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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 14, 2014

Date published:
February 14, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • No regrets for Oscar Gatto

    Oscar Gatto
    Article published:
    February 13, 2014, 21:40 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    After five years, Italian back in the WorldTour with Cannondale

    He can hardly have envisaged that the partnership would have lasted quite as long as it did, but new Cannondale arrival Oscar Gatto says that he has no regrets about spending the past five seasons riding at Pro Continental level under the tutelage of Luca Scinto.

    Gatto began his career in the ProTour with Gerolsteiner, but dropped down a level to sign for ISD (later Vini Fantini and now YellowFluo) in 2009. In spite of interest from the top flight in the intervening period – his reputation was burnished by his stage victory at the 2011 Giro d'Italia – Gatto remained in situ until the beginning of this season.

    "During the five years with Scinto, I was still always able to do a lot of WorldTour races," Gatto told Cyclingnews. "Maybe not every year, but we usually did the Giro d'Italia, Paris-Roubaix and the Belgian classics, so for a rider of my characteristics, it suited me quite well to stay in the team. What's more, I was always treated very well on the team. But then this year, I had the chance to make a bit of a change, and I grabbed that opportunity."

    Gatto's memorable Giro win at Tropea three years ago, when he punched his way clear in the sinuous finale and then held off the pursuing Alberto Contador on the approach to the line, was the keynote win of his time in fluorescent yellow, but it was a more recent win – last season's clever triumph at Dwars door Vlaanderen – that sealed his transfer to Cannondale.

    "That Giro stage win was back in 2011 and maybe people were starting to forget it a bit," Gatto said. "But winning that race in Belgium last year brought me back to the level that I had been at before. It added to my value as rider, and ultimately, it's probably what allowed...

  • Thomas Voeckler returns to racing at Tour Méditerranéen

    Thomas Voeckler before he crashed out with a broken collar bone
    Article published:
    February 13, 2014, 22:28 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Back in the peloton after breaking collarbone in Australia

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had intended to start his season racing in Adelaide at the Tour Down Under but after breaking his collarbone just hours after he landed in Australia, the former French champion was forced to fly home. Voeckler had targeted the Volta ao Algarve as his return to racing but as healed better than expected allowing him instead to make his 2014 racing debut at the Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel.

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won his first race of the year in a sprint finish as Voeckler crossed the line almost 7 minutes behind in 138th place.

    "I struggled more than expected. I had not expected that there would be wind [so] I struggled more than expected, the advantage is that I can only get better," he told L'Equipe.

    Voeckler's early season aims remain the Ardennes hoping for a good a week after last year's disappointment. Voeckler crashed out during the Amstel Gold Race but made a swift return to racing. Voeckler told Cyclingnews after breaking his collarbone in Australia that there was no obligation to return to racing in any haste. The Volta ao Algarve begins on February 19 in Faro with a 160km stage to Albufeira.

    On the eve of the Tour Méditerranéen, Voeckler explained his objectives for the French event. "I'm here to race again, I will not take any risks, I especially want to get miles into my legs," he said.

  • Ride Ireland in 2014! WIN the Ultimate Irish Cycling Holiday for Two

    Win a dream cycling holiday to Ireland
    Article published:
    February 14, 2014, 0:22 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Competition open to Australian readers only

    Retrace some of the highlights of the 2014 Giro d'Italia's Grande Partenza along Ireland's winding roads, across stunning landscapes and through its modern and historic cities.

    Prize will include:

    • 2 economy return air fares from any major Australian port to Dublin
    • 2 nights 4 star accommodation in Dublin
    • 8 days Glens of Antrim Tour plus 3 days West Waterford - South Tipperary Tour for 2 people
    • 7 days car rental
    • Bike hire included in the tours

    If you're based in Australia, click here for your chance to win the ultimate Irish cycling holiday for two.

