Sunday shorts

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Well done to Gustav Larsson of Vacansoleil-DCM for his win in Paris-Nice. The windtunnel work paid off as he won by just one second over Bradley Wiggins. It rained for the later contenders and some said Larsson would not ordinarily have won. But I suspect the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Levi Leipheimer will have their chance for glory later in the week. Above all Larsson was given his departure time, rode his best… and won.

For the rest of the week Alejandro Valverde had a bit of a stinker, losing 30 seconds. Given he can lose more time in the final time trial the likes of Wiggins and Leipheimer and their teams will be marking him and others closer. The Schlecks lost over a minute. This is good news for neutrals as it means these riders will have to attack in order to challenge the time trial specialists in order to win the race.

Colombians return
For a while if you wanted to follow Colombian cycling it meant the excellent Cycling Inquisition blog. Briefly an exciting new force in cycling in the mid 1980s now the country’s riders are making a return.

Quintana

Nairo Quintana

Nairo Quintana looks 42 but in fact he’s only 22 and  has just won the Tour of Murcia. And in the Strade Bianche you might have spotted the Colombia-Coldeportes jersey on the shoulders of the well-named Jarlinson Pantano.

Rusvelo win
Russian team Rusvelo notched their first win thanks to Alexander Serov taking the time trial stage of the Tour of Murcia in Spain. Part of Russia’s push into cycling, the team is partly a road-going unit for the Russian endurance track squad, allowing them to compete at the international level needed in order to be competitive for world class track racing. “I am extremely delighted witnessing this victory first hand” said Viatcheslav Ekimov, personal advisor of the president of the Russian Cycling Federation Igor Makarov in a press release.

Presumably some clever paperwork has allowed the squad to sidestep the rules saying two teams cannot have the same owner. Igor Makarov is also the Katusha team boss and candidate for cycling’s busiest man. He is an oil and gas oligarch, a Kremlin protégé and an official with Russian cycling, the European Cycling Union and the UCI too.

Both Rusvelo and Katusha are under the same roof of Russian cycling and when they race together – for example in the GP Samyn – it is legitimate to ask of they are one and the same. Would one chase the other down?

Belarus
Talking of Igor Makarov he UCI recently awarded the 2013 track worlds to Belarus. Subject to numerous sanctions, it’s Europe’s last dictatorship. The prior award of an ice hockey tournament has seen that sport’s authorities come under criticism from politicians in Europe and the US alike. Sport and politics are supposed to be separate but incumbent strongman Alexander Lukashenko will enjoy the limelight.

Minsk city

A model for Belarus

The capital city of Minsk has a great velodrome and the bid was solid and ahead of the rival offer from Mexico. But as well as being an energy baron, Igor Makarov has extensive construction interests in Belarus including a project to build Europe’s tallest building but this has run into trouble. Stay tuned for more on this.

Racing everywhere
It’s that time of year when the results are coming in from everywhere. We’ve had racing in Malaysia and in Europe this weekend there’s been the Strade Bianche, the 3-Days of West Flanders, the Tour of Murcia and the GP de Lilliers too. After a winter of famine, we have a feast.

Paris-Nice previews
A reminder that there will be daily previews on Paris-Nice. Today’s edition mentioned the possibility of rain hampering the later starters and cited Larsson amongst the specialists who could win. Tomorrow is flat and on paper reserved for the sprinters. But the weather promises to make it a very nervous and tactical stage, look out for The Spin on Stage 2 tomorrow morning.

Alex March 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Alexander Lukashenko tried to blast Guido Westerwelle today by stating he’d “rather be a dictator than gay”. So, finally he admits to be a dictator. :-D

Ken March 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm

The Schleck brothers did not have an auspicious start. Haven’t they been working with Bruyneel? They can’t keep giving away time like this in the trials.

Martin March 5, 2012 at 1:11 am

On the subject of the Schleck brothers’ poor performance in the time trial, Greg Henderson posted quite an informative and striking diagram of the difference between them and Wiggins on twitter. https://twitter.com/Greghenderson1/statuses/176423304838660096

Frogboy March 5, 2012 at 6:53 am

Whatever happened to Jimmy Engoulvent? The Dailymotion broadcast shows him arriving about 1 second behind G. E. Larsson, at 11′ 20″ and some change, good enough for a 2nd or 3rd place but the classification puts him in 143rd. A good time on his part would not be a fluke since his last 3 wins have all been prologues… Any idea?

Bundle March 5, 2012 at 8:13 am

Frogboy: I think there was a mistake Jimmy’s time on the TV image. It was ranked one minute below the real one.

The Inner Ring March 5, 2012 at 8:24 am

That’s right, they just got the timing wrong on the screen it seems. He is a TT/prologue specialist with some wins to his name but has yet to hit peak form this season.

ave March 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Re: Engoulvent
It was pretty sure something was wrong from the live images, as he didn’t sprint to the line at all.

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