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SANTA ROSA, Calif. — If Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) is fitted for a stars-and-stripes jersey after the USA Cycling professional road championship in Tennessee, he may have California to thank for it.
The course for the May 27 championship in Chattanooga has three sharp passes up Lookout Mountain before tackling multiple circuits downtown. Farrar wants to be around for a sprint finish, as he was at the Amgen Tour of California — with one win, a second place and two thirds, one of them behind green jersey winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale) on Sunday.
“I’ve looked at the course on paper, but until I get there and actually ride it it’s hard to really know if it’s a course I can survive on,” he said after Sunday’s stage.
It shouldn’t take too much scouting, though, owing to the familiarity of the nationals profile.
“We have a tendency in the States to basically just make the nationals the same,” Farrar said. “They moved it from Greenville to Chattanooga but it’s almost the same course, with a 3K climb, so we’ll see. If I have really good legs, I hope I can survive it.”
Last year in South Carolina, he did, barely, finishing in the grupetto nearly 11 minutes behind winner Timmy Duggan. If things turn out differently this year, he might credit the run-up he’s had in California’s tour.
“It’s quite hard this year. I haven’t done California in a while so maybe that’s just normal for the Tour of California,” he said. “I think I’m going uphill okay. I’m not a mountain climber, obviously, but I’m pleased. So if I can recover well from this week, I hope for the best.”
What lies beyond? The Tour de France, obviously, with a warm-up first.
“After the nationals I have the Tour de Suisse, and it looks like there’s a couple of sprint opportunities there, and then also just some good training leading into July,” he said. Only afterward will he know if his legs are sound enough to be in the serious Tour sprint discussion.
“We’ll take it one step at a time,” he said. “We’ll see now the nationals and Suisse go, and how I’m riding, and then we’ll make some more plans.
“I think we’re going to have a really big GC push this year, just the way our team has been riding, with Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky and [Ryder] Hesjedal. We have so many good GC riders, we’ll see what I’m riding like when we get a little closer to the start.”
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (VN) — One green jersey does not a season make for Peter Sagan, and even as he sat here in California, the winner of the points classification, his eyes are on defending his green jersey at the Tour de France.
The Cannondale rider took two stages at the Amgen Tour of California this year, including Sunday’s finale here, en route to collecting the points win, and is living up to the expectations placed upon his broad shoulders in California.
Two wins in eight days of racing is a percentage most riders would take gladly, but Sagan (has made a habit of winning here in the Golden State, taking five stages last year. All told, he’s won 10 stages at the Amgen Tour, and the points jersey in all four of his starts. He dedicated his latest win to 11-year-old Alex Shepherd, a little boy from Oregon with a brain tumor.
“I’m very happy to have won today,” Sagan said, sitting in the press conference in his green jersey. He also won heading into Santa Rosa last year, battling back from late mechanicals and threading team cars.
“I knew where I was going in the finish — it was a little bit easier to take the position when I know it. It was good,” he said. “I’m here for the fourth year, and fourth year I take the green jersey. I won two stages here.
“Maybe now I’m more relaxed, because my condition is coming before the Tour de France. I did this race also last year, and I felt very good last year at the Tour de France. I think it’s good preparation — it’s a good race.”
Of course, things will get harder for him abroad, with narrower roads and a deeper pool of sprinters. And while Sagan isn’t the outright fastest sprinter in the world — that honor goes to Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish —Sagan brings a wider selection of skills to the sprint game than Cavendish, meaning he can collect more points along the routes, including hilly days, as opposed to banking on the final sprint.
“I don’t sprint like other sprinters, like Cavendish [or Lotto-Beliosol's Andre] Greipel. I can have much possibility for intermediate sprints, no?” he said when asked about the points classification at the Tour.
“It’s a crazy race, because we have points in the finishing, but maybe too much stress in the group, and it’s too many crashes. When one rider is unlucky in the sprints, then maybe I can take the points in the sprints, or maybe I can take the intermediate sprint in the stage,” Sagan said.
VALLOIRE, Italy (VN) — Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) conquered the Giro d’Italia’s stage to Galibier on Sunday and left behind a black period.
“I’ve never thought about quitting cycling. The bike is my life and not work,” Visconti said in a press conference. “The passion that brought me to this point helped me make a life for myself and buy a home.”
Visconti spoke with around 30 journalists in the Valloire cinema just 20 kilometers down from where he won on one of cycling’s legendary climbs.
The Tour de France only finished once on the Col du Galibier, coming from the south side in 2011, when Andy Schleck won. The Giro d’Italia planned a visit from the north side, but snow in the last week forced organizer RCS Sport to cut out the last 4km. Instead of racing to the pass at 2642 meters, the 15th leg only raced to Le Granges, at 2301 meters.
A perfectly timed afternoon snowstorm made the stage just as legendary as it would have been had it climbed to the pass above. This combination of factors — the Giro’s visit to a famous Tour de France climb, snow and a year and a half of struggles — offered Visconti salvation.
A star struggles
Visconti shot quickly to cycling stardom. The Sicilian won the Italian championships at 24 years old and in 2008, traded the tricolore jersey for an eight-day run in the Giro d’Italia’s maglia rosa.
He lost track, however, just as fast.
One year ago, he abandoned the Giro on the same day, stage 15, due to shortness of breath. Some called it a panic attack.
It would not have helped that his name was linked to known doping doctor Michele Ferrari. Since 2011, he had been in the eyes of Italian prosecutor Benedetto Roberti. Last year, after Ferrari was banned again as part of the Lance Armstrong scandal, Italy issued Visconti a three-month ban.
Despite a new contract with Spain’s Movistar team, he became depressed.
“Sometimes there are problems which are in the head and harder to deal with than a broken arm or leg,” Visconti added. “Someone told me today, ‘A circle is closed.’ He’s right.”
Leaving the tunnel
The Galibier stage allowed Visconti to ride free of his problems.
He escaped with a group just over 80km out on the Col du Mont Cenis. In France and on the Col du Télégraphe, he shot free on his own.
When snow started to fall on the Galibier, he had all the right elements to win on a legendary climb in epic conditions.
“I’d been telling my dad all Giro that I want to get into a strong escape and win one of the legendary stages. I did it,” Visconti said. “With this win, I’ve exited the tunnel. I hope it turns a page in my career.”
- I just recently replaced my rear wheel as I built a frame with a thru axle. So I have a rear wheel for sale! It's a white arch rim with black spokes and a white SRAM x9 hub. Already set up for tubeless with tape and stem. If you ask nicely I can even throw a kenda small block 8 on there and seal it up. I was thinking 150 or best offer! Runs true and nice!
- Wanted to give a big shout of thanks to all those folks who worked to make the Broemmsiek race happen. Great venue to race and for the family to hang out.The St.Charles County parks dept had to go the extra mile this year to reroute the course to work around the new construction.
Lastly I know we are all racing on the same course but some of those guys just are crazy fast, there were a few times on the last lap I was sure I had two flats, brakes were dragging and I was pulling a small garden tractor behind me. When I checked none of those things were true, I was just running out of steam.
All the very best!!
- Great job putting on the race today. We say it a lot, but everyone that worked to put this race on deserves a big Thank You! We are really lucky to have the quality events that we have here in STL. All the racers were great today too. Good job everyone.