    You can follow Cyclingnews on Twitter at twitter.com/Cyclingnewsfeed and on Facebook at facebook.com/cyclingnews

  • Jack Haig accepting road success is hindering MTB ambitions

    Best young rider, Jack Haig (Avanti)
    Article published:
    February 14, 2014, 5:30 GMT
    By:
    Zeb Woodpower

    Australian ready for step up to WorldTour level

    Jack Haig (Avanti) had set his sights on winning a mountain bike medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this year. However, having won the best young rider jersey at first the Tour Down Under in January which he followed up with another white jersey at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Haig is adjusting to the fact that his future in cycling is on the road.

    A last minute cancellation of the Herald Sun Tour's final stage up Arthurs Seat dashed the 20-year-old's chances of going for the stage win along with the opportunity to improve upon his third place overall.

    "Winning the race would definitely have been nice but more of chance just to test myself against some of the best guys here. Simon Clarke, who has won the king of the mountains jersey at the Vuelta [a España] and was seventh at the world championships last year, is a pretty accomplished bike rider and [I would have liked] to have the opportunity to showdown with him up the climb," Haig explained.

    Haig was keen to show that his performance at the Tour Down Under wasn't a one-off and that he can back up his performances. "A lot of teams spoke to me after the Tour Down Under and the main thing I worried about was not me being able to back up and really just being a one-off thing at TDU and it maybe being a bit of luck and I'm really pleased that I've come here the real deal.

    "I want to make it to the WorldTour, I feel like I'm ready to make that jump and that showed on that stage that we got away, it was really tough and I was able to make that decisive move at the end. I think that as long as I can keep backing up throughout the year...

  • Cancellara likely to end career in 2016

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek)
    Article published:
    February 14, 2014, 8:36 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Current contract will probably be my last, says Trek rider

    Fabian Cancellara has said that he is likely to retire from professional cycling when his current contract with Trek Factory Racing expires at the end of the 2016 season.

    Speaking in Doha on Thursday evening, Cancellara revealed that his existing three-year contract would probably be his last, and he confirmed that he had no intention of racing into his 40s like his fellow Trek rider Jens Voigt or former teammate Chris Horner.

    "I have a three-year contract and then it's over," Cancellara said. "I have a three-year contract and in my opinion it doesn't look like there will be a fourth or fifth year because it will be sixteen years as a professional. I don't feel tired although once in a while I feel tired, and that's normal. That's not going against Jens or Chris Horner but you will not see me riding the bike at their age."

    Asked if he would be tempted to extend his career in order to ride as deluxe gregario for a younger rider – as, for instance, Pedro Delgado did with Miguel Indurain – the 32-year-old Cancellara confirmed that it was his intention to bow out at the very top of his game, although he reiterated his belief that he still has three more seasons left at that level.

    "I think of course I will stop on the highest level," he said. "In my situation, I can't wait until I'm down here, that's normal. I could stop now and I would not have a problem to find new ambitions, but I would still miss something. I feel like I'm not finished yet with what I want to achieve. There's still some time left, but there's many options after and I'm not scared of that."

    Cancellara laughed when it was pointed out that the projected end to his career would coincide with the world championships in Qatar. Incidentally, Cancellara's eternal rival Tom Boonen this week confirmed that his...

  • Cunego: Pantani inspired me in the mountains

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Merida)
    Article published:
    February 14, 2014, 9:40 GMT
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Italian star recalls ‘Il Pirate'

    February 14th, the tenth anniversary of Marco Pantani's death, will be a difficult day for Italian cycling, and in particular for those riders - of whatever nationality - who knew Pantani directly. Former Giro winner Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) raced alongside Pantani in 2002 and 2003 and he described ‘the Pirate' as an "inspiration for me when it came to the mountain climbs and how he tackled them."

    "He was an example for me, I was a schoolboy when he was racing" - at his peak - "and so for me he was an idol," Cunego told Cyclingnews this week.

    "There's only ever been one Pantani, very few riders are even slightly similar to him. We raced together a bit, we talked too. He was a nice person despite everything that was said and written about him."

