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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 13, 2014

Date published:
January 13, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Report: Chris Horner close to joining Christina Watches

    Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) seals Vuelta a Espana victory on the Angliru.
    Article published:
    January 12, 2014, 9:55 GMT
    José Been

    Baden Cooke denies a deal has been agreed with Danish team

    Chris Horner is close to joining the Christina Watches on a three-year deal, Danish newspaper BT reports. The American Vuelta a Espana winner and the Danish continental team were first linked one week ago and it seems the two parties have made signficant progress towards reaching a three-year deal thanks to Horner apparently finding a personal backer to fund his salary while riding for the Danish team.

    The team and Horner's new agent Baden Cooke have reportedly agreed upon a deal. "We know the terms of our contract," Christina Watches owner Claus Hembo told BT. The key to the deal is Horner's personal contract with his sponsor outside of Denmark. "Horner and the investor will meet and we hope they can reach an agreement," Hembo explained. Horner will only ride for the small Danish team if both contracts are signed. 

    Last year Horner became the oldest Grand Tour winner in history with his victory in the Vuelta a Espana. The American rider is now 42 years old but a three year contract, something the investor wants, doesn't seem to deter Hembo.

    "It's a three-year contract because the company wants this. We think this may work and that Horner is the man that can get us Professional Continental status." 

    The three-year contract between the investment company and Horner is a two years plus one deal. "It was the same when we hired Michael Rasmussen," Hembo told BT.

    "Horner might quit after two years. If he does not want the third year he is guaranteed a job with the company if he signs that personal contract."

    Whether the deal succeeds, apparently depends on the negotiations between Horner and the undisclosed company. His new agent Baden Cooke told Cyclingnews that there were still possibilities...

  • Contador says 2014 Vuelta is harder than when he won in 2012

    Alberto Contador meets some new friends
    Article published:
    January 12, 2014, 12:37 GMT
    José Been

    Spaniard in Gran Canaria for Tinkoff-Saxo training camp

    Alberto Contador thinks the 2014 Vuelta a España is even harder than the 2012 edition he won, confirming that he plans to be at the start in Jerez de la Frontera after also targeting the Tour de France in 2014.

    "The uphill finishes are longer than in 2012. That encourages me because I am not an explosive climber. In shorter climbs with huge gradients the explosive climbers can take time on me. But it all depends on the legs I have at that moment."

    The Vuelta route was revealed on Saturday and includes eight uphill finishes and three time trials, one team time trial and two individual ones.

    "I like the route, yes," Contador commented from the Tinkoff-Saxo training camp on the Canary Islands. "It's the same format as previous years with the spectacle the public wants. It's a race for the pure climbers with the uphill finishes and the time bonuses." 

    Contador already confirmed in September that the the Vuelta is on his programme for 2014 but he will ride it after he Tour de France which is a main objective for the Spaniard. He likes the route but doesn't know how good his form will be at the start of the Vuelta in Jerez de la Frontera. 

    "It's important to remember that it will be the second Grand Tour I will do at 100 per cent that year. I don't know how I'll be at the Vuelta after I did the Tour de France,"  he said.

    Contador is training in plain Sportful kit with his teammates in the sun on Gran Canaria. The riders visited the Palmitos Park Delfinarium near their hotel during a rest day on Sunday. The new Tinkoff-Saxo team and the new jersey will be presented on on Tuesday.

    "I am having a good time here. My preparation for the new season is...

  • Trek Factory Racing remains a "band of brothers," says Voigt

    Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    January 12, 2014, 13:55 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Cancellara glad riders are less involved in running of team

    Now in its fourth iteration since Andy and Fränk Schleck led a delegation of refugees from Saxo Bank to establish Leopard Trek ahead of the 2011 season, Jens Voigt believes that the revamped Trek Factory Racing squad maintains the same spirit of its beginnings.

    The original Leopard Trek line-up was widely dubbed a "band of brothers," in part because of the Luxembourgish pair, but also because the key riders appeared to have a greater than normal input into the running of their squad. That impression was bolstered by the hiring of erstwhile press officer Brian Nygaard as team manager, a sea change from the close tutelage of Bjarne Riis at Saxo Bank.

