all the champions in the Tour De France

Tom Boonen and Edvald Boasson Hagen are among the riders who will be sporting new national champion’s jerseys during this year’s Tour de France after a hectic weekend’s racing in Europe and beyond, those riders regaining their titles in, respectively, Belgium and Norway.

Among other performances worthy of note are Liverpool-born Matt Brammeier, pretty much the first to congratulate former British Olympic Academy alumnus Mark Cavendish on his world championship victory last September, winning the Irish championship for the third year in a row.

Meawhile, his Omega Pharma-Quick Step colleague Niki Terpstra took on most of the Rabobank team single-handedly – 18 entrants were registered either to the ProTeam or its development team – to win back the Dutch road race title he had previously won in 2010.

Elsewhere, on a very tough course in Italy, Franco Pellizotti, who only last month returned from a two-year ban imposed as a result of biological passport irregularities, is the new Italian champion after launching the Androni Giocattolo rider launched a solo attack in the last lap of the race in Borgo Valsugana.

Here’s an updated (though not exhaustive) list of the current national champions in both the road and time trial disciplines.

National road champions

Australia: Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge)
Belgium: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma)
Canada: Ryan Roth (SpiderTech)
Croatia: Vladimir Miholjevic (Acqua & Sapone)
Czech Republic: Milan Kadlec (ASC Dukla Prague)
Denmark Sebastian Lander (Glud & Marstrand)
Estonia: Tanel Kangert (Astana)
France: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat)
Germany: Fabian Wegmann (Garmin)
Great Britain: Ian Stannard (Sky)
Ireland: Matthew Brammeier (Omega Pharma)
Italy: Franco Pellizotti (Androni)
Kazakhstan: Assan Bazayev (Astana)
Latvia: Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis)
Luxembourg: Laurent Didier (RadioShack)
Moldova: Alexandr Pliuschin (Leopard)
Netherlands: Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma)
Norway: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)
Poland: Michal Golas (Omega Pharma)
Russia: Eduard Vorganov (Katusha)
Slovakia: Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
South Africa: Robert Hunter (Garmin)
Spain: Francisco Ventoso (Movistar)
Switzerland: Martin Kohler (BMC)
Ukraine: Andriy Grivko (Astana)
USA: Timothy Duggan (Liquigas)

National time trial champions

Australia: Luke Durbridge (GreenEdge)
Canada: Svein Tuft (GreenEdge)
Czech Republic: Jan Barta (Netapp)
Denmark: Jakob Fuglsang (RadioShack)
Estonia: Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)
France: Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma)
Germany: Tony Martin (Omega Pharma)
Great Britain: Alex Dowsett (Sky)
Italy: Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma)
Latvia: Gatis Smukulis (Katusha)
Luxembourg: Bob Jungels (Leopard)
Netherlands: Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil)
Russia: Denis Menchov (Katusha)
Spain: Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank)
Switzerland: Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack)
Ukraine: Andriy Grivko (Astana)
USA: David Zabriskie (Garmin)

hell of the north – paris Roubaix 2012

A week later and time to enjoy it again ….

Paris-Roubaix is one of the oldest races of the professional road cycling calendar. First run in 1896, it has been stopped only by the two world wars. The race usually leaves riders caked in mud and grit, from the cobbled roads and rutted tracks of northern France’s former coal-mining region. However, this is not how this race earned the nickname l’enfer du Nord, or Hell of the North. The term was used to describe the route of the race immediately after World War I. The organisers give levels of difficulty to the cobbled sections, evaluated by length, irregularity of the cobbles and the condition of each section and its position in the race. The course passed through ruins, craters and destruction. Every year seems to bring a new controversy and greater glory to the victor. This is truly a cobbled classic race that should not be missed.

In what will be one of the year’s stand out performances, Omega Pharma Quickstep rider, Tom Boonen won his fourth Paris-Roubaix (2005, 2008, 2009, 2012) on Sunday, after riding solo for 50km out of 257.5km

He also earned the second “double” of his career. Boonen is the only rider in men’s road racing history to win Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in the same season twice. Boonen is also the only rider to have won all four of the “cobbled” races —E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix — in one season.

“I was not really thinking about these records or these victories,” Boonen said. “I was really working hard to be on my top level these two or three weeks. I was already happy to have reached this level and I didn’t have any big crashes this year so far. When I started winning Harelbeke I knew I would be good for others. When I look back on these two or three weeks, it’s been amazing. It’s my second double and I realize now I am the only one who did this ‘double’ two times. I realize now I am maybe be the best guy to ever ride on these cobblestones, on these roads. It’s special, but think I need some time. My career isnt over yet.”

