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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 28, 2014

Date published:
February 28, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Cramp ruins the party for Brammeier

    Matt Brammeier in the KOM jersey
    Article published:
    February 27, 2014, 12:44 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Irish champion has to settle for second at Tour de Langkawi

    A stroke of bad luck prevented Matt Brammeier (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) from the possibility of kicking off his new contract with a bang at the Tour de Langkawi.

    Brammeier suffered from cramp at the crucial moment on stage 1 when Duber Quintaro (Columbia) attacked his breakaway companions, forcing him to delay his chase. If he had won, it would have been his first victory outside of the national championships since turning professional in 2011 with HTC-HighRoad. Despite being visibly disappointed, he was pragmatic about his second place finish.

    "I was really good all day, but in the last 10 kilometres I got really bad cramps and when the Colombia guy attacked at the finish I couldn't follow him. Everyone was just watching me, but I just had loads of cramp," Brammeier told Cyclingnews at the finish of stage one. "I was fully cramped up and I had to wait. I'm a little pissed off, but second’s not a bad start to the season."

    Brammeier spent most of his winter looking for a new contract after his Champion System team folded when the clothing company pulled the plug on the sponsorship deal. The 28-year-old finally found a new home at the Synergy Baku Cycling Project, and the Tour de Langkawi marks the beginning of his first season with the Azerbaijani team.

    The Irish national champion made it into the day's break on stage one of the Tour de Langkawi, along with four other riders. He says the plan had always been to go on the attack. "I thought that there was a good chance that the break would stay away, because there are so many teams with sprinters here that I knew that there might be a bit of a standoff. There sometimes is on the first day. I went full gas to get into the break. As I always try to race, I just try to take my chance."

    With the peloton...

  • Lefevere hopes Boonen's travel details can make the difference

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has his eyes on the classics.
    Article published:
    February 27, 2014, 13:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian takes aim at first Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere is hopeful that the marginal gains made by Tom Boonen in his travel arrangements in recent weeks can all add up to a significant difference at Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the one major Belgian race still missing from his palmarès.

    After completing the Tour of Oman last Sunday, for instance, Boonen opted to book a taxi to Muscat airport at 4am the following morning rather than take the shuttle bus that departed the hotel at 2am. Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported the story under the tongue-in-cheek headline “Boonen wins Omloop in bed?” but noted that he had gained two hours of rest on Lars Boom and his other rivals for the win.

    Indeed, Boonen has looked to make little gains throughout an early season programme that saw him complete 19 race days in Argentina, Qatar and Oman. The benefits of racing in the sun can often be tempered by the time lost to travelling, but Lefevere explained how Boonen looked to counteract that problem.

    “He had good memories of his experience at the Tour de San Luis in 2013 and so he wanted to return there,” Lefevere told La Dernière Heure. “The negative side to that event is the journey, which is very tiring because as well as the main flight from Europe to Argentina, there are still various local connections that bring the travel time up to almost 30 hours.”

    The solution? “For the return, I decided to charter a private plane for the internal flight so as to give my riders a better chance to recover,” Lefevere said. “Sometimes these little details are the ones that, in the end, make a big...

  • Augustyn happy to be back on the bike

    John-Lee Augustyn will make his return with MTN-Qhubeka
    Article published:
    February 27, 2014, 15:22 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    South African believes injury troubles are behind him

    After years of struggling with a hip injury caused by a crash he suffered in 2007, John-Lee Augustyn (MTN-Qhubeka) can finally look forward again to life as a cyclist.

    There may have been times when he considered throwing in the towel, and he almost did when he chose to take a break from the sport, but he says that forgetting about cycling was easier said than done. "Racing is in your blood, once you start. It's a hectic sport. Once you get used to it, it's almost addictive," Augustyn told Cyclingnews ahead of the Tour de Langkawi.

    "The pain afterwards and that rush that you get in the peloton, you get used to it and that's what keeps you motivated and keeps on going. It was good to have a good rest and get my head sorted out. Everything is settled, but it's nice to be back."

