Jack Bobridge lines up as part of a Belkin team committed to going on the attack at the Prudential RideLondon - Surrey Classic on Sunday. While Paul Martens is nominally the team’s fast man, Bobridge told Cyclingnews before the start that he and his teammates would be looking to sniff out breakaway opportunities.
“We didn’t expect it to be this big. It’s a lot bigger than I expected. I think it could be quite tough today with only six riders, but I think it’s going to be a good race,” Bobridge said.
“It’s a bit harder for us because we’re only starting with five, we’re missing Tom Leezer but I think today the rest of us five will have a look around and see what the race is doing.”
Bobridge’s Belkin teammate Wilco Kelderman secured overall victory at the Tour of Denmark on Sunday and the team enters the second half of the season on something of a high after securing a new title sponsor in the build-up to the Tour de France
The squad began the year under the Blanco banner following the withdrawal of Rabobank, and Bobridge said that the new sponsor and Bauke Mollema’s strong showing at the Tour de France had provided a considerable boost to morale at the squad.
“I think that’s relaxed a lot of people and coming from the Tour with the fantastic result for the team, it’s taken a lot of stress off the team,” he said. “Everyone’s got good morale for the rest of the year."
Haimar Zubeldia has signed a contract to race for two years with the Trek WorldTour team while fellow Spaniard Markel Irizar has penned a deal for the next three years. The Trek team is taking over the WorldTour license and status from the RadioShack-Leopard team currently backed by Flavio Becca. Both racers presently ride for RadioShack.
"I am pleased to reach an agreement for the next two seasons with my current team," said Zubeldia. "Since the two sides had intentions to extend the contract for two years and negotiations during the Tour were conducted, it has been easy. Now the signatures of the contract will be done soon through my agency, KEC Pro Sport."
Zubeldia feels comfortable on his current team. At 36 years old, he is in the final stretch of his pro career and is planning no major changes to his programme.
"All I want is the peace of mind and confidence to continue training, taking care of myself and giving my best," he said.
Zubeldia said he is especially "privileged to be able to remain a professional cyclist even as a crisis is hitting the cycling world and the lack of sponsors makes the continuation of some teams in doubt for the following year. This will force some of my colleagues to have to leave the sport."
In particular, he is concerned about the situation of his compatriots on the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. "It saddens me that the team from where I grew up, got into cycling and have many friends is about to end. It's a shame the team does not have a solution to keep proving that it can compete side by side with the world's best cyclists. I'd like to convey encouragement to all my fellow Basque cyclists."
Zubeldia finished this year's Tour de France with a fracture to the fifth...
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloisel back in action after health problems
After spending most of this season playing catch-up, Zico Waeytens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloisel) bounced back with a noticeable performance in the inaugural Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
The 21-year-old, who has struggled with health problems this year, helped form part of the early break in the race, and looked to be one of the strongest riders present in the seven-man move as the race unfolded.
As the WorldTour teams swooped for the catch inside the final 30 kilometres, Waeytens and Yoann Offredo forged clear once again, although they were to be both thwarted as Arnaud Démare (FDJ) sprinted to the win.
"I'm really tired and that was a really hard day. It was a great race though, with some really fantastic fans. I'm happy that I was racing again because I've had a number of setbacks already in my career," Waeytens told Cyclingnews as he clambered off the Topsport team bus.
"I had seven months out over the new year after an operation, and then I crashed and was out for another month. It's only my fifth of sixth race back so I've got to be happy with how my legs were today," he said.
"It was a major surgery on the veins in my right leg and hip, with the surgery lasting three hours. At Christmas I was in hospital and then had two months without riding. Then I had to come back and just do small efforts in training, so I've come along way."
Waeytens was marked as a promising rider when he joined Topsport in 2011, finishing inside the top 10 in the Tour of Denmark in his first season. A former junior time trial national champion, he has also added cyclo-cross to skill set during the winters. However the ride in the English capital was all about an opportunist's roll of the dice as six-man teams took on a course vaguely similar to the Olympic road race from 2012.
"The plan was to go in the break and it was just...
Dick Pound, the former boss of the World Anti-Doping Agency has continued to voice his doubt over the amount of clean riders in the peloton in the wake of a report he co-authored on the ineffectiveness of the current anti-doping programs in various sports around the world.
According to Pound, cycling joins a number of sports which are governed by people unwilling to acknowledge the truth about the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
"This isn't people ranked at No 300 taking drugs to boost them up the rankings, it's the people at the top who have used drugs to get there," the 71-year-old Canadian lawyer said. "I believe it's happening across sports. It's clear that cycling, athletics, swimming, tennis and soccer have major problems and are ruled by governing bodies in denial."
The report ranked cycling sixth on the list of sports that record the most positive tests, where of 20,624 samples 270 (or 1.31%) returned a positive test. Weightlifting topped the list with 2.91%, followed by boxing, equestrian, rugby and curling.
Pound, who has previously questioned the UCI’s claim that the organisation was unaware of doping in the peloton, said that he does not believe cycling has changed since the Armstrong era and refuses to watch the Tour de France.
A day after her 30th birthday, Giorgia Bronzini opened her account at the Route de France with victory on stage 1 in a sprint over Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana) and race leader Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS).
Sunday's victory was the former world champion's eighth for the season, but the Italian is confident of plenty more to come.
