Monday, 31 January 2011

Tour de Langkawi stage 9

After six days of trying, the breakaway specialists in Le Tour de Langkawi finally had their say today, going clear during a shortened stage to Nilai and fighting it out for the win. First to the line was the big Russian rider Boris Shpilevsky (Tabriz Petrochemical Pro Team), who hit the line two seconds ahead of French rival Perrig Quemeneur (Team Europcar) and five ahead of the next chasers. These were led home by yesterday’s stage winner Robert Forster (United Healthcare), who went clear in the break rather than banking on another bunch gallop.

“Today’s race was faster, it was always attacks, attacks, attacks,” Shpilevsky said after the 127 kilometre leg. “The move went inside the final 20 kilometres to go and I was really lucky to be there. When we start to work I thought of the chance to be in this group with this group, but I don’t think about being the winner. We had many very strong guys in the breakaway, such as Robert Forster…it’s very difficult for the sprint [with him]. But I went on the attack from the break at the end and it worked out very good.”

The stage was shortened due to flooding and that prompted riders to race more aggressively than before. After a spate of short-lived moves, the 28 year old Shpilevsky pushed ahead with ten others and held a solid lead over the main bunch. Although it didn’t go about a minute, those behind were not organised and the break stayed clear to fight it out for the win.

Shpilevsky has a rapid finish, but didn’t fancy his chances against Forster. “The others, like always, were looking at everyone. Maybe they don’t want to do it [attack] because it’s two kilometres to go, everybody is thinking about the sprint but not about the attack in the last two kilometres. But I jumped clear and got into a small breakaway, finishing five seconds before the others. I’m very happy.”

Race leader Jonathan Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli) finished in the main bunch, 26 seconds behind the winner. He took a win in the first of two intermediate sprints, extending his overall lead to five seconds over Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua). As a result he’s looking like a solid bet to take the overall classification tomorrow.

“It has been another very hard stage. Once again my whole team has worked a lot,” he said. “When I saw the sign for one kilometre to go to the first sprint, I was marking Libardo to make sure that he wasn’t getting seconds from me. I also realised the sprinters were not going for the sprints so I sprinted and gained three seconds. It makes me more calm for tomorrow when I’ll have to preserve the lead.”

One of the sprinters who didn’t try too hard today was quadruple stage victor Andrea Guardini. He did take second in the first intermediate sprint, but held back thereafter. He congratulated Shpilevsky for his win, saying that he detected the right breakaway and deserved his success.

“In my team we had Miyazawa in the first group so we gave him the green light to look for the victory,” he said, explaining the tactics. “As for myself, at three kilometres to go I decided to not sprint for what would be maybe 4 or 5 points, they are not really needed. I wasn’t at 100 percent of my capacity today because each day I feel a bit [more] tired. The essential thing today was to consolidate my blue jersey and keep some strength for tomorrow.”

The final stage of the race will conclude with a laps of a circuit in Kuala Lumpur. A bunch sprint is almost always the outcome and Guardini is psyched to try to take his fifth stage of the race. Monsalve will be motivated to preserve his five second advantage over Nino Corredor, while the Tabriz Petrochemical riders will be gunning to hold onto the team general classification lead they grabbed today.

How it happened:

Due to heavy flooding along part of the route, today’s stage start in Melaka was delayed one hour until midday and the route was shortened from 151.7 to 127 kilometres. The final 18 kilometres of the revised course was the same as had originally been planned, but there were substantial changes to the rest.

As a result of the modifications, the number of hot spot sprints dropped from three to two, and the climbs from one to zero.

The first intermediate sprint came after just 15.9 kilometres of racing and there
yellow jersey Jonathan Monsalve took first and added three seconds to his advantage over closest challenger Libardo Nino Corredor. Points leader Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli) also bolstered his own advantage, netting second ahead of Dennis Van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka) and his main rival for the blue points jersey, Anuar Manan (Terengganu ProAsia Cycling).

The bunch remained together for most of the first hour of racing. An attempt by Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team) to go clear was briefly successful, but then he was recaptured. Six riders then went clear four kilometres before the second intermediate sprint; Zainal Mohd Nur Rizuan (Malaysia National Team) was first to the line, beating Rahim Emami (Azad
University Cycling Team), Hossein Askari (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) and Jose Mendes (CCC Polsat Polkowice).

