Tour of Qinghai Lake Jul 7-20
A whopping 13 stages with many bunch sprints awaited the teams.The biggest team present was Lampre with Bardiani and Vini Fantini also there.
Stage 1 – Sprint finish,easily won by Sacha Modolo,Richeze of Lampre was only 5th.
Stage 2 – We had a HC climb with 60km remaining in the stage.The climb reached an altitude of 3786 metres.A break formed around 25km from the finish and from it we got the stage winner,David De La Fuente.The Spaniard now riding for the Konya Torku team.
Stage 3 – Another HC climb but a whole 100km from the finish.TPT sent 2 riders away on the climb:Poorseyedi and Kolahdozhagh.The had 6 minutes over the peloton at the top but with 100km of riding into a headwind,it was unlikely they would stay away.Incredibly,they did just that.An amazing ride by the two teammates and Poorseyedi took the win,they finished 52 seconds ahead of the bunch.
Stage 4 – It was a day for the sprinters,despite 2 big climbs.A strong tailwind helped the riders along for most of the day and the sprint was won by Modolo with Richeze 2nd.
Stage 5 – It looked like being another sprint but a breakaway managed to stay away.The horrible rain and wind may have helped but Lampre and Bardiani made a mistake letting the 4 man break get too much of a lead.The stage was won by Polivoda with Goesinnen 2nd.The bunch sprint was won by Modolo for 3rd place.
Stage 6 – As we had a climb 20km before the end,it was a sprint without the pure sprinters.It was won by Robert Forster(remember him?) with Grechyn 2nd and Garziato 3rd.
Stage 7 – A weird stage!Only 82km and featured a lap circuit in town before a very difficult 10% climb.A break of 4 attacked at the bottom of the climb and Nepomnyachshiy of Astana managed to hold on for the stage victory.Arriving very fast was the yellow jersey of Poorseyedi to claim 2nd and put more time into his rivals.
Stage 8 – Another day for the sprinters,so Modolo and Richeze were resuming hostilities.It was the Italian that won again,to claim his 3rd stage of the race.Richeze just can’t seem to get close to him.
Stage 9 – A short,circuit stage of 117km and another sprint and yes another win for Sacha Modolo.Another easy win for Bardiani,with Keough(UnitedHealthCare) 2nd and Richeze 3rd.
Stage 10 – We had a 3rd cat climb around 60km from the end of the stage,so it looked like we could have another sprint stage.A break of 4 went away,but Bardiani and Lampre allowed too much of a gap and they stayed away.The stage was won by Giraud of La Pomme Marseille,Thwaites(Net-App) was a close 2nd.The sprint for 5th was won by Sacha Modolo.
Stage 11 – Another sprint and Modolo does it again.He was brilliantly led-out by Marco Coledan as he claimed stage number 5.Benfatto was 2nd and Richeze 3rd.
Stage 12 – The dominant Sacha Modolo claimed stage number 6 as he had Richeze secured firmly in his back pocket!The Argentine was 2nd and Benfatto 3rd.
Stage 13 – We ended with another sprint and a massive shock!Sacha Modolo didn’t win the route circuit.It was UnitedHealthCare rider Jacob Keough that won,with Modolo down in 7th.
The GC was decided way back on stage 7 and Poorseyedi took a great win for TPT.
Czech Cycling Tour Jul 11-14
Stage 1 – The 4 stage Tour opened with a 20.4km TTT.It was won by Leopard Trek Continental team with the Czech Republic squad that included Jan Barta and Leopold Konig finishing in 3rd,just 2 seconds back.It was great to see these big riders riding under the national team banner.
Stage 2 – A break managed to stay away and spoil the sprint finish as Luka Pibernik won the stage with the peloton finishing 19 seconds back.
Stage 3 – A stage filled with lots of climbs and the class act in the field,Konig,attacked on the penultimate climb.No one managed to stay with him and Konig went on to claim the stage win by a massive 1:32.2nd place was Vakoc with young French talent,Julian Alaphilippe 3rd.
Stage 4 – An uphill finish allowed the impressive Petr Vakoc to claim 1st,with teammate Alaphilippe 2nd.GC winner Konig finished 3rd.
A good solid win for Konig,in a race he was expected to win.
Giro dell’Appennino Jul 14
A tough Italian 1 day race,littered with challenging climbs.A strong break formed early in the race,it had the perfect mix of teams and strong riders and the peloton never managed to bring them back.Both Ceramica and Vini Fantini had 2 men in the break:Mucelli/Rovny and Mazzanti/Proni.Eventually 2 men broke away from the rest and it was Davide Mucelli and Luca Mazzanti that broke clear.
The 2 rode a long time in front and the chase never really organised themselves.As we approached the last 500 metres Mucelli was stuck on the front and when Mazzanti launched the sprint he got in front,but Mucelli wasn’t finished and he dug deep to claim the win.A great victory for Ceramica and their 25 year old rider.