    "We had a great start with Team Leopard in 2011 and I think we’re just reinforcing this band of brothers team right now for this year again," Voigt told reporters ahead of Trek Factory Racing’s presentation in Roubaix on Friday. "I like teams that are run like that."

    Nygaard was quickly discarded by Leopard Trek when backer Flavio Becca shoehorned his team to RadioShack for the 2012 season, turning the band of brothers into a supposed super group under the stewardship of Johan Bruyneel, a rather dubious svengali.

    When USADA’s Reasoned Decision did for Bruyneel’s career in October 2012, Luca Guercilena was elevated to the manager’s role to steady a floundering ship and he remains in situ following

  • Gallery: Trek Factory Racing ride with the fans

    Fabian Cancellara takes a push on the Koppenberg
    Article published:
    January 12, 2014, 16:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cancellara and teammates spend time with fans

    To kick-start their new team the Trek Factory Racing squad gathered in Oudenaarde, Belgium on Friday ahead of their official presentation. The occasion was just as much about the fans as it was about the riders with Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt and Stijn Devolder going for a ride with the fans. It wasn't just a chance for fans to add to their autograph collection though, as the WorldTour team led a 78 kilometre ride through some of the toughest sections of the Tour of Flanders parcours.

    Roughly 250 fans made the trip and took part in the ride, which took place hours before the team were officially presented at the Roubaix Velodrome across the border in Northern France.

    Click here to see the gallery.

  • De Gendt looking to rebuild career with one-year deal

    Thomas de Gendt was the team's final signing of the winter
    Article published:
    January 12, 2014, 18:55 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    "You learn who your friends are during difficult times," says Belgian

    Thomas De Gendt hopes that a one-year-deal at Omega Pharma-QuickStep will be all he needs to help rebuild his career after a disastrous final season at the now defunct Vacansoleil team.

    At the Omega Pharma-QuickStep training camp last week the Belgian described 2013 as a lost season in his career, after injury, a lack of form and contractual issues ruined his campaign.

    “It was a bit of a lost season and I don’t want to look back that much,” he told Cyclingnews.

    “It was a tough year, that’s for sure, but I learned a lot. It was a year filled with a lot of bad luck, maybe 2013 was my unlucky 13 but it’s over and I can only look forward. I learned about where my injury was coming from and perhaps Vacansoleil stopping was the best thing that could have happened.”

    At one point it looked as though De Gendt would fail to find a new team. Vacansoleil were already confirmed to leave the sport and due to his high salary following on from his third place at the Giro d’Italia in 2012, De Gendt wasn’t the first name on team managers’ lips as they assembled new squads.

    However, Patrick Lefevere stepped in, offering De Gendt a lifeline at a WorldTour team, albeit on a heavily reduced salary.

    “Lefevere had talked to me in the previous years and this was an opportunity to talk again. I was a free rider and he could make a bid this time. From the moment he said he wanted me it was a fast process.

    “I think it was someone from inside who leaked the salary information but I don’t care anymore. I have a different salary than last year and that’s no problem because I’m now in one of the best teams. Maybe...

  • Gerrans wins nationals ahead of Tour Down Under showdown

    Simon Gerrans with his gold pan prize for winning
    Article published:
    January 12, 2014, 21:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian to lead Orica in first WorldTour race of the season

    Excellent teamwork, coupled with a strong finish from Simon Gerrans, saw the Orica-GreenEdge leader come home with his second national road title on Sunday. Gerrans beat Cadel Evans and Richie Porte in the finale to pull on the green and gold jersey.

    "It's such a huge honour to have this green-and-gold jersey for the next 12 months,” Gerrans said.

    "Australia is such a dominant force on the world stage, so the Australian champion is a jersey that's well-respected overseas. I'm just so happy to finish off some fantastic work by all my Orica-GreenEdge teammates."

