Edoardo Zardini climbs to Friends Life Tour of Britain lead

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The Friends Life Yellow Jersey changed shoulders for the third consecutive day as Edoardo Zardini claimed victory atop the Tumble mountain above Abergavenny.

The Italian was first across the line at the summit, heading Michal Kwiatkowski  by nine seconds, with Sir Bradley Wiggins leading in a small group in fifth, a further five seconds back.

The win puts the Bardiani CSF into the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, giving the team control of two of the jerseys, with teammate Sonny Colbrelli retaining the YodelDirect Sprints Jersey for a third successive day.

On a glorious day plucked from mid-summer Zardini attacked from the moment the peloton turned left on the Tumble, one of the toughest climbs in Britain rising 500m in just six kilometres. Neither looking back nor forward but just operating in his own zone Zardini danced rhythmically on his pedals and with the bigger names marking each other soon pulled out an advantage.

Nicholas Roche attacks

Nicholas Roche attacks

Having ridden initially with Garmin Sharp’s Jack Bauer from the foot of the climb, Zardini struck on alone, before eventually Nicolas Roche of Tinkoff-Saxo decided to chance his arm and accelerated to join the young Italian and then, hitting a good patch, pulled ahead himself. Just for a moment the Irishman looked to be heading for the stage victory himself but the determined Italian was far from done.

Pacing himself nicely Zardini, 24, stormed back in the final two kilometres and took line honours along for probably the best win of his career alongside his win in Stage Two of the Giro del Trentino earlier this year. It also catapulted him into the Friends Life Yellow Jersey.

“I live in Verona and today was very like many of the training rides I do around my home in Verona so it suited me fine,” said a delighted Zardini afterwards. “I knew this climb had the reputation of being possibly the best in Britain and it lived up to its reputation. It very tough but for me it was a beautiful climb today.

“I was never in trouble when Nicolas came up to join me. After attacking I was pacing my effort because I knew there would be more to do. I let him go past and perhaps I kidded to be tired a little bit but actually I was feeling fine all the time and soon decided to go back on the attack. I felt fantastic and was able to enjoy the moment and all the support of the fans at the top.

“We are not a big team but we enjoy taking on the big team and we have had great success. We won three stages of the Giro this year and last year Stefano Pirazzi won the King of the Mountains at the Giro.

“We have come here to be aggressive and to race and we will fight hard to defend the jersey. I think we will probably need to try and find some more second somewhere in the other hard stages because obviously riders like Wiggins and Kwiatkowski will be very strong in the Time Trial. It will be difficult but we will try.”

Behind Zardini the better known riders were fighting out an enthralling contest on the 179.9km run from Newtown to the top of the Tumble, basically the top of the famous Blorenge Mountain above Abergavenny and Blaenavon.

Kwiatkowski finished very strongly nine second behind the Italian while Roche, who at one stage looked certain to pay for his earlier effort, clung on bravely for third place a further two seconds back. Rising Belgian star Dylan Teuns finished next on the same time while Wiggins arrived 14 seconds back behind the winner in fifth place.

The Breakaway

The Breakaway

As usual Wiggins opted to set his own pace and time trial his way up the mountain rather than react to the attacks in front of him and with David Lopez keeping him good company all the way to finish in good shape.

His stated aim before the race was always to limit his losses on the Tumble, which he has done, and then work hard towards a possible showdown in the short time-trial on the 8.8km London circuit on Sunday.

In the Friends Life General Classiciation contest Kwiatkowski is now second behind Zardini at 13 seconds, Roche third at 17, Teuns a further four second seconds back and Wiggins fifth at 24 along with teammate Lopez.

Elsewhere Liverpudlian Mark McNally continued his strong showing to retain the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey, while Sonny Colbrelli, also of the triumphant Bardiani CSF team still leads the YodelDirect Sprints jersey. Ben Swift of Team Sky leads the Chain Reaction Cycles Point’s jersey.
Roche’s Tinkoff Saxo teammate Manuele Boaro claimed the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award, having featured in the six rider break, before striking out alone to be caught on the slopes of the Tumble.

