-old Phinney told VeloNews after his post-race shower on the team bus. He finished 40th, 4:12 behind winner Fabian Cancellara of Trek Factory Racing.
“It’s just one of those races where if you keep believing, you can more than often stay close to the front.”
Phinney has won the under-23 Paris-Roubaix twice but has never competed in Flanders. He raced this year’s edition to gain fitness ahead of Roubaix next Sunday, for experience, and to help team captain Greg Van Avermaet — who eventually finished second.
Phinney made his mark when he escaped with 10 others 40 kilometers after leaving the start in Bruges. The 6-foot-5 Phinney led the breakaway over several cobblestone sectors and up several of the bergs that dot the countryside east of Oudenaarde.
On the famous Eikenberg, Kanarieberg, and Paterberg climbs, Phinney sat in the driver’s seat while others slipped away. The escape was reduced to six midway into the stage and to three — Phinney, Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge), and Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Belisol) — ahead of the final 50km circuit.
“I knew that I was one of the strongest guys of the breakaway so I worked hard and I wanted to stay away as long as possible,” Phinney explained. “I wanted to stay away until the Koppenberg, which we barely did.”
Phinney spent nearly 177km out front, until there were 43.5km remaining. Once the main group bridged, he briefly helped teammate Marcus Burghardt and saw off Van Avermaet to second place.
His experience should serve for future editions of Flanders, which Phinney said he wants to win.
“It makes it a lot less stressful to be in the front and to take the climbs at good speed and not have to worry about positioning before the climbs. It was a great way to see the whole course,” added Phinney. “It’s one of those races that I have a passion for.”
He finished talking and returned to eating his plate of risotto the team’s chef prepared. He said he would probably skip Scheldeprijs on Wednesday as planned and focus solely on Paris-Roubaix.
BMC performance director Allan Peiper stood outside the bus as Phinney talked. He agreed that Phinney is better adapted to the rougher and flatter roads in Northern France but said that Phinney should keep Flanders on his radar.
“He’s a good classics rider, he’s a good everything rider, he just has to start to get the score on the board,” Peiper said. “We have confidence. He was seventh in Milano-Sanremo last year, so he can do the distance. He has the legs. It’s just that we need to get the pieces into place at the right time. He’s only 23, it takes a while to learn the races.”
The post Phinney gains cobbled experience in Flanders debut appeared first on VeloNews.com.
- I posted this out here yesterday, but seemed to have disappeared.
We are looking forward to another great year of the Greensfelder Challenge. We have T-shirts in hand, medals en-route, permits, etc. lined up and ready. We also are needing a few more volunteers if anyone would be interested.
But a few items we would like to highlight:
1. We are using/encouraging everyone to pre-register. With chip timing, it is more time consuming onsite and really threw us a curve last year. So to encourage everyone to pre-register, we are reserving the t-shirts for just those that pre-register. Also there will be a $5 fee for onsite registrations. We hate to do this, but manually entering 100+ folks into the chip timing system 1/2 hour before a race isn't easy to do.
2. We will be running the same course as last year and a map has been uploaded to the UFD site.
3. We are running this as a full charity event for GORC. So please remember to be generous supporting our local trail heroes!!!!
4. Have Fun, Stay Safe and Bring the Family. GORC brings out the BBQ pit and really makes this a fun atmosphere.
UFD GF Link: http://www.unitedind...om/?page_id=632
USA Cycling Registration LInk: https://www.usacycli...ister/2014-1198
- Large 2011 frame and reba xx fork. Specialized carbon bars, thomson elite stem and post, hope race x2 brake set, x9 shifter and derailleur, set up 1x10 with rotor cranks and raceface narrow wide 32t chainring. Stans arch ex rims on x9 hubs tubeless. All parts are like new and bike has been ridden very little. Call or text 314-657-7769. $2000 obo. Please no lowball offers, this thing is in great shape and well over 3k into it
Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), who’s been sidelined since a crash in February, returns to racing this week in France with the Circuit de la Sarthe starting Tuesday.
Bookwalter crashed in the final kilometer of the opening stage of the Tour de Haut Var on February 22, injuring his right knee, hip, and elbow.
“I hadn’t planned to have such a gap in racing this spring, but the time off has only enhanced my motivation and appreciation for the bike,” Bookwalter said in a team release. “I’ve had a couple of good weeks of training since my knee began feeling better, and I am excited to go back to Sarthe for my second appearance there.”
Bookwalter joins Peter Stetina and Tour Méditerranéen winner Steve Cummings in the four-day, five-stage race. The 6.8-kilometer time trial on stage 3 will prove decisive.
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OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — You know you’re good when you make it look easy.
