Double Strike!

The World Cup wins keep on coming! Nino Schurter completes #13 while Jenny Rissveds gets her first Eliminator victory of the season. On top of that Florian rides into top ten.

It has been a fantastic weekend for the SCOTT riders. Not only did we have two riders in the top 10, but with Geoff Kabush in 12th  and Derek Zandstra in 13th, both riding for our Canadian Team SCOTT 3 Rox Racing, the SCOTT family had a strong showing at the US World Cup in Windham, NY. Jenny Rissved’s victory in the Eliminator World Cup was underlining the dominance of #scott2luvit.


The SCOTT Spark 700 with it’s pilot on the way to victory.

One week after the battle royal in Mont Saint Anne the mission of both rivals was clear. Absalon wanted revenge, Schurter wanted validation. The course in Windham, New York is not the most exciting, not technical at all and has very long climbs- nothing that especially suits Nino. That being said, we learned that even a bad track can offer great racing action when the players are even. The course was more in favor of Julien- no doubt here. Nino on the other hand was in terrific shape. Going into it, anything could happen.




At first the Flückiger brothers Mathias and Lukas held the lead together with Schurter and Absalon. Ultimately, they stayed out of the real battle. Schurter soon figured out that he could get his full suspension Spark down the hill a good 10-15 seconds faster than Absalon on his hard tail. But Absalon would not be Absalon if he would let it go this easily and always rode up the hill 10-15 seconds faster than Nino. The only time they rode together was a few meters at the top of the climb. Somehow they where even, yet they weren’t technically speaking riding together. This made for a spectacular race to watch, and for good content for the hardtail v. fully in XC debate. In the end, Nino was able to get a few seconds out of Julien in the second to last lap, and did not let go. Was it the bike or the talent? Both?


World Cup victory Nr. 13 for Nino Schurter. Way to go!

Behind Absalon this time was Lukas Flückiger in third, followed by Australien Daniel Mc Connell and Mathias Flückiger. At the finish Nino was more than pleased about his double strike in North America.
“It was somehow a cat and mouse game today. Even if I was always a bit ahead, I was hunted all race long. This was not a safe and comfortable situation. I’m happy it played out well in the end. I’m stoked to add two World Cup wins in 8 days to my bank.”


“It was somehow a cat and mouse game today. Even if I was always a bit ahead, I was hunted all race long. This was not a safe and comfortable situation. I’m happy it played out well in the end. I’m stoked to add two World Cup wins in 8 days to my bank.”
Nino Schurter, World Champion
SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team

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12 World Cup Wins for Nino!

The battle between the two best mountain bikers in the world continues. This time it was Nino Schurter’s turn, with Nino grabbing his 12th World Cup victory!

Even the World Champion had to withstand a few critical moments during the race, in the process reminding his rival Julien Absalon just exactly what he still has in store taking back the crown of Mont Sainte Anne, Canada. With a 2nd in the Eliminator and a 3rd place in XCO, Jenny Rissveds is back strong.


The World Champion celebrating his 12th World Cup victory.

After a two month break the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup goes into its final three rounds this month. First stop-the most classic of all mountain bike World Cups- Mont Sainte Anne, Canada. Usually the toughest of all MTB tracks, this year would be no different. On the steep climbs and in technical descents, talent shines through more obviously than usual. It was no surprise that it came down to the famous duel between the two best riders in the world- Absalon vs. Schurter.




The race unfolded in a pattern we’ve seen before. Together with Mathias Flückiger Nino put the hammer down in first lap while Absalon and Kulhavy where not in the top ten at the beginning. Both reacted with a good effort to make it to the front. Absalon made it all the way up to Schurter, Kulhavy got stuck in the group with the two Flückiger brothers and Spanish Sergio Mantecon. From that moment on it was one of these unpredictable eye to eye fights between Schurter and Absalon. Half way through the race the action peaked with a breath taking moment. On the most difficult descent- the famous Beatrice- Nino was riding in second position behind Julien and tried to take the inside line. He was the only one rider to be able to manage this section. Unfortunately Julien got into Nino’s way. The result was a crash in a place where nobody wants to go down. Luckily, neither the body nor the bike did not sustain any damage. After a hard chase back an angry Nino was up with Julien again to battle it out for the win.


The critical moment.





In Canada they say, “Don’t poke the bear!” And like in a good Hollywood movie the excitement only gets bigger towards the end. Nino’s attack came with 1 ½ laps to go on a longer climb. He managed to get 5-7 seconds out of Julien, but his French rival did not give up on the win. They both put each other into the hurt box until the end. That being said, Nino did not let go of this one, clinching his 12th World Cup victory in the process.


