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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 5, 2012

Date published:
March 05, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Nick Nuyens crashes at Paris-Nice but determined to continue

    Nick Nuyens (Saxobank) later crashed
    Article published:
    March 04, 2012, 18:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    HD disqualification lifted by race jury

    Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) suffered a setback to his Classics preparations today, crashing in the opening stage of Paris-Nice. The 2011 Tour of Flanders winner managed to finish the stage but was later taken to hospital. Scans and tests revealed no broken bones and Nuyens aims to start tomorrow’s 185 kilometer stage.

    “Luckily, there are no broken bones. But naturally, I'm sore and especially my hip took a hard beating in the crash. My preparations for the Tour of Flanders are only in danger if I'm unable to complete Paris-Nice so I'm really hoping that I'll be back in the saddle tomorrow,” Nuyens said.

    Saxo Bank team director Tristan Hoffman said: “Nick was riding very fast today and was one of the best after the climb but on the descent his front wheel slipped and he slammed hip first in to a traffic island."

    Nuyens finished 6.11 minutes down on the winner, Gustav Erik Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM) and was therefore Hors Délai. But the race jury decided to lift the disqualification due to "his crash because of the slippery road". The Belgian should therefore be able to take the start line again on Monday and continue his preparation to defend his title at the Tour of Flanders on April 1.

    Nuyens has become Saxo Bank’s most important rider this season after Alberto Contador was banned last month for a doping violation. The team has yet to hear their fate as to whether they can keep their WorldTour license. Contador had provided over 60 percent of their points.

    The team started Paris-Nice with Spaniard Daniel Navarro as their leader for the GC. He finished 61st in the opening stage, 36 seconds down on former...

  • Durbridge switches focus to road with track worlds off the agenda

    Luke Durbridge (Australia) powers to the under-23 time trial world title
    Article published:
    March 04, 2012, 22:05 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    GreenEdge neo pro to race VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde

    A loss for Australia on the track ahead of the UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne and the London Olympic Games, is set to be GreenEdge's gain over the coming months with neo pro Luke Durbridge turning his back on the boards earlier than intended.

    The 20-year-old made the decision following the recent UCI Track World Cup in London where he did not make the final selection for Australia's team pursuit (Alex Edmondson, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn) which won gold ahead of Great Britain. Instead, Durbridge competed in the points race where he finished 13th.

    It's a bitter blow for Durbridge who fought his way back into the team pursuit squad which won gold in Apeldoorn in 2011, having missed a spot in Australia's winning team in 2010. Standing on top of the podium in Holland last March was an undoubted highlight of Durbridge's track career.

    "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 TP 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."

    Following the London World Cup last month, Durbridge sat down with Australia's Men's Track Endurance Coach, Ian McKenzie to discuss preparation for the world championships which will be held in Melbourne in April and it was decided that the West Australian should switch his focus to the road sooner rather than later.

    "Ian and I have worked closely together for a while and he knows what I can and can't do so...

  • AIGCP has no confidence in UCI leadership

    UCI president Pat McQuaid denied Armstrong's donation was a bribe
    Article published:
    March 04, 2012, 23:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spring meeting calls for fair and equal say in the decision-making process

    The AIGCP (Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels) held its annual spring meeting in Paris on Friday, voting on a number of key issues within the sport but in a damning indictment for the UCI, it was unanimously agreed that its members have no confidence in the current leadership of cycling's governing body.

    The AIGCP has long argued for wealth-sharing within the sport and this was once again a talking point. Cycling is the second most-watched sport on television in Europe and the association believes that broadcaster's profits need to flow back to the teams.

    In a release sent to Cyclingnews, the details of Friday's ballot were revealed with members voting that:

    "Professional teams, representing 2,000 employees and 321 million Euros per year, are the biggest economical driving force in professional cycling and are currently under-represented in the decision-making process pertinent to the sport of professional cycling.

    "The continued development of the sport of professional cycling will only take place if all stakeholders - including teams - have a fair and equal say in the decision-making process on items including (but not limited to) the continued discussion on effective two-way radio communication, the rules on equipment, participation in races, and sporting value evaluation. The AIGCP believes that all of these items need additional collaboration from the teams.

