- Article published:
- January 10, 2013, 13:39
- Cycling News
Return date bounces from April to January to March
The confusion over the end date of Alex Rasmussen's suspension continues, with the date now standing at March 14. The Dane had recently received notice from the UCI that it would end as of January 26, and had already made plans to start racing again, until he was notified of yet another date change.
Rasmussen was given an 18-month ban for violating the whereabouts requirements, which was originally scheduled to end on April 1, 2013. The beginning of this month he was told the ban would be shortened by one month, to March 1.
Only days later, his manager Dries Smets received an email from the UCI's legal department, saying the ban expires on January 26, according to politiken.dk. Rasmussen promptly made plans to ride the Copenhagen Six-Days race (January 1-February 5), and hoped to ride the Track World Championships in Belarus at the end of February.
He was in fact preparing to attend a press conference when he received further word from the UCI. “It was not until a few minutes before I was going into the six-day press conference in Ballerup Super Arena to talk about my plans that I got another order from the UCI,” he said.
Rasmussen received another email from the UCI's legal department stating that the ban would not end until one minute before midnight on March 14, meaning he could only race again as of March 15.
"It almost feels as if I have been convicted again, and I am frankly angry that I was not able to receive a clear message from the UCI.” he said.
"The first mail suddenly created a completely new perspective, and I had already started to look forward to both the six-day race and the World Championships with high expectations."
Rasmussen had travelled to Denmark from his training base in Spain “for the sole purpose of participating in the press conference. It was like having a bucket of cold water dumped on me, since all plans completely fell to the ground. "
"Now I'm leaving as soon as possible to go back to Spain to continue my road training, and so I still have to prepare myself for the fact I can only get a number on the back again from 15 March. If the UCI doesn't suddenly change its mind again. "
Rasmussen still does not have a team for the 2013 season, but hopes to re-sign with Team Garmin-Sharp.
- Article published:
- January 10, 2013, 16:24
- Barry Ryan
Blanco rider discusses ties between GreenEdge and national team
Mark Renshaw has expressed his reservations about the ties between Orica-GreenEdge and the Australian elite men’s road team, and voiced his preference for either Brad McGee or Allan Peiper to be installed as the new professional men’s road coordinator.
Matt White, the previous incumbent, stepped down from the post and from his role as Orica-GreenEdge sports director in October after he confessed to doping during his time as a rider at US Postal Service. Cycling Australia is expected to name his replacement early in 2013.
Renshaw, who rides for Blanco Pro Cycling, was omitted from the Australian selection for both the world championships in Copenhagen in 2011 and the London 2012 Olympics, and he believes that Cycling Australia should look beyond the GreenEdge set-up for the new national coach.
“I’d like to see Brad McGee or Allan Peiper take that role because these guys know the talent and the hard work I’ve put in,” Renshaw told Cyclingnews. “There’s a lot mentioned about GreenEdge but hopefully that doesn’t play a role, and hopefully those guys who know me can play a part in the future.”
The close links between Cycling Australia and Orica-GreenEdge mirror those between British Cycling and Team Sky, and Renshaw took a pragmatic view when asked if he felt that such crossover between national federations and trade teams was counter-productive.
“If I was in GreenEdge, I’d probably say no! But yeah, standing on the other side of the fence, there probably needs to be more division between the two," he said. "Of course the federation likes to see the link between the two, but it definitely makes it harder for riders who aren’t part of the trade teams linked to national federations.”
Although he had helped to pilot Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Matt Goss to numerous victories during his three-year spell at Team Highroad, Renshaw was surprisingly overlooked for the role of Goss’ lead-out man at the Copenhagen world championships in 2011. He admitted that he is still at a loss as to why he was deemed persona non grata by Matt White and the Australian management.
“I don’t know if it was personal or professional,” Renshaw said. “The Worlds was pretty much the qualifying for the Olympics, not taking me to the Worlds meant that I couldn’t go to the Olympics.
“One or two weeks before, at the Tour of Britain, I won one stage and I put the brakes on in another for Cav so he could win. I don’t think there was a form question mark. There has to be some kind of reason but they never gave it to me.”
