Joaquim “Purito” Rodríguez of Team Katusha maintained a narrow lead in yesterday’s final stage of the 94th Volta Ciclista a Cataluya to take the overall ranking for the second time in his career, following victory in 2010. Just one week after Kristoff’s emphatic win in Milan-Sanremo, Katusha once again came away from the weekend with a big haul of points for the UCI WorldTour rankings. The weeklong stage race takes place on Purito’s home turf and attracted a stellar field with several grand tour favourites, such as Chris Froome and Alberto Contador taking the start but unable to better the local favourite over the mountainous route.
Climbing High to GC Success
The foundations for overall victory were laid on the stage 3 mountaintop finish to La Molina. Rodríguez proved once again that he is one of the best in the world when it comes to steep uphill finishes by sprinting away on his Aeroad CF within the snow-lined final kilometre to gain vital seconds on the rest of his GC rivals. The stage marked Purito’s first win of the 2014 season and put him in the race leader’s jersey.
Over the following stages Katusha controlled the race well to defend Purito’s slender lead against the inevitable attacks from Contador, who lay just 4 seconds behind on GC. Katusha Directeur Sportif, Dmitry Konyshev, was pleased with the outcome of the race: “This WorldTour win is important for the team and for Joaquim too because he’s Catalan.”
Rodríguez now looks in great shape for his major 2014 objectives: “Now I look forward to trying to win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then on to the Giro d’Italia.”
Quintana 5th for Movistar Team
Columbia’s Nairo Quintana was the second Canyon pro to feature at the sharp end of the GC, only ten seconds down on Rodríguez, highlighting just what a close fought race the 2014 edition of the Volta a Catalunya was. Quintana is also looking to build his form ahead of the Giro d’Italia in May, and seems to be on the right track after this week and his 2nd place at Tirreno-Adriatico
Norwegian sprints to career-defining victory
Alexander Kristoff of Team Katusha took the biggest win of his career yesterday at the 2014 edition of Milan-San Remo. The Norwegian triumphed in the cold and the rain by unleashing a powerful sprint on his Ultimate CF SLX at the end of 300 km and just under seven hours of tough racing. His success in Italy’s biggest one-day race marks the third victory in a Monument for Katusha following Joaquim Rodríguez’s successive wins at Il Lombardia in 2012 and 2013.
Katusha to the fore in the wind and rain
With the blizzards and freezing conditions of the 2013 edition still fresh in the memories of many, nobody could blame the riders for longing after more pleasant conditions this year. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t to be as they rode through rain and hail for the entirety of the race, providing a spectacle of endurance and suffering for spectators at home.
Katusha proved to be among those most hardened to the extreme conditions with many riders still present in the finale to work for Kristoff and all riders finishing the race. The Russian duo of Pavel Brutt and Aleksandr Kuchynski were highly visible through the gloomy conditions, upping the pace in a depleted peloton prior to the penultimate climb of the day, up the Cipressa, to reel in the day’s break.
Heading up the race’s final climb of the Poggio, which topped out just 6 km from the finish line, Kristoff was able to stay in touch with the front group as several riders attempted to break away and put the sprinters in difficulty. Fortunately for Kristoff he still had Italian Classics specialist Luca Paolini at his side. Paolini put in an enormous effort to shepherd Kristoff back to the front of the pack down the dangerous descent into Sanremo and then kept the pace high to within the last 600 metres, putting off any late attacks.
An elite group of around 25 riders made it to the line to fight for the win with many of the pre-race favourites and previous winners still present, including Fabian Cancellara, Gerald Ciolek, Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan. Nevertheless, with some 300 km in the legs Kristoff proved to be the strongest, surging ahead in the final 150 metres to win by a couple of bike lengths over Cancellara and Team Sky’s Ben Swift.
“It was the best moment of my life”, claimed a delighted Kristoff after the finish, who was keen to highlight the work by his teammate Paolini: “I just said, ‘I’m here Luca,’ and he brought me to the front. He could stay in the group, follow the attacks and he did a great job. I’m very thankful to him. […] A sprint after 300 km is different from one after 200 km. Normally I don’t lose much power even on a long stage”. The Norwegian is well aware of the significance of yesterday’s win and the impact it will have, “Milan-Sanremo really puts you on the map and it’ll always stay in my career. It’s important. It’s almost unbelievable.”