    The South African rode his first race for well over a year at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January. The Tour de Langkawi is his third race since coming back and he says that he felt nervous when he lined up in Gabon. "I did some amateur races back in my hometown so I sort of got the feel for racing. But when I started my first pro race, it was nerve wracking and exciting. I wasn't sure what to expect."

    Augustyn spent a year and a half out of cycling when he called an end to his contract with the Utensilnord-Named team midway through the 2012 season. The decision came after a number of issues, which included having hip resurfacing surgery as a result of the ongoing effects of that 2007 crash. Augustyn says that the last few years, which included a two-year stint at Team Sky, have been a mental struggle for him.

    "It's been frustrating, especially when you know what you are capable of," he told Cyclingnews. "After my...

  • Video: 10 riders to watch in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne

    It must have been especially hot for the bearded Luca Paolini (Katusha)
    Article published:
    February 27, 2014, 16:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Opening Belgian weekend beckons

    The days are getting longer, buds are beginning to appear, but the one true indication that spring has come is the arrival of the professional cycling peloton in Belgium for the first of the major 2014 races there, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

    Unlike last year's frigid wintry weather that saw the peloton fully bundled up for Het Nieuwsblad and the cancellation of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the forecast for this weekend calls for perfect Spring Classics weather: above freezing, but not too warm, and a chance of some rain.

    The less adverse weather may not please last year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Luca Paolini (Katusha), who goes well in adverse conditions, but we still have the Italian on our top 10 riders to watch.

    Should the race come down to a larger group, André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) is a prime contender, having come third in Kuurne in 2011. A smaller bunch sprint could favor former Omloop-winner, BMC's Thor Hushovd, who is looking to overcome two difficult seasons.

    Riders who are looking ahead to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix will aim to boost their confidence by putting a stamp on the opening weekend races: Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) will profit from a hard race, and will look to distance faster sprinters like

  • Cycling community says goodbye to Goddaert

    Kristof Goddaert (IAM Cycling)
    Article published:
    February 27, 2014, 18:40 GMT
    José Been

    Omloop het Nieuwsblad to start with minute of silence

    In a packed Saint Paul's Church in Antwerp, friends, colleagues and family said goodbye to Kristof Goddaert. The 27-year-old IAM Cycling rider died in a training accident with a bus in Antwerp last Tuesday. Omloop het Nieuwsblad, the next race Goddaert would take part in, will start with a minute of silence to remember him.

    "Kristof was a great teammate. He just was great fun," his former Topsport Vlaanderen team manager Walter Planckaert told Sporza. "He was the man who gave the team morale. When we were on team training camp he just took the microphone and sang a song in front of us. It's a great loss to the cycling community." 

    Flowers were sent by his former Ag2r-La Mondiale team. The ribbon read: "We will miss your joy and your smile. The Ag2r-La Mondiale team thinks of you." Representatives of his last team IAM Cycling were also present.

    His best friend Moreno de Pauw, currently riding the World Track Championships in Cali, Colombia, said goodbye with a poem. To remember their friend, the Belgian team pursuit rode with a decal of Goddaert on their bikes. "One of your dreams was riding a team pursuit with us! That dream came true today buddy!!," De Pauw wrote on Instagram.

    Among the people attending the funeral were colleagues like Thomas de Gendt, Jan Bakelants, Sep Vanmarcke, former riders like Tom Steels, Wilfried Peeters, Marc Sergeant and Omega Pharma Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere. Cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar was one of the men carrying Goddaert's coffin out of the church while the music played "Simply the best".

    Heinrich Haussler attended the funeral of Goddaert. He...

  • Charlotte Becker to lead Wiggle-Honda at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    Charlotte Becker (Wiggle Honda) pulls through in the breakaway
    Article published:
    February 27, 2014, 22:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Anna Sanchis to make her debut for the team

    Having started the year by claiming overall victory in Australia at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and a strong showing in Qatar, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling will start its 2014 European racing season at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday as part of the traditional Belgian "Openingsweekend." With six of the squad’s riders currently in Cali, Colombia for the Track World Championships the orange and black team will start the race with limited expectations.

