Sigma Sport-Specialized’s Wouter Sybrandy described his fourth-placed in the second of this year’s Etape du Tour events (July 17) as one of the most difficult rides he has ever done.

Sybrandy was making the most of a free slot in his racing calendar to get in some quality kilometres before heading off to Belgium at the weekend for a Pro Kermesse.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “Today is up there with the hardest days I have ever spent on a bike.

“I had to stop at one point to put my rain jacket back on after getting too cold. By the time I managed to get it on I had a large gap to make up. It was during this stop that the leading three riders clipped off and got their gap”.

The 208km sportive was the same parcours as that covered by the riders on stage nine of this year’s Tour.

Riders from all over the globe set out from Issoire in the Massif Central in the early hours of Sunday morning headed for the historic town of Saint Flour.

Ahead of them lay an uncomfortable day in the saddle under horrific weather conditions; throw into the mix eight deceptive categorized climbs and you have a serious challenge on your hands.

The now infamous stage saw Jonny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha be taken out by a TV car and also the end of Alexandre Vinokourov’s cycling career following a heavy crash mid stage.

Alexandre Vinokourov injured, Tour de France 2011, stage nine



Vinokourov retires – but the riders in the Etape suffered from freezing conditions and hail storms

Sybrandy however had no such problems and powered over the course in 6-56-20, just under eight minutes behind the winner Lilian Jegou – ex professional with Credit Agricole and FDJ.

The cold and wet conditions meant that most competitors didn’t even see half distance, with only 1982 finishers out of over 6000 who signed up for the event.

Corley Cycle’s Mike Smith takes Urban Hill Climb

The second Rollapaluza Urban Hill Climb in Highgate, London was won by Mike Smith of Corley Cycles on Thursday evening.



Smith set a record time on the climb of 1-27, beating Chris Metcalfe’s 1-32.86 from 2010. One hundred and twelve cyclists toiled up Swains Lane in total, with sizeable crowds cheering them on.



Germain Burton, the sixteen year old representing De Ver Cycles who came second in 2010’s inaugural event, was expected to push the senior riders all the way, and he duly did so, qualifying for the final and ultimately finishing second.



Last year’s winner, Chris Metcalfe, finished third, with Richard Cartland of Team Corley Cycles fourth. Louise Moriarty of Look Mum No Hands won the women’s event.

Armitstead and Pooley off to strong start in Germany

Lizzie Armstead has clearly put her Giro Donne crash behind her after a strong start to the Thüringen Rundfahrt, the prestigious seven day German stage race.

The British road race champion took second in yesterday’s third stage into Schleiz, having finished second in the bunch sprint at the end of the first road stage on Tuesday.

Swede Emma Johansson (Hitec Products-UCK) currently leads overall; Armitstead is the highest Brit on GC, sitting in 13th position.

She also tops the sprint classification going into today’s stage, while her Garmin-Cervelo team-mate and Giro runner-up Emma Pooley is winning the mountains competition.

 The Mars Refuel Drink Fund has handed out £500 to a budding track cycling talent to allow him to travel and compete.

Drinks fund offers vital cash to young track talent

Fifteen year-old Ryan Whatmough from Heywood in Lancashire travels to the Manchester Velodrome after school to train as often as possible but struggles to finance his cycling.



“I compete in the Under 16’s ‘A’ category which means I do a lot of travelling up and down the country for competitions,” Ryan said. “With this donation I can cover some of my competition travel costs, as well as invest in the new equipment I need, such as some new handle bars and track cycling shoes. 



“My ultimate goal is to compete for my country at the 2016 Olympics.  The funding will be a great boost to help me train and compete for longer.”



Research undertaken by MARS Refuel earlier this year revealed that almost a quarter of people feel that they don’t have enough money to start participating in sport, or to keep that involvement going. The MARS Refuel Drink Fund was created to help people overcome the financial barriers and to play sport for longer.



The fund runs until September 30 2011 and has £5,000 to give away each month.

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