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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 29, 2013

Date published:
April 29, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Kittel battles on after crash to take third win at Tour of Turkey

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) wins his third stage in Turkey
    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 4:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Matured Argos-Shimano squad shine on hectic sprint stages

    An opening-day victory and pulling on the race leader's jersey at the Presidential Tour of Turkey was further confirmation that Marcel Kittel and his Argos-Shimano squad deserve their place in the WorldTour. Last year Kittel was hardly in the mix to sprint for the win at Turkey and just 12 months on and the conclusion of the 49th edition and the German can rest up having taking a hat-trick of stage wins.

    The Argos-Shimano sprint train has undeniably stepped up this year, and it's not just the upgrade from Professional Continental to a ProTour license. The team has learned from a season of tough times and has really come together as a collective unit for 2013, showing their calm approach in the hectic sprint finishes at Turkey. Returning to the Tour de France in July will provide the Dutch team with a true understanding of where they lie in the sprinting ranks.

    "Our day was pretty relaxed, there wasn't a big fight like the last few stages," explained Kittel at the finish. "We started to control with Cheng and Thomas who have done a lot of work in the past week, they did great.

    "We stayed in front coming into the finish and the boys were in a good position. We were maybe a little too early but we are at a level now that we can deal with these kind of situations. I am really proud of this week.

    "The team as a whole have made big improvements from last year, and I feel that I've made a step myself too, but all the riders became stronger and it showed in the way that we handle situations. This is what this team is about and it is great to see it...

  • Santambrogio on point for victory ahead of Giro d'Italia

    Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini) pushes the pace in the breakaway
    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 6:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian confident for stage wins after taking out GP Industria & Artigianato

    Riding in the service of others during his three-year stint at BMC Racing did little to add to results list for Mauro Santambrogio but the Italian appears to be flourishing at his Vini Fantini - Selle Italia team this season and has finally cracked the victory drought just in time for the start of the Giro d'Italia. Santambrogio took a solo win in the 200km GP Industria & Artigianato - Larciano and is now pinpointing the same result at the Italian grand tour with the possibility of focussing on the general classification.

    Santambrogio had been one of Cadel Evans' mountain-men during his three seasons at the US ProTeam despite missing taking part in the Australian's Tour de France winning team in 2011. While he enjoyed his time as a domestique, 2013 signalled the right moment for the 28-year-old to focus on himself.

    Signing for the Professional Continental squad Vini Fantini may have appeared to be a step in the wrong direction by some but Santambrogio has demonstrated that he is more than just a worker. Before the weekend's race he had picked up six podium placings in one-day races and tours along with a top-ten overall at Tirreno-Adriatico and second at the Giro del Trentino - often seen as the final warm up ahead of the three-week Giro.

    Now, with the Giro's start less than a week away on 4 May in Naples, the seemingly born-again rider is targeting a stage win and perhaps a proper attempt at contesting the general...

  • Gilbert regrets early season start at Tour Down Under

    Philippe Gilbert
    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 7:58 BST
    Cycling News

    Riding the Tour de France a possibility after winless Ardennes

    For the second year-in-a-row Philippe Gilbert has gone without a win in the Ardennes Classics or to be more specific, simply a win in the opening four months of the season. The reigning world champion had previously voiced his preference for longer stages at the Santos Tour Down Under, where he returned after a five-year hiatus this season but now it's travelling to Australia and the demands placed on the world champion that have seen him change his tune.

    "It was wrong to ride the Tour Down Under," Gilbert told Nieuwsblad. Opening his season at the first WorldTour race of the year, the travel associated with attending Down Under and the extra demands that surrounded the man with the rainbow jersey was all too much for Belgian who won a stage at his last participation in 2004.

    "The travel was too heavy. You really need a month in advance for travelling [to Australia] and it was also stressful. Everyone wanted a piece of the world champion," he said.

    The Ardennes were of course a major target for Gilbert but as seen at La Flèche Wallonne, the favourites placed a considerable amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the former winner and essentially helped to mark him out of the race on the final ascent of the Mur de Huy.

