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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, April 13, 2009

Edited by Laura Weislo

Raging Tornado Tom strikes again, again and again

By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix, France

Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

For more than six hours the tornado raged through the north of France. Silently and barely noticed during the first few hours before unleashing his fury two thirds into the rush from Compiègne to Roubaix. The storm gathered strength, gobbling up the pavé as he left a 259 kilometre path of destruction in Northern France.

When the winds died down and the sun shone through in Roubaix, Quick Step's Tom 'Tornado' Boonen kissed the cobble trophy for the third time in his career as the other teams tried to piece together just what had gone wrong.

The Tornado first raged in the terrible trenches of the Arenberg forest ahead of a massive crash that took down co-favorite and teammate Stijn Devolder and held up fellow Quick Stepper Sylvain Chavanel and Garmin's Martijn Maaskant.

Thirty kilometers later, on the pavé sector Beuvry à Orchies, the Belgian avoided a crashing motorbike when he put the hammer down once again, creating a 21-man strong leader's group. Boonen rode as if he was in the calm eye of a storm which laid waste to the poor peasants who dared to chase.

The intervals of its touchdowns started to get shorter and ten kilometers later Boonen accelerated again, bringing down the number in front to fifteen. Five kilometers later, Tornado Tom was almost satisfied. On the pavé sector of Mons-en-Pévèle, Boonen roared once more and only five riders were able to see light through the dust behind the 28 year-old Belgian. The sun started to shine, and for a while it seemed as if the storm was over... Boonen even changed bikes and the five others gained confidence, not knowing that they were dead men walking.

"They were already dead and I couldn't wait for them," Boonen said.

Continue to the full feature.

Valverde takes third Klasika

By Monika Prell in Amorebieta

Valverde wins the sprint
Photo ©: Susanne Goetze
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) won the 55th edition of the Klasika Primavera by beating an on-from Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in a sprint of a small group. José Herrada (Contentpolis-AMPO) ended the day in third.

"I am happy about this victory, it's the third time that I win this race," said Valverde at the finish. "I know this terrain very well, and we did a great race, we always had a rider in the breakaway groups. In the end I worked together with Joaquím Rodríguez. I am happy that I go on winning races in spite of all what happens around me," declared Valverde with regards to the CONI investigation.

Egoi Martínez confirmed that his legs are good. "I am content about the whole week, I won the sprint classification in the Vuelta al País Vasco, and today I also finished on the podium. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to win, even though I was close. Now, I will ride the Belgian Classics and later the Tour de France and I hope to do even better there."

Continue to the full results, report and photos.

Motorbike crash injures 16 Paris-Roubaix spectators

Three seriously injured spectators had to be airlifted from the Orchies sector of pavé in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday after a race motorcycle lost control and ran into the crowd. About a dozen more fans were injured in the incident.

According to the Associated Press, two people were treated for abdominal injuries and a woman was briefly knocked unconscious. Amaury Sport Organisation spokesman Philippe Sudres said, "Doctors do not think their (lives) are in danger, but we have to wait for the results."

Many of the injured were reportedly from the same family, who had been watching the race together at a house adjacent to the course, and had come outside to see the riders go past. Among the injured was a four-year-old girl.

Super Pozzato denied duel

By Gregor Brown in Roubaix, France

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is booed
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Katusha's Filippo Pozzato was once again shadowing Tom Boonen in a Classic, but for the second week in a row he was denied a man-to-man duel with his Quick Step competitor. This time it was due to a series of mishaps and overbearing fans on the roads from Paris to Roubaix. As Boonen was powering toward his third career victory, Pozzato was delayed by the carnage in the Belgian's wake.

"I was coming back after [Juan Antonio] Flecha's crash, then at the end of the Carrefour sector I was stuck behind [Thor] Hushovd. I found him in the middle of the street with the fans on both sides," Pozzato said.

Pozzato closed to within ten seconds of Boonen over the next few kilometres, but eventually faded. With nine kilometres to go, he lagged behind by 12 seconds, but with four kilometres remaining, the fight was over as he had 27 to make up. The closest he came to Boonen was when he entered the Roubaix velodrome and saw his former Quick Step teammate starting the final lap to the finish line.

"Tom was going strong and there was nothing to do. Clearly, if I had been able to stick on his wheel it would have changed the whole story. It would have been a good duel.

"The Belgian fans were not very polite out there, I got spat on by someone. Whatever, it's nothing. You have to consider all those police and photographer motorbikes protecting Boonen, he might have had a little bit of slipstream, but I only had one bike on my side."

It was Pozzato's best result in Roubaix: he finished 15th in 2006, 35th in 2007 and, after a bad crash prior to the Arenberg sector, he took 49th last year.

