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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, October 14, 2013

Date published:
October 14, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Eisel: Missing the Tour was the biggest disappointment of my career

    Bernie Eisel (Sky) contemplates the day to come at Tour of Qatar
    Article published:
    October 13, 2013, 16:55 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Sky rider confident of making it into next year's team

    Bernard Eisel says that missing out on this year's 100th Tour de France was the biggest disappointment of his career.

    With Sky looking to take their second consecutive Tour de France, with Chris Froome, on a particularly mountainous course, the British team decided to leave Eisel at home in favour of a team of climbers. "When I first heard that I wasn't going to the Tour, I told myself that I wasn't going to race the Tour again, certainly not in this team," the Austrian spoke to Cyclingnews before taking the start on stage 3 of the Tour of Beijing.

    Rumours have been floating around that next year's Tour de France will include cobbled sections and Eisel hopes that his experience in the spring Classics will help him return to the team for 2014. "I still see a big chance at going to the Tour and I'm not going to give that up."

    The Austrian moved to Sky along with Mark Cavendish for the 2012 season from HTC, where he had been working as a domestique for the sprinter. When Cavendish left the squad last season, Eisel chose to stay put and focus on some more of his own goals. "People probably say that it was a wrong decision, but I still think it was a good decision for me.

    "Me and Cavendish are still good friends. From the friends side of things I should have stayed with him but, at the same time, I had to look at where I wanted to go. It's not like I wanted a new role, but it felt better to stay here. I wanted to stay at team Sky. It's a good environment for me."

    Despite his disappointment with the Tour de France, Eisel managed a top 10 at Milan-Sanremo, 7th at Gent-Wevelgem and Milan-Sanremo. He will end his season at the Japan Cup next Sunday, pleased with the bulk of...

  • Degenkolb doubles up at Paris-Tours

    John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) winner of the 2013 Paris-Tours
    Article published:
    October 13, 2013, 18:25 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    German adds season-ending classic to Paris-Bourges win

    John Degenkolb of Argos-Shimano has become the first rider to double up the two late season classics of the centre of France as he claimed the 107th edition of Paris-Tours just three days after winning Paris-Bourges. He out-sprinted Danish champion Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff) and young Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ) after catching Belkin’s lone attacker Jetse Bol at the very end.

    “I’m very satisfied to end the season that way,” Degenkolb said. “It’s always tricky to plan on a bunch sprint finish here. You can only count on it when you have a lot of guys to control the race. Every year it’s the same: the bunch gets split in the three hills prior to the finish. I was definitely strong enough to follow the move. I preferred to do so than complain about being too late like last year.

    “The biggest problem was to catch that guy from Belkin. I used my last teammates for that, so I was on my own for the real sprint. In the last corner, two FDJ riders passed me. I tried to get on Arnaud’s wheel. He did a great sprint once again. He’s a great champion and a nice guy. I think we have a lot of years racing each other ahead of us.”

    Now relegated to the Europe Tour calendar, Paris-Tours might not have the prestige it used to enjoy, but Degenkolb still rated this victory above the WorldTour race in Hamburg in August.

    “The Cyclassics was my first step into the big classics,” he said. “This is the next step. I hope it’ll continue with Milan-San Remo. I like long races where you have to save energy at the beginning and be strong at the end. The period from...

  • Duque delivers for Colombia in GP Beghelli

    Leonardo Duque (Colombia) took a solo victory in the GP Beghelli
    Article published:
    October 13, 2013, 20:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Dedicates victory to grandmother

    Leonardo Duque scored the third victory of the season for the Colombia team with a solo attack in the finale of the 198km GP Beghelli in Monteveglio, Italy on Sunday. The 33-year-old dedicated the win to his daughter on her 7th birthday and to his grandmother, who died recently at age 97.

    "I could not fly to Colombia due to the race schedule, and I want to honor her memory with this success," Duque said of his grandmother Julia.

    It was the second win of 2013 for Duque after a stage in the Tour de l'Ain and the 10th of his career, which has spanned a decade, most of it spent with the Cofidis team. He moved across to the team from his home country this season.

    "The team was amazing today," Duque said. "I think this win will help all of us to restart with greater enthusiasm as soon as we start building up for the new season. Team Colombia and Claudio Corti showed me confidence, both as a team player and as a protected rider, and I am happy I have been able to contribute with two nice wins."

    Directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi confirmed that the team had been working for Duque. "We raced for him all the way today, and he surprised everyone with a move at 600 metres to go, immediately opening a decisive gap," Tebaldi said. "To do something like that in the final race of the season you need to be more than talented and physically gifted: you need planning, concentration, commitment. You need to be a real professional, like Leonardo showed through the whole year. He was a key piece of our team, and he will be in 2014 too."

