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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, November 22, 2013

Date published:
November 22, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Sprick wants to make comeback following stroke

    Mathieu Sprick (Argos-Shimano)
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 11:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    "I know what I want, but I don't know what the reality will be"

    Matthieu Sprick retains hope of making a comeback to cycling as he continues his recovery from the stroke he suffered six months ago. The Argos-Shimano rider collapsed at home in Le Beausset on May 22 and spent the following two and a half months in hospital.

    The stroke affected the right hand side of Sprick’s body and the 32-year-old estimates that he is still lacking “30 to 40%” of the former strength in his right arm. However, the Frenchman, who has another year to run on his contract with Argos-Shimano, is pleased with his progress to date.

    “In six months, I hope to be on a bike. The idea is to become a rider again,” Sprick told L’Équipe. “The doctors aren’t saying yes or no. Nobody has said no. I know what I want, but I don’t know what the reality will be.”

    Now living again in his native Alsace, Sprick was back in the saddle in early November, when he made a point of climbing the nearby Mont Sainte-Odile. “It goes on for about seven or eight kilometres. I wanted to do it without putting my foot on the ground – and I succeeded,” said Sprick. “It was both good and not good that I did that climb, because I suffered so much that day, but I needed to do it.”

    A strong rouleur, Sprick has played an important role in Argos-Shimano’s well-drilled sprint train since joining from Bouygues Telecom ahead of the 2011 season. As he continued his rehabilitation in July, he took heart from teammate Marcel Kittel’s success at the Tour de France.

    “I told myself that I wouldn’t watch the...

  • Lefevere doesn't want Cavendish racing on the track

    Mark Cavendish listens to the announcement of the 2014 Tour de France route
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 12:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    We pay him to perform on the road, says Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has voiced his opposition to Mark Cavendish’s wish to return to track racing, pointing out that the Manxman is paid by the team to earn results on the road.

    Cavendish is understood to be considering racing on the track at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and as part of that process, he took part in the International Belgian Open in Ghent in September in order to score the qualifying points necessary to compete in this season’s UCI Track World Cup.

    The Manxman was also rumoured to be riding the Ghent Six in the company of teammate Iljo Keisse, but that plan did not meet with Lefevere’s approval when it was discussed in a meeting in Paris in October.

    “We pay him to perform well on the road and he must concentrate fully on that,” Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad. “Two riders crashed out on the first night of the Ghent Six. What if Mark had been one of them? What’s more, racing on the track makes preparing for next season more complex. I can tolerate the track with Keisse and [Niki] Terpstra, but not with Cavendish. You can never say never, but this year it didn’t happen and it won’t happen next year either.”

    Lefevere’s concerns about Cavendish’s foray onto the track are both sporting and commercial. If Cavendish raced for Britain at the track World Cup and world championships, for instance, he would not be aboard a Specialized-branded bike.

    “Of course, I’d rather not see Mark riding on a black bike,” Lefevere said, adding: “As long as we pay Mark, I don’t want him on the track. He has enough time to do it with another team.”

  • Omega Pharma-Quickstep unveil 2014 kit

    Team member Julien Vermote models Omega Pharma-QuickStep's new kit for the 2014 season
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 15:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Features black colour scheme, Twitter accounts and TTT world championship logo

    The Omega Pharma-QuickStep team today unveiled the kit that their riders will wear during the 2014 season. Produced by clothing sponsor Vermarc, the Belgium-based WorldTour squad's jerseys sport an update for the upcoming season, primarily the introduction of a black colour scheme the team calls "elegant and stylish at the same time".

    The jerseys will again sport the Twitter accounts of the riders on the back, and the front of the jersey features the UCI logo that honours the team time trial world championship earned by Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

    "We are happy with the design of our new jersey," said team manager Patrick Lefevere. "The 2014 design is an evolution that follows in the footsteps of the jersey from the previous two years. This is partly made possible by the important and loyal sponsors that appear on our clothes. Thanks to them we are able to ensure the continuity of the team and build up a clear corporate image linked to a strong communication strategy.

    "This jersey is made even more special since even some of our riders were involved in the creation process. Their feedback and ideas were an important factor in reaching this result. We are sure that our fans will be able to appreciate a jersey that can wisely combine the tradition and history of OPQS with a modern, stylish design."

