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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, November 15, 2013

Date published:
November 15, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Kevin Seeldraeyers to Wanty-Groupe Gobert

    Kevin Seeldraeyers (Astana) in yellow
    Article published:
    November 14, 2013, 16:26 GMT
    José Been

    Belgian team still interested in signing big name like Samuel Sánchez

    Kevin Seeldraeyers is close to signing a contract with Belgian Pro Continental team Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The 27-year old Belgian was part of Astana for the past two seasons. “There is no signature yet but nothing should stand in the way of Kevin coming to us,” sports director Hilaire Vanderschueren told Het Laatste Nieuws.

    Vanderschueren is careful because he also had a verbal agreement with Ben Hermans. However, Hermans received a last minute offer from BMC and decided to sign for the WorldTour team. “That’s why I am a bit careful. I learned that a deal is never a deal before there is an actual signature, but nothing should stand in the way of his transfer [from Astana]."

    Seeldraeyers turned pro in 2007 with Quickstep and won the white jersey for the best young rider in the 2009 Giro d'Italia. This season he won two stages in the Tour of Austria and finished third in the overall classification. He also showed his climbing ability in the Tour of Turkey by coming in second in the stage to Elmali mountain.

    Seeldraeyers is the 20th rider to sign for the Belgian team that is the continuation of Accent Jobs-Wanty. Vacansoleil-DCM sports director Hilaire Vanderschueren brought sponsors to the team and Groupe Gobert joined the team as new co-sponsor. This enabled the team to sign better riders.  

    Vanderschueren took Mirko Selvaggi, Björn Leukemans, Frederik Veuchelen and Wesley Kreder with him from Vacansoleil-DCM. Kreder’s cousin Michel Kreder comes over from Garmin-Sharp. “It was a conscious decision to take a step down to Pro Continental level. I get a free role as finisher at Wanty-Groupe Gobert,” Kreder said.

    From the Accent Jobs-Wanty team Jempy Drucker, James Vanlandschoot, Thomas Degand, Jérôme Gilbert, Gregory Habeaux, Roy Jans, Tim de Troyer and Kevin Van Melsen continue.

    Other new signings are Nico Sijmens and Jan Ghyselinck from...

  • Euskadi team edges closer to survival in 2014

    The flag of the Basque country.
    Article published:
    November 14, 2013, 18:47 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    "We're in a better place than we were a month and a half ago"

    The original Euskadi squad may yet continue to exist in 2014 as a Continental team after team manager Miguel Madariaga managed to secure two more sponsors this week.

    "We're not there yet," Madariaga said, "but we're getting there."

    A graduate of the original Basque squad when it started in 1994, Madariaga told Cyclingnews on Thursday about the team's sponsorship deals that will hopefully keep the team financially afloat and operational in 2014.

    "We're in a better place than we were six weeks ago, that's for sure. And" - referring to the current dearth of teams south of the Pyrenees - "this is very important both for the Basque Country and for Spain."

    Formed by Miguel Madariaga after he and the Euskaltel-Euskadi WorldTour squad went their separate ways at the start of 2013, the Euskadi squad was set up and run at Continental level by Madariaga as a completely different entity to the WorldTour team.

    Whilst Euskaltel-Euskadi is now due to fold at the end of the season, the much smaller team, which now has 60 percent of the 2014 budget, may yet continue with Euskaltel-Euskadi's former boss - and act as a showcase for cycling in the Basque Country, much as the old Euskadi team did in its earliest format.

    Given there will be just one WorldTour team in Spain and one ProContinental squad - Movistar and Caja Rural - the continuation of even one more Continental squad could not be more important, even if access to WorldTour races is not possible for a team of that category.

    "I'm giving myself until the week of the 25th," Madariaga says about how long he will continue to search for sponsors and the final 200,000 euros he is reported to need. "This is a step forward, in any case."

    Speaking to Basque newspaper El Correo, Madariaga added, "We can't say for sure we will be racing again next season but a lot of things would have to go wrong for that not to happen."

    Should it continue, Euskadi would...

  • No Sanchez or Horner for UnitedHealthcare

    With three riders out front on a break, UnitedHealthcare is about to take this train out of the station.
    Article published:
    November 14, 2013, 20:25 GMT
    Pat Malach

    American team "complete and final" for 2014

    UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team acted to end persistent rumors today that linked both 2008 Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez and 2013 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner to the US-based UCI Pro Continental outfit.

