By Andrew Hood
Laurent Brochard (Ag2r) outsprinted Colombian Felix Cardenas (Orbitel) to win the final stage of the Tour of Castilla y Leon on Saturday in a difficult mountain stage in Avila.
Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com) scored his first victory of the season after finishing seventh at just three seconds back of the winning pair. Mancebo finished tied with teammate Denis Menchov, but gets the win based on stage placements after the pair won as part of the team time trial earlier in the week.
The 182km stage featured three Category 1 and one Category 2 climbs, and Kelme’s Oscar Sevilla, still recovering from minor surgery to remove a cyst, pulled out before things got too difficult. Several riders attacked early in the opening climbs, but iBanesto.com worked hard to bring things back to protect Mancebo, who started the day in the leader’s jersey.
More riders tried to escape the clutches of the bunch, but things came together for a final sprint on a climbing stretch next to the medieval walls that surround Avila. Brochard pipped the Colombian to score his fourth win of the season.
Tour of Castilla y Leon (UCI 2.3), Stage 5, Avila-Avila, 182km:
1. Laurent Brochard (F), Ag2r, 4 hours, 56 minutes, 58 seconds; 2. Felix Cardenas (Col), Orbitel, same time; 3. Didier Rous (F), Brioches la Boulangere, at 3 seconds; 4. Adrian Palomares (Sp), Carvalhelhos; 5. Gustavo Cesar (Sp), Carvalhelhos – all same time
Final overall standings:
1. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), iBanesto.com; 2. Denis Menchov (Rus), iBanesto.com, same time; 3. Alex Zulle (Swi), Phonak, at 27 seconds; 4. Alberto Velasco (Sp), ONCE, at 0:42; 5. David Arroyo (Sp), ONCE, same time Tour of Belgium: Rogers takes over
Australian Michael Rogers (Quick Step) probably isn’t very popular in Belgium after he pushed favorite son Axel Merckx out of the lead of the Tour of Belgium in Saturday’s time-trial stage.
Swiss TT specialist Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) won the 21km time trial, but Rogers was second at 10 seconds back and bounced into the race leader’s jersey. Cancellara won the opening prologue of the Tour of Romandy and is one of cycling’s rising stars in the race against the clock.
Merckx, who had held the lead in the reborn Belgian tour since the second stage, fell to eighth overall after finishing 24th at 59 seconds slower in the time trial. U.S. Postal’s George Hincapie continues to show good form in his first race back in Europe since March, finishing 10th at 35 seconds back.
Sunday’s final stage into Ans will hit many of the cols featured in Liège-Bastogne-Liège for what’s sure to be an exciting finale.
Tour of Belgium (UCI 2.3), Stage 4, individual time trial, 21km:
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Fassa Bortolo, 24 minutes, 50 seconds; 2. Michael Rogers (Aus), Quick Step, at 0:10; 3. Robert Bartko (G), Rabobank, at 0:13; 4. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Marlux, at 0:17; 5. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Quick Step, at 0:22 OTHERS: 10. George Hincapie (USA), USPS, at 0:35; 46. Floyd Landis (USA), USPS, at 1:37
Overall after four stages:1. Michael Rogers (Aus), Quick Step, 14 hours, 59 minutes, 43 seconds; 2. Robert Bartko (G), Rabobank, at 3 seconds; 3. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Marlux, at 0:07; 4. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Quick Step, same time; 5. Servais Knaven (Ned), Quick Step, at 0:16; OTHERS: 7. George Hincapie (USA), USPS, at 0:25; 28. Floyd Landis (USA), USPS, at 1:27
Bavaria: Rich still in driver’s seat
Gerolsteiner’s Michael Rich retained the overall lead in the Tour of Bavaria after Saturday’s fifth stage ended with no major shakeups among the leaders. Jean Delatour’s Laurent Lefevre finished more than four minutes ahead of compatriot Stephane Auge (Credit Agricole) in the 218km stage from Grafenau to Freystadt. Erik Zabel (Telekom) led the main bunch across at 4:48 back.
Tour of Bavaria (UCI 2.3), stage five, Grafenau to Freystadt, 218km:
1. Laurent Lefevre (F), Credit Agricole, 4 hours, 56 minutes, 46 seconds; 2. Stephane Auge (F), Credit Agricole, at 4:09; 3. Bjarke Nielsen (Den), fakta, same time; 4. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, at 4:48; 5. Steffen Radochla (G), German national team, s.t.
