Month: May 2012

Giro d’Italia – Stage 17 – J-Rod rises to the top.

That’s them. You’re looking at the elite of the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Joaquim Rodriguez, Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Domenico Pozzovivo, Rigoberto Uran and Ryder Hesjedal. That’s right, Ryder Hesjedal. He knew it. Garmin knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it. It’s no longer: Can Ryder stay with the “bigs”? It’s can the “bigs” hold off Ryder? The only guy to attack the Basso-paced group in the final 2km. The only guy to attack the group on the descent. Ryder wants to win the Giro… and most of all… he can.

In what was one of the most compelling Giro d’Italia stages in years, the elite of this year’s race have shown themselves while a number of riders have fallen from the upper echelon. The 186km, 4 pass stage has shaken the overall GC in a major way. Perhaps more than expected. Astana had a terrible day today with both Paolo Tiralongo and Roman Kreuziger losing massive time. Numerous riders who unexpectedly found themselves in the top 20, have fallen behind.

The first GC rider to animate the day was Mikel Nieve, who was looking to chip away time from the 17 rider ahead of him. Attacking on the slopes of the Passo Duran, Nieve set out after the four man break which included Kevin Seeldreyers (AST) and Bramilslou Stanilslou (MOV). He caught the group on the decent to the base of the Forcella Staulanza but quickly realized that the group was not wanting to do more than sit on his wheel as Liquigas closed the gap. They were caught minutes later and a large main group started being shattered apart by the Liquigas pace. The first big name to drop was Roman Kreuziger (+11’26” on the stage).

Over the third pass of the day an onto the base of the Passo Giau and Liquigas turned on the heat yet again, blowing there own team to bits. Sylvester Szmyd, who normally is dishing out the hurt was jettisoned out the back with cramps just a few hundred meters into the climb. He went along with numerous others. Nieve, Gardet, Cunego, Haneo all fell out the back. Then it was Tiralongo, Intxausti and Moreno. As the smiling Assassin Ivan Basso turned the screws the GC was splattered all over the sides of the Giau.

Eventually, it was the elite group of six cresting the top with Mikel Nieve and John Gadret hot on their heels. Over the top Scarponi was dropped with 500m remaining with cramps and Ryder bombed the mountain side looking for time. He was eventually joined by a non-willing breakmate in Rodriguez and slowly the elite group of six came back together. The sprint was lead out by Basso but it was Joaquim Rodriguez coming around him to take the stage, with Basso second and Hesjedal third.

Tomorrow, it’s a flat stage and time to recover for the favorites, and time to think of a new strategy for some of the riders who got left behind today.

Stage 17 Top Fifteen
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____5h24’42”
2. Ivan Basso (LIQ)
3. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)
4. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)
5. Michele Scarponi (LAM)
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)______+2″
7. Benat Intxausti (MOV)_________+1’22”
8. Daniel Moreno (KAT)
9. Thomas De Gendt (VAC)
10. Johann Tschopp (BMC)
11. John Gadret (ALM)
12. Mikel Nieve (EUS)
13. Damiano Cunego (LAM)
14. Sergio Pardilla (MOV)
15. Gianluca Brambilla (COG)_____+1’44”

Complete Stage 17 results: Gazzetta Official

General Classification after 17 stages
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____74h46’46”
2. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)_____+30″
3. Ivan Basso (LIQ)___________+1’22”
4. Michele Scarponi (LAM)_____+1’36”
5. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)_______+2’56”
6. Benat Intxausti (MOV)_______+3’04”
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)___+3’19”
8. Paolo Tiralongo (AST)_______+4’13”
9. Thomas De Gendt (VAC)_____+4’38”
10. Sergio Luis Haeno (SKY)____+4’42”
11. Johann Tschopp (BMC)______+4’46”
12. John Gadret (ALM)__________+4’46”
13. Daniel Moreno (KAT)________+4’55”
14. Dario Caltaldo (OPQ)_______+4’59”
15. Damiano Cunego (LAM)_____+5’07”
16. Mikel Nieve (EUS)__________+5’42”

20. Roman Kreuziger (AST)_____+12’53”

Complete General Classification: Gazzetta Official

Giro d’Italia – Stage 16 – Aggressive Izaguirre finally wins

Jon Izaguirre (EUS) has finally had his aggresiveness in the Giro d’Italia pay off with a solo win from the breakaway on the 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia. Izaguirre, who had only one professional win to his name, now has one for his lifetime as a stage win in a Grand Tour is a feat that few professional riders can claim.

After returning from our bike camping trip to Gabriola, the news that Ruder Hesjedal had taken back the pink jersey was a pleasant surprise. Then, with Joaquim Rodriguez taking it back on stage 15, it appears that we’ll have a nice duel on our hands for the final week. The biggest surprise, however, seems to be that Frank Schleck dropped out of the race when Johann Bruyneel seems to think he could continue! Actually, who am I kidding… surprises? There was a coffee shop in the town centre that I ducked into to see how Ryder did on the first big mountain stages.

