Rocacorba Daily: Wednesday, April 10

We're halfway to the weekend which will mark the second half of the Spring Classics - The Ardennes. In this edition of the Rocacorba Daily, we look at some of the stories following the aftermath of Paris-Roubiax, how some of our up-and-comers are doing in Europe, and looking ahead to the Ardennes Classics where a new roster of riders will emerge to fight it out the hills.

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We’re halfway to the weekend which will mark the second half of the Spring Classics – The Ardennes. In this edition of the Rocacorba Daily, we look at some of the stories following the aftermath of Paris-Roubiax, how some of our up-and-comers are doing in Europe, and looking ahead to the Ardennes Classics where a new roster of riders will emerge to fight it out the hills.

Rethinking Sky’s Tenerife training for Classics

With the first phase of the spring classics closed, Sky’s decision to training at altitude is being analysed. Sky, for the first time in history, took its entire classics team to Tenerife instead of taking the usual Paris-Nice/Tirreno-Adriatico route.

Matt Hayman was prominent in the cobbled classics and his best result for SKY was 3rd in Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

“They tried new concepts, high [altitude] training. Other teams did the programme we did, the usual programme,” Omega Pharma boss, Patrick Lefevere explained. “If they were to win Flanders and Roubaix, next year everyone would be in Tenerife! If not, then maybe they will stay home as well.”

Geraint Thomas said that he felt the best that he ever had in the classics, but that his poor results was more just down to bad luck or crashes. He added, “It’ll take a year or two to get [the classics team] going.”

Read more.

Italy frustrated with classics campaign

Italy is grappling with its worst run in the spring classics (Milano-Sanremo through Paris-Roubaix) since 1964.

Its best result Sunday came from 36-year-old Luca Paolini (Katusha), who placed 21st. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) suffered and Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) failed to start due to an off-season crash. Considering their average age is 33 and some months, Italy has reason to be concerned.

“It’s a question of conviction and having the right mentality,” three-time Roubaix winner, Francesco Moser told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Some riders probably think they’re always going to be beaten by riders from the north, who have more experience of the cobbles and racing in Belgium.”

Andrea Tafi, winner in Roubaix and Ronde, added, “We can’t keep hoping the same riders will do well or expect the young riders to suddenly start winning. But we’ve got to re-ignite a culture and love for the pavé and the bergs.”

Cyclingnews explains more.

Tom Stamsnijder’s epic ride at Roubaix

An interesting read about Tom Stamsnijder’s (Shimano-Argos) ride at Paris-Roubaix. This excerpt from his blog was translated from Dutch to English:

When Tom Stamsnijder crossed the finish line, it has already been 43’59” since Cancellara made his double. Tom came outside time limits. That’s not because he lacked the ability to finish it as he wanted to. That’s because of his intention to finish the race , at all cost. “In the first 100km I worked hard for the team. I had to catch a 13-man group back in which we didn’t have any rider. After roughly 75km we catch them and then I had to support John (Degenkolb).” It went wrong when Tom was recuperating in the midst of the peloton. “There was a big crash whereby everybody who were behind couldn’t come back anymore. The whole field fell apart and I had but one goal, reaching the finish. With 25km to go I was in a 10-man group and punctured. There were no cars in the area and there was only one thing I could do, keep on riding. Eventually I rode 13km on a flat rear wheel. I received a new wheel only at the end of the Carrefour de l’Arbre. Thereby I could still comfortably ride to the finish.” Despite all the trouble Tom isn’t disappointed about the day, ” I’m certainly glad with my first 100km, then good training. You know the will and the frustration about the last weeks were bigger…” And the rear wheel? “Nothing remains of it!”

Brabantse Pijl odds

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) returns to racing today in Brabantse Pijl and leads the bookmakers’ lists. He is favoured to win at 13:10 odds. The race starts tonight (Wednesday, April 10) , after a reshuffle a few years back, is an appetiser to the upcoming Ardennes Classics. See the full startlist here.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) – 4:1
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) – 7:1
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) – 8:1

Brabantse Pijl starts tonight from the town center of Leuven and finishes in Overijse. It was won last year by Thomas Voekler. Image by Kristof Ramon

Contador uncertain for Ardennes Classics

Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) may skip the Ardennes Classics in favour of training. He said he is suffering following a challenging week of racing in País Vasco.

“Now I am going to take a break and see how the body reacts from the hard efforts since the beginning of the season,” Contador said, according to VeloNews. “Then we’ll decide what we’re going to do.”

He had been planning to race Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In 2010, he scored a third and a ninth place, respectively, in the two races.

Read more on Velonews.

Cycling morns Poblet’s death

Miguel Poblet, Spain’s first wearer of the Tour de France’s yellow jersey, passed away on Saturday. The 85-year-old fell ill from a blood infection in the days before his death.

Considered the best Catalan rider ever, Poblet raced professionally from 1944, when he was only 16 years old, until 1962.

Nearly 60 years ago in 1955, he became the first Spaniard to don the maillot jaune. He won the first stage and took two others during his career. In Italy, he won 20 Giro d’Italia stages and twice Milan-San Remo.

Read more here.

Florence short €3m for World Championships

Italy is confident in running the World Championships this September despite lacking €3 million in funds, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Valkenburg, The Netherlands, spent about €12m for last year’s Worlds. Last year, local governments confirmed over twice that, €32m, for Florence.

LeMond holds doping talks in Armstrong’s hometown

Greg LeMond will host doping talks in Austin, Texas – Lance Armstrong’s hometown – on April 22. He, his wife Kathy and Frankie Andreu’s wife Betsy will talk about how cheaters, like Armstrong, have hurt cycling.

The three are part of the McGarr Symposium, an event at the University of Texas in Austin.


Damien Howson podiums in Italy

21 year old Italian Michele Scartezzini won the Trofeo Piva Banca Popolare di Vicenza by beating the Zalf Simone Andreetta (Italy) and Australian Damien Howson over the weekend. Caleb Ewan won the remaining bunch kick for 8th and Campbell Flakemore 13th. The past two editions of this race have been won by Australians: Richard Lang in 2011 and Jay McCarthy in 2012.

More information on how the race panned out here if you can read Italian.

Lachlan Norris on fire in the Ardennes

Team Raleigh’s Lachlan Norris put on a climbing masterclass on Sunday, storming to victory in four of the five categorised climbs in the final stage of the Circuit des Ardennes and took the overall mountain classification.

Lachlan, who capped off 2012 with a victory in the hilly Tour of Tasmania, took the King of the Mountains jersey in stage four of the three day race. The cross-discipline rider had set himself up for victory with some strong riding in Saturday’s stage two race, a tough test with four category one climbs.

Following this weekend’s action, Team Raleigh remain in France for the Paris-Camonbert and the Tro-Bro Leon. Read more on the Team Raleigh website.

And the lucky winner is…

Congratulations James who won the raffle for the Specialized Tarmac SL4 Olympic’s edition bike which raised over $31,000 raised for the Freedom Wheels program run by TADVIC. TADVIC is a volunteer program which runs the Freedom Wheels Modified Bike Program to help disabled children get on bikes that are properly suited to their needs. It’s wonderful cause and we thank everyone who purchased a ticket to make this all happen. With the money raised, TADVIC will get approximately 30 children on bikes otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity. And doesn’t every child deserve that?

See more more details about the competition here.

Paris-Roubaix Backstage Pass

Go behind the scenes with Orica-GreenEDGE on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix and watch another brilliant episode of Dan Jones’ Backstage Pass.

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An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.