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Jerome Coppel, Dani Navarro and Rein Taaramae will headline Team Cofidis in the Tour de France. The Professional Continental team, which is riding the race on a wildcard invitation, announced its first eight riders for the Tour, which starts next week. The final rider will be named after the French National championships on Sunday.
Coppel, 26, rode the Tour for Saur-Sojasun, finishing 14th in 2011 and 21st in 2012. Navarro has spent much of his career supporting Alberto Contador and will now look for his own chances. He won the Tour of Murcia this spring. Taaramae has been with the team his entire career, since 2008, and will be looking for his first Tour stage win in his fourth start.
The trio will be supported by Egoitz Garcia, Christophe Le Mevel, Luis Angel Mate, Yoann Bagot, and Rudy Molard. The latter two, both of whom rode the Vuelta a Espana in 2012, will be making their Tour debut.
“For Yoann and Rudy, this is a logical progression,” said team principal Yvon Sanquer. “Our role is also to help develop young French riders.”
Team Cofidis for the Tour de France: Yoann Bagot (FRA), Jerome Coppel (FRA) Egoitz Garcia (ESP), Christophe Le Mevel (FRA), Luis Angel Mate (ESP), Rudy Molard (FRA), Dani Navarro (ESP), Rein Taaramae (EST)
Autumn Classic to run again from Bergamo to Lecco
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will ride the Il Lombardia in October. The first African Professional Continental team received the wildcard invitation after Vini Fantini-Sella Italia withdrew from the race. Race organizers also announced that the race will once again start in Bergamo and finish in Lecco.
MTN-Qhubeka will be the 25th team in the race, with organisers noting that the team was the winner of this year's Milan-San Remo with Gerald Ciolek. Vini Fantini had earlier been awarded one of the wildcards, but returned the invitation after two of its riders tested positive for EPO around the Giro d'Italia.
"Giro di Lombardia is a race I watched live last year and it goes over such beautiful and tough terrain and has a similar type of finish to Milan-Sanremo with hard climbs near the end,” team principal Doug Ryder told Cyclingnews. “It will be a great event for our team and fantastic to end our first Pro Continental racing season with a World Tour event. We have had 7 UCI victories this season and we are looking forward to a successful autumn."
The race, to be held October 6, will start in Bergamo and early on will feature the Valcava climb (9.6km, 9% and 1336m). Coming later, the Muro di Sormano will be a real challenge. It is only 2km but has a 15% average gradient, narrow roads, and 25-30% grade hairpins. There are two more major climbs before the finish, the Ghisallo with a maximum gradient of 14% and the Vila Vergano, which kicks up to 15%.
The 25 participating teams include all 19 WorldTour teams plus Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela, Colombia, IAM Cycling, MTN-Qhubeka, Europcar and NetApp-Endura.
Seven of nine riders return from successful 2012 line-up
Van den Broeck finished fourth overall at the 2012 Tour de France, equalling his result fro 2010, and this year the 30-year-old Belgian has focused his season on making the final podium in Paris.
Greipel enjoyed his most successful Tour ever in 2012, winning three stages and finishing second to Peter Sagan on the points classification, and the 30-year-old German will enjoy a dedicated lead-out train to deliver more stage wins in this year's edition.
"Considering that our core is almost identical to that of last year also our Tour selection doesn't differ much from previous editions," said team manager Marc Sergeant. "André Greipel and Jurgen Van den Broeck are still our main leaders. Last year the team proved it is possible to pursue two goals."
Van den Broeck has trained at altitude in the Sierra Nevada and has conducted extensive course recons of stages on Corsica, the Alps, the Pyrenees as well as the time trials. He began his season in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis, where he finished fifth overall, followed by second at the Vuelta a Andalucia, ninth at the Volta a Catalunya, seventh at the Tour de Romandie and 29th at the Critérium du Dauphiné. In early April he crashed out of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
"Jurgen Van den Broeck has brought only some small changes to his Tour preparation: the Tour de Romandie instead of the Walloon Classics, an extra week of rest after the Volta a...
Team asks them not to commit themselves yet
The Tour de France is a traditional time for informal transfer and contract discussions, and Vacansoleil-DCM riders may take special advantage of that this year. The Dutch WorldTour team is looking for a new sponsor for 2014, and if it does not find one, team management does not want its riders to be left out in the cold.
“It is up to management to find a sponsor and it is up to the riders to find a job,” team business manager Frank Kwanten told Cyclingnews. “We don't want to say at the end of September that 'we have a problem....'”.
The managers “will do their homework,” he said, and there are still possibilities that the team will continue under new sponsorship.
However, the riders' welfare is important. “They may talk to other teams, but must also remember the August 1 deadline,” Kwanten said. They should be free to have talks as “something might come up during the Tour de France, and we want to be sure they can use their option if something comes up.”
But, he concluded, “we ask them to do nothing until the end of the Tour de France or the first of August, and then we will see.”
The UCI's transfer period starts August 1, and riders and teams may not sign contracts before that date.
French team punished for ignoring cortisol rules
The Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) has announced the temporary suspension of Team Europcar from the voluntary anti-doping association after the French team failed to stop Pierre Rolland from continuing in the Criterium du Dauphine despite a suspicious cortisol level discovered in a test done by on behalf of the MPCC and the French Cycling Federation (FFC).