Today’s stage, like so many after a rest day, was a laid-back affair with a large breakaway building up a lead that surpassed 12 minutes at one point. The main GC competitors took the day off and no one even made an attempt at an attack on the final slopes of the day. No changes in the overall classification.

Tomorrow, we’re back into the high mountains, and the battle will certainly be furious with 186km of riding over 4 mountain passes. Descending is going to be key as some of the riders who aren’t so great at the discipline could get caught out, especially sonce the line is only 2km after the steep and winding descent of the Giau. I wouldn’t expect too much change on the GC however, as most guys will stay together over the Passo Giau, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two lost some heavy time on a stage like this. The Giau is a great stage for Basso going up, but a terrible one coming down, we’ll see where he ends up. Fortunately for Ryder, his mountain biking past makes for some serious skills going downhill… if he’s cheeky and feeling strong, he may even look to take bonus time at the line.

Stage 16 Top Five
1. Jon Izaguirre Intxausti (EUS)___4h02’00
2. Alessandro de Marchi (AND)______+16″
3. Stef Clement (RAB)
4. Mathias Frank (BMC)_____________+19″
5. Jose Herrade Lopez (MOV)

Complete Stage 16 results: Gazzetta Official

General Classification after 16 stages
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____69h22’04”
2. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)_____+30″
3. Ivan Basso (LIQ)___________+1’22”
4. Paolo Tiralongo (AST)_______+1’26”
5. Roman Kreuziger (AST)_____+1’27”
6. Michele Scarponi (LAM)_____+1’36”
7. Benat Intxausti (MOV)_______+1’42”
8. Sergio Luis Haeno (SKY)____+1’55”
9. Dario Caltaldo (OPQ)_______+2’12”
10. Sandy Casar (FDJ)_________+2’13”
11. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)_______+2’56”
12. Thomas De Gendt (VAC)_____+3’16”
13. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)__+3’17”
14. Johann Tschopp (BMC)______+3’24”
15. John Gadret (ALM)__________+3’24”
16. Daniel Moreno (KAT)________+3’33”
17. Damiano Cunego (LAM)_____+3’45”
18. Mikel Nieve (EUS)__________+4’20”

Complete General Classification: Gazzetta Official

Giro d’Italia – Stage 13 – Cannonball Cav wins three

A short undulating stage with a flat finish must have looked like and absolute gift for the sprinters of the Giro d’Italia. A day in advance of two brutally tough mountains stages the peloton was likely content to take it easy and rest a little, that is unless they were one of the fast finishers, who may not last through the weekend. In lieu of all the mountain climbing Mark Cavendish got the winning out of the way taking his third sprint win of the race.

In what looked like a nice train for J.J.Haedo, Saxo Bank controlled the peloton into the final km’s until Juan Antonio Flecha took things into his own hands and yanked the Sky train into control. From there, it was clockwork as Sky launched Cav perfectly. Mark Renshaw, Cavendish’s former leadout man now sprinting for Rabobank made a strong surge down the right side to make it look close, but because he had to go a little early to get around Cavendish and his lead, he faded at the line finishing third, behind Kristoff and the fastest guy around, Mark Cavendish. Anyone else excited for the Peter Sagan vs Mark Cavendish duel at this year’s Tour?

Tomorrow, and Sunday we’ve got the first of the true mountain stages. Expect a massive shake-up in the GC as we’re going to see who has it and who doesn’t. Well, actually, I’m NOT going to see it because I’m going bike camping, but the rest of you will. I’ll be excited to see the leader board on Monday after back-to-back big stages. Who will be in pink?

Stage 13 Top Five
1. Mark Cavendish (SKY)
2. Alexander Krisoff (KAT)
3. Mark Renshaw (RAB)
4. Sacha Modolo (COG)
5. Elia Favilli (FAR)

Complete Stage 13 results: Gazzetta Official

General Classification after 13 stages
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____54h21’15”
2. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)_______+17″
3. Sandy Casar (FDJ)_____________+26″
4. Paolo Tiralongo (AST)_________+32″
5. Ivan Santaromita (BMC)________+49″
6. Roman Kreuziger (AST)_______+52″
7. Benat Intxausti (MOV)________+52″
8. Ivan Basso (LIQ)___________+57″
9. Damiano Caruso (LIQ)_______+1’02”
10. Dario Caltaldo (OPQ)________+1’03”
11. Eros Capecchi (LIQ)_________+1’09”
12. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)_______+1’10”
13. Michele Scarponi (LAM)_____+1’11”
14. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)__+1’12”
15. Sergio Luis Haeno (SKY)_____+1’27
16. Damiano Cunego (LAM)______+1’37”

25. Frank Schleck (RNT)________+2’11”

31. John Gadret (ALM)___________+2’55”

37. Mikel Nieve (EUS)___________+3’35”

Complete General Classification: Gazzetta Official

Giro d’Italia – Stage 12 – Bak breaks away

Lars Yitting Bak surged away from his breakaway mates with 1300m remaining to give me grief about a ridiculous headline, err I mean, to win the 12th stage of the Giro. “Bak breaking effort”, “Break Bak Mountains”, “Baby Bak…. ok, I’m dumb, and I often make stupid headlines.

