- Article published:
- February 2, 2013, 18:28
- Daniel Benson
IAM Cycling leader motivated with fresh start
A new team, a new jersey but for Heinrich Haussler the focus remains on the Spring Cassics as he uses the Tour of Qatar to build his form. The 28-year-old switched from Garmin-Sharp to the Swiss IAM Cycling team in the off season and arrived in Qatar with what he believes is the best off-season training he’s had in several years.
“This year I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do and I can use these early season races to find my form. That’s what’s going to make the difference in the longer races,” he told Cyclingnews.
“With Garmin we had training camps and meetings in America, then last year I did the Tour Down Under, and I never had a proper base where I could fall back on. You’d do the training camp and everyone would just go crazy because it’s warm they’d want to go crazy and show how strong they were and it’s not proper training.”
Haussler spent two years at Garmin but failed to settle, a number of niggling injuries and a lack of form contributing to two frustrating seasons. But in truth Haussler has struggled ever since a purple patch of form in 2009 that saw him podium at Milan San Remo and the Tour of Flanders.
“The new team is really good. It’s really well organised, even for a first year squad. They’re a lot better organised than a lot of the WorldTour teams that have been around for years,” he said.
Haussler has had success in Qatar before though, picking up two stage wins and second overall in 2011 and while he admits he’s not in top form yet, he’s and his team are hoping for a positive start to the year.
“It’s a new team and we’ve motivated like crazy. We’ve been mixing well and training hard but we’ll have to see how it goes in Qatar. I’ve looked at the wind predictions and it only really looks to be high on the first stage, and after that it’s pretty mild so there should be lots of sprints. Our performances really will depend on how well gel as a team and on the first day we’ll need a bit of luck to make that first group if it does split.”
“It’s very similar to Cervelo in a sense. The big difference is that now the riders are all there for me and I’m the main leader with the guys to work for me. That gives me a lot more motivation. I’ve been going back to my old school training and I spent five weeks doing cross country skiing and that’s been my base. I feel better and stronger.”
- Article published:
- February 2, 2013, 21:48
- Barry Ryan
Italian looks to continue winning start to 2013 at Tour of Qatar
Nothing alters the psyche of a sprinter quite like an early victory and Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox) arrives at the Tour of Qatar on something of a high after beating no less a figure than Mark Cavendish on the second stage of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina last month.
Now in his fourth season a professional, the 25-year-old Modolo is part of an emerging stable of Italian sprint talent, but so far has perhaps lacked the marquee wins of Andrea Guardini or the consistency of Elia Viviani. He is aiming to improve on both counts in 2013.
"For a sprinter, your job is to win, so it's important for morale to start winning straightaway," Modolo said in Doha on Saturday. "In the first races, you always have doubts about how well you're going, no matter how much training you've done. Getting a win early gives you a bit of reassurance about the work you've done over the winter."
Last year, a second-place finish behind Viviani at the season-opening GP degli Etruschi prefigured a deeply frustrating spring for Modolo. As the wait for that first win of the season grew longer, negotiating the frenetic closing kilometres ceased to be an instinctive process and gaps in the bunch seemed only to snap shut and never to yawn open.
"I didn't get my first win last year until the Tour of Turkey at the end of April, so for the first few months of the season, I was carrying around a lot of uncertainty with me," Modolo said. "That certainly doesn't help things."
Modolo certainly won't be short of early opportunities to add to his running total of victories in 2013. While in previous years, he has followed an almost wholly Italian programme ahead of Milan-San Remo, Modolo has never raced as often and as early as he will do in the opening weeks of this season.
"Doing San Luis, Qatar and Oman means that I'll around 15 extra days of racing in my legs by the middle of February," he said. "With that in mind, I started training a bit earlier than normal too, but I did quality rather than quantity for a change. I'm realising that you can build up your endurance just by racing."
Unusually for a young sprinter, endurance is a quality that Modolo has demonstrated from an early stage. As a neo-professional in 2010, he took a surprising fourth place at Milan-San Remo and the distance of the classic clearly does not perturb him. A more pressing concern for La Classicissima this year, however, is that his top-end speed might suffer as his Bardiani squad has not been invited to Tirreno-Adriatico immediately beforehand.
"We might do some races in Holland and a training camp instead, to try and simulate Tirreno a little bit," he said. "We'll have to try and compensate in some way or another, but I think you can be strong on the day without riding Tirreno."
