Milano-Torino Oct 2
The first big attack was from Pirazzi,but he was brought back.As soon as he was Bardiani tried again with Zardini.He managed to do better than his teammate and even Tommy Vockler couldn’t stay on his wheel.With 20km to go,Zardini caught the lone leader,Thurau,and he was joined by Durasek of Lampre.
The Euopcar rider quickly fell away to leave just the 2 out front.Then attacking out of the peloton was Majka and Pimenta.This started to get the look of a strong group and more riders wanted to be part of it,but nobody managed to and the 4 crested together.
We then had a quick descent and another ascent into Superga.
Voeckler and Pozzovivo joined the front group and the peloton really started to take notice.This looked like ending the break but Voeckler tried again,followed by Zardini and Chiarini(Androni).This was on the descent and Tommy tried his best to create a gap,but he was a marked man.Mauro Finetto was the next to show off his descending skills but he didn’t get a gap as Valverde was close by.
The first rider to create a gap was Sella of Androni.He was flying down the hill but again the peloton brought the break back.It was proving to be very difficult to escape the clutches of the pack.
As we hit the bottom of the final ascent,a group of 8 did manage to get a gap to the peloton.In the group was Cherel,Sorensen,Chiarini,Voss,Rabbotini,Durasek,Meintjes and a Bardiani rider.
Katusha took over the pace setting in the peloton,they had Caruso,Moreno and Rodriguez to ride for.
Yet again,the break was caught and as the race slowed there was another attack.It was very interesting to see Alejandro Valverde and Domenico Pozzovivo very high up in the peloton.With 3km remaining,the Spaniard attacked,but he couldn’t create a gap.Next to try his luck was Franco Pellizotti,he was joined by Majka and Pozzovivo.This was looking like an important break and it was no surprise to see Caruso,Moreno and Ulissi come across to them.
As the pace slowed,it was Pellizotti that again attacked,with just 2km to go.Next to attack was Pozzovivo and Majka.At last the elastic snapped and they were away.
As the riders approached the final kilometre,Diego Ulissi,bridged across to the front 2.It was the nervous Pozzovivo who attacked first,this is something he is prone to and needs to address it.The other 2 followed him easily and as the pace slowed Dani Moreno came from behind them,to go in front.We then had the great sight of the 4 riders sitting across the road,again Pozzovivo attacked,as Contador was getting close.Then came the definitive move from Diego Ulissi.He attacked with power and won the race,Majka was 2nd and Moreno was 3rd.
A brilliant win for the Italian and good tactics by Lampre.
Sparkassen Munsterland Giro Oct 3
A break of 5 managed to stay away until the end of the race.The 5 were Van Emden(Belkin),Veelers(Argos),Keisse(OPQS),Van Staeyen(Topsport) and Van Baarle(Rabo Dev).The break didn’t want to take Van Staeyen to the line,as he was the fastest sprinter,and it was Van Emden that managed to sneak away and take the win.Veelers was 2nd and Keisse 3rd.
Tour de l’Eurometropole Oct 3-6
Stage 1 – Taking a slightly surprising win was Jens Debusschere of Lotto.2nd place was Maes(OPQS) and 3rd was Vanbilsen(Topsport)
Stage 2 – Another sprint and this was won by John Degenkolb,with Drucker 2nd and Debusschere 3rd.
Stage 3 – The sprint was won by Tyler Farrar,with Van Rensburg(Argos) 2nd and Demare 3rd.
Stage 4 – The final stage and the GC was very tight.Another sprint was expected,and bonus seconds were going to be important.The stage was well won by Degenkolb,with Debusschere 2nd and Farrar 3rd.This meant that Degenkolb and Debusschere were on the same time but the Lotto rider won on count back.
Piccolo Giro di Lombardia Oct 12
A commanding performance and victory for Davide Villella,2nd was Iuri Filosi and 3rd was Gianfranco Zilioli.
