Gives thumbs up to pavé stage, but says route is too mountainous
There may be a stage in the 2014 Tour de France route that pays homage to Miguel Indurain's famous time trial victory in Bergerac exactly two decades previously, but the five-times Tour winner has nonetheless criticised the route - and those of other recent Grand Tours - as being overly favourable to the climbers.
Speaking to the Spanish newspaper AS, Indurain said that “recently they [grand Tour organisers] have gone in for summit finishes, with five that would be more that enough.”
“What’s more, if you put the time trial just one day before the finish, you’re really weighting things in favour of the climbers, because by that point in a race, it really comes down to brute strength, even if the specialists [time triallists] still have a bit of an advantage.”
“Cycling is more than just that [mountainous stages with summit finishes]: transition stages, hilly stages, stages coming after descents, although I like the idea of a stage with pavé.”
Stage five’s 15 kilometres of pavé will be equally dangerous for all the peloton, Indurain argues, “because if you fall off or have a crash that day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a climber or an allrounder.” As Indurain pointed out, he knows what he is talking about: there were cobbled stages in his time in the Tour, most memorably on a stage in the 1992 Tour en route to Brussels where Indurain lost 82 seconds to Claudio Chiappucci and Greg LeMond.
For all his misgivings, Indurain says he believes he could still have won a Tour like 2014’s, telling AS ‘Why not? Some routes suit you better, others worse, but finally you adapt to it.”
His memories of the 1994 Tour's 64 kilometer individual time trial from Bergerac to Perigeux, which Indurain won at an average speed of more than 50kmh, was...
Allan Peiper, performance manager of BMC Racing, has called 2013 a transitional season for the US-registered team. The team combined to win a tally of 30 races this year but Peiper, who joined the management at the start of the year from Garmin, admitted that the lack of major wins in the WorldTour had been disappointing.
The team started the season in impressive fashion, winning two stages at the Tour of Qatar before Tejay van Garderen won a stage and the overall at the Tour of California in May. During that same month Cadel Evans finished third in the Giro d'Italia but both GC contenders failed to make an impression at the Tour de France with only a strong ride from van Garderen on the stage to Alpe d'Huez saving the rider's blushes.
Classics specialist Philippe Gilbert came into the season as the world champion but failed to win a major one-day race in the spring. He was virtually anonymous during the Tour but managed to pick up a stage during the Vuelta a Espana. The Tour of Poland saw the team pick up three stage wins, while van Garderen bounced back from the Tour to win the US Pro Challenge.
Thor Hushovd returned from illness in 2012 to pick up eight wins and was a consistent performer from February until October.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Peiper talks about the transitional year BMC have gone through, both on the management side with the loss of John Lelangue and in the team's rider roster, too.
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Belkin stretched their unbeaten run at the Tour of Hainan to seven straight stages with Theo Bos once again coming out on top. The Dutch WorldTeam have won every stage in the race and with Moreno Hofland leading the overall standings the event has moved into the realms of procession with two stages remaining.
On stage 7, 217km from Wuzhishan to Dongfang, the team grabbed the first four places and in doing so became the second most successful team in the WorldTour behind Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Belkin is the only WorldTour team in the race.
"We really had to work to make it a bunch sprint today," said Sports Director Michiel Elijzen.
"The first nine kilometres were uphill and that made it very hard. Just after the top, only Theo and Dennis van Winden weren’t with the first 32. Theo had to chase for around 100 kilometres. When he returned, the team controlled and reeled in a small break that was formed later.”
Elijzen sees no letting up with the team aiming at winning the final two stages before sealing the overall too.
“It’s a healthy greed,” added Elijzen. "I do not think anyone can really make us suffer, but if we were to get in trouble, we have several riders who are able to pick up the slack – as has been the case all week.
“We are seven for seven, we would like to make it nine for nine. Besides that, we want to win the GC. If we manage to do that we’ll have 38 victories for the year. We can say we’ve had a successful season then.”
Winner of five stages thus far at the Tour of Hainan, Theo Bos defended the team’s tactics and position: “Maybe in such a situation it doesn’t look nice that we don’t give...
Former US Postal riders asked to testify in London
The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has started collecting potential witnesses to give evidence against Johan Bruyneel at the Belgian’s arbitration case in December. Tyler Hamilton, who rode under Johan Bruyneel at the US Postal Service team from 1999 until 2001, provided an affidavit in USADA’s Reasoned Decision in 2012 and earlier this year testified via video conference in the Operacion Puerto case involving Eufemiano Fuentes.
Cyclingnews understands that several other potential witnesses have been asked to give evidence, a selection of them having already testified to USADA in the Reasoned Decision that saw Lance Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and handed a lifetime ban.
Armstrong chose not to fight USADA’s charges relating to doping offences, and was sanctioned in late 2012. However Bruyneel, Armstrong's former team manager and former US Postal doctors Pedro Celaya, and Jose "Pepe" Marti opted to fight the charges. Their arbitration hearing has been set for December 16-20 in London.
USADA have already leapt into action by sending emails to various potential witnesses. Hamilton confirmed to Cyclingnews that he had been contacted by USADA but did not confirm if he had agreed to testify. Cyclingnews understands from another source that USADA had attempted to push back the date of the hearing until after the Christmas holidays and that the arbitration panel refused.
Cyclingnews also understands that at least two other former US Postal riders who gave affidavits in the Reasoned Decision have been asked to travel to London for the hearing.
Multiple victories at Tour of Hainan not the end of the road
On the eve of the ninth and final day at the Tour of Hainan, which will logically end up in a bunch sprint in Chengmai, Theo Bos confirmed that he will aim for a stage win in a grand Tour next season.