“Sweet how this triumph came together. Hard fighting in a tough duel and all of this here in Canada at one of the most classic of all MTB races. It is almost like a fairy tail. It is a miracle that I got out of this crash with no damage!”
Nino Schurter, World Champion
SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team


The podium: 4. Lukas Flückiger 2. Julien Absalon 1. Nino Schurter 3. Daniel Mc Connell 5. Mathias Flückiger



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World Cup Victory on Spark

When it gets technical, the World Champion is unstoppable- Schurter rides his Spark 700 to his first WC win ever on a full suspension bike.


Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. What a great pay back for the missing luck in the first round of the World Cup. Nino is back winning in style while Florian Vogel missed the podium by seconds- he finished in good 7th place. Both riders were riding the SCOTT Spark 700 full suspension bike instead of theoir hard tails. Nice to have the choice of the best of both worlds.

It was the first time this season the “Big Three” got together to compete for the crown at the World Cup. The World Cup leader Julien Absalon already showed he is hot this season. Olympic Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy is always on the run on his home turf and last but not least- Nino Schurter badly wanted to get his first World Cup win of the year. The 19’500 spectators could not ask for more heat in the fire.


The cross-country skiing arena of Nove Mesto has the perfect setup for a great MTB event.

Even the tactic is not new to Nino’s competitors, the World Champion’s attack right from the gun still works excellent. Both Absalon and Kulhavy lost important seconds already in the start loop. Nino’s tactic to put them into the hurt box right away played well. Absalon tried hard to close the gap but struggled after a crash. Kulhavy looked fast but unfortunately flatted while trying to catch Nino.


The World Champion setting the pace of the race on the SCOTT Spark 700.

This left the World Champion in a confident lead after only 1.5 laps. He paced himself well, even let the strong riding Martin Fanger and Stephane Tempier closing up. When also the young Swiss Fanger got a flat front tire, he left Nino in the lead with a home run. It seemed the missing luck of Pietermaritzburg was back on Nino’s side. He did win the Nove Mesto World Cup for the third time in a row. Frenchmen Stephane Tempier, German champion Moritz Milatz, Daniel McConnel and Julien Absalon filled up the podium spots.


The “Rockgarden King” in one of Nove Mesto’s DH.


Today’s fastest bike- the SCOTT Spark 700 RC, the first-ever full suspension bike with a 27.5″ wheelsize geometry to win a XCO World Cup race.


World Cup victory Nr. 11 in the box.

The release was written in his eyes. This win came at the right time and place. Nino’s comment to his 11th world cup victory:  ”For a change I choose to ride my SCOTT Spark 700 RC instead of my SCOTT Scale 700 RC as usual. It sure was the right choice for todays rough course. I’m stoked about my first ever World Cup win on a full suspension bike. Today the luck sure was on my side. I made it trough without any mechanicals or crashes. My biggest contenders are not able to say that. So cool to be back on the top of the business.”


“For a change I choose to ride my Spark 700 instead of my Scale 700 as usual. It sure was the right choice for todays rough course.”

Nino Schurter, World Champion
SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team


Our second iron in the fire was Florian Vogel. After a strong first lap he was always part of Nino’s chasing group. Riding smart he was able to save some energy towards the end of the race. 4th to 7th place where only 20 seconds apart, which showers he is right there to be back on the podium. He also looks at it like this: “I was stoked to stay on Absalon’s wheel all race long. In our group all riders started to make little mistakes, so did I. Only a little bit more power in the last half lap and I would be in Top 5. This gives me hope to the next two important races to come, the World Cup in Albstadt and the European Championship in St. Wendel, where I won the title in 2008.”


With Absalon and Fanger on the hunt.



Flo in action.

Marcel Wildhaber had a steady race to 36th place. In the Eliminator competition on Friday, the Swiss champion did not advance to the final. He finished in 10th. Also Jenny Rissveds did not make the final in the Eliminator, but won the small final to become 5th. In the U23 XCO race she started as the leader of the series, but bad luck took all the chances to defend her leaders jersey. In the startloop her chain got caught in between the frame. She made the best out of it finishing 8th.


Marcel Wildhaber.



Jenny Rissveds.

In the Men U23 competition we saw Andri Frischknecht riding to his best ever World Cup result. He pushed himself into the top 15 after the start loop and remained there. More, with a very fast last lap he was first of big group that was fighting for 11th place. Dutch rider Michi van der Heijden is the great winner of the race.

Well done!


Frischi jun. on his way to his best world cup performance so far.

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Pieter Weening Wins Giro d’Italia Stage Nine from Early Break

Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

Pieter Weening proved top tactician in a two-up sprint in Sestola to win the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia. Having spent the day in the early break, Weening attacked the escape group en route to the summit finish. Davide Malacarne (Europcar), sensing the move’s potential bridged across to Weening. The duo held off a spirited chase by their former breakaway companions and the peloton to mountaintop finish.