That’s what Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) did Sunday with his sublime victory against the odds in a wild and unpredictable Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).
Stranded without teammates deep in the final hour of racing, Cancellara leaned on his depth of experience to out-wile younger, skittish rivals to win his seventh monument.
When asked if it was a “piece of cake,” Cancellara replied his record-tying third win was anything but.
“Maybe on TV it looked easy,” Cancellara said. “I was mostly on the defense. I only had one card to play. I wanted to go with them to the finish line and give everything. To win the sprint, and to repeat, it’s very special. It’s not just a piece of cake. It’s a huge piece of cake.”
Cancellara hoped to play his trump card and tried to ride away from the pack on Oude Kwaremont, but a new course and mild weather meant this Flanders was different than any other.
More riders and teams had more options late in the race. When Cancellara forced the selection on the final climb up Oude Kwaremont, only Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) could follow, but Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) were already up the road.
This time, Cancellara wasn’t going to finish alone in the photograph. And just as he had done throughout much of the race, he was forced to improvise.
Crashes took out key teammates Stijn Devolder and Yaroslav Popovych, and Gregory Rast was ill, abandoning early. Cancellara had to do it all alone.
“I could see there were four Quick Step riders in the front,” Cancellara said. “I knew they would attack, and I had to be on the defensive. Maybe this was the best way. Maybe there were some mistakes from the others. I knew it would come down to the man-against-man finish.”
Cancellara’s surge on the Kwaremont did, however, eliminate the chances of archrival Peter Sagan (Cannondale), so at least that much went to plan. Sagan was so angry after the race, he refused to speak to journalists.
“We know the Kwaremont is Peter’s weak point,” said Trek sport director Dirk Demol. “Fabian went full-gas on the second part, because that’s where it opens up to the crosswinds.”
That is just one example where Cancellara’s experience helped carry the day.
The classics are not only won with the strongest legs, but also with the smartest tactics.
Cancellara soon realized that with mild weather, a banged up team, and powerful riders, he was going to have to race with finesse to find a way to win.
Cancellara did the little things right, for example, when he forced Vanmarcke to chase down an attack with 3 kilometers to go by Vandenbergh. Cancellara was saving his legs for the sprint.
“Fabian is very experienced. He was calm, he knew what he had to do,” said Trek manager Luca Guercilena. “The big difference to the others was his experience. Fabian made a masterpiece today.”
Cancellara was lucky, too, avoiding crashes and mishaps that sideswiped his teammates and rivals alike.
When he opened his finishing sprint, he ramped up at just about the same time as Van Avermaet. The Belgian was the day’s main protagonist, going on a long-distance attack on the Kruisberg with 25km to go, but coming so close to victory left him feeling bittersweet.
“[Cancellara] was a little bit stronger than me. It is a little bit disappointing for me because Flanders is a dream,” Van Avermaet told reporters. “It is too bad I don’t have it, but I am happy that I was up there in the first group. It gives me confidence and should also give the team confidence. I am only 28 years old, so there are still a few years to come.”
Van Avermaet will surely be replaying the Flanders finale over and over again in his mind in the coming years, looking for clues of what he did wrong and how he could have won the race.
Cancellara handled the finale with the finesse of a veteran. It was all or nothing, a game that Cancellara’s played more than a few times over the past decade.
Van Avermaet was racing as a team captain for the first time. Vandenbergh is a journeyman helper who usually does the heavy lifting before Tom Boonen rides clear. And Vanmarcke, the youngest of the three at 25, is just cutting his classics teeth.
Cancellara’s been in the classics game for more than a decade, and with the chance to join the elusive Flanders three-win club, there was no way he was going to lose.
“I knew I had one card to play. I have been in this position many time in my career,” Cancellara said of the looming finale. “These other guys, each of them were in this position for the first time. That experience makes a difference.”
Cancellara read the race perfectly and delivered what might have been the most “beautiful” of his seven monument victories.
The post Cancellara taps into monument experience for historic Flanders win appeared first on VeloNews.com.
OUDENARDE, Belgium (VN) — Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) will square off this week in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) in what’s one of the most challenging stage races of the year.
Both are on top form, with Contador winning Tirreno-Adriatico and riding to second at the Volta a Catalunya, while Valverde won the GP Miguel Indurain on Saturday.
Both, however, have played down their chances in the mountainous race, with Valverde insisting his eyes on are on the Ardennes classics.
“I still feel good, and I have this spark, but these six days of racing will give me the finishing touch to be ready for the races as long and demanding as the classics,” Valverde said. “Let’s see if I am lucky, because [the Ardennes] are my big objectives.”
Contador is also on a good run, but will pull the plug after the Basque tour and will not race any of the upcoming Ardennes classics.