Just after the halfway point, 70 kilometres into the stage, 15 riders were out front. They were joined by yellow jersey Monsalve, and this prompted the rest of the peloton to chase the move down. A group of eleven then went clear, chased by six others. The first of these groups contained yesterday’s stage winner Robert Foster (United HealthCare), who was clearly finding his legs after a winter of disrupted training due to weather.

Amongst the others in the lead were Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli), Omar Lombardi (Colnago CSF Inox), Perrig Quemeneur (Team Europcar),
Koen De Kort (Skil-Shimano), Andrei Krasilnikau (Chipotle Development Team), Mendes and Baptiste Planckaert (Landbouwkrediet). The time gap hovered between 30 and 40 seconds for quite some time, briefly going up to 54 seconds. With five kilometres remaining it had dropped back to 35 seconds.

Mendes then clipped away and opened a gap over the others, but was then joined by Boris Shpilevksy (Tabriz Petrochemical Team). The Russian jumped clear inside the final kilometre and hit the line two seconds clear of Quemeneur. Forster took third, five seconds back, while the rest of the break came in behind him. Dene Rogers (Giant Kenda
Pro Cycling Team) led home the main bunch 26 seconds later, with race leader Jonathan Monsalve finishing alongside Libardo Nino Corredor and maintaining his lead. There’s just over 100 kilometres left in this year’s Tour de Langkawi and the Venezuelan is looking increasingly likely as the final winner of this race.

Giro di Reggio Calabria 2011 - Stages 1. 2 & 3 - Final kilometers

Tour de Langkawi stage 9

Tour du Gabon stage 5

Cyclo Cross World Champs - elite men

The polatics of cycling

This was one of our first ever posts on this site - and being as a lot of people have asked why we are not at the Tour de Langkawi we figuerd it would be a good time to run the story again ;)

Asean cycling federations Vs private event promotors

Sometimes this one can be a touchy subject. Most Asian/Asean nations have their own UCI international tours and races, as well as many other events. The great national tours usually take centre stage, which is natural, after all they have the budget, resources, power, and the backing of their national federations, the UCI, and often the government too.
So why is it that these big budget events all too often don't manage to make the headlines internationally and are often end up run off behind near closed doors. They never seem to match the outcome in relation to their budgets, or even attract the best of the available teams?
As in all sports politics and power are often the driving factors. Often it's commercial and sporting suicide for media and teams to speak out when such situations occur; but for sure these organisations don't seem to like change, or any hint of progress - let alone anybody who isn't in their "special gang" being involved in things - thus events become incestual.
Having worked with and been involved with so many races and events in Southeast Asia we can tell you that these events often run scared when an international media person approaches them; perish the thought of the event getting any coverage outside of their circles. I mean, this would only benefit sponsors, teams and riders - ohh, and of course help boost the stature of the races themselves - and maybe a few un-biased words would be passed by somewhere too.
Yep, we can tell you that our calls to cover around 60% of the major UCI registered tours in Asia fall on deaf ears and into e-mail trash cans (when we are offering international coverage - not only at BNA). Continual harassment of organisers for the hell of it often leads to zero response or "Your services are not required!" replies, which translates clearly to say "we're not letting anybody in who knows what's what or who won't do what we tell them".
Strange old attitude really, but then anybody involved with this or other sports will know that some officious guys and girls are always going to make life tough. Then again when a commercial organisation steps into the arena things always seem to run well. Races become a big deal, not simply a sideshow of the organisation. Media, TV, and sponsors come out in supports, and we all get to hear about it. Unfortunately the "official" powers that be often step in to thwart these "professionally" promoted races - why? Take your own guess on that one.
Thus there are several races that we will be unable to cover here at BNA - as they simply don't and won't help us to do that. Meantime we'll bring you what we event coverage can -with your help!
If you'd like us to cover or promote your event drop us a mail and we can discuss things.
Meantime we're stepping off the soap-box!

Kona Project 2/1

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Tour de Langkawi stage 8

After taking a frustrated second on yesterday’s stage to Tampin, German sprinter Robert Forster went one better to blaze home first into Jasin on the eighth leg of the Tour de Langkawi. The United Healthcare rider narrowly edged out friend and competitor André Schulze (CCC Polstat Polkowice) at the end of the longest stage of the race, while determined sprinting earlier on saw Jonnatha Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli) move ahead of Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua) in the general classification.

