It’s time to take a comprehensive look back at 2013.
It all started way back on January 20th at the Santos Tour Down Under.The race was a nice split of sprint and hill stages,with Andre Greipel dominating the sprints.He won 3 stages and the pre-race event.
Simon Gerrans won the stage up Old Willunga Hill,on Australian day!But he was disappointed with his overall performance as it was thought he would challenge.
Geraint Thomas won an excellent stage with an attack up Corkscrew Road and a late dash on the downhill that surprised his 3 companions.
Tom Slagter won an uphill sprint on stage 3 before finishing 2nd behind Gerrans on stage 5 and claiming the race lead.
Slagter won the GC from Moreno and Thomas,with Ion Izagirre in 4th.
Tour de San Luis
Starting on January 21st and lasting 7 stages we had a number of big riders racing in Argentina.All the talk was of TJ Van Garderen being the favourite,but things didn’t quite work out for him.
Cavendish won the stage 1 sprint,despite a little bit of a belly!Modolo won the uphill sprint on stage 2 before the GC riders came to play on stage 3.It was surprisingly won by the Brazilian Diniz Correia.
Svein Tuft(Orica) won the 19.2km ITT before the Argentinians dominated stage 5.It was won by Guevara Arguello with teammate Daniel Diaz in 2nd,only 15 seconds back.He finished a clear minute in front of the other riders and it was a massive surprise the GC riders let him go as he finished 2nd in 2012.
Contador won the Queen stage,his only win of the whole season,before Mattia Gavazzi won the final stage in an uphill sprint.
The GC was won by Diaz with Van Garderen 2nd and Diniz Correia 3rd.
Tour of Qatar Feb 3-8
Mark Cavendish blew everyone away in the desert!He won 4 stages and the GC,it was a great start for his new team.American Brent Bookwalter suprised everyone with his win on stage 1,managing to jump clear and hold off the sprinters(a theme to be continued in 2013).
BMC had a good race as Bookwalter won stage 1 and they also won the stage 2 TTT.
Cavendish once again proved that he is miles better than the 2nd division of sprinters.
Trofeo Palma Feb 3
A nice day out for the riders and Kenny Dehaes won the sprint in front of Farrar and Swift.
Trofeo Migjorn Feb 4
A hilly 1 day race that was won by Leigh Horward with Farrar 2nd,again,and JJ Rojas in 3rd.
Trofeo Alcudia-Can Picafort-Playa de Muro Feb 6
Leigh Horward won again,with Wynants 2nd and Cimolai 3rd.2 wins in a few days for Horward but these were his only 2 wins of the whole season.
Tour Mediterraneen Feb 6-10
Now in February the riders hit the cold of France.Greipel sprinted to victory in stage 1,Lars Boom destroyed the field in the 24km ITT.We lost stage 3 due to bad weather before JC Peraud won the Queen stage.
On the final stage,Maxime Monfort threw away the lead and Thomas Lofkvist won with Peraud finishing on the same time.The final stage was won by Jurgen Roelandts of Lotto.
Tour of Oman Feb 11-16
A massive amount of big GC riders faced off in the heat of Oman.Sky wanted Chris Froome to experience leading races and he started here.
Stage 1 was a sprint won by Marcel Kittel,Peter Sagan won stage 2(his 1st of the season) after getting away from the big guns.Nibali was 1st home of these with Froome just behind.Sagan doubled up on stage 3 with a very dominant sprint and Contador stole a few seconds on Froome.
Rodriguez won the Queen stage up Green Mountain but Froome finished just behind in 2nd and put time into Contador,Evans and Nibali.
Froome was at it again on the final stage,claiming it and the overall title.It was a surprise as the climb crested 13km from the finish but he managed to hold on and beat Contador and Rodriguez in the sprint.
Nacer Bouhanni claimed the final stage.
It was a dominant performance by Froome as he won his 1st ever stage race.
