Monday, October 6, 2014

Cycling Update: 2014 in Review Part 1

One thing that is interesting about the United States cycling scene is that it has been on the decline now for quite some time. Despite all the success of Lance Armstrong he was not inspiring a new generation to come along and step in to compete at the top of the world stage. All the United States grand hopes essentially rest on two people. Taylor Phinney who is now 24 and has not quite lived up to the promise that was seen in him as a junior. He has been struggling with injuries since the day he came into the pro tour. The other is Tejay van Garderen who has shown some real potential in the grand tours. They both race for BMC Racing and it was hoped that both could have a breakout season to bring some prominence back to United States cycling. It didn't quite work out that way. Let's look at the season.

The Spring Classics

Only one US rider has ever really done well at the spring classics and that was George Hincapie. He could never win the two big ones, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix but he was usually a threat. The hope in these races for the US lies now with Phinney who won the U23 Paris-Roubaix twice.

Here are the results from the 2014 classics.

Milan-San Remo
This is considered the classic for sprinters.  For a few years there Tyler Farrar was a threat to win this one, but he's been the only US sprinter in my memory and he's now faded from the top.
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha6:55:56 
2Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing  
3Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky  
4Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team  
5Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
77Kiel Reijnen (USA) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:10:04 

This is the first of the cobbled classics.  This is where we would be looking for Taylor Phinney to start showing if he was going to make a run at either Flanders or Roubaix.
1John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano5:34:37 
2Arnaud Demare (Fra)  
3Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale  
4Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team  
5Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
22Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team

E3 Harelbeke
A few years ago Tyler Farrar made the move from sprinter to try and become a classics rider. It hasn't worked out well for him, but he had a good showing in the 2014 E3.
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale4:56:31 
2Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
3Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky  
4Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
5Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:01:16 
8Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Sharp0:01:19 

Tour of Flanders
So going into Flanders we had two Americans which had shown good form. Phinney actually played a role in this years Tour being part of a breakaway. Once caught he faded back, but still it was a good showing. The problem for Phinney was that he didn't go with a strong enough group, so he picked the wrong move.
1Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing6:15:18 
2Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
3Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
4Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
5Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha0:00:08 
40Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team0:04:12 

Farrar had also been in the mix at Flanders so there was hope that he or Phinney could crack the podium at Roubaix. It was not to be.
1Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team6:09:01 
2John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano0:00:20 
3Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing  
4Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team  
5Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
30Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team0:02:55 

Amstel Gold
Lance Armstrong used to always make his seasonal debut at Amstel Gold and he came close to winning a few times, but could never pull it off. This is usually where we look to the grand tour contenders to show their one day legs. So we would be looking for Tejay van Garderen to show up here, but he didn't show up. There was a pretty limited US contingency.
1Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team6:25:57 
2Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:00:05 
3Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge0:00:06 
4Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team  
5Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 
35Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp00:00:36

La Flèche Wallonne
Amstel Gold, La Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Baston-Liege make up what are called the Ardennes classics. It is always a good chance to see riders who will probably have a big impact in the grand tours. This was a very good showing for the American based Garmin-Sharp.
1Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team4:36:45 
2Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp0:00:03 
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team0:00:04 
4Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
5Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp0:00:06 
38Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp0:01:04

This is always a fun race. Obviously the US hope going into this one was Alex Howes.
1Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge6:37:43 
2Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team  
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
4Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha  
5Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:03 
81Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing0:08:05 

It was a rough spring for United States cycling. Now would begin the grand tour season.

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