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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 7, 2014

Date published:
March 07, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Sébastien Reichenbach to support Sylvain Chavanel at Paris-Nice

    Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling)
    Article published:
    March 06, 2014, 23:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    IAM Cycling sending a strong squad with overall ambitions

    For Sylvain Chavanel the first big objective for 2014 will be to lead the IAM Cycling team at Paris-Nice which starts on Sunday with support of a strong team that includes climbers Stefan Denifl  and Mathias Frank, classics specialist Jerome Pineau, sprinter Sebastien Hinault and key domestique Sébastien Reichenbach.

    Reichenbach has enjoyed brief rest after racing last weekend as he prepares to help Chavanel's assault on the overall classification. "Last Sunday at the GP Lugano, we invested quite a lot of energy to go for the win. A crash at the bottom of the final climb succeeded in messing up our organization a little," Reichenbach said.

    "But fatigue played a role at the end of the day. Nevertheless, I still have tried to find a good rhythm and feeling in my legs. On Wednesday I headed out for four hours with a variation in intensities."

    The second year pro’s primary responsibility will be to support the team’s designated leader who should prosper from the parcours.

    "There is no prologue, no time trial and no summit finish, consequently this is a Paris-Nice that is practically tailor-made for Sylvain Chavanel. In 2013, he won the stage that finished in a sprint on the Promenade des Anglais, took the green jersey for the points classification and finished 5th overall.

    "This is will be his first big goal of the season. He has prepared well for this event and is getting stronger. But we must be always alert to the effects of the wind, and remember that we will have a wall to climb once we arrive in Fayence, which we already had a preview of at the Tour du Haut-Var. So there is no question that we will not be standing by idly during...

  • Stage wins the aim for Orica-GreenEdge at Paris-Nice

    Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) wins stage 4 of Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 1:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dual-pronged sprint attack with Matt Goss and Michael Matthews

    Having claimed the 2014 WorldTour opener in January with Simon Gerrans' overall win at the Tour Down Under, Orica-GreenEdge have foregone GC ambitions at Paris-Nice in favour of stage wins with no time trials in this year's edition aiding the team objectives.

    Th race organisers, ASO, have billed the revamped route of Paris-Nice as a 'race for the daring,' changing both the parcours and nickname of the race which is usually known as 'the race to the sun.'

    In 2014 the race opens with four, flatter type stages where sprint finishes are likely which has seen GreenEdge decide to field two sprinters instead of the usual one. Matt Goss and Michael Matthews will be the designated men for the bunch kicks as both will also use the race as preparation for Milan-San Remo with the final squad for La Primavera still yet to be decided.

    "The main objective of Paris-Nice this year is to win a couple stages," said Sport Director Dave McPartland. "Basically, we're going to support Gossy on the flat, flat stages and Bling [Matthews] when there is a little uphill finish."

    GreenEdge will look to Simon Gerans, Michael Albasini and Jens Keukeleire for the hillier stages and the trio also have the ability to win from a break or a small bunch. Last year at the race, Albasini won the sprint for Stage 4 which is the team's only win so far ahead of the 72nd edition which begins on Sunday.

    "Gerro, Alba and Keukeleire are our three guys for the hillier stages. They can get in moves from further out. They are our puncheurs. From a break, we will back them for the stage win."

    Mathew Hayman, Mitch Docker and Simon Yates will all be hand to...

  • White reconsidering Orica-GreenEdge roster for Milan-San Remo

    Michael Matthews spent the Tour Down Under helping Simon Gerrans claim the overall win
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 2:30 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Change to course shifts balance to sprinters

    Orica GreenEdge team boss Matt White is far from completing his line-up for Milan-San Remo but is keen to stress that the Australian WorldTour squad will have a number of options for the first Monument of the season.

    Last week race organisers RCS Sport confirmed that the planned route had to be changed due to concerns over safety on the five-kilometre long Pompeiana. The pivotal climb was removed from the latter stages of the race, and by doing so sees a return to a race route that was almost entirely dominated by sprinters over a nearly 15-year stretch, with only the Poggio and Cipressa climbs remaining in the finale.

    "The course really suited the likes of Simon Gerrans and was really more of Classics sort of course," White told Cyclingnews of the route with the Pompeiana.

