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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 15, 2013

Date published:
March 15, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Handzame Classic re-routed due to winter weather

    Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) celebrates his sprint victory at the Handzame Classic.
    Article published:
    March 14, 2013, 20:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian semi-classic to go on with alterations

    The unusually late winter weather in Northern Europe has led organisers to alter the course for the Handzame Classic, leading to the removal of a section of hills added to the parcours this year.

    The same snow led to the cancellation of the Nokere Koerse on Wednesday, but tomorrow's UCI 1.1 race is still due to take place, albeit on a slightly easier course and on roads wide enough to allow for better snow removal.

    The bad conditions eliminated a number of sharp climbs in the mid-point of the race near Westouter that were introduced for the 2013 edition.

    "Last night we thought we could still go with the new course," said organiser Bert Pattyn, "but a new snowfall prompted us to change our decision."

    The race will commence from Bredene as planned, but rather than head into the hills, the riders will go straight through Oostende and Torhout, and then complete nine local laps for a total of 190km.

    The harsh late-winter weather has led to the cancellation of a number of European races, including the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, GP di Lugano, Dwars door Drenthe and Nokere Koerse.

  • Palmer looking for real start to season at Tour de Taiwan

    Thomas Palmer (Drapac Professional Cycling) takes out the win in NSW Grand Prix - Wollongon
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 0:21 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Drapac Professional Cycling looking to defend overall title

    A fitting end to the year at Tour de Okinawa and a promising start to the 2013 season with a stage win at the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic was confirmation for Thomas Palmer (Drapac Professional Cycling) that he was back on track after spending many months off the bike due in 2012 to illness. Sensitivity to a range of foods held back the three-time junior track world champion for much of 2012 but now he's back on track and taking aim at the upcoming Tour de Taiwan.

    Palmer was forced to spend nearly months away from training and racing in 2012 due to a combination of issues that he believes stemmed from his dietary choices. He made dramatic changes in an attempt to find his old self and while many of it seemed basic in his eyes, he needed time to adjust to what he called a "pretty intense" period.

    "I really concentrated on my digestion and diet," Palmer told Cyclingnews. "I took out a lot of foods that I was sensitive towards. I took back gluten, complex sugars... It was pretty intense to start with during last year and that was the real reason why I couldn't ride. I was being so strict with my diet that there was no way I could the energy requirements to train, let alone race. That's why I took the time away from the bike to first get my health back to normal and then work back from there.

    The Drapac sprinter started the year with the Australian National Team at the Tour Down Under and raced for part of the year before realizing he wasn't right. Palmer was understandably nervous when he finally returned to proper training and racing later in the season but believes it won't be long for him to get back into the kind of condition that has made him...

  • Blanco clears van Bommel of doping involvement

    Richard Plugge is team director of Blanco Pro Cycling.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 2:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team doctor named by Rasmussen investigated

    Team Blanco has found no evidence that its team doctor Dion van Bommel was involved in doping and will not take action against him, reported today.

    Van Bommel was one of three doctors named by Michael Rasmussen in a recent interview, together with Geert Leinders and Jean-Paul van Mantegem as being aware of his doping. The Danish rider stated van Bommel was not directly involved in doping, but was one of those who handed out certificates for cortisone use.

    Team boss Richard Plugge said the organisation launched an internal investigation into van Bommel, including interviewing him and doping authorities.

    "It's all very clear. There was nothing," Plugge said. "There is no reason to have to take action. That also says something about how we should judge Rasmussen's words," said Plugge.

  • Hosking finds balance with Hitec after roller coaster year

    Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products) took the team's first win of the year at Qatar
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 3:44 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Relaxed, scoring results and racing Oceanias

    Chloe Hosking has always said it like it is. 2012 began in a blaze when she called UCI President Pat McQuaid "a d**k" for his comments regarding the status of women's cycling but she let her legs do the talking back in Europe, winning Drentse 8 and Halle-Buizingen, emotions spilling over. However towards the end of the season, the wheels had come off. Out of contention in the women's road race at the Olympic Games, she recovered her confidence somewhat to win a stage of La Route de France but later that month, the Canberra-based sprinter learned that her contract with Specialized-lululemon was not going to be renewed. Two months of living in limbo followed, unsure of her next move.

    "It was definitely a roller coaster, that's a good way to put it," Hosking told Cyclingnews. "For me, the big thing was that this is still really what I want to do. When you didn't have a contract it would have been so easy to say, I'll just go back to Australia and finish my university and get a real job. That wasn't what I wanted.

    "I still feel like there's a lot more to achieve. It was a good reality check and it's given me a lot more perspective."

    In signing with Norweigan outfit Hitec Products, Hosking has fallen on her feet and with three years of racing with "one of the best teams in the world with the best riders in the world" under the Highroad / Specialized-lululemon banner, is now hoping to pass on some of her own lessons to the younger members of the squad.

    While many athletes struggle off the back of an Olympic year, without that all-consuming goal of selection and for a select few, a result, driving them on, Hosking believes that the renewed perspective that has...

