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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, November 29, 2013

Date published:
November 29, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Fernando Escartín and Paco Giner new Vuelta a España technical directors?

    Fernando Escartin wins at Piau Engaly at the 1999 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 0:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Report that duo are to replace Olano who was fired in July

    Having been named as one of the 18 riders listed in a French Senate Commission report in July for having tested positive for EPO at the 1998 Tour de France, Vuelta a España technical director Abraham Olano was stood down by race organisers Unipublic. Spanish sports daily AS are reporting that Fernando Escartín and Paco Giner are set to replace Olano and will share the role of technical director.

    Both cyclists were contemporaries of Olano in the peloton during the 1990s. During his career Escartín rode with Olano at the Mapei team in the mid-1990s. Escartín was twice runner up at the Vuelta and finished third at the 1999 Tour de France winning stage 15 of the French race. 

    Escartín and Giner have previously worked at the Vuelta in professional roles. Since retiring in 2002 Escartín's participation in recent years at the race has been as a driver with Unipublic. Giner has been involved in designing the course including the decision to introduce the Peñas Blancas climb to the race this year.

    AS are reporting that both Escartín and Giner were present throughout the 2013 edition of the race in order to learn the trade of technical director.

    At the time of his dismal Olano speculated that the decision to remove him may have been due in part to the influence of Tour de France organisers ASO, who own a 49% stake in Unipublic. "I understand that we are part of ASO and so there is a French part, because otherwise I wouldn't understand it," Olano told AS. However the appointment of Escartín and Giner...

  • Nicolas Roche to ride 2014 Giro

    The 2014 Giro d'Italia route
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 6:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    First Italian Grand Gour since 2007 for Irishman

    Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) has confirmed that he will be on the start line of the 2014 Giro d’Italia in Belfast next May. Roche’s first Grand Tour participation was also at the Giro, 20 years after his father Stephen won the 1987 edition of the race.

    "As soon as I heard the Giro was coming to Ireland, I told the team I wanted to ride it," Roche said. "But the season was just finished and they told me to take a break and they'd think about it."

    "We had our first pre-season training camp this week and Saxo Bank confirmed to me today that the Giro is on my race programme for next year, so I'm really happy to be able to say I'll be in Belfast next May."

    The attraction of three stages in Ireland was too much for Roche to resist. "To be able to ride a Grand Tour in Ireland, it's not something you ever think could happen when you start racing at home as a kid," he said. "I won my first race in Dundalk as an U-14 and now I'm going to be riding through the same town in the world's second biggest race, as a professional."

    Roche joins his cousin Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) in announcing that he will ride the Giro next year. New Team Sky signing Philip Deignan could join the duo if selected while the presence of more Irish riders will depend on which teams receive wildcard invitations. Irish track world champion Martyn Irvine (UnitedHealthcare) and first-year professional Sam Bennett (NetApp) could also feature if their teams are invited to the race. They are among the eight teams that applied for a wildcard.

    "The amount of Irish flags that I see at the Tour de France every year...

  • No Ardennes classics for Contador in 2014

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) will need to improve his time trialing if he's to challenge for the Tour de France in 2014
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 10:45 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard outlines race programme

    Double Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Saxo-TInkoff) says he will make some important changes to his race programme in 2014 in a bid to avoid what was a consistent but almost win-free 2013.

    Fourth in the Tour de France, third in Tirreno-Adriatico, fifth in the Vuelta al País Vasco, second in the Tour of Oman and a frustratingly close second place behind Chris Froome in the Tour’s second big time trial were the most notable occasions that Contador hit what appeared to be a glass ceiling results-wise. Only once, in a stage of the Tour de San Luis, did he manage to break through for an actual win.

    Contador’s 2014 programme, he reveals in an extensive interview with Spanish sports daily MARCA, will start in the Tour of the Algarve (Feb 19-23), continue with Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, followed by the Critérium International or the Volta a Catalunya, then continue with the Vuelta al País Vasco in April, the Dauphiné in June and then the Tour in July and Vuelta a España in August.

