- Article published:
- February 23, 2012, 23:19
- Alex Hinds
Team currently assessing plans for 2013 and beyond
Genesys Wealth Advisers is fast becoming 'too big' to remain just another Australian domestic cycling team; a shark in a pond of minnows. After two years of what can only be called dominance from the orange-clad continental squad in the National Road Series, the question beckons, at what point does success within Australia lose its shimmer for the team, and its focus switch abroad?
Last year the team went someway to changing that domestic centered approach by taking on overseas racing at the Tour of Mumbai, Tour of Korea and Japan Cup, supplementing an otherwise full Australian calendar. And perhaps taking a lead from rivals and Asian adventurers Drapac Professional Cycling, the team has ramped things up further in 2012 with the addition of the 2.1 rated Tour of Taiwan to its growing program.
Team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston remains adamant that the focus is, and will continue to be the Australian season - at least for the foreseeable future.
"We have to look after our sponsors who are Australian, but we’re also trying to develop athletes," he explained. "To develop riders we need races; Asia is close to home so the travel isn’t too bad and the level is also pretty high. It works in well with the Australian calendar. We go there to give riders more experience, more racing, but we also go there to win.
"We’re in talks with our sponsors for 2013 onwards, and we need to be clear about what they want to get out of their commitment. If they’ve got a focus on us to be a dominant force in Asia, then that’s what we’ll do – we’ll try and race everything over there. There is a definitely a possibility that we’ll be expanding, and doing more Asian racing in the future.
"For the time being however, the main focus is definitely the NRS."
The Genesys manager said that though the team is ambitious, there had never been a concern about being unsatisfied with their achievements in Australia. Rider development he says remains the "overriding focus", and with a production line of athletes leaving the team year on year for greener pastures, Will Clarke (Champion System), Richie Porte (Sky), and more recently Nathan Haas (Garmin-Barracuda), the team is constantly renewing to sustain success rather than grow it.
"We’ve had success in the NRS as a team, but always with different riders, most of which are no longer with us. It would seem a natural progression for the team to raise our ambitions outwards, but we also have to look after a younger team and new riders. To presume they’re going to step-up and win the NRS – it’s not that easy.
"Campbell Flakemore and Anthony Giacoppo are great riders, and they’ll be the guys we’ll be counting on in a lot of races this year, but they’re also guys who’ve never taken on that lead role either, so it’s uncharted territory for them."
The team’s next race is the upcoming Tour of Taiwan, beginning March 10.
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 02:18
- Cycling News
Voigt makes last-ditch effort for overall win
Newly-merged RadioShack-Nissan won their third team classification of the 2012 season at the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol on Thursday. The result followed the trend set at the opening WorldTour event of the year, the Santos Tour Down Under in January and the Tour of Oman.
RadioShack-Nissan's Jens Voigt played a major role in the day's proceedings, featuring in signature style in the break of the day which formed after just 12 kilometres of racing. Voigt was joined by Kenny Van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM), Yury Trofimov (Katusha), Euskaltel-Euskadi teammates Jorge Azana and Gorka Izaguirre, Reto Hollenstein (Team NetApp) and Jean Marc Marino (Saur-Sojasun).
"I always take my chances," said Jens Voigt. "I was in the right break and then I always believe in my chances. Sometimes it's only a small chance, but I still believe.
"In the group we worked well together. I tested the others and I felt good. In the peloton, of course Movistar didn't trust me. I was too dangerous on the GC so we never held more than 1:50. Zubeldia and Irizar were in the wheel of Valverde. He told them he didn't trust me. So for me there was no reason to give up. I said to myself: ‘Let the Movistars work for their money!'"
Voigt began the day in 27th position on general classification, 44seconds behind the yellow jersey of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).
"It was our plan all along today to have Jens in the break and it worked out," said RadioShack-Nissan director Kim Andersen. "Ok, he was too close on the GC to be let go but you can't win if you don't try. It was a good tour. Our riders are in good shape and we won the team general classification."
RadioShack finished the five-stage race with a 24second advantage over nearest rivals, Rabobank, with Katusha third a further 13 seconds in arrears.
