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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 12, 2012

Date published:
March 12, 2012, 09:00
  • 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
    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.

    “I don't know if I'm a favourite but I'm one of maybe five riders who can do something there this summer," Wiggins said of the Tour.

    Fourth in the Tour in 2009 and third overall at last season’s Vuelta a España, 2012 is set to be a pivotal year in Wiggins’ career. Overall victory at Paris-Nice completes a fine start to his campaign, but the Sky rider sees his win as just that.

    "I said Paris-Nice was a stepping stone, no disrespect for Paris-Nice. But I must continue that progression to July,” he said.

  • 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
    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 or intimidate other riders.

    "We don't want any junior high mentality on the team."

    Not to say that the drives in the team van will be quiet, boring trips, Myerson likes humor but wants it to be inclusive and not alienate others.

    As a team with a limited budget and a roster of guys suited for criteriums Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop isn't looking for an invitation to the Amgen Tour of California. Instead they will continue to travel the around the country for the USA CRITS Series and USA Cycling's new National Criterium Calendar, which is a huge focus.

    "We're chasing that (National Criterium Calendar) one-hundred percent."

    With continuing their successes in mind – Mountain Khakis has won four consecutive overall team victories in the USA CRITS Series in addition to three individual rider titles – Myerson describes the team's strategy.

    "We don't always come out and smash the races. We come out and let other riders smash each other," said Myerson. "We observe, participate, but make sure it doesn't get away from us. We look for opportunities."

    With the 2012 season underway Myerson says that this year's squad is one year stronger and better.

    "This year we're going to be a lot more aggressive than passive. You'll see us a lot more on the attack than in the past."

    Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop 2012 roster: Neil Bezdek (USA), Thomas Brown (USA), Jonathan Hamblen (USA), Luke Keough (USA), Shane Kline (USA), Travis Livermon (USA), Chris Monteleone (USA), Clay Murfet (Aus), Adam Myerson (USA), Jerome Townsend (USA), Benjamin Zawacki (USA)

  • 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
    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 me the confidence this winter to aim for this race and the result is satisfying. In the upcoming weeks I wish to show my shape and help the other riders in races like Flanders."

    As it did in 2011, the team opened Paris-Nice with a stage victory, this time courtesy of 2012 signee Gustav Erik Larsson who captured the stage 1 time trial and the first yellow jersey of the eight-day stage race.

    Dutchman Lieuwe Westra made the decisive split on stage 2 in which 21 riders went clear during stiff crosswinds and three days later would win Vacansoleil-DCM's second stage at Paris-Nice. With his solo victory on the Mende mountain finish, Westra put his hat in the ring as an overall contender as he moved into second place overall, six seconds behind Wiggins.

    Two days later Thomas De Gendt was on the attack for over 170km in stage seven with breakaway companion Rein Taraamae (Cofidis), and after their cooperation off the front came to an end De Gendt soloed the final 50km of the stage to claim Vacansoleil-DCM's third stage win. De Gendt, who won the opening stage at Paris-Nice in 2011, is building form for his primary season objective, the Giro d'Italia, and hopes his victory augers well for the Italian Grand Tour.

    "I want to be in perfect shape in May which means you have to take an easy season start in January and February. The fact that I can win here in a WorldTour race with growing condition is great.

    "Once we got away I knew it was for the whole day. My first plan was to aim for the time trial on Sunday but the sport directors saw chances for the stage and I didn’t save myself."

    De Gendt beat runner-up Rein Taraamae by more than six minutes while the peloton arrived in Nice more than nine minutes off the pace. De Gendt's race-winning effort was instrumental in moving Vacansoleil-DCM into first place on the team classification, which they would hold through to the finish.

    Frederik Veuchelen won Paris-Nice's mountains classification for Vacansoleil-DCM, the first Belgian to do so since Eddy Merckx.

    "It is an honor to succeed Eddy Merckx forty years after his win," said Veuchelen. "I had a good winter and the condition is great. Most of the seasons I perform from February to October and it will be interesting to see if I can keep this level."

    Vacansoleil-DCM directeur sportif Jean-Paul van Poppel was clearly pleased with the team's performance.

    "We set the goal for this year to improve the quality of the victories and so we did this week. Furthermore we planned to be in great shape from this week. We showed that here and in Tirreno-Adriatico where Johnny Hoogerland and Wout Poels ride with the best. We invested in the core of the team and it gives a good feeling when they get results."

  • Paperwork holding up redistribution of Athens Olympic time trial medals

    Gold for Hamilton
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 01:19
    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 medal to Ekimov.

    The IOC executive board meets mid this week and it was hoped that the matter could be finalised but this appears unlikely. Back confirmed in the interview that the IOC could eventually act on its own should the paperwork not be handed over with an August deadline approaching.

    The purpose of the IOC requesting the paperwork is to ensure that Hamilton's result is the only adjustment that needs to be made and therefore there is no other suspicious activity from an athlete or coach during the Athens Games. The IOC does have the option of not redistributing the medals, and only disqualifying Hamilton.