    Team spokseman Wes Mallette confirmed to Cyclingnews that the 2014 rosters for both the men's and women's teams are "complete and final," and the team is not in discussion with Sanchez or any other riders regarding 2014 contracts.

    UnitedHealthcare is targeting invitations to its first-ever WorldTour races this year, possibly even a Grand Tour, fueling the rumors that the team might be going after Grand Tour general classification riders such as Sanchez or Horner. But that is simply not the case, Mallette said.

    Sanchez has ridden for Euskatel-Euskadi since 2000, but the WorldTour team will not continue next season and Sanchez has not yet signed with another team. Aside from his win in the Olympic race in 2008, the 35-year-old Spaniard was second overall at the 2009 Vuelta and has won five stages in the Spanish Grand Tour. Sanchez, who has 25 pro wins and has competed in 14 Grand Tours, was third overall at the 2009 Tour de France.

    Sanchez won the Tour of the Basque Country in 2012 by dropping Joachim Rodriguez and Horner on his way to winning the Queen stage. He took over the leader's jersey with a win in the individual time trial. He finished eighth overall in the 2013 Vuelta and won a stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, and he was also second during the individual time trial at the Giro d'Italia. Sanchez is also...

  • Ballan denies blood doping, claims he underwent ozone treatment

    2008 Worlds: Elite men's podium (L-R) of Damiano Cunego (Italy), Alessandro Ballan (Italy) and Matti Breschel (Denmark)
    Article published:
    November 15, 2013, 10:43 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    BMC decides not to suspend the former Lampre rider

    Alessandro Ballan has claimed he underwent ozone treatment for Cytomegalovirus and not blood transfusions to improve his performance in races in 2009.

    Ballan risks a two-year ban after anti-doping investigators of the Italian Olympic Committee recommended the suspension after studying evidence from the Lampre-Mantova doping investigation. The Italian police investigation is based around the activities of pharmacist Guido Nigrelli, with 28 riders and staff, mostly from the Lampre team, finally set to go on trial on December 10.

    Ballan became world champion in 2008, when riding for Lampre. He was diagnosed with the Cytomegalovirus virus in March and missed the Classics and the Giro d’Italia, returning to action in June in time to ride the Tour de France. He then won the Tour of Poland in August and signed with the BMC team for the 2010 season.

    He claims he underwent ozone treatment to speed up his recovery from Cytomegalovirus.

    “What can I say? Who knows if we’ll finally get to know the truth after three years? I’m optimistic because I’ve got all the medical records that certify why I had to undergo ozone therapy and not, as someone believes, to undergo blood transfusions,” Ballan told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    “I had the Cytomegalovirus; I’d been in hospital and was suspended by the team. I had the rainbow jersey, wanted to ride the Giro d’Italia and they told me that the treatment would have helped me recover more quickly. I did an infinite number of controls and my biological passport speaks clearly. Do you think it’s right that I’ve been massacred because of this?”

    There are contrasting medical opinions about the effectiveness of ozone therapy and different way of undergoing the...

  • Samuel Sánchez: I’ve got no offers

    Spain's Samuel Sanchez in relaxed mood at the 2012 Tour de France
    Article published:
    November 15, 2013, 12:32 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    “At the moment I’m an Euskaltel rider for the next two seasons”

    Samuel Sánchez has confirmed that he does not yet have a deal in place for next season. Despite recent reports linking the Spaniard to UnitedHealthcare and the new Wanty team in Belgium, the Euskaltel rider has told, “I’ve got no offers, I’ve had no conversations with any team.”

    The 2008 Olympic road race champion remains the most high-profile name in the peloton still without a berth for next season. Describing himself as “sad and disappointed”, Sánchez says he believes that he has the legs and motivation to compete at the top level until at least the end of 2015, which is when his current contract with Euskaltel runs out. The Basque team has already announced it will fold at the year’s end.

    He explained his situation as it now stands. “I am an Euskaltel rider for the next two seasons, until they tell me otherwise. I’ve got no offers, I’ve had no conversations with any team. I would like to keep racing, but that’s not the reality,” said Sánchez.

    “I want to keep racing, the contract I signed with Euskaltel through to 2015 demonstrates that. I will be a professional up to that point, unless they rescind my contract at the end of the year or my future has not been resolved in any other way. If that turns out to be case, I will no longer be a professional.”