Mark Cavendish recently told Gazzetta dello Sport that he would be travelling to Milan-San Remo more in hope than expectation, claiming that the speed on the climb of Le Manie has reduced his chances of surviving to the finish on the Lungomare Italo Calvino to the minimum. Modolo allowed himself a smile before giving his take on the Manxman's analysis.
"I think he's being clever with the media and talking down his chances a little bit - if you can win it once, like he did in 2009, you can win it again," Modolo said. "Of course, it won't suit him if it's hard on Le Manie, but if he survives that, well, it's always very, very hard to beat him in a sprint."
The prospect of going toe to toe with the likes of Cavendish on a more regular basis was one of the motives behind Modolo's attempt to switch to Lampre at the end of last season, but he was ultimately persuaded to see out his contract after receiving guarantees about Bardiani's early-season programme, something he hopes will stand him in good stead come March 17.
"This year, I'll spend my whole run-up to San Remo racing against the best riders in the world, which is better than doing second-level races," he said. "Here, I'm racing every day against guys like Cavendish and Cancellara and that makes a big difference."
- Article published:
- February 3, 2013, 10:34
- Cycling News
Contador sets up junior team in Spain
The Specialized-Alberto Contador Foundation team was presented in Segovia yesterday with the multi-grand tour winner presenting the junior squad and then joining the riders for a post-presentation training ride.
The team is part of a larger project with cycling schools in Contador’s hometown of Pinto, as well as U23 and women’s teams set to be introduced in the future.
“It is a huge effort for us, but these things are what really motivates me. It is a young generation that is very excited and that is what we really need. When my brother and me think about this project, we had many doubts, but thanks to the collaboration of all the sponsors it has been possible. We are pleased to make our little contribution to cycling,” Contador said.
The official presentation was attended by the Mayor of Segovia, Pedro Arahuetes, who noted the strong link between the city and the team, coached by former Segovian professional Jose Luis de Santos, as well as former Tour and Vuelta winner Perico Delgado.
De Santos rode for Banesto between 1991-1995 and led the national team at the 2009 UCI Road World Championships in Mendrisio where Joaquim Rodríguez and Samuel Sanchez finished third and fourth respectively.
Specialized will supply the bikes and other equipment while many of Contador's ProTeam sponsors from Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank will also support the team.
- Article published:
- February 3, 2013, 12:05
- Cycling News
Women's pro championships to debut in Chattanooga, coinciding with men's races
USA Cycling has announced the proposed course routes for the 2013 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships and the U.S. Handcycling Criterium National Championships, to be held May 25-27 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The announcement was made at a press conference on Wednesday at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Plant. This is the first year that Chattanooga will play host to the event that will be an annual occurrence in the city through 2015, with Volkswagen of America, Inc. as the title sponsor.
"The city of Chattanooga and the surrounding region provide USA Cycling's Pro Road and TT National Championships with ideal competitive terrain in addition to a spirited history of cycling and exceptional community and corporate support", said USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson. "We are looking forward to exciting racing in Chattanooga over the next three years and are very proud to have Volkswagen as our title sponsor for this spectacular event."
New for the 2013 event will be the inaugural Women's Professional Road Race and Time Trial National Championships that will be held in Chattanooga to coincide with the men's event.
"We are extremely excited to race the USA Cycling Pro Road and Time Trial National Championships this year in Chattanooga," said Nicola Cranmer, general manager of the women's Exergy TWENTY16 professional team. "It's an important step for women's racing to be showcased alongside the top U.S. male athletes. As a team owner, the added exposure the pro championship event will bring to our partners through the media that is set in place is critical to the growth of women's cycling.
"I also welcome the opportunity to spend time in a city that incorporates cycling into the community. Chattanooga's economical and sustainable bike transit program makes it a perfect host for the pro championships."
"I'm really looking forward to defending my title at its new venue in Chattanooga," said defending men's road race champion Timmy Duggan (Team Saxo-Tinkoff). "A world class cycling event like this is a great opportunity for the city to showcase its culture, people, and cycling terrain on the world stage, and I will be focused on bringing my best performance to town at the end of May!"
The men's and women's time trial championships, to contested on Saturday, May 25, will be held adjacent to the Volkswagen factory and features rolling terrain with few turns. Riders will complete two out-and-back runs of 9.5 miles each for a total of 19 miles. The course layout has four turnarounds and will allow spectators to see each rider multiple times.
