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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 18, 2013

Date published:
February 18, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Evans confident for new season after good start in Oman

    Cadel Evans started his season in Oman
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 8:31 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Still recovering from virus that affected 2012 season

    Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) was not quite able to match Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) on the climbs at the Tour of Oman and finished third overall at 39 seconds. But after being out of action for almost six months following a difficult 2012 season that was affected by a low-impact and therefore difficult to diagnose virus, he was rightly satisfied to the start of his 2013 campaign.

    The tough but quietly-spoken Australian has worked hard during the winter to start the new season on the front foot and show he is not yet ready for retirement, despite turning 36 on February 14.

    "I was hoping for a little bit more, but in the scheme of things and comparing to how I was last year at the Tour de France, the Olympics and in Colorado, it's a bit of a relief to be where I am now," Evans told the journalists present in Oman.

    "I'm not fully, fully, recovered but certainly enough to be back at the front. I'm a little bit away from the win but it's a good place to start and bears well for the rest of the season. I like to start the season in good shape. Not everybody does but I like to, because it puts you in a good frame of mind and puts your team in a good frame of mind."

    Evans has been accumulating energy as he waited for his body to recover from the virus. Like a coiled spring, he is now ready to bounce back.

    "I didn’t touch my bike for six weeks, and when you watch the races and see the results, and the motivation is still there, it accumulates inside you, it motivates you," he said.

    "Cycling is very intense and so some time away gives you perspective and lets you reflect about how you do your job, how you handle the physical and the mental approach, all the factors that go into your performance. The new energy helps you go back and make thinks better. Guys like...

  • Hushovd angry at Armstrong for doping

    Thor Hushovd (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 9:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Says American "dragged the sport through the mud"

    Thor Hushovd is angry with his former friend Lance Armstrong, saying he has “dragged (cycling) down into the mud and destroyed all credibility for us who remain."

    The BMC rider said he was “amazed by the scope” of Armstrong's doping, and emphasised that he himself has a “clear conscience.”

    “I am very pissed at Armstrong and others who have played us for fools,” he told  “I have cried going over the mountains because it hurt so much,” he said.

    “Lance built the sport up to something big, but has now dragged it down in the mud and destroyed all credibility for us who remain. At least those of us who rode with him.”

    When asked if he had ever doped, the Norwegian replied, “The only thing I can say is that I know that I'm sitting here with a clear conscience. Meanwhile, people who have doped said the same thing before, but in my head, and here I have it safe and fine,” pointing to his heart.

    Hushovd said that he “was amazed by the scope” of doping at the former US Postal team.  “It's crazy what Armstrong and the team have done.  Such systematic doping, something I had never imagined. The way he acted and the arrogance he has shown to those who spoke the truth, is shocking.”

    Armstrong was stripped of his results going back to 1998 after USADA found him and his US Postal team guilty of systematic doping. Armstrong lost all seven of his Tour titles and confessed to doping in January.

  • Hoogerland out of hospital and planning May return

    Johnny Hoogerland is seen to after his crash in the 2011 Tour de France
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 10:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Vacansoleil rider recovering from ribs, spinal and liver injuries

    Johnny Hoogerland left hospital on Sunday and has returned home to fully recover. The Vacansoleil-DCM rider, who was seriously injured when hit by car whilst training, hopes to be back racing in early May.

    Exactly two weeks ago he was hit by a car in Mallorca and spent time in intensive care with five broken ribs, fractures in his spine and liver injuries.  He was able to return to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

    His return to racing is dependent on the liver injury fully healing. The team had reported that the liver was either bruised or torn. Hoogerland expects to train for four to six weeks before racing again in May.

    This week he will rest and start his rehabilitation. “I am delighted to be able to return home and will begin with walking and exercises from the physiotherapist,” he said on the team website.

