Blazin' Saddles

  • Blazin' Saddles: Giro d'Italia - Richie Porte's second week from hell

    Our cycling blogger takes a sideways glance at the second phase of the Giro d'Italia - including Richie Porte's demise from podium contender to DNF'er.

    Richie Porte Giro d'Italia 2015 (AFP)Richie Porte Giro d'Italia 2015 (AFP)

    It started like an episode of MTV's Cribs and ended mirroring the Weakest Link with Richie Porte given the wink and sent packing with a snide 'goodbye'.

    "I guess that's cycling - it's a cruel sport," summarised the Australian as he left the race after a horror week that saw everything but the campervan kitchen sink thrown at his pimped-up Pinarello.

    If the opening week of the race was characterised by Alberto Contador's early rise into pink followed by his race-threatening dislocated shoulder, the second phase was neatly structured around Porte puncturing, being penalised, crashing again, and

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  • Watch: Mass crash causes chaos at Giro d'Italia as Alberto Contador loses race lead

    Alberto Contador was caught up in this chaotic moment on stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia

    Stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia descended into chaos when a mass pile-up unseated scores of riders, including then race leader Alberto Contador.

    The crash occurred 3.2km from the finish in Jesolo as one rider’s descent set off a chain reaction which pulled in many others.

    Contador was one of the luckless riders who was brought down and after scrabbling around for a bike, losing valuable time, he eventually lost the maglia rosa as Fabio Aru took over as race leader.

    "I was really well placed and I could see the crash coming,” Contador, who dislocated his shoulder in a similar incident in the

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  • Alberto Contador sitting pretty in pink at Giro d'Italia - but Sky waiting to pounce

    After nine days of frantic racing down the west coast of Italy, our cycling blogger takes a look back at the first phase of the 98th edition of the Giro d'Italia.

    The 2015 Giro d'Italia: Aru, Cataldo, Contador, Porte and UranThe 2015 Giro d'Italia: Aru, Cataldo, Contador, Porte and Uran

    Just 22 seconds separate the big three riders in this year's race with shoulder-sore Alberto Contador holding a slender three-second advantage over Fabio Aru, and Richie Porte lingering with intent in third.

    But the battle for the maglia rosa is not the only aspect of the race that interests us fans - so sit back and absorb this sideways glance over the stand-out events of the past nine days.

    Stage 1: Orica-GreenEdge win TTT

    The Australian team - as is their custom of late - beasted the opening race against the clock to put Simon Gerrans in pole position at San Remo, something that hasn't

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  • Awkward! Cyclist Simon Clarke celebrates wildly... but finishes second

    Clarke was left to put his hands on his head when it was pointed out to him by a rival that he hadn't won the stage.

    Australian cyclist Simon Clarke found himself in an awkward situation at the finale of stage four of the Giro d’Italia when he celebrated wildly after coming in a distant second.

    Embarrassingly for Clarke, rival rider Giovanni Visconti of Movistar pointed out to him that Davide Formolo, who had gone out and attacked on his own, had already finished – a full 22 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.

    In what appeared to be recognition of his gaffe, Clarke put his hands on his head after having celebrated.

    It wasn’t a complete letdown for the Australian, however, after he secured the Giro overall

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  • Domenico Pozzovivo 'conscious' after Giro d'Italia horror crash

    This nasty crash marred the Giro d'Italia, but fortunately Pozzovivo is 'conscious'.

    Italian Domenico Pozzovivo is "conscious and lucid" after being carried away motionless on a stretcher following a crash in a descent during the third stage of the Giro d'Italia, his team said.

    "According to the race doctor, Pozzovivo has been evacuated conscious and lucid," French outfit AG2R-La Mondiale said on their Twitter feed.

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  • 2015 Giro d'Italia preview: Alberto Contador v Richie Porte? Aru kidding?

    With defending champion Nairo Quintana absent and no clear favourite for the pink jersey, Felix Lowe previews and forecasts the 2015 Giro d’Italia.