Venezuelan competitor Monsalve had started the rain-lashed stage two seconds behind his Colombian rival, but moved level on time when he was runner-up in the first intermediate sprint at Bahau (km 18.7). He then moved ahead when he placed second in the next sprint, that of Gemencheh (km 122.7). Nino Corredor did what he could but was only fourth in the latter.

“I must thank my team for the good work that has been done since the beginning of the stage,” said a very satisfied Monsalve afterwards. “At the first hotspot sprint I managed to finish second and got a two second bonus that made me equal on time with Libardo. Then the team worked again to take me to the second hotspot sprint and since I was second again there, I got another second and now I’m the leader of Le Tour de Langkawi.”

Monsalve has the stronger team and with experienced manager Gianni Savio at the helm and looking to win the race once again, he is in a very good position. However he’s taking nothing for granted at this point in time, realising that anything could happen.

“I cannot say that I have won the race,” he said, responding to a question about whether the general classification was now settled. “The team will for sure work a lot in the last two stages. I cannot say I am the winner until I cross the finish-line in Kuala Lumpur.”

Monsalve’s quest for yellow was aided by the fact that the battle for the blue points jersey was more or less settled yesterday. Malaysian favourite Anuar Manan had been leading but slipped right back when he was badly placed in the finishing sprint. He and the new points leader Andrea Guardini didn’t dispute the intermediate sprints today and this freed things up for the general classification contenders Monsalve and Nino Corredor to fight it out.

Perhaps showing fatigue after battles earlier in the race, Guardini and Manan were also absent from the top slots in the finishing sprint. The four-time stage winner was best placed of the two in fourth place, while Manan was back in eleventh. Forster had been beaten by Guardini yesterday, but he got the upper hand over his rivals today.

“It's the first victory of the season, it's a great feeling,” he said. “I changed team this year and worked hard in the winter, but the winter in Germany was very cold. So I had some problems in the first three or four stages but now the legs are good.”

A numbers of riders were clear during the stage and inside the final 15 kilometres, six were off the front. From this group Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Professional Cycling) soloed ahead and went close to taking the win. However he was hauled back with just over a kilometre to go, and then Forster’s team-mates helped lead him out. “There was some great work by the team – they went to the front in the last kilometre so I could have a good sprint.”

Like all the other riders, he was battling the elements today. However the temperatures stayed up and that helped things. “It’s been rainy but it’s not cold… 24 degrees, so nobody is cold,” he said. “It makes it a hard race, but it’s not so hard like 20 degrees below. Anyway, I hope it’s not raining tomorrow and we can ride an easier race.”

That sentiment will be echoed by the rest of the peloton, but unfortunately the weather forecast for the remainder of the race is not good.

How it happened:

Going against expectations for this time of the year, it was pouring rain at the start of stage eight of the Tour de Langkawi and would remain wet and overcast for what was the longest stage of the race. The riders faced 156.5 soggy kilometres from Kuala Pilah to Jasin, with intermediate sprints at Bahau (km 18.7), Gemencheh (km 122.7) and Selandar (km 141.2). The stage would also be spiced up by category four
King of the Mountains primes at Jempol (km 27.4) and Palong (km 50.3).

Despite some attacks, the peloton remained together until after the first intermediate sprint. There Boris Shpilevsky (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) grabbed first slot, but what was more important was the second place of Jonnatha Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli). He beat team-mate
Luca Barla to earn a two second time bonus, moving level on time with race leader Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua).

Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano) continued his progression in the King of the Mountains competition when he beat Hyosuk Gong (Korea National Team) and Antonio Santoro (Androni Giocattoli) to the hilltop prime at Jempol. However he lost out on possible points when he could only get third behind Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team) and Othman M. Adiq (Drapac Professional Cycling) at Palong.

Adiq’s team-mate was the first to spend an extended amount of time off the front, attacking and holding a two and a half minute lead over the peloton at kilometre 90. Pushed along by a tailwind, he covered 96.3 kilometres in the first two hours of racing and continued to ride hard. However the Androni team were monitoring things behind and at the intermediate sprint line, Pell was just one minute and six seconds ahead of the next riders, Monsalve and Dennis Van Niekerk. Nino Corredor was fourth, out of the time bonuses and slipping two seconds behind the new virtual leader Monsalve.

