Sunday, May 30, 2010
Gustav Erik Larsson (Saxo Bank) won the closing time trial of the 2010 Giro d'Italia, as Liquigas' Ivan Basso claimed the overall victory. Larsson put in a time of 20:19, with Marco Pinotti of HTC-Columbia finishing second and Alexandre Vinokourov third.
"The race went well for me today. I just rode as steady as I could. Yesterday after helping Richie (Porte) to get back on in the climb to Livigno, I tried to take it easy on the Gavia to preserve myself for today. When I watched Wiggins at half way, I knew I had nothing to fear from him because he would never go faster than me downhill but later on I was really afraid of Pinotti. He was 12 seconds ahead of me at half way. But at the difference of many riders, I got better in the last couple of days in the Giro. I don’t know what it represents to win such a prestigious stage here. I’m just doing the one thing I’m good at," said Larsson.
In the overall rankings, Basso defended his lead, with David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) holding on to second place, 1:51 down, and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) third at 2:37. Michele Scarponi (Acqua & Sapone) had come into the stage only one second behind Nibali and had hoped to pass him for the final podium place, but lost time and finished fourth at 2:50.
Starting in the middle of the pack, Larsson put in the best intermediate time on his way to the top finish time. Only Pinotti came close, topping him by two seconds at the intermediate time check, but missing out by two seconds in the end.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) proved that he was the best climber at the Giro d'Italia on the steep slopes of Monte Zoncolan, but as two key mountain stages loom large on the horizon of the Giro d'Italia, and the moment for a final showdown approaches, he has admitted that the 42-second advantage he currently has on Cadel Evans might not be enough to guarantee victory in Verona after Sunday's time trial.
According to physiological calculations based on strength to weight ratio and VAM done by Aldo Sassi, who coaches both Basso and Evans, the two should be able to gain enough time on David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) and then go on to fight for overall victory.
Basso is 2:27 behind the tenacious Spaniard, with Evans fourth, at 3:09. Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) is third overall at 2:44 but like Arroyo, he is expected to crack on the Passo del Mortirolo and the Passo di Gavia and be satisfied with holding onto the best young rider's white jersey and a place in the top 10 overall.
"Forty two seconds might not be enough. I know I need to gain some more time on Evans, but it's difficult to start making calculations," Basso said.
"Things might be totally different after tomorrow and then change again after the stage over the Gavia. We've got to get rid of Arroyo first and then who knows? Perhaps, Cadel will drop me on one of the big climbs. I've got a lot of respect for him. This Giro isn't over yet."
Basso seems relaxed as the tension mounts. Whatever happens in the next three days, he has proved that he can compete for overall victory at the Giro and the doubts of last year, his first season since his doping ban, have disappeared.
The Liquigas-Doimo team announced that it will continue on with its sponsorship for another two years on Thursday, and Basso will share the team leadership with Vincenzo Nibali in 2011 and 2012. He will probably end his career with the best team in Italian cycling and knows he has the best support for a shot at victory at future editions of the Giro and at the Tour de France.
Basso's self-confidence is helping him keep a level head for the finale of the Giro.
"I think it's been a great Giro, whatever happens between now and Sunday - because we've fought it out every day," he said.
"Now we'll see what happens. It's important to get the tactics right so that we get the result right and end the stage as we hoped and planned. At Liquigas, we think we're in charge our destiny."
"Both of the stages to Aprica and Passo del Tonale are really difficult, where the Giro will be blown apart and probably decided. People keep saying that the expected bad weather puts me at a disadvantage, especially on the descents, but I honestly don’t see it that way. It's the same for everybody if the weather is bad."
"If we've got the legs we'll attack Arroyo and Evans. That's the way we've raced throughout this year's race and the way we think we can decide the race. I'm ready."
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
To coincide with the arrival of the Giro d’Italia in the region, the Gran Fondo Mario Cipollini was introduced in Forte dei Marmi to members of the press and a host of remarkable guests and sponsors, including: Paolo Garimberti, the President of Rai, the assistant director Gianfranco Comanducci, the president of Federazione ciclistica italiana, Renato di Rocco, Paolo Barilla of Barilla Spa, Valentino Campagnolo of Campagnolo Srl, Enza Doimo of Frezza Inc., Zecchetto of Giordana, Ezio Isacchini and Guido Peracchi of Comar Italia, and Marco Mauri of Monwatch.