    "The course for this year had really no chance at all for the sprinters and now it makes it a sprinter's classics once again."

    Gerrans will remain as the team leader for the race but White has yet to finalise the eight riders who will join the Tour Down Under winner in Milan later this month. Matthew Goss, who won the event a year prior to Gerrans, in 2011, has yet to hit top form but has shown signs of improvement after picking up his first win in almost a year at the Bay Crits in January. A win on the domestic circuit does not transform Goss into anything near a front runner for San Remo, but White will be carefully analysing Goss and the rest of his riders during Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, with both races starting within the next few days.

    "We've still not finalised our line-up for the race yet and we...

  • Cannondale to make Tour de Taiwan debut

    Cameron Wurf and Jack Haig and Thomas Hamilton joined Clarke when he put the hammer down
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 3:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Five riders for five-stage race

    With the team leaders Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso preparing for the European races and the upcoming Classics season Cannondale Pro Cycling will also have a presence in Asia as with a maiden Tour de Taiwan appearance. Cannondale as a WorldTour team attended the Tour Down Under and then extended an Australian summer of racing at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour where Cameron Wurf placed third overall.

    Team director Alberto Volpi has selected a multi-cultural squad for Taiwan with American Ted King, Canadian Guillaume Boivin, Australian Cameron Wurf, Italian Davide Formolo, and Jean-Marc Marino from France who will make his debut for the team having ridden for Sojasun last year.

    King and Wurf are two experienced and key domestiques and will once again aim to carry their teammates as well as they can for the best possible outcome.

    "I'm happy to support my team from the inside. Bringing the captains to victory means a lot for me. I'd love to have some opportunity to shine, and think this race is one of those moments. Opportunities like this don't come often," said Ted King who is looking forward to pinning a race number on his back for just the second time this year.

    "I've had a light season thus far having only ridden the Dubai Tour. Since then, I've been training very hard and hope I have good form for this race. I want to do well and prepare myself to go back to Europe for the Belgium Classics and race hard for good results."

    While only Wurf and Boivin remain from the team that raced at the Sun Tour, the Australian who recently enjoyed a 400km ride around his native Tasmania to celebrate Richie Porte’s birthday, is enjoying racing with his teammates.

    "Asian racing is...

  • Jeremy Hunt: We couldn't ask for more in Langkawi

    The experienced Jeremy Hunt is a huge part of Sky's Roubaix plans.
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 9:31 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Former rider enjoying life as Baku directeur sportif

    The Synergy Baku team has been an aggressive presence at the Tour de Langkawi, with Matt Brammeier coming close to victory on the opening day and all but securing the mountain’s jersey with just a handful of stages remaining.

    The Azeri continental team took 14 victories in their debut season and if this week is anything to go by they are keen to improve on it. One of the men behind the team's success is former rider turned directeur sportif Jeremy Hunt.

    A veteran of 17 seasons on the bike, Hunt is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to competing, but he had no intention of becoming a directeur sportif when he quit in 2012. Despite that, he says that he is more than happy his new role. "I love the job. When I stopped I wasn't sure what it was going to be like but I enjoy it," Hunt told Cyclingnews at the Tour de Langkawi, where the team are racing.

    Hunt began his cycling career with Banesto in 1996 and took victories at the Tour de l'Avenir and the GP Ouest-France. He is also a two-time British National Champion. He spent his last two seasons with the Sky team and was one of the British team to help Mark Cavendish to his World Championship title in 2011. After being a rider for such a long time, Hunt took a while to adjust to the new position.

    "It's funny because you're telling riders what to do now. Before, when you were a rider, you used to ride fast and that was it. It's definitely not easy, not when you've been riding your bike for so long. It's definitely not an easy transition," he explained. "But because cycling is something that I love, I'm in a...

  • Demol: Cancellara is ready

    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 10:30 GMT
    José Been

    Swiss rider to test final form in Strade Bianche and Tirreno

    Fabian Cancellara is ready for the Classics season, Trek Factory Racing sports director Dirk Demol told Sporza. “He missed some training in January due to a crash but we've made up for that lack of training days now. I think Fabian is ready,” Demol said.

    Cancellara was the star of the spring classics season last year with victories in the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and E3 Harelbeke. For Demol, Milan-San Remo counts as the start of an important period for the Swiss rider and his team.

