- Article published:
- February 1, 15:55
- Cycling News
Italian to stay with Russian team until 2016
Daniele Bennati has renewed his contract with Tinkoff-Saxo, Gazzetta dello Sport reports. The 33-year old Italian stays with Tinkoff-Saxo until 2016. "I am honored to be part of this team until 2016," Bennati writes on his Twitter page.
Bennati joined the then-Saxo-Tinkoff team in 2013 after a two-year stay with Leopard-Trek and Radioshack-Nissan. The Tuscan rider turned pro in 2001 with Acque e Sapone when he was 21 years old and was part of teams like Domine Vacanze, Phonak, Lampre and Liquigas before moving to Leopard-Trek.
The Italian won stages in all three Grand Tours. His three Giro stages all came in 2008 and his two Tour de France stages were both won in 2007. Bennati won six stages in the Vuelta with the 18th stage in 2012 to Valladolid being his last. It was also his last win to date.
Bennati might not have the legs to sprint against the likes of Mark Cavendish or Marcel Kittel anymore, but is still ambitious. "I want to win. I am feeling good," Bennati said to Gazzetta. "Alberto [Contador] can count on me."
- Article published:
- February 1, 19:05
- Barry Ryan
FFC acknowledges planned 2015 start is "ambitious"
When Team Sky was launched in 2010, its stated aim was to deliver a British Tour de France winner within five years. While the French Cycling Federation hopes that its newly-announced project will reap a similar dividend by eventually producing France’s first Tour winner since 1985, managing director Olivier Quéguiner said that its planned WorldTour team will not be confined to French riders and will be international in its makeup.
On Friday morning, Quéguiner briefed a small group of reporters at the newly-built Velodrome National, in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in the outskirts of Paris, on the FFC’s plans to create an ambitious, multi-disciplinary professional project, which will feature men’s and women’s teams on the road and track, as well as in BMX, cyclo-cross and mountain bike.
The flagship team and principal driver of the project will be the WorldTour team. Given the FFC’s desire to attract a multi-national sponsor who can provide some €20 million per annum to the budget (the remaining €5 million would be provided by technical suppliers), that WorldTour squad will be more international in its scope than the rest of the project.
“We would like to have a French rider who can win the Tour de France, but if tomorrow, on the road, there is a British or Spanish Tour winner from this team, then we will be very happy, because that means the team exists already,” Quéguiner told Cyclingnews. “Afterwards, we will see if our junior and under-23 riders, who at the moment are at a very high international level, could become the winner of the Tour. But we are talking about sport, so you never know.”
Quéguiner’s thoughts were echoed by Vincent Tong Cuong of sports marketing company SportFive, which is working to find a title sponsor for the French federation’s project. “On the road, it will be an international team more than a French team,” Tong Cuong said. “For the others [women’s, track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross and BMX], it will be more French, of course.”
The FFC’s aim is to have its WorldTour team on the road as early as 2015, although without a title sponsor in place and with rider contracts being negotiated ever earlier in the season, it seems more likely that the team will debut in 2016 at the earliest. “We know that this team will start. We would like in 2015. If we have to wait for 2016, it doesn’t matter,” Quéguiner said.
“When you’re talking about a road team, that means you have to recruit riders next summer and we know that is very ambitious,” Tong Cuong added. “If it’s not in 2015, it will be after, but clearly the ambition of the president and the managing director is to launch this team, whatever the time limit. We are ambitious and we want to do it in 2015. We already have good contacts, I would say, but we will see where we go with our current discussions.”
While it is believed that the team’s sponsor is more likely to be an international company than a French one, Tong Cuong said that it was all still to be decided. Indeed, while the preference is for a lone sponsor, he refused to rule out the possibility of more than one partner contributing to the required €20 million annual budget.
“We are looking everywhere, in France and abroad. We see today in sport that there are a lot of new brands coming into this area,” Tong Cuong said. “It might be a sponsor coming from the cycling world but it might be a sponsor coming from outside, an unexpected one. It can be French or it can be an international one.”
The federation’s touting of the project in recent weeks has included a presentation to new UCI president Brian Cookson – “The UCI is changing a lot of things in terms of ethics and this is the key of this team,” Quéguiner said – and another before the French Professional Cycling League and its constituent teams. But do the existing French teams see the federation’s project as an opportunity or a threat?
“Maybe both,” Quéguiner joked. “We’ve launched the project without large communication with the actual cycling world because we know what we would like to create. We know where this project is coming from and where we would like to go. Ethics is at the heart of this project.