    The team was represented in the day's breakaway by Dalivier Ospina, who was part of a 16-man move which gained close to six minutes. The final rider to be reeled in, Marco Coledan (Bardiani Valvole-CSF...

  • Haig to remain with Huon-Genesys for 2014

    Jack Haig (Huon Salmon - Genesys Wealth Advisers) celebrates as he crossed the finish line on Stage 1 of the Battle of the Border
    Article published:
    October 14, 2013, 0:15 BST
    Jono Lovelock

    NRS champion seeking Commonwealth Games and stagiaire berth

    Jack Haig has recently announced that he will be remaining with the Huon-Genesys squad for the 2014 season as he seeks MTB selection to go to the Commonwealth Games. If all goes to plan, he will then set his sights on a stagiaire role with a WorldTour team.

    "For next year I still want to qualify for the Commonwealth games, for MTB, I'm not finished with that yet," Haig told Cyclingnews.

    Haig will be officially crowned the 2013 Subaru National Road Series (NRS) Champion once the final event of the series, the Grafton to Inverell is run and won on October 26. For the 20-year-old from Bendigo, he becomes the youngest ever name on the honour roll including Nathan Haas (Garmin Sharp), Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano), former Australian Road Champion Russel Van Hout and Giro d'Italia stage winner David McKenzie.

    A bright future

    Haig starting grabbing domestic headlines when he won the time trial and final mountain-top road stage in the Tour of Bright, a state-level event in Australia, in December last year. In his first ride on a time trial bike he set a new course record beating times set by riders such as Richie Porte (Sky), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Haas at equivalent times in their respective careers, and he did it all without a disc wheel. Huon-Genesys team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston knew that one-off results can lead to spurious conclusions, but when Haig started troubling Porte and Nathan Earle as soon as the road turned upward following an invitation to a Huon-Genesys training camp, he knew he'd backed a winner.

    Fast forward 10 months and Haig has added three NRS stage victories, two overall tour wins and another four general classification podiums to his palmares. All of this performed beside, and often in spite of bowing the leadership...

  • Christina Watches-Onfone Pro-Conti merger running out of time

    Michael Rasmussen (Christina Watches-Ofone)
    Article published:
    October 14, 2013, 2:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Rasmussen: "We are working feverishly to find a solution"

    Christina Watches-Onfone is running out of time to deliver the necessary documents to the UCI if it is to receive a Professional Continental license for the 2014 season. Team CEO Claus Hembo announced the team's intentions just one month ago, with the 2014 Giro d'Italia and the 2016 Tour de France amongst the team's lofty ambitions. Just four weeks later, however, the "financially sound" negotiations have so far proved fruitless.

    "We are working feverishly to find a solution, but it is true that we are in a battle with time," Michael Rasmussen told "Right now, I am reluctant to put percentages on what our chances are to get it all to succeed."

    Although his position within the team's structure is not clear, Michael Rasmussen is an integral part of the team having brought the Christina Watches sponsorship into the fold in 2010. Currently serving a two-year suspension, Rasmussen remains tied to the management of the team and recently conceded that time was running out for Christina Watches to submit their registration with the UCI.

    The UCI has previously stated that it will complete the registration process for 2014 Professional Continental teams by November 4 "if no irregularities are brought to notice." This leaves Christina Watches little time to pay their licence fee, complete their registration form, submit rider, staff and sponsorship contracts as well as provide their 2014 budget and bank guarantee.

    Alex Rasmussen (Garmin Sharp) and Mads Christensen (Saxo-Tinkoff) were rumoured as headline Danish rider's to join the Christina Watches team. With both riders unconfirmed, however, Rasmussen is nonplussed with financial and registration issues remaining the biggest dilemmas for the team at current.

    "It's a buyer's...

  • Questions raised over Belkin's tactics for Paris-Tours

    John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) won the 2013 Paris-Tours by a clean set of wheels
    Article published:
    October 14, 2013, 4:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Degenkolb warns: "It will have consequences in the future."

    Jetse Bol (Belkin) put in an impressive last-ditch attack in Paris-Tours on Sunday only to be overhauled in the final 500m of the 235km race. After joining a breakaway over the Côte de l'Épan in the last 10km Bol launched a solo attack that saw him nearly steal the show.

    "We were close to victory. It was a very good performance by the team today," said Belkin director Erik Dekker. "It was a wonderful finale. It's a pity Bol could not win. The guys were present in the finale, and everyone did their job. We were fighting to the end."