“I want to do a good race. I know there are a lot of top rivals. I am feeling good, motivated, and want to do well in the race that always brings good memories,” Contador told El Correo newspaper. “The final time trial will be decisive, and favor riders like [Tony] Martin, [Tejay] van Garderen, and [Michal] Kwiatkowski, so I will have to take time on the climbs if I hope to have a chance.”
The Basque tour will be more than just a showdown between Spain’s top grand tour favorites.
BMC Racing brings a loaded team, with former winner Samuel Sánchez, Cadel Evans, and van Garderen, hot off winning a stage and placing third at Catalunya.
“After his performance at Catalunya, Tejay will be our leader,” said BMC sport director Valerio Piva. “Sánchez was good at Catalunya, and he knows the race well, so he will also be a protected rider.”
Also starting is champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), looking for his first win in the rainbow jersey with six second-places this season. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale), back after an illness, is hunting form ahead of the classics.
Kwiatkowski and Martin lead an always-strong Omega Pharma-Quick Step, with Garmin-Sharp bringing Tom Jelte Slagter and Ryder Hesjedal. Belkin lines up with Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink.
Andy and Frank Schleck start for Trek Factory Racing with Peter Kennaugh, hot off winning Coppi e Bartoli, and Jurgen Vanden Brouck (Lotto-Belisol).
Two important names are missing. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), who beat Contador at Catalunya, is skipping the demands of the race to prepare quietly for the upcoming classics. Defending champ Nairo Quintana (Movistar) returned to Colombia to prepare at altitude. Both are targeting the Giro d’Italia.
The 54th edition of the Basque tour opened Monday with a hilly stage that features two second-category climbs in the closing 30 kilometers. Stages 2 and 3 are ideal for the sprinters. Stage 4 tackles the traditional climbing finale at Eibar, which thins the GC battle to less than a half dozen.
Stage 5 will be one to control ahead of the decisive, final-day time trial. The 25.9km, two-climb course favors world champion Martin, but strong time trialists, such as van Garderen and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), will be poised to snag the leader’s jersey on the final day if they’re within striking distance.
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OUDENAARDE, Belgium (AFP) — Welsh rider Geraint Thomas said he is happy to help Sky teammates Bradley Wiggins and Edvald Boasson Hagen at next week’s Paris-Roubaix, despite finishing an impressive eighth at the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).
Having finished third at E3 Harelbeke 10 days ago and 10th in Flanders three years ago, the double Olympic track cycling champion showed he is in good form on the cobbles.
Despite hurting his back in a crash Sunday, he climbed back onto the bike and kept up with the favorites until the last 15 kilometers, when he found himself in a fight for the minor placings.
He had come into the race as an outside bet for the win but despite not quite matching that expectation, he is happy to take a backseat at Sunday’s “Hell of the North” race and take his turn working for others.
“I’m happy to ride for the team, I’ve said it all winter. I’m happy to ride for [Ian] Stannard or Edvald. Obviously Stannard’s not starting [due to a fractured vertebrae] so now I’m happy to commit 100 percent to Eddy and do my bit for him,” said Thomas, who briefly forgot 2012 Tour de France winner Wiggins.
“Obviously Brad’s got some great form, he’s physically one of the strongest in the race. Positional-wise he was there (in Flanders, where he finished 32nd, 1:43 back). He did a great job for the boys.
“Roubaix probably suits him even a bit more. Edvald, him, Bernie’s [Bernhard Eisel] good, it suits Luke [Rowe] a bit more than this as well. I think we’ve got a good team and we can get stuck into that.”
As for his own performance in Belgium, Thomas said he had to be happy given how he felt after crashing.
“I was feeling my back all day. I felt terrible all day but managed to just hang in there, it’s just frustrating,” he said. “I think I can still be happy with how it went considering how I felt because I didn’t feel anywhere near half as good as I did last Friday in E3. But I managed to just hang in there.
“My back is just real stiff and sore now; just the left side of it. From the bike it’s one of the places you don’t want to be weak because it’s one of the places you feel it.”
Thomas, who was also a three-time world champion on the track, had nothing but admiration for Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), although he believes Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), who finished third, will also be one to watch at Paris-Roubaix.
Swiss rider Cancellara, known as “Spartacus” by his peers, won the event for the third time to equal the all-time wins record, and Sunday will he be going for his second Flanders-Roubaix double.
“He’s obviously the strongest guy here and to be able to follow him you’ve got to be good,” said Thomas.
“I don’t think he was as dominant as he was before but he’s obviously the strongest and for Sep to follow him [when Cancellara attacked on the Kwaremont climb] shows he’s got really good form and shows he’ll be in there next week.”
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