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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 10, 2014

Date published:
March 10, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Sagan struggles to smile after second place in Strade Bianche

    Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) race at Strade Bianche
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 12:15 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale rider hoping Tirreno-Adriatico will boost his form

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) struggled to find a smile as he stood on the Strade Bianche podium next to Michal Kwiatkowski, holding the flowers of the bridesmaid rather those of the race winner.

    Sagan is arguably the most complete one-day rider in professional cycling at the moment but he missed out on a major victory yet again, just as he did in Milan-San Remo when he beaten in the sprint by Gerald Ciolek and at the Tour of Flanders when he was out powered by Fabian Cancellara.

    Sagan can sprint almost as well as a pure sprinter, he appears to have the talent and tactical intelligence to win the cobbled classics and the climbing ability and consistency to dominate the points competition at the Tour de France. However his multitude of abilities often means he struggles against riders who are on great form and have a unique talent.

    Kwiatkowski is currently in the form of his life and will be a sure contender for victory at Tirreno-Adriatico. The strength of his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team forced an isolated Sagan to go on the attack earlier than was ideal for his current level of form. Kwiatkowski then used his superior climbing to drop Sagan on the final climb into the centre of Siena.

    "I'm not happy because I didn’t win. He was stronger this time, there was nothing I could do," Sagan said as he reflected on the race, admitting he did not have a mechanical problem.

    "I had a puncture…. My legs went flat," he said. "I tried to do my race but I didn’t feel great and saw that he was pedaling a lot better than I was. That's racing, sometimes you feel great, sometimes you don’t feel great. It was a very hard race and the strong wind made it even harder. I hope that my form is going peak later in the spring."

    Sagan admitted that being isolated in the front group of 24 riders forced him to go on the attack. Last year Cannondale dominated the race, with Moreno Moser attacking alone, allowing...

  • MTN-Qhubeka not surprised by Kudus in Langkawi

    Merhawi Kudus is MTN-Qhubeka's hot new climber from Eritrea
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 15:55 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Team says the Eritrean is an exceptional talent

    Merhawi Kudus - remember the name because you might be hearing it a lot more, if his team is to be believed. MTN-Qhubeka directeur sportif Kevin Campbell praised the intelligent ride by the 20-year-old Eritrean that saw him take second place in the general classification at the Tour de Langkawi.

    “We knew he was a great climber, but he showed that he was something out of this world almost. So we were very happy with the way that he went, but it’s not surprising,” Campbell told Cyclingnews.

    “He rode a great ride on Genting, because he obviously didn’t panic when the move went. We had two riders in the move and then, as we had told him before, rode up the climb at his own pace. He rode fantastically well and even at the top he caught the escapees and still had the wits to race for the win.”

    The Tour de Langkawi is Kudus’ first race after joining the South African team for this season. He was supposed to have a ride with MTN’s feeder team in 2013 but visa problems meant he went to Switzerland to ride for the UCI’s World Cycling Centre instead. The Eritrean put in some solid victories in Europe, including overall victory at the Tour de Côte d’Or, which told MTN that they were onto a winner with the young rider. However, there was still an element of uncertainty as to how he would perform when he took the step up to the professional level.

    “We didn’t know what to expect. He’s been racing well at a continental level, as he did last year. Now we are racing against some really top quality riders,” said Campbell. “It’s very encouraging to...

  • Gilbert hits out at cars on the course in Roma Maxima

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team)
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 16:39 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    BMC leader takes top ten place

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was not in the mood to enjoy the spectacular finish of the Roma Maxima in the centre of historic Rome after finishing seventh amongst the sprinters after they failed to catch Alejandro Valverde on the line.

    Gilbert was disappointed not to win but also angry with traffic problems at the back of the race. He was not afraid to speak out of the dangers of cars straying into the race. He also vented his frustration on Twitter, writing:"After a technical problem I was racing on the open road with a lot of trafic to come back then my saddle was broken but I stil smile!"

    "No doubt cycling is the must dangerous sport in the world."

    "It was a real amateur race," Gilbert told Cyclingnews after taking a drink.

    "I had a problem with my bike and I was with Chris Sutton and another guy. We were only 20 seconds behind the main group but the traffic was open and we were riding between the cars. It was very, very dangerous. I hope we never see this again in cycling because it’s a real shame."

