Sportsmen in general, and cyclists are no different in this respect, are a superstitious lot. So it goes without saying that good omens are often looked for when we set out to the first race of the new Scottish season.
Sunday morning dawned bright, clear and sunny as sixty teams of two warmed up for the Ice Breaker 2-Up Time Trial on the outskirts of Irvine, and the unseasonably favourable weather was the omen that most had looked for.Full Story»
In a day of torrential downpours Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) secured his place in the history books as the first Spaniard to win the Giro di Lombardia, with a beautiful solo victory ahead of Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky).
The wet weather played a significant role on the day, particularly as the riders negotiated the soaking and glassy, deisel-splashed descents, with several of them taking a tumble, most notably new World Road Champion Philippe GIlbert (BMC) who subsequently abandoned.
We didn’t manage to attend the race ourselves this year, but our pal Dave Martin (theBicycleWorks.com) did, and he has kindly shared his photos with us.
Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) started his season well with two stage victories at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in February and the opening road Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen last week, and he continued his great form with a superb sprint victory in Nokere-Koerse today, using his knowledge of the finale to distance Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) in the uphill gallop to the line.
From the point that his Sky Procycling teammates took up station on the front of the peloton with 60km to go, Mark Cavendish never looked like losing today, and so it proved as he swept to an easy bunch sprint win over FDJ-Big Mat’s Yauheni Hutarovich with Vacansoleil-DCM’s Kenny Van Hummel in third.
Sep Vanmarcke instigated the main splits of the day, survived the many crashes on the slippy roads, rode strongly in the breaks and the final winning move, foxed and feigned heavy legs beautifully in the last couple of kilometres and finished the day with a fine accelerating power-sprint win over Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha.
If it’s the first weekend of the month and the snow drops have burst through – it must Scottish Super Six time.
VeloVeritas caught up with the first Super Six winner of the year, 19 year-old Dumbarton man Robert Hassan (Endura/Pedal Power Development Team) the day after he’d triumphed over 65 miles of beautiful East Lothian countryside in the Edinburgh Road Club promotion at Gifford.
Sky Procycling just missed the win yesterday with Flecha finishing second in Het Nieuwsblad, but the team stepped it up a notch today, setting up Chris Sutton perfectly for a superb win in the bunch sprint.
Tom Boonen tried his hand with around five and a half k’s to go, jumping out of the bunch and with a fantastic turn of pace and joining forces with Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun), the only rider left in front from a small break. However, with 2km to go the pair were reeled back in, and the Sky riders gave Sutton the perfect leadout.
On a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon in Gent, Rabobank’s Sebastian Langeveld took the victory by inches from breakaway partner Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky Procycling and the winner last year), with another Sky rider Matt Hayman third.
The Dutchman had ridden very aggressively throughout the race, attacking and getting clear with more than 55km still to race, to be joined by Flecha with 16km to go the line.
Stuart Moran (Perth United) made it a successful trip to East Lothian for the Humbie Mountain Time Trial today, taking the win over a hard two-lap circuit by 20 seconds.
Torrential rain before the start didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm it seemed, but given the instructions that the village hall wasn’t to have turbos or rollers on its beautiful floor, ingenious methods for warming up were needed – with riders utilising umbrella-weilding loved ones, dry spots under the reaching boughs of the local Elm trees, and bus shelters. Some didn’t bother at all and sat in their cars until it was time to meet the timekeeper.
Over the following couple of hours however, the sun came out and the day warmed up, strengthening the south-easterly wind and making it that bit harder for the later starters.
James Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) showed the rest of the field how to ride a hilly, chilly 20 mile time trial, this one around the picturesque Meldons in the Scottish Borders.
The early starters also had horizontal sheets of rain to contend with, and together with the obligatory cattle grids and potholes, it was another hard lesson in winter under-preparing for many.
There were also one or two fallers on the technical descent down into Eddleston, but thankfully noone was seriously injured.
“I didn’t have good legs,” said Tyler Farrar after his surprise victory in the Scheldeprijs today,”but my team did such a great job that I felt I had to give something back in the sprint.”
Alan Thomson (Glasgow Couriers) was run pretty close by his teammate Barry McGurk for the win in the Gordon Arms Trophy, a hilly time trial run by the Gala CC near Melrose in the Scottish borders. With Euan Pope backing them up in fourth place, the team prize was never going anywhere else.
Kazakh rider Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) could barely raise an arm in victory, after a crash earlier in the day, and five hours of hard racing over the Tuscan dirt roads.
Thomas Löfkvist (Team Sky) attacked the remains of the front group of 11 men as they got to within 6km of Siena, knowing that a good placing in the final few corners were vital if he was going to repeat his win of last year.
In a full programme of racing, Sir Chris Hoy showed he’s ready for the forthcoming World Championships and happy with his form by posting the fastest 200m time, and then beating Jason Kenny in the final of the sprint, but, as he told us, he “had to pull his ring out” to do so. The pair nearly took each other out with several no-nonsense switches.
Robbie Mcewen, Oscar Freire, Linus Gedermann, Rui Costa, and Andre Greipel took the five one-day races that make up this event, which suffered from the weather like other events around the Med.
Great to see Jens Voigt back in action and winning a competition too.