Together with the mayor of Lucca, Mauro Favilla, and the President and the Director of Lucca Fiere & Congressi, Domenico Petrocelli and Alessandro Dianda, Cipollini described the race course he chose for this particular competition. The race will take place in his native land, along the very roads where Mario Cipollini trained to become a champion.
“I have personally planned the route and chosen my favorite roads along all the land of Lucca,” stated Cipollini.
A shared vision among Lucca Fiere & Congressi, Comune di Lucca and the Italian cycling champion Mario Cipollini, the inaugural Gran Fondo Mario Cipollini will take place in conjunction with Lucca Bike, a three-day festival totally devoted to the two-wheeled world, with sport activities, such as an international bicycle race that the Lucca born champion has always personally wanted in his home town.
Scheduled for the spring of 2011, the Lucca Bike exposition will welcome both technical and accessorial innovations from the cycling industry, but there will also be the opportunity to investigate and discuss the main themes related to cycling in meetings open to the public, and to watch or take part in sport activities of different levels. The exhibition will present numerous interesting areas apart from those linked to bike manufacture, such as “soft mobility,” the policies implemented by institutions to entice citizens to walk and ride in order to improve the quality of air and also a more active lifestyle. Lucca Bike 2011 will also provide an educational point of view, thanks to a collaborative planning with local schools. Great attention will also be devoted to tourist cycling, a field which both in Italy and all over the world yearly gathers an ever-increasing number of participants.
Lucca is one of the Italian capitals of cycling, both for the number of people who use it daily as a means of transport and for the amount of members enrolled in amateur and competitive leagues. The city boasts 44 km of bicycling paths and a network of hundreds of kilometers of white roads leading to the green hills in the surroundings. It also has one of the largest town centers in Europe reserved for pedestrians as well as for bicycles. The hometown of Mario Cipollini, one of history's greatest cycling champions, Lucca seemed destined to organize an event where the bike acts as the central character.
The Gran Fondo Mario Cipollini intends to be one of the great national and international cycling rendezvous, with participants from all over Europe and the World. Mario Cipollini, who still holds numerous cycling records, has placed his full experience at the disposal of the Town of Lucca and Lucca Fiere & Congressi with the aim of realizing an international event.
With the safety of its participants at the forefront during the planning, the race course will wind through the whole province. The characteristic features of the course offer all the challenges that a cyclist would find in a competition. There are three options available to the rider, each course providing different features, technical sections and distances: 1) Corto Fondo (53 km), 2) Medio Fondo (115 km) and of course 3) the Gran Fondo (152 km). The final section of the race will wind round the fascinating city Walls, which in the past saw giants of the sport, such as Bernard Hinault and Francesco Moser compete in a race against the clock during the Giro d’Italia.
“This will be a very important event," commented Mayor Mauro Favilla. “It will witness the close link between the bike and Lucca, which coincidentally has been nominated the Italian capital of urban green. The exhibition will be hosted in the fair district of Lucca, a new structure in a strategic position to the town centre. I wish to thank our champion Cipollini, since we have together believed in the realization of this event. I am convinced that all the artistic towns have nothing but advantages to gain from encouraging the use of bicycles.”
“I am proud and honored to have been called and involved by the municipal administration in the Lucca Bike plan,” added Mario Cipollini. “I have been frequently asked to give my name to a competition, but today they are also offering me the chance to let the entire world know the splendor of this land. I never forgot, in fact, that all my wins started on the roads of this province, rich in cycling routes suitable for everyone, and ones which we are going to run through again thanks to the Gran Fondo.”
On the occasion, Cipollini also announced that this enterprise will pay particular attention to children, so that they can learn how to love sport. This piece of news attracted the attention of Paolo Garimberti, President of Rai: “Sport helps growth and Rai pays a special attention to children, as we have just been demonstrating with the event “Cartoon on the Bike.”
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) lost some time to main Giro d'Italia rival Cadel Evans (BMC) but as ever, the Italian played things cool, preferring to play a long game, knowing this year's Giro could be decided in the final mountain stages and perhaps even in the final time trial to Verona.
Basso lost 28 seconds to Evans but gained time on maglia rosa David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) and moved past Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) into second place overall. Basso is now 2:27 behind Arroyo and 42 seconds ahead of Evans.
"Considering that this is an uphill time trial and came after the rest day, it's a good result for me," Basso said.
"I'm a long distance rider and I'm not really suited to short intense efforts like that. I knew I'd lose something [to Evans] but I expected to lose about 40 seconds. This is a positive result for me. I've gone pretty well."