    Gilbert explained that the danger occurred on the long straight Appia Antico road on the outskirts of Rome.

    "We were only 15km from the finish. I had to change my bike and then I broke my saddle. I was trying to ride but it wasn't easy."

    Gilbert has an under-par start to the season. He struggled to be competitive at the Tour of Oman but was third in the Classic Sud Ardèche - Souvenir Francis Delpech last weekend. Despite his frustrations at Roma Maxima, he is set to ride Tirreno-Adriatico and then Milan-San Remo.

    "I felt good despite the problems and I think my form is good. I'm looking forward to Tirreno-Adriatico," he said.


  • Van Garderen withdraws from Paris-Nice

    Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in action at the Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 18:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC American abandons stage 1 due to illness

    Tejay van Garderen's (BMC Racing Team) 2014 Paris-Nice came to early end as the 25-year-old American abandoned today's opening stage after just 80km due to illness. After finishing fifth overall in 2012 and fourth overall in 2013 the American was expected to once again be a general classification contender in his first WorldTour race of the season, but a stomach bug forced the BMC leader to withdraw.

    "At night, I had all these stomach cramps, and bad diarrhea all day yesterday and then a little bit of a fever and no appetite," Van Garderen said. "It felt like my sickness was getting better and today, I woke up and I felt OK. But I was really just empty. I couldn't take in calories and just had nothing in the muscles."

    BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said despite the illness, van Garderen was motivated to compete. "But you can't race without fuel," Dr. Testa said. "I think the combination of dehydration and low glycogen in his muscles forced him to stop. Hopefully, he will recover in a couple days."

    Paris-Nice was the first European race of van Garderen's 2014 season campaign. Van Garderen opened his season at the Tour of Oman where he finished second overall to Chris Froome (Sky).

    As a result of his withdrawal from Paris-Nice, van Garderen's race program may be adjusted to compensate for the lost days of competition. Following Paris-Nice, the next race scheduled for van Garderen was Spain's Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, March 24-30.

  • Tom Jelte Slagter happy at Garmin-Sharp

    Tom Jelte Slagter made his debut for Garmin Sharp on Mallorca
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 19:40 GMT
    José Been

    Dutchman faces first stage race of season at Paris-Nice

    In 2013 Tom Jelte Slagter had an early start to the season with the Tour Down Under. The Dutchman won the race but chose to stay home this year to watch his son be born. Paris-Nice will be the first stage race of his season. "My current level is high so I think I can go for stage wins right away. If I succeed a good overall might be possible too," he told Wielerflits.

    Though Slagter only had one race day this season [Trofeo Platja de Muro] he is confident. "The team decided not to let me start in Ruta del Sol or the Volta ao Algarve. Instead we did some solid training on Mallorca together. I feel good now but we'll have to wait until the next race to see that feeling confirmed." 

    The 24-year-old Slagter made his professional debut with Rabobank in 2011. Garmin-Sharp is his first foreign team but that poses no problems for the Dutch rider - he feels at home. "When the team supported me in my decision not to ride Tour Down Under because of the birth of my child, I was really grateful. I had three great years with Rabobank and Team Belkin but when Garmin-Sharp were enthusiastic to sign me it was an easy choice. It's one of the greatest teams." 

    At the American team Slagter finds four Dutch riders [Sebastian Langeveld, Dylan van Baarle, Thomas Dekker and Raymond Kreder]. "The language of the team is English but that also was the case at Belkin. The communication is easy and I feel right at home."

    The first real test comes at Paris-Nice but his main goals of the season are the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia. "I lacked some experience in the Ardennes races in previous years but that should be alright now. The Flèche Wallonne and the Mur de Huy suit me best. I...

  • Newly crowned Track World Champion Luke Davison rekindles love of cycling

    Team Autralia's Luke Davison (2-L), Glenn O'shea (1-L), Alexander Edmondson (C), Mitchell Mulhern (1-R) and Miles Scotson (2-R) pose after winning the gold medal during the Men's Team Pursuit
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 20:30 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Australian sets sights on Glasgow, Rio and the Tour's green jersey

    When 23-year-old Luke Davison (Synergy Baku) found himself crowding the top step of the men's team pursuit podium at the 2014 UCI Track World Championships in Cali, Colombia there were a million emotions racing through the young Australian's head, but as he tells Cyclingnews his first thoughts were of sheer relief.