Weening’s win is a continuation of a brilliant run of success the Australian outfit has enjoyed in the last month including a win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, three stages wins at the Tour de Romandie, a stage win and the overall victory at Tour of Turkey, a stage win at the Amgen Tour of California, three stage wins at the Giro d’Italia and seven days in the maglia rosa. It is the third Giro d’Italia stage win for Weening, including the team time trial victory last weekend, and the third stage win for ORICA-GreenEDGE at the 97th edition of the Italian Grand Tour.

“The first big goal for the team was the team time trial,” said Weening. “We had quite a bit of pressure on our shoulders for that one. We went in as the pre-race favourites. Being strongest on paper isn’t everything. We still had to do the work to get the result. When we won it, it was a huge relief.”

“Every day in the pink was another win for us,” Weening added. “Then when Bling [Michael Matthews] suddenly wins on the hilltop finish, it felt unreal. It happened again today. It’s easy to see that the pressure isn’t here for us anymore. We can do what we want, and sometimes the nicest things happen when you have that freedom.”

“We’re all very, very happy for Pete,” said White. “He’s a big part of the reason we won Liège. His commitment to the team is obvious. We’ve all seen it over and over again. It’s a really gratifying feeling for all us when the guys that are busting their tails so their teammates can get results can get a win for themselves.”

It took more than an hour for the peloton to allow a breakaway to jump up the road. Fifty kilometres into the stage, Weening found himself amongst a group of 14 that finally received the nod from the bunch. BMC set tempo as the riders in the escape group busied themselves with building up their advantage.

“Today was the first opportunity for guys like me and Santa to go into the break,” noted Weening. “Days like this, the break can stay away if there is no one on the general classification. I think the closest guy was at nine minutes, so we knew we had a chance to go to the finish line. I was in a good group and one of the strongest guys uphill. For me, it was perfect.”

The breakaway steadily stretched the gap on the flatter roads leading to the second, hillier half of the stage. They held eight minutes when they hit the first of three categorised climbs in the final 30 kilometres. Whilst BMC seemed happy to leave the stage to the breakaway, every team did not share the sentiment. Garmin-Sharp sent the entire team to the front to chase. Movistar and Lampre-Merida eventually contributed riders to the effort. At the foot of the summit finish, the break’s advantage had fallen to three minutes.

David Tanner (Belkin) jumped out of the lead group and quickly gained a small solo advantage. The attempt was short-lived. Following Tanner’s catch, Weening made his move, attacking his breakaway companions through a roundabout. Malacarne was the only rider able to respond to Weening’s acceleration, setting off in pursuit of the lone leader. Fifteen kilometres from the finish, Malacarne reached Weening’s wheel.

“I had been thinking about the attack for a few kilometres,” Weening said. “I knew I had to be one of the first to attack. A lot of times when one guy is up the road, the others start looking at each. The cooperation falls apart, and it’s hard to catch the guy who is going full gas up the road.”

“The moment on the roundabout was perfect,” he continued. “The guys took the left side, and I took the right side. The right side was shorter, and I came out with full speed. It was the perfect moment.”

“What I was thinking was exactly what happened,” Weening added. “They all looked around at each other, and then it was too late. In the end, you can never be sure. You can pick the best moment, but you always have to have a little luck, too. I had luck today.”

Malacarne proved a strong partner in the two-man move. Twice Weening tried to distance the Italian. Twice Malacarne held his ground.

“After I attacked, I looked back, and I saw Malacarne coming,” Weening explained. “He was riding quite strong. I was on the limit, and I couldn’t open up any more distance between us. I knew if I continued like this for all the climb, I would explode. I decided to wait for him and try to attack him later. I wasn’t sure if I could beat him in a sprint.”

“I tried again at seven kilometres,” Weening said. “It wasn’t an attack but just going hard on the steepest part. He stayed right on my wheel. That’s when I had to change plans and gamble on the sprint.”

In the final kilometre, Weening was the first of the two to significantly reduce his speed. The duo would cat and mouse their way to the finish line with Malacarne eventually flinching first, allowing Weening onto his wheel. It was the perfect position from which to launch a winning sprint.

“I was on his wheel, and I came around him quite easy in the end,” said Weening. “I was stronger in the sprint. I was also quite sure the guys behind us wouldn’t come back, so I wasn’t thinking about them at all. I knew he was still worried about the guys behind. That’s why he was still riding a little bit and why I was just waiting for the sprint.”

It wasn’t all celebratory for the Australian outfit on stage nine of the Giro d’Italia. Michael Matthews suffered a significant crash. Michael Hepburn struggled through the stage following his huge efforts during the first part of the week. Luke Durbridge battled illness.