"I said to Rochelle [Gilmore, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's team manager] that it was my goal to get ten victories this year, maybe I can have more!" Bronzini said.
The unclassified climb that formed part of the stage's 3.5km, three-lap finishing circuit proved reasonably selective from the outset and by the final lap, 50 riders had missed out.
"It was simple race with not many attacks until we got to the little final circuit," Bronzini explained. "In the circuit there was a little climb of around two-and-a-half K, and some of the sprinters dropped off. The first time around there were only 20 riders, but more riders got back on.
"In the final we tried to have a break with Linda Villumsen, to try to win with her for the jersey, but Johansson was there and she was able to defend," the Italian added. "So in the last lap I asked the girls to work for my sprint and they looked after me. The last one to put me into the sprint was Lauren Kitchen, who did a really good job in the last K, so in the last corner I was in third position.
"Then I opened my sprint in the last 150 metres, and I won by a bike length."
The overall battle remains a tight one with just one second still separating leader Emma Johansson from Villumsen. Amy Pieters (Argos-Shimano) is in third place, at five seconds.
The Route de France continues Monday with an 89.3km stage.
Wilco Kelderman secured the first overall victory for Team Belkin since their new sponsor came on board in June, and also his first since turning professional when he captured the general classification at the Tour of Denmark on Sunday.
Kelderman went into the final stage with a six-second lead over Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) having won Saturday's short time trial. The 22-year-old Dutchman then finished safely in the bunch behind stage winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
"The team did an awesome job for Wilco today. There was a breakaway of five guys and it was controlled from behind, so it was just what we wanted," said Sports Director Michiel Elijzen. "The GC with Wilco was the main target today. We are so happy to have made it to the finish without crashes or punctures."
For Kelderman, who won the Tour of Norway and Thüringen-Rundfahrt, U23 while riding in the Rabobank Continental development team in 2011, it's been a decent year in terms of results, including a 17th overall at the Giro d'Italia which placed him third in the young rider classification. His win in Denmark however, was unexpected.
"It was a big surprise to win the time trial Saturday," Kelderman admitted. "It was a flat, short course, but I think it was my best time trial of my career. It was really surprising, and that put me in the yellow jersey. It's really great to win here with the new team. They controlled the race for me and protected me all day. It was nice to ride in the yellow jersey."
The win may be a significant milestone in his burgeoning career, but he had little time to celebrate, heading straight to the airport afterwards.
"I am so happy with the victory. And even more important was the team...
Five-day race will offer same prize money as men’s event
Tour of Britain organisers Sweetspot have confirmed they are to launch a women’s edition of the race, with the first edition likely to take place in May next year. The event, which will be covered on terrestrial TV, will run to five days and offer a prize fund equal to the men’s equivalent.
“We want to create an event that you would associate with Sweetspot: with all of the razzmatazz, all of the town centre finishes, National Escort Group, closed roads, motorcycles, decent prize list, TV coverage,” said Sweetspot’s Guy Elliott, who is overseeing the new race.
“I think Great Britain will be the undisputed number one cycling nation in the world. But if we’re going to match the performance of female athletes, we need to be doing something about organisation as well. Our female athletes deserve more from us.”
Elliott, who is overseeing the new race, told The Guardian it will be “the only cycling event in the world where women are not second best”, citing both moral and health reasons for establishing a women’s national tour that has parity with the men’s. “The goal is to wrap a social agenda for change in health and social terms around a sports event, to send a strong message to women that they don’t have to be second best. It’s a game changer. It cannot carry on that we discriminate against women in sport from the age of 15.”
Elliott revealed he is searching for sponsors for the new race, but has had no shortage of interest when it comes to hosting stages. “We’re in the embarrassing position where more than five councils want it,” he said, going on to admit that the interest could lead to a rapid extension of the race beyond its initial five-day format.
The Tour of Britain will take place in eastern and south-east England. “We’ve had the Tour of Britain and the Tour Series in the east....
Cannondale leader ready for the Vuelta, backs Nibali to bounce back
Ivan Basso left the Tour of Poland with a smile on his face and the confidence that he is on track to do well at the Vuelta a Espana.
The veteran Italian was forced to miss the Giro d'Italia due to a nasty, golf-ball-sized saddle sore, and spent more than a month off the bike. He has since been working hard, setting himself the goal of a podium place at the Vuelta .
While fellow Italian and Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali struggled in the mountains stages at the Tour of Poland, Basso was consistent on every stage, finishing 1:38 down on overall winner Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) More importantly he recovered well and is motivated for the Vuelta.
"I knew I'd be up there in Poland. I knew I wasn't finished. It's not time for my pension just yet…" Basso joked while speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport after returning home to Italy for a few days.
"It was a pity I didn’t get a chance to win a stage but it's ok. It's more important that I felt good and that I was happy with how I rode. I've put down a good base now. I'm confident I'll be at my best for the Vuelta. Now I'm at a good point, where I want to be."
"It was important to be consistently good across the whole seven stages. It was a hard race. The first two stages in the Dolomites were tough and then every other stage was like a Classic. But I never felt tired and recovered well."
Basso enjoyed some time with his family and recovered from his efforts at his home near Varese. However he will travel to Spain to ride this week's Vuelta Burgos to clock up more racing days before the Vuelta.
"I'm riding the Vuelta Burgos this week and then I'll stay in Spain on Monday August 12 to go and see...