The Friends Life Tour of Britain returns to Worcestershire after a five-year absence on Stage Four, for a 184.6-kilometre leg from Worcester to Bristol, which culminates with the climb of Bridge Valley Road up to the finish on Clifton Downs.

Highlights of Stage Three are on ITV4 at 2200 on Tuesday 9 September, with live coverage resuming from 1300 on Wednesday on ITV4, for Stage Four from Worcester to Bristol.  Full details of the television coverage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, including British Eurosport’s live coverage, can be found here.

For full Stage Three results, click here.

Renshaw takes stage & Friends Life Yellow Jersey in Llandudno

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Mark Renshaw sprinted to victory along Llandudno’s seafront Mostyn Crescent, heading Ben Swift and Sam Bennett in a thrilling finale to Stage Two.

Renshaw, so often the creator of wins for others, grabbed a much deserved slice of the glory himself in Llandudno with a memorable victory that saw the general classification riders and sprinters mixing it up during a thrilling descent off the Great Orme.

As the race swooped along the North Wales coast and down off the final SKODA King of the Mountains climb of the Great Orme, it developed into an entertaining free for all with no sprint trains as such, and for a moment it looked like Swift was heading for line honours. Renshaw, however, sensed from years of experience that the Team Sky man might have gone a bit early and fought for his wheel before unleashing his own devastating finish.

MarkRenshawStage2ToB2014The win, Renshaw’s first in Omega Pharma Quick-Step colours, is his second in the Tour of Britain, his first coming in Exmouth, which the race visits this year on Stage Five, in 2011, while consolation for Swift was the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, and second spot overall, just four seconds away from Renshaw’s Friends Life Yellow Jersey. 

With Mark Cavendish having to take a back seat nursing a huge haematoma on his left thigh after his Stage One crash, Renshaw, along with Niki Terpstra and Michael Kwiatkowski were given a free rein to do whatever felt right hurtling down from the Orme into Llandudno itself. 

Kwiatkowski, one of the leading GC contenders for the week set the cat among the pigeons by pulling out a lead on the descent but Sire Bradley Wiggins, looking in ominously good form and descending like he did in his Tour de France pomp, effortlessly pulled that back and then did everything possible to keep Ben Swift in contention for the stage.

The impressive Kwiatkowski, still going strong, did a good turn by riding in his wheel for as long as possible to ensure that any rider trying to overtake Renshaw would have to go around the long way.

Behind Swift came Team NetApp Endura’s Sam Bennett, and Garmin Sharp’s Tyler Farrar, who had also showed his hand on the ascent of the Great Orme.  

“That was pretty exciting especially that last 5-kilometres, I would imagine it would make pretty good TV,”said a breathless Renshaw afterwards. “Nobody in our team knew the finish so we were going by word of mouth and the road book but it certainly suited me. I’ve got good legs after the Tour de France and was going very well.

“It was a shame that Cav crashed yesterday, it would have been the perfect sprint for him in my wheel but he is still trying to recover a bit. It’s pretty amazing he is still in the race really. He had extreme pain today.

“It’s great to reward the team with a victory, it’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. It’s a fantastic feeling. Over the years I have learned to get that feeling from helping other riders. I’ve dedicated a big proportion of my career to helping other guys. Not only Cav but Boasson Hagen, Henderson, Griepel, Hushovd – great riders – but it’s always nice to win a race personally.

“We were a bit down this morning to be honest. Once again our leader had taken a big hit. Mark is our leader, we are right behind him, we ride the whole season for him. He is one of the biggest champions of the sport. I came to the team to help him 100%. Even when he is not feeling good I will dedicate my efforts to him. Even on a day when he is just at 80% he can win a bike race, he is that kind of rider.”