Lobato takes 4th for Movistar Team
Perhaps one of the most standout performances yesterday came from Spain’s Juanjo Lobato, who in his debut Milan-Sanremo just missed out on the podium by finishing 4th. It was a hugely encouraging display by the young sprinter who is in his first season for Movistar Team and rounded off a perfect day for Canyon.
Canyon bikes have now triumphed six times in cycling’s Monuments since 2009.
It’s a busy time in the UCI WorldTour right now with the recent conclusion of stage races in France and Italy, and cycling’s one-day “monuments” looming just around the corner. Tirreno-Adriatico came to a close yesterday bringing an end to yet another successful week for Canyon riders: Movistar Team claimed 2nd in the GC and a stage victory through Nairo Quintana and Adriano Malori respectively, while Dani Moreno of Katusha put in strong performances throughout the week to finish 8th overall.
Magnificent Malori takes closing time trial
A flat 9.5 km out-and-back time trial along the Adriatic coastline stood between the peloton and the end of a gruelling week of racing through the heart of Italy, which included riding up the country’s steepest road with gradients in excess of 30%. What better place then, for an Italian to triumph? Adriano Malori stunned the rest of the field aboard the Speedmax CF, powering to victory and taking some major scalps in the process.
Malori described his performance yesterday as “the most beautiful victory” of his entire life and after one glance at the results, who could disagree? The Italian overcame the elite of world time-trialling by not only beating Fabian Cancellara into 2nd place by six seconds, but also reigning Olympic Champion, Bradley Wiggins, and World Champion, Tony Martin. In his own words, “it almost feels like a dream to win in front of the best specialists in the world.”
Quintana defends 2nd place in GC
Malori’s was not the only standout performance in yesterday’s ITT as Nairo Quintana consolidated his 2nd place in the GC, backing up his climbing performances from earlier in the race. With riders perceived as more adept time-trialists breathing down his neck, the Columbian proved yesterday he is not just exceptional in the hills by putting time into all his rivals including eventual race winner, Alberto Contador. As a key build up event ahead of the Giro d’Italia, things are heading in the right directions for Quintana’s big season goal: “I’m getting used to the way of racing in Italy, the roads, how everything works here”.
A recent spate of time-trial equipment testing, training and wind tunnel time has paid dividends for Movistar Team. In the race’s opening TTT they surprised the rest of the field with an impressive display to finish 3rd, and in addition to Malori’s victory yesterday British national champion Alex Dowsett also finished 6th. In a discipline where equipment plays such a vital role, the gains provided by the Speedmax CF have been backed up by three victories already in 2014.
Milan-Sanremo Preview: La Primavera kicks off 2014 monuments
In a sport with such a rich history as cycling, there are some races that transcend all others: Milan-Sanremo is one such race. Considered one of cycling’s five monuments, at a shade under 300km it is the longest race of the season, with the distance alone presenting a major obstacle to the riders in addition to the short coastal climbs that feature in its finale. As such, past winners include a wide mix of classics specialists, sprinters and GC riders.
Katusha animated last year’s snow-disrupted race with an attacking display and Alexander Kristoff eventually took the sprint behind the break in brutal conditions. So far this year the Norwegian has shown good form, taking a stage win at the Tour of Oman last month, and is a good bet as a sprinter who also climbs well. Another contender from the Russian outfit is Italian classics specialist Luca Paolini, who thrives in tough conditions and will no doubt be especially motivated for his country’s biggest one day race.
Movistar Team will be backing Jose Joaquín Rojas who stood out at last week’s Paris-Nice as the most consistent rider in the whole race. Other options for the Spanish squad should the race come down to a sprint finish include Fran Ventoso and Juanjo Lobato, who already has a number of podium finishes to his name in 2014.