Tour of Algarve Feb 14-17
The race was shortened to just 4 stages,due to financial troubles.It had 2 sprints,1 hill climb and 1 ITT.At 34.8km it meant that Tony Martin just needed to stay relatively close on the hill finish and he’d claim the GC.
Paul Martens of Blanco won the sprint on stage 1 and Theo Bos,also of Blanco,won the stage 2 sprint.Sergio Henao won the hill stage and Tony Martin was just 18 seconds behind.The big German won the ITT by over a minute and easily claimed the title.
Haut Var Feb 16-17
Just 2 stages and Blanco continued their brilliant start to the season.Thor Hushovd won stage 1,with Slagter 2nd and Lars Boom won stage 2.Arthur Vichot won overall,joint on time with Boom and Ten Dam(both Blanco).
Trofeo Laigueglia Feb 16
The 1st big Italian race was claimed by Pippo Pozzoto,with Reda 2nd,Santambrogio 3rd and Ulissi 4th.
Vuelta a Andulucia Feb 17-20
Valverde won the 6km prologue,Hivert claimed stage 1 after beating Valverde and Mollema in a sprint.Stage 2 was an uphill finish and Hivert won again.Valverde claimed the Queen stage and the GC.Finishing in the lead group of 12 was Spilak,Mollema,Van Den Broeck,Quintana,Navarro and Ion Izagirre.
Tour of Langkawi Feb 21-March 2
Theo Bos continued his good start to the season by winning the 1st 2 stages.Chinese rider Meiyin Wang won the Queen stage by a massive 2’27 up Cameron Highlands.Chicchi took the sprint on stage 4.Arredondo won stage 5 up a mountain and claimed the jersey in the process.Tom Leezer of Blanco won stage 6,Guardini stage 7,Coquard stage 8 and 9 before Chicchi won the final stage.The Colombian,Arredondo,won the GC from Weening and Pardilla.
Omloop Feb 23
The Classics opened in Belgian and it was won by 36 year old,Luca Paolini.He outsprinted Stijn Vandenbergh with fellow Belgian,Sven Vandousselaere,finishing in 3rd.It left Sky’s Geraint Thomas a disappointing 4th.
Vuelta a Murcia Feb 23
Over in a warmer Spain,Daniel Navarro just managed to hold off the charge from Mollema and Valverde to claim a brilliant win for Cofidis.
Clasica de Almeria Feb 24
The flat 1 day race was won by Mark Renshaw of Blanco,yet another early season win for the team with no sponsor.Janse Van Rensburg was 2nd and Francesco Lasca of Caja Rural took an excellent 3rd in the mass sprint.
Le Samyn Feb 27
We returned to Belgium for another cold race.It should have ended in a sprint but Tsatevitch popped off the front with 1km to go and managed to hold off the Lotto charge for Kenny Dehaes,who only finished 4th.It was Boeckmans in 2nd and Adrian Petit in 3rd.
GP Camaiore Feb 28
The race features the climb of the Monto Pitoro 6 times and ends on a downhill.12 riders survived the climbs,11 climbers and Sagan!He had Moser with him and the Italian did a good job at holding the race together for a sprint.Peter Sagan won the sprint from Ulissi and Nocentini.
Strade Bianche Mar 2
The race that Cancellara really likes but Cannondale dominated.Sagan repayed Moser for his work 2 days previous and set him up for a great victory.Sagan finished in 2nd and Nocentini was again 3rd.
Paris-Nice Mar 3-10
What many regard as the proper start to the season.It had a prologue,6 stages and then a mountain ITT.
The prologue was a big surprise with Damien Gaudin of Europcar winning by 1 second from Chavanel and Westra.
Stage 1 was dominated by Nacer Bouhanni and he took the race leader’s jersey too.He was set for a repeat on stage 2 but crashed hard and abandoned the race.Marcel Kittel took the stage.
We had a small gap on stage 3 with some big hitters stealing 7 seconds on the rest.Andrew Talansky won the stage with Porte and Bardet finishing in the front group.