In the run-up to the Copenhagen Worlds, Renshaw had opted to join Rabobank following the demise of HTC-Highroad rather than wait for an offer from the nascent GreenEdge team, although he did not speculate on whether that affected his relationship with the national team. “I notified them that they had to make an offer and it had to be quick but I didn’t really receive anything in writing so I went with the options I had,” he explained.
Renshaw described the experience of watching those world championships on television as one of the hardest of his life, with emotions running from resentment to “frustration or maybe even anger” as he watched Cavendish, Goss and Greipel fill the podium places. “I watched it but my wife didn’t talk to me for a couple of hours afterwards because I was too angry,” he confessed.
“Cavendish’s sprint was exceptional because he was boxed in on the inside and only Cav could wait that long for it to open, because he’s got such a good kick. The error the Australians made was opening the right hand side up: I think if they had kept it closed, there’s a good chance we might have had a different podium, but Cav had the best legs and he won.”
Although Renshaw had no issue with the selection of Simon Gerrans and Goss as Australia's leaders at the Olympic Games - "Gerrans has proven he's the classiest bike rider Australia has and Goss has proven that he's probably the fastest sprinter on a hilly course" - he admitted that his own disappointment at missing out on selection has not dissipated. “I went to the Athens Olympics on the track and I’d love to have gone on the road. I can understand why they didn’t take me but it’s still frustrating.”
- Article published:
- January 10, 2013, 19:15
- Cycling News
Ekimov pledges team's commitment to anti-doping measures
The Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) announced today that the Russian Katusha squad has formally requested to join its membership.
Katusha, the team of 2012 number one-ranked rider Joaquim Rodriguez, is currently appealing the decision of the UCI to reject its application for the WorldTour to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The UCI's license commission failed to approve the renewal of Katusha's license, reportedly on grounds it did not meet ethical criteria.
The MPCC was founded in 2007 as a reaction to the multiple doping scandals of that year's Tour de France. The member teams pledge to adhere to stricter standards than those required by current sporting governance.
These rules include not hiring riders who have served doping suspensions longer than six months, excluding those due to whereabouts violations, and limiting the use of corticosteroids.
Late last year, the race organizers' association AIOCC decided it would give MPCC members priority in the allocation of wild card invitations to their events.
Should Katusha fail in its bid to overturn the UCI's decision on its WorldTour application, and accept a lesser, Pro Continental status, it would rely solely on wild card invitations for entry to the sport's major events.
New Katusha manager Viatcheslav Ekimov stated that the team is applying to the MPCC for membership to, "Demonstrate to our full commitment to the struggle of any anti-doping measures", "to give guidance to all further top Katusha team members concerning personal behavior and the general struggle of doping", and "to most meet the actual requirements as set by various tour operators and / or organizers".
Katusha joins Astana, Lampre-Merida, Blanco, Crelan-Euphony, Bardiani-CSF, La Pomme Marseille, Big Mat-Auber 93 and Novo Nordisk as applicants. Already members are AG2R La Mondiale, Argos-Shimano, Bretagne-Schuller, Cofidis, Europcar, FDJ, Garmin-Sharp, the Swiss IAM Cycling project, Lotto Belisol, NetApp and Saur Sojasun. The MPCC today provisionally accepted Vacansoleil-DCM into its ranks.
New members will be voted in on February 7, 2013.
- Article published:
- January 10, 2013, 20:10
- Peter Cossins
Mikel Nieve and Igor Antón will lead new-look team’s attack at the Tour
Euskaltel-Euskadi team leader Samuel Sánchez has added his name to the growing list of high-profile contenders for the Giro d’Italia title. Speaking at the Basque team’s presentation at Euskaltel’s company HQ in Derio on Wednesday, Sánchez said that the Giro is likely to be "a very closely fought race because it will have a very classy field". He picked out, "(Bradley) Wiggins, (Ryder) Hesjedal, (Robert) Gesink, (Juan José) Cobo, (Vincenzo) Nibali, (Michele) Scarponi and (Ivan) Basso," as being among his likely rivals.
According to returning Euskaltel team manager Igor González de Galdeano, Sánchez will decide whether to start the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España once he has completed the Giro. González de Galdeano explained that the responsibility of leading the team at the Tour will fall on Sánchez’s co-leaders, Igor Antón and Mikel Nieve. He added that his principal goal is to finish among the top 15 teams in the WorldTour rankings.