Tour de Wallonie Jul 20-24
In true Wallonie fashion we had 5 lumpy stages.
Stage 1 – A late break meant that Alexandr Kolobnev won the stage from Anthony Geslin and Julien Berrard.The peloton rolled home 24 seconds back and this put the Russian in a strong position on the GC.
Stage 2 – The 1 true sprint stage of the Tour and it didn’t disappoint.Local hero,Tom Boonen,pleased his fans with a good win,Farrar was 2nd and Van Staeyen 3rd.Amazingly it was Boonen’s first win of 2013 ….. and his last!
Stage 3 – We had 2 steep climbs in the last 40km of the stage.We had a huge amount of late attacks but we did get a sprint finish.Romain Feillu went first and looked to be holding but he tired and Greg Van Avermaet produced a great sprint to claim the stage from Van Asbroeck and Drucker.An excellent win for the Belgian and BMC,as he picks up the stage and bonus seconds.
Stage 4 – There was a nasty kick before the end of the stage and it was RadioShack that took total control of the race,but with 1km to go they got swamped and it was Lotto that emerged at the front.It was a good lead-out and Kenny Dehaes finished it off,with Nizzolo 2nd and Napolitano 3rd.
Stage 5 – The final stage and time to settle the GC.Most of the final 50km was uphill,including 2 steep climbs in the last 15km.Going into the stage Kolobnev had a 22 second lead over GVA.Katusha controlled the race very well but the climb of 500 metres at just under 10% made it hard for them.No attacks 1st time up the climb but that all changed as BMC made it very difficult for Katusha,on the final lap.
Taylor Phinny was leading into the final climb,with GVA on his wheel.All of a sudden Kolobnev was sitting quite far back and when the Belgian attacked he was quickly distanced.Van Avermaet was flying up the climb and he won the stage,with the Russian finishing 24 seconds behind him.
It was a great race for Van Avermaet,2 stages and the overall.
Clasica San Sebastian Jul 27
The race was animated,with just over 40km to go,by Nairo Quintana.He launched a big attack with Alejandro Valverde in his wheel,this created a small elite group at the head of the race.Next to attack was Roman Kreuziger,but he was brought back.With the big favourites looking at each other,Tony Gallopin,attacked with 16km left.Landa and Roche eventually gave chase but the man from France was flying up the Arkale.He crested with a 16 second lead over the rest,as they crested in 1s and 2s.The RadioShack rider was on a very good day and the others couldn’t take him back and he went on to record the biggest win in his career.Alejandro Valverde finished 2nd and Kreuziger was 3rd.
Tour de Pologne Jul 27-Aug 3
A very hard race,starting in the Dolomites,Italy.Some riders were in good condition for the upcoming Vuelta,but others were off the pace.
Stage 1 – The opening stage ended with the climb of Madonna di Campiglio,a very difficult climb.The peloton were all together in the final kilometre when Pieter Weening went on the attack,but CA Sorensen was there to bring him back for team leader Majka.It was Izagirre that opened the sprint but Diego Ulissi was the quickest on the line,with Atapuma 2nd and Majka 3rd.Also finishing with the peloton was Capecchi,Basso,Pozzovivo,Howes,Hermans,Kiserlovski,Moreno Bazan,Henao and Rebellin.
The following lost time:Kangert,Elissonde,Santaromita,Barguil,Riblon,Spilak,Frank,Uran,Wiggins and Nibali.
Stage 2 – Another hard day with the climb of Passo Pordoi.The morning break featured Riblon,the breakaway expert,and the peloton allowed them too much time and Riblon claimed another brilliant stage win,with Rohregger 2nd and Preidler 3rd,all 3 riders were in the break.Back in the peloton we had a number of attacks and it was Sergio Henao that claimed 4th place.Behind him was Majka,Weening,CA Sorensen,Izagirre,Pozzovivo,Capecchi,Santaromita,Kiserlovski and Basso.Diego Ulissi blew in a most spectacular fashion and finished 27 minutes down,this put Rafal Majka into the overall lead.
Stage 3 – The race returned to Poland and we had a sprint.As the week was quite hilly,we didn’t actually have too many sprinters racing.Taylor Phinney was on lead-out duties and he did a great job.It was Mark Renshaw that started the sprint but Hushovd easily got past him for the win,Renshaw was 2nd and Von Hoff 3rd.
Stage 4 – Another circuit race,with an expected bunch sprint.Belkin were trying to control the peloton but Phinney attacked with 8km to go.He established a good advantage over the Belkin led peloton,where panic was starting to set in.With 1km to go it was Phinney v Orica and it was going to be tight,but the American displayed a huge amount of power to win the stage.A remarkable performance by him.
