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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 26, 2013

Date published:
August 26, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Gilbert happy with recovery from Eneco crash

    Philippe Gilbert chases with a bloody knee
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 11:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian comes through first day of Vuelta unscathed

    An injury sustained in a crash at the Eneco Tour briefly cast doubts over his Vuelta a España participation but Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has declared himself pleased with his recovery following the stage one time trial in Galicia on Saturday evening.

    The world champion still has stitches in his left knee following the crash, but he was able to play a full part in BMC’s 8th-place finish in Saturday’s Vuelta opener. Gilbert explained afterwards that he had not suffered any pain from his injury during the 27.4 kilometre test.

    “It’s practically healed, there’s only another little centimetre that needs to seal up,” Gilbert told RTBF afterwards. “I felt very good today.”

    Gilbert said that his restricted training in the week leading into the Vuelta had left him with plenty in reserve for Saturday evening’s time trial but he acknowledged that Sunday’s first road stage, which brings the peloton to the summit of Alto de Monte da Groba, would provide a far sterner test.

    “It’s always better not to ride too much before a time trial, which is what athletes who do short-distance sports do, and that’s what I had to do because of the injury. So in the end, it was good preparation,” Gilbert said. “Sunday is another thing. It’s a four or five hour stage, and so training is more important.”

    Gilbert is riding the Vuelta in preparation for his defence of his world title in Florence next month. Although the Belgian is still without a win in the rainbow jersey, he can take heart from last season, when he...

  • Garmin-Sharp determined to bounce back from team time trial pile-up

    Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 12:36 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Koldo Fernandez forced out of Vuelta following crash

    Of all the surprises in Saturday’s opening team time trial at the Vuelta a España, Garmin-Sharp’s failure to finish higher up the results board was probably one of the biggest, but a big crash on a descent in the technical first third of the course dealt a major blow to the American squad’s chances of a better result.

    Garmin-Sharp’s six best-placed riders, including GC contender Dan Martin, finished 1:41 back, while Koldo Fernández, who broke a rib and has a sore knee from the pile-up, was dead last.

    Fernández did not start stage two on Sunday. Although he travelled to the start with his teammates, the Spaniard was suffering from dizziness on the team bus and opted to abandon the Vuelta on the advice of the team doctors.

    “They overcooked it on the descent,” team manager Johnny Weltz told Cyclingnews of the Garmin crash. “I told them maybe five times there wasn’t so much to gain and a lot to lose on a descent like that, but they overcooked it, everybody got excited, somebody came round a corner too fast one slides out, another slides out and bam! Bodies everywhere.”

    “Two riders actually crashed completely, Koldo and Michel [Kreder], and then it was a question of trying to regroup as best we could. Michel had a broken front wheel and we had to change that and so we had to leave him there, and then we had to do a lot.

    “They did really well, everybody got over the climb, but then after the crash we had to spend time regrouping and use riders in a different order to what we had expected.”

    The team finished with six riders, “so we still had a good group and we’ve got good morale. But it was the worst scenario we...

  • Deignan in talks with WorldTour team

    Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) chases after the leaders.
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 16:45 BST
    By:
    Pat Malach

    Irishman looking to rejoin sport's top tier

    After two seasons with the US-based UnitedHealthcare Pro Continental team, former Irish Olympian and 2009 Vuelta a Espana stage winner Phil Deignan is likely headed back to the WorldTour next year.

    "I'm currently in talks with a WorldTour team, so it's looking quite good that I'll be back there, yeah," Deignan told Cyclingnews on Saturday before stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge, although he wouldn't reveal which team he had been talking with. "I don't want to announce anything yet. I'll leave it up to the team when they want to decide to announce it, but obviously I'm very excited about it and looking forward to it."

    Although unconfirmed, at least one cycling website has Deignan listed on Sky Pro Cycling's 2014 roster.

    Deignan, 29, turned pro in 2005 with AG2R Prevoyance and spent four seasons with the French squad before signing a two-year deal with the Cervelo Test Team for 2009 and 2010. He moved to RadioShack in 2011 and then UnitedHealthcare in 2012.