"This will be difficult," he confessed. "If you achieve this it means that you have taken some great results." As part of this primary goal, González de Galdeano said that his team’s objective will be "to win a stage in the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta". He continued: "If we can be in contention for the podium [at the Giro] so much the better as that would mean that Samuel would have taken a top three finish in all three Grand Tours."
The fact that Sánchez is also looking towards the World Championships could well mean that the 2008 Olympic champion will opt for the Vuelta over the Tour. If this does turn out to be the case, González de Galdeano is confident that Antón and Nieve can contend for a stage win at what is a mountainous Tour de France. He indicated that all three of his leaders could then line up in the Vuelta, and at least two of them should be on the start line.
González de Galdeano is also hoping that the team’s young talents will continue their progression with a view to them becoming the squad’s eventual leaders. He pointed in particular to 25-year-old Romain Sicard and Gorka Izagirre, and 23-year-old Mikel Landa and Ion Izagirre.
González de Galdeano described the new-look team as being "solid" following the addition of its first foreign riders. It remains to be seen what kind of impact these new riders will have given that they have all been signed from teams outside the WorldTour. But González de Galdeano will be hoping that they can bag valuable ranking points even if victories continue to be hard to come by.
- Article published:
- January 10, 2013, 22:35
- Alex Malone
Specialized-Securitor hoping national title puts her in spotlight
Kimberley Wells was in a state of disbelief after taking out the Australian criterium title early Thursday evening. Wells won her first national championship in a photo finish against European professional Loren Rowney (Specialized - lululemon) and hopes that she can use that momentum to gain a spot on a professional team overseas.
Wells and her teammates were warming-down shortly after the race, ensuring their legs remain in good condition ahead of the Australian Road Race Championships on Saturday. For Wells, who really only focussed on cycling full-time since 2012, has been one of the top criterium riders in recent months but was elated with her biggest win to date.
"It's massive to me, I just wanted this so badly," said Wells still in shock following her narrow win over Rowney. "For it to finally happen I just can't believe it.
"I think it's going to take quite a while for it to sink in. It's such a big win for me and our team. We've really struck ourselves on the map," Wells told Cyclingnews.
Wells' Specialized-Securitor teammates assisted her throughout the 30-lap women's race and have supported her superbly at the recent NSW Grand Prix races in December and the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - which began on New Year's Day. Wells won the opening round on the tight Geelong course and took another podium finish on the way to third overall.
The 27-year-old thanked her teammates during her post-race interviews and says the level of support given by her squad means she can concentrate solely on getting the job done. Wells explained that squad members are continually discussing tactics and about how they can work effectively together. It's this level of camaraderie within the team that has made them a force during recent months.
"We've got a team manager running things Liz Phillipou, she takes care of all the logistics for a lot of our races. At National's we've got Paul McDonald as a mechanic and bit of a soigneur. He's taking care of all the little things. That's makes such a big difference.
"We are always taking together about how we can work together as a team and get the best results. It's just been an amazing team that I've been involved with over the past year," explained Wells.
While only starting to touch the sides of what she could achieve Wells is already eyeing a spot abroad. The exact location is yet to be determined but a national championship will surely aid her quest for greater things. With the recent changes made to the Australian National Team, Wells could also find herself as a candidate for a guest spot in the coming year.
"My goal for 2013 is to get myself racing overseas. Whether that is in America or Europe, whatever is the right fit for me in terms of team and style of racing.
"I carry a lot of speed through these sort of crit races and I've got a good kick on for my sprints. That's a dangerous thing in racing so I'd love to use that to overseas. Until that happens I'm really happy racing in this team and in the National Road Series.
"It would be an honour to be considered in a team (Australian National Team) at that kind of level. I'm always willing to commit to the team that I'm in and really learn and grow. That's an exciting prospect," Wells told Cyclingnews.
Those who watched the footage from the 'Bay Crits' would have witnessed Wells' daredevil approach to racing and attributes her fearless attitude to her experiences growing up with two older brothers.
"I've played a lot of sports growing up and also have two older brothers so that's fostered that competitiveness. Anyone that's ever been around us knows how competitive we get about everything from playing a board game to sports or even when we were growing up who was the tallest.