    "In the finals of the [Ardennes] classics there was a huge burden because everyone looks at you. It was quite different from wearing the Belgian champion jersey."

    With nearly half the year already behind him and without a victory to show for it, Gilbert is considering riding the Tour de France to remedy his lack of winning results. If he had won one of the three Ardennes classics:

  • Movistar confirms Giro d'Italia team

    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 9:49 BST
    Cycling News

    Cobo, Intxausti, Ventoso and Dowsett in the starting nine

    The Movistar team has confirmed its team for the Giro d'Italia, with Juan Jose Cobo, Beñat Intxausti, young Italian Alex Capecchi, veteran Pablo Lastras, British time trial national champion Alex Dowsett and sprinter Fran Ventoso expected to lead the Spanish team's search for success.

    The Movistar team has won 10 races so far this season. Last year Andrey Amador won a stage at the Giro d'Italia to Cervinia, while Ventoso won in Frosinone.

    “The team's goal is continuing the streak from the last two years, when we got more than one stage victory," team manager Eusebio Unzué said in a press release.

    "Taking one this year would be really good and notching up two can only be considered as superb. I think we're bringing a pretty solid squad, well balanced, with all riders coming in good form and having good chances."

    For the overall, I rely on Intxausti and Cobo fighting with the top guns and maybe making it into the top ten. It might be just about time for Beñat - I think he's ready, he's got the experience and maturity he needs. Last year, he already proved he's able to get there. Cobo's performance is always an unknown, but it's important to know that he's in good condition, so you can expect he might be able to give his best level, like in previous times. Then there are riders like Capecchi and José Herrada, who come in good form and will get on the move for sure. If you add the solidness and experience from Lastras and Karpets, the good condition by Dowsett or the talent by Ventoso and Visconti, we're going with a strong block."

    Unzué expects the Giro d'Italia to be a battle between Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali, with 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal also a major threat.

    "The race route is not really different from last...

  • Giro d'Italia 2013: The main contenders

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky)
    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 11:17 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Giro countdown: 5 days until Naples

    With five days to go to the start of the Giro d’Italia, Cyclingnews takes a look at the form of the main contenders and their chances of overall success in this year's race.

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)

    Season to date: As he amassed victory upon victory early last season, Wiggins’ lament that journalists kept asking him if he had peaked too soon quickly became more tedious than the question itself. There’s been precious little danger of that this time around, as Wiggins has been far more low-key, completing just three stage races and failing to register a win.

    That said, the Englishman did not seem stretched as he rode to fifth place at the Volta Catalunya in March and his climbing appeared to have gone up another notch by the time he hit the Dolomites at the Giro del Trentino. In between those two races, he had spent a lengthy spell training in Mallorca, and the signs are that his work there is paying out more than marginal dividends.

    Final preparations: Wiggins’ last competitive outing before the Giro was at Trentino, and his race went to plan until his bike failed him on the final climb to Sega di Ala and he finished fifth overall. Either side of Trentino, Wiggins carried out reconnaissance of a number of the Giro d'Italia key stages, including the summit finish to Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the 54.8km time trial on the Adriatic coast, where he was reported to be concerned by the condition of the road surface. Wiggins returns to Italy on Wednesday, three before the race.

    Strengths: The long time trial at the end of week one presents Wiggins with a golden opportunity to take control of the pink jersey, and he demonstrated his capability to defend a lead in the mountains at last year’s Tour de France. Since finishing 134th in the 2008 Giro at the age...

  • Phinney shows his Giro form in Tuscany

    Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing)
    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 13:12 BST
    Cycling News

    BMC rider third in the sprint at the Giro della Toscana

    Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) showed he is on form and ready for the Giro d'Italia with a strong performances over the weekend in Tuscany.

    The prodigious American won the opening time trial stage at last year's Giro d'Italia in Denmark and wore the race leader's pink jersey for three days. This year's race begins on Saturday with a circuit stage but Phinney has the speed to contest sprint finishes and will play a vital role for BMC in the stage two team time trial on Sunday.