Overall standings after five stages:
1. Michael Rich (G), Gerolsteiner, 16 hours, 55 minutes, 43 seconds; 2. Patrik Sinkewitz (G), Quick Step, at 30 seconds; 3. Thomas Liese (G), German national team, at 0:34; 4. Olaf Pollack (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:41; 5. Jens Voigt (G), Credit Agricole, at 0:52
U23s on a roll in Ronde
American Patrick McCarty soloed to a win in the second stage of the Ronde de I’lsard stage race Friday, taking the leader’s jersey from teammate Michael Creed, USA Cycling reported. Saul Raisin also had a huge ride, bridging an enormous gap between the peloton and lead break, eventually finishing fourth in the stage. The race continues Saturday and Sunday with two mountain stages.
Arndt takes lead in l‘Aude
Judith Arndt (Nurnberger) finished third in the decisive mountain stage of the Tour de l’Aude Feminin on Saturday, seizing the leader’s jersey from Saturn’s Lyne Bessette.
Leaden skies and heavy rain greeted the riders at the start, and the field remained intact after the first of three climbs. But on the first of the two beyond-category ascents, the field shattered as a front group led by Arndt rolled away, with Bessette on Arndt’s wheel, supported by teammates Katie Mactier and Manon Jutras.
As the grades steepened, Jutras and Mactier lost contact, and Susanne Ljunskog (Team Catalunya) rode tempo at the front of a select group that included Arndt, Bessette, Fabiana Luperini, Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites), Jolanta Polikeviciute (RSM) and Maribel Moreno (Spain).
Polikeviciute and Moreno took a flyer, but as neither posed a threat to the overall there was no reaction from the group. On the descent, the two stayed clear of a chase that had swollen to a group of about 15 before the last and most brutal of the climbs.
Bessette required a bike change at the foot of the climb, but rejoined the front group with her two teammates. As the road turned toward Roquefort-de-Sault, the grade increased almost unbearably to 16 percent, and Arndt powered away, with only Ljunskog able to match her effort.
With 25km remaining, Bessette and Melchers chased together down the slippery descent, taking every possible risk, but the gap would not close. Ljunskog won the stage – but the real victor on the day was Arndt, who crossed third behind Polikeviciute. Bessette finished fourth on the stage and will slip into second in the overall going into Sunday’s finale, a circuit race around Limoux.
Tour de l’Aude Feminin, stage 8:
1. Susanne Ljunskog, Team Catalunya; 2. Jolanta Polikeviciute, RSM; 3. Judith Arndt, Nurnberger; 4. Lyne Bessette, Saturn; 5. Mirjam Melchers, Farm Frites
1. Arndt ; 2. Bessette, at 0:23; 3. Ljunskog, at 0:48; 4. Melchers, at 2:13; 5. Trixi Worrack, at 4:29
1. Saturn; 2. RSM, at 2:43; 3. VeloDames-Colnago, at 12:45; 4. France, at 23:58
Racing in Estonia: Kirsipuu, Coyot take wins
Jaan Kirsipuu won his home race in Saturday’s Tartu Tanavasoit in Estonia, taking the field sprint to score his eighth victory of the season.
Tartu Tanavasoit (UCI 1.3), 187km:
1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Ag2r, 4 hours, 29 minutes, 46 seconds; 2. Janek Tomback (Est), Cofidis; 3. Kazimierz Stafiej (Pol), Mroz; 4. Zbigniew Piatkek (Pol), Mroz; 5. Arvis Piziks (Lat), mixed team – all same time
First-year pro Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis) won Friday’s GP Tallin in Estonia. He attacked with less than two kilometers to go and held out against a chase group. Cofidis teammate Mederic Clain came across second at 14 seconds back in what’s the biggest weekend of racing in the Baltic nation.
GP Tallin (UCI 1.3), 180km:
1. Arnaud Coyot (F), Cofidis, 4 hours, 18 minutes, 28 seconds; 2. Mederic Clain (F), Cofidis, at 14 seconds; 3. Lauri Aus (Ag2r); 4. Zbigniew Piatek (Pol), Mroz; 5. Jeremy Hunt (GBr), MBK – all same time