“We presented this project to the French League and we’ll see. Some of them will like for sure that this project exists because it’s unique to have all the disciplines with men and women.”
One possibility is that the FFC will look to form a merger of sorts with one of the existing French WorldTour teams, and the federation has already presented its project before FDJ. Given that the French national lottery has already committed €30 million to Marc Madiot’s team over the next three years, however, Quéguiner suggested that talk of a merger was premature.
“For sure, a company like FDJ has received this presentation and has to consider it, of course,” Quéguiner said. “At the moment it’s too early to speak about saying that the current FDJ could become this team because we are talking about 2015 and FDJ exists at this moment, it’s going on and we’re creating something else.”
- Article published:
- February 1, 19:25
- Cycling News
Admitted dopers get incentives to help investigation
The UCI today announced that its Management Committee approved regulations under which the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) can offer reduced punishment to those who admit to past doping offences while aiding the CIRC in its investigation into cycling's past.
The CIRC will be headed by Swiss politician Dick Marty, and will be tasked with delving into allegations that the UCI was ineffective at combating the rise of doping in the peloton at best, and complicit at worst, as well as examining what went wrong in the sport to contribute to the rampant use of EPO. The UCI hopes that a thorough investigation will help restore the credibility of the sport.
"Our Management Committee has started the year with some great steps for our sport," UCI president Brian Cookson said. "In particular, we have further developed on my commitment to an independent investigation with the approval of the regulations under which the CIRC will work."
The UCI has stepped back from offering a full amnesty, but with the latest announcement is clearly providing incentive for riders and staff to come forward with evidence.
Whether or not Lance Armstrong could benefit from giving testimony remains to be seen. According to a previous article in the Telegraph, the CIRC would only have power to reduce the ban for riders admitting to doping offenses but who have not already been convicted of them.
Any reduction in Armstrong's ban would reportedly have to be negotiated with USADA.
- Article published:
- February 2, 08:04
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Spaniard signs last minute contract with American squad
BMC have announced on their website that they have signed 2008 Olympic champion and Tour podium finisher Samuel Sánchez. Sánchez was on the hunt for a team since his prior Euskaltel-Euskadi announced they were folding last year.
Whilst admitting that he was close to throwing in the towel after weeks of searching, Sánchez had hinted strongly to Cyclingnews last week that a possible deal, brokered by his manager Joona Lauka, was on the cards. However he had not revealed details of which squad it could be.
Whilst details of the agreement between the 35-year-old and the American squad have not been released, Sánchez’ objectives will be to hit top form for the Ardennes Classics and the Grand Tours. Sánchez has finished seven times in the top ten of a Grand Tour, with a second place in the 2009 Vuelta and a third in the 2010 Tour.
"I feel like a rider who has just earned his first contract," Sánchez said on the team’s website. "I want to thank the entire BMC Racing Team, especially Andy Rihs and Jim Ochowicz, for welcoming me into one of the most prominent teams of the WorldTour. It is my hope that I can share my experience with the younger riders on the team. And after riding so many years to beat Cadel Evans, it will be good to help him since he is a rider I know very well."
Sanchez's arrival comes just over a week after Alessandro Ballan was fired from the team after the Italian was handed a two year supsension for doping.
"Sammy will add a high degree of skill and experience to the BMC Racing Team," Jim Ochowicz said.
"He can cover all the bases, but in particular, we look forward to having him support his new teammates in the Ardennes classics and at the grand tours."
- Article published:
- February 2, 10:50
- Cycling News
Team target overall title
Orica GreenEDGE will be hoping to carry on their strong start to the season at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which starts later this week.
The team has already wrapped up the Australian national road race and the Santos Tour Down Under this year and have one major Australian objective left before their European campaign begins.
The team will be led by the winner of the national road race and Tour Down Under, Simon Gerrans and he will be handed a strong supporting cast in Simon Clarke, Mitch Docker, Matthew Goss, Damien Howson and Cameron Meyer.
Understandbly, given their start to the season sport director Matt Wilson has high expectations for the team.
“The team is coming in off the back of a huge win at Tour Down Under, and we have a really strong team going to the Herald Sun Tour also,” Wilson said.
“We won the team’s classification at Tour Down Under, and we’ve got about half of those guys in the line up for the Herald Sun Tour, plus some others who have prepared well for this race.
“The guys were so dominant in Adelaide, so we’re expecting big things.”
“Gerro has the form of his life. He is coming off two big wins, after the national titles and Tour Down Under, so he will start the Herald Sun Tour as the favourite. I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t make it a trifecta with a win at the Sun Tour also."