    Team manager Daan Luijkx is eager to have his rider back again, but is willing to take the needed time. “Of course we will miss him this spring, but he's motivated and in good hands to get up there again soon.” Hoogeland will have not only the help of the team doctors and coaches, but also a mental coach and dietitian “to bring him back so that he can show what he is capable of as a rider.”

  • Boom continues Blanco's strong start to the season

    Lars Boom (Team Blanco)
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 13:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Blanco rider second overall in Haut Var

    Lars Boom is more than happy with his stage win at the Tour du Haut Var. It was a big day for the Blanco team, with Boom finishing second overall and teammate Laurens ten Dam third.  “I've never been so good at this stage of the season,” Boom said.

    It was Boom's second win of the season after he also claimed the stage two time trial of the Tour Med earlier this month. On Sunday, he and ten Dam were in the day's break, and stayed away until the end. They finished with the same time as race winner Arthur Vichot (FDJ), who had bridged up from the peloton shortly before the finish.

    "Immediately after the start, I felt confident. Laurens and I initiated the early breakaway and controlled the climbs. Eventually, there were only five riders fighting for the stage win. When I started the sprint I gained a few meters, enough to win the stage”, Boom said on the team's website.

    His next race is Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he is now considered one of the favourites.  “That creates trust,” he told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.  “I will do my best to ride for the title there.”

    The 27-year-old will skip Milan-San Remo and will ride Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico, before turning his attention to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    "I'm comfortable in my skin and I am very motivated, as is everyone in the team. We need to find a sponsor, that would give us a push to do give something extra,” he concluded. “And I'm another year older and therefore stronger.”

  • Dan Martin: Now I have the needed belief

    2011 Giro della Toscana champion Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) on the podium.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 15:30 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin climber aims at Ardennes

    After a consistent 2012 in which he claimed top tens in Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finished his debut Tour de France, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) is confident he can bring his results up to another level in 2013. At 26, and with a number of Garmin’s team leaders approaching the end their careers, Martin will be handed more responsibility in 2013 as he takes aim on another strong showing in the Ardennes.

    Martin has been tipped for success ever since his days at VC La Pomme when he impressed as a talented climber. A move to Garmin in 2008 followed and the Irish climber has progressed ever since. However due to injuries, illness and an element of fragility, Martin has often been erratic in seasons past. Scintillating form at the Tour of Poland in 2010 and 2011, a stage win in the Vuelta in 2011 and impressive shows at the Tour of Beijing and Classics last spring, for example, have been punctuated with dips in form. This difference, according to Martin, is that he now has the "belief" of a team leader.

    “I’m learning all the time in terms of a team leadership role. The last couple of years I’ve had results of a team leader at times but maybe my maturity levels and way I conduct myself with my teammates hasn’t been there,” he told Cyclingnews.

    “That’s experience though and you get that from being with the older guys and seeing how they lead the team. That’s something I benefited from a lot more than in previous years because I had a lot more days of racing with the experienced guys. They showed me how to talk to my teammates in races, and I think I grew up a lot.”

    “I showed a lot more consistency last year though. In the past, my results have been erratic but last year, even when I was bad, I was there or thereabouts. Physically and psychologically I’ve progressed as a rider. It’s mainly a level of belief that I was lacking before....

  • UCI confirms 19 WorldTour teams for 2013

    Team Katusha time trials
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 16:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Katusha wins appeal, UCI grants status

    The UCI has confirmed that they will allow 19 teams in the WorldTour this year. The news comes after Katusha won their case at Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), having previously been denied WorldTour status by the sport's governing body.

    The UCI announces 18 WorldTour teams each season and this year their Independent Licence Commission rejected Katusha for "ethical reasons" in December. The team were handed a ProContinental status in January but pushed ahead with their appeal to CAS.

    "The UCI today announced that exceptionally there are 19 registered UCI ProTeams in the 2013 season. The decision comes further to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling of 15 February 2013 which upheld the application of Katusha Management SA to be registered as a UCI ProTeam for the season 2013," the UCI said in a press release.

