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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 7, 2013

Date published:
January 07, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Contador confirms Tour de France victory as primary goal for 2013

    Alberto Contador at a presentation about a new race in Dubai
    Article published:
    January 05, 2013, 22:30 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard also considering adding either the Giro or Vuelta to program

    Alberto Contador has confirmed he will target victory in the Tour de France in 2013 and has said he will soon decide if he will also ride the Giro d'Italia or the Vuelta a España.

    Giro d'Italia organiser Michele Acquarone continued to try to convince Contador to return to the Giro d'Italia while both were in Dubai for the opening of the Dubai Cycling Course this week. However, logic seems to indicate that Contador will defend his Vuelta title and perhaps use his home Grand Tour to peak for a shot at the world championship on the hilly and testing course in Florence, Italy.

    Contador missed the 2012 Tour de France because he was serving a ban for his positive test for clenbuterol from the 2010 Tour. He rode and won the 2011 Giro d'Italia while waiting for a final verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport but was then disqualified from the result as a consequence of being found guilty of doping in 2010. He seems indebted to the Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport but is clearly keen to return to France and prove he's the best stage race rider of his generation.

    "I have a lot of dreams and objectives for 2013 and my biggest objective this year will be the Tour," Contador told Cyclingnews in Dubai.

    "I haven’t decided my full race program yet. I haven't decided 100% if I do the Giro or the Vuelta. But what’s sure is that my season will centre on the Tour."

    Contador is expected to attend the official presentation of the 2013 Vuelta route in Vigo on Saturday, January 12 before traveling to Argentina to ride the Tour de San Luis....

  • Aussie Lang finding his own feet racing in UK

    Richard Lang riding in the GB colours.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2013, 23:54 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    AIS graduate rides for Great Britain at Jayco Herald Sun Tour

    The appearance of Australian Richard Lang on the Great Britain National Team at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour has been cause for some confusion.

    Given the event is not sanctioned by the UCI, and that Lang holds a dual Australian-British passport, the Sydney-born 23-year-old was eligible for a guest spot on the team. Lang spent 2012 riding for the UK-based Rapha Condor - Sharp and with quite a few of the British National team unavailable with track duties ahead of the world championships in Minsk, it was an opportunity Lang couldn't pass up.

    Whether this week's stint could signal a more-permanent move, was something Lang was unwilling to rule out.

    "Who knows?" he told Cyclingnews.

    Lang's form is building nicely ahead of next week's Cycling Australia Road National Championships, then, he will return to the UK for the Raleigh 2013 team presentation where he will race this season. Heading into the Sun Tour's final stage at Arthurs Seat, Lang is out of contention for the overall but the fast all-rounder showed plenty of promise on the tough Stage 1 which was very much a form-guide for the nationals, finishing 10th.

    2012 was as much about Lang finding his own feet, as it was about delivering impressive wins for Rapha Condor at the East Yorkshire Classic circuit race and the Leases Park circuit race. Lang graduated from the Australian domestic Budget Forklifts outfit, into the highly successful Jayco-AIS program where he rode until 2011. While he's not about to knock the Australian development program, he does admit that he felt restricted by its confines.

    "Last year was the year I've learned the most about myself," Lang explained of his time at Rapha Condor - Sharp. "I really took control of what I was doing. While I was with the AIS, you're sort...

  • Henderson: Lotto sprint train to go back to basics to continue success

    Sprint competition leader, Greg Henderson (Degani)
    Article published:
    January 06, 2013, 9:43 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    New Zealander set for his 12th professional season

    Beginning your season on January 1 can result in a precarious juggling act between the need for intensity and measuring that same fervour when a long season in Europe beckons. Lotto Belisol's Greg Henderson wouldn't have it any other way heading into his 12th season as a professional.

    Henderson took on the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic from New Year's Day before racing the Jayco Herald Sun Tour which has proved additionally challenging due to a heat wave which struck Victoria in recent days.

    "It's quite a fine balance at the end of the day," the 36-year-old Henderson admitted. "Doing the Bay Crits, okay, they're only an hour but you try and ride them as easy as possible but they're not easy, are they? Straight into prologue and then straight into 45 degrees yesterday [stage 1], so you've got to be careful because you can absolutely cook it and then it can be hard to recover from a hit out like that.