    Phinney has focused on training for the Giro d'Italia since the cobbled Classics and tested his form in the GP di Larciano and the Giro di Toscana at the weekend. He went on the attack at the GP di Larciano for over 100km on Saturday, on the same roads and climbs he often covers in training near his base in Quarrata. On Sunday he finished third in at the Giro della Toscana, behind Italian sprinter Mattia Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli) and Ivan Rovny (Flaminia Fondriest). Phinney hit out early in the sprint and was only passed close to the line.

    "I started thinking about the sprint and going for the win in the last couple kilometres," Phinney said in a press release from the BMC team, knowing the finishing circuit in Arezzo after helping teammate Alessandro Ballan win the same race last year.

    "I closed a bit of a gap to a guy who went early with about 300 meters to go. I came around him with about 100 meters to go but unfortunately I didn't quite have enough gas to hold off Gavazzi and Rovny. But it's a really nice feeling to be back at the front of a race like that, though, especially since it was full gas all day, up and down," Phinney said.

    BMC has yet to confirm it's full line-up for the Giro d'Italia but...

  • UCI and AFLD agree to work together to improve doping controls in France

    The French National anti-doping Laboratory
    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 16:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Testing to be tightened before the Tour de France

    The UCI has confirmed that it will work in partnership with the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) for the rest of the season, improving the quality of testing and intelligence before this year's Tour de France.

    The two bodies have been at odds in recent years and especially in recent months regarding the quality of testing and the access to the data from the UCI's Biological Passport programme. The AFLD refused to work with the UCI this spring, citing the Federation’s “serious mistakes” made in the past and the effects of the Lance Armstrong affair.

    The UCI announced that CADF (the UCI's Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation) and AFLD will now combine resources and expertise to organise and provide anti-doping tests, for the Critérium du Dauphiné in June and the Tour de France in July.

    “We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with the AFLD. The CADF's and the AFLD’s anti-doping procedures are among the most innovative and stringent in sport," Francesca Rossi, Director of the CADF, said in a press release from the UCI.

    "It was cycling, for example, that was the first sport to introduce the urinary EPO test, the homologous blood transfusion test and the biological passport.”

    It seems the French Minister for Sport Valérie Fourneyron played a key role in rebuilding relations between the UCI and the AFLD.

    "This makes the first tangible progress in the fight against doping in cycling since the Armstrong affair exploded," she was reported as saying by L'Equipe.

    UCI President Pat McQuaid said claimed the agreement was an important step for the future of clean cycling.

    “The UCI is determined to ensure that cycling is a clean sport. As such, we...

  • Wiggins tips Nibali as the man to beat at the Giro d'Italia

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) at a pre-Giro d'Italia press conference in Standish, England
    Article published:
    April 29, 2013, 17:15 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Team Sky leader targets a rare Giro-Tour double

    Six days before he begins his attempt to become the first British rider to win the Giro d'Italia, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) has said he believes that Vincenzo Nibali, his biggest rival in this year's race, is in better condition than he was last year when he finished third at the Tour de France behind the Team Sky duo Wiggins and Chris Froome.

    Speaking to the press at a hotel in Wigan, close to his home in the north on England, Wiggins said he had watched Nibali closely during the recent Giro del Trentino and was impressed by what he saw. "I watched him very, very closely. He's difficult to read because… he doesn't bluff, but he doesn't show a lot of emotion. He's very crafty.

    "I think I learned more about him than he learned about me. I didn't really get the opportunity to let go on the climbs there. I had the issue with my bike, so they never really saw how I was, and the day before I couldn't really come through on him because we had Kosta [Siutsou] up the road. So it was all a bit cat and mouse."

    Wiggins admits that the Giro route is more suited to the Astana leader, and has no doubts about how motivated Nibali will be. "The Giro is his pride and joy. I think there's a lot at stake for him in this race. He's the big Italian favourite. He's trained for this. This is his event. He's not doing the Tour after it, so this is his one big [objective].

    "I think he's in the best shape that he's ever been in. He's got all of the attributes needed to win it – he love the big climbs, all those tricky little descents, and he well prepared for all the other things that the Giro throws at you. He's got a very strong team."

    Wiggins added, though, that he is not afraid of...