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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 7, 2014

Date published:
February 07, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Video: Phinney enjoys his first day as leader at the Dubai Tour

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) at the start of stage 2 of the Dubai Tour
    Article published:
    February 06, 2014, 15:42 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    "Tomorrow is the deciding day"

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) savoured his first day as race leader at the Dubai Tour and even increased his overall lead by finishing third in the sprint and taking a one-second time bonus on stage 2.

    The American was beaten by Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) after starting his sprint early, but said he wanted to avoid any trouble in the hectic finish on the edge of the Palm Jumeirah.

    "It was a crazy sprint but I just kind of saw my window," he told Cyclingnews in a video interview after pulling on the race leader's blue jersey.

    "I wasn't really thinking of going for the sprint. But with one kilometre to go, I was moving up on the left and I knew that it was a sprint you could lead out and go early because it was a tail and cross wind. The trains were rolling but with 500 metres to go I started my sprint to pass everyone. It was a bit early to go and I had to sit down with 50 metres to go and hang on for dear life as Kittel passed me."

    "But every time I get to mix it up in a sprint, it's a good learning experience for me. It's something I have in my DNA because my dad was a sprinter, so I always like to play around. It's something I'm working and I hope to build on that."

    Phinney was on the front cover all the local media in Dubai after winning the opening time trial stage on Wednesday. He revealed he also received lots of compliments in the peloton and his team protected him well throughout the stage.

    "I got a lot of respect from my friends in the peloton and a fair amount of guys were happy for me. That's nice to see and feel from our co-workers," he said.

    "The team rode really well and we were all on...

  • Video: Kittel denies he is now the best sprinter in the peloton

    Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) on the podium
    Article published:
    February 06, 2014, 16:25 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    "I've got to prove it a few more times"

    Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) emerged as the winner of the first sprint duel of 2014 with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in stage 2 of the Dubai Tour, but refused to openly claim the Manxman's crown as the fastest sprinter in the world.

    Kittel was well protected by his teammates for most of the stage and then jumped from behind Taylor Phinney (BMC) to win the sprint on the edge of the Palm Jumeirah artificial island.

    Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team tried to lead out the sprint but the side wind made for a hectic sprint. When the front of the race switched across the road, Cavendish was trapped too far back and eased up. He finished 30th, with teammate Mark Renshaw 17th.

    The Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders stood in silence as they took a drink from their soigneur after he stage, and Cavendish refused to speak in the heat of the moment. In contrast, a few metres away, the Giant-Shimano riders celebrated Kittel's second victory of 2014.

    "Every team makes mistakes. That happens," Kittel told Cyclingnews when asked of the expected season-long battle with Cavendish and Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

    "Tomorrow is a new race and we have to prepare the sprint from new again. I hope it will again be Giant-Shimano in front but we have to fight for that every day."

    Despite his victory, Kittel modestly refused to declare himself as the fastest sprinter in the world.

    "I think that so far that everything is going to plan but I've got to prove it a few more times," he said.

    "Mark was not there in the finale, something happened. Maybe it's going to happen in the next few days and then we will have a direct...

  • Qatar women's team targets 2016 Worlds

    Former professional Pia Sunstedt is the coach of the Qatari women's team
    Article published:
    February 06, 2014, 18:54 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Former professional Pia Sunstedt in charge of start-up project

    Ambitious projects are nothing new in Qatar. This is, after all, a country that was without a hospital worthy of the name until 1959, but is now the world's wealthiest nation per capita thanks to the exploitation of its oil reserves. This is a land where thousands of years of Bedouin life left scarcely a trace on the desert, but where a fresh cluster of skyscrapers are now added to the Doha cityscape each year almost as a matter of routine.

    Yet even by local standards, the country's aim of putting together a women's cycling team in time to compete at the world championships in Doha in 2016 seems like something of a stretch, given that until as recently as three months ago, there were effectively no women cyclists in Qatar.

    Under the guidance of Finnish former professional Pia Sunstedt, however, a women's team took its first fledgling pedal strokes in Doha in late November, and visited the start of stage 3 of the Ladies Tour of Qatar on Thursday to sample the atmosphere of a top-level race.

    "It's an important step for them just to be here, because they are just learning about cycling," Sunstedt told Cyclingnews. "They've been able to speak with professional cyclists, and ask questions about training, about racing, about everything. These girls know nothing about cycling, the knowledge is just zero, so this is very important."