  • No uphill time trial at Ponferrada Worlds

    2013 elite men's time trial world championship podium (L-R): Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 17:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Full course details to be announced next week

    The organisers of the 2014 world championships in Ponferrada have ruled out the possibility of a hilltop finish to the individual time trial events at San Cristobal. The announcement came as the UCI confirmed the schedule for next year’s Worlds, which take place from September 20-28.

    The 9km-long San Cristóbal de Valdueza climb has an average gradient 6% but includes stretches as steep as 11%, but Ponferrada mayor Samuel Folgueral explained that the UCI had turned down the idea of an uphill finish to the time trial, citing logistical reasons and the desire to attract as strong a field as possible.

    "From an economic point of view, it was impossible because two finish lines [for the time trials and road races – ed.] would have been required," said Folgueral, according to Biciciclismo. Were there a hilltop finish, Folgueral continued, "some of the leading figures might not come."

    All events at the Ponferrada will instead finish near the National Energy Museum on Avenida de la Libertad. Spain’s first coal-fuelled power plant was opened in Ponferrada in 1949.

    Details of the 2014 Worlds road race and time trial courses were originally supposed to be presented in Florence in September, but will instead be unveiled next week in order to coincide with the launch of the event website. UCI Sport and Technical Director Philippe Chevallier and UCI Road Coordinator Matthew Knight visited Ponferrada this week to approve the courses and recommend necessary changes to road layout to be made before next September.

    The schedule for the Ponferrada Worlds mirrors that of this year’s event in Florence. Racing gets underway with the team time trials on Sunday, September 21, with the individual time trials taking place over the following three days.


  • Former riders speak of threats, intimidation by Verbruggen

    Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 19:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former UCI president informed of EPO's rise

    Although he has adamantly denied assisting in covering up doping, the Dutch press has amassed more anecdotal evidence that former UCI president Hein Verbruggen was informed of the fast rise in EPO use in the peloton, but did little to stop it.

    According to the Algameen Dagblad (, Edwig Van Hooydonck, a two-time Tour of Flanders champion who retired when he realized increasing use of EPO in the peloton was making it impossible for him to compete, warned Verbruggen of the drug's rise.

    "After I retired, I had a conversation with Verbruggen, I told him what was going on ... that EPO was on the rise since the beginning of the 90s, but he said I was exaggerating."

    It was the early days of Verbruggen's presidency when EPO made its way into the peloton, but by the end of his tenure, which closed as Lance Armstrong made his own exit from the sport, the drug had transformed cycling.

    As the world now knows from the testimony collected by the US Anti-Doping Agency in its investigation of Armstrong and doping at the US Postal Service team, and from other inquiries, riders were brazenly doping with confidence that they could avoid testing positive. Verbruggen has maintained the UCI had no responsibility, that if the tests couldn't catch the riders it was the testers' fault.

    “I don't understand the whole fuss at all,” Verbruggen said in an interview with the Dutch magazine De Muur earlier this year. “If you test someone 215 times and he is always negative, then the problem is in the test itself. Well, I'm not responsible."

    "It is easy to say, 'you knew it!' but nobody knew anything for sure. We only had suspicions (...) We did what we could only detect nothing we could. (...) I don't...

  • Cannondale Pro Cycling finalizes 2014 team roster

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) smiling at the start line
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 22:22 GMT
    Cycling News

    Gatto, Marcato and Bennett join the squad

    Cannondale Pro Cycling revealed its complete 2014 team roster on Thursday. Following a successful inaugural 2013 season with 35 stage victories and a Tour de France green jersey win, the team aims to continue developing young, talented riders from around the globe. Twenty-seven men make up next year's team, including three recent signings, four neo-professionals and 20 returning riders.

    Experienced Italian riders Marco Marcato and Oscar Gatto will help lead the team throughout the Classics season and in the Grand Tours. A skilled, all-round rider, the 29-year-old Marcato raced for the WorldTour team Vacansoleil-DCM in 2012. His strong character will add depth to the team during the Classics and his experience as a domestique will allow him to work with and support team star Peter Sagan.