    "While the AIGCP respects the hard work of the UCI and shares its ultimate goal of bettering the sport of professional cycling, at this moment it does not have confidence in its current leadership."

    Despite the Association's outright belief that drastic change is needed within cycling, it did wish to make clear that on-going debate between the UCI and teams is healthy for the sport.

    "The AIGCP teams will continue to defend their interest, the rider's interest, and the interest of their sponsors, to help ensure...

  • Vermote stands up as teammate Kwiatkowski falters in Belgium

    Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) puts on the leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    March 05, 2012, 1:22 GMT
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Quickstep options aplenty in 2012

    Neo pro Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) earned the overall victory at the Three Days of West Flanders on Sunday after assuming the team captaincy when his teammate and stage 1 winner, Michal Kwiatkowski crashed, and fell out of contention.

    Vermote sat only four seconds behind Kwiatkowski going into the final stage and initially was assigned to work to protect the lead of the Pole. But on a wind and rain-swept Flanders course, Kwiatkowski fell and crashed while cornering a roundabout, and Vermote was given a free role and ensured the overall title remained within Omega Pharma-Quickstep hands.

    Vermote was up to the task, finishing with the peloton and sealing the overall title, but it was a bittersweet victory for the Belgian who acknowledged that it should've been Kwiatkowski standing in his place.

    "I really didn't expect to win the race," Vermote said. "I'm really sad for Michal, he didn't win only because of bad luck - not through lack of strengths. But we are a fantastic team here. Everybody sacrificed themself for the team result. In any case I'm happy I can prove my skills."

    Francesco Chicchi, who took out stage 2 in a field sprint also crashed on the wet roads, but testament to the depth of the Belgian outfit even undermanned were able to settle the overall title unperturbed.

    Omega Pharma-Quickstep has taken an impressive 16 wins on the road this year with eight different riders.

  • Allen awarded Amy Gillett Road Cycling Scholarship

    Jessica Allen (Australia) at speed
    Article published:
    March 05, 2012, 3:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Junior World Individual Time Trial Champion 2012 recipient

    Outstanding talent Jessica Allen has been awarded the seventh annual Amy Gillett Road Cycling Scholarship following a stunning 12 months on the bike.

    The scholarship is delivered in partnership with the Amy Gillett Foundation, Cycling Australia and Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Allen, from Western Australia, will now become an official Ambassador for the Amy Gillett Foundation.

    Allen joins previous recipients Joanne Hogan, Rachel Neylan, Amber Haliday, Carlee Taylor, Carla Ryan, and Jessie Maclean.

    In honour of Amy Gillett, the Scholarship not only lauds sporting talent, but broader developments such as schooling, career aspirations and community participation.

    As the current Junior World Individual Time Trial Champion, Junior Oceania Individual Time Trial Champion, Australian 2011 Junior Road Cyclist of the year, and Junior Australian Points Champion, Allen has had extensive competitive cycling experience at junior ranks and will now step into the senior ranks with plenty more to gain.

    CEO of the Amy Gillett Foundation, Tracey Gaudry is delighted by the choice of this year's recipient and believes Jessica is now ready to take the next step to international senior competition.

    "The Foundation received applications from many very promising female cyclists, all of whom would be worthy recipients of the Amy Gillett Road Cycling Scholarship. Jessica represents the cream of the crop of the next generation of Australian cycling talent and we are very excited to be providing this opportunity to Jessica," Tracey said.

    Jessica was extremely excited when told she was the successful applicant.

    "I think the Amy Gillett Foundation is wonderful and I am very honoured to represent the Foundation. Having the opportunity to race and train with the National women's road cycling team for 11 weeks in...

  • Far from ideal start for Martin in Paris-Nice ITT

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - Quick Step)
    Article published:
    March 05, 2012, 4:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    "A bad day" for defending champion

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was left flummoxed by his performance in the opening stage of Paris-Nice, a 9.4km time trial, where he finished in 28th position, 25 seconds behind winner, Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM).

