Star line-up for 40th edition for French stage race season-opener
2013 sees the 40th anniversary edition of the Tour Méditerranéen, and the French stage race is reportedly set to feature a solid line-up of star names. Amongst those provisionally down to race are Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), André Greipel (Lotto-Bellisol), Thor Hushovd (BMC) and Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).
It is not yet known if Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, last year’s winner, will be taking part with his new team, Sky.
Nearly 40 teams are reported to have asked for a spot in the five-day event running from February 6th - 10th, with 20 to be selected.
The course’s first decisive moment will be a 24 kilometre individual time trial on stage two, with the other highpoint likely to be the traditional ascent of the Mont Faron climb outside Toulon - missing this year because of bad weather - two days later. Stage five rounds off the race with a finish in the town of Grasse following a 167 kilometre trek through the Alpine foothills in southeast France.
The 40th edition sees longstanding organiser Lucien Aimar - former Tour de France winner back in 1966 - step down, with André Martres and Claude Primard taking over the running.
Sep Vanmarcke’s move from Garmin-Sharp to the Rabobank set-up was one of 2012’s worst-kept transfer secrets, but by the time the deal was publicly confirmed in October, his new team had lost its title sponsor of 17 years.
The squad will operate under the Blanco Pro Cycling banner in 2013 as it looks to attract a new backer to ensure its existence beyond the end of next year, but while the suddenness of Rabobank’s withdrawal in October came as a surprise, Vanmarcke said that the transfer was never in any doubt.
“I never panicked and I’m still really hopeful that the team will find a sponsor,” Vanmarcke told Cyclingnews at Blanco’s training camp in Fuerteventura. “There are not so many teams like this that are so professional and well worked out. For me, it didn’t make a difference. It’s strange after so many years that Rabobank is gone but I came to the team for the team that it was – that is, the riders, the staff and how they work – and that is the most important thing for me. It’s another shirt, but all the rest stays the same.
Still only 24 years of age, Vanmarcke is Belgium’s coming man in the cobbled classics, and his stock rose still higher last spring when he coolly dispatched of no less a figure than Tom Boonen to take a fine victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Vanmarcke followed that up with solid showings at E3 Harelbeke and Dwars Door Vlaanderen, but, by his own admission, he struggled with the greater distance at the Tour of Flanders. With that in mind, Vanmarcke was cautious about his prospects in De Ronde, acknowledging that he may yet be a couple of years shy of finishing on the podium in...
Next year on Sunday March 31, Tom Boonen will have the prospect of a record-breaking fourth win in the Tour of Flanders in his sights, but the Belgian says that the new route changes in next year’s Ronde will not make for a huge difference compared to 2012, which was already radically altered compared to previous years.
Boonen has three Flanders victories in his palmares, dating from 2012, 2006 and 2005, and a fourth would make him the all-time record holder ahead of Fiorenzo Magni, Achiel Buysse, Eric Leman and Johan Museeuw.
The first part of the 2013 Flanders route is completely unlike the opening leg of the 2012 race, which kicked off with a fairly long run due west for about 50 kilometres out of the start town of Bruges, followed by an approach path towards the decisive Flanders hellingen from their northern side.
In 2013, instead, the Tour of Flanders course will head directly south from Bruges before swinging east through the town of Kortrijk towards the Flemish Ardennes and the day’s main menu of climbs. However, the re-designed route still has an identical finale to 2012, with the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg forming part of a circuit of climbs prior to the finish in Oudenaarde.
“Lots of riders will be absolutely dead before the final lap,” Boonen predicted earlier this week, speaking to La Dernière Heure.
“There are some changes, but the finale is the same. The one big difference is that [unlike in 2012] we’ve all done the route before, so we know what it’s like. But in any case, as we always say, it’s the riders who make the race, not the course itself.”
As for the hundredth anniversary and the chance of winning such a historic occasion, Boonen - currently training with his
Bradley Wiggins has capped a mammoth 2012 by winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award on Sunday night. Wiggins won the vote ahead of Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis and US Open tennis winner Andy Murray.
"What a year," said the 32-year-old. "To stand on this stage with the people next to me is incredible. I'd like to thank my team-mates, I wouldn't be on this stage without them. I'd like to thank [British Cycling chief] Dave Brailsford, the coaches, British Cycling, Team Sky and all the Olympians."
Wiggins is the third cyclist in five years to have won the award, with Mark Cavendish topping the vote in 2011 and Sir Chris Hoy in 2008. Tommy Simpson was the first cyclist to claim the award in 1965 following his world championship victory.
Wiggins explained that he felt embarrassed to have been singled out.
"I feel embarrassed because so many other people played a part in this sporting year. It was amazing.