Pell was rapidly weakening and he was caught and dropped by Omar Lombardi (Colnago CSF Inox Pro) and Andrei Krasilnikau (Chipotle Development Team) before km 130. Lombardi persisted and was joined by Pierre Quemeneur (Team Europcar) and Benjamin Gourgue (Landbouwkrediet). However they were soon caught, and a six man group then pushed ahead.

Out of this selection,
Geert Verheyen (Landbouwkrediet), Gu Jang Kyung (Korea National Team), Koen de Kort (Skil Shimano) and Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Professional Cycling) took the four placings at the final prime of the day, the intermediate sprint at Selandar. From there fifteen kilometres remained, and Goesinnen clipped away closer to the line to try to take the win. However he was caught with just over a kilometre to go and the peloton battled it out in the sixth bunch sprint of the week.

André Schulze (CCC Polstat Polkowice) and
Robert Forster (United Healthcare) were neck and neck coming to the line, but the latter edged it in the photo finish and clocked up a win for the US team. Monsalve came in as part of the main group and took over yellow from a disappointed Nino Corredor.

He holds a two second advantage heading into tomorrow’s penultimate stage, the 151.7 kilometre race from Melaka to Nilai. Aside from one category four King of the Mountains climb, it features three categorised sprints and should see more tussling between the first two riders in the general classification. Things remain tight and there's everything to race for.

Tour de Langkawi stage 8

Tour du Gabon stage 4

Roman K test his new Shiv

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Tour de Langkawi stage 7 report

Four wins out of five bunch sprints: Andrea Guardini underlined his superiority with yet another victory in the Tour de Langkawi today. The 21 year old Italian neo-pro has had a stunning debut in this race and is becoming more and more confident, starting his sprint over 250 metres from the line in Tampin and holding off all his rivals.

Vuelta a España stage winner Robert Forster (United Healthcare) was second while Dene Rogers (Giant Kenda) was third. Malaysian favourite Anuar Manan (Terengganu ProAsia Cycling) had previously been closest to Guardini in terms of finishing speed in this race but he was boxed in today, placing only 24th. As a result, he has lost the blue points jersey he was wearing during the stage.

Guardini changed tactics today, realising that Manan tended to be fast in the intermediate sprints but then not as rapid as him at the end of the stages. As a result he and his team were content that a break went clear, and they didn’t try to bring them back until much closer to the end.

“I have decided not to race for hotspot sprints anymore and keep all my strength for the finish,” he said. “Thanks to the breakaway, no hotspot sprint was contested [by the peloton] so Anuar was not able to take more points on the way. I have a comfortable lead but it's not over yet for the blue jersey.”

He and the rest of the riders had anticipated a different type of finish, and were surprised to see how things turned out. Fortunately he was able to adjust and it didn’t affect his chances. “It was a different sprint from the previous days, because not many people expected such a finish,” he said afterwards. “Looking at the road book, it was a false flat uphill, but in reality the last 2 kilometres were downhill. But I handled the situation, I took the corner in 5th position…that was ideal, and I did 300 metres finishing flat out.”

Race leader Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua) had a relatively quiet day in the saddle and his slender two second lead wasn’t really threatened at any point by closest rival Jonnatha Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli). He’s now a day closer to the race finish in
Kuala Lumpur, where the 42 year old could become the oldest-ever winner of the event.

“This stage has been little bit difficult for me because my team is not very strong,” he said. “However it went without problems. The circumstances of the race helped me because other teams have worked strongly and there were riders away to catch the bonuses.”

Monsalve said afterwards that the team made the decision to wait until the finale, then try to take back the two seconds to yellow. However the same confusion about the finish which was mentioned by Guardini also applied to him, and he didn’t have his chance.

“We thought today was a good day to take the
yellow jersey because the road book showed an uphill finish,” he stated. “That's why we let a breakaway go, because we thought I could take the yellow jersey with that uphill to the line. Unfortunately the finish was downhill and there was nothing to get.”

Three days now remain in the race, and while the points jersey contest looks more certain this evening due to Manan’s misfortune, the battle for yellow is still very much a close one.

How it happened:

A total of 123 riders lined out on the 149.5 kilometre race from Banting to Tampin. The stage was run off under cooler temperatures and there was little sun. There were many attacks inside the first ten kilometres, with a group of four eventually going clear and being joined at kilometre 14 by another quartet.