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour runs from February 5-9.
- Article published:
- February 2, 12:58
- Cycling News
Garmin-Sharp rider calles Tour de San Luis "top experience"
Garmin-Sharp rider Phil Gaimon made a big impression in his first outing with his WorldTour team, and no one was more impressed with the 28-year-old American's second place finish to Nairo Quintana at the Tour de San Luis than his own teammate Tom Danielson.
Gaimon was not one of the team's general classification hopefuls going into the race - that honor belonged to Danielson and another new recruit, Janier Acevedo, but when Gaimon entered into the winning breakaway on the opening stage and opened up four and a half minutes on the rest of the contenders, the team went all-in to back his position, with Danielson even sacrificing a shot at a mountain stage win to protect Gaimon's GC spot.
Danielson told Cyclingnews that the day on Mirador del Sol, the final stage of the race, was "one of my top experiences in the sport".
Gaimon and Danielson's relationship goes back to last season, when the two met on a training ride in Florida. Danielson was impressed by Gaimon, and invited him to come train together in Tucson, Arizona, and said he thought he would be a good addition to the Garmin-Sharp team.
"I like his story - a college kid who found cycling. It's the true American cycling story. You need [riders like] Taylor Phinney, Tejay van Garderen and Nate Brown - but the reality is that a lot of guys find the bike later or come from other sports."
After riding together on Mt. Lemmon in Arizona ahead of the 2013 season, Danielson knew that Gaimon had the potential to do great things.
"I told him last year on Mt. Lemmon - if you don't finish on the podium at Tour of California this year I'll be so pissed... but he crashed on his face [at the San Dimas Stage Race in March -ed.] and he had obstacles to overcome."
Those obstacles included a head injury that caused him to lose consciousness for a couple minutes and be airlifted from the course, and which resulted in a lengthy recovery. "He did a great job overcoming them," Danielson said.
Gaimon came back to finish second overall at the Tour of the Gila in May, but there were bigger accomplishments in his future, the first of which came when he signed with Garmin-Sharp for the 2014 season.
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here.
The next came when he debuted with the team and wound up in the race lead. Although his sizable lead nearly evaporated on the climb to Alto del Amago and turned into a deficit to Quintana in the time trial, Danielson was determined to keep Gaimon in second overall in the crucial final mountaintop stage finish.
"At 1km to go, when he got dropped, I said 'Phil, I think I can win the stage, but I'm going to wait with you, I'm going to pull you to the front. You see Quintana? He's one of the best in the world and you're right here ... you're doing it. I'll ride alongside you all the way to the finish line."
"It was unbelievable. It was one of my top experiences in the sport. That's what our team's about in a nutshell - to give people the vision, resources and the people to make dreams and objectives like that [come true]."
- Article published:
- February 2, 18:59
- Laura Weislo
Betsy Andreu calls it a smear campaign
In a Groundhog Day interview with the Detroit Free Press, George Hincapie added to the long winter of cycling's EPO era by countering claims by former teammate Frankie Andreu, alleging that Andreu was not the reluctant participant in the doping scheme that he claimed to be.
Andreu's wife Betsy denounced the article to Cyclingnews, stating that there was nothing new in Hincapie's statements, but that it was just another "futile" attempt by Lance Armstrong, still a friend of Hincapie's, to "bismirch the character" of her and her husband, who are witnesses in two potentially very financially damaging lawsuits against Armstrong.
At issue is whether or not Andreu only directed Hincapie to Switzerland as a place to obtain EPO, as he testifed in the US Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into organized doping by Lance Armstrong and his US Postal Service team, or if he was more involved in showing Hincapie how to use the drug, as Hincapie claimed in today's article.
Andreu was the first of the US Postal Service riders to admit publicly to doping. In a 2006 interview with the NY Times, he confessed to using EPO only for a few races. To USADA, he admitted to doping through the 1999 Tour de France.
Hincapie also testified to USADA that he used EPO, and said in his affidavit that Andreu told him he could get the blood booster EPO in Switzerland.
However, in a documentary movie "The Armstrong Lie", Hincapie alleges that Andreu taught him how to use EPO, and to the Detroit Free Press, he said Andreu directed him the exact pharmacy where he could obtain it.
"Frankie was my mentor in the peloton," Hincapie said, and talked about the first time he chose to use illegal performance-enhancing drugs. "For me, it was a powerful moment that I won't forget. It was like, 'Oh, now I'm going to have to do that, too.' It's not like one of those rumors or the whispers you hear. When you actually see it and your good friend is doing it and it's someone you look up to, it really hits you. Not that I'm blaming Frankie."