Basso admitted he was unable to get out of the saddle on the dirt roads and claimed it cost him a few seconds.
"You've got to give it absolutely everything on the dirt and I think I did pretty well," he said. "I stood up but had to sit down because I could feel my wheel slipping. My usual style is to sit in the saddle but I could have earned a few seconds more if I'd been able to get up on the pedals. But I think I still did a good TT.
"I gained some time on some of my rivals. Now we'll take things day by day and see if we can gain more time. There will be other occasions later this week. I've gained time on Sastre but he's still dangerous, and so too is Scarponi. He did a good ride."
Basso admitted he would not be ashamed if he lost the Giro to Evans, describing him as 'a great world champion'. However he seemed happy that, despite Arroyo still wearing the pink jersey, the Giro is gradually coming down to a head-to-head battle with the Australian BMC rider.
"There are still three hard stages to go until the final time trial. Now the race is between the favourites," he said with a smile.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Italian Ivan Basso distanced himself from the murky world of doping after his impressive win on the Tour of Italy's epic 15th stage Sunday.
Basso, who rides for Liquigas, returned to competition in 2008 having served a lengthy ban for his implication in the 'Operation Puerto' drugs affair which erupted in Spain in 2006.
Since his return to the ranks the 2006 Tour of Italy winner has been steadily making an impact in some of the top races.
And while his impressive performance Sunday may have raised a few eyebrows among skeptics, Basso - considered one of the biggest talents of his generation - said he has nothing to hide.
"All the information regarding me, my blood values, the kilometres I've done in training, the climbs I've ridden, everything can be consulted," he told reporters after being asked if his victory was clean.
"I follow a rigorous line that has been set down by the team (Liquigas)."
Basso's winning ride, his first on the Giro since 2006, moved him into contention for the race's pink jersey.
Going in to Monday's rest day, the 32-year-old is 3min 33sec off the pace of unlikely champion David Arroyo of Spain, who has a lead of 2:35 on race rookie Richie Porte of Australia.
Basso admitted, however, that his years of cycling at the top might soon be under threat - from his own, equally impressive teammate Vincenzo Nibali.
"I've been riding a bike for 27 years. I've never been one to win a lot of races, but I've always won," he added.
"But time is catching up. The young guys who looked promising a few years ago are now becoming champions. Like the young gun (Nibali) who won yesterday and who is the Italian rider of the future."
Prior to the race Liquigas were dealt a blow when top contender Franco Pellizotti was excluded after the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed they had found irregularities in his biological passport.
Pellizotti, who finished third last year before second-placed compatriot Danilo Di Luca was excluded for two positive dope tests, is currently suspended from racing but has the backing of his team.
The biological passport, put in place at the start of the 2008 season, detects drug-taking by building an electronic haemocritic profile over a period of time and includes results of individual urine tests and also individual blood tests and highlighting abnormal variations.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The battle for the general classification hit a fevered pitch on the road to Santa Cruz for the third stage of the Amgen Tour of California. David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) pulled out a powerful stage win from a three-man general classification battle over Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack).
The climb up Bonny Doon Road was once again the launching pad for Leipheimer but this time Zabriskie and Rogers were ready to get on the Radioshack express. The three strong men built up a lead of 90 seconds at the top of the climb, but a large chasing group closed the gap to a dozen seconds over the next 25 kilometres to Santa Cruz.
The lead trio narrowly held off the chase largely due to the efforts of Zabriskie in the final kilometre. Behind, and capable of challenging for the general classification lead if he made the juncture, was best young rider and third overall Peter Sagan (Liquigas).
Sagan lost his team helper to a puncture in the run-in through Santa Cruz and had to be satisfied with taking the sprint for fourth.
Absent from the chase was the morning's leader Brett Lancaster (Cervelo TestTeam), and thanks to the 17 second gap which separated Sagan from the leaders, the overall lead passed on to Zabriskie, who also gained a 10 second time bonus on the line.
Rogers out-sprinted Leipheimer to claim the six second bonus, and now trails Zabriskie on the general classification ladder by four seconds, with the Radioshack man behind by six.
The Liquigas rider claimed the right to the points classification lead, tied on points with Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) but in green thanks to his superior general classification position. He also kept his best young rider jersey with the finish, while Team Type 1 kept the mountains classification in the hands of Thomas Rabou thanks to the efforts of his team-mate Davide Frattini in the breakaway.