    Sunstedt has 27 riders under her tutelage, ranging from 13 to 25 years of age, and they began training from scratch in December. Some had been identified as athletes by the country's sporting hub, the Aspire Academy, while others were recruited from local universities, and more have since been invited to the fold by friends and cousins.

    "We first started talking a year ago, but the project really started in November," said Sunstedt, a winner of three marathon World Cups as a mountain biker and a clutch of top-level races...

  • Sagan satisfied with second in the Dubai Tour sprint

    Peter Sagan
    Article published:
    February 06, 2014, 20:35 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale leader hoping to take his first win of the season on stage three

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was up against some of the best sprinters in the peloton at the end of the second stage of the Dubai Tour, but had the skill and speed to survive the hectic finale in the cross winds and finish second behind Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

    The Cannondale team had not planned to set up Sagan for the sprint but the Slovakian and his team changed their minds late on in the stage. Key domestiques such as Ted King, Maciej Bodnar and Fabio Sabatini help Sagan stay protected and well positioned and then Marco Marcato dropped him off on Mark Renshaw's wheel, disrupting the Omega Pharma-Quick Step lead out.

    Fabian Cancellara's late surge to set up his Trek Factory Racing teammate Giacomo Nizzolo shuffled the peloton and derailed the Omega Pharma-Quick Step lead out. However, Sagan managed to somehow come through the middle of the pack to take second behind Kittel but ahead of race leader Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar).

    "I'm happy with my sprint today. There was a lot of wind today and so a lot of fighting for position, especially in the final five kilometres. I think I did a good sprint," Sagan told Cyclingnews with pride.

    "It was a finish for Kittel, it was finish for sprinters. I had a go and I think I did pretty well considering the finish."

    Sagan is hoping to take his first victory of the 2014 season on Friday's third stage at the Dubai Tour. The 162km stage includes two climbs in the finale, with the second topping out just eight kilometres from the finish. Sagan and others could try to hurt the sprinters on the first climb, that comes with 34km to go and then try to distance them before the finish in...

  • Hosking has 2016 vision in Qatar

    Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products UCK) celebrates as she crosses the finish line on Stage 5 of the Holland Ladies Tour
    Article published:
    February 06, 2014, 20:41 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Australian takes aim at Doha Worlds

    A local media report named Chloe Hosking as a "Qatar 2016 ambassador" when she accompanied the newly-established Qatari women's team on a training ride earlier this week, but the Australian is hopeful of landing a loftier title when she returns to Doha for the world championships in two years' time.

    Now in her fifth participation at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, Hosking's sharp sense of positioning in an echelon and rapid sprint finish are well-suited to racing in the gulf state. A stage winner last year, the Hitec Products rider has been overall leader Kirsten Wild's most persistent rival in the sprints this time around, and is hopeful that such dress rehearsals will serve her well ahead of the 2016 Worlds.

    "It's my huge goal, that's what I'm working towards," Hosking told Cyclingnews of the Qatar world championships. "I think the course in Rio [for the 2016 Olympics] isn't really up my alley, so my focus is on the Qatar world championships."

    The flat terrain of Qatar lends itself to a sprinters' course, and twelve months ago, both Eddy Merckx and representatives of the Qatar Cycling Federation poured cold water on the notion that a climb would be constructed especially for the race, even if the rumour is one that persists.

    "I'm not really sure what the course is going to be like because I think they can build anything here," Hosking said. "They could build a massive hill, so you never know. I've heard all different things, I heard talk about a tunnel with air conditioning. We'll have to wait and see, but I love racing in Qatar."

    A circuit race in a rather different climate is one of the primary targets of Hosking's 2014 season, as she bids for a place in the Australian squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July. "That's the big goal, but obviously I have to get selected and...

  • Shared cobble sectors revealed for Paris-Roubaix and Tour de France

    The cobbles of Paris-Roubaix provide an epic backdrop
    Article published:
    February 06, 2014, 21:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tour to utilise nine sectors in stage 5

    The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced today some details of the 2014 Paris-Roubaix route, featuring the inclusion of several cobblestone sectors absent from the parcours in recent editions. Of importance to riders in the 2014 Tour de France, also organised by ASO, are specifics regarding the nine cobbled sectors of Paris-Roubaix which will also feature in stage 5 of the Tour de France.

