- Article published:
- October 25, 2012, 18:18
- Sadhbh O'Shea
Belgian on Cavendish joining Omega Pharma Quick Step
Tom Boonen has been the superstar of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team this season, but he’ll have to share that mantle for 2013. The Belgian champion tells Cycling News HD what he thinks of his new teammate. Boonen also takes a look back at his record-breaking Ronde/Roubaix double double.
The team has signed Mark Cavendish for next season. What do you think about having him as a teammate?
“Having Mark on board is great. He is one of the best riders. I am curious to talk with him and get to know him a bit more. We have different goals, but it would be nice if I could give him a hand. As I said before, I am happy and relaxed. I am in my team, this team is part of my life. I am still hungry but I will do my best to help him become on of us, as soon as possible.”
For you this has been a pretty big year. Is this season one of the best in your career?
“You can’t compare a season with another, because each one is special. In 2005, I did the Ronde-Roubaix double, so you cannot compare this season, but for sure this year was one of my best years ever. This season was good for all of Belgian cycling. We won the World championship in the team time trial. Then Philippe Gilbert won the world championship and that was a big moment and for those reasons it was one of the best.”
Last year was difficult for you, did it spur you on?
“Last year wasn’t easy for me. I had a knee injury, which took a while to heal. At the same time it was not so bad, because I won Gent-Wevelgem and I was close in Ronde Van Vlaanderen and even Paris-Roubaix. I was always there fighting. Sometime little things make the difference and last year I wasn’t at 100%.”
It had been six years since you last won Ronde Van Vlaanderen, was this one special for you?
“It’s hard to say if it is better. This time I showed I can win on a different parcours, one that is maybe a little more difficult than the previous one. It has different characteristics. That I won on the classic parcours and then this one makes it special.”
What did you think about the change in route, was it a success?
“I cannot say which one is best, but it was fun and it was good to race there. I think it was a success and maybe we will see more races with circuits in the future. It is important for the public to be safe and they can see the riders several times without running around. So it is less dangerous for them and it is less dangerous for the riders.”
A week later you went on to win a fourth Paris-Roubaix. How did it feel to equal Roger De Vlaeminck's record?
“As an active rider you don’t think about it. You start thinking about it after you stop riding. Then you can look back and say wow I’ve done a great job, I was one of the best, but not now. Records are made to be broken. Maybe in 10 years there will be a rider who can do better. It will be nice to be able to see someone break your record.”
You also became the first rider to complete the Ronde-Roubaix double twice. What did that mean to you?
“That is a big record, because you have to ride it race by race and stay focused. It is really difficult to win both in the same year. You have to be in great shape and a little bit lucky. If you know that you are among the top 10 in races like these you know that sooner or later it will happen. If you are there every year you have more chances to do it."
Cycling News HD
The full version of this exclusive interview with Tom Boonen is just one example of what you can find inside our new digital magazine, Cycling News HD. Delivered to your iPad every Wednesday, Cycling News HD brings you the best all-new cycling photography in the world via the best medium for viewing it, as well as reports, results and exclusive analysis of all the week’s biggest races, in-depth previews of the races and stages to watch in the week ahead, interviews, news and opinion.
With over 50 pages packed with new and original content every Wednesday, alongside all the latest reports and results, Cycling News HD is the best way to enjoy a roadside seat at all the season’s biggest and best races.
- Article published:
- October 25, 2012, 19:16
- Cycling News
Evans and Van Garderen the priority for BMC
Although he credited riding the 2012 Tour de France for the late-season form that carried him to the rainbow jersey, world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is unsure if he will return to the French Grand Tour next season.
Speaking at the presentation of the 2013 Tour route in Paris on Wednesday, the Belgian lauded what he described as a “complete” course, but said that it was too soon to say if he would be on the start line in Corsica on June 29 next.
“It will be a nice Tour de France, but it’s hard to say when there are still more than eight months to the start,” Gilbert said, according to La Dernière Heure. “I’m still not decided on my participation. BMC will have both Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen for the general classification, which is the priority for us.”
