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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 28, 2013

Date published:
January 28, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Elissonde set to be the next FDJ climber after Pinot

    Behind the scenes, FDJ gets ready
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 11:53 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Sandy Casar to ride all three Grand Tours in 2013

    Observers of the Santos Tour Down Under have noticed the climbing skills of Kenny Elissonde. The 21-year-old Frenchman from FDJ who weighs just 51kg and is 1.69m tall finished 13th overall and fourth best young rider in a race dominated by a rider of his caliber – Tom-Jelte Slagter. Arriving in Adelaide, world champion Philippe Gilbert, who remains close to his first pro team, mentioned Elissonde as someone able to create a surprise in the South Australian event after winning a hilly stage at Paris-Corrèze last year.

    “13th is not an exceptional result but I’m kind of happy with it,” Elissonde told Cyclingnews. “It shows that I’m starting my second pro year on the right path. I always heard that a solid winter training is the key to perform during the whole season. The ascent to Willunga Hill was a bit too fast for me. I prefer steeper sections and changes of rhythm.”

    “Kenny’s Tour Down Under is definitely a successful one,” said FDJ directeur sportif Yvon Madiot. “Bearing in mind that the course wasn’t exactly the best for him as it made a nervous race, he did really well. He’s a pure climber like some Spaniards and Colombians that we’ve seen in the past.”

    Also scheduled for the Tour of Oman, the Volta Catalunya and the Tour of the Basque Country, Elissonde will make his debut in a Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia alongside Arnold Jeannesson, who came 15th at the 2011 Tour de France and Sandy Casar, who has announced his intention to ride all three Grand Tours this year.

    “Sandy took this decision during our training camp in December,” Madiot explained. “He’s been tempted by this challenge for a while, as he prefers long stage races than short ones where the pressure is higher with a lot more contenders for very few opportunities to deliver. In a Grand Tour, he knows which stage suits him and he...

  • Bruyneel will not attend Belgian federation hearing

    Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong in the good old days
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 13:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Inquiry into allegations in USADA report continues

    Johan Bruyneel will not be present at a hearing at Belgian Cycling Federation headquarters on Tuesday to discuss the allegations outlined against him in the US Anti-Doping Agency’s report on the systematic doping system in place at Lance Armstrong’s former US Postal Service team.

    Het Laatste Nieuws reported two weeks ago that Bruyneel was ready to cooperate with a Belgian federation inquiry on the matter but the RLVB said on Monday that the former US Postal and RadioShack manager had intimated that he would not be present at the Brussels hearing. Bruyneel, who faces a possible life ban, has previously said that he would continue to contest USADA’s charges.

    “Mr. Johan Bruyneel has let it be known that he will not be able to be present at the hearing planned for tomorrow at the RLBV federal building, to which he was invited by the federal prosecutor,” read an RLVB statement. “The federal prosecutor will proceed with the inquiry and he will decide what further steps should be taken.”

    Bruyneel was manager of the US Postal Service squad and is mentioned repeatedly in USADA’s dossier on the doping culture in place on the team. A nine-page section titled “Johan Bruyneel’s involvement in doping” includes rigorous detail of the Belgian’s organisation of the doping programme at the team and states: “The overwhelming evidence in this case is that Johan Bruyneel was intimately involved in all significant details of the US Postal team’s doping program […] He was on top of the details for organising blood transfusion programs before the major Tours, and he knew when athletes needed to take EPO to regenerate their blood supply after extracting blood.”

  • Tirreno-Adriatico route unveiled

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) wins alone atop the Prati di Tivo climb.
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 15:17 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Time trials bookend the Race of the Two Seas

    The route of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico has been unveiled in Italy, with the opening 16.9km team time trial, a mountain finish at Prati di Tivo and final 9.2km time trial set to decide who takes home the trident winner's trophy.

    Tirreno-Adriatico is traditionally a springboard for riders looking to win Milano-Sanremo. Most big-name sprinters are expected to fine-tune their form during the seven days of racing but this year's 'Race of the Two Seas' will see 2012 winner Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Chris Froome fighting for overall success.

    The route is finely balanced between time trial and mountains stages. The opening 16.9km team time trial covers a flat and fast course near the Mediterranean coast and through the Bolgheri vineyards.

    Orica-GreenEdge won the team time trial last year but Team Sky, BMC Racing Team and Team Saxo-Tinkoff will all be looking to gain precious seconds on their rivals, knowing they could be vital later in the race.

