We’are just over a week into the Giro d’Italia and with two time trials and sprint stages out of the way and a rest day today it’s time to sum up the winners and losers from the first week.

The 2016 Giro d’Italia started with a 9.8km time trial in Apeldoorn, beginning three days in the Netherlands. Tom Dumoulin was the absolute favourite to win the time trial and he didn’t disappoint winning the first maglia rosa of this years Giro. With Dumoulin not counting himself as a favourite for the overall race win it was Vincenzo Nibali who was the best of the GC contenders opening a 5 second gap to Alejandro Valverde, Ilnur Zakarin was 13 seconds back, Rafal Majka 19 seconds back and Mikel Landa 21 seconds back.

Stage 2 was a flat out sprint stage that was going to end in a mass sprint finish and Marcel Kittel won the first of his two stage wins as he also took stage 3 and the maglia rosa to end the Giro’s three stages in the Netherlands.

With a transition rest day back to Italy the following day saw stage 4 Diego Ulissi break clear on the final claim and hold on to take the win ahead of Tom Dumoulin who retook the pink jersey.

Stage 5 was another sprint stage with André Greipel taking the win ahead of Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Demare. Stage 6 was the first chance to get a glimpse of the gc riders form with the stage finishing at the top of the Aremogna climb after earlier climbing the Bocca di Selva. Tim Wellens took an impressive solo win as Tom Dumoulin extended his overall lead by finishing fourth on the stage with GC hopeful Ilnur Zakarin. Majka, Valverde and Uran all took seconds from Landa and Nibali.

Greipel won his second stage with victory on the sprint stage 7.

Gianluca Brambilla won an action packed stage 8 that included the Alpe di Poti climb in the final 20km, Brambilla attacked and won solo by a minute from Matteo Montaguti with Moreno Moser third. Tom Dumoulin was in all sorts of trouble on the dirt road of the Alpe di Poti ascent getting dropped almost immediately as Alejandro Valverde attacked, initially only Vincenzo Nibali and Esteban Chaves were able to follow Valverde’s attack but the other GC rivals excluding Dumoulin rode back to the attack. Gianluca Brambilla took over the GC lead.

Stage 9 was the longest ITT of this years Giro and at 40.9km was expected to give the strong time trial riders a chance to gain an advantage ahead of the mountain stages. A heavy rain shower negated some of that advantage as Primoz Roglic won the stage from Matthias Brandle. Tom Dumoulin could manage only 15th on the stage and only 15 seconds faster than Nibali with Landa and Valverde also not far behind.

2016 Giro d’Italia Week Two Preview

Week 2 has a group of six stages before the next rest day and starts with stage 10 a medium mountain stage with constant climbing and descending before finishing on the short summit finish at Sestola. Coming straight after a rest day the GC rivals will test each other on the Plan del Falco climb.

Stages 11 and 12 are sprint stages.

Stage 13 is a medium mountain stage with two category 1 climbs and two category 2 climbs.

Stage 14 is a monster. A 210km race through the Monti Pallidi, the Pale Mountains. This will be one of the two decisive stages of week two.

Stage 14 through the Monti Pallidi, the Pale Mountains.
Stage 14 through the Monti Pallidi, the Pale Mountains.

The stage 15 ITT is the final stage before the next rest day and it’s an uphill individual time trial on the Alpe di Siusi. There’s a 1.8km flat section before a 9km climb at 8.3 percent. It’s another stage where the GC contenders are going to try and put time into each other.

Stage 15 ITT on Alpe di Siusi
Stage 15 ITT on Alpe di Siusi

The Contenders

Mikel Landa arrives at the second rest day in 8th place and only 25 seconds behind Vincenzo Nibali, before the Giro started I don’t think he would have expected to be as close as that and he’s the favourite now. The rest of the race plays to Mikel Landa’s strengths.
Vincenzo Nibali sits at 5th place and perfectly poised to take the lead possibly as early as stage 10 or either himself or Landa on stage 14 and 15. It should be a battle to the end between Nibali and Landa with the edge just to Landa for now.
Alejandro Valverde is sixth only two seconds behind Nibali. Depending how stage 10 plays out he may actually wear the maglia rosa after this stage as he should finish faster than Nibali on the category 3 climb. Valverde will be one of several riders battling for the final podium spot.

