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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, April 18, 2014

Date published:
April 18, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Swift ready to take aim at the Amstel Gold Race

    Kisses for stage winner Ben Swift (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    April 17, 2014, 12:40 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Team Sky sprinter back to his best after successful spring

    With three wins so far this season and a podium spot in Milan-San Remo, Ben Swift has arguably been Team Sky's biggest success story of 2014 and he is hoping to carry his form into Sunday's Amstel Gold Race.

    Swift came into the season on the back of an injury hit 2013 but immediately picked up two podium places in the Mallorca Challenge. He backed that up with third in Milan-San Remo and capitalized on his form with an individual and team win in Coppi-Bartali. A fine sprint win on the penultimate stage of Pais Vasco followed and on the eve of Amstel he has found the crucial ingredient that has been missing from his racing in the last twelve months: confidence.

    "I'd gone well in Pais Vasco in the past and it was a race I wanted to perform in this time around. I was happy more than anything with the stage win. It gives me a lot of confidence for the next couple of weeks because to be honest that was the biggest thing that I was lacking after last year," he told Cyclingnews.

    "Milan-San Remo gave me confidence and the belief that I could still perform and then going to Coppi Bartali and riding well there and at Pais Vasco, it's made me feel better in myself. Now I just need to
    get ready for Amstel."

    According to Swift, Team Sky has yet to designate leadership roles but he admits that the Amstel Gold Race suits him far better than the other Ardennes Classics.

    "I know that it's going to be super tough and even though I've got good form I know that I'll have to be on a really good day. Amstel suits me a lot better now with that flat section at the top of the final climb though."

    "I've showed that I've got pretty good form but being honest we've got a strong team and a number of people who can step in. I want to perform well but team leaders haven't been...

  • Report: UK Anti-doping to study vial of pills found at Paris-Roubaix

    The cobbles of Paris-Roubaix provide an epic backdrop
    Article published:
    April 17, 2014, 16:41 BST
    Cycling News

    British fan refuses to reveal rider's identity

    A vial of pills recovered by a British fan during Paris-Roubaix is to be handed to UK Anti-Doping for analysis, the Telegraph newspaper has reported.

    Mike Brampton, the managing director of Thames Medical, was taking photographs on a corner when several riders crashed. The vial of pills fell from a rider's pocket but the rider and his soigneur failed to pick up the vial. Brampton did, and posted a photo of it to Twitter, sparking debate and discussion on what the pills where and how he rider intended to use them.

    "Found after crash @ParisRoubaix_ to test or not to test? #ParisRoubaix @UCI_cycling @BrianCooksonUCI" Brampton tweeted.

    UCI President Brian Cookson replied: “W’out jumping to conclusions, please pass this to CADF [Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation], AFLD [French anti-doping agency], UKAD or police. Tks.”

    Brampton told the Telegraph that UK Anti-Doping had said it would collect the vial. He photographed the rider and the vial falling from his pocket but refused to reveal his identity. However, he will inform UKAD.

    “I’d rather not say who was involved or where exactly it happened, but it was roughly halfway through the race between cobbled sections, not on a cobbled section itself, Brampton said.

    “Basically the crash happened and then they all got up and the soigneur pushed the rider [in question] away. I’d already spotted the vial, as had others. It was actually pointed out to the soigneur who sort of shrugged his shoulders as if to say ‘nothing to do with me’."

    “It will absolutely be possible to pinpoint who the vial belongs to. I have 34 in-sequence photographs from about 15ft away, pin sharp. In one of them you can actually see the vial falling from the rider’s pocket."

    “I’ve spoken to UKAD twice today and they are taking it very seriously. They...

  • Nibali gets a taste of the Tour de France cobbles

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    April 17, 2014, 18:01 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian tests his equipment ready for July

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has realised the difficulty and risks of riding on the nine sectors of cobbles that will characterize stage five of this year's Tour de France following a reconnaissance ride with several of his teammates.

    The Italian will target the Tour de France, and so clash with Chris Froome (Team Sky) in July. He spent Thursday morning riding on the pavé with teammates Jakob Fuglsang, Lieuwe Westra, Tanel Kangert and Andrei Grivko, who are likely to protect him during the stage, and garnered some expert advice from former Classics winner Peter van Petegem. He also studied and tested various tyre pressures with staff from Specialized's Racing department.