"Find anything and we'll compete for it. Having done a lot of different sports you kind of get a feel for the flow of a game or a race. At that crit in Geelong I knew when I had to go to win it. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants in that last corner but that was the move you had to do. I'm not scared so you just have to go for it."
The criterium's victory toast will have to wait for Wells as she looks to road race for another result. Wells believes she's got plenty of endurance in her legs but notes that a lot will depend on the other team’s tactics. If a move gets clear toward the finish with her in it, she should be in with a shot of taking a second title.
"I've got a lot of k's in my legs for the endurance side of things but it's still about racing smart and conserving energy when you need to. In those critical moments during a race you need to be able to follow if it's turning into a break.
"It really depends of the tactics of the teams on the day. I'm going to have to watch what the race is doing. I'll be following breaks if they've got some contenders in them."
- Article published:
- January 11, 2013, 02:00
- Jane Aubrey
Canberran unconcerned after time trial crash
While there will be of course a lot of athletes who are gunning for a result in the Under 23 men's road race at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships on Saturday, one genuine contender's determination was on show for all to see during the time trial on Wednesday.
Adam Phelan, off the back of an impressive performance at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, looked set to post a time which would have placed him inside the top five and easily on the podium when he rode too hot into one of the final corners with around one kilometre left to race. His immediate instinct was to go for his right brake when he should have been putting the squeeze on the left lever, his set up on his road bike. Phelan's back wheel locked up and next thing he knew he was on the asphalt.
A decent chunk out of his shoulder, and some skin off his elbow, the 21-year-old had dropped his chain and also couldn't use his pedals properly. It meant for a much slower ride into the finish than what he'd been hoping and an 11th placing.
"It shouldn't affect me too badly," Phelan told Cyclingnews. "There's a bit of soreness but all my bones are okay. It just makes me all the more hungry for the road race on Saturday."
The 2013 edition of the Australian Championships brings Phelan full circle, having missed out on last year's event due to a head injury suffered during a December training camp with his team, Drapac Professional Cycling. Since, he's ridden with the Australian Under 23 Continental team, Jayco-AIS, in Europe where he won the 1.2 GP di Poggiana and then performed admirably at the UCI Road World Championships, launching a last-ditch attack up the Cauberg on the final lap.
"It's a completely different start to the year, compared to last year," said Phelan. "I had injury after injury there but now I've got different opportunities and racing to get underway so I'm really positive about the year and happy to get over the start of last year."
Phelan will face a crack field on Saturday morning in the 137.2km race if he is to join a list of past winners which includes Graeme Brown, Simon Gerrans, CJ Sutton, Jack Bobridge, Simon Clarke and most recently, Rohan Dennis. At the pointy end of Phelan's rivals for a green and gold jersey, is the newest rider on a prestigious list of winners at the Sun Tour, Calvin Watson, who earned a bronze medal in the race in 2012.
"Based off form here and how he went last year, Calvin Watson is always going to be up there," said Phelan. "Hopefully everyone's going to take a bit more notice of him now. Pat Lane and a few of the first years' coming up will get into the mix - you never know what Caleb's [Ewan] going to bust out and do."
The Sun Tour has provided a preview to the Cycling Australia Road National Championships like never before. Phelan was consistent and didn't fall out of the general classification's top 10 until the final stage with two ascents of the tricky Arthurs Seat climb. Phelan, was a threat and was marked accordingly in numerous breakaways.
The Canberran will be based in Europe once again with the re-badged Jayco-AIS team, the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy with the Nations Cup events first on the agenda. It will be the third year Phelan has raced on the continent, an experience that's all but impossible to match.
"I've raced in Europe for the last two years now in fairly short stints," he told Cyclingnews. "I was over for five months last year so I really benefitted from that and gained a lot. I've had a taste of a few of the bigger races doing 1.1s with Drapac against Pro teams so I've learned the different dynamics. It is a lot different in Europe but it's just more about learning how it's raced. Anyone that's going to be in the team is going to be good enough to do well there. You've just got to learn the racing so I think having a couple of years of experience will definitely help me."
There's a bit more at stake for Phelan in 2013 and a win this Saturday will go a long way to achieving his goal at the end of the season - turning professional after he competes at the UCI Road World Championships in Italy.