    "It was big step for all of us," said Davison upon returning from Colombia to Sydney last week. "We had gone to the ends of the Earth in terms of training, including being in Canberra for a month for altitude camp where we were having 40-degree days, and we were just sitting there thinking 'this better pay off.'"

    "But when you are standing on the podium you just kind of forget all the pain and all of that time spent away from home.

    "It was also very reassuring to do it with those four guys that you were suffering with everyday on the bike," he said of his teammates Glenn O'Shea (24), Alex Edmondson (20), Mitchell Mulhern (23) and Miles Scotson (20)."

    Davison, a former junior world champion in both the omnium and the madison (with Thomas Parker) in 2008, was a replacement for Scotson in the finals after Scotson had already assisted the team in qualifying and ensured that five Australians would be collecting gold medals. This would prove to be a brilliant move by national team coach Tim Dekker.

    "Lasse Norman Hansen from Denmark is just a freight train," said Davison of Hansen, the 2012 Olympic omnium gold medallist Australia faced off against in the gold medal final. "He was pulling two-lap turns and he is amazing.

    "I was starting first in the world cups [Mexico]," continued Davison, himself the omnium World Cup winner in December. "But Tim put me at third wheel and said we needed someone who...

  • Appollonio saves Ag2r-La Mondiale's day at Roma Maxima

    Davide Appollonio (AG2R) has to settle for second
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 21:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian sprinter takes second after Pozzovivo is caught on the line

    Davide Appollonio and Ag2r-La Mondiale was one of many riders and teams caught out by the lack of race radios at Roma Maxima.

    Limited race information due to the small gap between the break and the bunch and the high-speed return to Rome left riders in the dark about the attack by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and so the bunch hesitated in their chasing. Appollonio was desperate to contact Pozzovivo to advise him not to work because was he ready for a bunch sprint behind.

    The radio silence meant that everyone was forced to race on instinct and improvisation, without their directeur sportif calling the shots as he watched the race on television.

    Instead of playing a tactical game, knowing his fast-finishing teammate was in the chase group behind, Pozzovivo sportingly did his bit to help Valverde stay away and was left with little reward for his efforts after being passed in sight of the line. Appollonio won the sprint for second behind Valverde but was gutted not to have been sprinting for victory.

    He did not blame his diminutive teammate but rued the lack of race radios.

    "I had a lot of riders up there ready to work for me but unfortunately Pozzovivo didn’t know I was there for the sprint and so didn't play a tactical game with Valverde," Appollonio explained to the huddle of journalists at the finish in Rome.

    "If he'd known I was in the chase group, he could have refused to work. But that's racing. There's a tiny difference between winning and losing and between losing and winning."

    Appollonio knew that Pozzovivo had attacked because that was part of Ag2r-La Mondiale's race strategy agreed before the race.

    "I'd said I felt good but I couldn't...

  • Tinkoff-Saxo remain in the dark about Rogers case

    Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) in the break before taking off on his own.
    Article published:
    March 10, 2014, 1:30 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Two months after 'A' test positive for clenbuterol, no further developments

    Two months after the news broke that Australian veteran Michael Rogers had tested positive in an 'A' test for clenbuterol, the case appears to have stalled with no news on the B sample analysis that would either confirm his positive or see the rider cleared.

    Team spokesman Jacinto Vidarte told Cyclingnews on Saturday that Tinkoff-Saxo, Roger's team since he left Sky at the end of 2012, have no news on the issue and that they are waiting for further developments.

    "The team knows nothing new for now, we are waiting for news," Vidarte said.

    Rogers, 33, returned an 'A' test positive for clenbuterol at the Japan Cup on October 20, 2013, after his solo victory in the road race.

    The team issued a press release when the news broke in December stating that Rogers had made them aware of the result.

    "The Australian explained to the team management that he never ingested the substance knowingly nor deliberately and fears that the adverse analytical finding origins from a contaminated food source," a press release stated.

    In accordance with the team's anti-doping policies Rogers was provisionally suspended and he has not raced this year.