- Article published:
- April 11, 2013, 13:54
- Stephen Farrand
Astana rider insists he is not involved in the Dr. Ferrari investigation
Amstel Gold Race is not one of cycling's monumental Classics, but for Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) the race in the Limburg hills of the southern Netherlands is the biggest day of his season.
He loves the only Dutch one-day classic and the race route seems to suit him perfectly. He can handle the twisting course and dozens of short climbs and yet still have the speed to sprint for victory.
Last year he beat Jelle Vanendert and Peter Sagan in the sprint atop the summit of the Cauberg, timing his effort to perfection. A week later he was third at Liege-Bastogne-Liege behind teammate Maxim Iglinsky and Vincenzo Nibali – who was then riding for Liquigas but is now a teammate at Astana.
Gasparotto will wear number one this year and be the leader of the Astana team for the Ardennes Classics along with Iglinsky.
"I think I'm going better than I did last year, I was stronger at Paris-Nice than I was at Tirreno-Adriatico last year, and so I think my base is pretty good," Gasparotto told Cyclingnews from his home in Lugano.”
“Of course, it's never easy to repeat a great season. Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara proved that recently but I've trained hard and done everything I can to be at my very best for the Ardennes week. I want to be up there, I want to prove that I can do something in the hilly Classics."
Gasparotto went to Teide on the island of Tenerife, immediately after Milan-San Remo for a block of intense and high quality training. He is a regular at the Hotel Parador, high on the slopes of the volcano at 2200 metres.
He struggled in the cold and rain at the recent Tour of the Basque Country after training in the heat of Tenerife but avoided catching a cold.
"I looked after myself and avoided getting sick, so I didn’t waste all the hard work I'd done," he said with relief in his voice.
"Fortunately the weather forecast is good for next week in the Ardennes and it seems we've finally left winter behind. Riders often say they like racing in the rain but I think every rider prefers racing in the dry."
The new Amstel Gold race route and finish
Gasparotto leaves little to chance when he targets a major race and has already studied the new finish and the new route of the Amstel Gold Race.
The finish line is in the same place as it was for last year's world championships, 1.5km further along the road on the top of the Cauberg climb. The flat finish will make it more difficult for winning attacks to go on the Cauberg.
"I think the old finish, at the top of the Cauberg, was better for me," Gasparotto said, with a sigh but without resignation.
"With the finish 1.5km further ahead it means you've got to have the legs to go solo, like Gilbert did when he won the world title, other wise the race is more open. The problem is that Gilbert was on a special day and few riders have the same ability."
"Sagan will almost be unbeatable on the new finish, whereas before on the Cauberg, the climb hurt a lot and produced a lot of lactic acid all the way to the line. Now there's time for riders to recover."
"However it won't be a simple race even for him because they've changed the race route. This year there's an extra time up the Cauberg with just 20km to go. After that there's a lap of the circuit they used for the worlds and then another time up the Cauberg. That'll change the way we race earlier in the race."
Gasparotto is focused and on form for the Ardennes week despite being caught up in the ongoing investigations in Dr. Michele Ferrari.
Numerous witnesses confirmed to USADA that Dr. Ferrari helped them take EPO and other doping products during their careers and evidence confirmed the Italian doctors special relationship with Lance Armstrong during his years of cheating and deception and his seven Tour de France victories.
Investigating magistrate Benedetto Roberti has yet to wrap up his work and decide who should go on trail, but Gasparotto is named in sworn statements given to Italian police as part of the Padua and USADA investigations into Dr Ferrari. Both Leonardo Bertagnolli and Volodymyr Bileka say they underwent tests with Dr. Ferrari at the same time as Gasparotto and trained with him at altitude at St. Moritz and Teide.
Gasparotto neither confirmed nor denied he is a client of Dr. Ferrari to Cyclingnews. It's common knowledge within Italian cycling that being linked to the disgraced sports doctor from Ferrara could spark a three month ban, as has already happened to Filippo Pozzato, Michele Scarponi and Giovanni Visconti.
Gasparotto claims he is not formally under investigation in the Padua case.
"I don’t understand why I have to reply to insinuations that have been made in the press," Gasparotto told Cyclingnews.
"When my name came out, about a year and a half ago, I acted to make sure everything was ok. I've got a document from the investigators in Padua saying that I'm not involved. I gave this document to the President of the Federation and I'm ready to show it to the media too if needed."