The break comprised Manuele Caddeo (Colnago CSF Inox Pro), Maxim Jenkins (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Kihong Yoo (Korea National Team), Loh Sea Keong (Malaysia National Team), Othman M. Adiq (Drapac
Professional Cycling Team), David McCann (Giant Kenda), Deon Locke (Team Champion Systems) and Bradley Potgieter (MTN Qhubeka).

Five kilometres later, the octet had a 50 second advantage over the bunch. Recognising that this was most likely the break of the day, Ebrahim Javani (Suren
Cycling Team) set off in pursuit but struggled to get on terms. He was caught by the bunch after 34 kilometres of racing, by which time the break was two minutes 40 seconds clear.

Caddeo took the first sprint in Sungai Pelek (km 44.6), beating Potgieter, Loh and Jenkins. The riders covered 46 kilometres of racing in the first hour, and the gap here was three minutes 15 seconds. This had increased to four minutes 25 seconds by the sprint in Port Dickson (km 82), where Potgieter, Locke, Caddeo and Loh were first across the prime line.

It began to rain soon afterwards and this spurred the bunch into action, with several attacks going clear and the pace picking up. The acceleration had the expected effect on the break’s advantage and by the second KOM prime at Linggi (km 105.7), the lead was just over two minutes. Locke beat Adiq and Caddeo to the summit there.

Potgieter was again first in the next intermediate sprint. He passed the line in Chembong (km 124.7) ahead of Caddeo, Jenkins and Adiq, but it was looking less and less likely that he or the others would get to use their sprint at the finish. The peloton was just 20 seconds back with five kilometres to go, and they were caught soon afterwards.
Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) then clipped away two kilometres from the line, but he couldn’t prevent a big bunch finish and the fourth victory of Andrea Guardini.

Next up is a 156.5 kilometre race from Kuala Pilah to Jasin. After a bonus sprint at Bahau, two fourth category climbs come in the first third of the stage and should help those keen to try their chances in a break. Later on, two intermediate sprints precede the final rush for the line.

Tour de Langkawi stage 7 - results

UCI decide on 2100 World Tour final, and some dates for 2012 and beyond...

·       2011 Juniors Track: Moscow (Russia).
·       2011, 2012 and 2013 Masters Track: Manchester (Great Britain),
·       2013 Para-cycling Road: Baie-Comeau (Canada),
·       2013 Indoor Cycling: Basel (Switzerland).

Furthermore, the final of the 2011 UCI World Cycling Tour was awarded to Liège (Belgium).
The Management Committee also approved the following calendars:
·       2011-2012 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup Calendar (scheduled rounds: Plzen, Tabor, Koksijde, Igorre, Namur, Heusden-Zolder, Liévin and Hoogerheide),
·       2011 BMX Supercross Calendar (scheduled rounds: Pietermaritzburg, Papendal, London, Sarasota and Chula Vista),

Tour of Gabon stage 3 2011

Who's gonna be World Cyclo Cross Champion? Start list

Giro d'Italia 2011

Friday, 28 January 2011

Alberto Contador press conference

Selected quotes from the man himself 

"I will appeal wherever necessary to defend my innocence to the end,"

"In these 10 days I have, I will do everything I can with my lawyers to see justice done, I am an example for many people. I know what I am exposing myself to and for that reason I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs. I can say it openly and clearly and with my head held high, I consider myself an example of [drug] cleanliness."

Tour de Langkawi stage 6 - report

Three wins out of four attempts: after the general classification battles of the past two days, the riders in the Tour de Langkawi returned to flatter terrain, and there Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini –Neri Sottoli) clocked up his hat-trick of sprint victories in the race.

The 21 year old Italian led out the gallop and had enough strength to hold off points jersey rival Anuar Manan (Terengganu ProAsia Cycling) and 2010 stage winner Takashi Miyuazawa (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli) to the line in Purajaya.

Manan had the consolation of taking the blue points jersey thanks to the bonus sprint he won at Ulu Klang sprint, 26.3 kilometres after the start in Rawang. His goals for this year’s event are to repeat the victory in that classification plus the stage win he took in the 2010 edition, and wearing the jersey tomorrow should motivate him.

