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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 12, 2012

Date published:
March 12, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Wiggins bridges 45-year gap at Paris-Nice

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) en route to victory on the Col d'Eze.
    Article published:
    March 11, 2012, 17:25 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Second Briton to win race after Tom Simpson in 1967

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) bridged a 45-year gap to become the second British rider to win Paris-Nice after he triumphed in the Col d’Eze time trial on Sunday.

    The late Tom Simpson was the only other British rider to sample Paris-Nice success, riding to overall victory in 1967, the year of his death on the slopes of Mont Ventoux at the Tour de France.

    “I know my cycling history and this is an enormous achievement," Wiggins said, according to Reuters. "It's an honour to be up there with Tom Simpson."

    Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) briefly threatened to ruin Wiggins’ day when he posted the quickest time at the midway point of the stage, but the Englishman summoned up a winning response to take the stage win and secure his yellow jersey.

    After Westra’s surprise stage win at Mende on Thursday, Wiggins understood that the Dutchman would be the danger man on the Col d’Eze. “I knew that Westra was very strong after he'd won that stage midweek," he admitted.

    In spite of his narrow six-second advantage coming into the stage, Wiggins said that he was confident that he would secure overall victory. “In terms of pressure it was nothing compared to an Olympic track final,” he said. "You can enjoy the moment, I was confident of my ability and today I rode it perfect."

    Wiggins’ victory means that he has now won both of France’s premier week-long stage races, having already triumphed in the Critérium du Dauphiné last June. Given the assured nature with which he carried the yellow jersey over the past six days, and with over 100km of time trialling on the menu this July, Wiggins will enter the Tour de France as a genuine threat for top honours.

    ...
  • Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop returns to professional ranks for 2012

    The Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop squad returns to the pro ranks for 2012.
    Article published:
    March 11, 2012, 19:42 GMT
    By:
    Neil Browne

    US UCI Continental squad to focus on domestic criterium calendars

    After a one-year hiatus Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop has returned to the professional peloton as a UCI Continental squad. In preparation for the 2012 season the squad held a late team camp in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Mountain Khakis' team captain and rider Adam Myerson told Cyclingnews that he expects his riders to already be in shape by the time they arrive.

    "By doing that we can focus on equipment, clothes and taking care of administrative stuff," said Myerson.

    For the 2012 season the eight riders from last year were re-signed as an indication that they were improving and as Myerson said, "We wanted to keep the band together."

    In addition to the normal housekeeping that every team needs to do in the beginning of the season, Myerson believes it's important to instill a code of conduct in the squad.

    "We're building a team with a strong set of values," said the team captain. "Watching Moneyball was a suggestion from [team manager] Jaime Bennett who saw it and there was some strong parallels between what we were trying to do as a pro team with a limited budget to compete on a national scale with guys that may not be marquee riders."

    In addition to the movie, Myerson spoke to the team about the importance of living by a code of conduct.

    "We've done this every year and it helps these guys to become not only better bike racers, but better young men."

    With the exception of 40-year old Myerson, Jon Hamblen and Neil Bezdek the remaining riders are under 25-years of age.

    "We want them to be upstanding young men," said Myerson. "We want them to know that for [team owner] Pat Raines, Jaime Bennett and myself that this team is an extension of our personal values."

    These personal values include an all inclusive team atmosphere and not "a rolling locker room."

    As such there is zero tolerance for what Myerson calls passive aggression with words or actions that might offend...

  • Vacansoleil-DCM fires on all cylinders at Paris-Nice

    Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) won the Mende stage in Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    March 11, 2012, 23:34 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Dutch squad captured three stages, two classifications and nearly won overall

    The Dutch ProTour squad Vacansoleil-DCM has much to be proud of from its performance at Paris-Nice, the first WorldTour event of 2012 on European soil. The team won three stages, the mountains and team classifications and race revelation Lieuwe Westra pushed race winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky) to the limit as he finished runner-up to the Briton, only eight seconds in arrears overall.