After leaving La Française des Jeux for Silence-Lotto at the end of 2008, Gilbert avoided the Tour for two years before returning in resounding fashion in 2011, winning the opening stage at Mont des Alouettes. The 2013 Tour once again begins with a road stage, albeit one that appears more suited to the sprinters than the puncheurs.
“It’s a very complete course with a lot of opportunities for the sprinters early on,” Gilbert said. “After that there’s the team time trial, you’ve got an easy time trial and a hard one, there are summit finishes, technical stages. It’s going to take a very complete rider to win this Tour.
“I think there are two key stages – the double ascent of l’Alpe d’Huez and the Mont Ventoux stage, especially as it’s 242km long. They are the two queen stages, and I’m sure the organisers want those to be the key days of the 2013 Tour.”
- Article published:
- October 25, 2012, 20:00
- Cycling News
Wintels worried that doping culture has not changed
The president of the Royal Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU), Marcel J.G. Wintels, has made an appeal to UCI president Pat McQuaid ahead of the governing body's management committee meeting on Friday, calling for an "authoritative, independent, international truth and inquiry committee" to examine the sport's anti-doping efforts.
The AIGCP, or teams association earlier this week made a similar request.
In a three-page letter, Wintels says the sport is in "the deepest crisis ever", and that it has been made clear by the US Anti-Doping Agency's dossier on Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team that doping was not only common and hardly detectable in that era, but that many people in the sport knew and accepted this behavior as normal.
He links Rabobank's decision to pull its sponsorship out of professional cycling directly to its lack of confidence in the UCI and pleads with the governing body to use this crisis to relieve the sport of a culture where "the lie reigns".
"The key question for us, the KNWU, is to what extent we really can legitimately say that - in the year 2012 - there now no longer exists or can be spoken of a culture that tolerates, seduces or even encourages systematic doping. We are not reassured. On the contrary, we are very worried.
"Rabobank resigning their sponsorship, and in particular the reason why they stopped, is painful and significant. We can not sufficiently answer the question whether or not the doping culture has become widely accepted in professional cycling in the recent years."
Wintel and his organisation request that the UCI launch an independent investigation and "let this committee bring out all the facts and findings ('truth') from 2007 till the present, exposing the system, its culture and how the system operates, show what progress has already been made, and also where the systems fails".
Secondly, he asks that the committee be given "the task to make recommendations or take measures which can faster contribute to the professional cycling sport becoming cleaner and where the principle of fair play prevails".
He also requests a discussion to make changes to the anti-doping code for the WorldTour to enhance the anti-doping efforts. Those ideas include giving four year instead of two year suspensions and greater financial penalties or point deductions, penalties for teams, disallowing any WorldTour team from hiring staff with links to past doping practices, accreditation for team physicians plus separation of the UCI from anti-doping responsibilities due to the conflict of interest.
"More than ever, the UCI must dare to act forcefully," Wintels wrote, appealing to the management committee to start with an independent truth and inquiry committee.
"If the UCI fails to do so, we as KNWU ... are considering the possibility to create such a truth or inquiry committee (with the greatest international assignment or scope as possible) because we believe this is necessary."
- Article published:
- October 25, 2012, 21:25
- Cycling News
Italian leaves BMC after three years
Mauro Santambrogio has signed for Farnese Vini-Selle Italia for the 2013 campaign after spending the past three seasons at BMC.
Santambrogio’s stand-out performance at BMC was his fourth-place finish at the recent Tour of Lombardy, but his spell at the team was also clouded by his implication in the Mantova doping inquiry, dating back to his time at Lampre.
Santambrogio was twice withdrawn from racing and then re-instated by BMC, in 2010 and 2011, due to his involvement in the case. He is one of 32 individuals who have been called to a preliminary hearing in December.
“I have to thank BMC for these three years together,” Santambrogio said. “In such an important WorldTour team, I was able to learn, grow and ride with great champions, but at 28 years of age, I wanted to find a team where I could find some space as a leader and play my own card as best as possible.”