Boonen managed to hold off a powerful chasing group of Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team), Sebastien Turgot (Europcar), Lars Boom (Rabobank), and Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ-Big Mat), who decided to commit to a chase in the final 24km after a larger chase group failed to organize.

“I was not really thinking about the winning race or doing a record,” Boonen said. “I was just fighting myself. I was taking it step by step, cobblestone by cobblestone, kilometer by kilometer. I think if you start thinking about the 60 or 57 km, which is when I left, it’s nearly impossible. It is all in your mind. I was really thinking about my lead. With the gap at 30 seconds I was trying to take it second by second. I was trying not to push it right away to one minute, tried not to force myself. It was the best way to save my strength and put all my strength into the 50km in front of me. I think it was the best option.”

Boonen’s teammate Niki Terpstra, who attacked with Boonen at 56km but could sustain the effort, was also in the chase group with Ballan and four others.

not afraid of the corners or cobbles

“I was not planning on this,” Boonen said of his solo win. “But when I arrived in front with Niki and he dropped off, I was thinking ‘OK, I already have Flanders. Why not try to win my fourth Paris-Roubaix in a very special way?’ I started battling myself. The wind was not really helpful, but with 30 seconds I thought ‘OK, it’s also hard for everyone else’.” I was only afraid there was a fresh rider coming, like Pippo Pozzato or Ballan.”

Boom tried to chase solo in the final 20km, reducing the gap from 1’14″ to 1’09″ with 14.9km to go. However, Boom couldn’t sustain the chase and was reeled in by the Ballan group. Ladagnous suffered a puncture and dropped from the chase. Boonen expanded his gap to more than 1’30″ in the final 10km, and in the last kilometers, Boonen gave the hand signal for the number four, to signify his four Paris-Roubaix wins. Boonen said he had only one thought on his mind at that time: His girlfriend, Lore.

“I was thinking a lot about my girlfriend who is working on our house,” Boonen said. “I thought about her a lot during the final and this victory is for her.”

Boonen coasted through his two laps at the velodrome, again giving the hand signal for the number four. Meanwhile Terpstra took 5th in the chase group sprint. Turgot took 2nd, beating Ballan (3rd) in a bike throw.

“The velodrome finish line, it’s the only one where you can do two laps where all the people are,” Boonen said of the unique Paris-Roubaix finish. “It’s the only finish line where you have one kilometer where you can bond with the people that are there. It’s just just such a special race. Paris-Roubaix, only one race like it in the world. A race like this needs a special finish. I think changing this finish line would be very stupid. It’s almost more Paris-Roubaix — finishing here — than the cobblestones. I was really enjoying my two laps.”

The entire team contributed during the race. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck made a 12 rider break at km 70, but was taken out by a rider while riding through the Arenberg. Sylvain Chavanel did incredible work chasing down breaks, and also was in a four rider break with 66kms to go. However, he punctured with 58.1km to go, having to get his rear wheel replaced. He still battled with a chase group, which was about two minutes behind a select group of 30-40 riders. Boonen and Terpstra attacked shortly after Chavanel punctured. Gert Steegmans and Stijn Vandenbergh were both seen working at the front to chase down breaks during the race.

This is the 30th victory for Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team in three disciplines. Tom Boonen, who moved into first place in UCI WorldTour standings last week with his Ronde van Vlaanderen victory, increases his lead in the individual classification. The team is also ranked number one in UCI WorldTour standings.

“I just love it,” Boonen said of bike racing. “I never, ever have problems finding motivation to train. Although, it has not been easy. It’s my 11th year as a pro, there is always ups and downs, but never problems training. I like it, and I really do it for these races. These are the ones I love. Paris-Roubaix is one of the hardest one day races. Flanders and Paris-Roubaix both are difficult. The moment I start to feel tired, and not training, then it’s time to stop. But I think the last few years I’ve found more love for the bike and I’m not losing it. I think it’s getting easier getting older.”

