Criterium du Dauphine Jun 2-9
The pressure was all on Team Sky as they looked to deliver another Dauphine/Tour double but this time with Chris Froome.
Stage 1 – The peloton made the fatal mistake of letting the break get too much time and David Veilleux of Europcar managed to hold on for the stage victory.Gianni Meersman won the sprint for 2nd with Tom Slagter 3rd.
Stage 2 – The sprinters managed to stay in contact on the last climb of the day,it was a cat 2 with only 12km left.Elia Viviani won the stage,easily beating Meersman,with Tony Gallopin 3rd.
Stage 3 – After a couple of days of feeling not very well,Edvald Boasson Hagen told his Sky teammates to ride for him and he didn’t disappoint.Gerain Thomas,in particular,rode brilliantly and delivered EBH in perfect position.He managed to hold off Michael Matthews,who would have won if it hadn’t been for his poor positioning.3rd place went to Gianni Meersman.
Stage 4 – The 32.5km ITT was won by Tony Martin,47 seconds clear of Rohan Dennis and 52 seconds ahead of Chris Froome.The Kenyan,put some serious time into his main rivals on GC,just under 3 minutes to Contador.
Stage 5 – The 1st of the very important mountain stages,with the stage ending on the climb to Valmorel.Movistar tried to upset the Sky rhythm and they set Valverde on the attack with 7km to go.He didn’t manage to get any real gap as Peter Kennaugh was doing a brilliant job on the front of the peloton,sealing his place in the tour squad.The yellow jersey of Rohan Dennis was sitting just behind Froome and was looking good.Porte took over the peloton with 6km to go,and the pace was increased.The initial break of Wellens and Busche still had a lead of around 1 minute with 5km remaining.In typical Porte fashion,the Tasmanian quickly blew the peloton to pieces as Busche continued to push out front.After hanging in front of the peloton for a while,Valverde was caught with 3km to go as the pace continued to quicken,with Porte cracking the whip.It was all too much for Rohan Dennis as he blew spectacularly with 2.5km left.With Busche smelling victory,Contador attacked with Taaramae on his wheel.When Porte was finished it was over to Chris Froome and he easily rode across to Contador.He then attacked again and caught Busche with 200 metres left to claim a brilliant stage win.Contador was 2nd and Busche 3rd.This put Froome in an incredibly strong position on GC.
Stage 6 – A breakaway won the day and it was the brilliant Thomas Voeckler that stole the show into Grenoble.
Stage 7 – Another mountaintop finish,this time to Superdevoluy.Contador turned domestique as he rode for Mick Rogers but it was a late break from Fuglsang and Sami Sanchez that won the day.Sanchez outsprinted the Dane for the win and Porte finished 3rd.Froome finished safely behind Porte.
Stage 8 – Another mountaintop finish to end the race.Contador was attacking but was called back as Rogers,sitting 3rd on GC,was struggling.Sky controlled the race but let the break have slightly too much,with De Marchi managing to cling on for the stage.Sky looked to be in tour mode as they destroyed everyone but Andrew Talansky.The American had been unwell for the whole race but returned to form here.It looked like Froome was trying to set Porte up for the stage win but Porte couldn’t cope.With 1km remaining De Marchi had 30 seconds on Froome and Porte,but with Porte struggling he had enough.Froome could have set off himself for the stage but stayed with Porte and tried to encourage him to do more.As the line approached,Talansky re-joined but Froome accelerated to take 2nd,with the American 3rd.
Another outstanding win for Team Sky as they continue to dominate all things mountainous.
Tour de Suisse Jun 8-16
Stage 1 – The 8.1km opening ITT was won by Cameron Meyer.He was helped with a change in wind direction that made it impossible for the later riders to challenge.
Stage 2 – We had a very tough finishing climb and it was Bauke Mollema that managed to nip away in the closing moments of the race to claim the stage,with Mathias Frank 2nd and Thibaut Pinot 3rd.
