Friday, May 31, 2013

2013 Critérium du Dauphiné Race Preview

The spring season is basically over, and it’s time for one of the key races that the riders and teams use to fine-tune their summer form going into the Tour De France. The Critérium du Dauphiné offers the riders an eight stage opportunity to test their legs against many of the same competitors that they will face in the Tour De France--and a small glance at some of the upcoming Tour De France route.

The 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné route

The 65th edition of the Dauphiné begins this Sunday, June 2 in Champéry, Switzerland and ends the following Sunday in Risoul, France. The race is eight stages long and covers about 1138 kilometers in total. This year’s edition is particularly hilly, with four climbing finishes (2 big ones), and only one or two potential legitimate bunch-sprint stages. It also includes a 32.5 km flat individual time trial on stage 4.

Part of stage 8 of the Dauphiné includes the renowned 21 switchbacks of the Alpe d’Huez climb, followed by a short descent and climb over the Col de Sarenne. This same section of the route will feature in stage 18 of the Tour De France next month, so the riders can get some practice in.  The TDF route however, will then climb Alpe d’Huez a second time, the summit hosting that stage’s finish.

No time bonuses at the Dauphiné stage finishes means riders will have to attack the leaders and try to gain valuable time in the hills or in the time trial.  This will not be easy since many of the Tour favorites will be here testing themselves and each other’s prowess.

As usual the Critérium du Dauphiné has drawn most of the Tour De France favorites. The winner of the last two editions, Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky, has dropped out of the race, citing lingering illness and knee pain from his...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Post-race thoughts on beIN-TV's 2013 Giro d'Italia coverage

I watched every minute of the beIN TV coverage here in the U.S. Seeing the Giro in HD was great, but they have a lot of kinks to work out. Perhaps their biggest problem was that they would cut to break at absolutely the most inopportune times, robbing the viewers of critical points in the race. They frequently cut to break inside the last few kilometers of several stages, leaving the action when riders were attacking each other, ...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

2013 Giro d'Italia Race Wrap-up


The Shark gets his prey

On May 4th under sunny Neapolitan skies, 23 teams of nine riders each lined up for the start of the 96th Giro d’Italia. Three weeks and multiple route modifications later, all but 39 riders crossed the finish line today in Brescia. Vincenzo Nibali of Team Astana, won the overall after holding the Pink Jersey for the last 13 stgaes. Team Omega Pharma Quickstep’s Mark Cavendish won his fifth stage of the race, and claimed rights to the Maglia Rosso, or Points Jersey. 

Horrendous weather conditions throughout much of the race led to a final total of about 3200 kilometers ridden. That’s about 250 kms shorter than the original planned route.

Snow in the Alps altered the route

Fans were denied the thrill of the two most challenging mountain stages that would have defined this race because of heavy snowfall in the Dolomites. Instead the defining character of this year’s race would have to be the weather. The race organizers had their backs against the wall with the relentless weather, and made the appropriate decision to cut stage 19 and most of stage 20 for the riders’ and fans’ safety. 

The peloton endured a cold, rainy and snowy tour, for the most part. Many fell ill from the efforts expended in the foul weather. 168 riders out of the 207 who started the race in Naples survived to the finish. That number is about average, so it’s actually impressive, considering the conditions.

One champion emerged from the pack however, to claim victory for his team and country: 28-year-old Italian Astana Team leader, Vincenzo Nibali. The Sicilian “Shark” held the race lead...

STAGE 21 Race Report and Final Results 2013 Giro d'Italia


Sunday May 26, 2013
197 kilometers; from Riese Pio X to Brescia; Flat
Weather: mostly sunny, 20 c (68 f)

Vincenzo Nibali won the 2013 Giro d'Italia in Brescia today

Location of the final stage into Brescia

The peloton leaves the start and begins the last 197-km stage to the first ever race finish in Brescia. Vincenzo Nibali of the Kazakh Astana squad will be celebrating his supreme accomplishment as he brandishes the Maglia Rosa all the way to the final finish line.

*No one is in a hurry to escape today. After 40 kms under partly sunny skies, it is still gruppo compatto;

After route modifications as a result of all the horrendous weather the peloton faced…

STAGE 21 Preview 2013 Giro d'Italia

Vincenzo Nibali demolished the field through heavy snow to assert his claim to the Maglia Rosa on Saturday. On top of the only remaining high mountain top finish, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in blizzard conditions Nibali took his second straight stage win and solidified his lead going into the final flat stage to Brescia on Sunday.

Vincenzo Nibali shows off his 13th consecutive Pink Jersey of the Giro

Ag2R's Carlos Betancur was able to grab the Young Rider's Jersey back from Team Saxo Tinkoff's Rafal Majka, and despite already having locked up the King of the Mountains Jersey, Stefano Pirazzi continued to attack on the climbs. Mark Cavendish will have to be diligent and score enough points to claim the Points Jersey, but he should be up to the task.

Stage 21 Profile

Sunday's 21st stage takes the riders over 197 pancake-flat kilometers into the finishing town of Brescia. There will be much pomp and circumstance along the way and at the finish, but for Nibali it will be largely ceremonial. Only death-rays from space can keep Nibali from winning the 2013 Giro d'Italia. The sprinters will get a last shot at glory; and Mark Cavendish will have to navigate several turns on a technical finale to take the Points Jersey.