    “We noticed that some teams are further ahead in their preparation than we are but it’s a matter of choice. We decided to do an easy build-up towards Milan-San Remo. We are now trying to make up towards the other teams.”

    Cancellara started the season in Dubai and raced the Tours of Qatar and Oman. He finished fifth in the Tour of Dubai time trial and the general classification. In Qatar, the former Olympic and world time trial champion finished fourth in his specialty. For Demol these race days were important to make up for lost training time in January.

    “Fabian couldn’t train for a week after a training crash in January because he hurt his elbow, but with 16 race days in February he is back on track,” Demol continued.

    Cancellara is the absolute captain for Trek Factory Racing, where he is signed up until the end of 2016, a year which could mark the end of his career.

    “The moment of truth is now coming closer,” Demol said. “I am relaxed when it comes to Fabian’s form. I have seen him race but I will be totally at ease after this weekend [with Strade Bianche] and...

  • Milan-San Remo remains a target for Gilbert

    Philippe Gilbert hopes to return to form in the Classics this season
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 11:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian lines up at Roma Maxima this weekend

    Milan-San Remo remains an objective for Philippe Gilbert in spite of the absence of the proposed new climb of the Pompeiana from the route, according to BMC directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois. RCS Sport last week confirmed that the Pompeiana will not feature as safety conditions could not be guaranteed following damage caused by winter weather.

    In the absence of the Pomepeiana – which was to have featured between the Cipressa and Poggio in the finale – and the climb of Le Manie, the route seems less suited to Gilbert’s characteristics. When this parcours last appeared in 2007, Gilbert led over the Poggio with Riccardo Riccò, but they were caught on the descent and Oscar Freire won in San Remo.

    “I was with him when we learned that the Pompeiana would not be on the route of Milan-San Remo after all,” Yvon Ledanois told La Dernière Heure. “But I can assure that in spite of this latest modification, La Primavera remains the first big goal of his season. He’s always had it in mind, and that hasn’t changed an iota.”

    Ledanois believes that Gilbert is on track to hit top form for his main goals, the Ardennes classics, and declared himself pleased with the Belgian’s showing in France last weekend, when he finished 3rd in the Classic Sud Ardèche and 9th at the Drôme Classic.

    “Philippe is, in my opinion, perfectly on time for his objectives,” said Ledanois. “He was always present in the finale [last weekend] but too isolated for my liking. I would have liked had one or more of his teammates been up there...

  • Kruopis hoping to keep points jersey in Langkawi

    Aidis Kruopis (Orica - GreenEDGE)
    Article published:
    March 07, 2014, 12:33 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Lithuanian will ride first grand tour in 2014

    Aidis Kruopis (Orica-GreenEdge) is yet to take a victory this season, but his consistency in the sprints has earned him the lead in the points classification at the Tour de Langkawi.

    Kruopis looked his strongest on stage 9, when he sprinted early on the final bend. Unfortunately for the Lithuanian, he faded before the line and had to settle for third. “There was a big crash in the last 2km and we nearly crashed, we split after that and I was kind of on my own. I jumped a little bit in the front, behind Theo Bos, on the roundabout,” he told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    “I stayed there till the end almost. In the last 700, Lancaster came to me and made a little bit more space for me but I started my sprint a little bit early, from 350, because there was that crazy corner in the end. I wanted to start first, but unfortunately I wasn’t strong enough to keep the pace.”

    Kruopis currently holds a three-point lead over Tinkoff-Saxos’s Michal Kolar heading into the final day of racing. While he is happy with the result he would swap it for a victory on the final day. “I was looking for victories, but it’s also nice to wear the jersey. Every day is one more chance. You know how it goes in the sprints, so I will try every day,” he told Cyclingnews.

    The Lithuanian rider is in his third season with Orica-GreenEdge. His debut year proved to be his most prolific with six victories, including a stage win at the Tour de Pologne. Since then he’s only notched up one victory, but he has a large haul of top 3 positions. Kruopis says that he has improved since 2012, but he still needs to find something to take the next step.

    “It’s going better but I’m still missing something,” he explained. “I still need to improve a little bit more in the sprints. Everything is good in the team but I am missing some kick in the sprint. I just need to do...