Stage 4 was a sprint between the non-sprinters.Michael Albasini won from Maxim Iglinskiy and Peter Velits.
Stage 5 was the Queen stage and it was dominated by Richie Porte.He smashed the field and won by 26 seconds to Denis Menchov,this put him into yellow.
Sylvain Chavanel won a sprint of non-sprinters from Gilbert and Rojas in stage 6 before the final ITT up Col d’Eze.Again,Richie Porte showed he’s not just a domestique,as he beat Talansky by 23 seconds to claim the title.Talansky finished 2nd and JC Peraud 3rd.
Porte doesn’t often get the chance to be leader,so he made sure he took his chance here.Expect more opportunities in 2014.
Roma Maxima Mar 3
Blel Kadri took an amzing win after being in the break all day.Pippo Pozzato didn’t realise this and thought he’d won the race after sealing the bunch sprint.He celebrated like a man possessed,only to find out he was 2nd….. priceless!Grega Bole rounded out the top 3.
Tirreno Adriatico Mar 6-12
Nibali v Froome round 2! With Contador and Rodriguez too.
The opening stage was a TTT and OPQS continued their dominance of the discipline,winning from Movistar and BMC.Astana finished 5 seconds in front of Sky.
Matt Goss took a great win in stage 2,with Cavendish and Greipel in 5th and 7th.
Peter Sagan reminded everyone he can sprint with the best when he beat Cavendish and Greipel on stage 3.
Stage 4 finished up a snow-topped mountain and it was Contador that tried to rip the race apart.He attacked the Sky train with just under 3km to go.Nibali and Santambrogio joined up with him 2km from the top.Froome looked under pressure but Uran did a great job of pulling the trio back and Nibali couldn’t get the other 2 to help with the pace setting.With just under 1km to go Froome caught and past the group and went on to claim the win,Santambrogio was 2nd and Nibali 3rd.This put Froome 12 seconds clear of Nibali on GC.
Stage 5 had a short,steep climb to finish and Joaquim Rodriguez won the stage.The big names were 8 seconds back but Nibali arrived 17 seconds down,losing a further 9 seconds to Froome.
Stage 6 was a classic style day.It featured 2 ascents of the Sant’elpidio a Mare.It has sections of 25% and made for a brilliant race.Only 3 riders could cope:Sagan,Nibali and Rodriguez.Sagan won the stage and Nibali finished 2nd,a whole 48 seconds in front of Froome.It was a bad day for the Sky man,who now was 34 seconds down on Nibali with just the ITT to go.
The ITT was won by Tony Martin,but Froome could only beat Nibali by 11 seconds,so the Italian claimed the title,with Contador 3rd.
As much as Oman was a big success for Froome,this was a brilliant result for Nibali.
GP Nobili Mar 14
This featured a landmark victory for Radioshack’s Bob Jungels.Only 21 years old but confirmed his quality with a commanding victory.He finished a massive 52 seconds clear of the bunch with Bennati 2nd and Ponzi 3rd.
Milan-SanRemo Mar 17
The brutal Spring weather meant that the race was shortened and many riders crashed and couldn’t finish.In the end a 7 man break formed on the last climb and it ended in a sprint between Sagan,Ciolek,Cancellara,Chavanel,Paolini,Stannard and Phinney.
Ciolek took an amazing win for MTN Qhubeka and it must have seemed like a dream come true for the African outfit.The main group with Cavendish was only 14 seconds behind them.
The weather was the real winner but nothing can take away from the German’s victory.
Volta a Catalunya Mar 18-24
This 7 stage race seemed like being a banker for Joaquim Rodriguez,but it didn’t quite work out that way.
The opening stage contained a big surprise when a group of 13 got clear on the final cat 3 climb.Some very quick descending meant that the final gap was 28 seconds.In the front group was Rodriguez,Valverde,Wiggins,Gesink,Scarponi and Niemiec.The stage was won by Gianni Meersman and he went on to win the uphill sprint on stage 2.He was looking very strong!