    Apart from the addition of the Vuelta, which Contador has won in 2008 and 2012, the most notable change is the wiping of the Ardennes Classics from his programme. Contador took an unremarkable 33rd in Flèche Wallone and 59th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    “I started to race very early, in Argentina,” Contador told MARCA, “and after Tirreno, where the weather was really bad, I got sick and had to change all my programme. I scratched the Critérium International from the list and then went to the Vuelta al País Vasco without really being at a good level.”

    “It wasn’t the ideal programme, and I regret starting so soon and not really putting together a programme that balanced my training...

  • Guardini hopes to bounce back in 2014

    Andrea Guardini (Astana)
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 11:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian faces into second year at Astana

    After clocking up 21 victories in his first two seasons as a professional with Farnese Vini, Andrea Guardini had a more difficult time of it during his first year at WorldTour level at Astana. The Italian sprinter managed just one win – a stage of the Tour de Langkawi in February – but he is hopeful of bouncing back in 2014.

    “I don’t consider it a negative year but rather a year in which I learned a lot,” Guardini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “You learn the most from difficult times and to get out of them, you have to work. You can’t stop and cry about it.”

    While Guardini was never likely to ride the Giro d’Italia, where he had won a stage on his debut in 2012, he had hoped to be part of the Astana team at either the Tour de France or Vuelta a España. Instead, he raced only very sparingly in the second half of the season.

    “There wasn’t one particular factor,” Guardini said of his low-key season. “After Langkawi, I had stomach problems and a cold, but maybe it was a virus. Then, when you make the step up to a top flight team, there are pros and cons. Maybe my difficulty with learning languages made it harder to adapt to riding on a team with so many foreigners.”

    Guardini will begin his 2014 campaign at the Tour Down Under, and, as was the case during his first two professional seasons, he is hopeful that an early win can set the tone for the remainder of the year.

    “I know well that the best opportunities for us sprinters are at the start of the year,” he said. “In the climbs, too, I’ve improved without losing my zip in the sprint but now I’ve got to go and show that out on the...

  • Report: 2014 Vuelta a España to cut back on mountaintop finishes

    The final Vuelta podium for 2013
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 12:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Three fewer summit finishes than in 2013

    Details of the last of the three Grand Tours, the Vuelta a España, are slowly emerging, with two important factors – a reduction in the number of summit finishes and the absence of the Pyrenees from the 2014 race – report by sports daily AS on Friday.

    According to AS, after starting in Jerez de la Frontera in Spain’s deep south on August 23rd with a team time trial, the race will head north and east through Andalusia – where it will spend a week – Castilla-La Mancha and Aragon, but will avoid the Pyrenees, Catalonia and the Basque Country.

    In a very tough second and third week in the northern regions of Cantabria and Asturias, the Vuelta will feature three summit finishes on successive days from September 6th to 8th: one new ascent, the Camperona; the much better known Lagos de Covadonga, first used in 1983 and home to some of the last wolves in Europe; and the Farrapona.

    A lengthy final spell in Galicia will conclude with an ascent of the Ancares (possibly, but not definitively a summit finish) and the last day time trial (reportedly not at nighttime, as was previously thought) through the streets of Galician capital Santiago de Compostela on September 14th.

    The Vuelta route is set to be unveiled officially on January 11th, 2014 in Cadiz.

  • Giro del Trentino at risk for 2014 season

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) finish up
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 13:16 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Race reliant on public funding to continue

    The Giro del Trentino could be at risk for 2014 if organisers cannot secure renewed funding from local government. The mountainous stage race is one of the key stepping stones towards the Giro d’Italia and has run uninterrupted since 1979.

    “There’s no point in dancing around it. As of today, the Giro del Trentino, even with an army of around 400 volunteers, has considerable costs. Without the public contribution from the Autonomous Province of Trento, it can’t be organised,” race organisation head Giacomo Santini told local newspaper L’Adige.

    In recent years, the province of Trentino has contributed €250,000 per annum to the running of the Giro del Trentino through the local tourism board, a figure which Santini explains makes up “more or less half” of the race’s budget.