The 2014 “Race to the Sun” came to a close yesterday as the peloton charged along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice under clear skies, bringing an end to eight exciting and unpredictable days of racing in France. An experimental parcours characterised the 2014 edition with the lack of both summit finishes and time trials meaning the overall classification remained open throughout with just a handful of seconds separating the main contenders.
In the end it was Carlos Betancur from Colombia who triumphed with two Canyon riders featuring inside the top-10: Katusha’s Simon Spilak finished in eighth and Movistar Team’s Jose Joaquin Rojas rounded off the week just off the podium in fourth.
Having achieved a good result in 2013, Spilak was able to showcase his climbing talent once the race hit the hills of southern France and was prominent as one of the most attacking riders in the peloton, coming to within just a kilometre of holding off the bunch on the final stage into Nice.
Meanwhile, JJ Rojas was perhaps the most consistent rider in the entire race, featuring in both the sprints and the more technical finishes, and came incredibly closest to victory on the final stage, where he crossed the line second. Movistar Team also come away from the race with the Team Classification, underlining a solid performance for the squad.
All Eyes on Italy
Paris-nice was not the only UCI WorldTour race going on over the past week. Focus now switches to the remaining two stages of Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy before Milan-San Remo, the year’s first “Monument”, takes place on Sunday. Three Canyon riders are currently well-placed at Tirreno-Adriatico, with Movistar Team leader Nairo Quintana lying in second and both Dani Moreno and Giampaolo Caruso of Katusha in 7th and 9th respectively.
We’ll give you a roundup of Tirreno-Adriatico and take a look forward to “La Classicisima” later in the week.
One week after a commanding performance at the Vuelta a Andalucía, Alejandro Valverde clocked up his fifth win of the season and the eighth for Movistar Team on Saturday at the Vuelta a Murcia. The race marked the first occasion in the 2014 season that Nairo Quinatna and Valverde, the two leaders of Movistar Team, have lined up in the same squad together.
Aggressive tactics pay off
Right from the gun the Spanish ProTeam was in an attacking mood and was active in moves throughout the race over what was a particularly challenging and mountainous parcours. In the end it was Valverde who proved the strongest, once again making fine use of his trademark uphill finishing kick to cross the line 3 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Tiago Machado. Jose Joaquin Rojas rounded off another strong team performance and provided a strong signal that he is back to his best following injury by taking 5th, just 7 seconds down on his teammate.
Lobato on the podium in Almería
Movistar Team continued its run of success at the following day’s Clásica de Almería, where Juanjo Lobato sprinted to 2nd place and two other riders in blue, Fran Ventoso and José Joaquín Rojas, also featuring inside the top-10.
Take a closer look at the Movistar Team bikes here.
A hat-trick of stage wins, the overall and the points classification for Valverde
Movistar Team continued their impressive run of early season form in southern Spain with a commanding display to dominate the Vuelta a Andalucía. The squad got the race underway with an impressive performance in the prologue, where Valverde rode his new Speedmax CF to the fastest time with teammates Izagurre and Moreno also placing inside the top-10. Valverde was then able to unleash his trademark uphill finishing kick on the following two stages to take a hat-trick of wins and an unassailable lead in the GC. Jon Izagirre was also in the mix throughout the race eventually finishing just off the podium in fourth overall.
Teamwork the key to success
A challenging parcours took the peloton over the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, providing a real test for the squad to control the race. In spite of the determined attempts by Team Sky to blow the race to pieces on the two summit finishes and set up their leader, Richie Porte, Movistar Team held firm to deliver Valverde perfectly in the finales. The Spaniard was keen to pay his teammates back: “After all they did for me these two days, always there, they deserved this victory.”
Dream start to 2014
The race marked Movistar Team’s first successes on European soil for the year and takes their current win tally up to seven. This marks the best start to a season the squad has ever had since its debut four years ago as well as the dream beginning to their partnership with Canyon, who became official bike supplier in 2014. With the Spring Classics now fast approaching, results thus far would suggest that the boys in blue will definitely be among the favourites heading into the early season’s biggest one day races. Beforehand, however, Valverde will be back in action this week building his form at La Clásica de Almería and Vuelta a Murcia.