    "I'm lucky I'm old enough, I know my body... Maybe it sounds selfish but genuinely I have to be careful because you can do yourself quite a bit of damage and it's a bloody long season."

    The addition of Henderson to the Lotto Belisol sprint train went a long way towards helping André Greipel secure 19 victories in 2012, something that was evident from the first WorldTour event of the season, the Tour Down Under. The majority of the sprint train had ridden together at the Highroad set-up, and that familiarity proved to be a winning formula. Henderson said that with that fact in mind, it was important for the team to revisit some of the basics to ensure that success continues.

    "What happened at the end of the year was that we got to know each other so well that the team meetings were becoming shorter and shorter,"...

  • Pinot's training interrupted by tendonitis

    Thibaut Pinot enjoys his stage victory in the Tour
    Article published:
    January 06, 2013, 10:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    FDJ rider hopeful of participating in camp next week

    Thibaut Pinot’s pre-season training has been interrupted by a bout of tendonitis in his right knee and the FDJ rider has been ordered to take three days off the bike.

    “I went out for a ride with Arthur Vichot and Anthony Roux and after two or three hours, I couldn’t pedal any more,” Pinot told L’Équipe. “I don’t know where it’s come from, I haven’t changed anything, neither my cleats nor my shoes…”

    Pinot is currently in La Môle, in southern France, in search of warm weather training miles and he admitted that he was frustrated to have to take time out so early in the year. The 22-year-old is nonetheless hoping to be a full participant in FDJ’s training camp in Corsica, which gets underway on Tuesday.

    “It’s twenty degrees, there’s a lot of sun and so it’s frustrating. The days are long,” said Pinot, who still plans to reconnoitre the opening stage of the 2013 Tour de France, from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, on Wednesday morning.

    Pinot won a fine stage at Porrentruy in the 2012 Tour and became the youngest rider to finish in the top ten in Paris since 1947. He is expected to start his 2013 season at the Grand Prix La Marseillaise on January 27, followed by the Tour Méditerranéen, which begins on February 6.





  • Ballan to be released from hospital in coming days

    Alessandro Ballan going back to the team cars.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2013, 12:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC rider to return home after training crash

    Alessandro Ballan is set to be released from hospital in Spain in the coming days although it remains unclear as to when the former world champion will be able to return to racing.

    Ballan suffered a double fracture of his left femur in a crash on the final day of BMC’s pre-Christmas training camp, and he also had to undergo emergency surgery to remove his spleen. The Italian has been in hospital in Denia since December 20.

    "Once Alessandro is back in Italy, we'll make sure everything went well during the flight. Depending on the outcome of that evaluation, we can determine the next step in his rehabilitation,” said BMC chief medical officer Dr. Max Testa.

    Ballan spent a week in intensive care before being moved to a normal hospital ward. BMC are already resigned to being without Ballan for the spring classics, although general manager Jim Ochowicz expressed his hope that the 33-year-old would be back in action as soon as possible.

    “We are extremely pleased at the rapid progress that Alessandro has accomplished while under the excellent care of the Hospital Dénia Marina Salud," Ochowicz said. "We look forward to having him back in the races in the coming months."

    Ballan himself admitted that he is simply looking forward to returning to his home in the Veneto, given that he has been away since the beginning of the BMC camp in December.

    “Training camp started in mid-December and then I couldn't be home and together with my entire family for the holidays,” he said. “So I'm very appreciative of the support from Dr. (Dario) Spinelli and the BMC Racing Team and the medical care I received here in Spain. Plus, all the messages of encouragement have given me more...

  • Andreu has no concerns about working with Mancebo

    Frankie Andreu brings years of experience to the team for another year of directing
    Article published:
    January 06, 2013, 13:49 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    5-hour Energy/Kenda hoping for California, Colorado and Utah invitations

    Frankie Andreu has told Cyclingnews that he has no concerns over managing Francisco Mancebo as part of the 5-hour Energy/Kenda Racing Team. The team was formed through a merger of the Kenda/5-hour Energy squad run by Inferno Racing and On the Rivet Management's Competitive Cyclist team. Andreu had formerly managed the Kenda squad, while Mancebo rode for the Competitive Cyclist team and won the National Racing Calendar (NRC) in 2012.