    The 29-year-old Dutchman had already shown he was on good form with a stage victory on the mountain finish at Mende on Thursday, and Westra began Sunday's concluding uphill time trial just six seconds behind Wiggins on general classification. Westra set a scintillating pace from the start as he blitzed the first checkpoint's best time by 18 seconds, and with Wiggins following him with a time three seconds slower at the 5.3km checkpoint the Dutchman could taste overall victory.

    Westra would unseat Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2R La Mondiale) from the hot seat by 31 seconds, but Wiggins proved his championship mettle by going two seconds faster to win the stage and clinch overall victory. For his efforts at Paris-Nice, Westra would finish second overall at eight seconds.

    "This was my first goal of the season and I am really happy with this second place," said Westra. "Last year I set the goal to compete this year in races like Paris-Nice and I confirm that I am capable of doing so. Losing to Wiggins who is at the top of races like this for years isn't a shame.

    "Our team is excellent in this race and I had great support. The team gave...

  • Paperwork holding up redistribution of Athens Olympic time trial medals

    Gold for Hamilton
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 1:19 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    IOC chasing documents from USADA on Hamilton investigation

    As the clock ticks down on the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) statute of limitations for revisions, the movement is yet to make a decision over whether to readjust the result of the 2004 Athens men's time trial, won by Tyler Hamilton.

    The US gold medallist was reported to have voluntarily turned in his prize to USADA (U.S Anti-Doping Agency) in May last year, a day after his public confession of doping during his career on the 60 Minutes program.

    The IOC requires documentation from USADA in order to formally remove Hamilton from the record books and then redistribute the medals – which has again been requested, IOC vice president Thomas Bach told The Associated Press.

    "USADA told us they're still looking into the matter," he said.

    Hamilton tested positive for homologous blood doping at the 2004 Vuelta a España, which followed the Olympic Games. In fact, Hamilton's "A" sample from the Olympic Games time trial had also tested positive for a blood transfusion, but mishandling of the backup sample meant the result could not be confirmed with the "B" sample, and therefore, Hamilton had been allowed to keep his Olympic medal.

    Hamilton had won the 2004 Olympic Games time trial ahead of Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia) and Bobby Julich (United States of America) and Michael Rogers (Australia). In theory, the new assignment of medals could be Ekimov - gold, Julich - silver and Rogers - bronze.

    A previous joint appeal by the Russian and Australian Olympic Committees to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in 2006, was denied. The Russians and Australians had asked unsuccessfully for CAS to give Hamilton's...

  • Cunego "satisfied" with time trial improvement

    Damiano Cunego
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 2:46 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian says work done on position has been productive

    Damiano Cunego's ninth place finish on the final stage of Paris-Nice is a big confidence booster for the Italian, who has worked on improving his time trial over the European winter months. The Lampre-ISD rider finished 59 seconds back on an indomitable Bradley Wiggins (Sky), but was within 26 seconds of a cluster of riders that included Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Andreas Kloden (RadioShack-Nissan) and Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun).

    Despite the uphill parcours of the time trial to the Col d'Èze favouring Cunego more than say the flat on which he's historically struggled, the Italian took plenty of positives from the performance which he believes vindicates the work he's put in to polish the discipline.

    "The time trial confirmed the improvement in my position, and my fit on the new bike, and I'm really satisfied with the way it turned out," Cunego explained. "I've been testing myself a lot here in France, and now I think I'll be very competitive in my next few races. [Today] gives me a lot of confidence that I can do a strong time trial."

    Any chance of a high overall finish was out the window for the Italian on the first road stage when the 21-strong break of riders that included Wiggins and Tejay Van Garderen finished 2:29 ahead of the main field. He managed to test himself on Thursday's queen stage to Mende with a sixth place finish, but has otherwise ridden within himself.

    Cunego flagged before the start of Paris-Nice that he was still "a month...

  • Is Durbridge the next Cancellara?

    Luke Durbridge on his way to the gold medal
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 3:31 GMT
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    Tabotta predicting big things to come for time trial ace

    Cycling Australia's High Performance Director Kevin Tabotta is firm of the belief that while there is no doubt Luke Durbridge will be disappointed to have fallen out of contention for a spot in Australia's team pursuit squad for the UCI Track World Championships and London Olympic Games, better things are to come for the 20-year-old.