It was pressure from his wife Betsy that drove Andreu to give up the drugs in 2000, and the Andreus claim it cost him his job as a rider the following year. Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel denied this claim, stating that the contract dispute was only over money.
Andreu's life was further complicated in 2003, when Armstrong learned that Betsy had spoken to author David Walsh, who was preparing the expose' "LA Confidentiel". The pair endured threats and intimidation, but continued to push to expose the truth of Armstrong's doping. Ultimately, USADA made its case, banned Armstrong, and he later went on television with Oprah Winfrey to confess to his doping infractions.
In today's article, Hincapie hinted that Andreu was a hypocrite for coming out so strongly against Armstrong. "I know Frankie was part of the whole system as well," Hincapie said. "Once he left cycling, he was very opinionated about the system, as was [his wife] Betsy. For me, it was hard to accept that. It was hard to understand why he was so opinionated about it when he was part of it.
"I'm not denouncing them because they went through a lot of hard times. But a lot of what actually happened was lost in all this. A lot of what Frankie did, I don't know if she (Betsy) even knows."
The Andreus are still key witnesses in a suit by the SCA Promotions company, which sued Armstrong to regain bonuses it paid him after the release of "LA Confidentiel" which were the first concrete indications that Armstrong doped to win his seven Tours de France.
After Armstrong admitted publicly to doping that suit was revived with SCA Promotions attempting to win back a cash settlement it made with Armstrong.
They are also witnesses in the federal "whistleblower" or "qui tam" lawsuit taken up by Floyd Landis, which could result in damages paid by Armstrong in the tens of millions of dollars.
"Frankie never taught George to dope and never became the junkie that he and Armstrong became," Betsy Andreu said. "Frankie's life in the sport is in the USADA report - there's nothing more to it as Hincapie and Armstrong would like people to believe."
Both riders admit to being equally guilty in the entire affair. "Now that the truth is out, everyone knows we were all compliant," Hincapie said. "We were all part of a screwed-up sport. Just because one of us stopped before the others doesn't make him a better person."
"You can't justify it," Frankie said to the Detroit Free Press, in a separate article. "And so for me, that was hard. What I did was wrong, but at the time, I didn't realize it was wrong. I was just doing it."
"I'm just as guilty as some of the others. Even though I didn't do near as much as a lot of the other guys did, which is a crazy amount of PEDs. If you go in and rob a bank for a nickel or you go in and rob a bank for a million dollars with grenades and firearms and you kill people, you're still both bank robbers. It's just one person did it to the extreme. But you're both still considered bank robbers," Andreu said.
While Hincapie may not be able to understand the Andreus' stance, Betsy Andreu railed against this latest attempt to "muddy the waters".
"Who says you can't right a wrong," Andreu said.
"We are the ones who came out looking good in ["The Armstrong Lie"] - we are the credible witnesses in the SCA case and the qui tam suit, and they just want to smear us."
- Article published:
- February 3, 00:12
- Cycling News
Frenchman rode 2,5 kilometres more than two years ago
Robert Marchand, a 102-year old rider from France, beat his own hour record on the newly opened cycling track in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines on Friday. Marchand rode 2,5 kilometres more than he did when he had just turned 100 years old two years ago.
The new hour record for the UCI 100-plus category which was created especially for Marchand, now stands at 26 kilometers and 927 metres.
Marchand was born in 1911 in the norther French city of Amiens. He started riding when he was 14 years old, in 1925, but during his long working career he didn't have time anymore. He took up the bike again when he was 67 years old. When he was 89 he finished the 600-kilometre race between Bordeaux and Paris in 36 hours.
He set his first hour record to mark his 100th birthday. In 2012 he rode 24 kilometres and 251 metres in Aigle. Two years later he rode 10 per cent faster than he did when he was 100 years old.
The veteran Frenchman who lived through two world wars in France also holds the record for 100-kilometres in his age group. On the track in Lyon he finished his 100 kilometre race in four hours and 15 minutes, averaging just over 23 kilometres per hour.
"With doping I could have ridden faster," Marchand joked. "But there is no doping. I only have water with some honey in my bottle here."
The current world hour record is held by Czech rider Ondrej Sosenka. He rode 49 kilometres and 700 metres in 2005. Fabian Cancellara has already announced he will try to beat that record in 2014. The multiple Swiss world champion considers Palma de Mallorca for his record attempt.