It is not clear how the decision of the MPCC will affect Team Europcar. It is more of symbolic call to order than an isolation or expulsion. It is not expected to impact the team's wild card invitation to the Tour de France but puts the team in the doping spotlight just a week before the start of this year's race and as Bernaudeau tries to secure sponsorship for the team for 2014.
A low level of cortisol could be indicative of corticoid use or of fatigue. Corticoids can be used with a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) certificate but the stringent MPCC rules insist on a withdrawal from racing and an eight-day rest period in the case of a low result.
Because the test was done early in the morning, Team Europcar ignored the rules and Rolland started stage nine of the race, only to retire after 20km, citing an Achilles tendon injury.
Team Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau played down the affair despite other riders in his team suffering similar problems. Anthony Charteau also fell afoul of an MPCC cortisol test at the Four Days of Dunkirk last year.
Rolland has since been given back his license but the Board of Directors of MPCC unanimously decided to temporarily suspend Team Europcar from the MPCC, and Bernaudeau and team doctor Hubert long can no longer serve as members of the MPCC Board...
Canadian explains downfall of the project
Steve Bauer announced today that he has abandoned attempts to bring back his Canadian-based Professional Continental team SpiderTech in 2014. Bauer told Cyclingnews that the abrupt loss of its title sponsor last fall coupled with the negative publicity surrounding Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal this spring made it impossible for him to secure funding for the cycling program.
Bauer founded the team in 2008 under the original title Team R.A.C.E. It changed names to Planet Energy in 2009, added SpiderTech to its title sponsors in 2010 and jumped from Continental status to Professional Continental for the following two seasons.
Last year, when the team was at the height if its success, Bauer announced that it would take a one-year break in order to search for additional funding to bring the team to the WorldTour level in 2014, and helped to place his riders on different teams. In the following interview, Bauer explains what went wrong.
Cyclingnews: Did SpiderTech provide you with a reason for ending its funding on such short notice last October?
Steve Bauer: There are probably many reasons. I think the most important reason was that SpiderTech had trouble being profitable or even actually selling the product. They hadn’t entered the market place and they weren’t in stores. Their distribution plan, sales plan and product placement plan was non-existent. They weren’t selling anything or making any money. They were continuing to just invest money into the company.
That’s not our fault, but they were too slow at starting to make money. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t tell us this in sooner because we would have had time to find a different partner and...
Cyclingnews HD previews the hilly route in Val di Non
Moreno Moser is the favourite for the Elite men's Italian road race championship on Saturday which covers a tough 229km route on his home roads in the Val di Non, close to Trento.
22 year-old Moser, the nephew of seventies legend and hour record holder Francesco Moser, finished third in last year's title behind Franco Pellizotti and Danilo Di Luca and was second in the Trofeo Melinda, the race which hosts this year's title race. Despite struggling to repeat his success of the 2012 season, Moser won the Strade Bianche race in the spring and played a key role in much of Peter Sagan's success at the Cannondale team, including at the recent Tour de Suisse.
Moser will team up with Sagan at the Tour de France for Cannondale and so has an excellent chance of riding his first Grand Boucle in the iconic Italian champion's tricolore jersey.
The Cannondale team is expected to work to help Moser and has entered 12 riders for the road race. Ivan Basso is amongst them as he makes his return from the saddle sore that forced him to miss the Giro d'Italia.
With multiple Italian champion Giovanni Visconti out of action due to a crash at the Tour de Suisse, the other favourites for the tricolore include 2012 winner Pellizotti, Damiano Cunego and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
The Cyclingnews HD route preview
The Italian National Road Race Championships will be decided on the route of the former Trofeo Melinda. A twisting circuit around the Val di Non area of the Trentino region in the north of Italy, it starts in Malé and will take the riders on a 229km journey around the area before finishing in Fondo.
Argos-Shimano teammates to share sprint opportunities
Team Argos-Shimano has the luxury of having two successful sprinters in its team, and will take both of them to the Tour de France . For many, that would be an almost impossible situation to manage, but John Degenkolb doesn't see any conflict at all with Marcel Kittel.
"It's actually pretty simple," he said at the team's Tour de France presentation event, according to NuSports.nl. “We are both sprinters, but we are not the same type of sprinter. Marcel is a sprinter who does well in the flat stages, while I prefer the hilly stages, with finals like the classics.”
They will decide each sprint stage who is “on” for the day. Kittel will have the first chance. “We will ride during the first stage for Kittel. That is Marcel's day. He has a good chance for the yellow,” Degenkolb confirmed.
Degenkolb said that he has no problems helping his teammate. "If I know I can't beat Mark Cavendish in a sprint why should I not help Marcel? In a stage that is more fitted to me, he will also do that for me. Marcel and I are not competitors with each other.”
So far, Degenkolb has the upper hand over his fellow German in Grand Tours sprints. He dominated the sprints at the 2012 Vuelta Espana, winning five stages, and won a stage at this year's Giro d'Italia. Kittel won one stage at the 2011 Vuelta Espana and had to abandon the Tour early last year due to illness. On the other hand, Kittel is ahead with the number of victories this season. He has 11 wins between February to June and including three stages at the Tour of Turkey, the Scheldeprijs...