My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

I'd gladly go with you

Category: Cycling

Sorry for the Finnish language, but I couldn't find such good clip in English or Italian. This is the last kilometre of stage 21 of 2009 Giro d'Italia, where Denis Menchov had a crash, which surely made the racing exciting until the last second.

I was 100% sure that I would have a heart attack today when Denis Menchov crashed in the last kilometer of the last stage, stage 21, of Giro d'Italia. I couldn't breath properly for five minutes, I was so shocked and nervous. But that crash surely made everything even more exciting. Denis Menchov lead the race with 20 seconds ahead of Danilo di Luca. Di Luca is not even close to being a time trial specialist so most people believed the Russian would win the race. Danilo di Luca decided to try to win, but it was easy to see from the first second that he would spend too much energy within five kilometers and he would be very tired, and he was. He lost time to the Russian in every check points except the first one. It started to rain during the stage and the Russian started to become nervous. He was leading di Luca and he had nothing to worry about, but still he crashed. It was terrible to see him. He was close in ruining his whole Giro d'Italia by that crash. He slipped out on the rain-soaked cobbles and slid down the road. He ran to catch his bike but received a new one from his mechanic. He was nervous as he started to race again but still he could easily ride to the finish line where he found out that he was the winner of the whole race. He hugged his mechanic, his managar, he screamed, pumped his fists in the air and he was so happy.
All the tension and stress of the Giro, everything came out," Menchov said. "This is the most beautiful victory of my career."
Menchov finished 10th on the day, 21 seconds faster than second overall Danilo Di Luca, who finished in 16th place.

Denis Menchov could possible have won the whole stage unless he had had that crash. Instead the lucky and surprised winner was the Lithuanian time trial champion, Ignatas Konovalovas (Cervelo TestTeam), who was one of the last riders to enjoy a dry course.
"I thought already at the start I could win. The time trail always goes for four hours and the conditions always change," Ignatas Konovalovas said. "Today you can be on bad conditions and maybe tomorrow good conditions. Of course the rain helped me, but you never know. We will see in the future."
He finished the course one second faster than Garmin-Slipstream's Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins didn't have an easy day at the course, but it rained plus he had to avoid a stopped Bouygues Telecom car, which was attending to Matthieu Sprick, in the approach to the line.
"I was looking at this time trial since midway through the Giro. The course was quite hairy, a bit unusual. After taking a look at it this morning, I was shocked at how dangerous it was," Wiggins said. "It was the same for everyone and I tried to stay positive, but then I took a shower in the rain in the last 5km ... that put an end my chances to win." 
Konovalovas (pictured) lead the race from an early point in the race and he had nothing to worry about for most part of the race as nobody was even close to beating his time. It was only when the top riders on the general classification took to the course that somebody was close to winning.
"I can't really believe what I did today. I was dreaming of it, but it came so fast and there is no time to take in the emotions," Konovalovas said. "I am still young; the important thing is to discover my identity in this group. We will see how my body reacts in the future."
Team Columbia's Edvald Boasson Hagen finished third of the stage.

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) was one of the stage favourites but decided not to take any risks as the rain began to fall again. Danilo di Luca, who was second in the general classification before the stage had nothing to lose, so he tried to ride the time trial as if his life depended on it. He failed, but that crash of Denis Menchov still left the Italian hoping for a while that he could perhaps take the victory away of the Russian man.
"To fall like this wasn't beautiful, Denis (Menchov) was the strongest and he didn't deserve to suffer this setback", said Di Luca. "I have nothing to regret. I attacked every chance I had. I can take away a lot from this Giro - two stage victories, seven days in the maglia rosa and the points jersey. I can be very satisfied with this Giro."

Denis Menchov is the third Russian to win the Giro (Evgeni Berzin and Pavel Tonkov preceded him in the 1990s). Menchov has also been winning the Vuelta a España twice, but this was his first victory in the Giro d'Italia and that was great.

Memories no one can take away

Category: Cycling

A rider from Belgium as never before won the Maglia Blanco, the competition for the young cyclists. Now they must likely will have a winner. Or yes, Kevin Seeldraeyers will win the race, because otherwise he would have crashed very badly during the stage and have to leave, and that will not happen. I believe Francesco Masciarelli wouldn't be too happy either if he won the competition in such way. The Italian Francesco Masciarelli is in second in the young riders' competition. He is now 2.11 minutes behind the Belgian rider, so it will be difficult for the young Italian to win the competition.