“We had the first guy to finish and the last three on the road,” said White. “Michael Matthews lost quite a bit of skin in a big crash today, and Durbo has been vomiting since the morning. He’s quite sick. Heppy and Bling had to physically push Durbo over the finish line today. If there was a race tomorrow, he would not be starting.”

“Luckily we have a little time to nurse those three through with the rest day tomorrow,” said White. “It’s quite a contrast for us with the best rider of the day and three guys struggling with for three different reasons.”


Giro d'Italia - Stage 9


Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

Giro d'Italia - Stage 9


Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

Giro d'Italia - Stage 9

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photo credit: Graham Watson


Michael Matthews Wins Giro d’Italia Stage Six in the Maglia Rosa

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Michael Matthews survived a crash-marred finale to win the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia. The maglia rosa was part of an eight rider group that formed in the wake of a yet another pile-up in the opening week of the Italian Grand Tour. It is the fourth Grand Tour stage victory for Matthews, who won two Vuelta a España stages in his Grand Tour debut last year and the opening stage team time trial at the Giro d’Italia last Friday.

“Today was completely unreal,” said Matthews. “I owe so much to the team for bringing me in the position to win a hilltop finish in the pink jersey. They all worked hard. I specifically need to mention Luke Durbridge and Ivan Santaromita. I wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for him. He rode his heart out for me at the moment the race was decided.”

A massive crash proved the most decisive moment of the day as nearly the entire peloton hit the ground or was caught behind the mayhem in the run in to the final climb. Svein Tuft and Brett Lancaster were amongst the heavy fallers. Lancaster’s crash is race ending. He broke his hand and will require surgery in the coming days. Tuft suffered significant abrasions and will continued to be assessed throughout the evening before it is determined if he will start stage seven tomorrow.

“It’s a really unfortunate incident for all those involved,” said Sport Director Matt White. “We never like it when accidents like this happen. We were in the right position to avoid the crash with most of our guys, but we obviously know that there’s also a degree of luck involved. We had a couple of our guys involved as well. No one likes to see races impacted this way by crashes.”

Matthews, Santaromita and Durbridge were three of the eight riders to emerge from the chaos to contest the stage in Montecassino. The ORICA-GreenEDGE trio were joined by BMC teammates Cadel Evans, Steve Morabito and Daniel Oss, Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) and Matteo Rabottini (Neri Sottoli – Yellow Fluo). Not fully aware of the carnage in their week, ORICA-GreenEDGE and BMC drove the pace into the final climb.

It had been a fairly uneventful day up until the race-defining incident. Four riders broke away from the bunch, amassing a 14 minute maximum advantage. With the gap approaching dangerous proportions, ORICA-GreenEDGE, Team Sky, Trek Factory Racing and Katusha shared tempo-setting duties to steadily reel in the leaders.

“We had a very hard day yesterday,” said White. “It’s been a massive week for the team. We knew needed to do work today, but we also looked to other teams for some help. We weren’t in a position where we wanted to control it alone. Our guys did what they needed to do and remained well-positioned throughout the entire stage.”

The catch was timed the to perfection. Twelve kilometres from the line, it was gruppo compatto. Two crashes in quick succession immediately followed the catch. Matthews and company quickly gained 30” on those caught out. The maglia rosa had the stage win in mind. Evans was concerned with his general classification ambitions. A spirited chase eventually formed behind the leading eight, but their efforts were not enough to bridge the gap.

Matthews was sitting pretty on the run in the to the finish. Perfectly positioned on Evans’ wheel, Matthews handily overcame his compatriot in the dash to the line. Wellens outsprinted Evans for second.

“I felt really good coming into the climb,” said Matthews. “When BMC hit the front, it was all about being in the right position. I knew I had the chance to win when we came into the last kilometre and still felt pretty good.”

“It means so much to me to be able to pay the guys back with the win,” Matthews added. “It makes all the hard work they’ve done really worth the effort.”

With bonus seconds for the win, Matthews extends his hold on the maglia rosa by 21” over Evans. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), caught out by the crash, sits in third overall at 1’21.

Unrelated to the crash, Cameron Meyer may also be amongst the non-starters on Friday. Meyer fell ill Wednesday night and soldiered through stage six. Should his condition not improve by the morning, he will not start stage seven.  Look for updates on our social media channel ahead of the start of stage seven on both Tuft and Meyer.

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6


Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6

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photo credit: Graham Watson


5th British Marathon Championship for Bigham

2014 Selkirk XC marathon

Sally Bigham defended her national title to take her 5th British Marathon Championship in Selkirk in the Scottish borders. Alban Lakata meanwhile pulled off the win at the UCI Marathon in Singen — to mark a perfect return to form following his recent injuries.