    Last Friday, CAS upheld Team Katusha's appeal of the UCI's decision not to issue the Russian team a WorldTour licence, stating, “According to the CAS decision, the application of Katusha Management SA to be registered as a UCI ProTeam for the season 2013 of the UCI World Tour is granted.”

    The decision means that the UCI will not review the WorldTour status of teams in order to facilitate a rigid structure of 18 teams. However, this will place pressure on several races that have already chosen their line-ups. For example, RCS has already allocated wildcards to teams for the Giro d'Italia, and Katusha were not among those selected. Their WorldTour status means that the Giro will have to invite a 23rd team into the race or retract one of their wildcard entries, something they have already ruled out. 

  • Nineteen WorldTour teams "the only solution" according to Vaughters

    Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters was present in Milan for the unveiling of the new leaders' jerseys for the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 19:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Sharp manager advocates for longer-term team franchises

    Garmin-Sharp Team Manager Jonathan Vaughters said that following Katusha's late admission to the WorldTour, the UCI's decision today to have 19 teams in cycling's top league for 2013 was, at this stage of the year with the season already in full swing, "the only solution". But in the mid- to long-term, he called for a restructuring of the regulations governing admission to the WorldTour to avoid incidents like the prolonged saga over the Katusha team.

    A member of the Professional Cycling Council (CCP) which took the vote today that increased the WorldTour to 19 teams, as well as president of the teams association, the AIGCP, Vaughters told Cyclingnews that he had supported the measure rather than reduce the WorldTour back to 18 by removing another squad after Katusha's inclusion.

    "If you think about it, doing anything else mid-season - if they [the UCI] had pulled out another team, that team was going to appeal to CAS [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] as well and then [assuming the appeal succeeded, they would have had to pull another team, and it would just have gone round and round," said Vaughters. "It's just not reasonable to do it any other way."

    As for any possible opposition from the race organisers over having automatically to admit 19 rather than 18 WorldTour teams, Vaughters said "I think Katusha, because of their strength as a team, more often than not, would have ended up being a wildcard squad anyway. And so, therefore I don't think that many races are going to be too heavily burdened by this."

    "For those races which chose not to have Katusha as a wildcard, that is going to place them in a difficult situation. They'll either have to carry the [financial and logistical] burden of one extra squad or reduce their wildcards by one....

  • Gallery: Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies' two-pronged attack

    The Optum Pro Men's cycling team
    Article published:
    February 18, 2013, 21:09 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Men's and women's teams train in southern California

    Entering its second year of fielding both men's and women's pro teams, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies focused on keeping the momentum rolling during its recent training camp along the Pacific Coast Highway and in the nearby coastal canyons of Southern California.

    The training camps culminated Friday night when former pro rider and TV commentator Todd Gogulski presented the 2013 team at the American Honda Museum south of Los Angeles.

    The seven-year-old men's program, run by Minnesota-based Global Circuit Sports Management, added a women's team last year and bumped that program up to UCI status this year after a successful inaugural run in which the women won both the individual and team rankings of USA Cycling's National Race Calendar.

    In its first season riding under the title Sponsorship of Optum after a five-year run as Kelly Benefit Strategies, the men's team earned berths in the Amgen Tour of California, where rider Sebastian Salas took home the KOM jersey, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado and the UCI Team Time Trial World Championships. The Optum men also finished second in the NRC team rankings and took home the US Criterium National Championship with Ken Hanson.

    Both teams enter the 2013 season with key core groups intact and several promising additions.

    Men will head overseas for early season racing

    Although the focus for the men's UCI Continental team will remain the North American domestic calendar, the team will send a squad to Portugal and Spain to compete from mid March through the beginning of April. Optum is also hoping for invitations to several other early season international stage races like the Vuelta Mexico.

    Performance director Jonas Carney said the reasoning behind the international trips is twofold: providing valuable experience for developing riders and helping prepare the team for its eventual goal of stepping up to the Pro...