American would ride Giro and Vuelta for Italian team
Lampre-Merida team manager Brent Copeland has told Cyclingnews that the Italian team is close to adding Chris Horner to its roster but is awaiting approval from a key sponsor before the two sides can complete an agreement.
Horner has been searching for a new team since winning the 2013 Vuelta a Espana but has so far been left without a place for 2014. Trek refused to reach his salary demands and after months of uncertainty, Baden Cooke has stepped in and agreed to act as Horner's representative.
Horner turned 42 in October and has been injury prone in the past, but Copeland is convinced Horner could fill an important role for the team.
"We're definitely interested in Chris, and I've talked to him several times in the last few days. I don't know if Chris has other offers he's considering but we think he'd be good fit for us," Copeland told Cyclingnews.
"We're awaiting the final OK from a key sponsor. I'd hoped it would be finalised on Friday but it now looks like it will happen next week."
"He'd fill an important gap in the team and give us an extra rider to help our race roster. We want to be a more international team and Chris would be the first American rider to ride for Lampre-Merida."
Giro and Vuelta, USADA not a problem
Copeland told Cyclingnews that Horner would ride the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana if he joins the team, while world champion Rui Costa would focus on the Tour de France and other WorldTour races.
"I think the only race Chris and Rui Costa would ride together would be the Tour of the Basque Country, which isn't a problem. He would target the Giro and the Vuelta, while Rui has the Tour de France as his big objective. So there's no problem...
Bennett, now 23-years-old, was signed for the Pro Contiental NetApp-Endura team off the back of an extremely impressive showing at the 2013 Tour of Britain where he won stage five to Caerphilly and finished second on two other stages, behind Gerard Ciolek and Mark Cavendish, respectively.
He had previously spent three years with the An Post-Chainreaction team where he made a habit of winning stages of Ireland's premier stage race, the Rás Tailteann. But he has had to deal with injuries along the way, as well as the nagging feeling that he may have missed the boat which would have brought him to the upper ecehlons of the sport a lot sooner.
Bennett flirted with moving to a professional team before when he was offered a stagiaire role with the FDJ team in 2010 when he was still only 19-years-old. But it didn't quite work out as expected.
"I was with [amateur French club] VC La Pomme Marseille back then" Bennett explained. "In December 2009 I had an accident, I was hit head on by a car out training. So I started the next season without much training done but I got form pretty quick and got a few results. Then [FDJ directeur sportif] Marc Madiot came to watch me in a prologue, I didn't know, but I did really well and he offered me the stagiaire role and said he'd like to develop me and all that."
But in the summer of 2010 it became clear that Bennett had not allowed himself sufficient time to recover from injuries sustained in the crash, which set him back even further.
"I should have taken my time but I got tendonitis and I just...
Christian Prudhomme pays visit to South Australia and discusses TDU's WorldTour status
A day after newly elected UCI president Brian Cookson held a press conference to discuss a myriad of topics from his first 100 days in office, including the new Cycling Independent Reform Commission, Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme graced the start of the Tour Down Under's stage four Unley to Victor Harbor on Friday.
Prudhomme was quick to offer support for the Tour Down Under's WorldTour status on the heels of Cookson acknowledging that a review of the event's status on the WorldTour calendar that could involve potential date changes to make to it more amenable with the following WorldTour races starting with Paris-Nice in France from March 9-16.
"[Tour Down Under] is very comparable to stages in the Tour de France," Prudhomme said. "It is comparable to the most important races in Europe."
Cookson, making his first visit to the Tour Down Under, told media that a calendar review would analyse the "whole structure of professional men's road cycling" which would also include a review of the Tour Down Under's role in the UCI WorldTour, a license that ends in 2015.
"It is very important for cycling to have the president here for the first WorldTour race of the season and that means something," said Prudhomme. "I think it's good for him to be here and for cycling."
Prudhomme also shared his thoughts about a potential date move, which has been proposed as late as February to avoid conflict with the increasingly popular lower-ranked (category 2.1) Tour de San Luis in Argentina, and provide a shorter gap between early season WorldTour events.
"There are many, many meetings now and we have to wait to see what happens," he said....
Bonus seconds could decide overall victory at the Tour Down Under
Having started the day 11 seconds behind race leader Cadel Evans (BMC), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) improved his overall position by winning five precious bonus seconds. On tomorrow’s Stage 5 Willunga Hill is sure to test both riders and the sport directors for both teams suggested that the race may only be decided on Sunday’s criterium around the city streets of Adelaide.
A mechanical problem at the second intermediate sprint point today hindered Evans’ chances of limiting his losses as Gerrans took the prize of five bonus seconds. Matt White explained after the race the team was targeting the time bonuses to help Gerrans move up in the overall. "We were always going to focus on the first one [intermediate sprint], but we saw an opportunity to go for the second one. We're in a lot better situation than where we were 24-hours ago, that's for sure," White said.
Speaking with the experience of what has happened in the last two years on Willunga, White knows that tomorrow’s stage will be decisive in deciding who wins the race overall.
In 2012 Gerrans lost the sprint to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) but went on to the win the overall. Last year Gerrans won the stage ahead of Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco) who went on to win the Ochre jersey as the Australian finished the race outside the top ten.