Il Lombardia Oct 6
Another cold,wet day in Italy.On the climb of Madonna del Ghisallo,Tommy Voeckler went on the attack.He expected others to join him,but they didn’t.In true Voeckler style he thought,”what the hell” and went for it himself.He lasted until the final climb,but was caught.
On the final climb,it was Pozzovivo who attacked first.He had crashed not long before and lacked the extra kick to get away.Defending champion,Joaquim Rodriguez,was sitting 2nd wheel and when the attack came,the others had no answer.
A chase group formed behind with Dan Martin,Valverde and Majka,but with only a couple of kilometres till the end,Rodriguez soloed to another brilliant win.Valverde got clear to claim 2nd and it left Majka and Martin to battle for 3rd,but the Irishman crashed,so Majka claimed 3rd.
Tour de Vendee Oct 6
We had an uphill sprint to end the race.It was Europcar and Bryan Coquard,who were in pole position but FDJ timed their lead-out to perfection.Bouhanni was sitting behind Coquard and didn’t have a teammate,when all of a sudden arrived Laurent Pichon.He sprinted to the head of the race and took Bouhanni with him.Coquard had to launch his sprint too early and nobody could challenge Bouhanni.2nd was Samuel Dumoulin and 3rd was Steven Tronet of Big Mat.
Another outstanding performance by FDJ.They have 3 riders capable of delivering their sprinter into pole position and they rarely fail.
Binche-Chimay-Binche Oct 8
The final kilometre has a cobbled section and as the riders entered it,Greg Van Avermaet attacked.
He got a gap but also had company,in the form of Bjorn Leukemans(Vacansoleil) and Van Rensburg(Argos).
It was the big South African that had the legs and he powered home for his first top level win,2nd was Leukemans and 3rd GVA.
Coppa Sabatini Oct 10
The riders approached the finish together.It is a 1km uphill finish and Lampre ensured a great set-up for Diego Ulissi.
Cherel(AG2R) was the first to attack but Ulissi quickly moved onto his wheel.When the sprinting started Ulissi was in a great position and he powered to the victory.2nd was Andrea Pasqualon(Bardiani) and 3rd was Davide Villella(Cannondale).
Paris-Bourges Oct 10
We got the expected sprint finish and another battle between Degenkolb and Demare.It was the German winning on this occasion,with Demare 2nd and Samuel Dumoulin in 3rd.A good warm up for Paris-Tours for big John!
Tour of Beijing Oct 11-15
Stage 1 – Thor Hushovd was the slightly surprising winner.It was a messy sprint and the God of Thunder did the whole sprint sitting in his saddle.A real display of power,2nd was Mezgec and 3rd was Maes.
Stage 2 – Another perfect display of a 1 man lead-out by FDJ.This time it was Anthony Roux,who guided Nacer Bouhanni perfectly to the front of the race and he did the rest.2nd was Ferrari and 3rd was Docker.
Stage 3 – We had a climb near the end that reduced the peloton,but the sprinters made it.Bouhanni didn’t have a lead-out man,but he got in a good position and won another stage.2nd was Matthews and 3rd was Tsatevitch.
Stage 4 – We had a mountaintop finish to settle the GC.With 4km to go,David Lopez had managed to create a sizeable gap to the peloton,he was joined by Jan Bakelants.Dan Martin decided to go across to the 2 and everyone else did too!Next to attack was Rui Costa,but Dan Martin marked it.With 2km remaining it was Benat Intxausti who attacked and Lopez followed.The other GC riders looked at each other,and Intxausti was away.Suddenly,we only had 2 riders in contention,behind the front 2 it was Dan Martin and Rui Costa.The Irishman took off in search of the Spaniards and he nearly caught both of them,but Intxausti managed to hold on for the stage and GC.
Stage 5 – The sprint was surprisingly won by Luca Mezgec of Argos.He had been in the top 3 on many occasions in 2013,but this was his first win.FDJ didn’t deliver Bouhanni to the front,as they had done previously,and he had to launch his sprint a bit early.This allowed Mezgec to power past and claim the win,with Moreno Hofland(Belkin) in 3rd.