    Deignan has ridden six Grand Tours in his career and counts stage wins at the Vuelta and the Tour du Doubs among his palmares. At the Vuelta, he outgunned Liquigas rider Roman Krueziger in a two-up sprint for the win. Deignan has had to overcome several bouts with illness and injury in his career, but so far this season he has finished second overall at the Tour de Beauce and took the overall win at Silver City's Tour of the Gila in May.

    "It's been a pretty turbulent two years," Deignan said. "I've had a great time here at UnitedHealthcare. They've been really good and understanding, and I've really enjoyed my time here. Every bike rider has their ups and downs, and they're used to confronting problems. I'm pretty used to it now at this stage. But...

  • Roche celebrates first Grand Tour stage win in Vuelta a España

    Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) wins stage 2
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 18:35 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Breakthrough victory for Irishman

    Nicolas Roche (Saxo-TInkoff) could not have put it better himself when the Irishman described his first Grand Tour stage win, at 29, as “really liberating.” After so many near misses a big win in a Grand Tour had been a long time coming, but triumphing ahead of all the big Vuelta favourites on the race’s first major mountain climb in the Alto do Monte da Groba was a great way to do so.

    “This is really liberating for me, I’ve only won eight races in my career but I’ve had so many second places,” Roche, who switched to Saxo-Tinkoff this season after a long spell with Ag2R, and whose last win was a stage in theTour of Beijing 2011, said afterwards.

    “Roche is ‘the rider who’s always in the front but never able to win’. I’m over the moon.”

    Asked if the Vuelta had always been a target for him, Roche said “We set my program last November and my goal was to be a team-mate [for Alberto Contador] in the Tour."

    “I had a very specific role there, whilst [Roman] Kreuziger and Michael [Rogers] were working there for Alberto high mountains, I was at the Tour for semi mountainous stages.”

    “But I also had the Vuelta as a clear goal, it has been my main goal of the autumn for the last five years, some years better than others, and I’ve had many a top five place on stages and even a second place. So just to be able to win is very important for me.”

    Asked how Saxo-Tinkoff would handle the overall classification with Roman Kreuziger going for the GC as well, Roche responded, “we’ve got a very strong team,, I hope that Roman will now continue to be in good condition, Rafa Majka is also very strong in the high mountains and every day things can change."

    Team co-sponsor Oleg...

  • Team Optum aims for top-15 result at TTT Worlds

    US-based team Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 19:43 BST
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    America Tour qualifiers UnitedHealthcare, Jamis-Hagens Berman decline invites

    For the second straight year US-based Continental team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies will contest the team time trial event at the world championships having earned an invite based on the squad's performance in the UCI America Tour. Two other US-based teams, Pro Continental UnitedHealthcare and Continental Jamis-Hagens Berman, also received bids from the America Tour rankings but declined their invitations.

    The elite men's team time trial world championship, 57.2km in length, will be contested on the September 22, the first day of racing at the Tuscany, Italy-hosted event.

    For Team Optum, it's all about improving on last year's 20th place finish in the 2012 team time trial Worlds, an event which returned to the world championship program after last being contested in 1994.

    "We were happy with that [result] last year in that there were 33 teams, all the WorldTour teams plus all the best Pro Conti teams in the world, and we were able to beat 13 teams being a Continental program," Optum's performance director Jonas Carney told Cyclingnews at the USA Pro Challenge.

    "But we want to do significantly better than that this year. That's what we're shooting for, I'd like to see the team get a top-15 this year. It's really just a great opportunity for our team to compete on the world stage against the best teams in the world so we don't want to turn that opportunity down."

    Team Optum will travel to Italy following their participation in the Tour of Alberta, which concludes on September 9.

    "It's not a very complicated trip for us. We're doing Cascade, Elk Grove, Utah, Colorado, Alberta and...

  • Nibali nets top spot in Vuelta a España

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in the red after stage 2
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 21:17 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Shark of Messina gets teeth into leader’s jersey after just two stages

    Three years after he took his first Vuelta a España, Vincenzo Nibali ended stage two of the 2013 Vuelta donning the red jersey of leader again and looking every inch the pre-race favourite he was supposed to be.