There is no doubt in Great Britain as to who the greatest female Marathon Mountain Biker is — as for the 5th time Sally Bigham won the race and renewed her subscription. Just as previously, it was clear from the start that nothing is likely to change in the near future. The World Championship silver medalist rode solo to victory despite the horrid conditions which contributed to the lack of a challenge. With 75km covered, Iron Sally crossed the line with a time of 4h14m08s — with a gap of more than 30 minutes.


”The conditions today really weren’t easy, and that’s why I am happy that I was able to complete the race without any issues”, the new, and old British Champion beamed.


The other happy camper this weekend was Alban Lakata, riding the Rothaus Hegau Bike Marathon in Singen near Lake Constance, Germany. It was the first win in the second race for Lakata since his forced rest period through the winter following an Achilles break. It was a great show in front of a really strong field. The Albanator moved to the front of race during the first lap of the 98km, and then won the duel with Urs Huber (CH) in the sprint on the final straight. His time was 3h38m00s to cover the near 100km and 2.800m of climbing. Naturally this put him in a good mood! ”Today everything went my way. Good legs, the bike was perfect as was the team. A special mention going to my mechanic Peter Felber.”



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What an awesome show of SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing at the Swiss Bike Days- Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel come in first and second.

Solothurn, Switzerland. After his successful “randonée” to the road scene, Nino Schurter is back on his mountain bike and showed he has not lost anything of his off-road abilities. He took the victory with an impressive solo ride. On top of that, Florian Vogel out-sprinted the BMC armada for second place. SWEEEET!


The Swiss crowd celebrating the World Champion.

Two 18th places in stages and a 42nd overall ranking was the outcome of Nino’s first appearance on the road pro world tour at the Tour de Romandie. Experts declare this performance as impressive. Considering the lack of experience he managed to partly keep up with the best. Riding even on the longer climbs side to side with Tour de France winner Chris Froome- the eventual winner of the Tour de Romandie.


Nino at the Tour de Romandie on the skinny tires.

The question at this weekends BMC Cup was how well Nino will be recovered from the hard effort of last week. How well he will handle the switch back in such a short time? He did not wait long to give the answer.
Already during the first lap he managed together with his team mate Florian Vogel, Matthias Flückiger (Stöckli) and Martin Fanger (BMC) to get a gap to the followers which included the rest of the BMC team including Julien Absalon, Lukas Flückiger, Ralph Näf and Moritz Milatz.


Florian Vogel leading the chase group at Bike Days- the Swiss Bike Festival.

Half way trough we saw the world champion leading on it’s own while the BMC train catches Vogel and Flückiger. Even they tried with full force, they did not get any closer to Nino who was riding to his victory with no doubt.



Nino on his way to victory around the beautiful town of Solothurn.

The good thing was that the only thing Florian Vogel had to do in the chase group was following the others. He was riding smart and used the perfect SCOTT-Odlo team tactic to save some energy for the “grande finale”. With a great sprint finish he managed to leave the Flückiger’s and Julien Absalon behind him to complete a sweet double victory for our team.




Florian Vogel looking good in Solothurn and goes with confidence into the next World Cup round.

We saw two smiling faces at the finish. Florian: ” I felt good today and the team tactic played for me as well. Because I don’t really count Nino as a competitor of mine, this second places feels almost like a victory.”
The winner himself had following comment: ” I like this Bike Days! With over 23’000 visitors it’s the biggest bike event of Switzerland. Sure I want to show my best in front of my home crowd. I was tired at the beginning of the week but today a felt very strong. It’s a good sign I recovered so well after one week only. Maybe I can even top my shape in the two upcoming world cup races. After todays race I’m pretty optimistic to say the least.”


“I like these Bike Days! With over 23’000 visitors it’s the biggest bike event of Switzerland. Sure I want to show my best in front of my home crowd.
Nino Schurter, World Champion
SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team

Marcel Wildhaber had a solid race coming in 12th place while Andri Frischknecht- riding in the same group with Marcel- had a high speed crash which forced him to pull out. Also not on the lucky side was Jenny Rissveds who was sick and not able to finish her race. Robin Gemperle finished 23rd.


That’s the way we like it! Matthias Flückiger (5.) Florian Vogel (2.) Nino Schurter (1.) Lukas Flückiger (3.) Julien Absalon (4.)

Next stop will be the World Cup in Nove Mesto May 23.-25. followed by the World Cup in Albstadt one week later.

