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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 16, 2013

Date published:
September 16, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Rodriguez not a Grand Tour podium finisher for first time since 2011

    An exhausted Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at the finish of Vuelta stage 14
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 15:40 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Katusha pro takes fourth and a stage win in home race

    Joaquim Rodriguez said that he had done all he could after battling to try and take a podium spot on the Angliru on Saturday and ending up with a likely fourth in this year's Vuelta a Espana.

    The Katusha rider has consistently said throughout the Vuelta that he was not firing on all cylinders after he did not recover as well from the Tour de France as he would have liked.

    But when he claimed an impressive stage win at the Alto de Naranco, Rodriguez looked to be on better form than he had expected, and he said he wasn't ruling anything out on the Angliru on Saturday.

    However, despite Dani Moreno (Katusha) doing a sterling job of forcing the pace on the Angliru, with accelerations that even managed to sink Horner's climbing lieutenant in the Vuelta, Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack Leopard), it was not to be. Rodriguez lost contact when Valverde did, with around seven kilometres to go, and whilst Valverde ended the climb strongly and took third, Rodriguez finished eighth at 1:45.

    "I did everything I could. The team was perfect, and I tried to attack, but I've ended up with the result I got," Rodriguez, who was second in the 2012 Giro, third in the 2012 Vuelta and third in the 2013 Tour, said afterwards.

    "I buried myself on the climb, but the podium, which was what I wanted, just couldn't happen."

    "We all knew that Horner was really strong, it was only in Hazallanas that we were taken a little bit by surprise. He rode a very calculating race all the way up the Angliru, and he's been the strongest throughout the whole race on the climbs."

    Rodriguez concluded by thanking his team, one of the strongest in the Vuelta. "They've given me all the support I needed in the race."

  • Contador to return to Vuelta a Espana in 2014

    Alberto Contador and his Saxo-Tinkoff teammates are introduced prior to the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 15:57 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard racing in Canada as Vuelta goes through his hometown

    Should Chris Horner (RadioShack) return to the Vuelta in 2014, there is the a real possibility that he will have Alberto Contador as a rival. The 2012 winner Tweeted on Sunday that the Vuelta goes through his hometown, Pinto, and that although this year he is racing in Canada, next year he will be back on home soil.

    “Today @LaVuelta goes through my hometown,Pinto. This year I'm not there, but next yes!” Contador tweeted.

    After winning the Vuelta in 2008 and 2012 and having completed the Tour de France this year, Contador opted not to ride the Vuelta in 2013 and take part instead in one-day races before a likely participation in the world championships for Spain. A final decision on the Spanish Worlds team selection for Italy is expected by Tuesday. Contador’s last race in 2012 is likely to be Il Lombardia.

  • Garcia on speculation linking Horner to Alonso's team

    Chris Horner and his RadioShack Leopard teammates
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 17:41 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Initial deadline of Sept. 30th for ProTour 2014 teams

    Kiko Garcia has expressed concern that the process of negotiating the switch of ownership of the Euskaltel-Euskadi squad for 2014 - when it will be taken over by Fernando Alonso, the Formula One champion - is not proceeding as quickly as he would like.

    “The documents are all there, but the final agreement has not been signed," Garcia, who is widely expected to take the role of team manager, told Cylingnews.

    “I don’t doubt the huge goodwill on all sides, and I’m sure it will all be fine. And it’s the same when you buy a car; you want to be really sure of everything.”

    “But the process is taking quite a while, a little more than I would like, above all because of the deadlines” - with September 30th the first deadline for ProTour teams to confirm their continuation into 2014.

    García refused to comment on a lengthy article in Catalan newspaper El Periodico which claimed that a sponsor deal has already been reached, with car manufacturers FIAT, that Vuelta winner Chris Horner had been contacted about a contract for 2014 and that Cervélo were in the running to provide the squad with bikes. El Periodico also claimed that Jose Luis Rubiera, an Asturian ex-pro, would be the team’s new director.