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 06:06
- Cycling News
Belgian trivolour giving two-time winner added motivation
Already a two-time winner of the Flanders classic, BMC's Philippe Gilbert has the opportunity to enter the record books should he be win Sunday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Gilbert previously won the race in East Flanders in 2006 and 2008 – and on both occasions had little preparation – something that is giving the 29-year-old added confidence heading into this year's 67th edition of the race.
Should he win on Sunday, Gilbert will join Joseph Bruyère (1974, 1975, 1980), Ernest Sterckx (1952, 1953, 1956) and Peter van Petegem (1997, 1998, 2002) as a three-time victor.
"On both occasions when I won before, I was still not 100 per cent, so why should I worry," Gilbert told Sporza. "I have a good basic condition, though I have no specific training behind me.
"I race with the Belgian tricolor and that gives me extra motivation," he said.
Gilbert began his 2012 season in at the Tour of Qatar where he finished 22nd overall before moving on to the Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var in the south of France last weekend where he posted a top 20 result on GC. While Gilbert is motivated to do well at Omloop, his major early-season goal is Milan-San Remo.
As reported earlier on Cyclingnews, Gilbert and his BMC team did recon work over the cobbles on Thursday. Something rival Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is yet to do.
"Boonen is very good," Gilbert critiqued. "He will be keen to finally win here and he has a good team," Gilbert said of his Belgian rival. "[Juan Antonio] Flecha is also very strong."
- spring classic
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 10:02
- Jean-François Quénet
Garmin-Barracuda get off to perfect start in Langkawi
David Zabriskie has started the 2012 season on a high note with a large margin of one minute over runner up Adam Phelan from Drapac in the 20.3km opening time trial of Le Tour de Langkawi.
“It feels pretty good to be a winner again”, he said after the winners’ presentation in the middle of the Malaysian ministries and the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. “I didn’t know what to expect but looking at the course and the smooth pavement, I was pretty excited. I didn’t really have confirmation of the times until the race was over.”
“One minute difference is quite a lot, it makes three seconds per kilometer,” noted Garmin-Barracuda sporting director Allan Peiper. “David was motivated. He turned his mind on before the race. His fast start probably made a big difference. It was a course to use a big power gear.” Zabriskie covered the stage at an average speed of 49.57km/h.
“David and [fourth placed] Tom [Danielson] have missed the training camp in Calpe [Spain], but today is evidence that they have worked well on their own,” Peiper added. “I was in California for most of the off-season and the atmosphere at training was good.”
Both Zabriskie and Danielson, who finished the 2011 season at the Canadian races in Quebec and Montreal, didn’t attend any events in Europe and flew directly to Malaysia, a country of which Zabriskie said: “I knew that it was pretty far away. We have to get used to the heat. I prefer the heat myself.”
“In the last couple of years, Canada was the last race for many American riders”, said Peiper, who previously ran the race programs for HTC-Highroad. “It may be different this year with the Tour of Lombardy being close to the world championship. It’s something new for riders to start at the very end of February, far away from Europe, but apart from the favorable weather, it also has to do with the financial state of professional races in Europe. The Santos Tour Down Under, Qatar, Oman and Le Tour de Langkawi are good alternatives. It was a good choice for us to come back to Malaysia, it’s a good thing for the future too.”
The near future for Garmin-Barracuda will be to defend Zabriskie’s lead or bring Danielson to his second overall win after 2003 when he raced for Saturn. “I didn’t think that Rujano could time trial so fast”, said Peiper of the Venezuelan, who only conceded nine seconds to Danielson. “It’ll be up to Tom to show what he can do in Genting.” At this stage, Rujano appears like the hot favourite for the overall win but he still has to regain 1.26 on Zabriskie.
“We’re a team and we’re here to win the race”, Zabriskie stated. “It’s my first time here, so I don’t know what Genting is like but I’m climbing better than last year.”