    "Charlotte Becker will be the leader of the team as she brings a lot of experience to the team," said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Franky Van Haesebroucke. "My ambitions are not too high for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as it’s a 1.2 [UCI category] race. Our main performances should come from the Tour of Flanders on, after our training camp in Italy."

    "We miss our top sprinter Giorgia Bronzini, who is at the World Championships, so we have to look for breakaways and try to finish on the podium from there," Van Haesebroucke said. "The weather will be okay so that’s good for a girl like Emily Collins, who we will play out for if it comes down to a big bunch near the end."

    The 126.7km race starts and finishes in the city of Gent and features eight of the bergs that are covered in Flanders, including the steep Paterberg, as well as six sections of cobblestones.

    New signing, Spanish time trial champion Anna Sanchis, will make her debut for the team at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad while Swedish road race champion Emilia Fahlin makes her European...

  • Valverde and Quintana to ride Vuelta a Murcia and Clásica de Almería

    Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana
    Article published:
    February 28, 2014, 3:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Movistar duo set for first race together in 2014

    For the first time in 2014, Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana are set to line up alongside each other for Movistar in Spain this weekend as the two leaders of the team will ride the Vuelta a Murcia on Saturday and the Clásica de Almería on Sunday. Quintana started his season in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis where he won the overall while Valverde won three stages on his way o to claiming the overall victory in the Vuelta a Andalucía

    The Murcian race -190km from Beniel to the hilltop finish in the Castillo de Lorca, features the categorized climbs of Cabezo de la Plata, the Alto de Espuña and the Collado Bermejo.

    Valverde has won the Vuelta a Murcia three times with his last win coming in 2008. Quintana was victorious in 2012 in the last year the race had multiple stages. In 2013 the race was cut to a single day as Dani Navarro (Cofidis) won ahead of Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Valverde.

    Joining the two will be brothers Jesús and José Herrada, Pablo Lastras, Javi Moreno, Rubén Plaza, Dayer Quintana, Enrique Sanz and local José Joaquín Rojas.

    Clásica de Almería has been won by Australians in the last two years with Mark Renshaw (Blanco) and Michael Matthews (Rabobank) claiming the victory in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

    The last Spaniard to win the race was Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) in 2006.

    At the Andalusian race, which contains four small ascents on the 178km route between Almeria and Roquetas de Mar, Valverde and Quintana will be reunited with José...

  • Rick Zabel enjoying early season apprenticeship at BMC

    Rick Zabel makes his debut with BMC
    Article published:
    February 28, 2014, 5:45 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Son of German great keeping career goals close to his chest

    German cycling is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with cyclists such as Tony Martin, Andre Greipel, John Degenkolb, Marcel Kittel and even the BMC trio of Marcus Burghardt, Dominik Nerz and first-year pro Rick Zabel making all the right headlines with world championship and Tour de France victories.

    Even the German press, which has frowned over pro cycling in past five years due to its prolific doping scandals and controversies, is starting to take notice of the new generation of German cyclists making their mark on the peloton through their actions on the bike.

    For young 20-year-old Zabel, a lot has already been learned in his first two months as a pro WorldTour cyclist. That says a lot for the grandson of Detlef Zabel and son of Erik Zabel, a six-time Tour de France points classification winner.

    When Zabel lines up for the start of the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in Belgium on Sunday with his BMC Racing Team, the 2012 German U23 national road race champion will already have two successful campaigns under his belt starting with teammates Cadel Evans' second-place finish at the Tour Down Under in January and Taylor Phinney's win at the Dubai Tour in February.

    Zabel told Cyclingnews that both experiences have helped him immeasurably for the start of his career.

    "Professional cycling is hard work," Zabel said. "I had two good captains with Cadel Evans in Australia and Taylor Phinney in Dubai, and we were second at Tour Down Under and first at Tour of Dubai.

    "I enjoyed doing my work for such great captains, and we had great success so for me it was invaluable experience."

    Zabel played a large role in Evans success at the Tour Down Under – including the stage three...