Bak to the race (You really can stop reading anytime). On a stage which had “break suceeds” written all over it, the action started early, and it was the seven man group consisting of stage winner Lars Yitting Bak (LBE), Amets Txurruka (EUS), Jackson Rodriguez (AND), Sandy Casar (FDJ), Jan Bakelandts (RNT), Ivan Santaromita (BMC) and Andrey Ammador (MOV) who animated the race.

The septet built up a lead of over 6 minutes as the peloton, rolled along behind content to let those boys fight it out until, insert record scratch, someone realized that Sandy Casar was the virtual Maglia Rosa and would take pink if the allowed this to continue. Katusha mobilized and started clawing things together, and with the others feeling like they were asleep at the wheel, even Damiano Cunego and Paolo Tiralongo tried a few attacks.

In the end, it was Bak taking the win, but Sandy Casar taking the sprint for second and enough bonus time to vault up to third in the GC. Casar really isn’t an overall contender, but when someone finds themself in a high GC placing it can change the face of the race for them. We’ll see what FDJ does with Casar in third, but I don’t see him staying there for long. BMC’s Ivan Santaromita also finds himself in a top ten position, in fifth, but that’s even less likely to last.

Tomorrow, we have a very un-Giro-esque 121km lumpy stage with a flat finish. It should be one for the sprinters as the combination of increasingly flat terrain and short distance should allow them to get over the hills just fine.

Stage 12 Top Five
1. Lars Yitting Bak (LTB)__3h58’55”
2. Sandy Casar (FDJ)______+11″
3. Andrey Ammador (MOV)
4. Jan Bakelants (RNT)
5. Ivan Santaromita (BMC)

Complete Stage 12 results: Gazzetta Official

General Classification after 12 stages
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)____42h16’39”
2. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM)_______+17″
3. Sandy Casar (FDJ)_____________+26″
4. Paolo Tiralongo (AST)_________+32″
5. Ivan Santaromita (BMC)________+49″
6. Roman Kreuziger (AST)_______+52″
7. Benat Intxausti (MOV)________+52″
8. Ivan Basso (LIQ)___________+57″
9. Damiano Caruso (LIQ)_______+1’02”
10. Dario Caltaldo (OPQ)________+1’03”
11. Eros Capecchi (LIQ)_________+1’09”
12. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)_______+1’10”
13. Michele Scarponi (LAM)_____+1’11”
14. Domenico Pozzovivo (COG)__+1’12”
15. Sergio Luis Haeno (SKY)_____+1’27
16. Damiano Cunego (LAM)______+1’37”

25. Frank Schleck (RNT)________+2’11”

31. John Gadret (ALM)___________+2’55”

37. Mikel Nieve (EUS)___________+3’35”

Complete General Classification: Gazzetta Official

Bike Score – How bikeable is Vancouver?

According to a study carried out by Bike Score in 10 Canadian cities and 16 American cities, it turns out that Vancouver is very bikeable, indeed. Not as much as Victoria, which keeps its title as the Cycle Capital of Canada, but definitely ahead from Montreal, Toronto or Calgary.

On the flip side, the news are not so bright: Vancouver and all the other Canadian cities in the study score below the 75 mark — far behind the scores on many European cities. And the percentages of ridership all across Canada would still make a Copenhagener laugh and choke a little. In short, no breaking news here: there is still lots of room for improvement.

The coolest part of the study carried out by Seattle-based Walk Score in collaboration with both Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, though, is their “heat maps”: a visual, color based representation of the “bike-friendliness” of every area and neighborhood in the city.

Bike Scores are calculated for each location in a city based on 3 criteria: cycling infrastructure, topography and road connectivity and access to amenities. Those results are then mapped with color, with scores ranging from a low of 0 (deep red) and to a high of 100 (dark green). The American Bike Scores include an additional map showing the percentages of bike commuters by area, as a means to include a measurement for the social component in cycling: chances are that, if more people in your extended network bike, you will be more inclined to try it yourself.

But if Bike Score is wrong and not even peer pressure works to get more people on bikes, then I’d advocate for more sunny morning and afternoons: nothing like the first stretch of beautiful weather after a wet winter to see the daily numbers of Commuter Cup Contenders increase exponentially!

You can check all the bike score cities here. And also look for apartments based on cycling distance. And if you don’t see a Bike Score  for your city, tweet away to get it included: they will be building Bike Score for the top 10 most requested cities.