Stage 3 had a big mountaintop finish and Movistar played the perfect 1-2 with Valverde and Quintana,the little Colombian claimed the win with Valverde,Rodriguez and Wiggins finishing on the same time,6 seconds back.
Stage 4 had another big finish but Valverde crashed out on a descent.Dan Martin destroyed the field and claimed the victory,he was 36 seconds ahead of Rodriguez and Quintana,with Wiggins over a minute behind.
We had a surprise on stage 5 when Francois Parisien won the sprint for Argos,but it wasn’t a surprise when Simon Gerrans won the uphill sprint on stage 6.This set the race up for a massive final stage with Rodriguez only 14 seconds behind Dan Martin.The stage featured 8 climbs of Montjuic and Rodriguez was favourite but he simply didn’t have the legs to break a very strong Dan Martin.The stage was won from a break and it was Thomas De Gendt of Vacansoleil who triumphed.Scarponi was 3rd on the GC,Quintana 4th and Wiggins 5th.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen Mar 20
We got a good race in Belgium and it was animated by Tommy Voeckler.He got a good gap on the rest but with Ian Stannard pulling for Matt Hayman,the Frenchman was caught metres from the line.Oscar Gatto won for Vini Fantini with Bozic 2nd and Hayman 3rd.
Coppi e Bartali Mar 20-24
This race in Italy contained a split stage 1,it had a 99.5km race and a short TTT.It also had 3 other road stages and an ITT.
The short opening stage was won in a sprint by Fabio Felline of Androni and Katusha claimed the TTT.
Stage 2 had 5 ascents of the Ville di Monte Tiffi and the race was blown wide open by Diego Ulissi.He won the stage by 34 seconds to Rubiano and 1’11 to Cunego.It was his 1st win of the season after a very good opening of the season.
Damiano Cunego claimed the victory in stage 3 in an uphill finish.The stage 4 ITT was won by Adrian Malori,he was the only specialist in the field.Stage 5 was a bit weird with a massive breakaway and Damiano Caruso of Cannondale winning the stage.The peloton arrived almost 10 minutes after him but the title was still claimed by Ulissi,with Cunego 2nd and Rubiano 3rd.
This was a massive moment in the career of Ulissi and it was a very promising sign for the season ahead.
E3 Harelbeke Mar 22
Fabian Cancellara reminded everyone of his power.Just when people were starting to write him off he put on a magnificent display of power when he rode away from his breakaway companions:Sagan,Oss,Thomas,Langeveld and Chavanel.The 5 of them couldn’t organise the chase properly and eventually finished more than a minute down.It was Sagan that took 2nd with Oss 3rd.After finishing 4th in Omloop,Geraint Thomas was 4th again here.
A great win for Cancellara,back to the drawing board for Sagan.
Criterium International Mar 23-24
The short opening stage was won by Theo Bos in a mass sprint,beating Bouhanni into 2nd.Already clocking up an impressive 4 wins in the opening weeks of the season.
Richie Porte claimed the 7km ITT,1 second ahead of Boaro and Van Garderen and 2 seconds ahead of Froome.
That left the riders with the final stage and the climb of the Col de L’Ospedale.With Porte in yellow there was some talk about who Sky would work for.
Froome showed who was boss with a massive attack,with more than 4km to go.With Porte happy to sit on wheels,Mollema eventually put in an attack and started to chase Froome.With 2km to go Porte decided that Froome had enough of a gap and he could try and finish 2nd.He flew past Van Garderen,Peraud,Tschopp and Mollema,eventually finishing 30 seconds behind Froome.It was another very impressive display by Team Sky with Froome and Porte finishing 1st and 2nd,with Van Garderen 3rd.
After losing to Nibali at Tirreno,it was very important for Froome to win this race.When the pressure was on,he delivered.