    Stage two to Indicatore, near Arezzo, and stage three to Narni Scalo are both suited to the sprinters. Cavendish won here in 2012, wearing the rainbow jersey. Cavendish has reportedly been entered to ride Paris-Nice this year but his name was mentioned by the race organiser of Tirreno-Adriatico.

    The key mountain stage is on day four with the climb up to the finish in Prati di Tivo in the mountains of Abruzzo. Last year, Vincenzo Nibali won alone at the Apennine ski resort, setting up overall victory. This year, stage five from Ortona to Chieti will also be decisive, with the 1310m high Passo Larciano peaking 40km from the finish of the 230km stage and then the steep uphill finish to the centre of Chieti.

    Stage six heads into the rolling hills behind the Adriatic coast and will be perfect for riders who want to find the form to handle the capi that decide Milano-Sanremo. If the overall classification is still close after six stages, the final...

  • Video: Froome on Wiggo, winning the Tour and being a role model

    Chris Froome (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 17:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky rider says the Armstrong's confession offers a chance for change

    Chris Froome has told Cyclingnews that he is ready to shoulder the pressure and responsibility of leading Team Sky at the Tour de France, believing he has the ability to take on Alberto Contador and target overall success thanks to this year's mountainous route.

    In a video interview recorded at Team Sky's media day in Mallorca, Froome also claimed that his second place in the 2012 Tour de France was a clear statement that cycling has changed. The Kenyan-born Briton sees Lance Armstrong's demise as an opportunity for the sport to find new role models people can admire.

    Froome claimed his relationship had been sensationalized and is confident Bradley Wiggins will work for him in July, just as he helped Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France.

    "It's been sensationalized a lot. We're not best friends but we've got a working relationship and I think we'll both do exactly what's asked of each for the team, so we can achieve the team's goals," Froome told Cyclingnews.

    "I think every team needs to go in (to the Tour) with contingency plans like I was last year's Tour. That guy will be the last help in the mountains if you like and the way its shaking out at the moment, Bradley would play that role for me this year."

    In a change of programme, Froome will begin his 2013 season alongside Wiggins at the Tour of Oman on February 12. After that his programme will include Tirreno-Adriatico but then focus on being at his best for the Tour de France.

    "It sounds like a lot of the big hitters are going out there (to Oman) but it's still very early days and hard to take real truths out of the results. It'd always be good to get one up on Contador," he said, seemingly relishing a battle with...

  • Niermann confesses to doping at Rabobank

    Grischa Niermann
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 17:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Retired German handed six-month suspension

    Grischa Niermann has become the latest former Rabobank rider to confess to doping. The German, who retired from racing at the end of 2012, has been handed a six-month suspension by the Dutch Cycling Federation.

    Niermann joined Rabobank in 1999 and spent 14 seasons with the squad. He has admitted to using EPO between 2000 and 2003, and said that he will furnish the relevant authorities with further details.

    "Thanks to the people around me I realised in 2003 that banned substances was not the path I wanted to follow,” Niermann said, according to the Dutch federation website. “That’s why I stopped and for the past 10 years, I tried to set an example for the young riders at Rabobank as being honest, hardworking and professional.”

    The 37-year-old Niermann accepted a coaching role with the Rabobank Continental squad following his retirement after last year’s Vuelta a España. The Dutch bank withdrew its sponsorship of the professional team – now operating as Blanco – but continues to support the Continental and women’s squads.

    “To rekindle that dark period is very painful for me, but it also reinforces the decision I made in 2003 to draw a line under it,” Niermann said. “I will share all further relevant information with the anti-doping authorities.”

    Rabobank’s withdrawal from sponsorship came in response to former manager Theo de Rooy’s admission in May that doping had been tolerated on the squad up until 2007.

    In recent weeks, Danny Nelissen, Marc Lotz and Thomas Dekker have admitted to doping during their time at Rabobank, while Dutch...

  • Delays mark start of Operación Puerto hearing

    Eufemiano Fuentes was at the center of Operacion Puerto
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 19:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fuentes testimony postponed as world's press descends on Madrid

    The Operación Puerto hearings got underway in Madrid today, but the long awaited testimony by Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor who ran the blood doping clinic, was postponed until Tuesday.

    Since the USADA case against Lance Armstrong, the case caught the attention of the world's mainstream media, and Fuentes was mobbed by photographers as he arrived at the court on Monday morning.