"The Italian Olympic Committee hasn't done anything and I've never received anything (legal notifications) at home. I don't understand why I have to continue to justify myself in the press. That's the way I see things."
- Article published:
- April 11, 2013, 16:40
- Brecht Decaluwé
Unlucky Roubaix ride still on his mind
With a strong performance at the Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, the Spring Classics campaign from Stijn Devolder (RadioShack-Leopard) came to an end. There will be no Ardennes for the 33-year-old Belgian, who was very disappointed that he wasn't able to support teammate Fabian Cancellara in Paris-Roubaix last Sunday. After a solid first part of his season, in which Devolder showed that he's on the way back into full form, he will aim next to win a race during the second part of the season.
"The most beautiful races, the races on pavé, are behind us. It was very good for me and the team," said Devolder. "The first goal was to get back at a high level and help Fabian Cancellara. Today, I wanted to race one last time, without thinking and to find out for myself how good I am. I conclude my spring campaign with a good feeling. I hope to reach my second goal during the next part of the season: winning a race again."
During the Brabantse Pijl, Devolder didn't plan to attack as early as he did. With 50km to go, he reached the top of the Ijskelderlaan climb at the head of the peloton and ended up getting a gap. At that moment, he was trailing the breakaway group by more than a minute.
"Sörensen accelerated. I took over, and suddenly I had a gap. It was difficult because there's no race radio, and you don't know where you are. Once I heard I was only half a minute behind the leaders, I kept going. I did it solo because I didn't even know there was another group coming up behind me. That's a pity because it would've saved me a lot of energy," Devolder said.
In the finale, Devolder wasn't surprised when Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) bridged up. Volderke didn't spare any of his effort in the breakaway and wasn't able to follow their move in the finale. He finished eighth.
Placing eighth didn't bother him although he was still thinking about his performance in Paris-Roubaix last Sunday. Despite being able to show his good form in most of the Spring Classics, he was going backwards at Paris-Roubaix after some bad luck.
"I was super disappointed on Sunday. It was the biggest disappointment for me in this Classics campaign. I had so much bad luck, and I should have been with Fabian. I knew I would be with him until deep into the finale. They would not have been able to isolate him like they did now. I would've been able to react on the attacks, giving him a a freer way in the finale," Devolder said.
"I had a chain problem and there was no car on the second pavé sector. I had to work on my chain for one and a half minutes. Later I flatted. I rode alone for 60 kilometres. I rode my finale at that moment in the race. I caught back up just before the Arenberg forest. There, I overtook about 30-40 riders and made it out with the first part of the peloton. Then my finale was over, and I was dead."
Before Paris-Roubaix, the Belgian rider had expressed his desire to head into the legendary showers at the vélodrome instead of freshening up in the team bus after the race. The showers in Roubaix each have a label of a former winner. After the race on Sunday, he was too disappointed to think about it, but on Wednesday he repeated his wish.
"One day I'll take a shower over there," Devolder said. Of course, if he ever takes a win in Roubaix, there will be no such time for a shower, but then he could always step into his own labelled shower the next year after that.
Before the season, Devolder wondered whether he was still worthy of being a professional rider. "Dirk Demol kept repeating during this spring that it couldn't all be gone. We took it step by step. In my head, it's all coming back step by step, too. I'm not there yet but it's coming back. I'm riding next to the best guys in these races," Devolder said.
After taking a break, Devolder will get onto his goal of winning races in the remainder of the season. He might take part in the Tour de France in July, but just before the French stage race, he hopes to win the Belgian national championships in La-Roche-en-Ardenne.
"I'm feeling good in this team. I can be at the Tour de France. Most important is that I can win a race again. It doesn't matter which one. Of course the Belgian championships are on my mind. The competition is impressive though. We have a good team for that race but there's only four of us."
For now, he will enjoy a well-deserved break. When asked what he planned to do, Devolder joked, "I'll be walking around drunk all day long... No, I'll be recovering. Doing easy rides of an hour, and then more, building back up. I look forward to being with my family and relaxing."
- Article published:
- April 11, 2013, 18:48
- Cycling News
Defending Amstel champion escapes without serious injuries
Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) was hit by a truck while out training ahead of this weekend’s Amstel Gold Race but has escaped serious injury.
The defending champion was motor pacing around with Astana Pro Team directeur sportif Stefano Zanini when a delivery truck pulled out of a driveway unexpectedly to turn left across the road. Zanini was able to stop the scooter but Gasparotto wasn’t able to avoid a collision with the truck and then the pavement.
