I didn't get a chance to spend much time of the blog over the weekend due to the Rutland-Melton Cicle Classic so here is a quick round up of all the racing and the best bits from the news, including drama from Omega Pharma, a win for Wiggins, a surprise for Frank Schleck and a nod for Ivan Basso ahead of the Giro d'Italia...
Strongman lljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) took a dramatic stage victory in the Tour of Turkey. The Belgian dragged the breakaway along almost single handed before deciding 6km to shed the dead wood and go it alone. Coming into the final 1km Keisse has a 40 second advantage over the peloton who were chasing at phenomenal pace. It looked as though victory was a mere formality. As the Belgian took the final corner his bike slid from beneath him and Keisse found himself on the floor. With all the cool in the world he picked himself up and mounted his bike, only then realising that he had dropped his chain - off he got again and used his hands to put the chain back on and then remounted where he struggled for a couple of seconds to clip his shoes into the peddles. Without breaking a sweat and a large peloton charging up behind him Keisse but the hammer down one final time and rode the final kilometre into the finish, even finding the energy to sprint for the line where he eventually took victory a mere bike length ahead of the chasing bunch. It was a real heart in the mouth moment and a fantastic victory, probably the best final km of a race this year.
We woke to the news (after all of the whispers doing the rounds) that Frank Schleck had been nominated to replace his Radioshack-Nissan teammate Jakob Fuglsang in the Giro d'Italia, starting on Sunday. Frank and Andy Schleck have had a miserable start to the season with poor form, poor results and some backroom arguments with management but both were set to ride the Tour de France as usual. Apparently Frank will still ride the Tour alongside his brother but whether he will have the legs is yet to be seen. Alberto Contador tried to do the Giro/Tour double last year and was shattered by the final week of the Tour. Frank has based all of his racing this year on prep for the Tour, so it will be a shock to the system when he starts the Giro a little out of shape - he will be hoping to ride himself into form and even battle it out with Ivan Basso (confirmed as Liquigas leader on Sunday) and others for the win. Without his little brother for help and a sudden change of plan it's certainly going to be tough for him, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing a Schleck Brother ride something different to the Tour...
Bradley Wiggins had dropped into second place of the Tour de Romandie on Saturday following an emphatic victory for LL Sanchez (Rabobank) who claimed a ten second time bonus at the finish to put himself ahead of Wiggins going into the final Time Trial by a single second. However Sundays stage 5 (a predominantly uphill 16.5km time trial) looked as though it had been made specifically for Wiggins who did as we all expected and blew Sanchez out of the water by a staggering 1 minute and 23 seconds. Wiggins took the stage by .7 of a second ahead of promising hopeful Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda) and the overall by 12 seconds ahead of Talansky also. Although Luis Leon Sanchez overall glory was short lived, he had won the previous two stages providing a massive boost to Rabobank who had suffered with little in the way of results throughout their spring classics campaign.
Ivalio Gabrovski took the overall victory at the Tour of Turkey following his emphatic victory on stage 3 in which he sailed to solo victory ahead of a bunch of more familiar climbers on the mountain top in Elmali. The Bulgarian national has said he wants to ride in the WorldTour next year at the tender age of 35. He is 'open to any proposal' although I understand no WorldTour team has yet made an approach. Question have been raised regarding Gabrovski's performances in the past, but he says: ''My victory is not a surprise, It’s the result of hard work. I’ve been a cyclist since I was eight years old. I’ve been a pro for 15 years. I don’t have a normal life like other guys or girls. Now I smile to the public because I share my victory with all Turkish people but I have a difficult life. I’m a serious guy''.