    Fuentes, his sister Yolanda, ex-Liberty Seguros director Manolo Saiz, the trainer and the director of Comunidad Valenciana, José Ignacio Labarta and Vicente Belda, are facing charges of crimes against public health. Charges against José Luis Merino Batres, who assisted Fuentes in the clinic, were dismissed for health reasons, as he suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

    Fuentes ran the Madrid clinic that was busted by the Guardia Civil in 2006. Police discovered over 200 blood bags, performance enhancing drugs and other evidence including coded documentation with links to dozens of cyclists and athletes from other sports.

    Only cycling has taken up the cause of investigating the case for anti-doping rule violates, despite Fuentes admitting that he treated professional footballers and tennis players. Details of the operation were given in Tyler Hamilton's book, "The Secret Race" as well as in sworn affidavits which were part of the Armstrong case.

    The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has called for investigators to release information about the identity of athletes from other sports, but has met with resistance from the Spanish authorities. "We want people to share that information through Interpol or some other means so that everyone can benefit from it. We were told it wasn't just one sport. But we've never been given the follow-up data. This has so far proved to be a very unfair caricature of one sport, where...

  • USA Cycling announces shrinking NRC, growing NCC

    Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis again won the USA CRITS team title.
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 20:12 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Date change for Bucks County Classic

    USA Cycling has announced its 2013 National Racing Calendar (NRC) and National Criterium Calendar (NCC), including a date change for one of the few UCI one-day races, the Bucks County Classic, which moves from September 14 to September 7.

    Race director John Eustice explained to Cyclingnews that the original date fell on Yom Kippur. “The community felt if respectful and proper to move the event forward a week for 2013 only, as there are no more holy days on our original weekend for many years to come.”

    The Bucks County Classic Criterium, which will still take place on September 8, was removed from the NCC due to the conflict with the new Tour of Alberta.

    “Since the purpose of NCC is to allow the Pro Continental teams, and since chances that they will be attending are slim due to our conflict with the Tour of Alberta, the sponsors decided to hold off on the added expense of the NCC until 2014,” Eustice said.

    USA Cycling also removed the Tour of Vail Criterium, which was scheduled for August 17.

    Even still, the NCC has grown by six events, with the incorporation of the USA CRITS series events. New on the calendar are the Old Pueblo GP on March 9 in Tucson, Arizona, the Delray Beach Twilight in Florida on March 23, the July 6 Iron Hill Twilight, Chicago’s Prairie State Cycling Series July 18-21 and the USA CRITS finals in Las Vegas on September 19. Additionally, the USA CRITS Speedweek has been split into two events: the A-series from April 27-May 1 and B-series from May 2-5.

    While the NCC has grown, the NRC has been decimated – it shrinks from 10 events to seven with the cancellation of the Liberty Classic, American Cycling Open and Keystone Open. The Tour of the Battenkill organizers pulled their event from the UCI calendar and replaced the pro men’s race with a gran fondo. The women’s Exergy Tour is also not listed on the NRC for 2013, but is still on the...

  • UCI to disband Independent Commission

    UCI President Pat McQuaid at the UCI headquarters in Aigle
    Article published:
    January 28, 2013, 21:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Truth and reconciliation process to take its place

    The UCI has announced that it will scrap its Independent Commission in favor of a "truth and reconciliation commission" (TRC). 

    UCI president Pat McQuaid blamed the decision on the refusal of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and US Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA's) refusal to cooperate with the investigation unless a TRC was on the table.

    The UCIIC itself recommended the incorporation of a TRC to ensure it would be provided with "the most complete evidence available" in its hearing, which was set for April.

    “As I said last Friday, we have listened carefully to the views of WADA, USADA and cycling stakeholders and have decided that a truth and reconciliation process is the best way to examine the culture of doping in cycling in the past and to clear the air so that cycling can move forward," said UCI president Pat McQuaid.

    The UCIIC was formed to investigate the allegations made by USADA that the UCI acted improperly and insufficiently to combat doping, allowing Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team, and by all accounts the majority of the peloton, to engage in performance enhancement unchecked.

    However, WADA and USADA both questioned the independence of the commission and objected to the lack of inclusion of an amnesty program. The UCI began negotiations with WADA to incorporate the TRC in the past few days.

    “Over the weekend I spoke to John Fahey, President of WADA. He confirmed WADA’s willingness to help the UCI establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as well as saying that WADA had no confidence in the existing Independent Commission process.”

    The UCI had initially objected to...