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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 17, 2014

Date published:
March 17, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Degenkolb secures green jersey win in Paris-Nice

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was pleased to bring home the green jersey in Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    March 16, 2014, 19:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    German adds consistency to speed in fourth WorldTour season

    It was close, but John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) finally managed to pull off a victory in the points classification in a WorldTour race, winning the final green jersey in Paris-Nice by two points over general classification winner Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale).

    "Winning the green jersey is a nice success for the team and a reward for all the hard work here at Paris - Nice," Degenkolb said. "The guys controlled it well before the first sprint and those three points were very important."

    The German sprinter won five stages in the 2012 Vuelta a España, but finished the race in fourth place in the points classification, in a competition that favored the climbers heavily.

    Degenkolb and his team had to work for the jersey in the final Paris-Nice stage, coming into the stage with only a two point advantage on Betancur and the Col d'Eze standing between them and the finish line.

    After taking three points in the first intermediate sprint in Plan du Var, the German only had to hang on and hope that Betancur would not contest for the final stage victory in Nice.

    Had Betancur not been so closely shadowing second-placed overall Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and had to brake when Costa was involved in a crash in the final meters, the points classification may not have gone Degenkolb's way. The German was pleased to earn the green jersey in the end, and sees the week as promise of good form and consistency for the coming races.

    "I'm happy with my form ahead of the Classics and the team have done a really good job in selecting the best race program to get us in the best possible shape for the Classics."

  • Kwiatkowski tries to learn from his bad day at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
    Article published:
    March 16, 2014, 20:06 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    "It's not a good day but it's not the last day in my career"

    Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a long swig from a can of soda given to him by his soigneur at the finish of stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico, perhaps trying to wash away his disappointment as well as re-hydrate after a difficult day in the saddle.

    The young Polish rider started the 192km stage with a 16-second lead on Alberto Contador. He ended it more than six minutes behind the Tinkoff-Saxo team leader and slipped from first to 19th overall at 5:57.

    "The plan was to defend the jersey, i was really motivated but you know, fighting against Alberto and Nairo (Quintana) is not an easy thing. I did my best," he said.

    Kwiatkowski appeared to struggle on Saturday's finish to Selvarotonda but managed to hold not to Contador's tail. Despite trying to control the attacks with teammate Wout Poels and to some extent Rigoberto Uran early on during the 12.3km climb of the Passo Lanciano, he could do little to stop Contador from blowing Tirreno-Adriatico apart.

    "On the bottom of Lanciano I was actually supported well from my teammate and I was feeling good," Kwiatkowski explained between drinks and pauses for thought.

    "Today you know, Alberto and Nairo really went hard. I just exploded at one moment and couldn't go even at my own speed. Passo Lanciano was really hard for me. Then on the descent I couldn't even concentrate. It was hard to catch back, Rigo and Poels stayed with me but I was just finished. I couldn't go anymore."

    Such a difficult day was a tough moment for Kwiatkowski, but also a day to learn a lot about his limits and about stage racing. He found the optimism to look to both the short term and long term future.

    "For sure, every day I'm gaining experience," he said....

  • Jack Anderson inaugural Subaru Australian Open Criterium champion

    Jack Anderson now wears the Sprint jersey
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 0:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Drapac keen to continue winning ways at Tour de Perth

    With teams limited to three riders to even out the field at Mooloolaba, Queensland, the peloton was unable to reign in the breakaway which formed five laps into the 45 minute race as Jack Anderson (Drapac) out sprinted Ryan Cavanagh (QAS) to claim the first Australian Open Criterium crown. 

    As predicted with criterium racing, there were early attacks in the attempt to form a break and it was a group of four that managed to build a 30 second lead over the peloton.

    In the break were reigning Melbourne to Warrnambool Champion Anderson, Jessie Kerrison (Budget Forklifts), Jack Beckinsale (Avanti Racing) and the 18-year-old Mooloolaba local Cavanagh who all worked together ensure they would stay away despite the best efforts of several teams trying to organise the chase.