    "It's going to be a very difficult stage of the Tour de France," Nibali told l'Equipe after studying several of the nine sectors of pavé that will feature in the finale of stage five from Ypres to Arenberg.

    "When it comes to the material and experience, it's about being a specialist. It's something new for me to ride on sectors of pavé like that. It'll be important to have the right bike set-up, learn thing about the pave and hope that everything goes okay…"

    "For sure that you can lose the Tour de France here. All it takes is a crash or a mechanical problem and you can rapidly lose 30 seconds or a minute."

    Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli followed Nibali in a team car.

    "We know that you can't become a pavé specialist in a day but it's about getting a feel for it," he explained.

    "It'll be a day of stress for him, perhaps even more than for the others at the Tour de France. We'll try to learn as much as we can and train for a second time on the pavé...

  • inCycle Video: Behind the scenes with Team Sky mechanics

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) showed he has what it takes on the cobbles
    Article published:
    April 17, 2014, 20:53 BST
    Cycling News

    From pre-race prep to post-race clean-up at E3 Harelbeke

    Gary Blem, head mechanic at Team Sky, gives a behind the scenes look at what goes into taking care of the team's bikes for a big race day in this video.

    Chris Froome's personal mechanic from least year's Tour de France gets the riders' bikes ready for the E3 Harelbeke in Flanders, then supports them throughout the event and cleans them up afterward.

    "This race is crazy with the amount of wheels you have to carry, especially with having a back up car," said Blem, who continually checks the bikes up until the start. Tire pressure is adjusted with 10 minutes to go.

    Roadside on the cobbled sections along the course, support staff leapfrog the race from point to point to see their riders multiple times during the race.

    After the race, each bike is stripped, washed and re-assembled.

    "We require a lot of equipment, and we have bikes and wheels in three different places," said Blem. "We go through about 2,000 tires during the season. We use about 300 pairs of wheels in a season. Every rider has three team race bikes and two time trial bikes each. I think we go through 220-250 frames per season."

    "Being part of the first British team to win the Tour de France, everyone puts in a bunch of effort. It gives me great pleasure to see the riders acheiving their dreams. For me it's special to be a part of it."

    Click here to subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel.

  • InCycle Video: Rui Costa on the pressures of being World Champion

    World Champion Rui Costa (Lampre Merida)
    Article published:
    April 18, 2014, 7:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Lampre-Merida rider enjoying his time in the rainbow bands

    The rainbow jersey is both an honour to wear and a burden for each UCI World Champion, and Lampre-Merida's Rui Costa has felt the pressure that comes along with that title.

    InCycle caught up with the Portuguese rider at the team's early-season camp in Mallorca. Costa talks about the cold and rainy race in Florence, Italy, where he beat Spaniards Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde to win the rainbow jersey.

    He also speaks about the pressures of the jersey and how well his new Lampre-Merida team has supported him so far.

    Costa will line up for the Ardennes Classics this week, with his best possibility for a podium placing coming at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He is still looking for his first win in the rainbow jersey after a second place overall at Paris-Nice and five second place stage finishes between Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve.

  • Martin confident and ready for the Amstel Gold Race

    Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    April 18, 2014, 9:02 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Sharp rider talks about his passion for the Ardennes Classics

    On the eve of the Ardennes Classics it's hard to imagine Dan Martin being anymore relaxed than he currently is.

    It's arguably the biggest week of racing in the Irishman's 2014 season so far but despite the expected pressure, Martin is cool, collected and looking forward to racing. So relaxed is the Irishman that with three days to go before Amstel he bought and organised a boat ride for his entire Garmin-Sharp team.

    That's not to suggest Martin isn't taking the Ardennes seriously. They're the first major objective in his season, followed by the Giro d'Italia, which is less than a month away. As the defending champion in Liege-Bastogne-Liege he knows that a result in at least one of the three Ardennes Classics is expected, especially given that he also came close to winning Fleche Wallonne last year.