"At the end of the day, you still have to beat Cadel tomorrow on Willunga, but I think that's doable. It will come down to speed, it will...
After two years with the RadioShack team, Ben King is riding his first race in Garmin-Sharp colours.
The American moved to the team, after team manager Jonathan Vaughters expressed interest in him. With little information coming from RadioShack, he says it was an easy choice.
“Vaughters contacted me earlier in the year and there weren’t a lot of answers coming from Trek about the team and if they would continue,” said King.
“I have a lot of friends on Garmin-Sharp. It’s a young team and a new environment. I think a change can be stimulating. There were a lot of good reasons to come to the team.”
King hopes that riding for Garmin will give him the opportunity to ride in some bigger races this year. There is the possibility of riding one of the three grand tours, although, his calendar is still up in the air.
“The team is trying to build a more cohesive team around certain riders, to give them the support that they deserve. I think that I’m a part of that.
“I go from here to Mallorca, and then Catalunya and we’ll see how it goes from there. I definitely hope to get on a grand tour team this year, and I don’t think it will be the Giro.”
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel click here
Orica-GreenEdge captain claws back five seconds on windy stage
In cycling, time is precious, and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) wasted very little time in stealing back five critical seconds from two bonuses along stage four of the Tour Down Under – a stage won by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), who holds the all-time record for stage victories at the race.
Gerrans took a three-second time bonus at the first intermediate sprint, before adding two more seconds after finishing second to fellow Australian Nathan Haas, who is running fourth overall, at the second – and final – intermediate sprint on Inman Valley Road in Yankalilla at the 116.6-kilometre mark.
"Yes, it would have been great to get a few more bonus seconds on the finish line today, but unfortunately I finished in fourth place so just outside the bonuses," said Gerrans, a two-time overall winner and the reigning Australian national champion. "In saying that, we got a couple of seconds out on the road to tighten things up just a little bit more and as I've said time and time again, this race is won by seconds. I'm going to take every opportunity."
When asked about his level of confidence after Friday's stage, Gerrans quickly responded by saying: "Put it this way - I'm feeling five seconds more confident after today's stage than I was beforehand."
Evans, who nearly came off his bike after having what appeared to be gear issues, which later forced a bike change, was unable to respond to Gerrans' attack and thus hold on to valuable seconds.
"It’s been a nervous day with the wind and Orica really took control of the race by putting the whole team [on the front] for...
Italian unconcerned by losing 16 minutes on summit finish
Vincenzo Nibali declared himself unconcerned after losing over 16 minutes on the summit finish at Alto del Amago on stage 4 of the Tour de San Luis, but the Astana man is aiming for a significantly stronger showing in Friday’s individual time trial.
The 9.4 kilometre climb of Alto del Amago was the first major test of the Tour de San Luis, and saw Nairo Quintana (Movistar) solo to an impressive victory and move to within four seconds of Phil Gaimon’s overall lead. Nibali, however, opted to sit up once the climb began to bite, citing both the extreme heat and his unwillingness to push himself too far this early in the season.
Indeed, only four riders finished within two minutes of the dominant Quintana, and Nibali was by no means the only rider to ease up in the finale – Michele Scarponi lost 5:54, Jurgen Van Den Broeck lost 7:26 and Joaquim Rodriguez came in almost 20 minutes down.
“I sat up as soon as the climb began and I took it really easy. I’m not in the best condition for the mountains right now and to go into the red at this point is only counter-productive,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I worked to bring [teammate Mikel] Landa to the foot of the climb and then at the first corner I sat up and went up at my own pace.”
Nibali’s primary goal for 2014 is the Tour de France, and he is aware of the bearing that the penultimate day time trial to Périguex will have on the final reckoning in July. To that end, stage 5 of the Tour de San Luis, a 19.2km time trial, is a useful early-season test site.
“It will be a real and very important test. It’ll be good for me, too, as a reference to years gone by,” said Nibali.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Di Luca has carried out a carefully calculated strategy since testing positive for EPO during the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
On Wednesday, he gave an interview to the satirical Italian current affairs show, Le Iene, making wide-sweeping accusations about doping, suggesting that 90 per cent of the riders in the Giro d'Italia dope, and that if 10 per cent are not, they are the "10 percent [who] don't care about the Giro d'Italia, they are preparing for other races and therefore not doping."
Gazzetta reports that the UCI asked Di Luca to give details of what he knew about doping last June, but he refused to talk. Di Luca was handed a lifetime ban in December, and according to the full verdict - a copy of which was obtained by Gazzetta - Di Luca offered to reveal what he knows about his own and other cases of doping to the Italian Olympic Committee's investigators. However, he then back-tracked on the idea and gave his interview on Italian television. Gazzetta also suggests that Di Luca is involved in the Padua investigation into Dr Michele Ferrari and Lance Armstrong, another investigation in Turin and possibly another again in his home town of Pescara after his positive for EPO because doping is illegal in Italy.
The Italian newspaper asks if Di Luca gave his interview as a kind of vendetta or to help take advantage of his case, and claimed that he is working on the idea of writing a book, perhaps revealing what he...