    USADA said it had no comment to make on the Hamilton-IOC case, in The Associated Press article.


    legal case
    Lance Armstrong
  • Cunego "satisfied" with time trial improvement

    Damiano Cunego
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 02:46
    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 away from top form" with the Volta a Catalunya, Pais Vasco, and the Ardennes his next big objectives.

  • Is Durbridge the next Cancellara?

    Luke Durbridge on his way to the gold medal
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 03:31
    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 have to lift that intensity by a couple of per cent and that will shoot your blood lactates beyond what you're able to deal with, and that's what's happening with Luke. He's just not dealing with the speed that occurs in the first kilometre and unfortunately you've got to be going at that speed to be in the race."

    Durbridge is currently at a GreenEdge training camp in the Sierra Navada preparing for an assault on the tough roads of northern Europe where he is expected to make his debut at the VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde although he may also race Waregem a week earlier.

    While comparisons between Fabian Cancellara and Durbridge have been made in the past, with the pair sharing similar physical attributes, Tabotta's predictions add further weight to the expectations.

    "I think what you'll see with someone like Luke Durbridge is the older he gets, the better he's going to get over distance. As he develops his road career, and gets into the 240 and 250km distances and he gets five years down the track, I think he's going to be a big player down that end."


    time trial specialist
  • New order for UCI WorldTour rankings

    Points classification leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2012, 04:27
    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 spring has earned him 167 points. Wiggins, meanwhile, has taken his first WorldTour 2012 points to become the ranking's second-classified rider, with 112, whilst Gerrans drops to third.

    But Wiggins is far from being the only ‘new' face in the top ten of the individual ranking following Europe's first big WorldTour race. Westra has powered his way straight into fourth spot overall, the talented Slovenian Simon Spilak (Katusha Team) is another new addition at sixth, whilst equally promising young American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) is in eighth and former Tour de L'Avenir stage winner Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ-Big Mat) lies in ninth.

    Yet another big change has taken place in the countries ranking, where Spain has shifted into the top spot, in part thanks to Valverde. However, his compatriot Luis León Sanchez (Rabobank Cycling Team) victory over Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) on stage six of Paris-Nice also helped propel Spain ahead of former leaders Australia by 12 points, 205 to 193.

    The two top nations are already well clear of Great Britain which is a new entry at third overall, but with a comparatively small total of 112 points. Could this be the start of a two-way battle between Spain and Australia for the nations title in 2012? Certainly the other countries can ill-afford to rest on their laurels after such a flying start by the two top nations.

    Yet more significant classification changes are certain, in any case, when Tirreno-Adriatico finishes this Wednesday and again after Milan-San Remo next Saturday.


    WorldTour standings as of March 11

    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 167  pts
    2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 112  
    3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team 110  
    4 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 92  
    5 Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack-Nissan 72  
    6 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team 62  
    7 Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky Procycling 61  
    8 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 51  
    9 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FdJ-Big Mat 40  
    10 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan 40  
    11 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 34  
    12 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan 30  
    13 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 20  
    14 Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar Team 20  
    15 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team 18  
    16 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team 15  
    17 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana Pro Team 10  
    18 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 8  
    19 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 7  
    20 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 7  
    21 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FdJ-Big Mat 7  
    22 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 6  
    23 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 6  
    24 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team 6  
    25 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 6  
    26 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team 5  
    27 Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD 5  
    28 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team 5  
    29 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha Team 4  
    30 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 4  
    31 Jens Voigt (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan 4  
    32 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 4  
    33 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 3  
    34 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan 3  
    35 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha Team 2  
    36 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda 2  
    37 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale 2  
    38 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 1  
    39 Greg Henderson (Nzl) Lotto Belisol Team 1  
    40 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda 1  
    41 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team 1  
    42 Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 1  
    43 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 1  
    44 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team 1  
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Sky Procycling 207  pts
    2 Movistar Team 192  
    3 Radioshack-Nissan 149  
    4 Greenedge Cycling Team 111  
    5 Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 105  
    6 Katusha Team 78  
    7 BMC Racing Team 52  
    8 FdJ-Big Mat 47  
    9 Omega Pharma-Quickstep 33  
    10 Lotto Belisol Team 27  
    11 Rabobank Cycling Team 27  
    12 Astana Pro Team 11  
    13 Lampre - ISD 11  
    14 Garmin - Barracuda 3  
    15 Ag2R La Mondiale 2  
    16 Liquigas-Cannondale 2  
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Spain 205  pts
    2 Australia 193  
    3 Great Britain 112  
    4 Netherlands 92  
    5 Belgium 91  
    6 Portugal 72  
    7 Slovenia 67  
    8 France 62  
    9 United States 54  
    10 Norway 35  
    11 Germany 26  
    12 Italy 12  
    13 Croatia 10  
    14 Belarus 7  
    15 Sweden 6  
    16 Russia 4  
    17 New Zealand 1  
  • 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, 08:31
    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 George was having a really good day and could have finished in the top 20 for sure."

    team leader