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 13:07
- Cycling News
Four-day 'mini tour' racks up 655km for riders
Taking advantage of a quiet period in its racing schedule, Lampre-ISD decided to put some of their riders through their paces at a mini training camp in San Vincenzo on the Italian coast this week. And while other teams and riders were getting valuable race time under their belts ahead of the forthcoming Spring Classics, the Lampre-ISD management and coaching team ensured that their own riders weren't falling behind by devising their own four-stage 'mini tour' that totalled a distance of 655km.
Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego (twice) and Grega Bole were the winners of the keenly-contested stages and the four days of friendly but fierce competiton is more money in the bank for the riders and will hold them in good stead over the coming weeks.
"Each training ride, from 20 to 23 February, was structured with the aim of being similar to a race," said sporting director Maurizio Piovani. "The number of riders was enough to make it competitive, the courses were very demanding and, most importantly, there was a huge will by all the cyclists to test their fitness.
"The balance of the idea is really good: the importance of this training was not only in the competition, that was the playful part, but in the
fact that there cyclists could pedal over 655 km, covering a difference in height of 8000m. The data we have shows how intense it was and how well they performed."
Cunego, who is one of the team's standard bearers, was happy to take part in the training and praised its effectiveness.
"It was an interesting idea that allowed us to train in a more exciting way," Cunego said. These days were helpful to improve our fitness and I'm sure we'll be more competitive in the next races."
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 14:06
- Cycling News
Italian legend has advised controversial compatriot to seek a new life
The freezing early February weather may have granted Riccardo Ricco a temporary stay of execution by conspiring to postpone his hearing in front of the Italian national doping tribunal, but according to a legend of Italian cycling the 28-year-old rider should not be thinking about continuing in the sport.
Ricco is facing the possibility of a 12-year ban from the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) when the case, which stems from a self-administered blood transfusion in February 2011, is finally heard. Having already served a two-year ban for EPO, his is walking on the thinnest of ice. Ricco has been vocal in his criticism of the Italian cycling authorities and has vowed to seek revenge on those who he says have wronged him but, in the eyes of Mario Cipollini, Ricco needs to forget about revenge missions and think about a different future for the sake of his young son. And he has told him this in person.
“I met Riccardo Ricco last year,” Cipollini told La Gazzetta Dello Sport. “We rode together and talked a lot but I was very clear with him.
“I said: ‘Riccardo, first of all think about your son. Forget competitive cycling, the team and the desire to race again. To prove what? For a sense of revenge against everyone? Sit down to look for a job for the future of your child. You're still young, you cannot spend your whole life chasing a ghost or whatever it was. Take my bike, yes, but not to train or to think of racing.
“‘You have to do one thing: totally forget all about your career as a cyclist. You have to remove this burden and clean up your image. To talk about yourself and find out why you ended up in this situation. You cannot keep torturing yourself. Take these words as if they came from an older brother.’”
Cipollini also lambasted those who were formerly close to Ricco but have now turned their back on him, and stated that the world needs to forgive him and move forward.
“Where are those who have ridden with Ricco now? Those who were with him then, where are they now? In this world of sharks, nobody, nobody is there. Mercy and love are words we are taught as children. We must give him strength and we must reach out for him. I want him to remember the good of cycling. It will not be easy, because he is still wearing the badge and thinking of riding and of revenge. But I repeated many times, a thousand times: ‘Think of your son. Do not dream of the Tour as that world no longer exists. Life is in front of you now. And facing that new road will be your most important victory, the largest of all the tours that you wanted to conquer.’”
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 16:37
- Daniel Benson
Team director angered by alleged Team Sky approach of Tiernan-Locke
Endura Racing are having their most successful season to date thanks to the exploits of Jonathan Tiernan-Locke at the Tour Méditerranéen and Haut Var, but behind the scenes the team is facing up to a number of challenges.
WorldTour teams are swarming around the British pro, who only has a contract for this year, while the team's long term future is in need of investment if it's to move from the Continental ranks to the higher tier of Pro Continental.
At present team director Jim McFarlane is unable to confirm Endura's plans for 2013. The team are at the Continental level and aggressively pursue invites into UCI 2.1 races. However, without sustained and improved finances for the future, McFarlane admitted that the team may cease to exist if supplementary funding isn't gained.
"It's a critical year for Endura racing because we're looking to go ProContinental and John is an important part of our progression," McFarlane told Cyclingnews.