The rider luckily escaped serious injury and will still look to start Amstel this weekend. After the collision, despite bruises, Gasparotto was able to carry on training, completing a four hour rider. He wasn’t taken to hospital.
"It was impossible to brake. We were going 45 maybe 50k on a little bit of a descent, and it was impossible not to crash. I was very, very lucky that there was no real damage. My body is a little bit hurt, and my bike was not so good. I have a little bit of pain right now, but today is Thursday, and I can go to the osteopath tonight and everything should be good by Sunday," Gasparotto said in a press release.
"For me this is the most important week of the year, and I want to have good races in the Ardennes, so I continued my training session and that was all I could do. I yelled at the driver that this is my job, I don't go out on the bike just for fun, and he has no idea the sacrifices we make to be professionals. But Zaza is a big man and he was really angry, and I really thought he was going to hit him,” he added.
Zanini said he was angry at the driver, but happy that Gasparotto was apparently unhurt.
"The crash happened in the first hour of training, and we stopped to yell at the driver for about 20 minutes. But Gaspa got back on his bike and rode at the same level for the rest of the training session," Zanini said.
- Article published:
- April 11, 2013, 20:10
- Cycling News
Dutch team working to find a new sponsor
Amstel Gold race has always been an integral date within Dutch cycling calendar, but this year the race takes on a more significant role with two of the nations top teams searching for sponsorship for 2014.
Blanco, the follow up team that replaced Rabobank after they exited the sport in 2012, are currently talking to several interested parties to fund the team for next year and come into Amstel with one of their strongest squads, and are well aware that a win would do their sponsorship search no harm at all.
The team have not won the race since Erik Dekker beat Lance Armstrong to the finish line in 2001, but in Bauke Mollema and Tom Slagter the team have two riders with significant chances.
“I haven’t really raced in a couple of weeks and I am not sure exactly where I stand but in the period before that, I felt very strong. On top of that, I’ve been able to train very well the past few days. What Sep did strengthens me as well. Secretly, I am already looking to Luik-Bastenaken-Luik which is more my race, but I believe I can also do well in the Amstel,” said Mollema, who was 10th last year.
Slagter has never ridden the race but has started the season strongly, winning the overall at the Santos Tour Down Under in January.
“The routes suits me: it somewhat comparable to the stage I took in Australia. It’s just a hundred kilometres longer and different group of riders. I am going to follow my instincts on this one. If I think I can play a role in the finish, I’ll go for it. If not, I’ll try to make myself useful to the team in another way – tagging along up front or supporting Bauke."
Team Blanco for Amstel Gold: Bauke Mollema, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Lars Boom, Laurens Ten Dam, Paul Martens, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Bram Tankink and David Tanner. Sport Directors: Erik Dekker and Frans Maassen.
- Article published:
- April 12, 2013, 02:20
- Jane Aubrey
Saxo-Tinkoff recruit re-learning the ways of the WorldTour
Three words: Amstel Gold Race. Rory Sutherland reacts in a way that leaves little doubt regarding his enthusiasm for the first event of the Ardennes Classics.
"Yeah!" the Saxo-Tinkoff recruit exclaims down the phone to Cyclingnews. "Finally! Finally!"
Riding Amstel Gold Race on Sunday has been 13 years in the making for the 31-year-old who after six seasons of toil primarily in America under the UnitedHealthcare banner, is back full-time in Europe. Four seasons with Rabobank in their Continental and ProTeam squads was never going to net the Australian a start in Holland's biggest race, with preference going to local riders so this one has been a long time coming. While with the Dutch team, Sutherland lived just across the Belgian border from the Amstel start in Maastricht so the roads will be very familiar.
"If you do any hard stuff [in training] you probably go across to Limburg and the Cauberg, that area," Sutherland explained. "It's just gorgeous. It really appealed to me.
"I'm sure riders like something like Roubaix or Flanders because it suits them really well, Amstel and the area with those power climbs generally suit me pretty well so it gives you more motivation."
Sutherland will part of a starting line up that includes Roman Kreuziger and Nicolas Roche so it's more than likely that he will earn a wildcard role in the Saxo-Tinkoff team this weekend before focusing on a dedicated support role at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday with Alberto Contador back in action. While he's itching to be racing this weekend, Amstel Gold Race is still part of the learning curve given he's yet to prove himself at this level.
