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Cycling News and Opinions
Unfair and Unbalanced
January, 2012

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

January 30: I don't normally bother with cyclocross results. This site reports on elite road cycling events of 1.1 or 2.1 or higher ranking.

But sometimes I have to break my rule.

Yesterday at Koksijde, Belgium World Cyclocross Championships, the Belgians put on one the the most perfect displays of that athleticism the cycling world has ever seen. Led by new world champion Niels Albert, Belgians took the first seven places. Belgium sent seven riders to the World's. Their entire team was the top 7 places. In other words, the worst Belgian on the squad was better that the rest of the world's best.

Here's the top ten:

  1. Niels Albert (Belgium) 1hr 6min 7sec
  2. Rob Peeters (Belgium) @ 24sec
  3. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium) @ 30sec
  4. Tom Meeusen (Belgium) @ 34sec
  5. Bart Aernouts (Belgium) @ 35sec
  6. Klaas Vantornout (Belgium) @ 1min 9sec
  7. Sven Nys (Belgium) @ 1min 11sec
  8. Radomir Simunek (Czech Republic) @ 2min 15sec
  9. Philipp Walsleben (Germany) @ 2min 25sec
  10. Simon Zahner (Switzerland) @ 2min 31sec

Note also that there is a minute gap between 7th place Nys and 8th place Simunek. The world is lucky Belgium couldn't send 10 men.

January 23: The first UCI rankings are out after the Tour Down Under. Here's the release from the UCI:

Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge Cycling Team) is the first leader of the UCI WorldTour ranking of 2012 after winning the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia. Gerrans’ success means Australia also leads the nation ranking, while RadioShack-Nissan leads the team ranking. 
  
Gerrans is the current Australian national champion and confirmed his class with overall victory in the six-day race. He finished equal on time with Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) but won overall due to better stage placings. Portugal’s Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan) finished third at eight seconds. 
  
Gerrans scored a total of 107 UCI WorldTour ranking points: 100 for overall victory and seven for taking second place on stage five. Valverde has a total of 87 points. Machado is third in the individual ranking with 72 point, Michael Rogers (Sky Procycling) is fourth with 61 points and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan) is fifth with 40 points. 
  
The Santos Tour Down Under marked the UCI WorldTour debut for the new GreenEdge Cycling Team. There were huge expectations on their shoulders but the Australian team worked hard all race and Gerrans delivered a hugely emotional and significant first UCI WorldTour victory. It was his second career win at the Tour Down Under after also winning in 2006.  
  
 "When I was told that I was getting the leader's jersey (for the final stage), I didn't feel any pressure at all, it was just a nice surprise. I knew it would give us a tough job for the last stage, but as it turns out, I can't be happier," Gerrans said. 
  
"This is just fantastic. I can't thank the GreenEdge team enough for this victory. It's an even sweeter victory than my first one here in 2006. It gives me the opportunity to thank for the first time the Ryan family (the GreenEdge team owners Gerry and Andrew) and (GreenEdge team manager) Shayne Bannan for putting this team together. It couldn't be a better start for us.” 
  
High-speed sprinting 
  
The first UCI WorldTour race of the season saw some high-speed and fiercely contested sprint finishes. 
  
Germany’s André Greipel (Lotto Belisol Team) won three of the six stages after some superb work by his teammates and an unmatchable final burst of speed. Other stages were won by Will Clarke (UniSA), Oscar Freire (Katusha Team) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team). 
  
RadioShack-Nissan won the team prize based on time at the Santos Tour Down Under and had Machado and Bakelants in the top five. That strong performance placed them top of the UCI team ranking with 115 points. Movistar Team is second with 108 points, while the GreenEdge Cycling Team is third with 107 points. 
  
Australia proudly leads the nations ranking after success in its only UCI WorldTour race with a massive 188 points. Spain is second with 114 points and Portugal is third with 74 points. 
  