Stage 3 – We had a very difficult cat 1 climb cresting 20km from the end of the race.Incredibly Peter Sagan managed to stay with Rui Costa,Roman Kreuziger and Mathias Frank and he easily won the sprint for the stage.It was a big day for the GC with Frank leading from Kreuziger and Rui Costa.
Stage 4 – At last a day for the sprinters!Jens Voigt was in the break and he nearly made it to the end but OPQS and Orica were riding hard in the peloton.As we approached the sprint it was clear that some riders hadn’t looked at the finish of the stage.Arnaud Demare had and he stole up the inside corner before the last turn and managed to hold off Matt Goss to claim a great win.
Stage 5 – We had a short steep climb near the end but the sprinters were there at the end of the race.Saxo worked hard for Matti Breschel but it was Katusha that arrived late to set-up Alexander Kristoff.He took a brilliant win,Sagan was 2nd and Demare 3rd.An excellent power-sprint from the Norwegian.
Stage 6 – A breakaway win for Gregory Rast of RadioShack.He managed to get the better of Hayman,Kolobnev and Grabsch.
Stage 7 – A big day for GC with the climb up the Albulapass at an altitude of 2315 metres.Rui Costa,Mollema,Van Garderen and Pinot managed to get to the top of the climb 1st before descending to the finish.Pinot couldn’t cope and it was Rui Costa that won the sprint.He finished 22 seconds in front of Mathias Frank,despite an inflatable on the road!
Stage 8 – A final sprint stage with a steep cat 3 climb 6km before the end of the stage.Cannondale controlled the climb with Peter Sagan desperate to win the sprint finish,it was a strong ride by Moreno Moser that meant we had no attacks and nearly all the sprinters lost contact with the peloton.Sagan was left all alone after the climb and he was very happy that FDJ decided to ride on the front of the peloton,although Cannondale did manage to get riders back into the peloton in time for the finish.He delivered an excellent sprint to win the stage from Bennati and Gilbert.
Stage 9 – Mountain ITT to decide the GC.Reigning champion Rui Costa delivered a great ITT and took the GC.Mollema was 2nd overall and Kreuziger was 3rd.
A great win for Rui Costa as he proves that last year wasn’t luck.Can he deliver at a 3 week stage race?
Tour de Luxembourg Jun 12-16
Prologue – The opening 2.55km prologue was won by Jimmy Engoulvent,by 1 second from Danny Van Poppel and Jonathan Hivert.
Stage 1 – The opening sprint was won by Alexander Porsev of Katusha,with Ciolek 2nd and JJ Lobato 3rd.
Stage 2 – With a tough climb near the end of the stage the pure sprinters were long gone and it was Giacomo Nizzolo of Radioshack that took a fairly easy win from Marko Kump and Paul Martens.
Stage 3 – Almost a replica of stage 2 with a climb near the end and a Nizzolo win.These were his only 2 wins of the whole season.
Stage 4 – Time for the GC to be decided with a very steep finish.Local boy Bobby Jungels took a brilliant win from Paul Martens of Blanco but he was penalised for getting a good old fashioned sling-shot from a teammate.This meant that Paul Martens took the GC,unlucky Bobby!
Ster ZLM Toer Gp Jan van Heeswijk Jun 12-16
Prologue – The 8km course was won by Robert Wagner,he was 2 seconds faster than teammate Lars Boom,3 seconds ahead of Tobias Ludvigsson and 4 seconds in front of Marcel Kittel.
Stage 1 – The sprint was won very easily by Theo Bos,2nd was Greipel,3rd Cavendish and 5th Kittel.
Stage 2 – The sprint-fest continued with Kittel claiming the victory,Greipel was 2nd,Cavendish 3rd and Bos 4th.
Stage 3 – The uphill sprint was well won by Lars Boom,he was 3 seconds clear of Rebellin and Lammertink.