One who is already psyched by a jersey is overall leader Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua). He kept close tabs on his rivals today and rolled across the line in 36th place, preserving the two seconds lead he held over Jonnatha Monsalve before the stage.

“This was been a very fast stage with many attempts at breakaways,” he said, referring in particular to a threatening move containing the fifth-placed rider Rahim Emami (Azad University). “The race started very fast from the gun and there was a breakaway for the second hotspot sprint. Fortunately the Androni team worked a lot to close the gap to the breakaway riders and my team-mates told me about the course at the end. That is how I kept the
yellow jersey today.”

Top rival Monsalve explained that the team decided to ride in order to prevent another rider jumping above him in the general classification. He can take over the race lead if he can pick up some bonus seconds, but to do that he needs to finish ahead of some of the sprint specialists who are scrapping it out for the points jersey. “There are four more stages remaining. We see that the sprinters are very focussed on scoring points, so it is going to be hard,” he stated. “But we will see how it goes tomorrow.”

The pattern of racing has become fascinating due to these twin battles; on the one hand, the sprinters are focussed completely on the blue jersey, while the GC contenders are fixated on the yellow. Guardini is one of the prime contenders for the former and with his succession of stage wins, his confidence is good enough that he didn’t sound too concerned that Manan took over that blue jersey today.

However he needs to be careful; a win in the intermediate sprints confers a two point gain over the second-placed rider, while for the finishes, the difference is just one point. Guardini has tended to be quicker than Manan at the end of the stages, but the Malaysian rider has had the edge in the earlier sprints. If today’s pattern continues, Manan will be the winner of the jersey
next Tuesday rather than him.

“It is a great achievement to get three stage wins out of four so far,” the Italian said, reacting to the victory he picked up today. “There is a big battle for the hot spot sprints and the classification for points is very tight. Anuar Manan is extremely determined to win this classification. There is only one point between us, but I am fine with it for now.”

Manan promised to keep the pressure on, and does appear very motivated. “Today I didn’t get the win, but I got the blue [jersey]. I would like to thank my team-mates who worked hard today. I will try to keep the blue jersey until the end. I will try to win a stage, but today I didn’t get to do that…I got second and am a little bit unhappy, but I will try tomorrow.”

How it unfolded:

After several early attacks, the riders hit the first of the day’s two category four climbs. On this climb of Bukit Kanching (km 7.6),
Albert Timmer (Skil Shimano) beat Mirsamad Pourseyedi (Azad University) and Gang Xu (Max Success Sports) to the top, trying to improve on his fifth overall in the mountains classification. The peloton then came back together before the Ulu Klang sprint (km 26.3), where the sprinters fought it out for the points jersey. Malaysian favourite Anuar Manan (Terengganu ProAsia Cycling) beat Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) here, with 2010 race leader Tobias Erler (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) netting third. The two points gained by Manan moved him into the virtual lead of that classification; they had started the stage on the same points, with Guardini holding the blue jersey on countback.

After 37 kilometres,
Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked and briefly led the race, but things came back together quickly under the fast pace being set. A total of 48 kilometres was covered in the first hour of racing.

Ten kilometres later, 15 riders went clear and from this group, Boris Shpilevsky (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) beat
Suhardi Hassan (Malaysian National Team) and Hossein Askari (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) to the intermediate sprint at Kajang (km 54.6).

These were recaptured and then six riders pushed ahead: Paolo Locatelli (Colnago CSF Inox Pro), Jose Mendes (CCC Polstat Polkowiche), Benjamin Gourgue (Landbouwkredeit), David Pell (Drapac Professional Cycling), Kenichi Suzuki (Aisan Racing Team) and Mirsamad Pourseyedi (Azad University Team). These had a 39 second advantage on the first of four passages over the finish line, and there Locatelli beat Suzuki and Pell for the prime.

Behind, the Androni team of second-overall Jonnatha Monsalve were chasing and had halved the gap by the end of the first of three 11 kilometre laps. By the end of the next circuit, this was down to just ten seconds and while it momentarily went back up to 18 seconds, everything came together with four kilometres to go. That set things up for the fourth bunch sprint of the race and there Guardini made no mistakes, leading from a long way out and holding off Manan to net his
third stage win.

Race leader Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua) rolled across the line in 36th place, preserving the two seconds lead he held over Jonnatha Monsalve before the stage.