    Gatto, 28, was captain of his previous team, Fantini Vini, and has nine professional wins including a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2011. The skilled rider will both support Sagan during the Classics and take the lead in additional races.

    Another promising new addition to the talented group is New Zealander George Bennett. The 23-year-old climber took the silver medal in the New Zealand road championship in 2013 and joins Cannondale Pro Cycling from World Tour team RadioShack Leopard Trek.

    Cannondale Pro Cycling has also signed four promising young guns as previously announced in August: former junior world champion and current U23 World Champion Matej Mohoric (Slovenia), and three Italians: Davide Villella, Alberto Bettiol and Davide Formolo.

    The returning 20 riders include the following: Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Ivan Basso (Italy), Moreno Moser (Italy), Elia Viviani (Italy), Damiano Caruso (Italy), Ted King (USA), Maciej...

  • Slagter targets Tour Down Under defence

    Tom Slagter on the race winner's ocre jersey
    Article published:
    November 22, 2013, 0:13 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Dutch rider looking for back-to-back wins

    Tom Jelte Slagter has targeted a defence of his Tour Down Under crown in 2014. The 24-year-old won the race this year after claiming stage 3 to Stirling and then finishing second on the crucial stage on Old Willunga Hill.

    With a move from Belkin to Garmin-Sharp finalised, Slagter has begun his training for the new year with his first get-together with his team scheduled for next month.

    "The training is more or less the same as in previous years. I’ve been out on the mountain bike and I’ve even done some speed skating on the ice. In December I’ll hit the gym for some power training and them start ramping things up on the road," Slagter told Cyclingnews.

    "We have a training camp that month too and that’s when I’ll start working in the hills. Before you know it, it will January and I’ll be racing again."

    The Tour Down Under success this year was breakthrough race for Slagter. Until that moment the Dutchman was regarded a promising young rider still on the cusp of making his mark. As an under-23 rider he had won his national road race and finished fourth in the Tour de l'Avenir in 2010. His first two seasons with Rabobank – later morphing into Blanco and finally Belkin - saw moments of promise but no wins.

    The Tour Down Under win changed that and Slagter found himself with a number of teams courting his signature.

    "For sure I’ll go there again and I want to win," he said of next year’s Tour Down Under.

    "Last year I went there with the ambition of a top ten and I won but the race suits me really well. When I go there it will be a big goal."

    He was used sparingly in...

  • Scheirlinckx, Barbe announce retirements

    Staf Scheirlinckx (Accent Jobs Wanty)
    Article published:
    November 22, 2013, 9:34 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian road pros hang up their wheels

    Belgians Staf Scheirlinckx and Koen Barbe both announced their retirements today, bringing to a close respective careers of 14 and 10 years in the professional peloton.

    Scheirlinckx, 34, began his career in 2000 and spent the first four years on second division Belgian teams. From 2004 through 2008 he rode for French team Cofidis and then moved back to Belgian teams for the latter five years of his career, first with Lotto (2009-2010) and then the Pro Continental Accent Jobs squad (2011-2013).

    Known primarily as a domestique, Scheirlinckx has one victory in his palmares (stage 1 at the 2001 Tour de la Somme). He was a regular starter in the spring Classics with top 10 finishes at the Tour of Flanders (8th, 2011) and Paris-Roubaix (10th, 2006) the highlights of his cobbled campaigns. The Belgian started all three Grand Tours throughout his career and completed both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

    Scheirlinckx told Sporza that his career came to a conclusion because of the current crisis in pro cycling. "It's not good with cycling," Scheirlinckx said. "A lot of teams stopped and so there's more riders than the demand for them. That benefits the teams and the wages of riders fall.

    "I did not want to ride for minimum wage rates. The decision [to stop] is not so hard and I felt it coming. There is life after cycling and I'm satisfied with my career."

    Barbe announced his retirement today via Twitter, stating "I have decided with all my heart to stop cycling." The 32-year-old Belgian spent his 10-year career on Belgian teams, with the final five all with the Landbouwkrediet squad.

    One year prior to turning pro Barbe was the Belgian U23 road champion and in the professional ranks his biggest win occurred at the 2005 GP Rudy Dhaenens. Like Scheirlinckx, Barbe also was a regular...