GC – Intxausti,Dan Martin,Lopez Garcia.
Giro dell’Emilia Oct 12
The early break was quite strong,it contained: N.Sorensen(Saxo),Paulinho(Saxo),Poljanski(Saxo),Mori(Lampre),Dupont(AG2R),Honkisz(CCC),Parrinello(Androni),Fachini(Androni),Rubiano Chavez(Androni),Pagani(Bardiani),Taborre(Vini Fantini) and Rybakov(Rusvelo).
The break was too big and dangerous,so the peloton brought it back early on,they left Parrinello hanging out in front.The race has a tremendous finish and really should end with the bunch together.
As we crested the 2nd last climb up to San Luca,the leader was caught and an elite group formed.Durasek was doing a good job of policing things for Ulissi and when Sella attacked Durasek went with him.
When the riders arrived on the penultimate climb Matteo Rabottini was trying to bridge to the front 2 and he was joined by Zaugg and Cunego.With 2 teammates up the hill it meant that the pre-race favourite,Ulissi,could follow wheels.
Zardini started the attacking off from the peloton and he soon passed Zaugg and Rabottini,Ulissi then went to the front to settle the peloton down and by this point there was only around 15 riders in the group.
By the time we hit the last climb,the peloton was all together and Michele Scarponi was on the front for Lampre.He was killing it and as we approached the final kilometre we only had 8 riders left:Scarponi,Ulissi,Pellizotti,Villella,Bongiorno,Zardini,Pozzovivo and CA Sorensen.
When Scarponi could do no more it was Davide Villella that got the attacking going.As Bardiani had 2 riders,they sent Zardini to chase,as he stalled Ulissi rode across.That left us with 4:Ulissi,Villella,Zardini and Bongiorno,but Sorensen and Pellizotti were trying hard to catch up.
Sorensen did manage to catch them and he immediately went on the attack.Diego Ulissi was looking great and he quickly sat on his wheel.As they sprinted to the line it was Ulissi who finished 1st,Sorensen 2nd and Villella 3rd.
Another outstanding win for Ulissi and Lampre.
GP Bruno Beghelli Oct 13
The last Italian race of the season and one that should end in a sprint,due to the lack of serious climbs and the flat run-in.
On the final climb we had Rebellin,Pozzovivo and Durasek trying to put the sprinters under pressure.Their break didn’t last long,as they were caught on the flat,open road before the end.
The next climber to have a go was Davide Villella,as the finish is long and flat the climbers have to attack from far out to try and stop a sprint from happening.He took with him,Colli(Vini Fantini) and Tosatto(Saxo),but their break was caught inside the final 2 kilometres.Inside the final kilometre,Leonardo Duque,went to the front and when he looked round he had a gap.The Colombian put his head down and went for it!The peloton was very poorly organised and he cruised home for the win,2nd was Mori and 3rd was Favilli,both Lampre.
Paris-Tours Oct 13
The last 2 climbs is where the race is usually lost/won and it was Marco Marcato that started the moves.He attacked but was joined by Vanmarcke and Degenkolb,they were joined by Demare,Bol,Chavanel and Morkov.
On the final climb it was Greg Van Avermaet that tried to bridge over.He did so with ease!It was great to see both Demare and Degenkolb surviving the last 2 climbs,but it came as no surprise when the others didn’t really want to tow them to the end.
We then had a solo attack by Bol of Belkin.The rest of the break was caught by the peloton,but Bol pushed on.As we approached the final 2 kilometres,Belkin even sent a rider to the front of the peloton,to try and disrupt the chase.Despite their cheeky efforts,he was caught.It was then another battle between Degenkolb and Demare.
Demare had a big problem,as he was left with Offredo doing the lead-out.He did manage to hit the front,but it was too early and Demare had to launch his sprint too soon.Degenkold easily passed him to take the win,with Morkov 2nd and Demare 3rd.
A brilliant end to the season for Degenkolb.