    Cunego recalls he was at home when he heard the news of Pantani's death, and that "despite all the rumours, nobody expected it to happen. He had been through a hard time, people criticized him, but only he knew what happened."

    For Cunego himself a decade later, racing in 2014 will be similar to previous years in terms of the number of days, although his schedule is only decided up until June. He will do Tirreno-Adriatico, the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia. "After that I'll have a break, then we will see what I do in the second part of the year. The Tour is definitely not on the schedule, but the Vuelta could be an option."

    Speaking to Cyclingnews on the last day of the Mallorca Challenge, the 32-year-old refuses to specify what his objectives will be in the Giro, saying "first I have to find myself, to be competitive and up there in races. If that happens, there'll be no problems. I wanted to be relaxed, not have too many big...

  • Davis retires from cycling

    Allan Davis celebrates his overall victory in 2009
    Article published:
    February 14, 2014, 10:47 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Australian fails to secure new contract

    Allan Davis has decided to hang up his wheels and retire, after being unable to find a contract for 2014.

    "I would have liked to keep going for a few more years, but it's just not an option the way things are," Davis told the Australian Associated Press.

    "I have to turn the page and get on with the next chapter of my life. I have to find some source of income for my family and move on. It's just bad luck and bad timing."

    The 2009 Tour Down Under winner has been searching for a new team, after Orica-GreenEDGE chose not to keep him on. Davis has spent the last months searching out a new contract, but finally admitted defeat.

    With many teams folding and several others under even stricter budget restrictions, finding a team this winter has proved a difficult task. Higher profile riders such as Chris Horner and Samuel Sánchez were only able to secure contracts in the last month. While some, like Thomas de Gendt, have seen their pay packets severely slashed so that they could continue their professional careers.

    Davis says this has been one of the toughest winters for out of contract riders. “I've never seen it like this and I've spoken to a lot of blokes who have been around twice as long as I have - they also haven't seen it like this," he explained. "It's just one of those things that's out of the riders' hands."

    The Australian turned professional in 2001 with the Mapei-QuickStep team. During his 13 seasons as a professional Davis has made a number of notable performances and taken some 29 victories.

    Among those performances were his a bronze medal at the World Championships (2010), second at Milan-San Remo (2007), gold and bronze at the...

  • Former Armstrong soigneur has more evidence of UCI complicity

    Hein Verbruggen and Lance Armstrong
    Article published:
    February 14, 2014, 13:13 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Unclear if evidence will be given to CIRC

    Lance Armstrong’s former soigneur Emma O’Reilly claims to have evidence of the UCI’s complicity in the former rider’s evasion of anti-doping.

    According to a report published on the Mail Online, O’Reilly is said to have heard Armstrong talking to ex-UCI president Hein Verbruggen.

    “We were in the team car at the end of the race,’ O’Reilly told the newspaper. The race in question was the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt in 1998, where the American had just won the overall classification.

    “I was about to drive Lance and one of the other riders to the airport. Lance called Hein and said words to the effect of, “That race commissar, I never want to see that guy again”.

    “And he was being serious,” O’Reilly continued. “And you could sense that Hein was taking it seriously, too. It wasn’t a friendly chat. It was a serious conversation, and the impression I got was that Lance was being listened to. I said there’s no way you should be able to do that.”

    After discussing it with Armstrong himself, O’Reilly confirmed that “Lance remembers the incident just as I do.”

    O’Reilly also claims that former US Postal Johan Bruyneel received a tip off regarding an issue with a sample given by Armstrong. According to the report, the phone call to Bruyneel was made using a mobile belonging to one of the Texan’s teammates.

    The former soigneur has previously made statements regarding Armstrong’s relationship with the UCI and it’s president. O’Reilly was present when the team discussed getting a backdated prescription, after he had tested positive for cortisone.

    Verbruggen admitted to the Associated Press, last November that he may have discussed the positive...