Endurance: Giro dItalia

Ulissi has Italy's support after failed test

June, 26, 2014
Diego UlissiBryn Lennon-Velo/Getty ImagesDiego Ulissi's stage wins at the Giro d'Italia came before his failed doping test.
MILAN (VN) -- Italy’s head cycling coach Davide Cassani spoke in support of Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) after news Wednesday that Ulissi tested positive for asthma drug Salbutamol during the Giro d’Italia.

“I am concerned that people understand one thing, that Salbutamol doesn’t make you go stronger, it’s an accepted product,” Cassani told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper Thursday.

“Cyclists know that if you take five puffs then you won’t go any faster. You need to understand that this isn’t doping, that it doesn’t better your performance and is not a masking agent.”

Lampre announced its Giro star exceeded the accepted limit of Salbutamol in his urine in an anti-doping control after Stage 11 of the Giro last month. The 24-year-old from Tuscany had already won the fifth and eighth stages, and he placed second in the time trial in Barolo the day after the failed test. He abandoned the race after Stage 17 while on antibiotics to fight a sore throat and temperature.

Ulissi was using an inhaler with Salbutamol spray for bronchospasm and, according to Lampre, took two puffs ahead of Stage 11. He was also given paracetamol by the race doctor after a mid-stage crash. The team reported that his urine showed 1900 nanograms per milliliter of Salbutamol, nearly double the accepted limit of 1000ng/ml.

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Quintana pads Giro lead with time trial win

May, 30, 2014
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the uphill Stage 19 time trial at the Giro d’Italia on Friday.

The Colombian padded his overall lead in the race with two days remaining after finishing the 26.8-kilometer route with the top time. Fabio Aru (Astana) was 17 seconds behind Quintana in second, while Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took third at 1:26 back.

Quintana now leads Uran by 3:07 and Aru by 3:48 in the overall GC standings.

“I couldn’t let this stage go past without winning it; my family came here from Colombia to watch me, gave me an extra gear,” Quintana said. “The team and preparation, this TT went very well.”

Friday’s stage began in Bassano del Grappa and featured 7.5K of flat road before the course pitched toward the sky at the base of the Category 1 Monte Grappa climb and its 28 hairpin turns. The 19.2K climb had an average gradient of 8 percent but featured several sections, particularly in the final 3K, above 10 percent.

Riders chose a mix of gear for the course -- some began on road bikes, others started on time trial setups and switched to a road bike when the climb began. Other riders used a road bike with clip-on aero bars to take advantage of the flat beginning.

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Arredondo climbs to Giro Stage 18 win

May, 29, 2014
Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) won stage 18 at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, a 171-kilometer route that ended with the Cat. 1 climb of Rifugo Panarotta.

The Colombian, who was first atop the opening two climbs of the day, crested the final ascent by himself to claim victory.

Fabio Duarte (Colombia) was second at 17 seconds back, while Philip Deignan (Sky) was 37 ticks behind in third.

“After San Luis, where I won two stages, the Giro became my principal objective for the season,” Arredondo said of the Tour de San Luis, which Quintana won. “It’s going better than I could have dreamed. I have a stage, and I have the climber’s jersey. I am so happy. I still cannot believe it.”

Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who finished 10th at 2:46 back, stayed in the pink jersey and will ride in Friday’s 26.8K mountain time trial as the race leader. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is 1:41 behind Quintana in second. Pierre Rolland (Europcar), who attacked the maglia rosa group late on the finishing climb, moved into third place at 3:29 back.

Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) struggled on the day and dropped from third to ninth in the GC standings and now sits 4:59 behind Quintana.

Final climb fireworks
The ascent of Rifugo Panarotta saw some of the best bike racing of this Giro. With a large escape group riding off the front, the maglia rosa group containing the GC contenders and some of their teammates seemed content to let the breakaway stay right where it was.

At the base of the climb with 16K remaining, Thomas De Gendt (Omega Pharma) attacked the break and started a solo effort up the steep slope that featured gradients averaging 8.5 percent and as high as 14 percent.

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Pirazzi emerges to win Giro Stage 17

May, 28, 2014
Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) won stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday.

The Italian was part of a large breakaway group of 26 riders that formed nearly two hours into the 204-kilometer stage from Sarnonico to Vittorio Veneto. Pirazzi and four others eventually made their way to the front of the race, and with a kilometer left he attacked and held on to win.