    Gerrans' team came into the race with a strong line up with Luke Durbridge, Cameron Meyer and were looking to win their third straight national men’s road title. However with Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and a rejuvenated Drapac team on the start line, a third crown was anything but a certainly.

    "When you look at the depth of the field today and you look at these two guys standing by my side, this could be any race, anywhere around the world. So it really shows the strength of Australian cycling now.

    "It really showed the commitment of my team out there today - Cameron did work his butt off in the last few kilometres. He really committed to me there, so I really cannot thank him enough. You saw the way my whole team rode out there today."

    GreenEdge and Drapac flooded the main move of the day but on the final few laps it was the WorldTour team that stamped their authority on the battling underdogs.

    "The plan was always to try and have it together for me on the last lap if the race was any way under the threat and the guys committed to that.

    "They brought it back together for me and then we saw Cameron Meyer work tirelessly for me on the last lap...

  • Rhys Gillett hopeful on TDU start with UniSA

    Rhys Gillett (African Wildlife Safaris) in the closing kilometres.
    Article published:
    January 13, 2014, 1:40 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    African Wildlife Safaris rider claimed KOM jersey at Australian nationals

    While all eyes were on the big duo of Orica-GreenEdge and Drapac Pro Cycling at the Australian elite men's national road race, Rhys Gillett (African Wildlife Safaris) made his way into the main break of the day and in doing so, secured himself the king of the mountains jersey.

    The 23-year-old finished 39th overall but that was enough to secure the jersey and make his way onto the podium. Gillett explained to Cyclingnews after the race that there had been some late changes to team's tactics.

    "I was thinking about getting the jersey about five minutes from the start. I had a chat with Pearso (director sportif Joel Pearson) and we changed the race plan a bit as I wasn't 100% confident in my form to pull off a win so I had to come away with something," he said.

    Gillett lead the escape group over the top of Mt. Buninyong from lap's three to nine to easily claim the prize with a total of 29 points, 17 ahead of Will Clarke (Drapac) in second place. With a crowd estimate of 23, 000 in attendance providing what Richie Porte said was akin to a Tour de France stage, Gillett was spurred on the by crowds up the hill.

    "It was nuts. I've never been in a situation like that. Racing in Italy a few years ago you'd have similar support on the side of the road but they were just screaming because it was a bike race whereas up here, everyone was screaming my name which was pretty cool," he explained.

    Following his stirring ride, Gillett is now hoping to line up in Adelaide for the UniSA team for the first time at the Tour Down Under. "Fingers crossed, it's up to Brad McGee and the other selectors but...

  • Matt White: Gerrans was 'Plan A' for national title

    Simon Gerrans wins the 2014 Australian national road race
    Article published:
    January 13, 2014, 3:43 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    GreenEdge plan domination of Australian Summer

    The pressure was on Orica-GreenEdge to make it three consecutive Australian national road titles on Sunday and Simon Gerrans was the man to rise to the occasion and record his second green and gold jersey in three years. The WorldTour team well and truly had the biggest target in its back and while Drapac animated the race with strong representations in breaks throughout the day, the quality of Gerrans was the decisive factor in claiming the win.

    Despite seeing a 17-man break form early in the race, including GreenEdge riders, which built a lead that at one point was close to four minutes, team director sportif Matt White explained the race tactics to Cyclingnews.

    "We had a clear plan of what we wanted to achieve and to have guys we were confident with in the breakaway, [Luke] Durbridge and [Simon] Clarke, we also knew that we had to have the guarantee of the win or otherwise we were going to shut it down," he said.

    "Clarkey went a couple of times but couldn't shake the likes of Bernie Sulzberger, [Adam] Hansen and [Steele] von Hoff so close to the finish so we went with our 'Plan A' which is Simon Gerrans. He delivered, so tactically it went well."

    Luke Durbridge narrowly missed out on recording his third win in the time trial on Wednesday and was hungry to defend his road title that he won by soloing to victory last year and sacrificed personal aspirations for the team. "We had a meeting Saturday night and everyone was clear that the important thing was to stick to the plan. Individual goals have to go out the window when it comes to a race like that," White explained.

    "Durbo had...