    Sánchez expressed his disappointment with the way the closure of the Euskaltel has been handled. “I’ve found myself in a situation that neither I nor anybody else on the team imagined at the start of the year when a well-backed four-year project was laid out. I’m in a situation that I wouldn’t have chosen to be in, finding myself unable to keep racing in the...

  • WADA approves four-year bans for doping

    WADA president John Fahey gives an address at a symposium in Lausanne, Switzerland.
    Article published:
    November 15, 2013, 14:31 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    New Anti-Doping Code to start in 2015

    The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced an extension of bans for doping offences, from two to four years. The new rule was ratified as part of the agency’s new World Anti-Doping code that will come in play on January 1, 2015.

    Athletes who currently test positive are handed two year bans when sanctioned by their national federations. However, the new code, signed in South Africa at WADA’s annual conference, will mean that athletes that are caught doping will miss an Olympic Games. 

    Approval of the new code comes at the end of a two year project that also includes a number of other key elements including stronger powers for authorities to punish coaches who help dope athletes. The new code also introduces more flexibility in the punishment of athletes who are found to have mistakenly taken banned substances or who co-operate with doping investigations. Doping tests will be custom-made for specific sports.

    Craig Reedie was elected unanimously as WADA’s next President at a foundation board meeting. He will serve a two-year term.

    "We are now equipped to go forward in the best possible way with a set of rules. It's a good day for sport, for athletes and for our future. I firmly believe that the revised code will put the interest of clean athletes as the number one priority," John Fahey, the outgoing President of WADA said.

    The previous version of the code came into effect five years ago with the new version going through an extensive phase of drafts with more than 4,000 requests and suggestions.

  • Parisien opts to retire from cycling

    Francois Parisien at a press conference
    Article published:
    November 15, 2013, 17:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    31-year-old Canadian proud of his accomplishments

    Canadian François Parisien announced today that he will retire from professional cycling. The 31-year-old Quebecois hinted that he was considering leaving the sport in October, and confirmed the decision today in a post on his Facebook page.

    "After 18 years devoted to my cycling career, after winning a World Tour race, after taking part in six world championships, the Commonwealth Games as well as in many races at a high level, I have achieved my goals. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and I know that I did it in a noble manner. Today, I need to go to new challenges," he wrote.

    He said he started to consider retirement after returning to Europe to rejoin his Argos-Shimano team mid-way through this season, despite having won a stage of the Volta a Catalunya earlier in the year.

    "This was only only two weeks from the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Montréal that informed my choice. On the other hand, it was important for me to finished the remainder of the season before making a final decision and make the public announcement."

    Parisien expressed his disillusionment earlier this month following the confession of his compatriot Ryder Hesjedal to past doping.

    He was passed over for the Canadian Olympic team in 2008 as first alternate behind two now-confessed [ex-]dopers. "It makes me sick," he said. "I feel a lot of frustration and disgust. These frauds defined a large part of my career since I was young."


  • Rui Costa voted Portuguese athlete of the year

    Tour de France stage 16 winner Rui Costa (Movistar)
    Article published:
    November 15, 2013, 19:15 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    World champion celebrated at home

    Rui Costa has been voted the male athlete of the year in Portugal after winning the world road race title in Tuscany, the Tour of Switzerland and two stages at the Tour de France in 2013.

    Costa has also been also awarded the Sócio de Mérito – a prestigious form of membership, by the Portuguese Cycling Federation, as he was feted for his success and breakthrough victory in Florence.

    Costa beat football player Cristiano Ronaldo and canoeist Fernando Pimenta, to take the athlete of the year award for a second consecutive year.

    "This is easier to win than climbing the Alps! I have to thank everyone who voted for me. I'm happy to be the winner,” Costa told

    “Any of the nominees could have won because we all competed well and fought hard throughout the season, but I was lucky and I'm happy. Every athlete does a lot for Portugal and I’m sure we’ll continue to give our best for our country next year.”

    "After the year I’ve had, it’s great being honoured where I learned how to race and grew up. I'm very happy to be honour by the Portuguese Cycling Federation. The federation has always helped me and I am grateful to them for everything they have done throughout my career.”

    Costa collected the awards wearing a dapper brown suede suit but will soon begin training for the 2014 season, swapping his blue Movistar kit for the brighter pink and blue colours of Lampre-Merida.

    He has already confirmed that his major goal will be the Tour de France but will lead Lampre-Merida in the Ardennes Classics.