Oakley Road Cycling: Showing Early Season Promise
Road cycling is finally back in full swing and ready for another promising season. Putting all distractions behind them, the peloton strapped in and hit the roads all around the world. The Oakley team has experienced an overwhelming amount of success already in the opening stages of the season. Racking up GC wins in Australia and Qatar, along with a growing number of stage wins and other accolades in Argentina, it's looking like another favorable season for Oakley road cyclists.
Santos Tour Down Under
Kicking off the 2013 road cycling season, Australia hosted the famed Santos Tour Down Under during the month of January. Dutch cyclist Tom-Jelte Slagter came away with a narrow general classification victory, beating out second place Javier Moreno of Spain by a 17 second overall margin. Oakley's two-time Olympic track cycling champion, Geraint Thomas of Team Sky finalized the podium, claiming third place overall in the Tour Down Under.
Slagter began his campaign for the overall win with his Stage 3 win. The victory was the rookie Slagter's first-ever stage victory. His lead entering the final day was a slim 13 seconds over Moreno but Slagter was successfully able to defend his advantage, securing him his introductory ProTour victory.
"I'm not looking at my age, we're all in the same peloton where more and more young riders are performing," said the rookie, 23-year-old Slagter. "Today I'm not thinking that I'm young but that I have won the Santos Tour Down Under and that's a wonderful feeling!
OVERALL STANDING ON TIME Result after stage 6
1. Tom-Jelte Slagter (BLA, NED) 18h28m32s OAKLEY
2. Javier Moreno (MOV, ESP) at 17s
3. Geraint Thomas (SKY, GBR) at 25s OAKLEY
4. Ion Izaguirre (EUS, ESP) at 32s
5. Ben Hermans (RAD, BEL) at 34s OAKLEY
Tour de San Luis
While the boys were battling it out down under, a stacked field was racing through South America at Argentina's Tour de San Luis. Two Oakley riders stood out in terms of accomplishments in Argentina. First, the former World Champion, Mark Cavendish sprinted his way to the Stage One victory. The win was significant to the Manx Missile because it marked his first victory with his new team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Changing sides in the off-season, Cavendish was thrilled to earn the team's first stage win as well as the first of many of his 2013 season.
"It feels good to be fresh with a good bunch of guys and on such a fast bike," Cavendish said. "The guys really looked after me, so I had 100 percent energy at the finish. I'm so happy I could win."
Also notable in terms of Oakley finishes, was youngster Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing. The young American received accolades of all kinds during last year's Tour de France, protecting defending champion Cadel Evans, while powering himself to Top Young Rider honors. Van Garderen finished the Tour de San Luis 33 seconds behind Daniel Diaz in the general classification standings. On his road to second place in the overall standings, Van Garderen complied four top-ten finishes, as he led his team to victory in the team classification competition.
"I was actually thinking I was going to get the stage win in the time trial and I wasn't that keen for even going for the GC," he said. "But (Directeur Sportif) John Lelangue and the team really motivated me to get it going. I was actually surprised at how up there I was."
OVERALL STANDING ON TIME
Result after stage 7
1. DIAZ, Ricardo SAN LUIS SOMOS TODOS 24:03:16
2. VAN GARDEREN, Tejay BMC RACING TEAM a 33 OAKLEY
3. DINIZ, Alex FUNVIC BRASILINVEST a 39
4. CONTADOR, Alberto TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF a 01:02
5. V.DEN BROECK, Jurgen LOTTO BELISOL a 01:47
Tour of Qatar
Hopping over to Western Asia, the Tour of Qatar was all Cavendish. The Manx Missile took a commanding general classification victory, leaning on his four-straight stage victories in the final legs of the race. The 2011 World Champion enjoyed the top spot on the podium in four of the Tour's six stages. Riding without fellow Omega Pharma-Quick Step powerhouse, Tom Boonen, its scary to think what else Cavendish and his team have yet to accomplish in this 2013 season when the Belgian returns.
"I'm over the moon," Cavendish said. "We come here every year almost guaranteed an overall victory with Tom Boonen, but he's recovering from an injury. So it put a little bit of pressure on me and I was a bit nervous. We've won the Tour of Qatar six times, and I don't know how many stages, so I am happy to be a part of that."
OVERALL STANDING ON TIME
Result after stage 6
1. CAVENDISH Mark OPQS 15h 55’ 20" OAKLEY
2. BOOKWALTER Brent BMC RACING 15h 55’ 45" + 00’ 25" OAKLEY
3. PHINNEY Taylor BMC RACING 15h 55’ 46" + 00’ 26" OAKLEY
4. BLYTHE Adam BMC RACING 15h 55’ 50" + 00’ 30" OAKLEY
5. EISEL Bernhard SKY 15h 55’ 52" + 00’ 32" OAKLEY
There is plenty more action in the world of road cycling in the very near future. The Tour of Oman started just yesterday, the Vuelta a Andalucía in Spain begins next week and then the Tour of Algarve in Portugal. All of these races are leading up to Paris-Nice. This is the weeklong race that symbolically kicks off the major European events, noted as the most esteemed races in road cycling. The event runs from March 3rd to March 9th sending the riders nearly 1200km through the French landscape, finishing in the beautiful southeastern part of the country.