Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cancellara takes solo Flanders win

Fabian Cancellara powered to victory as he claimed his second Tour of Flanders title ahead of main rival Peter Sagan.

The Swiss rider burst clear of the field on the final climb of the day to win by one minute and 26 seconds ahead of Slovak Sagan and Jurgen Roelandts.

Britain’s Geraint Thomas crashed with around 36km remaining, although the Team Sky rider continued and came 41st.

Defending champion Tom Boonen also crashed out in what is the

second of the season’s monument races.

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On these cobbles I have this special thing and I saw many Swiss flags so I did what I had to do and bring the Ronde home

Fabian Cancellara

The 256km (159 miles) race, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary and is one of the most prestigious one-day races of the season, started on the outskirts of Bruges before heading towards Oudenaarde, featuring 17 short climbs and 17 cobbled sections.

There was drama early on when Belgian Boonen’s race was brought to a premature conclusion after 19km. The three-time champion, who rides for Omega Pharma Quick-Step, was transported to hospital with a hip injury as well as wounds to his left elbow and right knee, although X-rays revealed no broken bones.

However, his team manager Patrick Lefevere told Belgian sports channel Sporza: “His spring season is over.”

Thomas had a crash of his own just as the pace began to crank up ahead of the cobbled climb up the Oude-Kwaremont.

The Welshman clawed his way back into contention, catching the lead group with 24km remaining but he was unable to keep pace when the attacks started and he finished the race two minutes, 49 seconds behind the winner.

All eyes were on Cancellara and Sagan and the duo did not disappoint going toe-to-toe up the Oude Kwaremont but when the Radioshack team rider upped the pace on the final climb of the Paterberg, Sagan was unable to stay with him.

There was still 13km remaining after reaching the summit but Cancellara, a four-time world time trial champion, powered away, reaching speeds in excess of 30mph.

Such was the advantage that he built up, Cancellara was able sit up and cruise over the line after six hours, five minutes and 58 seconds of racing.

“The goal was to win but you can’t predict how that’s going to happen,” said the 32-year-old.

“Everyone did a great job, the team did fantastic and in the end everyone expected I would go on the Paterberg. I had a nice feeling on the cobbles that I could go.

“On these cobbles I have this special thing and I saw many Swiss flags so I did what I had to do and bring the Ronde home.”

“It’s amazing. One year ago I was on the ground [after crashing out of the Tour of Flanders] and now I’m back and I’ve won. Winning as a big favourite is not easy but I’m very happy.”

In the women’s race of 127km, London 2012 Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos came home first.

The Dutch champion outsprinted Ellen Van Dijk in the race to the line, with fellow breakaway riders Emma Johansson and Elisa Longo Borghini finishing third and fourth.

Lizzie Armitstead, who finished second behind Vos at London 2012, was the best-placed British rider in ninth, two minutes, 39 seconds adrift.

The next big race of the Spring Classics sees the riders tackle Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, 7 April – a race more affectionately known as the ‘Hell of the North’.

Cancellara last won that race in 2010, the year he won his first Tour of Flanders.

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Thomas eager for Flanders victory

Geraint Thomas says it would be a dream come true if he can top the podium in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

The second of the season’s monument races is celebrating its 100th anniversary and Thomas believes that he is well suited to the famous race.

“It’s massive. Since the Olympics last year it’s the one race I’ve been thinking about,” Thomas said.

“It’s been my main target since then and preparations have gone pretty well, races have gone pretty good.”

The 256km race, which starts on the outskirts of Bruges and heads towards Oudenaarde, features 17 short climbs and 17 cobbled sections.

Only one Briton has won the Tour of Flanders before, when Tom Simpson triumphed in 1961.

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We did the recon… it’s going to be grim but exciting

Geraint Thomas on this year’s Tour of Flanders

Now Welshman Thomas is bidding to double that tally and is one of the riders leading the Team Sky challenge in the classics, having switched his attention to the road after

winning a second Olympic gold on the track

in the team pursuit at London 2012.

“In cycling terms it’s one of the biggest one-day races, one of the ‘monuments’ as they call it, it’s got that massive history and prestige,” Thomas, 26, told BBC Sport Wales’

The Back Page


“It’s just one of those races that you grow up dreaming of being a part of, so to be on the start line with a chance of getting on the podium is massive.

“It’s just such a hard race. We did the reconnaissance today [Friday], we did a few of the climbs and things and it’s going to be grim but exciting.

“It definitely suits me more than… the Paris-Roubaix which we’ve got next week, I think the climbs suit my attributes a bit better.

“I’m just excited now and looking forward to racing on Sunday.”

*Listen to The Back Page every Saturday morning on BBC Radio Wales from 08:30.

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Wada warning over dangerous drug

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has taken the unusual decision to warn athletes about the health risks of taking the banned substance GW501516.

WADA says the side effects are so serious that it wants to warns cheats about the dangers of the drug.

GW501516 was a developmental drug withdrawn from research by the pharmaceutical company after serious toxicities were discovered in studies.

It is being sold on the black market and has been used by some athletes.

A number of positive cases of use of the drug have been discovered but Wada did not specify which athletes had been found guilty.

But it urged federations to notify athletes “as soon as possible” as the drug did not have, and would not get, clinical approval.

Wada said: “The side effect of this chemical compound is so serious that Wada is taking the rare step of warning ‘cheats’ to ensure that there is complete awareness of the possible health risks to athletes who succumb to the temptation of using GW501516 for performance enhancement.”

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Nottingham to host Milk Race return

The Milk Race is set to make a return to the British sporting calendar after a 20-year absence.

Nottingham has been chosen to host one-day races for men and women on Sunday, 26 May.

The original Milk Race, which ran between 1958 and 1993, was a multi-stage race and one of the many guises of what is now the

Tour of Britain.

Steven Burke is the first big name to sign up for the race, which will move from city to city each year.

“It’s an historic event and it’s exciting to be a part of it,” said the Olympic track champion, who is trained by 1987 Milk Race winner Malcolm Elliott.

“London 2012 and the exploits of Bradley Wiggins have already increased participation in cycling and the more big events like this can happen the better it is for the sport.”

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Irvine injured in Taiwan crash

World track cycling champion Martyn Irvine’s plans for 2013 have suffered a setback after he sustained a suspected fractured hip in Taiwan on Thursday.

Newtownards man Irvine crashed about 50km into Thursday’s stage in the Tour of Taiwan.

Track star Irvine is also competing in road events for the American UnitedHealthcare team this season.

He was scheduled to compete in a number of US races after the Taiwan event but these plans are now in doubt.

Irvine, 27, became the first Irishman to win a World Track Championship cycling gold medal in 117 years in Belarus last month.

The Northern Ireland man followed his silver medal in the individual pursuit event by taking gold in the 15K scratch race.

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