Stage 4 – The break managed to hold on for the win,but only just.It was Pim Ligthart that claimed the win and Greipel won the sprint for 5th.
An excellent overall win for Boom after a solid prologue and an excellent finish to stage 3.
Route de Sud Jun 13-16
Stage 1 – The uphill sprint was well won by Yannick Martinez of La Pomme Marseille.Anthony Roux was 2nd and Adrien Petit 3rd.It was a very strong sprint from Martinez.
Stage 2 – Another uphill run towards the finishing line but this time Martinez opened his sprint too early and was well beaten.Yohann Gene of Europcar took the stage with Chris Sutton 2nd and Samuel Dumoulin 3rd.
Stage 3 – A massive day with the climb of Port de Bales coming 20 km from the finish.We had a group of 3 crest first:Voeckler,Gadret and Bardet(both AG2R).We had a slight re-groupment on the descent and it was Voeckler that won the sprint from Franco Pellizotti,with Gadret 3rd.With a flat 4th stage to come it meant that Voeckler was going to win the GC.
Stage 4 – A very close sprint was won by Marco Frapporti of Androni,with Napolitano(Accent-jobs) 2nd and Giraud(La Pomme) 3rd.
A good win for Voeckler,showing good climbing legs ahead of the tour.
Tour de Slovenie Jun 13-16
Prologue – The 8.8km prologue was an Orica GreenEDGE fight.Tuft won,Lancaster 2nd and Langeveld was 4th.Some day for the Aussies.
Stage 1 – A cat 3 climb near the end meant that it wasn’t a day for the sprinters.The sprint finish was won by Fabio Felline of Androni with Sulzberger 2nd and Atapuma 3rd.
Stage 2 – The Queen stage was surprisingly won by the Croatian rider,Radoslav Rogina.Jan Polanc was 2nd with Patrik Sinkewitz 3rd.The German did crash during the stage and this contributed to him not winning.
Stage 3 – The sprint was won by Brett Lancaster,Richeze was 2nd and Keukeleire 3rd.
The GC goes to Radoslav Rogina.
National Road Championships
GB – Mark Cavendish
France – Arthur Vichot
Denmark – Michael Morkov
Norway – Thor Hushovd
Spain – Jesus Herrada Lopez
Germany – Andre Greipel
Italy – Ivan Santaromita
Netherlands – Johnny Hoogerland
Belgium – Stijn Devolder
Tour de France Jun 29-Jul 21
Stage 1 – What an opening to the 100th tour!The Orica bus got stuck at the finish line and the riders were told the finish would be at the 3km sign(on a brutal bend),the bus then got moved and we finished as normal.A massive crash denied Greipel,Sagan and Cavendish the opportunity of being in the sprint and it was won by Marcel Kittel,2nd was Kristoff and Danny Van Poppel 3rd.
Stage 2 – A strong break formed late on in the stage and Cannondale didn’t have the numbers to bring it back.Garmin decided to help out and the gap was only 10 seconds with 3km to go.The break seemed like they would be swallowed up with 1.5km to go but Jan Bakelants had other ideas,he pushed on and tried to go solo.The peloton were awful and mis-timed the catch and he won by 1 second to Sagan and Kwiatkowski.A poor day for Cannondale.
Stage 3 – Another day that looked perfect for Sagan but he lost out again.This time it was Orica and Simon Gerrans that spoilt his day.Daryl Impey did a brilliant lead-out and Gerrans finished it off but Sagan must have been suffering from his stage 1 crash as he would normally have beaten him in the sprint.Gerrans took overall control of the yellow jersey.
Stage 4 – Orica continued their good run by beating OPQS and claiming the TTT.They won by 0.038 seconds in an enthralling finish,with Sky 3rd.
Stage 5 – Cavendish did well to make it over a late climb and Lotto made a mess of the lead-out.Steegmans did a great job of delivering Cav and he won with ease,EBH was 2nd and Sagan 3rd.A great day for Cav but a poor one for Greipel.