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Emma Johansson Wins Stage One of Inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour


Emma Johansson scored her fourth win of the season, sprinting to victory on the opening stage of the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour. The Swedish all-rounder edged out World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv) in a hotly contested field sprint to pull on the yellow leader’s jersey in Northampton. Johansson will head into the second stage of the five day British tour with a 4” advantage over Vos.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” admitted Johansson. “I was on Marianne’s wheel, and when I could come around her, I thought: ‘Wow, I’m actually going to beat her in a sprint.’ Marianne has a really good sprint, so I was quite surprised. I can sprint obviously – especially when it’s been technical or hard or cold like it was today. Still, I can hardly believe it.”

“I love it here!,” Johansson added. “I made my good memory in England today. Hopefully this is just the first one.”

Massive crowds turned out to cheer on the women’s peloton as they set off to start the Friends Life Women’s Tour. Sidewalk space was at a premium in Oundle as locals jostled for a roadside spot. The scene was goosebump-inducing.

“We’re not used to crowds like this at women’s only events,” said Johansson. “It was really amazing at the start and the finish and all the towns on the course. It seemed like every school brought the kids out to the race. I loved it.”

“We were all extremely impressed,” Sport Director Martin Barras confirmed. “The response from the public was incredible. I commented quite a few times that I felt like we were the Beatles while I was driving in the race caravan. People, especially the school groups, were jumping and cheering and waving flags as we came by, and just by responding with a toot of the horn to show our appreciation, the noise level would increase noticeably.”

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Barras added. “Everyone is talking about it – the riders, the staff, everyone associated with the race. We’ve all been craving this for many, many years, and it’s great to see this sort of endorsement from the local communities. We want to thank Sweet Spot and the race organisation for providing all of us with the opportunity to show that the interest in women’s cycling is real. Hopefully it paves the way for other races to follow the same mould.”

ORICA-AIS took a slightly conservative approach to the stage. Traditionally the protagonists, the Australian outfit elected to leave other teams to animate the action. Rather than throw down attacks, they would respond to any dangerous moves.

“We all sat down before the race and discussed our tactics,” said Barras. “The idea was that we would let the teams that had the pressure to perform feel that pressure. We were keen to manage the situation to alleviate any responsibility or pressure that we felt in the interest of the opportunities this would create for us later.”

“This plan worked out really well – almost too well – because Emma ended up winning the race,” said Barras. “No one is going to sit here and complain about winning a stage in a big tour like this one, but it certainly puts us in a position where we can no longer take advantage of the expectations on other teams and riders. Expectations now fall on us.”

The first hint of action on stage one came on the opening YodelDirect Sprint. Until that point, the peloton had been unusually quiet. The bonus seconds (3”-2”-1”) on offer at each of the two daily intermediate sprints incentivized the peloton into action. Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) won the first sprint, taking three bonus seconds, ahead of Johansson and Vos.

“I felt really good in the first intermediate sprint,” said Johansson. “It was actually a bit weird. There was a sign for one kilometre and a sign for 500 metres, and I think we all thought there would be another sign before the finish. There wasn’t, so nobody actually really sprinted. The lead-out trains were still at the front, which is why Ellen took it. She was meant to lead-out Lizzie [Armitstead] (Boels-Dolmans).”

Rossella Ratto (Estado de México-Faren Kuota) launched the first significant breakaway attempt between the initial intermediate sprint and the first Strava Queen of the Mountain. She stretched out her advantage to nearly a minute before the bunch closed the gap, overtaking her with 50 kilometres left to race.

“It was quite windy but a lot of the course was reasonably sheltered,” noted Barras. “It was also clear from the outset that most of the race would be done with a headwind, which greatly reduced the chances for breakaways and attacks. It certainly dictated the sort of tactics we saw today.”

The peloton stayed together until they hit Althrop Estate. The narrow roads and rough pavement put the peloton under pressure. The bunch split, and Elise Delzenne (Specialized-lululemon) went on the attack. She remained up the road for the second YodelDirect Sprint, scooping up the bonus seconds for first across the line.

“Coming into the second sprint, Marianne attacked,” recalled Johansson. “She came in really early. I jumped to follow, but I lost my SRM, so I sort of lost focus for a minute, which meant that I didn’t get any seconds in that one. I actually had to dig deep just to stay with her and Lizzie. I was afraid they were going to try to ride away.”

Neither Vos nor Armitstead made a move at that point in the race. Instead, they sent their teammates to the front to chase down Delzenne, who had 45” in hand over the second QOM. Rabobank-Liv and Boels-Dolmans collaborated at the front, reeling Delzenne back just past the two kilometre to go mark.

“Coming into the final, Nettie [Edmondson] found me,” Johansson explained. “She was looking after me until Loes [Gunnewijk] came up the side and shouted at me. I jumped to her wheel. When an Astana rider attacked, Loes went after her.”