  • Cancellara ready for Milan-San Remo showdown

    2012 winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard)
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 5:01 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Spartacus hopes to slay Sagan

    Fabian Cancellara may not be at his very best this spring but the powerful Swiss rider believes he is again ready to be in the thick of the action at Milan-San Remo and is prepared to do everything he can to stop Peter Sagan stealing his thunder as the king of the spring classics.

    Cancellara is now 30 and admitted he is starting to feel his age after a decade of intense racing. He seems to feeling the heat from a new generation of talented young riders that are breathing down his neck.

    "Right now I'm not bad. I've done my job, I've done my homework, I've done what I need to do," Cancellara said while talking to the media present in Italy as the days count down to Sunday's Milan-San Remo.

    "Tirreno-Adriatico has been an important week of racing. I'm on the way but maybe I'm missing a result. But hey, winning isn't everything."

    Sorting out Sagan

    Cancellara has failed to land a win so far this season to assure himself and his team of his form and fire a warning salvo to his rivals. Instead he has to watch Peter Sagan dominate many of the races he has ridden.

    Sagan is multi-talented and able to win from an attack or in a sprint, while Cancellara has always had to count on his brute force and speed to win big. He won Milan-San Remo with a solo attack inside the final two kilometres in 2008 but was beaten by Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) last year despite forming the decisive three-rider attack with the Australian and Vincenzo Nibali.

    Cancellara knows he could find Sagan on his wheel going over the top of the Poggio this year and would have little chance of victory against the super-fast Slovakian. It is evident that Cancellara doesn't like Sagan, that there is far more friction than admiration between the two...

  • Boasson Hagen hoping for strong Milan-San Remo performance

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) begins his classics preparation at the Tour Down Under.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 9:24 GMT
    Cycling News

    Norwegian focused on the classics

    Edvald Boasson Hagen will be carrying the hopes of Team Sky at Milan-San Remo on Sunday, with the Norwegian hopeful of bettering his 25th place from 2012. Paris-Roubaix may be his priority in terms of the classics, however Boasson Hagen ranks Milan-San Remo in his top three, following the Tour of Flanders.

    The 25-year-old admits that while he hasn't done a lot of racing so far this season - Tour Down Under, Qatar and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad have so far made up his calendar - he is happy with his form.

    "I'm feeling better and better on the bike," he told "I haven't had any big results to shout about yet this year but hopefully they will come in the next few weeks. I've been doing a lot of good training and the focus has been on the Classics."

    Boasson Hagen made the front group of the race to hit the Poggio in 2012, only to fall back without the assistance of any team mates.

    "Last year I went quite well," he explained. "I was in the group all the way to the last climb but I was just on the limit to make it over. It was one of the better Milan-San Remos I've done so hopefully I can be even stronger this year. I want to be in the first group over the last climb.

    "I've done the race four times now and I've seen the climbs on a lot of videos. I've always done recons of the climbs so I'm familiar with them.

    "You do 200km before the first climb, and 250 or so before the next one, so it's the length before the climbs that makes them hard - and also the speed. They are not really steep but everything you've been through before you get to them makes it tough."


  • Live coverage of Milan-San Remo on Cyclingnews

     Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 10:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Follow the complete race on CN this Sunday

    This Sunday you can tune into Cyclingnews for live text coverage from Milan-San Remo, the first Monument of the 2013 racing season.

    Cyclingnews will be covering the race from start to finish, kicking off coverage from 8:30am CET on Sunday morning and taking you all the way to the finish in San Remo.

    With Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert, Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish leading a host of World Tour teams the race one again promises to be a showdown between the best one-day classics riders and the sprinters in the peloton.

    For a complete preview of the race, click here.


  • Farrar looks for Milan-San Remo performance

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin - Sharp)
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 12:58 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Garmin sprinter without a win in 2013

    Tyler Farrar said this week that he is properly prepared and ready to find out if this is the year his legs can carry him over the Poggio with the lead group and give him a chance for a top result at Milan-San Remo.

    “I've never made it over the Poggio at the front before,” said Farrar, who is in Italy preparing for the 106th edition of La Classicissima after wrapping up Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday. “So obviously it's a bit of an unknown for me if maybe this is the year I can climb well enough to make it. That would be nice, but we'll see on the day how the race is going and how everybody is feeling.”

    The Garmin-Sharp sprinter has raced Milan-San Remo four times previously, finishing 42nd, 46th and 109th after abandoning the race during his first attempt in 2009. But the list of past winners for the season's first Monument is dotted with the names of many of the sport's top sprinters, and Farrar would obviously like to add his own name to that roll. But you either have the legs to pull it off or you don't, Farrar said, and on Sunday he'll find out which is the case for himself this year.

    “It really just comes down to legs in the final hour of the race,” Farrar told Cyclingnews. “It's 300km, so it's really long and guys kind of start coming apart at the seams when they hit the final climbs. The good guys come to the front, and the guys who don't have the legs tend to go away.”

    Despite a relatively rough start for Garmin-Sharp this year, including the theft of some team bikes at the Tour Mediterranean and several weather-related cancellations on the European calendar, Farrar said he has had a “pretty smooth” early season build-up for the classics.

    “I wasn't at Tour of Med, so my bikes didn't get stolen,” Farrar said,...