"We'd like to see Endura in 2013 as a ProContinental team that can deliver riders to the WorldTour to pick up. There's a good niche and position to be occupied by a team at that level rather than just being a continental team. For us as a team it will either progress or there's not much point in existing as a domestic team.
"We struggle to get into some 2.1 races because we're Continental. If we don't get into them there's not much point in doing the Premier Calendar and some 2.2 races. We have progressed each year and we're at the upper end of what we can do as a Continental team. Endura is paying a little over a million a year now."
Tiernan-Locke could be influential in helping to secure additional funding, however the team management have admitted that the lure of a WorldTour opportunity would be something they'd help Tiernan-Locke secure. According to McFarlane, Tiernan-Locke is set on riding for a top team in 2013 and Cyclingnews understands that there are already several enquiries from current WorldTour squads.
However, McFarlane is concerned that speculation and the behaviour of certain teams may add unwanted pressures and distractions to both Tiernan-Locke and the team's search for additional sponsorship.
"The season has started and it's disruptive to have a lot of speculation and distraction, but what we've had at the moment is Dave Brailsford individually ignoring normal protocol," McFarlane told Cyclingnews.
According to McFarlane, Sky's Brailsford originally logged an enquiry with Brian Smith at Endura, who told the Sky boss that his rider would not be available mid-season. Cyclingnews understands from a separate source that Brailsford was not aware of the rider's agent and therefore went through other channels.
However, McFarlane alleged that Brailsford had contacted the rider via text and phone and invited him to Manchester. Sky would not comment when Cyclingnews contacted them and typically do not make comments regarding riders with existing contracts.
"We're not trying to hold Jon back. He'll have a line of WorldTour teams looking at him already," McFarlane said.
- Article published:
- February 24, 2012, 18:27
- Daniel Benson
Looks ahead to Olympic road race and Worlds
Zdenek Stybar has confirmed that he aims to ride a Grand Tour in 2012 and that he'll also aim for a place on the Czech national team for the Olympic road race. The former cyclo-cross world champion had a poor ‘cross season by his standards but is currently taking a break before he starts his road campaign with Omega-Pharma QuickStep in May.
The day before Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Stybar dropped by the team hotel for a photo shoot, and confirmed his plans to Cyclingnews.
"It's finally a holiday. At first I didn't think I needed one and thought I could go and start racing on the road but I'm happy for the rest today," he said.
"I'll take a big break and then start racing at the beginning of May. In March and April I'll start doing a lot more training. Physically I'm not in bad shape but mentally I need a rest.
"I hope I can do a Grand Tour," he added. "But first I'll discuss it with the team. I'll really leave it to the team. They'll decide for me."
Which Grand Tour Stybar may participate in is unclear. The Giro may come to soon considering he will not race until the start of May and with QuickStep heading into the Tour with realistic chances of a top ten placing and stages it may see the Czech star waiting until the Vuelta before he makes a three-week debut. Still, it would mark a important stepping stone for Stybar. Earlier this year Rabobank's Lars Boom admitted that riding a three-week race had given him extra form and fitness for his limited 'cross campaign.
As for Stybar's future ‘cross ambitions, he remains coy.
"I'll go back to 'cross in the winter but not for a whole season," he told Cyclingnews. "It's difficult to predict, so we'll decide things like that closer to the time. Now it's very difficult to say.
"I'm also really aiming for the Olympics road race. We have three places so there's a chance of getting there. And of course there's the Worlds which I hope I can do as well."
Having attempted to combine a road and ‘cross campaign over the last twelve months Stybar is well aware that he will need to plan his schedule with more care, especially after a disappointing ‘cross season.
"In one sense I'm left with real disappointment. I didn't win that much and I didn't finish the season at the top of any of the classifications. Also the Worlds were bad because I got sick. Still, I had a lot of podiums and since mid-December I raced well. Okay, I didn't win a lot but I made a few podiums. I was just missing some of the wins.
"Due to the road season I wasn't fresh for the cyclo-cross season and I lost a lot of time and training. When I restarted I went too hard and I never felt fresh."