Signed to support Cadel Evans in the mountains, Santambrogio rode just one Tour in service of the Australian at BMC, in 2010. Farnese Vini-Selle Italia manager Luca Scinto believes that the Como native has the ability to shine for his new team in the Ardennes classics.
“I’m certain that Mauro will make a big leap in quality with us,” Scinto said. “He’s a strong, mature athlete and he has had important international experience. Let’s not forget that in many classics, he has finished at the front or worked hard right to the last kilometres.
“I’m thinking of Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Lombardy. He’s a rider with great qualities, who will have the chance to express himself as a leader with us.”
- Article published:
- October 25, 2012, 23:06
- Jane Aubrey
Team Budget Forklifts chase another NRS win
Saturday's 52nd Grafton to Inverell draws an important line in the sand for Team Budget Forklifts. Luke Davison, while not racing the one day classic leads the Australian National Road Series but for his teammate Mark O'Brien it's a chance to cap off an already impressive season, his last at home for a while before returning to Europe to race.
"We're just approaching the race like we have every other race this year which is basically just to get the win for Budget and the NRS is sort of an afterthought," O'Brien told Cyclingnews. "The Grafton to Inverell is a huge race on its own so if you win that race and nothing else for the year it's still been a successful year, really. "
O'Brien took out the tours of Mersey Valley, Toowoomba and North Western but due to their place in the tiered values of the season, he can finish no better than second overall in the individual NRS standings. Recent outings have proved tough-going, with O'Brien suffering a bout of tendonitis in his hip that proved hard to source. The issue was eventually resolved thanks to an orthotic that was overdue for replacement and mid-way through the Tour of Tasmania, the 25-year-old was back to normal.
In the last week, Budget Forklifts raced at the Japan Cup off the back of the Melbourne to Warrnambool and Shipwreck Coast weekend, and O'Brien admits that the schedule could mean that the team will fire or fail.
"The travelling does wear you out a bit but when you've got a big race like Grafton you've got to give it a good crack, knowing we can let the hair down a bit after the race," he admitted, adding that the injury battle had been more mentally draining that the recent schedule.
O'Brien was fourth at the Grafton to Inverell last year, just one-second behind the lead group of three riders after six hours of racing. This year marks his third attempt and O'Brien believes it the one race that suits him above any other on the calendar, with its "long, hard and hilly," 228km parcours.
"It's a big goal of mine to win it, especially since I'm heading back overseas next year so I don't know when the next chance I get to have a crack at it will be so it's definitely really important to me being the last race of the season so I can't hold anything back," he said.
It's a race in several stages but O'Brien says that the numbers game at the end of the climb of Gibraltar Range (just over 17km at 5.4%) is crucial to eventual success.
"If the Gibraltar climb was near the end that would be excellent but the fact that it's so early makes it hard," he said. "You can either jam it up there and run out of legs at the end, or usually you can just go pretty easy up there and it just wears people out a little bit for later on.
"We've got a very strong climbing team so Gibraltar could be a real advantage for us but then you don't want everyone just sitting on you from 150km to go. We've got to get to the top of Gibraltar and then reassess what's going on then the next part is from there until Glen Innes then it's just a race of survival and who's got the legs to go on the day."
With Genesys Wealth Advisers' Anthony Giacoppo in second overall in the NRS standings, the Tasmanian-based team will no doubt be hoping to get their man to the finish in the top-seven placings to steal the lead from Davison. It will be a tough ask with Giacoppo's main strength in speed but he has a team of climbers with serious horsepower around him. O'Brien believes that if Genesys bases their race around defending Giacoppo's position, it could be to their detriment.
Another threat will be the GPM - Wilson Racing line up, headed by Chris Jory. Three teams intently watching each other could lead to negative race tactics O'Brien warned but even if that's the case, he believes Budget Forklifts has the answer.
"If you've got cards to play it's a huge advantage," he said. "Strength in numbers is always better than being isolated, it doesn't matter how strong you are.
"On the other hand I hope it just becomes a mano-a-mano battle and we can use our strengths to get away."