"Being 250km of racing is a little bit different to doing 200km of racing," Sutherland explained. "Sometimes it takes a little bit more, not experience but a little bit more depth in the racing you've done with the grand tours and everything.
"A race like Sunday... it's a trial and error kind of thing and we'll see what works out."
Finding a new groove
Sutherland began his season at the Tour Méditerranéen before taking on the eight-stage Paris-Nice, where he made some considerable inroads into his transition to the UCI WorldTour.
"All we've seen in training and in the races following is that it's done a lot more for me than what it's done for riders that have done it many years in a row," he told Cyclingnews. "It was definitely a shock to the system to re-learn things; what I was doing and what I was doing wrong. Back to fighting with 200 guys instead of 20 guys for position that makes it a little bit different again."
The Australian has been happy with the smoothness of the move so far with not only a different style of racing to contend with but also a new team and the changes that come with it - riders, languages and equipment.
Having also raced the Critérium International and Circuit de la Sarthe - Pays de la Loire where he finished 10th overall and then last week Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta where he placed 6th, Sutherland believes that indications are that everything is "coming together now and the form seems to be getting better and better."
It's going to be a very busy next two months for Sutherland who after the Ardennes, will race Tour of Turkey and then, after an eight-year absence, the Giro d'Italia, which he last rode in his neo-pro season.
It will make quite the change considering that normally his focus has been on that other May race, the Tour of California.
"I love the race, I love racing in the US but for me and my development as a rider doing another grand tour again is really important for the second half of the year to see what it does and to see if we can make another step in the right direction," Sutherland said frankly.
"I said to some of the riders on the team that I'm an experienced 31-year-old neo pro. I've won more races than some of the guys on the team. I did the Giro in 2005 with one of our directors [Steven De Jongh – ed.] who actually raced as well and I don't think I'm even that old. So that obviously makes it a little different."
- Giro d'Italia
- Article published:
- April 12, 2013, 03:29
- Alex Malone
Former Endura rider loving life back home with Budget Forklifts
Taking out the opening stage at the Woodside Tour de Perth was not about trying to repeat the early success that Team Budget Forklifts experienced in 2012, according to the day's winner Jack Anderson. This season is not about living up to the expectations from season's past, it's about giving his best, providing guidance and advice the younger riders on the squad and just continuing to enjoy life on the bike again - something which Anderson says he had lost at the end of his second year with Endura Racing.
One season spent racing with the Team Sprocket in 2010 and then two years with Endura Racing in the UK almost spelled the end of Anderson's career, that was until his he decided to pack up and return to Australia to race with his former Budget Forlifts squad. The Queenslander considered retirement at the end of 2012 but with a life now balanced between racing, training and working Anderson is enjoying cycling as much as ever.
"I'd had enough of racing over there," he told Cyclingnews. "The main reason was that I just wasn't enjoying it anymore. It became my job. I was pretty close to hanging it up all together.
"It's nice to get some enjoyment out of racing again. It's not my full-time job anymore, I've got a full-time job in Brisbane so to come away here is a completely different atmosphere to racing on a pro team that's for sure.
"It's like anything; if you enjoy what you do you will never 'work' a day in your life. Unfortunately last year I wasn't really enjoying it and it did become work so now I'm reinvigorated. I still loved the sport but so many people have said to be that they've never loved the sport so much until they have retired from professional cycling. That's certainly proven to be the case because now it's really nice, I'm enjoying it a lot."
The team's sports director Cam Watt had put the word out that the team expected to get off to a good start at the four-day tour, adding "we set the bar last year [at Mersey Valley Tour] and we are looking to match that again this year, for sure," Watt told Cyclingnews. Anderson, who joined the team at the start of the year and pulled on the first race leader's jersey of the 2013 Suburu National Road Series was unwilling however, to dwell on the successes of the season prior.
"Everyone keeps comparing last year to this year but this year is a different team, there are still some of the core guys but its just nice to repay Budget and all the other sponsors for all the hard work and the commitment they have given us.
"To get the season off to a winning start is always nice and to do it over in Perth is even better," Anderson told Cyclingnews.
Anderson anticipated the sprint and jumping early to take the stage while his teammate had the legs to finish second from the original eight-rider break that formed after the first of four laps around Rottnest Islan. With Anderson's time trial pedigree, he's now looking to take the jersey all the way to the final stage around Perth on Sunday.