The men's and women's road championships, to be contested on Monday, May 27, will showcase both downtown Chattanooga along with a tough climb up Lookout Mountain. The women's championship will cover 63.7 miles (102.5 km), while the men's championship will be decided over 102.7 miles (165.3 km).
The road races will begin with a 5.1-mile start circuit in downtown Chattanooga; one circuit for the women and three for the men. The riders will then face a 14.1 mile long loop which takes the pelotons south out of downtown to the Lookout Mountain ascent and then loop back into downtown Chattanooga, featuring 750 feet of climbing each lap. The men will complete five laps of the long circuit, while the women will do three laps. The 5.1-mile opening circuit will again be used for the finish of each race with both the men and women covering the circuit three times at their race conclusions. Spectators will see the riders cross through the start/finish line 11 times during the men's race and seven times during the women's race.
Also announced at the press conference was a charity ride benefiting the Children's Hospital of Erlanger Health Systems to take place Saturday morning prior to the time trials. It is open to riders of all ages and abilities with 15, 30, and 60-mile options.
For more information on the 2013 professional championships, visit the event website.
- Article published:
- February 3, 2013, 14:53
- Daniel Benson
Cookson stands by UCI leadership
The UCI Management Committee met in Louisville, United States, on the eve of the Cyclo-cross World Championships and publicly gave a united front in face of recent criticism over their handling of the Lance Armstrong investigation and the disbandment of the Independent Commission.
The Commission was scrapped last month after the UCI argued that a "truth and reconciliation commission" (TRC) should be implemented instead. The commission had been charged with investigating the UCI’s handling of the sport during the Armstrong era and allegations of corruption within the organisation.
At their management committee meeting in Louisville, the UCI announced that two members of their board - Artur Lopes (Portugal, UCI Vice-President) and Daniel Baal (France, Member) - would begin preliminary talks with WADA regarding TRC.
British Cycling's president and UCI management committee member, Brian Cookson, told Cyclingnews that he was fully supportive of the UCI’s leadership and stressed that the sport’s governing body were united in their approach to any possible TRC programme.
Cookson was touted as a potential candidate for the UCI presidency last month after it was reported by AP that members of the IOC had lost confidence in the UCI’s current president Pat McQuaid. However Cookson downplayed the speculation, giving his full backing to McQuaid. The president was roundly booed by spectators during the Louisville Worlds.
“Yes I’m confident in the current leadership of the UCI. It’s a difficult situation that we’re under at the moment but it’s important that the UCI remains united and the management committee have had some very interesting discussions and we’ve decided to do what we’ve done,” Cookson told Cyclingnews.
“The management committee are very committed to working with WADA. We’re going to figure out the next steps forward and make sure that we can do that in line with WADA and with their agreement and support.”
“The UCI is very united but it’s very concerned by external pressure but our job is to make sure that the sport of cycling develops and continues to grow and expand. Whilst we acknowledge that these are very difficult times we think that it’s very important that we support the current leadership and we’ll see where the next few months take us.”
WADA recently told Cyclingnews that the prospect of any TRC programme would be independent but that they would seek to establish the committee.
- Article published:
- February 3, 2013, 19:24
- Barry Ryan
American wins opening stage at Dukhan Beach
On his last participation in the Tour of Qatar in 2009, Brent Bookwalter was nervously feeling his way into professional racing at international level, while BMC was a middling Pro Continental team that was straining to punch above its weight in a peloton replete with classics winners and contenders. After six days of high winds and unforgiving speeds, the 101st-placed Bookwalter was doubtless glad to chalk his outing in the Gulf down to experience.
But you cannot step into the same river twice, and even if the conditions, pace and exposed roads of the Tour of Qatar remain unchanged, Bookwalter himself approached the race in a very different state. Now a veteran of four Grand Tours and a mainstay of one of the WorldTour's most expensively-assembled squads, it was a rather more confident Bookwalter who claimed victory on stage 1 at Dukhan Beach on Sunday.
"I came here four years ago, as a second-year pro, and I wasn't ready for it, I got totally blown out of the water," Bookwalter said as he waited at doping control afterwards. "It really blew my mind because of how hard the wind makes the race. But coming back now a few years later, I knew I was a different rider."
Bookwalter's victory was as impressive as it was surprising. After his BMC team had been one of the day's principal aggressors on a day of intermittent crosswinds that repeatedly split the peloton, Bookwalter found himself with four teammates in the lead group on the run-in to the finish and his role was to try and prepare the ground for Taylor Phinney and Adam Blythe in the finale.