    The match of Andreu with Mancebo raised eyebrows when the merger of the two squads was announced last month. The Spaniard was linked to Operación Puerto in 2006 and was prevented from riding the Tour de France that year. He retired that season and escaped a suspension, but he returned to professional cycling within a matter of months and despite never returning to the WorldTour level, he has been a consistent presence on the US domestic racing scene.

    Andreu, who admitted to taking EPO during his career and testified against Lance Armstrong as part of USADA's investigation into doping at US Postal, has reformed his reputation as a team director with a zero-tolerance stance against doping and as an advocate of clean sport. The merger of the two squads brings together Andreu's stance with a rider who has never been sanctioned for his own links to Puerto.

    "On the Rivet were able to bring over riders and I was able to bring over my riders too," Andreu said when discussing the merger. "They've had a strict anti-doping policy that I support and when I get there I'll make sure we're all on the same page."

    "I know what Mancebo's done in the US in terms of racing results but that's because that's where I've been directing. He's been strong here, sometimes riding liking...

  • Women's stage race added to Merco Cycling Classic

    The women's field prepares to depart on thirty two laps of the downtown criterium course.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2013, 18:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Four-day event begins on February 28

    After a successful introduction into a four-day stage race in the spring of 2011 for the elite men's event, the Merco Cycling Classic presented by Mercy Medical Center announced that the women's Pro/1-2 event for 2013 will change from a three-day omnium to a four-day stage race, to be called the Dignity Health Medical Group Merced Women’s Stage Race.

    The women's four-day race takes place in Merced, California from February 28-March 3, the same dates as the men's race. It had originally been anticipated that women's racing at the 2013 Merco Cycling Classic would be restricted to omniums on stages 2, 3 and 4, but thanks to additional sponsorship, event director Doug Fluetsch was able to proceed with the organisation of a concurrent four-day women's stage race.

    "We knew Alicia Bohlke and Dignity Health Medical Group Merced were interested in our event in terms of sponsorship but there wasn't a great fit until the opportunity of the women's stage race evolved," Fluetsch explained. "Dignity Health Medical Group Merced recruits new physicians to our new, state of the art hospital, Mercy Medical Center. So the fit with our presenting sponsor is fantastic. Without their support we would not be able to offer what we are."

    Fluetsch is aiming to put together a field of some 75 riders for the inaugural running of the women's stage race at the Merco Cycling Classic, something he believes would provide a platform for the consolidation of the event in the years to come. Registration for the race opens next week.

    "The women's stage race will be considered a success if we can attract a quality field of 75 athletes which would then allow us to plan on expansion of the women's event in the future, which is something truly needed for women's cycling today," he said. "We are fortunate to be able to do this."

    The addition of the women's stage race is a timely one, as the Merco Cycling Classic – which began life as the two-day McLane...

  • Watson finds validation in Sun Tour victory

    Calvin Watson wins the 2013 Herald Sun Tour.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2013, 23:53 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Dumped from the national program, 20-year-old bound for Italy

    Late last year, Calvin Watson learned that he would not be riding with Australian under 23 development program, Jayco-AIS in Europe for a second successive year. He was understandably shattered, particularly after a fourth overall at the Giro del Friuli and a number of top 10 results. On Sunday, Watson got one back at his detractors, by claiming the overall victory at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

    "I came here really wanting to chase a result and prepare for the nationals," Watson told reporters following his win. "I was fuelled by a bit of anger and disappointment being left out of the national program so, I'm happy that I can show them that I'm a real force in Australian cycling."

    It was Victorian Institute of Sport head coach Dave Sanders who urged Watson not to dwell on his situation and channel his frustration into the bike. Sanders was struggling to hold back his emotions following his charge's win having guided him since the age of 15.

    "This is the big one. It doesn't get any bigger in this country," Sanders said. "Cal's had a couple of setbacks and whatever and he's showed his stuff.

    "Put it this way: this is how you demonstrate your ability. In every athlete's life, particularly in cycling, everyone has setbacks, everyone gets let down. Everyone. The Gerrans, all of them... And you've got to come out fighting. You go and get off your backside and do it. That's what he's done. I said to him, 'don't get down in the dumps about this, just get off your backside and do it.'”

    The all-rounder Watson in fact had double reason to celebrate, taking the win on his 20th birthday.

    Watson laid the foundations for his victory on Friday in the searing heat wave and high winds which affected the peloton en route from Sunbury to Bendigo on Stage 1. He missed out on the...