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) took second and Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) was third.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) retained the pink leader’s jersey, holding a 1:41 advantage over Rigoberto Uran and a 3:21 gap over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).

With the peloton well back at 10 minutes, it was clear in the final 25K that someone in the breakaway would most likely win the stage. Just before the summit of the final climb of the day, the Category 4 Muro di Ca’ del Poggio, Pirazzi nearly caught Thomas De Gendt (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who had attacked the break with 30K left.

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Quintana wins brutal Stage 16 at Giro

May, 27, 2014
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won stage 16 at the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday, a brutal mountain stage that featured three massive climbs, cold and snowy weather, and confusion.

Quintana’s effort put him into the pink jersey, as Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished too far back to retain his lead. Quintana began the day trailing Uran by 2:40, but finished more than 4:00 minutes ahead of him Tuesday.

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) finished eight seconds behind Quintana in second, while Pierre Rolland (Europcar) was 1:13 back in third.

The 139-kilometer stage from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello brought the peloton over three climbs -- the Gavia and Stelvio, followed by the summit finish on Val Martello. The route featured 4,300 meters of climbing.

Uran is now 1:41 behind Quintana in second place overall, while Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) is third at 3:21 back.

Final ascent
Quintana found himself with Hesjedal, Rolland, and Dario Cataldo (Sky) at the base of the final climb, a 21K ascent with an average gradient of about 6.5 percent. The road featured several sections over 10 percent.

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Canola wins Giro Stage 13; mountains loom

May, 23, 2014
Marco Canola (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) won the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday.

Canola was part of a six-man breakaway group that formed at the start of the stage. Eventually it was whittled down to three, and the trio was able to hold off the chasing peloton at the finish by mere seconds.

Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli) took second and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) was third.

“I hope that this will be the first of many wins,” Canola said. “I wasn’t in great form in the last stages, I felt that I lacked energy and my legs felt empty, but with that grinta, it pushed me through. I kept patient for this day, I got the right day.”

Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) will wear the pink leader’s jersey for another day as the race hits the mountains this weekend. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) is 37 seconds back in second and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) is third at 1:52 back.

“Never an easy day in the Giro, it was still a dangerous stage,” Uran said. “We didn’t want to take any risks today so we rode at the front all day, but we were not riding to control the breakaway. Tomorrow and Sunday, the Giro starts, I hope the legs are good.”

The three leading men held a 1:19 lead over the peloton with 10 kilometers remaining in the 158km route from Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese. The gap held steady around a minute as the peloton failed to organize a real chase.

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Uran wins Giro time trial, takes race lead

May, 22, 2014
Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the Stage 12 time trial at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday and climbed into the race lead.

Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who entered the day with a 57-second advantage over Uran in the GC, lost time throughout the course and now sits second overall at 37 seconds back. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) remains in third, 1:52 behind Uran.

Uran scorched the course, finishing in 57:34, which was 1:17 faster than Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), who held the previous best time and seemed poised to win the stage. Evans crossed the line 1:34 behind Uran in third.

Cool temperatures and rain early in the day led to an uncomfortable ride for many in the field. The roads were wet and both braking and control were affected. As riders screamed around the technical turns of the 42-kilometer route from Barbaresco to Barolo, the screech of wet brakes on carbon rims pierced the air.

By the time the top GC men started, the rain had subsided and the road was drier. There were, however, still sections of the road with either standing water along the edge or a thin layer of water in the middle.

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Attack wins Giro Stage 11 for Rogers

May, 21, 2014
Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) won stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday.

Rogers attacked with 21.5 kilometers left on the descent following the final climb, managing to stave off the chasing peloton in the closing kilometer to win the 249Kkm stage from Correggio to Savona by 10 seconds over Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) and Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox).

“It was certainly a beautiful moment,” Rogers said afterward. “The team tried really hard today. A great opportunity for me and I was able to take advantage of it.”

Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) remains in the leader's pink jersey, holding a 57-second lead over Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and a 1:10 advantage over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff).

The peloton caught up with a breakaway group of six riders with 24K remaining in the stage, right before a fast descent took the riders down into Savona. When the road pointed downhill about a half-kilometer later, the field was strung out in single file as everyone navigated the sweeping turns down the backside of Naso di Gatto.

With 21.5K to go, Rogers swung wide of the group and surged ahead.