Stage 6 – Lotto and Greipel got their revenge with a perfect sprint,Sagan was 2nd and Kittel 3rd.Daryl Impey took over yellow.
Stage 7 – Cannondale turned up!They smashed the race wide open,up a cat 2 climb,and blew the sprinters to pieces.Sagan claimed the intermediate sprint points and the stage win,Degenkolb was 2nd and Bennati 3rd.A very good day for Sagan.
Stage 8 – Sky turned up!Kennaugh raced the peloton very hard up the final climb,before Porte destroyed them!After just a short turn from Porte,only he and Froome were left.Froome won the stage and the tour,with Porte 2nd and Valverde 3rd.
Stage 9 – The final climb crested 30km from the end but Movistar ripped the race apart from the off.They put massive pressure on Team Sky and Richie Porte went pop.They couldn’t manage to break Froome and he controlled their attacks.Dan Martin and Jacob Fuglsang got away on the last climb and the Irishman took the stage.
Stage 10 – Back on the flat and Cavendish gets the blame of making Tom Veelers crash in the sprint finish,a touch unfair.Andre Greipel messes up the sprint and Marcel Kittel wins again.
Stage 11 – Tony Martin wins a very windy ITT by 12 seconds to Chris Froome.
Stage 12 – Another sprint and another massive crash.This time Greipel is taken out and Kittel gets a touch lucky in the sprint but manages to overtake Cavendish with 50 metres left.Cav wasn’t best pleased!
Stage 13 – Cross-winds!!!!!!!!!Belkin take some revenge on Movistar for some old crimes and ride Valverde out of the tour.Then Saxo steal time on Sky by attacking an isolated Froome and it leaves Sagan and Cavendish to battle the sprint.Sagan’s tactics are poor and Cav wins.
Stage 14 – It was time for a breakaway and it looked like Albasini would win,but Matteo Trentin executed a brilliant sprint to claim the win for OPQS.
Stage 15 – Time for Mont Ventoux.Nieve and Quintana attacked from distance and a Porte turn destroyed the peloton,yet again.Contador was the only one that could stay with the Sky duo until Chris Froome put in a quite incredible attack.He caught Quintana and rode with him for a while before attacking him and going on to win the stage.Quintana finished 2nd and Nieve was 3rd.
Stage 16 – Another day for the break and Rui Costa wins,with Riblon 2nd and Jeannesson 3rd.
Stage 17 – Mountain ITT.Froome wins,again,with Contador 2nd and Rodriguez 3rd.
Stage 18 – A brilliant day for France as Riblon wins the stage,after passing TJ Van Garderen near the end.Moreno Moser finished 3rd,while Rodriguez and Quintana take 1 minute back on Froome who suffered a hunger knock.He sent Porte back to the car for food and suffered a time penalty.
Stage 19 – Another day for a break and a 2nd stage win for Rui Costa,Kloden was 2nd and Bakelants 3rd.
Stage 20 – Quintana put everyone to the sword and won a great stage,with Rodriguez 2nd and Froome 3rd.
Stage 21 – Kittel continued his dominance with another stage win,Greipel was 2nd and Cavendish 3rd.The King is dead,long live the King.
Top 10 – Froome,Quintana,Rodriguez,Contador,Kreuziger,Mollema,Fuglsang,Valverde,Navarro,Talansky.
Green jersey – Sagan
KOTM – Quintana
Young rider – Quintana
Team Sky dominate the tour for a 2nd year,getting a bit boring for me.
Tour of Austria Jun 30-Jul 7
The tour started with a very difficult mountaintop finish.After the break was caught we had an attack from Dries Devenyns.The peloton then broke into pieces and 4 were left to chase:Joe Dombrowski,Kevin Seeldraeyers,Riccardo Zoidl and Matthew Busche.
