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.