    “I can’t comment about any of that because it would be disrespectful both to Fernando Alonso and to the team’s current sponsors, Euskaltel-Euskadi. I’m not going to start discussing those questions when first we have to resolve the question of the agreement [to buy the team’s ProTour licence] itself,” Garcia told Cyclingnews.

    As for Euskaltel-Euskadi, the Basque team did not win any stages in their last Grand Tour in their current format, but...

  • Women riders protest security at Giro della Toscana

    Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) in the World Cup jersey
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 18:38 BST
    Cycling News

    Orica-AIS sports director blasts race organisers

    Only 49 riders finished the fourth stage of the Giro della Toscana internazionale Femminile, as 63 riders, including those from the top teams, either did not take to the start or climbed from their bikes during the stage in protest. The women were protesting the security measures – or lack thereof – during the stage race by refusing to ride the final stage.

    Race leader Marianne Vos, and Italians Elisa Longo Borghini and Giorgia Bronzini led the protest, saying that the “necessary conditions of security” were lacking. Only the leading group had police accompaniment, with the peloton forced to find its own way through the traffic.

    “We are lucky that no one was injured,” Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling) told the Italian newspaper La Nazione, according to De Telegraaf.

    Vos supported the action, even though it cost her the overall victory. “There have always been problems in this race with the traffic. It is now time that we make our voice heard."

    Race patron Brunello Fanani was outraged. “The race was fine. The protest is disgraceful and self-serving. The jury has spoken of a valid stage with no problems. The losers today are the so-called big names in cycling and women's racing in general.”

    The riders remaining in the race rode the 99 kilometers together  as a group at a reasonable pace. Aude Biannic (S.C. Michela Fanini-Rox) took the win. Claudia Häusler (Team TIBCO – To the Top) was awarded the overall win.

    Orica-AIS's Barras speaks out

    Orica-AIS sport director Martin Barras issued a statement Sunday evening, in which he blistered race organizers.

    “We all gathered in a large meeting room. Directors and riders standing on one side, officials, organisers and the police seated at the table on the...

  • Horner: I don’t know when I’ll retire

    Nibali, Horner and Valverde on the Vuelta podium
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 19:58 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    41-year-old still looking for team in 2014

    After winning his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana, Chris Horner says he still has no team for 2014 and has no idea, either, how long he will race before retiring.

    "How long will I continue racing? I have no idea,” Horner said at the sundrenched, packed, start of stage 21, “at least two or three years would be good.”

    “If my legs are still turning the same way, I will continue.”

    “The problem is my age. If I was 20 , 50 different teams would offer me a contract. But I’m 41. I need a team that needs a leader.”

    “But I still don’t know my team for next year. I’m very comfortable here [at RadioShack Leopard] if the team wants to go in another direction without me, well that’s it.”

    “I’ve been talking to the ProTour teams. I want to continue my career for longer.”

    Horner described his victory as “the hardest win of my career, I hope people appreciate the effort that all these riders here made in this race.”

    “I have been a professional for 19 years, I try to be the best I can be. I’ve had some great victories and been on the podium of other big races, and every year it’s easy to stay motivated and focussed for the next victory.”

    “To win this Vuelta though is amazing. I hope people appreciate everything, how complicated it was to get to this level, not to get sick. So many factors have to come together for me to still win.”

    Horner admitted, too, that the course with so many high mountains early on was ideal for him. “When we started so well in the team time trial with Fabian Cancellara [RadioShack finished second], I didn’t know if I believed I could win. But I thought the red jersey was...

  • Cookson and McQuaid detail presidential promises

    UCI Presidential candidate Brian Cookson
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 21:03 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Both candidates agree on the need for a truth and reconciliation process

    During the exceptional general assembly of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) both UCI presidential candidates Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson gave speeches to the national federation delegates, presenting their manifestos and plans for the future of the.

    The two rivals also faced questions from UEC delegates in a Q&A session. The two exchanged the odd accusation and barb but opted to not openly criticise each other despite the tension of recent weeks and the clear division that has arisen in cycling politics.