The next UCI WorldTour race is the Paris-Nice stage race in France in March. Until then, Gerrans and Australia can boast about their special start to the 2012 season.

Here are the rankings:

Individual:

  1. Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge): 106 points
  2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): 87
  3. Tiago Machado (RadioShack): 72
  4. Michael Rogers (Sky): 61
  5. Jan Bakelandts (RadioShack): 40
  6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky): 34
  7. Javier Moreno (Movistar): 20
  8. André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol): 18
  9. Michael Matthews (Rabobank): 15
  10. Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-Big Mat): 7
  11. Oscar Freire (Katusha): 6
  12. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre): 6
  13. Mark Renshaw (Rabobank): 5
  14. Eduard Vorganov (Katusha): 4
  15. Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma-Quick Step): 4
  16. Daniele Bennati (RadioShack): 3
  17. José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar): 1
  18. Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas): 1
  19. Robbie McEwen (GreenEdge): 1

Nations:

  1. Australia: 188
  2. Spain: 114
  3. Portugal: 72
  4. Belgium: 40
  5. Norway: 34
  6. Germany: 22
  7. Italy: 10
  8. Belarus: 7
  9. Russia: 4

Teams:

  1. RadioShack-Nissan: 115
  2. Movistar: 108
  3. GreenEdge: 107
  4. Sky: 95
  5. Rabobank: 20
  6. Lotto-Belisol: 18
  7. Katusha: 10
  8. FDJ-Big Mat: 7
  9. Lampre: 6
  10. Omega Pharma-Quick Step: 4
  11. Liquigas: 1

January 18: First of all, there is the most important cycling development of the last ten years. There is now a Gucci bicycle. "Bianchi by Gucci" can be had in either steel or carbon fiber at selected Gucci boutiques. The steel bike is reported to go for 4,000 Euros. The carbon fiber version is shown on the Gucci U.S. website and while currently unavailable, is priced at a mere $14,000 U.S. A mere bagatelle and I am sure worth every penny. Those wishing to make a complete statement proving their cycling chops can get Gucci gloves, helmet and water bottle.

Oh, and just in case: The name and mark GUCCI, the GG logos, the stylized letter G, the green-red-green stripe, and all other Gucci-related marks, whether registered or unregistered, are trademarks or service marks of Gucci America, Inc. in the United States and of Guccio Gucci S.p.A. in other countries.

On to less important stuff: Alejandro Valverde is back racing after having served his suspension for his part in the Operation Puerto affair. "The Green Bullet" remain unrepentant and still complains about the way in which the evidence against him was seized and Spanish journalists still decry his punishment. That's a shame. Still, he has served his time. He has suffered the agreed-upon penalty. This isn't 19th century France where a convict must pay for his crime the rest of his life. On this website the slate is wiped clean and Valverde is welcomed back to competition and we hope he does well this year and in coming seasons.

Today's stage in the The Tour Down Under was terrific. Disliking all forms of work, I'll let the press release from the Saxo Bank cycling team tell the story:

"The 148 kilometer long second stage of Tour Down Under from Lobethal to Stirling became a glorious solo adventure for William Clarke (UniSA) who leaped away from the bunch on the very first kilometer of today's stage. Martin Kohler (BMC) initially joined him and the duo worked up a lead of 11 minutes as the peloton wasn't able to agree on a controlled pursue.

"For unknown tactical reasons, Kohler (BMC) was dropped and left the Australian in a somewhat nerve-wrecking kamikaze mission but he denied the sprinters to come back and he took a beautifully memorable solo win. 

"'It was a really exciting day. The big teams couldn't get organized when in due time and realized too late the guy up the road was very very strong. He totally deserved the win today. Our boys were great together out there and our leaders are proving to be in good shape. We tried to gain some time with Luke and eighth is not bad at all but we have some work to do if we're going to take home a solid overall result,' said Team Saxo Bank's Bradley McGee after the stage."