Hoste raging over Flecha's fumbling

By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix, France

Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) couldn't believe his lack of luck
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The Silence-Lotto team was left fuming after staging its best ever set-up for the finale in Paris-Roubaix only to have a crash ruin their plans. Team leader Leif Hoste and his faithful lieutenant Johan Van Summeren were in the lead group of six inside the 20km to go mark when a crash by Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha at the entrance to the Carrefour de l'Arbre pavé sector disrupted what had until then been a nearly perfect race.

Hoste went down, Van Summeren waited, but the pair picked up Thor Hushovd on their way to the Roubaix vélodrome, and the Norwegian sprinter powered away from them for third place. The two dejected Belgians slumped down on the grass pitch on the inside of the race track, trying but failing to express their disappointment and anger in words.

A few painful moments later Hoste and Van Summeren gave each other a knock on the shoulder and Hoste spoke. "Flecha better not come near me. I'm furious since we are the suckers," Hoste raged.

"Especially since I still had Van Summeren with me and we both had something left. I was good enough to get on the podium, but possibly more than that was within my reach," Hoste claimed.

"Flecha ruins my race first of all when he wasn't pulling and acting stupidly. Then he was able to attack, and in the end it turned out he wasn't even able to steer. If someone like that slips away there's not much you can do but to ride over him; I couldn't avoid him. The fact that we're finishing fourth and fifth boosts the morale, but personally I'm sick of it," Hoste said.

The plagued Belgian team has so far been able to capture only one victory this season – thanks to Cadel Evans – and they missed out on the front group during most of the Spring Classics. The Ronde van Vlaanderen was reasonable, although a little more was expected from Hoste. Paris-Roubaix was the last chance for him to make up for some disappointing performances this year.

"Last week wasn't good but that was partly due to some mistakes. Today wasn't perfect either, but this time I was able to recover from my mistakes," Hoste said. Team manager Marc Sergeant and sponsor Marc Coucke couldn't add much more to that. "There's not much more they could've done."

Flecha's best Roubaix ever falls apart

By Gregor Brown in Roubaix, France

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) was sad that a crash cost him a better final
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha's best ever run in the Classic Paris-Roubaix exploded Sunday when he crashed in one of the race's final cobbled sectors. The Rabobank rider was in the leading group when he slid out on the entrance to the Carrefour de l'Arbre sector of pavé with 17km to go.

"I felt like I was having my best legs ever in Roubaix. I had a good feeling because I was focused and did not even think about my condition," Rabobank's one-day specialist said to Cyclingnews.

Flecha formed part of the six-man winning move at kilometre 211 of the 259-kilometre race. He battled with eventual winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Johan Van Summeren and Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha).

"It was a really windy race and I just tried to let the others do most of the work. I was not thinking about any plan, just to get out of the Carrefour sector and then decide after that point."

Unfortunately, Flecha took himself and both Lotto riders out of the action when he crashed riding through a left-hand turn. Hoste collided into Flecha and his bike and Van Summeren skidded 180 degrees to a stop to wait for his captain.

"Those corners are bad corners, I just slipped way. Then after the bike was damaged. I could not get back because the rings were bent and the chain would not hold."

Flecha complemented the work of his teammates, especially Mathew Hayman. He believes the Australian, fourth in Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday, will be back to win Roubaix one day.

Flecha's best performances in the 'Hell of the North' remains his second place in 2007 and his third place in 2005.

The Blue Mosque calls CSF again

By Jean-François Quenet in Istanbul

First time in yellow for Mauro Finetto
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Following the first win of his career at the Hell of Mergelland in Holland one week ago, CSF's Mauro Finetto confirmed that he's in excellent condition this spring. He easily won the uphill sprint of the leading group that concluded stage 1 of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in front of the Blue Mosque of Istanbul.

Initially, Finetto wasn't very keen to come to Turkey, his directeur sportif Roberto Reverberi revealed after the stage, but the 24-year-old from Tregnago near Verona realised how much more suitable the course of the Turkish tour was for him, rather than the hilly one of the Tour of Trentino. "I'm aware that CSF was quite successful last year for their first participation at the Tour of Turkey," Finetto said of his teammates who collected no fewer than four stage wins out of eight one year ago. "We've started well again," he smiled.

"I'm feeling well since the Three Days of De Panne," he continued. "In Belgium we have interestingly become used to riding on the cobblestones, which has been helpful here on the circuit of Istanbul. I felt at my ease from the start. In the finale I managed to take the command, but 90% of the merit for this victory goes to my team. I only had to work for the last 200 metres."

Continue to the full results, report and photos.

Roubaix: Haussler shines again

By Gregor Brown in Roubaix, France

Heinrich Haussler was once more a major factor in the Spring Classics on Sunday in Paris-Roubaix. The Cervélo TestTeam rider was in the main group of favorites after the Arenberg forest, and went on the attack with four others with 56km to go. When his group was caught and teammate Thor Hushovd went clear with eventual race winner Tom Boonen, Haussler was able to sit back and play a defensive role. He finished seventh after following and out-sprinting Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel in the finale.