"One guy nipped off the front in the last k and no one wanted to lead it out, everyone was kind of looking at each other so I shot out after him with about 500, 400 to go. They tried to get on me but I think I took the last corner a bit quicker and had enough in the tank to sprint and hold them off. I'm not the quickest guy in the world but if I could from a little way out and get a gap I ca hold them off. Sam was following the wheels and got second which was awesome.
"The time trial will seed everyone into their rightful place and that will sort out the GC itself. Then we can go from there. I want to go into it and keep the jersey until Sunday, of course. We have eight strong guys here so the goal is to win the bike race."
- Article published:
- April 12, 2013, 05:33
- Cycling News
The complete guide to this year's race
The Official Giro d'Italia 2013 programme is on sale now as both a magazine and iPad edition. You can order your copy from www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk. You can also check out our free stage by stage video guide on YouTube.
This year's Giro looks set to be one of the toughest of recent years, but will this boost the competition or have exhausted riders playing the survival game? If anyone would know, it's the men who designed each stage who are interviewed in this 172-page preview to Italy's very own grand tour.
Along with maps, profiles and analysis of every stage is the lowdown on all the teams taking part. The riders in with a chance of getting a podium place are profiled and there's some incredible photography of great Giro moments from each decade. It's everything you need to be an armchair expert on what could well be the most demanding stage race of the year.
- Article published:
- April 12, 2013, 06:35
- Cycling News
Orica GreenEdge leader motivated after wins at Catalunya and Pais Vasco
He may have chosen to enjoy a quieter start to the year and with it deny himself the opportunity to win a second Milan-San Remo but Simon Gerrans said from the start the Ardennes Classics would be one of his major targets for the year. With just days before the start of the first of three classics, Amstel Gold Race presents the former Australian national champion with his first shot at glory and he could just be in the condition to contest the win come Sunday.
Gerrans has picked up three wins this year starting with a relieving stage victory atop Willunga Hill at the Santos Tour Down Under and while he was unable to defend the title he won in 2012 - due to illness suffered earlier in the week - he made up for his inability to win the race for a third time by taking out the queen stage ahead of Tom Jelte-Slagter. It was also a day for the Australian fans who flock to Adelaide each year to celebrate a little harder and later into the night with the Willunga stage held on Australia Day.
Now, with just a few days left before the start of an eight-day, three-race campaign that includes Amstel, Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne - Liège Gerrans says he's as motivated as ever to take to the top step of the race that has delivered a third-place before - in 2011 when a dominant Philippe Gilbert begun his clean sweep of the Ardennes classics.
"Our team for Amstel raced together at Pais Vasco," said Gerrans on his team site. "We took two stage wins and helped Pieter Weening earn sixth overall. These were good results made possible with some really good teamwork, and it shows that the whole team is racing at a high level. Last year, several of the riders we brought for the Ardennes were racing them for the first time. This year, everybody has that much more experience under their belt. Simply knowing what to expect will allow us to race at a better level."
The race that is headline-sponsored by a beer company has been relatively successful for Gerrans over the years. His most recent result from 2012, 20th was in fact his worst showing with seventh in 2009 and third in 2011 providing a better indication of how Gerrans should perform at the end of the 251km race.
Last year he started the season with a bang. Winning the Australian road national title, winning Down Under, an oh-so-close second-place on Stage 3 at Paris-Nice and finally becoming the second Australian in as many years to win San Remo left him fatigued by the time the hillier classics begun but this year his form appears to have been timed to perfection.
"Typically, this is a race of attrition. It gets harder and harder and faster and faster as the day goes on, and with each new difficulty, the front group becomes more and more select. The strongest guys on the day are left to contest the win," said Gerrans.
"I’m super motivated for this race. I’ve done well at Amstel Gold in the past, and I know I can do well here again. My goal is to go out there and win, and we have the team to do that this year," he added.
Adding an Ardennes victory to his trio of grand tour wins would be a dream for the Australian but with changes to Amstel's finish pushing the line an additional 1,200m down the road the race's finale could play out very differently to past editions.
"The final part of Amstel Gold has been changed this year. Instead of finishing on the Cauberg, the race now finishes 1200 metres beyond the top of the climb. The road race at the Road World Championships last year featured this finish, but Amstel Gold features much more climbing than last year’s Worlds course. It’s hard to predict how the finish can and will change the way the race unfolds," he said.