    The make-up of the local government has changed following elections in October, however, and it remains to be seen if the newly installed provincial council will continue to contribute as much to the Giro del Trentino’s budget.

    “I’ve written to the new tourism councillor and asked for a meeting,” Santini said. “I hope that the Giro del Trentino’s 38 years of history and its enormous visibility in the media, which guarantees undeniable benefits for tourism here, continue to be considered worthwhile.”

    The irony for the organisation is that, from a purely sporting point of view, the Giro del Trentino appears to be in rude health. The presence of eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins in 2013 was a considerable boost to the international profile of the race, which takes place in the week of the Ardennes classics.

    A similarly high-quality field...

  • Brice Feuillu joins brother Romain at Bretagne-Séché Environnement

    Stage winner Brice Feillu (Agritubel) made France proud.
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 14:04 GMT
    José Been

    Tour de France stage winner last signing of French team

    Pro Continental team Bretagne-Séché Environnement has announced the signing of Brice Feillu. The 28-year old Frenchman is the 16th and last rider of the French team in 2014. He joins his older brother Romain who has also signed a one-year contract with Bretagne-Séché.

    Brice Feillu was left without a contract after the Sojasun team became one of the five professional cycling teams to close its doors after this season. The rider from central France rose to fame in 2009 when he won the seventh stage in the Tour de France, winning at Andorra-Arcalis alone in the colours of Agritubel.

    Subsequently he joined the Dutch team Vacansoleil in 2010 with his brother Romain, and then moved to Leopard-Trek the following year on his own. There was no place for him after the team merged with Radioshack and Feillu signed with Sojasun for two seasons in 2012. Since his stage win in his first year as a pro cyclist he never won a race in his career again.

    At Bretagne he finds Sojasun teammates Anthony Delaplace and Christophe Laborie. The French team announced Feillu would be the last signing of the team.

    "We had several options," sports director Emmanuel Hubert told Le Telegramme. "We could offer a contract extension to Gaël Malacarne or Sebastien Duret or get a new rider for the team. After weighing up the pros and cons we ended up signing Brice."

    Bretagne-Séché Environnement has been the fourth and smallest Pro Continental team in France for the past years, but has repeatedly missed out on a Tour de France wildcard spot in favor of the other French Pro Continental teams Sojasun, Cofidis and Europcar. With Europcar stepping up to World Tour level, Sojasun quitting and the availability of four wildcards in 2014 again [because there...

  • Video: Porte looks ahead to Giro d'Italia

    Richie Porte (Sky) satisfied with the team's work
    Article published:
    November 29, 2013, 15:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sky rider on off-season and 2014 plans

    After performing his duties with aplomb on behalf of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome at successive Tours de France, Richie Porte has earned the leadership of the Sky team for the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

    Porte’s first brush with the corsa rosa came in 2010, when he had a spell in the pink jersey, finished 7th overall and carried off the white jersey of best young rider. He returned as a rather deluxe domestique for Alberto Contador the following year, but in 2014, his ambitions will be somewhat loftier.

    “It’s hard to say you can win it, but to be honest, I didn’t think I could win Paris-Nice either,” Porte told Cyclingnews in a video interview. “It’s going to be hard, I’ve had a little bit of a look at the course.”

    The mighty Zoncolan features on the penultimate day of the Giro and Porte is all too aware of the fickle nature of the fearsome pass in the Friuli from his previous outings in 2010 and 2011. The Australian also has some prior knowledge of the Irish start, albeit largely off the bike.

    “I think it’s going to be quite interesting to start there, quite a nervous start to the race,” said Porte, who is also pencilled in to ride the Tour de France in support of Chris Froome.

    Porte brought the curtain down on 2013 at the Saitama Criterium in Japan in late October, and after a spell at home in Tasmania, he returns to Europe next week for Sky’s first training camp of the new campaign in Mallorca.

    At that first gathering of the Sky team, Porte will nail down his build-up to the Giro, and he admitted that if it were entirely up to him, he would kick off his campaign on home roads in January, where Cadel Evans (BMC) is already among the...