His multiple stage wins in Hainan add to the seven victories the sprinter has already collected during the 2013 season: stage 2 of the Tour of Algarve, stages 1 and 2 of Le Tour de Langkawi, stage 1 of the Critérium International, stage 3 of the Tour of Norway, stage 1 of the ZLM Toer.
Thirteen victories is the number reached by the world’s fourth best sprinter André Greipel, behind Peter Sagan (22), Mark Cavendish (19) and Marcel Kittel (16) this year.
The Tour of Hainan is the second Chinese event ranked hors-category by the UCI, like the Tour of California in the US or the Critérium International in Europe. Belkin Pro Cycling is the only WorldTour team competing with most of their riders having stayed in China after the Tour of Beijing but not Bos who had a break rather than taking part in the Vuelta a España due “suboptimal health conditions” as his team called the drop of his cortisol level caused by asthma medication.
He arrived fresh but well trained at the Tour of Hainan, and he found optimal race conditions on the tropical Chinese island with wide roads for sprinting and an excellent train formed of dedicated team-mates like Lars Boom, Moreno Hofland, Tom Leezer, Jos van Emden, Dennis van Winden and Marc Goos.
Bos had never won more than two stages in a single race previously but this succession of triumphs in Asia doesn’t lead him to take the easiest way to enrich the road career he started after the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
“I’d love to do Le Tour de Langkawi again,” the 30-year-old said. “But I’m...
With the full route of the Tour de France published last week teams and riders have had a chance to fully digest the parcours for 2014. While riders and their managers begin to decide their racing schedules, weighing up the prospects and enticements on offer at both the Giro and the Tour, Orica GreenEdge's Matt White is already certain that he will send an aggressive and attacking team to the Tour’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire.
“We’ve not seen all the profiles for the medium mountain stages and they’re probably the key stages for us,” team director Matt White told Cyclingnews.
“Realistically we don’t have anyone for the overall classification so we’ll be targeting stages. We’re a little bit behind in terms of the sprinting but we’ll be targeting medium mountain stages.”
Orica GreenEdge enjoyed a purple patch of form during the opening week of the Tour this year. Their team bus made all the headlines on the first stage when it became lodged under the finish line banner in Corsica but the team made the headlines for all the right reasons on stage 3 with Simon Gerrans winning the team’s first ever Tour stage.
When the race reached mainland France the next day the team continued where they left off in Corsica, wining the team time trial. The yellow jersey changed hands two days later with Daryl Impey becoming the first ever African to pull on the coveted maillot jaune.
White has already studied the opening stages of the 2014 route and believes that the second and third stages once again suit his team. However the lack of a team...
Russell Downing has welcomed the signing of Adam Blythe to the new NFTO team after the latter was released from BMC with one year remaining on his contract.
The NFTO team will be based in Hereford, England and have already announced that Russell Downing and his brother Dean will ride for the team, with Sky’s former directeur sportif also joining the management.
However the signing of Blythe represents a significant coup for the team.
The 24-year-old turned professional with Marc Sergeant’s Lotto squad in 2010 and became an instant hit with the team. He started the Giro in his debut season and won four races. In 2011 he became in integral part of Philippe Gilbert’s Classics squad and impressed enough that the Belgian brought him with to BMC at the start of 2012. This year Blythe has failed to repeat his previous exploits on the road, however Russell Downing believes that the former WorldTour rider can find his feet with the NFTO team.
“It’s amazing to get Adam on board. It’s going to be a great year on all fronts. He’s quite a unique rider and like me and my brother Dean he’s a pure bike racer, someone who just loves to get on their bike and race. Adam, I think, has seen the excitement we’ve got for the team,” Downing told Cyclingnews.
“Perhaps Adam is someone who like me in my career at times got lost in teams by just doing a job on the front. Adam, he wants to race his bike again and he’ll definitely be able to do that with us. I’d compare him with my second year at Team Sky where I was just doing work on the front and I just ended up losing myself a bit. BMC is a massive team with Gilbert, Hushovd and Van Avermaet and maybe Adam got a bit lost.”
The team are currently seeking a UCI Continental...
Leading Australian UCI Continental team, Huon-Genesys, have announced five new riders to join their roster for the 2014 season. Joining the team that has now sent five riders to the WorldTour are Mark O'Brien (Raleigh), Neil van der Ploeg (search2retain/health), Scott Law (GPM Data#3), Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (Christina Watches-Onfone) and Taylor Gunman. Although the team was absent from the weekend's Grafton to Inverell, the final round of the 2013 men's NRS, the Tasmanian based team comfortably secured the individual title with Jack Haig as well as claiming the team's prize for the fourth year running.
"With the new signings I believe it will be one of our strongest line-ups ever," said team director Andrew Christie-Johnston. "We have brought in some very strong, motivated and versatile riders who I am sure will bring the team many results next year."
O'Brien has spent a mixed year abroad in the UK with Team Raleigh and is now back in Australia beginning his build-up to the 2014 Australian Open Road Championships.
"I'm super excited to get a chance to join Genesys after so many years racing them as rivals, and watching them get numerous riders into the Pro ranks. It just seems that every year they keep getting stronger, and I'm very excited to see what the future brings," said the 26-year-old. "For next year, I really believe that with great team support, I will have my best chance yet to take out the national road title, as well as earn a spot in TDU. After nationals I want to put my best foot forward in great races like the Herald Sun Tour, as well as the Tours of Japan and Tasmania."
Van der Ploeg started the season in stellar form with a fourth place finish in the road race at the Australian Championships. His good form...