Tob2014Stage2_Having once again been at the front of the action, Liverpool’s Mark McNally retained the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey, and also picked up the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award.
The An Post Chain Reaction rider had featured in the day’s final breakaway group, also including Ian Bibby, Chris Lawless, Lasse Hansen, Pablo Lastras and Rob Partridge, the latter of whom was in the break through his home town of Wrexham.

Once into Conwy county the peloton, led by Sky’s Bernhard Eisel, set about decimating the group’s three minute plus lead, with just Hansen, Lastras and McNally remaining as the race hit the Great Orme, and those trio were soon swallowed up as a succession of riders chose to attack.

In the YodelDirect Sprints classification Sonny Colbrelli of Bardiani CSF retains the jersey, while Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s successful trip to North Wales was rounded out by taking the lead in the Friends Life Team Classification.

Stage Three sees the Friends Life Tour of Britain remain in Wales, with Monmouthshire’s Tumble mountain above Abergavenny set to play host to the first summit finish in the Principality, at the end of a 180-kilometre leg south from Newtown, through Powys.

Live coverage resumes from 1300 on Tuesday on ITV4, for Stage Three from Newtown to the Tumble.  Full details of the television coverage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, including British Eurosport’s live coverage, can be found here.

For full Stage Two results, click here.

Kittel wins stage one of Friends Life Tour of Britain in Liverpool

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Marcel Kittel claimed his fourth win in five races in the UK this year when he took flight under the Liver Birds down the Strand in Liverpool for victory in the opening stage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain.

The German outsprinted Nicola Ruffoni and Mark Cavendish in Liverpool, to win the stage and take the race lead and the first Friends Life Yellow Jersey of 2014.

The powerful Giant Shimano rider, making his debut in the race, has now tasted success in Belfast at the Giro d’Italia and took two of the three stages held in Britain during the Tour de France Depart as well as this latest win in Liverpool.

Kittel outsprinted Ruffoni and Cavendish, although it was Adam Blythe who had led the initial dash for the line, but the NFTO rider faded to finish well down the order.

Although finishing third, for Mark Cavendish it was another painful day on British roads in a season where ill fortune has increasingly dogged him.  Having already experienced a bizarre delay with a cleat problem on lap three of the 13.8km circuit, he then crashed three laps from the end after he and lead-out man Mark Renshaw were hurrying back to the peloton following a comfort break. Riding in the shadows on a blindingly sunny afternoon they went into the back of a team car and both fell to earth.

Both remounted and rode hard to regain contact with the peloton who slowed slightly to ease that process but Renshaw indicated he wouldn’t be able to help at the finish so Cavendish was alone at the death, narrowly beating Garmin Sharp’s Tyler Farrar for fourth.

Kittel meanwhile enjoyed a relatively drama free race although his team’s decision to hug the right hand barriers down the finishing straight was perhaps fortuitous thereby missing the disruption down the left caused by Ian Stannard’s spectacular crash, in the closing kilometre.

MarcelKittelToB2014“It was pretty messy but luckily we took the decision to stay right,” said Marcel Kittel following the stage.  “To start with I thought perhaps it was the wrong decision – we had  made it earlier in the race – because there were not too many gaps but then there was a crash on the left and that allowed us to move up to the front.

“Tom Veelers did a really good job keeping me out of the wind so I could save myself for the sprint and that made it possible. I don’t know how badly Mark [Cavendish] was hurt in the crash I didn’t see it but he still tried to sprint at the end.

“It is hard work with just six man teams. We saw that today When Mark crashed and the bunch stopped riding for a while – so we then had to work hard to get the breakaway back, luckily Sky helped us.”

Kittel clearly loves the British roads, while if you include his second Giro stage win in Dublin that is now five wins in six races in the UK and Ireland.

“I am really happy to see all the fans here and to get a warm welcome, it’s been pretty successful here for me.  Maintaining the form has been hard. The season is long, I started at the Tour Down Under in January and here I am at Tour of Britain nine months later. And I will be riding in the Team Time Trial at the World Championships and a couple of races after that.

