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Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) won his third Tour of Flanders with a powerful surge in the final few hundred meters on Sunday.
The big Swiss was in a four-man break with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and none of them seemed eager to fight the final battle after more than six hours of wind-blasted, crash-packed warfare on the 259km course from Brugge to Oudenaarde.
Van Avermaet was on the front when Cancellara finally lit it up, but he would have to settle for second on the day, ahead of Vanmarcke, with Vandenbergh bringing up the rear.
“It was so hard. I had to think coldly, and follow the attacks,” said Cancellara. “It was fantastic to cross the line and to win again. To repeat a victory is even better.
“I still don’t know how I really managed all this. Maybe on television it looks like I was playing, but I was just trying to go with these four riders to the finish line and go man against man. I knew I had one card to play. I never attacked, I was mostly on defense, that’s why I said, ‘Go with them to the finish and give everything you have.’”
Sky put Edvald Boasson Hagen and Geraint Thomas in the lead group on the Koppenberg. Cancellara, Peter Sagan (Cannondale), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), Tom Boonen, Vandenbergh and Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Vanmarcke and Van Avermaet were there, too.
Boasson Hagen and Dries Devenyns (Giant-Shimano) got a small gap with 35km to go, but it didn’t last.
Van Avermaet punched it with 31km to go. Vandenbergh went with him. And that seemed the signal for riders to test the group one by one, not wanting to wait for Sagan, Cancellara or Boonen to dictate affairs.
As the gap reached 20 seconds Cancellara, Boonen and Vanmarcke took pulls, and then the Belkin man tried a couple of digs. Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) had a go, too.
But the gap kept going out, to nearly a half-minute over Leukemans and 45 seconds over the favorites’ group with 20km to go.
“I am a little disappointed that Vandenbergh was not working with me so I was always riding on my own,” Van Avermaet said. “I felt very strong and tried to get a good tempo, knowing the strong guys would come. I made it over the Paterberg and then waited a bit.”
For his part, Vandenbergh said he was merely trying to hang on.
“I suffered from cramps on the last climb of Paterberg. I had then no hope,” he said.
As the chase group dithered it grew larger. Suddenly Sagan had teammates. But the leaders were still 40 seconds up the road with Leukemans in between.
Then Cancellara lit the afterburners on the Oude Kwaremont and Vanmarcke grabbed his wheel. Boonen couldn’t follow, and Sagan finally had to clock in and go to work chasing.
“I tried to do something on Kwaremont and see how it goes,” said Cancellara. “I moved up with Sep to the two riders on the front.”
Van Avermaet and Vandenbergh kept pushing onto the cobbles of the Paterberg. The BMC rider took a slight lead over his companion, but Cancellara and Vanmarcke were roaring up behind. They swept up Vanderbergh and went after Van Avermaet with 13km remaining.
The BMC man had just 10 seconds’ advantage over the first pursuit, and he wouldn’t keep it. They caught him with 11km to go and it was a four-man lead group fighting for the victory.
Behind, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was trying to reach the leaders, but it seemed he had left it too late. Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma) caught him.
Eight kilometers out the quartet had 20 seconds and Vandenbergh was not taking pulls. The first chase was at a half minute with the main bunch — or what remained of it — at 50 seconds.
Vandenbergh jumped with just over 3km to go and Van Avermaet went with him. Vanmarcke was next to go and Cancellara followed. As the group reformed Cancellara had his own dig, but again it all came back together.
Going under the red kite it was cat-and-mouse among the leaders. Van Avermaet was on point. Three hundred meters out they were still waiting to open hostilities — and when they finally did, it was Cancellara who had the most left in the tank.
“We lost some teammates early, so had to change everything. I was alone, and that changed the race for me,” said Cancellara. “I knew I had to race smart. When I crossed the line, I was expecting another wheel to come past me.
“I am so honored to win here again. I wanted to go man against man. I knew I had one card to play. This is not a piece of cake. This is a huge piece of cake.”
Van Avermaet was disappointed to miss the victory, but happy to be in contention.
“It was a sprint of the strongest and Fabian started his sprint at the same moment,” Van Avermaet said. “He was a little bit stronger than me. It is a little bit disappointing for me because Flanders is a dream. It is too bad I don’t have it, but I am happy that I was up there in the first group.”
Vanmarcke, too, was proud to have been in the thick of things despite crashing early on.