The battles will continue tomorrow on the seventh stage of the race. It run 149.5 kilometres from Banting to Tampin and, as was the case today, will include two category four climbs and three intermediate sprints.

Tour du Gabon stage 2

Tour de Langkawi stage 6 results

Team BMC 2010 - the best bits

Team BMC 2010 - the best bits

Contador - UCI clarify suspension, or not..

Contador Case: clarification by the UCI

Following the confusion generated by yesterday's announcement by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) on the case of Alberto Contador – particularly concerning the "interim decision" of which the rider was notified – widely covered by the media, the UCI is obliged to clarify that this information cannot in any way be considered as an anticipation of the definitive decision in the case.

To date, Alberto Contador has not received a sanction and the UCI still awaits – in accordance with the provisions of its own regulations and those of the World Anti-Doping Code – to be informed of the decision of the RFEC Disciplinary Commission that should be provided as soon as possible.

The document that was forwarded to the UCI this afternoon by the RFEC only represents one element of the disciplinary proceedings undertaken by the Spanish Federation – and upon which the rider may express an opinion before being subject to the ruling – and cannot be used for the purpose of a potential appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

Only the definitive decision, that must be issued by the RFEC, can fulfil this purpose – within the time period established by the regulations – for the UCI, for WADA and for the rider himself.

Considering the major media interest in the case, the UCI regrets the inappropriate speculation that has characterised the proceedings and expresses its desire that this affair be drawn to a conclusion in an orderly fashion.

Tour of Britain to start in Scotland

Scotland is gearing up to host the Grand Depart of The Tour of Britain this September with preparations for Sunday 11th September already well underway.
 The eighth edition of Britain’s national Tour, and the final one to take place before the 2012 Olympic Games, will see the race return to Scotland, with the first stage taking place between the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.
After beginning in Scotland The Tour of Britain will visit England and Wales over the following seven days, finishing in London on Sunday 18th September.  Full details of each of the stages will be announced at the National launch in the Spring.

Tour of Gabon 2011 - stage 1

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Tour de Langklawi stage 4 video

Tour de Langkawi stage 5 report - Genting

Showing that he can still compete strongly at 43 years of age, Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua) took over the general classification lead at the Tour de Langkawi today. The veteran Colombian rider placed second on the gruelling stage to Genting Highlands, battling wind and rain to finish just behind the victorious Venezuelan rider Jonnatha Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli).

They proved best of the riders on the steep slopes of the climb, but the time gaps seen in previous years didn’t open up. That may have been due to the tough weather conditions, or perhaps the fact that the race is being held so early this year that riders are nervous about going too deep for too long. Whatever the reason, six riders came in within 17 seconds or less of the leading duo; Mirsamad Pourseyedi (Azad University) was a second behind them, while Denis Van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka) and Rahim Emami (Azad University) were two seconds further back.

 The tipped Emanuele Sella rode for his Androni Giocattoi team-mate Monsalve and took sixth, five seconds behind. But perhaps the most impressive ride was by the Australian Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development team), who finished seventh, eight seconds behind; he’s just 19 years of age and is surely a future star in the making.

At 21, Monsalve is also a promising talent. He gave thanks to others for helping him take the victory. “I would like to thank the team, the masseurs, the mechanics – everyone has worked really well for me,” he said. “Especially Emanuele Sella, who did a great job on the climb. I want to thank Gianni Savio who gave me the confidence. I did everything that he said. I remained on the wheel of Pozzovivo, and in the sprint I played it well with the help of Sella. He [Savio] told me that I can win the race today and we made it.”

Monsalve took the stage and the mountains jersey , but the jersey went to runner-up Nino Corredor. He said that the race has special significance for him, partly because of the country and also because it closes a chapter of his career.

“To tell the truth, I am very happy today. I am very happy to lead the Tour de Langkawi and to be in
Malaysia. I didn’t know much about the country before I came, and it is even better than what I expected.

“I am very happy with today and now I hope I will be able to maintain the lead until the end of the Tour. This is my last race at continental level and so I hope for the best…after this I will return to Columbia and race at amateur level.”

Nino Corredor is riding well as very much a climber rather than a sprinter, but he will have to rely on his gallop in the days ahead. There are five flatter stages before the race ends in
Kuala Lumpur, and he only has a two second advantage over Monsalve.