“I have definitely had ups and down. It’s  really about keeping fresh and enjoying the time – sometimes I go mountain biking and just having some fun with the team and not to be too serious.”

The large Liverpool crowds also had some home success to cheer, with An Post Chain Reaction’s Mark McNally in the day’s break, collecting the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey.

MarkMcNallyToB2014“It was a nice day out – I probably had too many friends and relatives out there to count – my girlfriend, the whole gang. The plan was for one of us in the team in the team to go for the breakaway. That always has to be the aim on the first stage.  The first time I let the other guys in the break fight it out for the Sprints and it worked out quite nicely for me in the KOM. It’s local roads for me in Stage Two so I will be up for the breakaway again buts it’s a long week. We will see how it goes” 
 
McNally was joined in the break by fellow North West rider Richard Handley, of Rapha Condor JLT andNFTO Pro Cycling’s Jon Mould, plus Bardiani CSF’s Sonny Colbrelli who initiated the break, earning the day’s Rouleur Combativity Award, and the first YodelDirect Sprint Jersey of the week.

MarkCavendishToB2014Speaking afterwards to his Omega Pharma Quick-Step team, Mark Cavendish said; “I was coming back after and I was behind a car. Someone had to stop for a puncture so the car slammed on its brakes, and there was an island in the road. If I went right, I would hit a traffic island, so I went left and I whacked another car. I hit it with my left leg and I was down on the road. I felt immediately a lot of pain on my quadriceps. It took me a lap to come back even because our team car couldn’t assist me immediately because it was on the front. At that point I wasn’t planning to sprint either, it was painful. But after a couple of laps we decided to just try anyway, but sprint seated because I was in pain. I still got third, but it’s a shame because I really wanted to try and win in front of the British public. But accidents like this are a part of cycling and it’s just a matter of bad luck. I really hope that the luck turns in the next days…”

Stage Two sees the Friends Life Tour of Britain remain on Merseyside with Knowsley hosting the start of the second day of racing.  Riders will then tackle a 200-kilometre day through North
Wales, finishing on Llandudno seafront after a challenging finale, which includes a SKODA King of the Mountains climb on the Great Orme.

Highlights of Stage One are on ITV4 at 2100 on Sunday 7 September, with live coverage resuming from 1300 on Monday on ITV4, for Stage Two from Knowsley to Llandudno.  Full details of the television coverage of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, including British Eurosport’s live coverage, can be found here.

Sir bradley Wiggins will Lead Team Sky at Tour of Britain

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Defending champion Sir Bradley Wiggins will lead Team Sky’s squad at the 2014 Friends Life Tour of Britain, which begins in Liverpool on Sunday 7 September.
 
Wiggins returns to the Friends Life Tour of Britain after winning the race in 2013 and this year he will line up alongside fellow British riders Ian Stannard and Ben Swift as part of a six-man squad. 
 
The 2014 Friends Life Tour of Britain starts in Liverpool this weekend and finishes in London on Sunday 14 September, taking in eight tough stages along the way. Following the spectacular Tour de France Grand Départ leaving from the UK last July this is another opportunity for fans to see Team Sky on British roads.
 
On Sunday 7 September Liverpool will host to two major cycling events. In the morning Sky will host the first ever Sky Ride Liverpool event, where cyclists of all ages and abilities are able to enjoy a fun day of cycling through a traffic-free route in the city centre, which is free for all to enter. This will be followed in the afternoon by Stage One of the Friends Life Tour of Britain, the country’s largest professional cycle race.
 
Sir Bradley Wiggins will be joined in a six-man line up by: Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Bernhard Eisel, David Lopez and Sebastian Henao.
 
Speaking about racing the eleventh edition of the race, Sir Bradley Wiggins said: “The Tour of Britain is a special race for me so to be returning as defending champion is a real honour.

“It’s always been a tough race but the support we receive from the fans is incredible, and it’s our home tour so I’ve always enjoyed racing it.