It was Busche that couldn’t cope with the pace as the others caught Devenyens.With 2km to go Seeldraeyers put in a stinging attack and the others couldn’t follow,he continued on to claim the stage from Zoidl and Dombrowski.It was a good win for the Astana rider but a great performance by Zoidl,the young Austrian rider.
Stage 2 – Another mountaintop finish and it was OPQS setting the pace on the early slopes of the climb,obviously they had confidence in Devenyns.Team Sky sent Ian Boswell off the front of the bunch as a potential help for Dombrowski,but he never got away.
With 4km to go we had 3 in front:Edet,Dyachenko and Golcer.The peloton was falling to pieces but Astana were looking good and as the pace slowed it was the yellow jersey of Seeldraeyers that attacked.He joined up with Dyachenko and off they went.It was perfect tactics from Astana and they even had Fabio Aru following them up the climb.The 3 of them went on to claim the top 3 on the stage in a great day for Astana.The final kilometre was spectacular with ramps of 22%.Devenyens and Zoidl finished 4th and 5th on the stage.
Stage 3 – After a hectic start to the race,the GC boys could relax a little and let the sprinters take over.We had a sprint finish but the road was rising for the last 30km.As we entered the final kilometre,BMC had control of the race,they had 3 men in front of Hushovd and it was looking good.It was such a good lead-out that Hushovd won and Daniel Oss(last lead-out man) finished 2nd.A dominant display of sprinting from the God of Thunder.
Stage 4 – The stage had the HC climb of the Hochtor in the middle of the stage and it was going to be interesting to see how the teams approached it.We had attacks and CA Sorenson,Majka,Kiserlovski,Frank and Wellens got away.We had the brilliant sight of the yellow jersey attack out of the peloton,as Kevin Seeldraeyers was obviously worried about Frank and Majka being out in front.As we approached the summit,Mathias Frank went solo,while Seeldraeyers,Zoidl and Dombrowski caught some of the break.We then had a brilliant moment as Frank approached the KOTM point.He was putting on his cape when Sorenson attacked from nowhere,to try and claim the points.Frank managed to quickly compose himself and get the points.The riders had a short descent before a short,steep cat 2 climb.The lead 3 of Frank,Sorenson and Majka were working well together and behind Zoidl had a teammate re-join his group.
When the descent was over the peloton sort of regrouped but there was only about 20 riders there.
The end of the stage was another short,steep climb and it was Mathias Frank that broke away to claim the victory.A great day of climbing by the Swiss rider.
Stage 5 – A relatively flat day but with a short and very steep climb to finish.It was another great day for Mathias Frank as he put in a monster dig and broke clear.He was chased by Edet and Majka but back in the peloton the yellow jersey of Seeldraeyers was struggling and Zoidl put in an attack.Frank won the stage,with Majka 2nd,Edet 3rd and Zoidl 4th.He managed to claim 7 seconds back on the yellow jersey.
Stage 6 – With the mountains finished it was back over to the sprinters.BMC had control over the peloton with 1km to go but lost their way.As we approached the final 500 metres there was a crash in the bunch,at this point Sky and BMC chose the left-hand side of the road and this cost them the victory.MTN and Ciolek went through the centre and won the stage,Ponzi was 2nd and Cantwell 3rd.
Stage 7 – The GC was to be decided with a 24.1km test against the clock.The yellow jersey had a shocker and the overall was claimed by Riccardo Zoidl,with a solid 15th place on the stage.Fabian Cancellara won the stage by 22 seconds to Marco Pinotti,but the day belonged to the Austrian.
Stage 8 – The final stage was another for the sprinters,but we got a surprise.The stage was won by Omar Bertazzo of Androni,with Chris Sutton 2nd and Simone Ponzi 3rd.
So Zoidl won the GC with Dyachenko 2nd and Seeldraeyers 3rd.A wonderful win for Team Gourmetfein-Simplon.