“I tried to make myself as small as possible so I took only a little wind,” Johansson added. “After the one kilometre banner, it turns right and then left. Loes cut the corner, so we were the first two through. I knew Loes couldn’t go anymore at some point, and I needed to ready for whatever would come from behind me.”

“Ellen came up on the left side,” Johansson continued. “I told Loes to go left but Ellen was a bit faster, so it was Ellen and Lizzie and then Loes and me. I came off Loes’ wheel and onto Lizzie’s wheel at the 500 metre mark.”

Armitstead was the first to open the sprint. The British National Champion jumped 450 metres from the line. Johansson stuck onto her wheel.

“I was like: ‘Whoa! That’s really early.’ because the finish was uphill and into a headwind,” Johansson explained. “I think she must have been really excited. Marianne came up and past Lizzie, so I got onto her wheel. I actually had to sit down and then stand up again. I was fighting next to her all the way to the line. “

Johansson edged out Vos for the stage win. Briton Hannah Barnes (Unitedhealthcare) rounded out the podium. The trio occupy the same top three spots on the general classification with Vos at 4” and Barnes at 8”.

“It’s really nice to see so many strong riders out there,” said Johansson. “To win bike races these days is not easy. You have to fight really hard for every win. Teams are riding really tactically and have more than one card to play. I think the peloton as a whole is stronger than it’s ever been.”

“The whole team was really good today,” said Johansson. “Everyone was present. Everyone rode next to each and communicated really well. We didn’t attack, but that wasn’t the plan. We wanted to have a crack at the intermediate sprints, which was exactly what we did.”

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photo credit : Bart Hazen


Sally and Wolfram superb at Riva


Sally Bigham riding for Topeak-Ergon Racing Team won the Ronda Extrema race at the Bike Festival Riva Del Garda for the 2nd time. While at ”Knack den Kurschat ” (Beat Kurschat) the man himself kept the best time.



Team Topeak Ergon’s Sally Bigham once again began the Festival Season at Riva del Garda in the way we have come to expect. Finishing with a comfortable lead of almost 20 minutes to win the race, the World’s number two-marathon rider covered the 93.93km long and 3,813m of height difference with a time of 5h40m27.5. All the same, the 36 year old wasn’t entirely happy. On the final descent, she had suffered a puncture and had been unable to use the Co2 to inflate the tyre — time was lost until another rider supplied another cartridge.



Further frustration was present amongst the other Topeak Ergon racers on the day. Kristian Hynek was fighting for the lead of the race with the Olympic Champion Kulhavy, when they suffered from poor course signage, went the wrong way and lost all chance of a win. He finished fourth, with a time of 4h32m27.5s, 2m53.2 down, as fourth. Alban Lakata was eighth, and Robert Mennen, who made the same mistake as Kristian finished in 11th. On the upside, it was Lakata’s first race back since his enforced rest following the injury in the winter.

Bike Festival Riva del Garda 2014

Bike Festival Riva del Garda 2014

No one can beat Kurschat 
Topeak Ergon legend Wolfram Kurschat was also taking part at the Riva festival. Replicating the success of the ”Beat Kurschat ” competition from last year — at the time Wolfram held the title of the Worlds best uphill time trailer — the race this time took place on Monte Bastione. A route of 1.1km with 190m of climbing was chosen, with up to 20% gradient being the spice. No one was able to beat his 4m11.1s time. Even with a number of the elite riding — including u-19 World Champion Lakas Baum or Klaus Fontna — none of them were even close.

Bike Festival Riva del Garda 2014

All the same it was an exciting event, and some old faces added to it. Amateur and last year’s winner, the Austrian Klaus Steinkeller took just 1.7 seconds to complete the course than the World Cup rider Kurschat. ”It was pretty close, ” Kurschat admitted later, with a grin, ”and if he had managed it, I am not sure that given another go, I would be able to better it myself in the conditions. ” The wet and slippery course was far from easy, and the many tight switchbacks meant everyone had to really be careful.

Bike Festival Riva del Garda 2014

Of the Pro riders, Lukas Baum won, with a deficit of 11.3 seconds for the men. For the women, the winner was Stephanie Utknecht, with a total time of 6m08.0s. The amateur women was won by 11 year old Kira Böhm from Kirchheim/Teck with a time of 7m29.6s.