Stage 5 – Another hard uphill finish.We had some attacks from the GC riders but it wasn’t a hard enough finish to create any gaps.BMC wanted to set up a sprint for Thor Hushovd and they did a good job of bringing back a large,late break.It was a long uphill sprint and a few riders went too early but Thor timed his sprint to perfection.Another outstanding sprint from the God of Thunder.
Stage 6 – A real leg breaker of stage with 5 laps of a circuit with 3 difficult climbs.Despite a lot of attacks the GC riders actually stayed together for most of the stage.We had a big morning break that included Santaromita,Frank,Ulissi,Konig,Rebellin and Atapuma.Back in the peloton,Saxobank,where doing the work for Majka.
On the descent before the final climb Santaromita,Konig and Kiserlovski broke away out front and Cannondale started to ride for Ivan Basso.The final climb had ramps of 23% and on the early slopes the 3 were joined by Atapuma,Chernetskii,Ulissi,Golas and Howes.With 13km to go,the small peloton was only 40 seconds behind the break.
With the climb crested we had Atapuma and Chernetskii in front and Riblon attacking from the peloton with around 10km to go.Riblon managed to catch the remnants of the break and he went straight to the front and attacked.The stage ended with a long drag up to the finish and we had an unhappy Riblon,who wasn’t getting any help from his companions.The road was fairly long and the 3 groups could just about see each other.
Just as Riblon looked to be joining the front 2,Atapuma put the hammer down but the Frenchman did manage to join him with 1.8km remaining.He was interested in getting the yellow jersey and went to the front.He asked Atapuma to take a turn and was furious when the Colombian refused.Atapuma sat on his wheel and took a brilliant stage win.3rd place was Konig with Ulssi 4th.This put Riblon into the overall lead by 19 seconds to Izagirre and 20 seconds to Majka.
Stage 7 – A hilly 37km ITT to settle the GC.Bradley Wiggins took the stage honours,he was 56 seconds ahead of Cancellara and 1:14 in front of Phinney.We had a big surprise as it was Pieter Weening that put in the time trial of his life to claim the GC,only 13 seconds ahead of Izagirre and 16 seconds ahead of Riblon.
Trofeo Matteoti Jul 28
Once the morning break was captured we had a double attack from IAM,with Tschopp and Reichenbach.They attacked on the climb and were chased by Canola and Sella.The Swiss boys were working well together and they built up an impressive lead of 2 minutes over the peloton,led by Vini Fantini.They were riding very hard and brought back Sella and Canola.Eventually we had some attacks from the peloton and the first was from Andre Masciarelli,he was quickly joined by Chiarini(Androni) but nothing was sticking and the gap was still around the 1 minute mark.
It was Rubiano Chavez(Androni) that attacked out of the peloton and he brought with him Pinizzotto of Nippo – De Rosa and yet another IAM rider,Martin Elmiger.His teammates were still doing a great ride,up the road.Fabio Felline joined the 3 chasers as they attempted to push on the descent into the finish,but it didn’t help and the IAM boys held out till the end.They decided to let Reichenbach take the win,behind the peloton was back together and 3rd place went to Enrico Battaglin.
Tour of Denmark Jul 31-Aug 4
Stage 1 – We didn’t get the expected sprint finish as 3 Danes jumped away.Winning the stage was 20 year old,Magnus Cort Nielson,2nd was Aistrup and Las Bak was 3rd.Bryan Coquard brought the bunch home 10 seconds later.
Stage 2 – Sacha Modolo seemed to be in control of the uphill sprint but he started too early.Timing his run to perfection was Matti Breschel,Kump was 2nd and Hofland 3rd.
Stage 3 – A very hilly stage with a short,steep climb just before the end.The stage was won by Matti Breschel,just beating young Italian Francesco Bongiorno and Wilco Kelderman.This was a decisive day for the GC and these riders and Lars Bak seemed to be the only riders capable of winning.
Stage 4 – A lumpy end to the stage and another uphill sprint.The peloton was all together for the final uphill sprint and it was the young Dane,Magnus Cort Nielson,that attacked and no one could catch him.Another brilliant stage win for the 20 year old,a big future awaits.2nd place was Sonny Colbrelli and 3rd Pim Ligthart.The GC riders all arrived 3 seconds behind the leader.
Stage 5 – The 12.1km ITT was going to settle the GC,with stage 6 being another sprint stage.It was the Belkin rider,Wilco Kelderman,that delivered the best time,taking the stage and GC.
Stage 6 – A sprint to end the race and Mark Cavendish reminded everyone that he can sprint a bit,taking 1st place ahead of Coquard and Farrar.
A brilliant win for Kelderman,with Bak 2nd and Breschel 3rd with the talented Italians Zardini and Bongiorno in 4th and 5th.