“From the start of the year it’s always been a goal of mine to race to the Tour of Britain. The race is growing in stature year on year and it’s our chance to go there with a strong team and race in front of home fans to thank them for their support over the season.

“Cycling’s now more popular than ever before in the UK with over a million more people are getting out on their bikes. This is great for the sport we love and Sky and British Cycling have been at the heart of this transformation, so having a Sky Ride start on the same day as Stage One in Liverpool is brilliant. Hopefully it will inspire people to go on Sky Ride in the morning and then cheer us on in the afternoon.”
 
The Team Sky squad for the 2014 Friends Life Tour of Britain will be:
 
Sir Bradley Wiggins, United Kingdom – age 34
Returning to the race with the number one of defending champion on his back, Bradley has one of the most impressive palmares in all of modern day cycling. The 2012 Tour de France winner knows the Tour of Britain well having ridden in five of the last six editions.
 
Bernhard Eisel, Austria – age 33
A Classics specialist, Bernie is comfortable no matter what the British weather throws at the peloton. Another Tour of Britain regular and established road captain, the Austrian is always a fan-favourite after 14 seasons as a pro.
 
Sebastian Henao, Columbia – age 21
Sebastian has enjoyed a memorable first season as a pro and made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia as the youngest rider in the race. The race brings his first taste of British roads but he should excel on the punchy climbs.
 
David Lopez, Spain – age 33
A member of Team Sky’s Tour de France squad on both his first two seasons with the team, David is one of the best climbing domestiques in the business and finished fourth in his own right at the Tour of Britain last season.
 
Ian Stannard, United Kingdom – age 27
British fans will be happy to see Ian back in action following a bad crash during the Spring Classics. One of the most powerful men in the peloton, he enjoys nothing more than putting the hammer down in difficult conditions.
 
Ben Swift, United Kingdom – age 26
One of three Brits in the team, Ben is a fast finisher who claimed his first professional victory back at the 2009 Tour of Britain. Able to win big bunch kicks or sprint from a select group, he will be looking to target more success in this race. 

Tickhill GP 2014 Winner Tanya Griffiths Post Race Interview

Winner of the elite women’s race at Tickhill GP and new CyclingShorts.cc team member – Tanya Griffiths talks to us about women’s cycling and her Tickhill win.

 

GIANT SHEFFIELD WOMENS ELITE 1/2/3
1. TANYA GRIFFITHS                 Starley Primal Pro Cycling
2. GRACE GARNER                    RST Racing Team
3. HANNAH WALKER                Epic Cycles – Scott WRT
4. MELISSA                                   Matrix Fitness Vulpine
5. LOUISE BORTHWICK            Matrix Fitness Vulpine
6. NICOLA JUNIPER                   Team Echelon
7. CHA JOINER                            PEARL IZUMI Sports Tours International
8. GABRIELLA SHAW                  PEARL IZUMI Sports Tours International
9. CHARLOTTE BROUGHTON   MG Decor
10. KAYLEIGH BROGAN             Team Thomsons Cycles

Hannah Walker Interview – Tickhill GP

 

 

Hannah Walker of Epic Scott talks to CyclingShorts.cc about her 3rd place result in the Women’s Elite Race at Tickhill GP.

 

GIANT SHEFFIELD WOMENS ELITE 1/2/3
1. TANYA GRIFFITHS                 Starley Primal Pro Cycling
2. GRACE GARNER                    RST Racing Team
3. HANNAH WALKER                Epic Cycles – Scott WRT
4. MELISSA                                   Matrix Fitness Vulpine
5. LOUISE BORTHWICK            Matrix Fitness Vulpine
6. NICOLA JUNIPER                   Team Echelon
7. CHA JOINER                            PEARL IZUMI Sports Tours International
8. GABRIELLA SHAW                  PEARL IZUMI Sports Tours International
9. CHARLOTTE BROUGHTON   MG Decor
10. KAYLEIGH BROGAN             Team Thomsons Cycles