Shorts: Liberty, Recycling, Bettini
Good and bad news for Liberty Seguros at Alcobendas, Downing brothers dominate Lincoln GP, Bettini d
There was a mixed bag for the Liberty Seguros team in the final time trial at the Alcobendas Classic on Sunday. Luis Leon Sanchez won the stage for them for the second year in a row, while fellow 22 year old Koen de Kort was fifth. However, Olympic road race runner-up and Portuguese time trial champion Sergio Paulinho was prevented from starting by the commissaries because he wasn’t wearing his national champion’s jersey. “It was strange because he hasn’t been wearing it in other time trials and the judges didn’t say anything before,” said a team statement.
All three riders will now go on to next week’s Tour of Catalonia, where Liberty has high hopes of winning the team time trial. Sanchez pointed out that although he won the Alcobendas TT last year, “this wasn’t the same circuit because there were continuous drags and a lot of wind. In the warm-up I felt pretty good so I opted for a 56 ring rather than a 55.”
– After three stage wins in the recent Ruban Granitier stage race in Brittany, recycling.co.uk’s Russell Downing was at it again in Sunday’s Lincoln Grand Prix, where he and brother Dean destroyed the field in the 50th edition of the race, finishing over two and a half minutes in front of their nearest rivals. Russell proved he is in the form of his life and took the victory ahead of his older brother at the top of the infamous one-in-six Michaelgate climb. Recycling underlined their strength in depth with five riders in the top 13, with Robin Sharman, runner-up last year, finishing fourth and world team pursuit champions Paul Manning and Chris Newton taking ninth and 13th respectively.
The Downings were part of a strong 16-man group that formed in the early skirmishes of the race when team mate Chris Newton, a winner of this race in 2000, lead the charge up the first accent of Michaelgate to initiate the winning move. With six laps remaining Russ attacked the lead group closely followed by his brother and Yanto Barker (DFL), with the trio working well together to build up a comfortable lead before Barker was dropped with just two laps to go.
– Giro stage one winner Paolo Bettini was euphoric after his first victory of the season that was also, and almost unbelievably, his first victory in the Giro on his fifth appearance in the race. The Italian said not only winning the stage but also taking the leader’s pink jersey was more than he could have dreamed of after being sidelined for most of the early part of the season with a viral infection.
“From January 25 to the day before the Amstel Gold Race I spent 44 days taking antibiotics. So I dedicate this victory to all those people who have been close to me during the most difficult period of my career – to my wife Monica, to my daughter Carlotta and to my friends like Davide Bramati,” said Bettini afterwards. “I had been told that the finish was made for me, but I knew it would not be easy because the sprinters were also up for it and so were some of the overall classification riders, who didn’t want to risk losing any time. I benefited from the work that the Fassa riders put in, then gave everything that I had.”