    The 112th edition of Paris-Roubaix, contested on April 13, 2014, will cover 257 total kilometres and feature 51.1 kilometres of its signature cobblestone roads, divided among 28 different sectors.

    The sequence of the first pave sectors has been revamped in order to visit some cobbled sections that had been left “fallow” for several years. While the peloton will first encounter cobbles as usual after approximately 100 kilometres of racing near Troisvilles, almost 20 kilometres further on, the pack will deviate from last year’s route to ride cobbled sections at Haussy (800m) and Saulzoir (1,200m), both re-integrated into the route after an absence of 10 years. As for the 1,200m section at Famars, it has only been absent for two years.

    Many of the riders contesting Paris-Roubaix will have a second taste of the Hell of the North's cobbles during stage 5 of this year's Tour de France, covering 156km between Ypres and Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. In July, however, the peloton will be revisiting the pave sectors in the opposite direction starting with the section at Gruson, where the riders in Paris-Roubaix will almost have the finishing velodrome in sight. Only the section at Mons-en-Pévèle will be tackled in the same direction in both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France, but only for a portion measuring 1,000m in July.

    Cobbled sections featured in both Paris-Roubaix and stage 5 of the Tour de France:
    Gruson - Carrefour...

  • Job done by Haas and Garmin at Herald Sun Tour

    Haas takes the lead after stage 1
    Article published:
    February 06, 2014, 21:50 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    Form and confidence synonymous for man in blue

    Stage 1 of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour may have looked like on paper it was one for the "fastest man here" Steele von Hoff, but it was Nathan Haas who proved the quickest on the 116km route from Geelong to Ballarat.

    Prior to the stage, Cyclingnews caught up with Haas who said, "Steele is easily the fastest guy here. It's not often that I make a big call like this but, we haven't done our job if Steele doesn't win today."

    Haas leads the overall and points classification after his sprint win over Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Jonathan Cantwell (Drapac) and having picked up 10 bonus seconds, he has a buffer over main rival Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).

    Gerrans has proven to be adept at picking up crucial bonus seconds in the past and Haas isn't taking his lead for granted. "I've got to see what Gerrans is doing and if they opportunity comes that I can take some seconds as well from finishes than I have to take them. We saw how important seconds were at the Tour Down Under and Gerrans is the world master at cleaning up bonus seconds and making up time here there and everywhere."

    An issue with his chain in the final 100m ended any chances von Hoff had claiming a second Sturt St win in a month following his national criterium victory in January, but both he and Jack Bauer surrendered his yellow jersey after the stage and he now sits in second place overall, leaving Garmin with several cards to play as they chase their first stage win victory of 2014.

    "We have to protect the lead for all of us, whether that's one of us in the breakaway that goes to the line because it's a big group or if it's a sprint," he said.

    As a former winner, Haas is familiar with the race and style of racing at the Herald Sun Tour. He stressed the importance of...

  • Davide Frattini kicking off 2014 in Australia at Herald Sun Tour

    Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthcare)
    Article published:
    February 07, 2014, 0:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Hot beginning of the season for Italian

    Italian Davide Frattini’s appearance at the 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour is not only his debut Australian race but the first time he's made it down under. His UnitedHealthcare team are back at the Australian race, which has been elevated to UCI 2.1 status again, and the all-rounder is enjoying his time on the Victorian roads.

    "This is my first time in Australia, ever. My older brother did a couple of races as an U23 back in the day, the Commonwealth stage race or something like that. Even Grafton (Graton to Inverell) an old, old race but he's 11 years older than me," he explained to Cyclingnews.

    Still acclimatising to the heat of the Australian Summer, Frattini is nevertheless glad to back on the bike after coming from the cold North American winter. "I really enjoy it, the team did this race two years ago when it was end of the season and for us it's a good start. Most of the riders, I'm coming from Toronto, are coming from cold weather so it's a good start. It's challenging.

    "The heat was the main problem yesterday, training at below zero and coming here where its 40 degrees was a big shock to the system for sure but hopefully I get used to it."

    With two riders who have podiumed in the race before, Ben Day and Karl Menzies, Frattini can call upon his teammates for that extra piece of advice.

    "They've experienced the race here before, they've won here before. I actually took Hilton Clarke's spot who was sick over Christmas so they called me at the last minute and he would have made it three Australians. They [Karl and Ben] bring a lot of experience."

    After his Australian adventure Frattini heads home for...