When you’re only halfway through the week and your riding plans at the weekend still seem a way off, it’s easy to see why people refer to Wednesday as the “hump” day.
Nevertheless, Canyon got a mid-week boost yesterday with not one, but two victories coming from our UCI ProTeams. No sooner had Norwegian Alexander Kristoff opened Team Katusha’s 2014 victory account at the Tour of Oman when Alejandro Valverde blasted through the streets of southern Spain to take the win in the prologue of the Vuelta a Andalucia.
First win in the bag for Katusha and Kristoff
Kristoff has clearly bounced back well from the bad luck that plagued him at the Tour of Qatar, where he crashed heavily. After finishing in the top 10 on stage one in Oman, at the end of stage two he was able to show his good early season form and tactical nous by sprinting into a block headwind in a bunch kick against a strong field.
Kristoff now sits in second place in the overall standings with the situation looking good for the coming northern classics, which the Norwegian has set among his main 2014 objectives.
TT Prep pays off for Movistar Team
Further west in sunny southern Spain, the Vuelta a Andalucia kicked off yesterday with a technical 7.3km prologue through Almeria. Fresh from a training camp to hone their positions aboard their new Speedmax CF time trial machines, Movistar Team was able reap the rewards by placing three riders in the top 10 with Valverde now leading the race. In an exhibition of supreme bike handling, Valverde ripped through the corner-strewn course and at one point even overtook the race commissaire’s motorbike.
The Spaniard was clearly pleased with his new bit of kit, stating, “It was the first time on my new TT bike and this debut was impossible to improve. We are very satisfied with how it works.” Teammates Jon Izaguirre and Javier Moreno now sit in 3rd and 7th position respectively as the squad looks in fine nick heading into the remaining four stages.
Movistar Team came away from an intense week of racing at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina with two stage victories and the overall to round off a dream start to their 2014 campaign.
Following Nairo Quintana’s impressive solo victory atop the Cerro el Amago on stage 4, new-recruit Adriano Malori doubled up the following day with an outstanding performance in the 19.2 km ITT. What’s more, Quintana was able to use the team’s new Speedmax CF to good effect by overcoming the four second deficit to then-race leader, Phillip Gaimon, to pull on the leader’s jersey, which he successfully defended to the end of the race.
Despite a rough start to the week with stomach problems plaguing members of the team in addition to the misfortune suffered by the squad racing at the Tour Down Under, where two riders were side-lined after crashing heavily, Movistar Team came out of the season-opening races on a high. Directeur Sportif José Luis Jaimerena was keen to praise his rider’s efforts: “Starting the season this way is always important, especially for the team’s morale.”
What’s to Come
The entire Movistar Team will be in Madrid this Friday for their official team presentation before the racing calendar picks up the pace. With Quintana himself claiming that he is yet to hit top-form, expect plenty more to come from the boys in blue over the coming season.
Team Movistar Overall Rankings:
1. Nairo Quintana
43. Andrey Amador
45. Benat Intxausti
81. Adriano Malori
97. Fran Ventoso
101. Pablo Lastras
Nairo Quintana opened Movistar Team’s 2014 victory account by taking an impressive solo win at the summit finish of stage four of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Movistar Team set a fierce pace at the foot of the climb to Cerro El Amago at the end of the 169 km stage, setting up Quintana perfectly to launch his attack.
The 9.4 km ascent suited the Columbian’s style perfectly as he was once again able to showcase his exceptional climbing talent aboard his new Aeroad CF, finishing 50 seconds ahead of his nearest rival and putting over 4 minutes into current race leader Phillip Gaimon’s advantage. The race is now perfectly poised heading into the penultimate stage, a 19.2 km ITT around the streets of San Luis, where Quintana will deploy the Speedmax CF to try and close the 4 second gap separating him and Gaimon in the GC.
Having already placed riders on the podium twice in previous stages, yesterday’s win marked the first victory for Movistar Team in 2014 and will set the precedent for the rest of the season. What’s more, it marks the first success in the new partnership between Canyon and Movistar Team. We look forward to more of the same ¡Grande Nairo!