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IVREA, Italy (VN) — Nearly two years to the day after he watched helplessly as Xavier Tondo died in his arms, Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) won a stage at the Giro d’Italia in his friend’s name.
In Tuesday’s transition stage at the Giro, Intxausti followed the winning attacks over a tricky finishing circuit to kick to victory in a three-up sprint. He pointed to the heavens to dedicate the win to Tondo as he crossed the line.
“To win nearly two years to the day of the accident means a lot to me. It was a special day in my life,” Intxausti said. “He would be happy that I won today. I dedicate this not only to him, but to the team, and everyone who was close to him.”
On May 23, 2011, Intxausti was witness to the freak accident that saw Tondo die when he was trapped between a garage door and a car while preparing for a ride during a high-altitude training camp in Spain’s Sierra Nevada.
The promising 27-year-old Spaniard has been forever scarred by the tragic death of Tondo, a journeyman rider who was finding his place in the pro peloton just as the sport was starting to clean up.
As could be expected, the tragedy knocked Intxausti off-balance. He struggled through the remainder of the 2011 season as his Movistar team gave him space to try to work through the pain and remorse.
Even this year, he was hesitant about joining his Movistar teammates at a Sierra Nevada training camp before the Giro. Spanish daily MARCA reported that Intxausti was preparing to go alone to Tenerife instead, but only at the last moment decided to head back to Sierra Nevada. The team made precautions not to go near the scene of the accident.
Last year, the Basque rider started to slowly regain the confidence he needed to get back on track. He was tapped as Spain’s next promising grand tour rider after finishing third in the 2010 Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country). And though he’s delivered some consistent results, including 10th in the Vuelta a España and victory in the Vuelta a Asturias last year, he hasn’t quite delivered on the hype, in large part due to the momentum he lost in 2011.
In last year’s Giro, he was hanging in the top 10 until the final week, when he simply couldn’t follow any longer before eventually settling on a disappointing 38th.
Intxausti’s victory on Tuesday revealed he’s riding into the final week on a much higher level.
“It’s a great feeling to raise my arms in victory. That’s the idea I had when I came to this Giro,” he said. “My goal is to finish off this Giro in the top 10. We’ll see in the coming days if that’s possible.”
Following Sunday’s win up the snowbound Col du Galibier by Giovanni Visconti, the victory was the second in a row for Movistar. Add to that Alex Dowsett’s surprise victory in the stage 8 individual time trial, and Movistar is among the Giro’s most successful teams.
It was that time trial that seemed to spoil what was a phenomenal start to this Giro for Intxausti. After Movistar rode to second in the team time trial, Intxausti grabbed the pink jersey in stage 7 and carried the maglia rosa into the ITT. Typically solid against the clock, Intxausti buckled on the long, challenging course, losing four minutes and dropping like a rock out of GC picture.
He never gave up on his overall ambitions, however, and has slowly been picking up time on struggling rivals. With Tuesday’s 20-second time bonus, he clawed back into the top 10, now ninth overall, at 5:47.
With less than one minute separating sixth and ninth on GC, there should be quite a dogfight among the lower half of the top 10 during the trio of decisive climbing stages later this week.
“That time trial was terrible for me. I hope to do better in the climbing time trial [Thursday]. The favorite is [Nibali], but the terrain suits me well,” he said. “I was feeling good on the rest day and I knew I had good legs. I hope to finish off the Giro on a strong note.”
With Movistar flying high, the team promises to keep attacking.
“These results are important for me and for my team,” he said. “They’ve really believed in me and given me the support I needed. To win this stage, we are all very content.”
Intxausti wants to pay back Movistar, and Tondo, with a strong finale to the 2013 Giro.
IVREA, Italy (AFP) — Following the positive doping control of Sylvain Georges last week, the Ag2r La Mondiale team decided Tuesday to withdraw itself from the Critérium du Dauphiné in early June out of respect for the rules of the Movement for a Credible Cycling
“This is a blow for riders, sport management, and team partners,” team boss Vincent Lavenu told Agence France Presse.
Lavenu is a founding member of the MPCC.
MPCC rules require member teams to impose a self-fixed one-week suspension if they experience two positive doping controls in less than 12 months, regardless of the product in question.
The French team has recorded positive cases with Sylvain Georges, who tested positive for the stimulant heptaminol at the Giro d’Italia last week, and Steve Houanard, who tested positive for EPO late in 2012.
“The team is right in his boots, it fulfills its commitments vis-à-vis the MPCC and the fight against doping, even if it is not easy and if it is penalized,”said Lavenu. “We respect the rules as they are written. There was fault and everyone is penalized.”
The Critérium du Dauphiné, which serves as a dress rehearsal before the Tour de France, takes place in the region where the Chambery-based team is headquartered.
“The Dauphiné is an important race for us; this is the first time in 22 years we will not be there,” said Lavenu.
The team’s decision is a first in accordance the internal rules of the MPCC.
Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.
