Dubai Tour organisers hope to lengthen race in 2015
The organisers of the Dubai Tour have said they are likely to try to extend the length of the race from four to five days in 2015 and confirmed that they are ready to host the start of the Giro d'Italia in the Emirate if all the logistical and organizational problems can be overcome.
Speaking after the successful inaugural edition of the Dubai Tour, both Saeed Hareb -the chairman of the local organising committee, and Lorenzo Giorgetti -the sales director of RCS Sport and the event director for the Dubai Tour, were upbeat.
"I think the Dubai Tour has started big. It's good news for cycling. It's a new event and from this very first edition, the riders have been first class," Giorgetti said.
"I think this is the only race in the world that takes place in one city, in a modern city. We did 400km in Dubai, that's very complex to manage. We (RCS Sport) know how to organise a race but here in Dubai they know how to organise a city. I'm sure this will lead to a bigger and better event in Dubai."
Hareb is an influential figure in Dubai sport and made sure the event had massive state support. Road closures were tight and the race richly funded to ensure high quality TV images. Belgian media reported that the Dubai Tour organisers got the pick of sports stars because it paid three times more than the start money offered by the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman.
Hareb always avoided speaking about money, preferring to find a diplomatic solution to extend the Dubai Tour in 2015 and beyond.
"We've started now and we show the world and we wanted to show the teams that were a capable organisation. Why not have a fifth stage?" Hareb said.
"It all depends on the space available on the race calendar. We're looking to make it five stages but there are also races in Qatar and Oman. We need approval so we don't clash with them but why not. Everyone was happy in Dubai and so we'd be...
Italian sprinter takes first Euro-win of season for new team
Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) continued where he left off in the Tour de San Luis, following up his stage 7 victory on the final day of the South American race with a first win on European soil for 2014 in the Trofeo Palma leg of the Mallorca challenge.
The first day sprint in the capital of the Balearic islands is a notoriously tricky one, coming after 10 laps on a broad flat boulevard, with the road sweeping steadily to the right as it approaches the finish on an exposed seafront - making it difficult to control in the least of breezes. And although there was no real cross-wind for once, Modolo still had to fend off a serious challenge from second placed Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol) and Dylan Groenewegen (De Rijke), the latter so convinced he had won he raised his arms.
But the 26-year-old Lampre-Merida sprinter pulled out all the stops to claim the victory and consolidate the former Bardiani rider’s shift during the off-season into the first WorldTour team of his career.
“Max” [Lampre-Merida team-mate Massimo Richeze] “did the work of three or four men putting me into place,” Modolo told Cyclingnews as he waited to go up onto the podium. “The team had to work very hard controlling the breaks and then I was only with Max at the end and I went for it from quite a long way out. Three or four riders came up to me really close to the line because I was fading 30 or 40 metres from the line and it ended up being a photo-finish. Somebody else put their hands up but it was me who won!”
Following his early start to the season at San Luis - where he won stage two in 2013, too, in a tricky uphill sprint - Modolo said that he was happy to have proved to himself that, after a...
“He is not unbeatable by any means,” Valverde told Marca. “He is a rider that, when fit, is very strong and very hard to beat, but not impossible. A Tour is very long, and anyone can have a bad day and lose.”
Valverde will lead the Movistar team at the French race this year, despite speculation that his younger teammate Nairo Quintana will compete in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. The Spaniard said he had no part in the decision making process and that he would have welcomed Quintana into the Tour team.
“The one who decides is Eusebio (Unzué) and other team bosses,” said Valverde. “For my part, if Nairo also did the Tour, it would have been great. He and I get along very well and it would not have been a problem.”
Quintana has been nipping at the heels of Valverde, who has rarely found his status as Movistar team leader challenged. But when the Colombian finished second at the Tour de France in 2013, he announced himself as a future champion.
This year’s event will be Valverde’s seventh and his best result was fifth in 2005. Last season, the Spaniard was sitting in second place when lost almost 10 minutes on stage 13, due to an inopportune puncture. Valverde admits that Quintana’s ascendency and his own age will have an impact on his chances, in the future.
“I do not know if it is the last or if I will get more opportunities, but it is true that the years are already taking a toll,” he says. “In April I will turn 34, which will...
If Flanders is the school of cycling, then Qatar is its satellite campus. Some harsh lessons can be handed down in the bare expanses of the desert, and on stage 1 of the Tour of Qatar, Omega Pharma-QuickStep gave something of a seminar in the art of riding in a crosswind as they propelled Niki Terpstra to stage victory.
Led by Tom Boonen, the triple Tour of Flanders winner and the team's professor emeritus, as it were, Omega Pharma-QuickStep were to the fore in the first echelons after just 20 kilometres and were even more prominent in forcing a second split around the 50km mark, when no fewer than five of their number were in the leading group of 22 riders.
Then, following a general regrouping as the race turned from a crosswind into a headwind, Terpstra and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck duly clipped off the front in a five-man break that would stay clear all the way to the finish at Dukhan Beach.
"The first part of the stage was crosswinds and that was the hardest part," Terpstra told reporters afterwards. "In the end we had headwind and the speed was going down. We attacked with five riders and luckily we could keep a small gap to the finish."
Although Van Keirsbulck was briefly dropped on the run-in to the line, he summoned up the wherewithal to latch back onto the leading group within sight of the flamme rouge, and his mammoth turn on the front inside the final kilometre helped to set up Terpstra's textbook victory.