"I'd just talked with Taylor and asked him if he wanted me to ride so as to prohibit attacks. That's when those moves went and I saw my chance," Bookwalter said.
When the Swiss pair of Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) and Gregory Rast (RadioShack-Trek) attacked with 10km to go, Bookwalter drifted across instinctively, and by the time he looked back, the trio had put daylight between themselves and the peloton. "It was headwind and I kept telling myself just stay on the wheel and then we'll see how it shuffles," he said of his decision to put his shoulder to the wheel.
In spite of that headwind, however, Bookwalter and company stretched their lead out to some 45 seconds, although that margin tumbled dramatically inside the final three kilometres. The peloton was within touching distance as they entered the finishing straight, but Bookwalter took a calculated gamble by riding on the front to ensure that the leaders would stay clear to contest the sprint.
"I actually was kind of hoping to get one more pull from the others, but they both said no with 500 to go, so I just tried to keep it rolling," he said. When Rast finally came around him, Bookwalter dived onto his wheel and then showed considerable strength to take out the sprint into a stiff headwind.
"It's great for Brent and bit of a surprise; I wouldn't have picked him for a win here, but he outclassed some pretty solid guys," his teammate Phinney said afterwards.
Bookwalter takes the first golden jersey of the race ahead of Monday's team time trial, where BMC will be the last team off. With Phinney and Steve Cummings in their ranks, they are among the favourites for victory, and after placing five riders in the main peloton, BMC have a number of options for overall honours.
"We'll take it one day at a time, but we're here to perform," Bookwalter said. "We have a number of guys in that front group and I think we'll do a good team time trial tomorrow."
- Article published:
- February 3, 2013, 20:22
- Cycling News
Vacansoleil-DCM rider hit by car in Spain
Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) is in the hospital this evening after a collision with a car while out training. The Dutch rider sustained fractured ribs and will spend the night in hospital before he undergoes further tests.
Hoogerland had been training in Spain ahead of the Tour Méditerranée.
In a press statement the team said, "The rider of Vacansoleil-DCM was going slightly downhill in front of the scooter which was going to motopace him for another hour or so. A turning car didn't see the rider coming and hit the unfortunate Hoogerland."
The team added that they will release more information on Monday.
- Article published:
- February 4, 2013, 03:37
- Cycling News
Team satisfied despite missing result at European season opener
The four-day Challenge Mallorca series is one of the first European races on the professional calendar and despite having already amassed a number of race days in 2013, Orica GreenEdge were left without a result at the end of the opening day of racing in the Trofeo Palma.
Despite failing to launch the day's protected sprinter Leigh Howard to the line, team director Neil Stephens was satisfied with how the 112km race unfolded. The team had worked hard to pull back the day's escape group and was lined-up toward the front in the closing kilometers. It was perhaps a touch of first-race jitters that led Howard and his lead-out man Mitchell Docker to be isolated at the finish.
"We were ready to ride for Leigh today," said Stephens on the team's site. "The main goal was to keep control through the race and support Leigh at the finish.
"Tomas [Vaitkus] is really eager to be here and help out his teammates," said Stephens. "He's had a knee injury since the Giro d'Italia, and he's happy to finally be back. His job today was to drop off our sprinters for the lead out. He went out too hard too early, and he dropped Mitch [Docker] and Leigh a bit too far away from the finish.
"They didn't have enough to manoeuver their way to the line. Leigh said he got caught up in the bunch at the finish and never had the possibility to open up his sprint full gas."
In fact it was the team's other fast-man Michael Matthews, who most recently won a silver medal at the Australian Road Championships in January that achieved the team's best placing. Matthews rolled across the line out of contention for the win in 24th place while Howard never had much of a chance when race winner Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Belisol) hit out early.
"Body feeling good for 1st day here Challenge Mallorca, boys were bloody great. Unfortunately just got caught out with 500m to go.#tomorrow," Howard said on Twitter.
"It's the first race for a lot of riders, and we're never really sure about anyone's form until we see the race," explained Stephens. "I know it can be hard to understand that we're satisfied even if the team isn't up in the results, but we are.
"We need to work on our dynamic at the finish. Aside from the sprint, the rest of the race went really well. The team is super eager to race hard in Majorca, and it's clear they're focused on the important races we have coming up after this."
The team will race again tomorrow in the Trofeo Migjorn.