    Under-23 road and criterium national champion and pre-race favourite Caleb Ewan was forced to chase when the gap started to increase, but as the the solo Subaru backed rider, he was unable to successfully chase the break on his own.

    With former track sprinter Kerrison in the break, Anderson and Cavanagh attacked in the final laps to distance Kerrison and built a small lead as they approached the bell lap.

    In the two-up sprint, it was the experienced Anderson who got the better of the local favourite Cavanagh with Beckinsale taking out the final podium place.

    "The finish was really quick, credit it to him [Cavanagh] I've been on that side of the podium plenty of times, he's young, he'll have his chance in the future I'm sure," Anderson said after claiming the win.

    "My coach always says the strongest bike rider never wins."

    The win was Anderson's first on the road for his new Drapac team and comes off the back of his points classification victory at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in...

  • Arthur Vichot impresses with stage win and podium placing at Paris-Nice

    Stage winner Arthur Vichot (FDJ)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 1:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Two stage wins and two days in yellow for FDJ

    Having won Stage 1 of Paris-Nice thanks to the top end speed of 2012 French road race champion Nacer Bouhanni, FDJ capped off the 'race to the sun' with victory on the final stage by 2013 French road race champion Arthur Vichot who elevated himself onto the final step of the podium due to the bonus points on offer at the finish line. Bouhanni also held the yellow jersey for two days in a successful race for the French team.

    "I could not ask for more," Vichot said with a big smile after claiming his second WorldTour win having won Stage 5 of the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné in 2012.

    "It's great to win with the tricolour jersey, this is the first time [to win wearing it]. This rewards the work of my teammates who have supported me all week for me, who was their leader for the first time."

    Earlier in the season, Vichot was down as a starter for Tirreno-Adriatico in order to prepare for Milan-San Remo but the unveiling of the Paris-Nice route in early February saw DS Marc Madiot decided on the French race which this year was more suited classics than GC riders.

    "It's true," said Vichot. "Paris-Nice this year was heavily loaded with punchers and so I started in the general classification. I knew this morning that it was not fixed. Everything was still possible. In the sprint, there has been a fall behind me, but that's racing ... Me, I was the victim of a jumped chain, I do not know what...

  • Carlos Betancur tied at top of WorldTour rankings

    UCI World Tour
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 3:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Lampre-Merida and Australia lead team and nation standings

    In winning Paris-Nice overall, Carlos Betancur not only became the first Colombian but the first rider under the guidance of Vincent Lavenu to claim victory at the 'Race to the Sun' which elevated him to the top of UCI WorldTour rankings. Betancur's victory with Ag2r-La Mondiale was also the first win by a French team in 23 years, the last being Tony Rominger's victory for Toshiba back in 1991 - the year after Betancur, 24, was born.

    Betancur won two stages at the second WorldTour race of the season and wore the leader's jersey for four days to pick up 114 points at the eight-day race.

    As one of the emerging Colombian general classification riders, Betancur was quick to thank his teammates for their support as the leader of the French team.

    "Wear the yellow jersey during four days is fantastic. The team demonstrated this week that it is a great team and this victory is very important for us. My teammates did a huge work to support me and this evening, I'm extremely happy. I'm also proud to show Colombian cycling at the highest level."

    Betancur is currently tied on 114 points with Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) at the top of the individual WorldTour rankings with world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) in third with 88 points but again equal on points - with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team).

    Diego Ulissi is fifth with 83 points after his third place overall at the Tour Down Under which sees his Lampre-Merida team take a clear lead in the team classification on 171 points.


  • Cadel Evans not 100% at Tirreno

    Cadel Evans (BMC)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 5:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC leader looking to peak for the Giro

    Having entered the race as the leader for BMC, Cadel Evans turned helper for teammate Ben Hermans on the queen stage of Tirreno-Adriatico which included the Muro di Guardiagrele which at points reaches a gradient of 30%.