"Cycling is a team sport and I couldn’t have done it without the squad behind me, the team of riders and the personnel behind them. All the athletes here tonight will know that we’re not alone in what we do, it’s the people behind us that make it happen.
"At the end of the day we’re just the athletes. That sound really demeaning but there is an incredible team of people behind every athlete...
The team of Budget Forklifts was undeniably one of the big success stories of 2012. Four riders in the top-ten of the Individual National Road Series standings and second place in the team classification is a testament to the team’s ability to develop NRS talent. Such success however, has meant a number of riders are moving on, with nearly half the team replaced for 2013.
"My only regret with the boys departing our team is that more couldn't make the jump, we are a development team, and I couldn't be more happy for the boys leaving, I see it as a gauge of our success, and was a mutual goal for all of us to see as many boys move on to bigger and better things. I feel proud that Team BudgetForklifts has been a part of their journey in cycling," said team manager Cameron Watt.
The team had already announced its new partnership with Cervélo bicycles for the coming season while Shimano, Shotz Nutrition and clothing supplier clothing remain as technical partners. The roster however, underwent some significant changes.
Jack Anderson Karl Evans, Sam Horgan, Kristian Juel, Jake Kauffmann, Jesse Kerrison and Alex Wohler have been added to a list of seven existing riders in what may prove to be an equally effective team for the coming season.
Anderson rode for Team Budget Forklifts in 2008 and 2009 before embarking on a European campaign that has seen him spend the past two seasons riding for the British-registered Endura Racing team. Anderson is an accomplished time triallist, having finished second at the Australian national championships in 2010.
Horgan and Kauffmann also add depth for time trials with the New Zealander Horgan having won the Oceania time trial...
The team was divided into three groups for the ten-day camp with a small contingent led by Jurgen Van Den Broeck looking toward building foundation in the lead-up to the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Team sports director Herman Frison explained that all the riders had at least a few weeks of training in their legs before coming to the small island in the Mediterranean where more specific work would be undertaken.
"Following a long season, all the riders and staff are glad to have a few weeks to find some peace, but this remains what they prefer doing. Team camps is one of the only times that almost everyone is together, because mid-January swarms everyone and some people I only see again in September," said Frison to lottobelisol.be.
"Unlike before, the riders have a proper foundation if they come here. As a sports manager you would immediately notice if someone has done all their homework. The season starts a lot earlier, with racing in Argentina, Australia and Gabon."
Despite the team's 27 victories in 2012, the team will no doubt look to build upon its success in the coming 12 months to ensure it does not experience license renewal issues again. The team's...
In this exclusive video, BikeRadar gets a first look at the latest electronic groupset soon-to-be released from Shimano. The Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed ensemble was being fitted to Fabian Cancellara's RadioShack-Nissan Trek Domane.
A number of new features are discussed including the additional port made available at the Di2 lever for combined use of the ‘sprinter' shifter and the bar-mounted shifter often used for cobbled races. Shifting has undergone some additional changes which allow further adjustments.
The RadioShack-Nissan team was just one of five WorldTour squads who were fitted with the newest groupset with Cancellara taking part in pre-production testing program that begun just before the Vuelta a España. The groupset being fitted to the bike was the first production model.
The Vacansoleil-DCM team has unveiled its 2013 jersey, with six new riders on the Dutch team's roster for the new season.
Bjorn Leukemans and Marco Marcato modeled the new kit, which is again white and blue shoulders and sleeves and again features the yellow Vacansoleil sun on the front.
Going into its second year as a WorldTour team, the Dutch team has changed nearly one-quarter of its line-up. The biggest new name is Juan Antonio Flecha, who comes over from Team Sky. The Sapnish veteran will lead the Vacansoleil-DCM Spring Classics squad, taking over that role from Stijn Devolder, who failed to deliver in his two years with the team and will now try his chances at RadioShack-Nissan.
The team has strengthened its grand tour squad by signing Venezuelan climber Jose Rujano. It also took on riders from noted Dutch cycling families: Wesley Kreder and Danny Van Poppel. Willem Wauters also made the move up from trainee to full-time.
Grega Bole joined from Lampre-ISD but his role remains under a cloud. The Slovenian was mentioned in the USADA's Reasoned Decision as a possible client of Dr. Michele Ferrari. The team has already said it will investigate the matter. More information is expected to emerge when Italian police in Padua wrap up their investigation.
In 2013 Vacansoleil-DCM will look to Thomas De Gendt and Wout Poels as team leaders. De Gendt won a mountain-top finish in the Giro d'Italia to cement his good overall position and he finished third overall; Vacansoleil-DCM's first podium in a grand tour.
Poels imprerssed early in the season but suffered serious internal injuries in a crash at the Tour de France. He expects to...