Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Giro d'Italia In Video: 4 More Sleeps



With all of the Bradley Wiggins / Chris Froome / Tour de France chatter of late it's hard to believe we haven't even raced the Giro d'Italia yet and if it's the Wiggins v Froome battle that is capturing your imagination at the moment then remember the Giro plays a big part in this. Wiggins is talking of a Giro-Tour double but he seems to be jumping the gun a little considering there are still 4 more sleeps to the start of the Giro but his form here will determine what happens in France this July. The Giro itself is an amazing prospect this year, the inclusion of time bonuses and the evidently great form Vincenzo Nibali is currently in look set to make this an even battle. To get the juices flowing for the Giro, here is the official Promo video for 2013 and the official youtube feed for the Giro are doing a good job of hyping the race up, read on for some great videos featuring all of the favourites talking about whats to come over the next 3 weeks...

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Tour Conundrum: Froome Or Wiggins?

 
With Chris Froome sealing victory in the Tour of Romandie on Sunday it looked like the Tour de France Sky leadership debacle would finally be put to bed. Froome is clearly in the form of his life - all year he's consistently beaten the likes of Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez in much the same way as Bradley Wiggins swept aside the competition in 2012 and just as it looked like Froome had settled the score on the road, he also set the record straight away from it as I mentioned in last weeks post when he declared that he was "100% Team leader for the Tour de France" but Bradley Wiggins wasn't about to let this one lie...

Friday, 26 April 2013

Tour of Turkey Stage 5: Unbelievable?



The Tour of Turkey has been a great race this year with some great sprint action from Kittel and Greipel and a proper GC battle on the steeper stuff but todays stage win by Mustafa Sayar is likely to raise a few eyebrows and already hass, including his fellow riders...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Tour of Turkey Stage 3: Natnael Berhane Climbs To Victory



The Tour of Turkey turned out a fantastic stage of cycling yesterday as riders tackled the Queen Stage and it's difficult summit finish. If it's aggressive riding, steep slopes and out of the saddle attacks reminiscent of the 'old days' that you long for then this stage had it all including Eritrea's Natnael Berhane (Europcar) sprinting to the first victory by a sub-Saharan African cyclist in a Hors Categorie event on the UCI calendar. Here's the lung busting final 3km to get your juices flowing... enjoy.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Romandie, Froome, The Tour and Sky's Coverage...

 
If Chris Froome has anything left to prove to anybody regarding his form ahead of the Tour de France then he did so today taking victory in the Tour of Romandie prologue. Froome won the uphill 7.45km prologue a comfortable 6 seconds ahead of second placed Andrew Talansky and 13 seconds ahead of third best placed rider Robert Kiserlovski...

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Picture This: Dan Martin Wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege

 
This is the moment Dan Martin crossed the line ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde to take victory in today's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It was the perfect tactical manoeuvre by Garmin-Sharp who sent Ryder Hesjedal up the road with 10km to go but was eventually caught on the final climb by a small select group including team-mate Dan Martin. Joaquim Rodriguez attacked on the final steep run in to the finish with over a kilometre to go and it looked like the race was over but Martin clawed back to his wheel, took a breath and attacked - amazingly riding away from Rodriguez who's legs were spent. It's a great win for Martin and for Ireland - it looks like the boy is finally coming good, we have long expected big things from him but having won the Tour of Catalunya in March and now a Monument in Liege-Bastogne-Liege it looks like he has finally arrived...

Friday, 19 April 2013

Liège-Bastogne-Liège: The Contenders

 
The final race of the Spring classics and the oldest, this race first appeared in 1892 and has achieved notoriety thanks to a long history, a record breaking Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinaults fingers. Many think of Belgium as relatively flat but this Ardennes classic carries 4700metres of climbing - comparable to a Tour de France 'mountain stage'. It's not just the climbing - the undulating route means maintaining pace and rhythm is a difficult task and there is little time to take a rest. The winner here will take on a gladiatorial task and must be in the form of their lives, so lets take a look at those in with a shout of glory on Sunday...

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Giro del Trentino: Sega di Ala

 
Type 'The Dolomites' into Google Images and you are likely to be greeted by some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth. The mountain range around Trentino in northern Italy is spectacular and of course where there are spectacular mountains, there is spectacular cycling. Tomorrows final stage of this years Giro del Trentino will end on the brutal Sega di Ala...

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

La Flèche Wallonne: A Preview

 
Of the three races in Ardennes week this is undoubtedly the least prestigious but prestige aside this race can often be the most exciting. After-effects of crashes at Amstel Gold and an interesting startlist make this years edition less predictable and if the Cauberg got the juices flowing then the Mur de Huy is on another level...

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Picture This: Roman Kreuziger Wins Amstel Gold

 
This is the moment 26 year old Roman Kreuziger crossed the finish to take victory in today's Amstel Gold race. A phenominal show of strength Kreuziger looked in amazing physical shape as he simply rode away from his break-away companions with 7km to go, never to be seen again. Kreuziger has been knocking on the door of stardom for a number of years and it's hard to believe he's still only 26. His move from Astana to Saxobank this year looks to have finally pushed him on and turned him into the rider we expected him to become. Today's race was great - an attack filled 250km which rewarded aggression leaving all of the favourites for dead. Sympathies to Thomas Voeckler who suffered a broken collarbone, Joaquim Rodriguez a thigh Contusion and Peter Sagan who's classics season seems to have come to an end without victory...