- Article published:
- October 26, 2012, 00:15
- Cycling News
Peterson, Clarke, Qinghai stage winner Mezgec also new recruits
The Argos-Shimano team has announced the completion of its 28-rider men's professional team for the 2013 season, and nine of the ten riders for its women's team.
Led in its quest for the WorldTour by multiple Vuelta a España stage winner John Degenkolb and Scheldeprijs champion Marcel Kittel, the team completed its roster not with a huge points winner but with an group of promising new riders and solid teammates.
South African Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (MTN) and Slovenian Luka Mezgec (Sava) bring in talent and continental UCI points: van Rensburg had two stage wins at the Volta a Portugal and win in the 1.1-ranked Ronde van Zeeland in addition to four stage wins and the overal Tour du Marco title. Mezgec claimed five stage wins at the 2.HC-ranked Tour of Qinghai Lake.
Also new to the team is Frenchman Warren Barguil, winner of the Tour de l'Avenir and Jonas Ahlstrand, both of whom rode as trainees with the team this season..
The team also picked up Canadian Francois Parisien from the Spidertech team, Tom Peterson from Garmin-Sharp, Georg Preidler from Team Type 1, Will Clarke of Champion System and neo-pro Nikias Arndt.
The women's team is led by Charlotte Becker and Kirsten Wild with junior world champion Lucy Garner. There is one opening yet to be filled.
The complete men’s team: Jonas Ahlstrand (SWE), Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert de Backer (BEL), Warren Barguil (FRA), Will Clarke (AUS), Roy Curvers (NED), Thomas Damuseau (FRA), John Degenkolb (GER), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Patrick Gretsch (GER), Yann Huguet (FRA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Marcel Kittel (GER), Koen de Kort (NED), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Luka Mezgec (SVN), Francois Parisien (CAN), Tom Peterson (USA), Georg Preidler (GER), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Matthieu Sprick, Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Albert Timmer (NED) and Tom Veelers (NED).
The complete women’s team: Charlotte Becker (GER), Lucy Garner (GBR), Marlen Jöhrend (GER), Janneke Kanis (NED), Willeke Knol (NED), Kelly Markus (NED), Amy Pieters (NED), Esra Tromp (NED) and Kirsten Wild (NED). The last spot still needs to be filled.
- Article published:
- October 26, 2012, 09:19
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Former HTC manager becomes sports and development manager
Next year won’t be the first that Rolf Aldag has worked inside the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team. As technical advisor throughout 2012, Aldag was, among other things, a key figure in parts of Tom Boonen’s build-up to the Classics this spring. It’s a sign of how well that relationship worked that both sides have come back for more.
From an outsider’s point of view, one of the most interesting angles Aldag mentions when discussing his job are the ‘mind games’ that form part of the never-ending technological battles between the different top cycling teams. For example, the cobbled Classics are one of the most important for Omega Pharma and are often seen as the most demanding for bike technology but Aldag says “it’s not just about the equipment, but the psychology behind it, too.”
“If you looked at what we tried to do with Boonen last winter, it’s one thing to put a bike in front of him and say ‘this is your Roubaix bike’. What we have done is include him in the research program. So we had one day with Specialized and SRAM where we tested on the cobbles, on real data with SRMs, going up and down it for about five hours.”
“So Tom was going up and down, changing the wheels, changing the pressure, re-fixing the bike, so you could see what was needed for him to go at 45 kilometres an hour. And he understands that, he understands what it needs.”
Omega Pharma–QuickStep also hired the velodrome in Valencia, Spain for more work with Boonen in what Aldag calls “a really easy comparison. First he used the same wheel he used in Paris-Roubaix, aluminium rims and 32 spokes and we had him riding at 50kph there on the indoor track, measuring the wattage we need. Then you put him on the best possible new setup and he can see the difference.”
“Then you put him back on the old set up, he hardly makes 50kph and you’ve won him psychologically, he sees the benefits and the advantages that others might not have.”
“When I watched him on TV in Paris-Roubaix, the position of his arms for example on the handlebars, it was very interesting because you know – we tried out all that stuff.”