    Cyclingnews revealed last week that Durbridge's gains over the past 12 months on the road had in fact resulted in him no longer being able to produce the speed required for the four-kilometre event on the pines. Durbridge was a member of the rainbow jersey-winning team in Apeldoorn last year.

    "I had my doubts in the Cali World Cup camp in November," Durbridge told Cyclingnews regarding his future with Australia's track team. "I hadn't made the progression I would have liked to in the team pursuit area. Then at the London camp it just confirmed that I was better-suited to the road and the track wasn't going to happen for me."

    On the road, Durbridge improved on his 2010 silver medal to become under 23 world time trial champion in Copenhagen. Tabotta believes that his 2011 result on the road is just the start with bigger things to come for the West Austalian GreenEdge neo pro.

    "We talk about athletes as being aerobic or anaerobic animals and Luke is very much an aerobic, diesel-style endurance rider," Tabotta explained. "Hence he's got really good attributes in road time trialling."

    Tabotta confirmed that it was the opening kilometre of the team pursuit that was hurting Durbridge, with its 0:01:02-pace.

    "His physiology is telling us that he can do a certain pace all day," Tabotta said. "But to operate over four minutes, you only...

  • New order for UCI WorldTour rankings

    Points classification leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 4:27 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Valverde, Sky ProCycling and Spain move into the lead

    Brad Wiggins' victory at Paris-Nice has seen has seen Sky ProCycling romp into the overall lead of the UCI WorldTour team rankings, with the British team moving up from fourth to first.

    Whilst the British team's first ever WorldTour team rankings lead is largely thanks to Wiggins, Dutchman Lieuwe Westra's second place overall behind the Briton has helped his Vacansoleil-DCM squad enter the WorldTour team classification with an impressive fifth place (no less than three Paris-Nice stage victories for Vacansoleil-DCM, taken by Westra, Thomas De Gendt and Gustav Larsson respectively, have also made a major contribution to that.)

    The biggest mover in the team rankings, though, is undoubtedly Sky ProCycling. The Britons have gained three places and now hold 207 points to Spanish line-up Team Movistar's total of 192. Former leaders RadioShack-Nissan, meanwhile, on 149 points, have slumped from first to third.

    Although they remain at number two in the nations ranking, Team Movistar had other post-Paris-Nice news to celebrate. Their leader Alejandro Valverde, third in the Course Au Soleil and himself a stage winner in an uphill dash at Lac de Vassiviere, is now the top rider in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings.

    A close second behind GreenEdge's Simon Gerrans in the Tour Down Under, the series' opening race, Valverde's consistency throughout the...

  • Evans missing form of 2011 at Tirreno - Adriatico

    Cadel Evans makes his way to the start with his BMC teammates
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 8:31 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Australian held up by crash adding to woe

    A crash on the descent of the Piano Roseto may have held up Cadel Evans (BMC) and effectively ended any hopes that he had of posting a competitive result on Tirreno-Adriatico's fifth stage, but the Australian admits that the misfortune wasn't the only factor at play in his disappointing result.

    Evans, defending champion, finished 10:36 behind stage winner Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and now sits 11:17 down on the time of overall leader and former teammate Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan), well out of contention for the 2012 edition of the Italian race.

    Evans, who used Tirreno-Adriatico as his launch pad towards his Tour de France victory in 2011, said that his current form was also to blame for Sunday's poor showing.

    "My legs are not as good as they were last year as this time," the 35-year-old said. "I'm sure they're getting better and there will be better days. But the race is much harder than last year, so that is amplifying the difference between the ones who are in shape and the rest of us."

    The BMC team has been on the back foot since the opening stage team time trial where they lost nearly a minute to winner's GreenEdge, having been buffeted by windy conditions.

    BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said another disappointment on Sunday was a miscommunication that kept George Hincapie from taking his own chance on the final climb.

    "This was like one of the hardest stages of the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia," Baldato said. "George and Greg Van Avermaet and Michael Schär were in the front group of 30 after the crash but stopped and waited for Cadel. It was good of them to wait, but...