Also still in contention for a podium spot are Rafal Majka, Ilnur Zakarin, Esteban Chaves and Rigoberto Uran.

Neil van der Ploeg wins Anchor Point Tour of the South West

The Anchor Point Tour of the South West was the fourth round of the 2016 Singapore Airlines Victorian Road Series (VRS) and was won by Neil van der Ploeg (Avanti Isowhey Sport) from his brother Paul van der Ploeg (State of Matter / MAAP) with Grafton to Inverell runner up Nathan Elliot (Kenyan Riders Downunder) third.

Avanti Isowhey Sport team won all three of the men’s A Grade stages with Sean Lake winning the opening 12km individual time trial from Nathan Elliot with Jason Lea third. Neil van der Ploeg won the 85km stage 2 by 21 seconds to take the overall lead and Patrick Shaw won the final criterium stage and finishing second Neil van der Ploeg was crowned the overall winner of the 2016 Anchor Point Tour of the South West.

Joseph Cooper remains the overall leader of the 2016 Singapore Airlines Victorian Road Series (VRS) on 45 points and did not compete in the Anchor Point Tour of the South West, Rhys Gillet remains second on 29 points while Neil van der Ploeg moves into third place on 27 points.

Results Top 10 Anchor Point Tour of the South West

PlaceRider (Team)Result
1Neil VAN DER PLOEG (Avanti Isowhey Sport)3h18:08
2Paul VAN DER PLOEG (State of Matter / MAAP)+:34
3Nathan ELLIOTT (Kenyan Riders Downunder)+:40
4Sean LAKE (Avanti Isowhey Sport)+:50
5Harry CARPENTER+:57
6Jason LEA+1:15
7Patrick SHAW (Avanti Isowhey Sport)+1:17
8Chris HARPER (State of Matter / MAAP)+1:23
9Liam WHITE (Pats Veg Cycling Team)+1:50
10Cyrus MONK (Pats Veg Cycling Team)+1:55

The next round of the 2016 Singapore Airlines Victorian Road Series (VRS) is the Fred Icke Road Race at Creswick on June 4.

Kate Perry wins the Women’s Anchor Point Tour of the South West

Melbourne’s Kate Perry (Specialized Women’s Racing) won the Women’s Anchor Point Tour of the South West from Brodie Chapman (Holden Women’s Cycling Team) with Verita Stewart (Specialized Women’s Racing) third.

Kate Perry now leads the Women’s 2016 Singapore Airlines Victorian Road Series as well as the Subaru National Road Series.

Results Top 10 Women’s Anchor Point Tour of the South West

PlaceRider (Team)Result
1Kate PERRY (Specialized Women’s Racing)3h30:10
2Brodie CHAPMAN (Holden Women’s Cycling Team)+:26
3Verita STEWART (Specialized Women’s Racing)+:48
4Justine BARROW+1:11
5Rachel WARD+1:13
6Minda MURRAY+1:20
7Grace BROWN+2:14
8Anna BOOTH+2:25
9Joanne HOGAN+3:42
10Kirsty DEACON+3:42

Peter Sagan wins opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California

Peter Sagan wins stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California
Peter Sagan wins stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California | photo @ShannpannMyers

Last years winner Peter Sagan started out where he left off last year as he out-sprinted the field to win the opening stage of the 2016 Tour of California and will wear the race leaders yellow jersey into tomorrow’s South Pasadena-Santa Clarita stage. Wouter Wippert was second and Dylan Groenewegen third.

Results Top 10 Stage 1 Amgen Tour of California

PlaceRider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team4:20:41
2Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
4Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
5Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk
6Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Axeon Hagens Berman
8Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
9Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
10John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team

Operation Puerto Haunts Spanish Sport After a Decade

Ivan Bassso was one of several riders suspended due to Operation Puerto
Ivan Bassso was one of several riders suspended due to Operation Puerto | Photo Stefano Rellandini

It’s been ten years now since one of the sports biggest doping scandals and Operation Puerto just won’t go away as local Spanish courts are still to decide whether hundreds of blood bags should get destroyed or be released for re-examination.

More than 50 cyclists were implicated in Operation Puerto including Jan Ullrich, Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso.

A judge ordered the destruction of the blood bags and other evidence and Spain’s antidoping agency, the UCI and WADA have appealed to have the blood bags released to be re-examined.

You can read more on the NY Times.

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