Despite the great result for his first outing, Haussler felt he could have gone with eventual winner Tom Boonen had he paid better attention. "Before Boonen split the group with his attack, Andreas Klier had told us that Boonen was going to go and said that I had to be in the top five if I wanted to go with him," explained Haussler. "I was too far back and it was my fault, but these mistakes help you learn for the future – I have to do it better next year."

Haussler came second in both of the last two Monuments, Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen. He explained to Cyclingnews in the days leading up to the third Monument of the season, Paris-Roubaix, that he thought his best had passed and that next year he would plan to peak later – maybe he was just being modest.

"It was a good thing I pulled out of Gent-Wevelgem [on Wednesday] and saved myself for this race. I had hardly been training this week because I knew that I would just damage myself if I did, I just tried to take it easy."

If Quick Step proved strong in Ronde, it was Cervélo TestTeam who showed the numbers in Roubaix. The team had six of eight of its men in the race after the key cobbled sector of Arenberg. Roger Hammond, Haussler and Hushovd then made the front formation with former escapee and teammate Andreas Klier.

"I was protected and I was not in the wind at all until after Arenberg. I tried to force the pace, I was working with [Juan Antonio] Flecha, but everyone else was just sitting on the back and not helping. I wasted some energy then, but it was still good because we finished third and seventh."

Haussler remained with the Saxo Bank-led chase once Hushovd made the winning move with Boonen, Leif Hoste and Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Flecha (Rabobank) with 48km to go. The front group fell apart mostly due to crashes, including Hushovd's at 15.7 kilometres remaining.

Haussler marked the chase of Boonen's teammate, Sylvain Chavanel, but was without any knowledge that his teammate was in danger. "I did not hear anything, the whole time I was asking [team director] Jean-Paul [Van Poppel] what was happening, 'Should I ride or should I sit on his wheel?' If he had said to go hard and jump across I would have gone full gas."

He will now take a weeklong vacation on the beach before he returns to build for the Tour de France. He will prepare with a training camp in St. Moritz for two or three weeks, the Bayern-Rundfahrt stage race and either the Tour de Suisse or the Dauphiné Libéré.

World Cup jersey heads home

Marianne Vos is the clear favourite
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

The UCI Women's World Cup heads to the Netherlands, where current leader Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) will show off the jersey to the hometown fans in Drenthe. Vos, winner of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the warm-up in the Novilon Ronde van Drenthe on Saturday, has yet to add the Ronde van Drenthe to her lengthy palmarès. However, the triple world champion and Olympic gold medalist will be a marked woman.

Last year, Vos was outwitted by the Highroad team, which put Chantal Beltman into the breakaway. The Dutch rider stayed clear to the end, while Vos was left chasing for second, which she took in the bunch sprint over Ina Teutenberg.

This year, Teutenberg is on fire and has shown that the short, sharp climbs of these Northern World Cups suit her perfectly. After taking the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen, the German sprinted to victory in the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo for her 10th season victory.

A strong force to be reckoned with is the German Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung. Regina Schleicher was a close second to Teutenberg in the Drentse 8, the same result that teammate Trixi Worrack obtained behind Vos on Saturday. Suzanne de Goede won the opening classic of the season at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Continue to the full preview.

Roche to race the Devil

Cycling legend and Tour de France winner, Stephen Roche is returning to competitive cycling in Britain next month and cyclists across the UK are being invited to race with him.

Roche, who won the Tour, the World Championship and the Giro d'Italia in 1987, will compete in The Devil Takes The Hindmost race at Donington Park on Sunday, May 31st.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back on the bike and taking part in a competitive race. The Devil Takes The Hindmost is a great opportunity for cyclists to experience a top class race," Roche said.

The top riders in the men's and women's races will share a prize pot of £2,000 and the winners will also win a weekend's accommodation for two at Roche's Marina Hotel on Villeneuve-Loubet Beach in Nice.

The Devil Takes The Hindmost is an elimination circuit race. Riders will set off in a staggered start, based on British Cycling race category or ability. After an hour's riding, the 'Devil' will pick off the back-markers on the start/finish line of every lap. The idea is for riders to keep up with the main pack to avoid being eliminated by the 'Devil'.

But cyclists will have to keep enough energy in reserve for the sprint on the final lap which comes on the two hour mark.

This is a high octane race requiring skill, strength and endurance. Cyclists need to ride a strong tactical race to avoid being eliminated but they have to pace themselves for the sprint on the final lap.

"The Devil" is being staged at BikeRadar Live by HotChillee, producers of the London-Paris 09 Cycle Tour, the professional event for amateurs.

Entry costs £35 per person, which includes a weekend ticket for BikeRadar Live. Register here.

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