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Bouhanni gets third stage win at Giro

May, 20, 2014
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won the 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday.

A crash near the finish took down several riders, and the first group to cross the line was relatively small. Bouhanni was ahead of the crash and was not affected. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) was second and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) took third.

Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) remains in the pink jersey, holding a 57-second lead over Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and a 1:10 gap over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).

With 1 kilometer left in the 184K stage from Modena to Salsomaggiore, the race was anyone’s to win. A medium-sized group of riders was at the front and was navigating a series of turns en route to the finishing straight.

As the road turned right, the front third of the group sliced through the curve at high speed. But in the middle of the pack it appeared that Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) got tangled with another rider and went down hard on his right side. With the field tightly packed, riders next to and behind Farrar had nowhere to go but down.

Bouhanni, who was expected to contend for the stage win after already grabbing two victories (Stages 4 and 7) in this race, then dashed to the line first to complete the hat trick.

“It’s never easy,” Bouhanni said. “It was pretty fast in the final sprint. Nizzolo attacked but I was able to go past him.”

Evans finished ninth in the stage.

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Weening's late push wins Stage 9 at Giro

May, 18, 2014
Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) beat Davide Malacarne (Europcar) in a two-up sprint to win Stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday.

The two were on their own in the finale of the 174 kilometer leg from Lugo to Sestola, chased by Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), who had jumped away from the diminished peloton containing race leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).

In the rush to the finish Weening took the inside, shorter line and edged Malacarne for the stage victory as behind, Pozzovivo took third on the day and nearly a half-minute back from Evans and the other contenders for the overall.

“The last few days I lost some time after a perfect first week but I’m not here for the overall rankings,” said Weening. “I was a bit tired yesterday but today was a perfect day to do something nice. I could see I wasn’t one of the best climbers so I decided to attack with 20km to go, but Malacarne was very strong on the last climb and I had to wait right until the end to attack.”

Stage 9 saw a big break go after a pileup 40K in: Malacarne, best placed at 9:27 overall; Weening; Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale); Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli); Eduard Vorganov (Katusha); Leonardo Duque (Colombia); Salvatore Puccio (Sky); Jonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli); Oscar Gatto (Cannondale); Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida); Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Belisol); David Tanner (Belkin); Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF); and Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli).

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Sprint helps Bouhanni win Giro Stage 7

May, 16, 2014
FOLIGNO, Italy -- Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, overatking Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) in a bunch sprint to close the 214-kilometer leg from Frosinone.

Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing)) was second and Mezgec third.

“My team did a great job in the last 50K or so,” said Bouhanni. “Of course, the climbs near the end weren’t easy, but I managed to hang on, and the team did the rest, really.”

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) finished fourth to maintain his overall lead.

Five riders comprised the day’s long escape: Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), and Björn Thurau (Europcar). The breakaway’s advantage topped out above eight minutes, but the peloton’s hunger for a final sprint before the Giro hits the mountains Saturday was insatiable.

The gap was down to one minute with 10K to go and Haas attacked, sparking the escape to up its pace. Thurau surged with 6.2K to go, but the five men again regrouped. With 2.5K to go, they were finished.

Orica upped the pace in the bunch, with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) sitting third wheel behind a teammate.

“It was a little bit more technical than we originally thought, so we tried to be in the front of the bunch from 5K to go,” said Matthews. “I just didn’t quite have the legs after yesterday to get over the line, but another very good day for the team.”

Lined up side-by-side, Giant-Shimano and FDJ.fr took over with 2K to go.

The Dutch team led into the final 800 meters, with Tom Veelers pulling Mezgec. Mezgec opened the sprint 150 meters from the line, but Bouhanni snuck through a narrow gap along the barriers to take the victory.

“I was close into the corner, but again, with 30 meters to go, I managed to just get in front and just take the win,” said Bouhanni.

The 97th Giro d’Italia continues Saturday with the 174K eighth stage, from Foligno to Montecopiolo and the race’s first summit finish.

Stage 6 win keeps Matthews in Giro lead

May, 15, 2014
Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) won stage 6 at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, a 257-kilometer route that culminated in a steep finishing climb at Montecassino.