    McQuaid appealed to the UEC delegates by describing Europe as the 'beating heart of cycling'. He insisted he was proud of his track record during his two terms as president.

    "I'm proud of what I've achieved. I've always had the backbone to stand up for our sport and do what is right for cycling. I believe you have to do what you believe, not how you're perceived," he said.

    "I'm seeking re-election on my record. I've changed the culture of the sport and it is now possible to race and win clean. I've got a job to finish and I call on your support to ensure I accomplish that."

    Cookson said he wanted to repeat the successful turn around that he helped occur in Britain.

    "If we turn the page, break from the past and restore the UCI's credibility we will unlock the tremendous potential of this sport which we all love and have sacrificed so much for." he said.

    "For many outside this room our beautiful sport is associated with ugly things - doping, decisions made behind closed doors, manipulation of the rules and regular conflict. This has to stop. The reason I'm running for president is I know I can restore our credibility. I represent a completely clean break from the past.

    Electoral similarities

    Surprisingly many of McQuaid's and Cookson's electoral promises were...

  • Matthews nets second breakthrough stage win during the Vuelta a Espana

    Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    September 15, 2013, 23:15 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Second bunch sprint victory for young Australian

    If Michael Matthews' first bunch sprint win for Orica-GreenEdge in the Vuelta a Espana's stage 5 was something of a surprise - but well-deserved nonetheless - his second, in Madrid and two lengths clear of America's Tyler Farrar represented the confirmation that a new young sprinter has arrived in town.

    Matthews' second stage win, coming at the end of his first Grand Tour, was another big step up for the 22-year-old, and he took it in style, outgunning Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Germany's Niklas Arndt (Argos-Shimano) with a long sprint up the centre of Madrid's Castellana avenue. It took him clear enough for the Australian to raise his arms even before he reached the finish.

    "A win like this, you remember it for the rest of your life," Matthews said after conclusively proving he knows how to go the distance in three-week stage races. "I've only got four teammates with me here now but they put me in the perfect position and kept me out of the wind."

    "I was still with one leadout rider with one kilometre to go, where I was fourth wheel already, and I then got the perfect leadout. I was second wheel with 200 metres to go. I was in exactly the right position to do my job for the final."

    Simply getting through a Grand Tour is a major achievement for a young rider like Matthews, and he said he had had some rough moments. "The hardest day of the Vuelta was the one to Sierra Nevada [stage 10], that really scarred me," he said.

    "There was not any real reason, it was hard but so were other stages, but I really didn't have the best day on a bike there."

    Matthews only found out on Saturday night that he will be doing the world championships for Australia, and he said he did not wish to dwell on that upcoming challenge just...

  • Valverde claims another podium spot in the Vuelta a Espana

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finishes third overall in the Vuelta
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 5:15 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard finishes in top three for fifth time in Madrid

    Alejandro Valverde continues to rack up the podium places in the Vuelta a Espana, and recognises that it was impossible to outpace either Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) or Chris Horner (Leopard Trek) in the battle for victory in Madrid.

    Unlike the Italian or the American, Valverde reached the Vuelta having raced the Tour de France and raced it flat out.

    "They've both been stronger, but I can't be dissatisfied," Valverde said. "I'd have liked a stage win, but I've been second and third, and that's what getting the points jersey shows."

    The Angliru was his last chance for that, but Valverde was outpaced at the crunch moments by Nibali and Horner and had to drop back. When he finally came past Nibali, it was too late for him to do more than secure his podium position.

    "I had to go up at a steady pace, I was going well, but one of my rivals had to crack and they didn't," he said.

    The winner in 2009, second in 2006 and 2012, Valverde's third place overall comes a decade after he netted the same result in the 2003 Vuelta. He also has a fourth and a fifth place overall.

    The next target though, is to augment his podium positions in the Worlds - where he has twice been bronze and twice silver - with a gold in Italy.

    "That would be great," Valverde said with a smile.