Gent-Wevelgem Mar 24
We had a big crash for Tom Boonen and he had to abandon.
After getting a lesson from Cancellara,Peter Sagan returned with a fire in his belly.He was part of a 11 man group that broke away from the peloton:Sagan,Bodnar,Bozic,Van Avermaet,Haussler,Flecha,Ladagnous,Eisel,Vandenbergh,Popovych and Amador.The important move happened with over 50km to go.OPQS couldn’t bring them back,so the break had to fight for victory.Sagan’s teammate,Bodnar,did a great job for Cannondale.Eventually Vandenbergh attacked and Sagan shut him down,with 4km to go Sagan looked over his shoulder and attacked.Flecha tried to give chase but couldn’t catch the Slovak,and with that he was gone!
This amazing rider simply eased away from the other 9 and they couldn’t catch him.It was a real show of strength after his loss to Cancellara just 2 days prior.
Bozic finished 2nd and Van Avermaet 3rd.
It was another poor day for Sky.After trying to control the race,their best finisher was Eisel in 7th.
3 Days of Panne Mar 26-28
The cold weather and brilliant racing continued.We had our bunch sprint on stage 1 with Sagan winning from Demare and Kristoff.The Norwegian finishing on the podium for the first time of the season,but not the last!
Cavendish dominated the sprint on stage 2,after a great lead-out and Kristoff sealed his 1st win of the season on stage 3A.That meant the race would be decided by the 14.75km ITT.
Sylvain Chavanel dominated the ITT and won by 19 seconds from Vorobyev.He won the GC with Kristoff a very impressive 2nd and Niki Terpstra 3rd.
GP Miguel Indurain Mar 30
This important Spanish 1 day race was a big target for Igor Anton of Euskaltel,but they made a big mistake.A large,strong break got away and they never managed to get Simon Spilak back.He went solo with around 30km to go with Intxausti and Rohan Dennis giving chase.The peloton caught everyone but Spilak and he took a brilliant win.Anton finished 2nd,Stetina 3rd and Valverde 4th.
Tour of Flanders Mar 31
It was time for Cancellara v Sagan,round 2!
Cancellara let rip 18km from home on the penultimate climb of the day,Oude Kwaremont.Only Sagan could follow,despite a big effort from Boasson Hagen.They still had to catch Jurgen Roelandts,who had attacked a little earlier.
The 3 men came together as we approached the final climb of the day,the Patenberg.
The brilliant Spartacus broke Sagan just before the crest of the Patenberg and from then it was all over.Sagan finished 2nd and Roelandts hung on for 3rd.The bunch was brought home by Kristoff.
Just like at E3,Fabian Cancellara reminded Peter Sagan that he is the boss.
Vuelta a La Rioja Mar 31
A sprint finish is always expected in the race.We had an attack by Ivan Gutierrez of Movistar and Michael Albasini of Orica.Euskaltel,riding for JJ Lobato and Caja Rural,for Lasca,managed to control this break.
As we approached the end of the race Orica had total control of the race,with almost their whole team leading out Michael Matthews.It came as a massive surprise that Francesco Lasca managed to boss the sprint and take a landmark victory for him and Caja Rural.
Part 1 of my review is now complete,but what did we learn from the opening 3 months of 2013?
Cancellara was the man to beat in the classics and Sagan has a wee bit to go until he’ll be at his level.
Both Froome and Nibali were looking like the top GC riders.
Cavendish was looking slightly inconsistent.
Richie Porte was looking extremely strong as a leader and domestique.
Dan Martin could really mix it with the big boys.
Riding for a small team doesn’t mean you can’t win big races.
Team Sky don’t seem to have what it takes in the Spring Classics.
Sagan and Moser are a tasty combination.
Not having a sponsor seems to motivate a team to do well.
Theo Bos seemed ready to take a step up.
Diego Ulissi had a very promising start to the season.
Make sure you’ve won the race before celebrating!