Friday, 12 April 2013

Amstel Gold And The Cauberg

 
This is what awaits the riders at the end of Sundays Amstel Gold Race, the first of the hilly Ardennes Classics. It is of course the final climb into the finish - The Cauberg. A short sharp climb typical of the Ardennes Classics the race has finished here since 2003 and the riders will tackle the Cauberg twice before the final climb just before the finish. The hill has been used in several Grand Tours and in 5 previous World Championships, most recently last years which saw the race end 2km after the Cauberg - the Amstel Gold race usually finishes at the top of the Cauberg but this year the run in to the finish will be the same as last years World Championships. So how will this effect the climb and of course the race?...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

De Brabantse Pijl - Final kilometers In HD



Here are the closing kilometres of today's De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne in HD. A prelude to the real Ardennes week kicking off this weekend with the Amstel Gold race. So who won today? Well, Peter Sagan obviously and he looked strong as ever but more interestingly who did he pip into second place? Pip himself! Yup it was Philippe Gilbert who finished second which means perhaps he is finally showing some form just in time for his favourite week of hilly classics which makes the Ardennes a bit more of a tasty prospect. I still have Sagan as favourite for Amstel but it appears he isn't riding Fleche Wallonne or Liege-Bastogne-Liege perhaps leaving the door open for Gilbert to once again make his mark in the Ardennes Classics...

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Can Sky Win A Classic?

 
Dave Brailsford famously described Sky's 2012 Classics season as 'shit' and vowed to do better but in truth 2013 has been much the same. Given the resources at Sky and a clear dominance in stage races and Grand Tours everything says that Sky should be performing much better in the Spring, so whats going wrong? And can Sky still win a classic this year?...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Picture This: Paris-Roubaix - Chess In The Velodrome

 
So it's goodbye to the cobbles for 2013, but if the Tour of Flanders was a borefest then Paris-Roubaix was the opposite. The race favourite eventually won but not until the last seconds as the suspense built throughout the race into the final 40km and remained until the game of 'stalemate' chess in the velodrome between Fabian Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke. Cancellara tried to shake Vanmarcke in the closing kilometres but Sep held his wheel - Cancellara even looked liked the underdog as Vanmarcke is *usually* by far the better sprinter but Cancellaras experience on the boards showed and Vanmarcke clearly wasn't listening to me as I shouted at my television for him to stop taking turns on the front with 5km to go! Chapeau to both riders, though watching Vanmarcke come this far to lose on the line was a little gut-renching, the eventual winner was a deserved one. Spare a thought for Zdenek Stybar (OPQS) because this could well have been a three way sprint at the finish, had it not been for a collision with a spectator resulting in Stybar losing time - he looked to be the strongest of the three at that point too but this is the classics after all and anything can happen...

Friday, 5 April 2013

Can Anybody Else Win Paris-Roubaix?

 
Its a simple enough question and frankly, at this moment in time there could be an equally simple answer but we won't head there just yet. Of course when I say can anybody else win Paris-Roubaix - I mean can anybody other than Fabian Cancellara win Paris-Roubaix? Paris-Roubaix is *probably* the best one day race in the world, then again I was likely to say the same of the Tour of Flanders a week ago but if there is any doubt as to whether it's the best, it most definitely is the hardest - it takes a skilled, well drilled and powerful rider to win 'the hell of the north'. Its strictly hard-men only, wimps need not apply and if anybody fits the bill, its obviously Fabian Cancellara. The question is, with his nearest rivals not participating, is there anybody who can prevent the almost-inevitable and how can is be done?...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Alto de Usartza

 
If today's climb was made for the steep-sprint specialists then stage 4 presents a summit finish for those who prefer long range attacks over a number of kilometres, but expect the same faces to be at the sharp end of the race as it's do or die for the GC contenders - especially those who are not so comfortable in the time trials. Here is a look at tomorrows finale on the Alto de Usartza...

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Alto de la Lejana

 
There are no 'mountain stages' in this years Tour of the Basque country, but don't be fooled - the terrain in this area is undulating, up and down with rarely a flat road to break up the constant slog needed to sustain race pace here. Tomorrows stage does have a summit finish though (as does stage 4) and if the racebook tells a story of tame slopes, then the Alto de la Lejana says something completely different...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Picture This: Vuelta al País Vasco: Carrot Time

 
The Tour of the Basque Country started today which can only mean one thing: It's carrot time! The orange clad Euskaltel Euskadi team are likely to be even more visible this week because of course this is their home tour. The Esukaltel team may have changed tactic in employing non-Basque riders this year, but the majority of the team are still Basque nationals and the spirit of the team is still very much Basque! I'm a big fan of the carrots and they come here, as suspected, with a very strong team including the likes of Samuel Sanchez and Igor Anton - the race is unlikely to be a complete orange domination though because it sports a serious start-list: Richie Porte, Thomas de Gendt, Andy Schleck, Teejay Van Garderen, Andrew Talansky, Nairo Quintana, Ryder Hesjedal, Romain Bardet, Jean-Christophe Peraud and of course Alberto Contador all line up at the start. Stay tuned for some stage previews and climb analysis throughout the week...