Kevin Seeldraeyers will stand on the podium today and he will be the winner of the young riders competition, the best under-26 rider. Seeldraeyers is not yet 23 years old, so you can say he is 22 years old. He is really young.
"It almost 100 percent that I will win the jersey," he said. "I am not so good, but the time trial is flat and it is not long. They say there are a lot of corners and it will be hard to take a lot of time back."
Seeldraeyers took the white jersey of the best young rider from Thomas Lövkvist (Team Columbia-Highroad) on the Giro's mountain stage to Monte Petrano, when the Swedish rider lost precious amount of time.

"The hardest stage was to Pinerolo because I had diarrhea. It was a big problem and hard that day, but I wanted to continue for the classification.

"Now it is nice, but in the race it is not so nice sometimes. There was a lot of pain through the three weeks, this Giro was not easy." Said the Belgian rider, who will soon go home to Belgium and prepare for the Ster Elektrotoer stage race and the Belgian championships.

"I want to race for the classification in the big tours and small tours, and get more jerseys. It is not so easy, I am not Alberto Contador."

Is something on your mind?

Category: Cycling

I wasn't surprised at all that Thomas Voeckler escaped (with Phillppe Gilbert) in the last kilometers of yesterday's Giro d'Italia stage. Voeckler has been in so many escapes so it is almost unbelievable. But he had to give it another try, and that's why he escaped. In the end Philippe Gilbert was stronger than the Frenchman, but BBox Bouygues Telecom's Thomas Voeckler came in two seconds later and that is a big thing for him, of course. A victory would probably beat it all though.
"I said before departure that we could succeed without the Giro stage win. But rather than six escapes and a second place, I would have preferred to leave with a victory. Not for lack of trying! Today (Saturday), I need not blush, Gilbert is one of the best riders in the world in this kind of arrival." Voeckler said.
Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo) took the bunch sprint for third, seven seconds behind Gilbert.

Earlier in his career Philippe Gilbert has become the twice winner of the Classics season opener, Het Volk. Last year he won the Paris-Tours. This year he changed team from Française des Jeux to Silence-Lotto. Silence-Lotto's year has not been very good so far though, with few victories and podiums, so they surely had reasons to celebrate yesterday.
"I began the Giro with the ambition to win one stage," Gilbert said.
He had one more chance to take, and he had to take it if he wished to take the victory, because today's stage is a time trial and neither Gilbert nor Voeckler is time trial specialists.

"I was really tired after the mountain stages. After, I got better, then I got worse, and it was like this for close to 10 days. I said to myself that maybe it's time to go home. It was never easy for me, but I stayed in the race, and now I'm really happy I did.

"I saw on the first lap [around Anagni] it was a good moment to attack, and I attacked in the same place," Gilbert said.

Danilo di Luca, who is second in the general classification, couldn't get away from the race leader Denis Menchov so he is still behind, which means Denis Menchov will win the race unless he crashes badly. The two men finished right next to each other in 11th and 12th, respectively. The Russian happened to take two bonus seconds, so he now has a lead of 20 seconds ahead of the Italian.
"It may be the first time in professional cycling I did a sprint like that [on flat roads]," Menchov told journalists after the stage. "I don't like to fight for the bonus sprints - I prefer to fight for real time. But if someone creates a war, you have to fight the war."
I think Denis Menchov will be careful today so that he don't crash, but still ride quickly. The stage victory is not important for him, the only thing important is to stay on his bike.
"I can be calm, because I know I am strong, but the Giro is not over until you cross the finish line," said Menchov, who believes Astana's Levi Leipheimer will win tomorrow. "Tomorrow, I will ride, stay focused, and it will be not be a quiet walk. The gap is very small, and it's important to stay focused till the final line."
Danilo di Luca believes that Menchov will now win the race, as the Russian is a better time trialist.

"If I finish second in this Giro, I can be proud because I fought every kilometer of this race. I was already thinking yesterday after the Vesuvio stage that I will not win this Giro," he said. "This Giro had a very high level and we can all be proud.

"Tomorrow, anything can happen, the differences are small, it's a special course, very technical, but Menchov has shown he is strong. I had him on the ropes a little at Blockhaus, but he was able to recover and defended well at Vesuvio."

The breakaway of the day contained contained Pablo Lastras Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne), Felix Rafael Cardenas (Barloworld), Angel Gomez Gomez (Fuji-Servetto), Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale), Francesco De Bonis (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni), Ben Swift (Team Katusha), Anders Lund (Team Saxo Bank) and Robert Förster (Team Milram).