TV Broadcast at German ZDF Sportreportage: and at ZDF

TV Broadcast at German ZDF Sportreportage: and at ZDF Drehscheibe:

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Simon Gerrans Win Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Simon Gerrans made history on Sunday, becoming the first Australian to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Gerrans, adds the 100th edition of La Doyenne to a resume which now includes three overall victories at the Tour Down Under, stage wins at all three Grand Tours, two days in yellow and Australia’s second victory at Milan–Sanremo. Gerrans enjoyed impeccable support from his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates en route to his monumental win.
“I’ve had some really beautiful victories over the past couple years, but Liège is really special to me,” said Gerrans. “I’ve competed in this race every year since I turned professional. It’s a race I’ve always dreamed of winning, and I think because it’s something I’ve really worked for, it’s a fantastic feeling.”
“This is a race that has always eluded Australians,” said General Manager Shayne Bannan. “It’s definitely the hardest one day race in the world and the most prestigious. To win Liège in the 100th year as the first Australian in the first Australian team, it’s something really special. When I think back over the history of the team so far, I reckon this is probably our biggest victory so far.”
Earlier in the week, the forecast suggested temperatures in the low teens and a high change of rain on Sunday. Come race day, the peloton set off on dry roads and under sunny skies. A breakaway of six riders defined the early action.
The peloton allowed them a long leash as they stretched out their advantage to nearly 16 minutes before the day’s first climb. When a handful of other teams took up the chase, the Australian outfit stuck to the plan, with Daryl Impey and Christain Meier flanked by Gerrans’ side. The duo were tasked with looking over Gerrans until the all-important Côte de la Redoute.
“Whitey [Sport Director Matt White] wrote a three page plan,” said Simon Clarke, one of the seven teammates who proved instrumental to Gerrans’ win. “I felt like I was back at school. We all read the plan. We revised the plan. We committed it to memory. Everything was so clear. Everyone knew exactly what their job was, where they had to do it, who they had to be with and who they had to look out for. When you put in the effort to develop a plan like that and the team can follow the plan, it creates the opportunity for some really big results.”
“The had a plan, and they stuck to that plan,” Bannan added. “Each of the riders gave Simon Gerrans everything they had. That commitment is what wins bike races.”
By the time the race hit the Côte de Wanne, the gap to the leaders had slipped below ten minutes. The action heated up on the Côte de Stockeu. An injection in pace saw crashes and splits in the bunch as the advantage to the breakaway continued to tumble. Beyond the Côte de la Haute-Levee, those that had lost contact would never make it back to the bunch.
Attacks began to come from the peloton with the Côte de la Vecquee fast-approaching. A nervous bunch splintered in response to the accelerations. All eight ORICA-GreenEDGE riders remained in main bunch – calm, collected and confident in their ability to carry out their tasks as assigned.
With Côte de la Redoute looming, Michael Albasini, Simon Clarke and Cameron Meyer came to fore. The trio assumed responsibility for following any dangerous moves that might eventuate. Both Albasini and Clarke found themselves in short-lived chase groups as the early breakaway fractured up the road. By the time the peloton had summated La Redoute, only two survivors of the early escape remained out front, 1’40 ahead of the peloton.
Pieter Weening and Ivan Santaromita took over when the race hit the Côte des Forges as the contenders began to throw their first punches. An attack by Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) inspired a spirited response. Weening followed wheels to mark the move. With the Côte de Saint-Nicolas in sight, the reduced bunch regrouped.
“Just after the Forges, I was starting to suffer a little bit,” admitted Gerrans. “There was a really difficult section with La Redoute and the Forges quite close together. I actually said to my teammates over the radio that I wasn’t feeling too good at the moment, but they stuck by me, and they gave me good confidence coming into the finale. They placed me perfectly for La Rouche-aux-Facouns and Saint-Nicolas to give me every opportunity.”
“Simon came onto the radio to say that he was going through a bad patch. Sport Director Matt White confirmed. “But then he came good again. When he passed the Saint-Nicolas, that’s when I knew he definitely had a chance.”
“We’ve never seen a Liège with so many riders contesting the final,” White added. “The race is usually decided well before it was decided today. To have so many guys in contention at the finish is unusual, but we knew we had the guy that could finish it off for us.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE drove the pace on the front heading into the final climb. Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R – La Mondiale) followed Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) up the road  The duo established a slim advantage before defending champion Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) jumped across, catching the leaders on the final unclassified ascent. Martin crashed out in the final corner, as the larger-than-expected front group caught the leaders on the line. Gerrans made it look easy when he took off the bunch sprint, pumping his fists in the air as a huge grin spread across his face.
“I wasn’t expecting to see such a big group come to the finish together,” said Gerrans. “I thought the peloton would break more than it did. In fact, the hard final meant that everyone was a little more tired coming into the finish and no one had the legs to break away. My card was to wait and follow as best as I could and to try to finish it off with a small group sprint.”
“I can’t say thank you enough to my team,” said Gerrans. “They supported me all day and placed me perfectly over the final climbs. It took a real team effort to finish in the front today and to put me in a position to go for the win.”

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Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

Liege - Bastogne - Liege

photo credit : Graham Watson