"I enjoyed most of the Italian races that I did so it's one that could suit me as well," he explained. "Hopefully I'll get a chance to check it out while I'm there because it's not too far from where we're staying. I've heard that it's a pretty hard berg that you go over lots of times but hopefully I'll be able to climb well enough to make the team and have a good shot at it as well."
- Article published:
- January 11, 2013, 05:12
- Alex Malone
Under-23 TT winner tracing footsteps of past Australian champions
The recently-crowned Australian under-23 time trial champion, Damien Howson, says he wants to follow in the footsteps of riders like Rohan Dennis and Luke Durbridge and use the opportunity of riding the Santos Tour Down Under to really put himself on the map.
Second at the Australian National Championships, gold at the Oceania Time Trial Championships and bronze at the UCI World Championships in 2012 meant Howson was a hot favourite for the 29.2km test in 2013.
"It was brought to my attention by a few people and also the pressure I put on myself," said Howson. "It was just a matter of putting it together on the day and make sure I got those green and gold bands."
"The improvement that I've seen in myself over the past two years, there's been some huge steps forward. I always set myself goals along the way and for this year I think by winning the National's in the TT - I'll have to wait till Saturday - but they are two big objectives of mine," he told Cyclingnews.
The 20-year-old Damien Howson took to the top step of the podium after winning the Australian under-23 Time Trial Championships on Wednesday and after a powerful ride in the criterium the following afternoon, it's all eyes on taking another national title in the 137.2km road race.
Last year it was his former teammate Dennis who took both the TT and road titles before finally joining the Garmin-Sharp team at the end of 2012. It would appear that Howson is on track to repeat that same achievement.
Howson's Stage 3 performance at last week's Jayco Herald Sun Tour was exceptional. He may have failed to achieve his intended goal in the Prologue but he was a vital teammate to fourth-place overall Bradley Linfield. Howson was the first rider over the top of Arthurs Seat and did his job for the team but Sunday will see the South Australian in the protected leader's role.
"The Sun Tour was an opportunity to see where my form was at because I hadn't really raced since the World Championships [in 2012]," explained Howson. "The prologue was the event that, if I was going to achieve a result, that was the one I thought I could accomplish. But it didn't turn out how I wanted it.
"I think that was a bit too short compared to the National's," Howson told Cyclingnews.
Former winners of the Australian time trial title have gone on to bigger and better things says Howson, who was granted a spot in the Australian National Team for the opening round of the WorldTour - the Santos Tour Down Under.
"Over the last two years you've got Durbridge being national champion and riding Tour Down Under, conquering the World's. There was Rohan last year winning the national TT and going on to a superb Down Under, getting fifth on GC and close to taking out the World Championships last year," said Howson.
"If I could follow in those guys' footsteps, have a good Down Under and finish it off with hopefully taking out the World Championships at the end of the year. Hopefully I can get some rainbow stripes."
Howson will again head to Europe with the under-23 National Team this year and believes that if he can get the results, a professional contract could be sent his way. Before he gets too far ahead of himself, there's the under-23 TT World Championships to win.
"Conquering a few of the tours like Rohan did last year would be great but especially the World Championships at the end of the year is my main focus. It's the one event I really want to win.
"From there, hopefully gaining a professional contract and starting my cycling career from there."
- Article published:
- January 11, 2013, 09:28
- Cycling News
Astana name Guarnieri as replacement
Pro Team Astana has been forced to make a change to their Tour Down Under roster, with just over a week until the start of the WorldTour event.
Francesco Gavazzi had been scheduled to make the trip to Australia with the team however the winner of the queen stage at the 2012 Tour of Beijing suffered a knee injury in training.
"I have an inflammation of the cartilage around the left kneecap from simple overtraining. I have been suffering for 10 days, but hope to get it fixed soon," Gavazzi said.
His replacement will be sprinter, Jacopo Guarnieri, who should prove to be handy support for new recruit Andrea Guardini who will be making his debut for the team at the event.
Meantime, Gavazzi will undergo treatment from physiotherapists in an attempt to recover from his knee injury and hopes to resume racing in February.
"For now I can only train at maximum for a few hours on the bike. With regards to our training camp in Alicante, it all depends on my knee, but I think I should be ready for the Ruta del Sol for certain," Gavazzi said.