Matthews pulled around Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) on the final left turn with 40 meters left in the stage and easily sprinted to the win. Matthews remains the overall race leader, holding a 21-second lead on Evans and a 1:18 gap on Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Matthews and Evans were part of a small group that jumped ahead at the base of the 8.5km finishing climb that featured seven hairpin turns and grades as high as 10 percent. The group opened a gap of around 40 seconds on a pack of chasers that included Nairo Quintana (Movistar), a pre-race favorite.

Eventually the front group was whittled down to four riders, with Evans leading the charge at the flamme rouge. Matthews was glued to his wheel and it was obvious that he was looking for the stage win. With Evans in no hurry to seize the pink jersey, he paced Matthews up the final section before his countryman passed him and grabbed the win. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) placed second in the stage ahead of Evans.

“I felt really good coming into the climb,” Matthews said in a team release. “When BMC hit the front, it was all about being in the right position. I knew I had the chance to win when we came into the last kilometer and still felt pretty good.”

Late crash fractures peloton
With 11K left, just after the speeding peloton swallowed up a four-man breakaway that spent much of the day at the front of the race, several riders went down in a series of crashes. More rain created another slippery surface and, with brakes and wheels coated with water the ability to stop quickly was virtually impossible.

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Ulissi takes Stage 5 at Giro d'Italia

May, 15, 2014
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday.

The Italian out-climbed a select group of riders, which included Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), on a summit finish in the town of Viggiano. Ulissi’s win is the first for an Italian in this year’s race.

Evans narrowly placed second ahead of Julian David Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing).

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) finished sixth to stay in the race lead and will wear the pink jersey for the fourth consecutive day tomorrow. His teammate Pieter Weening is second at 14 seconds back, while Evans is another tick behind in third.

The 203-kilometer stage began in Taranto and ended with a Cat. 4 climb into Viggiano, followed by a twisty and technical descent and one more ascent into the town.

A small group of riders dueled over the final kilometer of racing, with Evans, Matthews, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) all in the mix. Roche attacked at the 1km banner, a move that drew a serious response from his competitors.

With 500 meters left, it was anyone’s race to win. Seconds later, Evans started to bolt forward and appeared poised to win the stage before Ulissi rode up the left side of the road and took the lead. With pain on all of the riders’ faces as they pressed toward the line, Ulissi was able to hold everyone off for the victory.

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Bouhanni wins wet, wild Giro Stage 4

May, 14, 2014
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won stage 4 at the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday after a furious chase to the front in less-than-ideal racing conditions.

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) stayed in the overall lead and will wear the pink jersey for a third straight day.

A mechanical problem forced Bouhanni off the back of the race during the seventh of eight finishing circuits. A teammate dropped behind to help pace him back, and the pair put out a massive effort to rejoin the field. He found himself in the final sprint and was able to take the victory ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) and Tom Veelers (Giant-Shimano).

“This is my first stage win in a grand tour,” Bouhanni said. “It is also a relief. Now, I have the [red] jersey of the points classification and I will do everything possible to keep it. But I will mostly concentrate on the sprints, this is what brings the most points.

The sprint was missing one notable rider: Giant’s Marcel Kittel, the winner of stages 2 and 3 in Northern Ireland and Ireland. The German pulled out of the race before Tuesday’s stage because of an illness.

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Wiggins getting busy chasing world title

February, 11, 2014
Bradley Wiggins, Dario CataldoBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesBradley Wiggins hopes a busier 2014 schedule will pay off with a world title.

Former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins opened his season Monday, and his 2014 calendar includes Paris-Roubaix, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España. He started with Spain’s Trofeo Ses Salines on Monday and wants to end the year with a world time trial title.

The 2012 Tour champion indicated that he would race the Vuelta to be ready for the worlds in Ponferrada, Spain.

Wiggins told The Guardian, “I felt last year that I was short of racing when it came down to the worlds.”

The British newspaper reported that Wiggins was likely to include the Vuelta in order to have enough racing days ahead of the worlds. Last year in Florence, Italy, he finished second in the time trial championships, 46 seconds behind German Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Because Wiggins abandoned last season's Giro d’Italia and skipped the Tour de France, he raced fewer days compared to Martin. Martin raced the Tour and two weeks of the Vueltaprior to his gold medal ride through the streets of Florence.

Wiggins returned from his Giro disappointment with a series of weeklong stage races. He competed in the Tour of Poland, where he won the time trial, the Eneco Tour, and the Tour of Britain. He took the British tour’s time trial stage and overall, his first GC title since the 2012 Tour de France.

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