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.
Taking his first win of the season thanks to a great leadout from his An Post-Sean Kelly teammates, Niko Eeckhout won the last and fifth stage, the Belgian beating Valentin Iglinsky (Astana) and Hans Dekkers (Landbouwkrediet). But it was Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), who 24-hours earlier was relegated for missing out a part of the route, who claimed the GC win. Race leader Arnaud Molmy (Roubaix Lille Metropole) and many others failed to start the last day after a stomach virus spread through the bunch overnight.
Gavin Shirley (Nevis Cycles RT) made the trip to the Scottish Borders today, and went away with the win in the Edinburgh Road Club promotion, the Lothian Flyer Road Race, narrowly edging out two fast Vets, Chris Brown (Stirling BC) and Steve Nutley (Fife Cycling 2000).
Iain Sim (Glasgow Couriers) took a good win today ahead of some very fast riders who are building form for the forthcoming National 25 Champs. A relatively small field this evening at the Bishopton Community Hall, with quite a few riders deciding not to start - most likely due to the unsavoury weather conditions and a major delay on the M8 westbound.
Ali Watt (Granite City RT) broke his own Course Record on the 2 lap 19.5ml Deeside Thistle Hilly TT on Thurs 24th May, only to be thwarted by a flying Ray Wilson (Dunfermline CC) who was over a half minute faster. A cool, dull evening with intermittent showers meant that Course Records weren't really on most folks' cards beforehand.
This 16 Mile Time Trial at Garlogie saw a cold, breezy, but dry night. Ray Wilson did a good ride for the night. Colin Duncan of organising club Tri Changing Gear was an excellent second, pushing Ali Watt of Granite City RT into 3rd place by 4 seconds. Colin always rides well on hard/hilly TT courses.
A dull and not very warm (6 to 7C) day, with little breeze for this race today. But there was some really outstanding stuff, especially from winner Jon Copp, and more especially from 70yr old Derek "Dastardly Dick" Stewart who had an all-time Personal Best, first time under the hour!, with a fine 59.52 (+22.38 up on his age std).
A cold wind tonight wasn't conducive to fast times and in the circumstances all the guys under 24 mins deserved a wee accollade. Ray Wilson took the win in an excellent 22.40 ahead of Norman Skene and Ali Watt. Freddie Toms (Elgin CC), on a short holiday in Montrose easily won the Vets (on Std) award.
43 riders in 5 groups set off with the scratch group 15 mins behind the front-runners. The weather was warm and sunny but the riders faced a strong westerly wind gusting up to 30 mph. Ray Wilson of Dunfermline CC and Alistair Watt of Granite City RT broke away on their own and caught all the groups with about 7 miles to go, then Ray won the sprint to the line.
Mountainbiker Euan Pope took the top spot in the Dunfermline Road Race, with a fine solo win. Second was Lewis Oliphant and third Richard Allan.
The race start was delayed as there had been an accident on the course, however once underway it ran smoothly. The course was the AB25/4 - Garlogie Torphins. Alas, the recent lovely weather came to an end today, and instead the 32 competitors were faced with a wet, breezy and cold afternoon. The rain started just after the last man was off, and continued throughout the race, which inspite of the conditions saw several excellent performances. At least it cleared up a little for the presentation.
Aidan McIlroy (Auchencrow Thistle) backed up his great ride in the recent Gordon Arms time trial to win his own club's promotion, the hilly TT - "Up The Cleugh". Second was Gary Robson, and third Jon Kelly, visiting from the north of England.
The result of the Tri Changing Gear CC 16ml Hilly TT. An excellent ride by Jon to take this race, with Carlos a little unfortunate having punctured just before the start and ending up riding on someone's borrowed "winter bike" rear wheel.
The Sandy Wallace Cycles team of Alan Dow, Ian Black and Joe Wilson put half a minute into the boys from Aberdeen in the shape of the Granite City RT to take the honours in the Musselburgh RC 3-Up Time Trial.
Jason MacIntyre made it a neat half dozen Scottish individual titles for 2006 with a 16 second winning margin over fast-improving Irishman, Raymond Wilson (Dunfermline CC) in the Scottish Hill Climb Championship on the Bonnyton Moor climb near Eaglesham on Saturday afternoon. West of Scotland Hill Climb Champion, Teessider Chris Smart (Glasgow Couriers) made it the proverbial Scotsman, Englishman and Irishman on the podium to take bronze.
Who else but Jason MacIntyre ran out the winner of this year's Tour des Trossachs classic time trial, held around Aberfoyle, Scotland. A solid minute and a half space between him and Evan Oliphant, with Ray Wilson in third a further minute back.
The Dunfermline team of I. Condie and R. Wilson won the Phil Young Memorial GP Des Gents time trial by nearly a minute on actual time, meaning that they also won the race on handicap, but only by a small margin: eight seconds.
Jason McIntyre continued his domination of time trialling with an emphatic win over Arthur Doyle and Berry McGurk in the Tour of the Campsies, over two an a half minutes clear.
The A C Yule Trophy, awarded to the fastest rider from the organising club (Aberdeen Wheelers), was won by veteran roadman Bob Cowie in a time of 25min 13secs. The event was won by Dave Black (Sandy Wallace Cycles) from Forres, in a time of 22min 26secs, beating Tri-changing Gear's Sean Monaghan into 2nd place by a mere 6secs. Sean's Tri-changing Gear team-mate, Colin Duncan was 3rd in 22min 45secs.
The results of the "Rising Westerly" 100 Mile Time Trial held on the Aberdeen/Stonehaven/Deeside course, and organised by GS Corsa. Carlos Riise (Shetland Wheelers) made another successful "air"“raid" on mainland cycling by comfortably winning the "Rising Westerly" by over 14 minutes from Granite City RT's Norman Skene. Sadly, Scottish 12hr Champion, Joe Wilson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) crashed at Aboyne and was forced to retire. Carlos reported that Joe was probably just over a minute up on him at the time.
Barry McGurk of the Glasgow Couriers ran away with the Johnstone Wheelers CC 25 Mile Individual Time Trial, nearly two minutes ahead of second placed Alan Dow, with Billy McFarlane third.
Jason MacIntyre followed his outstanding win in the British 25 mile TT Champs with an equally fantastic result in the British Time Trial Championship 2006, taking some superb scalps such as Michael Hutchinson, Jonathan Dayus, and Stuart Dangerfield.