    Hermans made his way into the leading group up the penultimate climb of the day but couldn't maintain the pace of the top GC riders and instead with the help of Evans as a super-domestique, and also Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Hermans surged on the downhill in an attempt to reach the leaders but an unfortunate puncture halted his chances for a good result.

    "The team was around Ben and Cadel was working for him to bring him into a good position because he was a little bit lost at the beginning of the climb. But with the help of Cadel, Ben came back. He made a very good chase and, at the top of the Passo Lanciano, he was not far from the group of Quintana," sport director Valerio Piva said who rated the day as "three stars" out of five.

    "He was unbelievable in the downhill but then he had the puncture and was unable to catch that group."

    For Hermans, the help from Evans and encouragement from Piva in the team car spurred him on, but ultimately the Belgian, who signed for BMC having spent four years with RadioShack, was unable to recover from the puncture.

    "When I reached the top, I went full gas in the downhill because you don't waste a lot of power there. I made a gap and I was on my way to the other group. But then I hit a rock and I had a puncture...

  • Riis ready to take on Team Sky after Contador impresses at Tirreno

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff - Saxo) on the attack
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 9:44 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    "We might have the battle that everyone dreams of"

    Bjarne Riis stood near the podium area at Tirreno-Adriatico and savoured the moment Alberto Contador celebrated his stage victory and then pulled on the race leader's blue jersey.

    2013 was a season of struggle, tension and disappointment. For lots of reasons, including Anti-Doping Denmark's investigation into Riis' past as team manager. So far this season, everything is going to plan and Contador appears to be back to his very best and ready to challenge Chris Froome at the Tour de France.

    "I think that we might have the battle that everyone dreams of," Riis told journalists at the finish line, clearly up for a battle with Froome, Team Sky and anyone else during the rest of the season.

    Riis revealed he has been working hard with Contador to learn from the mistakes and problems of 2013.

    "Alberto's a winner, what happened last year wasn't easy for him," he explained.

    "People can imagine that it's been tough mentally to come back. He had to reset his focus. We agreed that we'd try to approach it differently this winter. He worked hard, it paid off and now this is the guy I know he can be."

    "He'd probably not agree that it's a comeback. I think he's always been there, even if he's not been on the top level. The problem is that we expect this from him all the time but he's just not able to deliver all the time."

    More structured training

    Riis refused to give details on how he has changed Contador's training. When the Tinkoff-Saxo team gathered in Gran Canaria in January, Contador stayed for the official team photograph but left before Oleg Tinkov arrived so he could train at altitude on Mount Teide.

    "I'm not going into details about how he trained and what we do but maybe it's a little more structured," Riis said.

    "It's not that he...

  • Horner abandons Tirreno-Adriatico due to tendinitis

    Christopher Horner (Lampre - Merida)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 10:51 GMT
    Cycling News

    American withdraws before stage 6

    Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) has withdrawn from Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of stage 6, citing tendinitis in his left Achilles tendon. The 42-year-old was lying in 11th place overall following Sunday’s tough stage to the Muro di Guardiagrele, 3:06 down on race leader Alberto Contador.

    “Horner is suffering from tendinitis in his left Achilles tendon,” said Lampre-Merida doctor Matteo Beltemacchi in a statement released by the team on Monday morning. “By common agreement, in order to avoid a worsening of the situation, Chris will quit the race.”

    Horner’s abandon marks the second successive year that his early season has been disrupted by injury. Twelve months ago, the American was forced out of the Volta a Catalunya with a knee injury and did not return to action until the Tour of Utah in August, before going on to land a shock victory at the Vuelta a España.

    In spite of that victory, Horner began 2014 without a contract but eventually reached an agreement with Lampre in January. He finished 8th overall at last month’s Volta ao Algarve and is pencilled in to lead the team’s general classification challenge at the Giro d’Italia.

    “In the next days the team’s medical staff is going to evaluate the best path to recovery,” the Lampre statement concluded.