British rider Adam Blythe (BMC Racing) aims for the Paris-Corrèze overall after winning the first stage on Wednesday in Sassay, France. He sprinted ahead of Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Kevyn Ista (Accent Jobs).

“We really want to get the general classification win and we have a number of guys who could be up to it, depending on how hard the climbing is,” sports director, Max Sciandri said in a press release.

Today’s 170.2km stage closes with the Col du Suc au May, 13km from the finish.

The win yesterday was Blythe’s first since joining BMC Racing this year. He had the help of Klaas Lodewyck in the last kilometres. Blythe said, “He dropped me off with about 175 meters to go and it was just perfect.”

Contracts signed

Vincenzo Nibali, Nicolas Roche and several other riders and teams announced new contracts yesterday, the first day possible under international cycling federation rules.

Nibali will switch from team Liquigas-Cannondale to Astana, confirmed Kazakh cycling federation vice president, Allen Chayzhunusov in an interview. The Italian led Liquigas since 2006, winning the Vuelta a España, placing second and third in the Giro d’Italia and last month, third in the Tour de France.

Italians Alessandro Vanotti and Valerio Agnoli will also transfer with Nibali. All there signed for two years, 2013 to 2014.

Third place is “good enough for now,” Nibali (pictured) after the Tour. “In the future, maybe there will be the chance to improve on this great result.” He said he would sign for Astana and decide with the team if he will race the Giro or Tour, or both.

Maxim Iglinsky, winner of this year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, confirmed he will renew with Astana for two more years.

Nicolas Roche for the first time will ride for a non-French team, switching from Ag2r to Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank. In Saxo Bank, he will ride under team owner Bjarne Riis and join Alberto Contador.

It “is a whole new adventure for me after eight years of riding for French teams, and I’m really excited about this challenge,” Roche said in a press release. “Bjarne Riis has managed some of the best cyclists in the world, and I’m convinced that his team can help me step up a level and help me achieve some results. At the same time it will be a great new experience for me to take on a supporting role as well.”

Roche turned professional in 2005 with Cofidis, joined Crédit Agricole in 2007 and Ag2r in 2009. He signed a two-year contract with Saxo Bank.

Graeme Brown renewed with Rabobank for one more year, through 2013. The Dutch team considers him as an important mentor for fellow Aussies, Michael Matthews and Mark Renshaw.

Watch Cavendish win

Mark Cavendish (Sky) missed a chance to win the London Olympics, but one day later, he won a criterium in Ninove, Belgium. Watch the video footage from Robbie McEwen’s bike.

Watch the video:

Ride Eroica…

The organisers of Italy’s Eroica sportive are offering the final 100 bookings on Monday. The proceeds from the 130€ fee will go to support development projects in Burkina Faso and Emergency, a centre for heart surgery.

Eroica takes place over Siena’s white gravel roads on October 7. The sportive was inspired pre-war Italian races, like the Giro d’Italia. Eroica in turn inspired Italy’s new one-day classic Strade Bianche, this year won by Fabian Cancellara.

Eroica is strictly limited to pre-1987 vintage bikes with down tube shift levers, external brake cables and pedals with tow straps. Information on bikes and registration can be found here: www.eroica-ciclismo.it

The Muro di Sormano is back

After 50 years absence, the Muro di Sormano will return in this year’s edition of the Tour of Lombardy on September 29. The short 1920-metre climb, with ramps up to 25 per cent, will feature mid-race ahead of the Madonna di Ghisallo and Villa Vergano climbs.

Organisers previously used the ‘Wall’ only from 1960 to 1962, when Ercole Baldini recorded the fastest time of 9-24 minutes. As with the Poggio in Milan-San Remo, director Vincenzo Torriani introduced the climb to spice up the final. Rik Van Looy, who won the mountains classification that year at the Giro, was forced to dismount and run up the climb with his bike on his back. Torriani did not care for the fans who began pushing cyclists in subsequent editions and removed it for 1963.

The climb, off the main road to Sormano used last year, is now dedicated to cyclists and closed to automobile traffic. Sormano city officials painted metre markings on the road, dedications to Baldini, and those who topped it first: Imerio Massignan (1960 and 1961) and Livio Trapè (1962).

Muro di Sormano climbs from 820 to 1124 metres, 304 metres of climbing in total, averages 15.8 per cent and features three switch-backs. The riders will drop down to Nesso afterwards and race towards Lecco, where Oliver Zaugg (Leopard-Trek) won last year.

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  • ian franklin

    Re: Eroica report:
    I think your journalist meant toe straps not tow straps. Hey, are you lot cyclists out there or just sportive riders!!!!

  • Steve F

    Perhaps Nicolas switched to get rid of those awful brown shorts!