    World individual time trial champion Martin said he was keen to put the result behind him.

    "This day I have to check off as quickly as possible," Martin wrote on his website following the stage saying that he had been aiming for victory first up.

    "At no stage of the race could I find my strength and my rhythm," he continued. "I'm stumped and could tell that it was not just my day. Yes, a bad day, bad day of form."

    Martin, 26, began his season at Volta ao Algarve last month where he finished second on general classification to Sky's Richie Porte. In his blog post, he revealed he had been suffering a cold since the Portugese race.

    "But I do not want to use as excuses," he said.

    While Martin was left unimpressed by his own fortunes, he was buoyed by the result of new teammate, Levi Leipheimer who finished on the podium with his performance.

    "For us as a team, it does indeed look not so bad. Levi finished third. This is a good starting point for us," Martin concluded.

    Last week, Martin downplayed his chances of going back-to-back at the 'race to the sun', saying: "It's always very difficult to repeat a victory, especially as the course isn't ideal for me, with two short time trials," he told the DPA news agency.

    Paris-Nice continues Monday with a 185 km second stage between Mantes-la-Jolie and...

  • Schleck: Paris-Nice time trial was too early and too short

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    March 05, 2012, 10:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    Luxembourg rider loses over a minute in 9.4km

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) lost over a minute in the opening time trial of Paris-Nice, but the Luxembourg rider claimed that the 9.4km test was too short and too early in the season to offer a reliable indicator of his progress against the watch.

    Time trialling has long been the glaring Achilles heel in Schleck’s armoury and he lost the yellow jersey in the penultimate day time trial of last year’s Tour de France. In spite of his insistence that he has trained assiduously on his time trial bike since the arrival of Johan Bruyneel as manager, the fruits of their labour were not in evidence in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse on Sunday.

    “I didn’t have such a good feeling in my legs today but don’t take this as a reference,” Schleck told his team’s website. “This is my first big competition of the season.”

    Schleck finished the day in 142nd place, 1:01 down on winner Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM). The 26-year-old explained that he began well on the course’s early climb, but struggled to keep a big gear turning over thereafter.

    “On the top of the climb I had same time as Maxime [Monfort, who was 15th – ed.] but then I didn’t have the forces to push the big gear. This was a TT for the big engines. This is not a real test for me. The distance was too short and it’s too, too early.”

    Schleck’s brother Fränk fared little better, coming home 54 seconds down in 121st place. Their teammate Andreas Klöden was among the last riders to start, just as the rain began to fall, and he took few risks in the treacherous...

  • "Free" Chavanel in form at Paris-Nice

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma Quick-Step) finished in fourth place
    Article published:
    March 05, 2012, 11:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frenchman out for "revenge" after last year's abandon

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step has a powerful contingent at the ongoing Paris-Nice, counting last year's overall winner Tony Martin in its ranks but also Levi Leipheimer, Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel. The Frenchman has healed his back problems after getting surgery during the winter, and has proven his good form by finishing sixth in the prologue in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse on Sunday.

    "I did a decent time," Chavanel told AFP in the finish. "I tried not to get into the red in the climb, as it was all about what came afterwards.The big time triallists had a good time in the last five kilometres."

    His American teammate Levi Leipheimer also showed very good form, finishing third behind winner Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM). Defending champion Tony Martin "had a bad day" but the Belgian team managed by Patrick Lefevere has several cards to play at the 'race to the sun' this week.

    "I'm not putting a lot of pressure on him," said Lefevere. "He knows that Tom Boonen will be doing the sprints and that Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer will be fighting for the classification but he, too, can be a factor for GC. Over one week, you never know what can happen. There are no particular instructions for Sylvain, he's free to do what he wants. I'm very fond of this rider."

    The two-time Paris-Nice stage winner has finished on the top three overall before (2009) and has vowed to "be in the mix and defend a placing in the general classification, why not. I will be on the attack in certain stages," according to Eurosport. "Paris-Nice is a race...