"I'm really happy that Guillaume was in the front group with me, because he rode really hard and gave me some motivation," Terpstra said. "Then, in the end, I still had enough energy to do the sprint and it worked out well."
While Terpstra and Van Keirsbulck were busy working over Jurgen Roelandts...
The landscape may have been pancake flat, but there were ups and downs aplenty for Sam Bennett as he made his NetApp-Endura debut at the Tour of Qatar on Sunday. The new arrival from the An Post-Chain Reaction team finished his day in the white jersey of best young rider after a gritty performance in trying conditions.
A product of the famous Carrick Wheelers club and the youngest ever stage winner at the Rás, Ireland's most important stage race, Bennett's turn of speed landed him a victory at the Tour of Britain last year and saw him make the step-up to Pro Continental ranks with NetApp-Endura for 2014.
Bennett's previous appearance in Qatar came three years ago, when as a callow 20-year-old coming off a nagging knee injury, every day was a source of apprehension. This time around, the Irishman enjoyed a rather more assured beginning, picking up a bonus second at the first intermediate sprint after 20 kilometres.
"The first time I was here, I was at the back before kilometre zero, so I was delighted with that alright," Bennett told Cyclingnews as he pedalled to his team car from the podium. "We said if were still together for the first sprint, I'd give it a little bit of a go. I got third in it, so that meant I'd have a second in hand if it came down to a bunch finish at the end, and that's how I ended up in the white jersey."
Not that the story of his afternoon was as straightforward as that. Shortly after that opening sprint, the peloton swung into a long, crosswind section, where Omega Pharma-QuickStep and BMC, in particular, set about shattering the peloton into echelons.
At last year's Tour de France, Mark Cavendish famously compared riding in echelons to falling through ice - "You've got five seconds to...
Australian among contenders for stage 3 time trial
After spending much of his first two years at Orica-GreenEdge on secondment to the Australian track programme, 2014 marks something of a fresh start for Michael Hepburn as he turns his attention exclusively to the road.
On the boards, Hepburn has reached the summit of his art, claiming the world title in the individual pursuit in Minsk last year, as well as being part of the Australian quartet that took silver in the team pursuit at the London 2012 Olympics.
On the road, however, the 22-year-old has understandably yet to make a major impact at professional level, but with the Rio Olympics still two and half years away, the time was right to step away from the track. Hepburn's first full road campaign began in earnest with the Tour of Qatar on Sunday, but the early signs from the Australian summer were promising, as he claimed the national time trial championship ahead of teammate Luke Durbridge.
"It feels like a bit of a new beginning. I've never started this early but I think Qatar will be good preparation for the next few races," Hepburn told Cyclingnews in Al Wakra on Sunday.
By his own admission, beating his contemporary Durbridge provided Hepburn with "some much-needed confidence" ahead of an important year in his development. "In terms of the track, I'm not really sure of what lies ahead, I'm just looking forward to racing with my teammates on the road a bit more this year," he said.
While Hepburn lost over 16 minutes on the windswept opening stage in Qatar, he has the potential to shine on Tuesday's 10-kilometre time trial around the Lusail motor racing circuit, although he warned that much would depend on how he came through the first two days of the race.
"It's definitely something that I've looked at and I've done a few sessions to prepare for it, but in this race,...
Nine riders for U23 development team with road and track focus
The young riders who will spend 2014 riding for the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy Team, which provides a pathway for Australia's most talented Under 23 riders into the World Championship, Olympic and Commonwealth Games and professional ranks, was announced in Melbourne on Monday morning.
Headlining the team is Caleb Ewan (NSW) who finished fourth in the under 23 men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships last September, and claimed the U23 road race and criterium national titles in January. Ewan will race with the team before switching to Orica-GreenEdge where we will finish the season as a stagiaire with the WorldTour team he will turn professional with in 2015.
Also returning in 2014 are Campbell Flakemore (TAS), Bradley Linfield (WA) and Alex Clements (SA), while reigning team pursuit world champions Alex Edmondson (SA) and Alex Morgan (VIC) represent the track endurance element of the development squad.
The new members of the team in 2014 are former junior track world champion Miles Scotson (SA) and national U23 time trial silver medalist Harry Carpenter (SA). 18-year-old Robert Power (WA) is the youngest member of the squad and joins the team after winning a silver medal in the road race at the national championships and having just completed the Herald Sun Tour with the U23 Australian team.
"The Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy is the latest incarnation of what is arguably the richest single source of cycling talent in the world of cycling," said Cycling Australia National Performance Director (HPU) Kevin Tabotta.
"Since 1997, it has fostered the development of countless Australian successes at the Olympics, World Championships and also in cycling's monument events. Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews, Matthew Goss, Rohan Dennis, Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge, Luke Durbridge and Simon Clarke are just a few of the 17 Academy graduates currently in World Tour ranks.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) used the Mallorca Challenge to kick start his 2014 road season this week, riding the second of the four day event races to begin his campaign on Monday.
The 2012 Tour de France winner has targeted a number of major objectives this season but if he’s to succeed he’ll of course need the full backing of his Team Sky teammates, support staff and mechanics.
The latter of which were busy in Mallorca setting up and tweaking his Dogma 65.1 Think 2, the team’s flagship road bike that has brought success in the Tour.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Team Sky mechanic Rajen Murugajan takes us through Wiggins’ set up, discussing the standard build that includes the Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed groupset, Shimano wheels and Speedplay pedals but also some of the personal touches that the 2012 Tour de France winner has.
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