1. Tom Boonen Omega Pharma – Quickstep 05:55:22
2. Sébastien Turgot Europcar 01:39
3. Alessandro Ballan BMC Racing Team @ same time
4. Juan Antonio Flecha Sky Procycling @ same time
5. Niki Terpstra Omega Pharma – Quickstep @ same time
6. Lars Boom Rabobank Cycling Team 01:43
7. Matteo Tosatto Team Saxo Bank 03:31
8. Mathew Hayman Sky Procycling @ same time
9. Johan Vansummeren Team Garmin – Barracuda @ same time
10. Maarten Wynants Rabobank Cycling Team @ same time
11. Luca Paolini Katusha Team @ same time
12. Matthieu Ladagnous Equipe Cycliste FDJ – BigMat @ same time
13. Gregory Rast RadioShack – Nissan 04:23
14. Thor Hushovd BMC Racing Team @ same time
15. Taylor Phinney BMC Racing Team 04:37
16. Steve Chainel Equipe Cycliste FDJ – BigMat @ same time
17. Kevin Hulsmans Farnese Vini – Selle Italia @ same time
18. Aleksejs Saramotins Cofidis – Le Credit En Ligne @ same time
19. Jimmy Casper Ag2R – La Mondiale @ same time
20. Marco Marcato Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team @ same time

Others …

42. Edvald Boasson Hagen Sky Procycling @ same time
43. George Hincapie BMC Racing Team @ same time
53. Stuart O’ Grady GreenEdge Cycling Team @ same time
77. Andre Greipel Lotto – Belisol Team @ same time
86. Bernhard Eisel Sky Procycling @ same time

Tour of Flanders Race 2012

Yesterday i tuned in in to watch as much of the tour of Flanders as I could – Mr Cancellara bit the dust at a feeding station which is hugely unlucky …

immediately it seemed half the Radioshack team stopped in case he needed pacing back to the front … as it happens 3 or 4 fractures in his collarbone meant he was out and then the escape was away …

also injured after going over the bars very hard was Langeveld who also broke his collarbone … watching the spectator trying to get out of the way puts the speed into perspective

this from the Telegraph article

The 31-year-old – previously a winner in 2005 and 2006 – beat home Italian duo Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan in a sprint finish to the 255km race.

Boonen admitted that he hadn’t been very confident of winning when he was left with just the two Italians for company.

“However, the wind was my ally. It was very tough to cycle alone in the last 8 kilometres (with the two Italians).

“The victories record is the cherry on the cake, it only adds to my happiness. To have my name alongside names who have entered the history books in this race…

“This season, I knew that I could equal or beat quite a few records. But to win my favourite race three times is special.”

His task had been made easier when Switzerland’s Olympic time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara, the winner in 2010, fell 62km from the finish and was later diagnosed to have broken his right collarbone in three places.

Cancellara, who was one of the pre-race favourites for the second one day classic of the season, will be transferred to a hospital in Baszel, Switzerland, where he will undergo an operation.

It brings a premature end to his classics season which had seen him highly favoured for both this race and the Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.

“I saw him fall, he was right beside me, and I all but went with him,” said French champion Sylvain Chavanel.

“There were water bottles all over the road. He flew through the air. He was very unlucky.”

Boonen too was sorry what had befallen his rival.

“It’s a shame. The race would have been different with him in the mix.”

Boonen – who was aided by Chavanel in regulating the pace after the peloton regrouped with 39km to go – was left with just a group of 10 other riders after a crash after 221km had split the peloton.

Ballan made a break for it on the third climb and was joined by Pozzato and Boonen with 17km to go, with the trio gradually extending their lead.

Boonen – who was world road race champion in 2005 and has won the Paris-Roubaix three times – was recording his eighth win of the season and third in 10 days.

Boonen said that a fourth Paris-Roubaix next weekend was not out of the question.

“I have won a fair few races this season and my confidence has returned,” he said.

“Paris-Roubaix? It would be fantastic to win it after having won the GP E3, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders.

“I am going to try. It is a race that suits me better than the Tour of Flanders.”

UCI Cyclilng Men World Tour, Tour Des Flandres, Oudenaarde, Belgium

Leading final positions after Elite Men (Brugge – Oudenaarde 256.9km): 1. Tom Boonen (Bel) (Team: OPQ) 6hrs 04mins 33secs, 2. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) (FAR) at same time, 3. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) (BMC) at 0.01, 4. Greg van Avermaet (Bel) (BMC) at 0.38, 5. Peter Sagan (Svk) (LIQ) at same time, 6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) (OPQ) at same time, 7. Luca Paolini (Ita) (KAT) at same time, 8. Thomas Voeckler(Fra) (EUC) at same time, 9. Matti Breschel (Den) (RAB) at same time,10. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) (OPQ) at same time

Selected others57. Ian Stannard (Gbr) (SKY) at 3mins 26secs DNF:Jeremy Hunt (Gbr) (SKY)

Video: A glimpse at why the Classics are ‘classic’

Love the video of Cancellara’s win at Paris Roubaix in 2010

Re-live how the 2010 Paris-Roubaix race was won by the imperious Fabian Cancellara. From the 2011 British Eurosport coverage of Paris-Roubaix.

Then the analysis of the race ….