    "I don't see it as pressure," he told Cyclingnews after his boat trip.

    "Last year is done and dusted and while I've not forgotten about wining Liege, it's in the past now. It's all about this year. Obviously wearing number one at the race is going to be incredible and it's a pleasure to rider that race every year. I love the race so much. The passion that I have for these races gives me the extra percentages but as long as I do my best, and the team gives everything, we'll just wait and see what the results are in the end. That's all I can ask for."

    Mentally stronger

    Perhaps the biggest improvement in Martin's all-round ability in the last two seasons is his mental strength. At times, as a most young professionals will testify, a lack of experience and self-doubt can be as mentally draining as the parcours of a race itself. Having tasted victory in 2013 at...

  • Bouhanni to target the sprints at the Giro d'Italia

    Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) celebrates his win in Denain
    Article published:
    April 18, 2014, 12:19 BST
    Stephen Farrand sprinter hoping to continue his winning streak

    Nacer Bouhanni ( has confirmed that he will return to the Giro d'Italia in May, to take on Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), Elia Viviani (Cannondale), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) in the sprint finishes.

    This year's Giro d'Italia starts in Belfast, Northern Ireland on May and ends in Trieste on June 1. The first half of the route includes several opportunities for the sprinters before the mountain stages decide the overall classification.

    Bouhanni went close to victory on three occasions at the 2013 Giro d'Italia, finishing third on the opening stage and second behind Mark Cavendish in Treviso, when the Manxman celebrated his 100th career win. Bouhanni then quit the Giro d'Italia and rode the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de France. However, he struggled with stomach problems in July and quit the Tour during stage 8.

    The former French national champion won the Grand Prix de Denain on Thursday with an impressive surge of speed but told l'Equipe that he will now take a break before preparing for the Giro d'Italia.

    "I'm going to take four or five days off the bike. Then I'll get ready for the Giro," he said. "I want to prepare quietly so I can be at my best. I'll have a good team to help me in the sprints. It's good to take a break after winning, its good for the head."

    Bouhanni has won five races this season including a stage at Paris-Nice. Last year, he won the opening stage of the week-long March stage race and wore the leader's yellow jersey but crashed out on stage 2.

    "I'm happy with how the season has gone so far. I feel stronger than last year. Thanks to the support from my teammates, I'm more relaxed and so can sprint better," he said.

    "Last year, I crashed...

  • Winston-Salem Cycling Classic continues NRC and NCC battles in the US

    Eventual winner Daniel Patten (SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis) leads the peloton at the 2013 Winston-Salem Cycling Classic road race
    Article published:
    April 18, 2014, 15:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Watch live streaming of the elite men's and women's road races and criteriums

    Top-level bike racing in America continues in North Carolina at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic and cycling fans will be able to watch the elite women’s and men’s events live on April 18 and 19 here on Cyclingnews.

    Friday’s road races are UCI 1.2 events and the next rounds of USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar (NRC) while Saturday’s downtown criteriums are part of the National Criterium Calendar (NCC) and the USA Crits Series.

    During the road race, the elite men will cover 15 laps of an 11.4 km circuit totaling 170 km. To make the race more challenging, the distance has an elevation gain of 2,730 m with a maximum grade of 10 percent.

    The race is one of two UCI-sanctioned events in the US for elite women, alongside the Philadelphia Cycling Classic held on June 1 in Pennsylvania. They will race eight laps of the same circuit as the men for a total distance of 91 km and 1,456 m in elevation gain.

    Participants include Joseph Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear Development), who is currently leading the NRC standings after winning the overall title at the Redlands Bicycle Classic at the beginning of April. Women’s standings leader Taylor Wiles (Specalized-lululemon) is not registered to compete.

    The race will be streamed live beginning with the women’s event at 9:30 am EDT followed by the men’s event at 12:30 pm EDT. Former American pros Bob Roll and Robbie Ventura will provide live commentary during the races.

    The elite men’s and women’s downtown criteriums will include teammates Carlos Alzate and Coryn Rivera (UniteHealthcare ProCycling), who are leading the NCC standings after the first two races while Frank Travieso (UnitedHealthcare/The 706...