“The remainder of the race is relatively flat. I will count on my team, pay attention to the riders who are close to me on GC. I think I have good form, but I have to pay attention – it is very tight,” said the Le Tua rider, who returned to racing in September 2009 after a two year ban.

Another who will be sprinting it out for the various sprints is double stage winner Andrea Guardini. He holds the blue sprinter’s jersey but is actually level on points with Malaysian favourite Anuar Manan. The latter wants to once again win the points competition he took last year and a ferocious battle is in store between the two in the days ahead.

“Fortunately we have had two stages with breakaways. The riders in the breaks took the points and that gave us two rest days and I managed to recover, get some energy back for the five coming stages. These five stages will be very hard for me…I am not talking about the course as it is flat but there are many points up for grabs. There will be many sprints and I will try to retain this lead, mostly with stage finishes. I will also have to ride for intermediate sprints.”

All in all, it points to a very aggressive and tactical second half of the race.

How the race unfolded:

After a dizzying descent from the Cameron Highlands by team car, 123 riders signed on in very damp conditions and set off from Tapah for what is arguably the toughest stage of the Tour de Langkawi.

After three kilometres of racing, six riders clipped away from the peloton. These were Hilton Clarke (United Healthcare), Kenny Van Hummel (
Skil-Shimano), Benjamin Gourgue (Landbouwkrediet), Gu Jang Kyung (Korea), Sea Keong Loh (Malaysian national team) and Bradley Potgieter (MTN Qhubeka).

As expected, sprint specialist Van Hummel took the intermediate gallop at km 19, edging out Potgieter, Loh and Clarke. The gap back to the bunch was two minutes 27 at this point, and increased shortly afterwards to two minutes 50.

The second intermediate sprint came at
Slim River (km 41) and there Potgieter turned things around in beating Van Hummel. Clarke and Loh were next past the prime line. The riders were speeding along and covered 45 kilometres in the first hour of racing; the gap was two minutes 45 seconds at that point, and increased slightly to three. However the Aisan team of race leader Takeaki Ayabe and the Colnago squad of Domenico Pozzovivo were piloting the peloton and making sure the advantage didn’t get out of hand.

Potgieter took the day’s third and final intermediate sprint at
Tanjung Malim (km 62), once again beating Van Hummel. Loh and Clarke were next. Thirty kilometres later, the gap was two minutes twenty seconds but several kilometres later, when they hit the bottom of Genting Highlands, it had dropped to one minute 50.

The steep slopes decimated both the bunch and the break, with the former splitting into three parts and the latter crumbling apart to leave Jang and Gourgue alone out front. Jang soon dropped his breakaway companion and opened a 15 second lead on him, with the Colnago-led peloton only another 40 seconds back.

The narrowing gap prompted French climber Pierre Rolland (Europcar) to jump across to Jang with seven kilometres to go. Unsurprisingly, the Korean rider was tiring and soon slipped backwards. Rolland continued on alone and held a 15 second lead over nine chasers, namely Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli), Jonnatha Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli), Pozzovivo, Hyosuk Gong (Korea National Team), Ghader Mizbani and Hozzein Askari (both Tabriz Petrochemical Team), Alex Coutts (Giant Kenda), Amir Zargari, Rahim Emami, Mirsamad Pourseyedi (all Azad University team), Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development team) and Dennis Van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka).

Rolland raced on past the five kilometres to go point and was joined soon afterwards by Morton, who was riding superbly for a 19 year old. The two rode well together and opened a 20 seconds gap over the Sella-led group, but were caught by the chasers with over two kilometres to go.

Pozzovivo attacked before the kite but was brought back; eight were together with one kilometre to go and of those, Monsalve proved to be the strongest in the final push for the line. He crossed the line just ahead of Nino Corredor, with Pourseyedi a second further back in third and netting the best Asian prize for the day.

Overnight leader Ayabe didn’t have a good experience on the climb and placed 38th, conceding six minutes 19 seconds to new
yellow jersey Nino Corredor. The latter is two seconds clear of Monsalve heading into the second half of the race, which is far flatter and is likely to be fought out in time bonuses. Emami leads the best Asian rider classification, while his Azad University squad is best in the general teams' classification and that of the Asian squads.

Tomorrow’s sixth stage stretches 106.7 kilometres from Rawang to Putrajaya and features just two fourth category climbs, as well as three intermediate sprints.