    (L-R) Alberto Contador, Richie Porte, Fabio Aru (Reuters/AFP)

    Starting near San Remo and finishing in Milan three weeks later, the 98th edition of the Giro d'Italia promises to be so much more than 'La Primavera' in reverse

    Given the doubts surrounding Fabio Aru's race condition, any hopes of a home win may be slim for the host nation - but they have a better chance than Great Britain, for whom there are no representatives for the first time in 15 years.

    With 12 mountain stages, six summit finishes and one of the longest time trials in recent history, the 2015 Giro is shaping up to be a very open race with no runaway favourites.

    In the absence of

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  • Alejandro Valverde's evergreen empire strikes back (to the future)

    Felix Lowe picks over Alejandro Valverde's Ardennes double, and explains why he could finish the season once again on the top of the pack.

    Movistar team rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain kisses his trophy after winning the Fleche Wallonne Classic cycling race in Huy April 22, 2015Movistar team rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain kisses his trophy after winning the Fleche Wallonne Classic cycling race in Huy April 22, 2015

    As far as birthday weeks go, Alejandro Valverde's was pretty successful with successive scalps earning the Spaniard a huge Ardennes pat on the back.

    Victory in Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege - on both occasions over plucky French youngster Julian Alaphilippe - earned veteran Valverde his second Ardennes double in seven years.

    His triumphs sandwiched either side of his 35th birthday, Valverde became only the second rider in history to pull off a double double of Fleche and Liege wins. 

    Crazily, this cycling blogger missed it all completely.

    Having seen the 'Green Bullet' narrowly

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  • Steele Von Hoff Q&A - 'If Vaughters calls, I won't pick up'

    With the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire just a week away, Eurosport chews the fat with an Australian rider looking to make a splash in the Dales: NFTO's Steele Von Hoff.

    Steele Von Hoff and Eddie DunbarSteele Von Hoff and Eddie Dunbar

    Former Garmin-Sharp rider Steele Von Hoff has enjoyed a stellar start to the season with victories in the Australian national criterium championships, stage 4 of the Tour Down Under and the Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race in his native Australia.

    But now the 27-year-old sprinter has his heart set on opening up his account for his new British team NFTO (Not For The Ordinary).

    Von Hoff joined the British UCI Continental outfit after missing out on a new contract during the Cannondale-Garmin merger in the close season, claiming he had been led down the garden path by former team manager Jonathan

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  • 10 thoughts from Flanders and Paris-Roubaix

    Felix Lowe looks at the big talking points from the past two monuments.

    Team Giant-Alpecin German cyclist John Degenkolb celebrates on the podium after winning the 113th edition of the Paris-Roubaix Paris-Roubaix one-day classic Team Giant-Alpecin German cyclist John Degenkolb celebrates on the podium after winning the 113th edition of the Paris-Roubaix Paris-Roubaix one-day classic 

    As the dust settles on the cobblestones of Flanders and northern France, we take a look at the main talking points from the past two monuments.

    Norway's Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Germany's John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) took the spoils - but there were no end of flashpoints during an intriguing, if a little subdued, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix campaign.

    King Kristoff proves his versatility

    "The new Boonen is Norwegian," ran the headline in Het Nieuwsblat. In the absence of the Belgian totem, Kristoff had taken the Ronde van Vlaanderen by the scruff of its neck. Coming into the

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  • Train company demands police action against cyclists following near 'tragedy' at Paris-Roubaix

    Shocking video makes headlines and provokes strong reaction.

    Paris-Roubaix witnessed a scary moment on Sunday when some riders raced through a level crossing just seconds before a high-speed train careered through.

    The peloton approached the level crossing and was cut in half as the barriers descended.

    Some riders were clipped by the barrier as it fell, while others squirmed to the side and raced over the crossing.

    As security personnel ordered those behind to halt, a few daredevils broke free, including one reckless rider who made it off the track just eight seconds before a TGV high-speed train thundered past.

    Paris-RoubaixParis-Roubaix

    The company responsible for France's

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