“It was a childhood dream,” he said. “In the last kilometers, I was having cramps and I said to myself, ‘I have to finish on the podium.’ I decided to go on safe. I even closed a gap myself as otherwise I knew I could end up fourth. I’m happy with my third place, but now, slowly, a sense of disillusionment hits me. If I had started the sprint earlier, you never know what could had happened.”
• American Taylor Phinney (BMC), in his debut at Flanders, made it into an 11-man break that stayed away for more than 175km and wound up 40th on the day. “It is always a bit of a relief to get in a breakaway in a monument because then you don’t have to deal with the stress all day,” Phinney said. “It also sets the team up well because they know they always have me up there if they want to bridge across. I was feeling really good and knew I was one of the strongest from the breakaway. I just wanted to last as long as I could and try to be helpful in the later part of the race when it really started to kick off from behind.”
• Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) wasn’t quite up to par on Sunday, finishing seventh. “I felt good, but it was not enough. On the Kwaremont, I realized that I was a notch below the best,” he said. “I have a week to regain confidence and strength (for Paris-Roubaix). The result is disappointing because collectively we had a good race.”
• Peter Sagan (Cannondale) also found himself struggling on Sunday. “It’s never easy to comment on a disappointing result and there aren’t many words to say right now,” he said. “I did not perform as I wanted in a key moment of the race. When Cancellara and Vanmarcke attacked on the Oude Kwaremont I wasn’t able to push hard enough to follow them. This is not a good result, of course, but there’s always something to learn.”
Editor’s note: European correspondent Andrew Hood contributed to this report.
Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans) won the 11th edition of the women’s Tour of Flanders on Sunday.
Van Dijk soloed to victory in the 139.6km race, the third round of the UCI women’s World Cup, ahead of teammate and series leader Elizabeth Armitstead and Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS).
“It was our team tactics played out to perfection. I would go first and we would have Lizzie (Armitstead) behind me. It was from the book,” said van Dijk.
Added Armitstead: “Ellen worked hard for me in the previous races. That’s the beauty of this sport. We are a team. I was really emotional when she won.”
The runner-up behind Marianne Vos in 2013, van Dijk attacked on the Kruisberg, padded her lead on the final ascent of the Paterberg, and built an advantage of more than a minute by the time she rolled under the red kite, which allowed her plenty of time to enjoy the victory.
“It hurt, but when with a few kilometers to go I had a tailwind I knew I could win. And if you know your teammate is behind you, you can go just a little bit faster,” said van Dijk.
Armistead and Johansson fought the battle for second just two seconds ahead of the bunch, led in by Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitech Products).
“Those last kilometers were really hard,” said van Dijk. “I still can’t believe I did it. I wanted to win three races in my career: the world title, the Tour of Flanders and the Olympics. Now only one remains.”
Armitstead retains her overall lead in the World Cup.
The post Ellen van Dijk solos to victory in women’s Tour of Flanders appeared first on VeloNews.com.
OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — Dozens of crashes marred a nervous first half of racing in Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).
While none of the top favorites was involved, a few big names were caught up in spills in the early going under cloudy skies and windy conditions that made for nervous racing.
Last year’s third-place finisher Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) and 2011 Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Sharp) both crashed out.
Van Summeren crashed into a spectator, and was transported to a local hospital for observation. Early prognosis suggested no serious injuries, but it was still too early to see if he can race next Sunday’s Roubaix.
Belgian television reported that the fan was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), second at Three Days of De Panne, crashed out with a suspected broken collarbone.
Trek Factory Racing’s Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast and Stijn Devolder, all important helpers for favorite Fabian Cancellara, were all involved in pileups.
Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) steered clear of the nerves of the main pack by riding into the day’s main breakaway, riding at the front in his Flanders debut.
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- OK, just about a month out and coming off of an enormously successful LV Luau, we have the Greenselder Challenge out at Greensfelder park in Eureka.
We again will be running it as a full charity event for our friends at GORC. We again will have Chip Timing provided by 2Timing Guys. We will also be begging folks to pre-register this year to help speed up registration. We also only had 125 t-shirts printed this year so we are reserving these first for those that pre-register to help us out. If the numbers from the Luau, or past GF races are any indication, you will need to register online to get a t-shirt.
We will post a map of the course here and on the UFD site here: http://www.unitedindirt.com/?page_id=632
Also here is a link to Pre-Registration at USA Cycling: https://www.usacycling.org/register/2014-1198
More details to come! And please remember to check the GORC website before heading out to GF or any of the local trails. With the crazy rain last week, don't expect trails to be rideable until we get a nice warm dry spell!
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