    16th on the stage, Nibali now leads by eight seconds over stage winner Nicolas Roche and if the Astana rider and 2013 Giro d’Italia winner was worried by getting to the top spot so soon, he showed no sign of being concerned during the post-race press conference.

    “This final climb wasn’t ideal for me, not steep enough, and I was following other guys’ wheels rather than trying to attack,” the 28-year-old Nibali said.

    “But my condition is good and I wanted to make the most of it. I had great support from my squad all the way up the climb, [Denmark’s Jakob] Fuglsang was with me, Alessandro Vanotti and Andrey Zeits as well, and I can be very satisfied with how it all went.”

    Movistar made a lot of the running on the final climb, but Nibali said that was not a concern.

    “We knew that Movistar were pushing it for Valverde, and that wasn’t a surprise. The finale was a bit complicated, it all stopped a little when Roche attacked, and then the pace picked up again,” said Nibali, whose adversaries Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) did snatch back two seconds in the last-minute dash for the line. “They’re the biggest two rivals, so it’s a question of controlling things with the team.”

    Indeed, Nibali taking the jersey so early raises all sorts of interesting questions, such as whether Astana will try and hold the lead for the next 20 days and whether, in such a tough race, with 10 more summit finishes to come, that...

  • Second broken collarbone of the season for De Kort

    Koen de Kort, collarbones intact before the start
    Article published:
    August 25, 2013, 22:18 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Argos-Shimano rider crashes in Vattenfall Cyclassics

    Argos-Shimano had its share of ups and downs in the Vattenfall Cyclassics: the joy of John Degenkolb's sprint victory was tinged in sadness for teammate Koen de Kort, who suffered a broken collarbone in a crash during the race in Hamburg, Germany.

    It was the second time this season that the Dutch rider has suffered a fractured clavicle: his first was at the Tour of Qatar in February.

    “This is a big disappointment for me personally today,” de Kort said. “I was sat near the front of the peloton together with John and someone on the right crashed and took me with him.

    “It wasn’t the same pain as I felt after my crash in Qatar earlier in the year where I broke my collarbone as well, but the race doctor had a look and in the hospital they confirmed that my left collarbone was broken."

    De Kort was an important part of the Argos team's successful Tour de France, where Marcel Kittel won four stages and wore the maillot jaune for a day, but now he will try to recover in time to race in the late season.

    “I was just starting to felt really good again after the Tour and I still had some goals left for this year. Now I will take time to fully recover and see if there is something to work for towards the end of the season.”

  • Samuel Sanchez rues bad day at office

    Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel)
    Article published:
    August 26, 2013, 1:27 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Euskaltel-Euskadi leader all but out of GC fight

    It's one of cycling's most timeworn cliches that the first mountain stage of a Grand Tour don't usually show who can win it outright, but they do show who is likely not to. And when Samuel Sanchez fell back half way up the Monte de Groba on stage 2 of the Vuelta a España, the Euskaltel-Euskadi leader became the first big name to suffer that fate.

    Sanchez is far from the only one: Sergio Henao (Team Sky) lost the same amount of time and Giro hero Carlos Alberto Betancur (Ag2R), briefly touted as a top contender, finished nearly ten minutes down. But as a double podium finisher in the Vuelta, Sánchez was widely touted as Euskaltel-Euskadi's best option to claim a first Grand Tour win in their final three-week stage race before the team folds.

    "I had a bad day, there's not much point in going into more detail," Sanchez said afterwards. "With seven or eight kilometres to go, I had a moment of weakness and that was it, nothing more than that."

    "The change of pace from flat to climb is always a tough one and always catches some riders out and this time round it was me.

    "The race has just started and we will see what happens, but it's not the ideal start at all."

    Euskaltel-Euskadi's best-placed rider is now Mikel Nieve, 1:14 back, the winner of mountain stages in the Giro and in the Vuelta a few years back and tenth overall in the 2012 Giro.

    In what is a re-run of the 2013 Giro, Sky's Rigoberto Urán has now become the team's main GC contender after their touted pre-race leader - in the Giro Bradley Wiggins, in the Vuelta Sergio Henao - lost time. In Henao's case, the Colombian lost nearly three minutes, and although he is still just...