“When you’ve know you got a whole team chasing you” – or at least, four riders from Sky at the same time when Boonen started his lone attack – “but you know the best possible outcome for him and you see that he [Boonen], remembers what we did, he does all the right things we talked about, then it’s clearly had a huge benefit.”
For Aldag, though, that’s only part of the jigsaw: “It’s about equipment, a commitment from the sponsors and implementation of all that in the team. But even if you’ve got the fastest bike on paper, you’ve got to have the fastest rider on it and the most efficient position.”
“We’ve done that with Tony Martin, he’s been so many times in the wind tunnel, but Omega Pharma-QuickStep has also become the world team time trial champions. A few years ago, who would have thought that was possible? But it happened.”
Last year Aldag was working for a lot of the time in triathlon as well. Next season , however, he will be 100 percent focused on his new position as Sport and Development manager with Omega-Pharma-QuickStep, his role in the team will diversify and he will become a more permanent part of the organigram.
“I was there at Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Flanders, testing and training camps and at the Tour de France,” Aldag told Cyclingnews, “and I was part of the team working last spring with Tom [Boonen] too in a technical area, too.”
“So it’s a mistake to say, as some people have written, that I’ve come back to cycling. I’ve never been away.”
The former pro and HTC manager is more than enthusiastic, in any case, about his new role in the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
“From the team point of view, their aim is to increase their resources. From mine, it started when I sat down with team management, we discussed what had gone well in my role as technical advisor and what we could improve in the team if we expanded it and we took it from there, creating this new position.”
Aldag is at pains to point out that he won’t simply be operating in R&D.
“These days team managers have a lot of work to do securing a team’s financial future and [at Omega Pharma-Quick Step] that’s obviously Patrick Lefevre’s role. I’m more focused on technology and matching that with training and racing schedules, fitting together all the pieces and working with the sports directors, too. It’s a role I’m happy with, it’s about earning the team’s trust and using all those opportunities I’ve got.”
As for working again with Mark Cavendish, as he did for so many years at HTC, Aldag says that the sprinter is a very acute and knowledgeable observer when it comes to getting the best out of his bike.
“Mark is definitely interested in technology, and he has strong opinions about it. He would not always accept data at face value, saying [for example] ‘that’s ok, but I can’t breathe like that’. He will always argue his case.”
“He’s good at feedback and you’d see that things are to his benefit, he’ll do it, like he was one of the first guys to wear a covered helmet at the World Championships in 2011. He was wearing a TT suit, too. He’s not just the kind of guy to say ‘give me shorts and a jersey and I’ll do it.’”
“But he also doesn’t overdo it, either, he won’t ask you every tiny detail. It’s the same as Tony Martin, he can’t really tell you what rolling resistance his tyres are at. But he assumes they are the fastest and Cavendish is the same.”
“He knows he can’t do it [the technological side] all on his own, it’s more like he thinks ‘I expect experts around me to take care of it, but yes, I’m very interested in it.’ So yes, he pushes hard for it.” And from 2013 at Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Aldag will be one of those providing the answers.
- Article published:
- October 26, 2012, 09:43
- Cycling News
One lucky reader will win a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 frameset
It's here again...the 2012 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online.
Every year, we give you the chance to pick the riders, teams, races, moments and equipment that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, so the survey should take you less than five minutes to complete.
As an incentive, we're giving away a grand prize to one lucky reader - a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 OSBB frameset, courtesy of the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team. The frameset will be provided in the contest winner's size and as an added bonus it will be autographed by the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team.
Valued at USD3,500, the SL4 FACT IS 11r carbon frame features Specialized's highest stiffness-to-weight ratio ever, with tapered head tube, carbon OSBB, and internal cable routing. Included is a full monocoque FACT carbon fork with a tapered carbon steerer, Ceramic Speed bottom bracket with ceramic bearings, 1-1/8" to 1-3/8" headset with sealed, stainless steel bearings and an S-Works FACT carbon seatpost.
Complete information about the frameset is available on the Specialized website.
Entries for the 2012 Cyclingnews reader poll will close at midnight, November 23, 2012. Enter here today!