BRUSSELS (AFP) — Tom Boonen has declined to take part in this summer’s 100th Tour de France, he told the Belga news agency on Tuesday.
The former green jersey of the Tour, 32, said that he may never ride another edition of the race.
“Will I take part in another Tour? The chance is very low,” Boonen said, according to Belga. “Maybe I will never return.”
Boonen has participated in six editions of the Tour (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011), but has had mix fortunes in the race. Boonen has six career stage wins and won the maillot vert in 2007. He abandoned due to crashes in 2005, withdrew on the Col du Lautaret in 2006, exited because of illness in 2009, and left the race following a head injury in 2011. Boonen missed the 2008 Tour due to a positive control for cocaine, the 2010 Tour with knee tendonitis. and the 2012 Tour in order to prepare for the Olympic Games.
Omega Pharma boss Patrick Lefevere said that he “did not want to force (a) rider” to take part in the race.
“I do not want to force it. A rider who fears a three-week race, do not force him to change his mind,” said Lefevere. “I would have preferred to see him starting in Corsica. For advertising, it would have been a serious bonus. It will be otherwise.”
Instead of the Tour, Boonen will race the Tour de Wallonie (July 20-24) and the Tour of Poland (July 27-August 3).
Mark Cavendish had hoped that Boonen would start the Tour and help him to stage wins in the bunch finishes.
“Would I have been the perfect teammate for Mark?” said Boonen. “I think it would be crazy to undermine the current train that works well in the Giro.”
IVREA, Italy (VN) — One of the key men of confidence for overall leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in this Giro d’Italia, Tanel Kangert, got the green light to attack on Tuesday and nearly broke through with a stage 16 win.
The 26-year-old Estonian is hardly known beyond the peloton, but he’s earning well-deserved attention so far through this Giro. Kangert has been one of the strongest and most consistent riders for Astana, and he came within a few pedal strokes of victory in Tuesday’s transition stage to Ivrea.
Kangert, who hails from the same hometown as the sport’s other top Estonian rider, Rein Taaramae, told VeloNews that the team is pushing into the final decisive moments of the Giro with its confidence higher than ever.
“I hope Nibali is doing just as good as he’s done in the last two weeks. The team is strong, and we have some guys coming back from illness,” Kangert told VeloNews at the start in Valloire. “Everyone is ready for the final fight.”
At 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds, Kangert has emerged as one of three key lieutenants for Nibali in the mountains of the 96th Giro. Along with Valerio Agnoli and Fabio Aru, Kangert is one of the men Nibali has counted on come crunch time.
“I haven’t had a grand tour where I have been performing so well. I hope to be well in the last week. I hope to keep going into the final week,” said Kangert. “We all want to be up to the level to help Vincenzo.”
Behind the scenes, Kangert said Nibali has quietly grown into the leadership role at Astana.
After racing several seasons with Liquigas, Nibali came to the Kazakhstan-backed squad, bringing a few key men along with him. Kangert said Nibali was remaining calm after two weeks of stressful racing on technical roads and in poor weather conditions.
“He is a natural leader. He is very calm and relaxed. He is not yelling at anyone. He gives us confidence on the team,” he said. “It’s no big surprise for us how well he’s doing during this Giro. It shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone because he’s shown over the past few years that he is a quality rider. He has shown that he is a three-week racer. We have prepared for this Giro starting back in November.”
Kangert, meanwhile, is stepping up in his third season with Astana. After racing on the French amateur scene, he turned pro with Ag2r La Mondiale in 2008. A knee injury almost derailed his career, but Astana gave him a second chance in 2011.
Last year, he won the Estonian national road title as well as a stage at the Tour de Suisse. He was third in the stage 8 individual time trial, but Kangert said his future remains as a domestique.
“I am not a climbing specialist, nor a time trialist. I do a bit of everything,” he explained. “I will have the same role in the team for the next few years. It’s not a bad thing to be a supporting rider for someone like Nibali. This is a good team for me right now. I have one more year with Astana.”
On Tuesday, Kangert had freedom to cover the moves on the technical finishing circuit in Ivrea. Once again, it was part of his job.
“Tanel had freedom to attack today,” Nibali said. “It was good to have the time bonuses.”
Kangert might have been the strongest in the group, but he mis-timed his sprint and lost out to Beñat Intxausti (Movistar).
Tomorrow, it’s back to helping Nibali.
“What we’re most concerned about is the weather,” he said. “We’re not expecting for big improvements in the weather. We just have to accept it. When you have bad rain from start to end, there is big suffering. No one is comfortable. Those are the days you have to survive. The rain is ok; we can accept that. If there is snow, then the race organizers have to do something. It’s too dangerous.”
- The full results for Momentum Racing's O'Fallon Cup Criterium are attached.
Thank you again to everyone who came out to race, and enjoy the park.
The weather was perfect, and everyone seemed to have a great day.
Hope to see you all, and hopefully more, next year.