    Bol slipped away from his breakaway companions and took advantage of the mild confusion that arose when the peloton swept up those that Bol had left behind. There was little confusion, however, in eventual winner John Degenkolb's (Argos-Shimano) post-race interview where he vented his frustration with the blocking tactics of Belkin.

    "I'm disappointed in Belkin. I know they didn't want us to catch Bol they didn't do it in such a good way," Degenkolb said. "It will have consequences in the future."

    As Belkin were busily trying to disrupt the chase, one of the cheekiest moves came from Lars Boom as he visibly slowed into a corner after reaching the front with 2km to go. Boom, not surprisingly, was satisfied with his actions saying he was simply helping someone who had helped him all season long.

    "Bol was alone in the front, and he had a fair chance to win," explained Boom. "I was always on the first wheel, and I stopped pedalling with 2km to go into the last corner.

    "That's the way to help someone who helps you all season long. It was a good performance by the team."

  • Androni Giocattoli secures 2014 Giro d'Italia wild card

    A happy Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio with stage 1a winner Fabio Felline
    Article published:
    October 14, 2013, 10:34 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Gianni Savio's team beats rivals in the Coppa Italia competition

    Gianni Savio's smile was bigger than usual after the final races of the Italian season after his Androni Giocattoli team again impressed in the season-long Coppa Italia classification and so secured a wild card invitation to the 2014 Giro d'Italia.

    Franco Pellizotti finished fourth in Saturday's Giro dell'Emilia and with other points scored by Emanuele Sella, Gianfranco Zilioli and Pellizotti in recent races, Androni Giocattoli finished second behind WorldTour squad Lampre-Merida but ahead of Vini Fantini and Bardiani Valvole-CSF. The Italian Cycling Federation has yet to issue the final ranking but Savio has been carefully keeping tabs on the points throughout the season.

    "Mission accomplished," Savio told Cyclingnews after the points totals confirmed the team's victory and wild card place in the Giro d'Italia.

    "Lampre-Merida closed the gap on us in the final races but we finished ahead of Vini Fantini and Bardiani. They're our direct rivals for wild card places. The Coppa Italia was our objective for the season. We've done it again!"

    While the other Italian teams will have to hope to secure the three remaining wild card places ahead of rival Professional Continental teams such as NetApp-Endura, MTN-Qhubeka and IAM Cycling, Androni Giocattoli can look to the 2014 season, knowing it will be on the start line in Belfast next May.

    "We've always been in the action in the Giro and its great to know that we'll be there next year," Savio said.

    "We've won stages, won the climber's jersey and finished on the podium in 2005. We didn’t win a stage this year but we set a record for the number of kilometres in breakaways: 1680km. That means we went on the attack on virtually...

  • Plugge talks about Rabobank's knockout blow and Belkin's first season

    Belkin has committed to a two-year deal with the squad formerly known as Blanco
    Article published:
    October 14, 2013, 12:20 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Belkin manager talked to 60 possible sponsors

    A year ago Richard Plugge was handed the task of rescuing Holland’s biggest professional cycling team from complete collapse.

    Rabobank, the Dutch bank that had bank rolled a team since the mid 1990s had suddenly announced that they would be walking away from the sport. The USADA report – coupled with Carlos Barredo's biological passport problems - had been the final straw. With fresh allegations set to be revealed in a court case involving former rider Michael Rasmussen, the bank called time on their 17 year investment in professional men's cycling.

    Twelve months on and Plugge has led the team through two metamorphoses: a fresh start under the Blanco banner and then a relaunch thanks to the arrival of Belkin as a new title sponsor. With Vacansoleil-DCM, Euskaltel-Euskadi and so many other teams sinking this season, Plugge has steadied the ship and saved Dutch cycling.

    “So far it has been really good. We’ve had 28 victories. The signing of Bellkin as our sponsor was one of our biggest victories though,” he told Cyclingnews during the Tour of Beijing.

    “If we look back at this point over the reason we have to be happy, what with Bauke Mollema finishing in sixth in the Tour de France, and the win at the WorldTour race in Canada.”

    The news of Rabobank’s sudden departure was of course a stressful time for the team’s new management. The hierarchy of the team had already gone through a set of changes even before Plugge, a former journalist, took the reigns. Rabobank riders who looked as though they’d have a job for life were suddenly being asked about their futures.

    “It was a busy period. What we did with the management was to approach the year just like it was any other. We worked towards a five year plan and that really helped us a lot when we were presenting to potential sponsors. I have to say that the entire team really picked up their game...