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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 20, 2013

Date published:
April 20, 2013, 09:00
  • Police question riders over Liège-Bastogne-Liège littering

    Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) on the brink of dropping Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the Saint Nicolas.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2013, 12:31
    By:
    Cycling News

    Environmental groups lodge complaints against top finishers from 2012

    L’Équipe has reported that up to twenty riders could be prevented from taking the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège after environmentalists lodged formal complaints against them for littering during last year’s edition of the race.

    According to L’Équipe, Belgian police have already visited a number of team hotels in the Liège area to explain the significance of the matter to some of the riders concerned.

    “The inspectors came to the hotel and asked for the phone numbers and addresses of certain riders, indicating to us that this complaint could result in them being prevented from starting on Sunday,” one directeur sportif is quoted as saying.

    The complaints stem from members the environmental groups that form part of the “Coalition Nature” in the Walloon region and are focused on the jettisoning of bidons and energy gel wrappers on the course of Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year. The complaints are largely against those among the top thirty finishers of the race for the simple reason that they were the riders who were most visible on television.

    “It’s up to the authorities to reveal the names of those responsible for this wild dumping,” one “Coalition Nature” member told L’Équipe. “But if you take the names of the top thirty finishers of Liège-Bastogne-Liège from last year, you could pick out the twenty riders who are the subject of this complaint.”

    A similar inquiry was opened in Namur in 2010 after complaints were made against Chris Froome, Blel Kadri and Benjamin Gourge for littering, based on television images from Flèche Wallonne, although no charges ensued.

    IAM Cycling veteran Sébastien Hinault had a balanced view of the situation. “Without being an environmentalist, it drives me mad when I see riders throwing bidons and wrappers into the ditch – cycling is a sport that takes place in nature and it’s up to us to give a good image,” Hinault told L’Équipe. “But now I also think that the steps taken by some environmentalists are a bit radical and lacking in dialogue.”

     

     


     

  • McEvoy returns home after Trentino crash

    Jonny McEvoy (NetApp) tweeted that he is ok after a recent crash
    Article published:
    April 19, 2013, 15:23
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    NetApp-Endura rider lucky to avoid serious injury

    Jonny McEvoy (NetApp-Endura) is back in Britain after being released from hospital in Bolzano after his high-speed crash at the Giro del Trentino.

    The British rider has a black eye and numerous cuts and bruises but avoided more serious injuries despite crashing hard.

    McEvoy apparently hit a cat's eye and went down after a sudden crash in the peloton ahead of him. He landed on the left side of his head but his helmet absorbed much of the impact, saving him from far more serious injuries. He posted a photo on Twitter while still in hospital.

    It seems that McEvoy lost consciousness after the crash but swift medical support, including from the Team Sky doctor who was in the race, ensured he received excellent treatment and was airlifted to Bolzano hospital. He spent a night in hospital and then a night at he NetApp-Endura team base in southern Germany before flying to Manchester from Munich.

    "To be honest, I don't remember what happened. We were racing through some tunnels, and I was riding next to Adam Blythe but that it. The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital," McEvoy told Cyclingnews.

    "I've got a black eye and some cuts, but I consider myself lucky. My helmet probably saved my life. I underwent a series of scans and tests in hospital and I'll follow them up in the UK at home in St Helens."

    McEvoy will take some time to recover but hopes to be back racing soon.

    "I'll need some time to recover but we've got a race on May 1st and it's be great to be back racing by then."

  • Nibali confident for the Giro d'Italia after Trentino victory

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    April 19, 2013, 16:44
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Astana rider takes aim at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) dashed from the finish of the Giro del Trentino to catch a flight to Belgium for Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège with tired legs but sky high morale after winning the mountain stage to Sega di Ala and taking overall victory in the Giro del Trentino.

    The Sicilian attacked midway up the 16km climb and gradually gained the four minutes he needed to take overall victory from Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale). He also distanced all his key Giro d'Italia rivals to win alone, with Bradley Wiggins losing 1:39 after a mechanical problem and a chase cost him dear.

    Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Sella Italia) finished second overall, at 21 seconds with Bouet third at 55 seconds. Wiggins sank to fifth at 1:40.

    "The best thing about today is that I managed to win and put my arms up in celebration here. This is a great, very tough climb," Nibali said.

    "We were looking for answers from this race. Yesterday we went close to a stage win with Tiralongo but I wanted to win because a win helps your morale. This win is very important for that reason."

    Nibali won Tirreno-Adriatico with a similarly audacious but well-executed attack. He has confirmed he is one of best and most consistent stage racers in the peloton.

    "I think the difference this year is that I know I've got a team that backs me 100%. I won both Tirreno and Trentino on the last day. That means I didn’t put a step wrong."

    Nibali refused to accept victory in Trentino makes him the favourite for the Giro d'Italia. But he knows he one of the real contenders for the maglia rosa.

    "I did a great Tour de France last year, I've won the Vuelta and I've done well in the Giro in the past. I've proved my ability," he said.

    "The Giro is played out over 21 days and something can happen every day. I think Wiggins is the rider to beat at the Giro d'Italia. It's been a hard week but I saw Basso up there and Evans too. They'll be my rivals at the Giro. Scarponi too and other riders like Hesjedal, who is riding the Classics."

    Nibali will cross paths with the 2012 Giro d'Italia winner at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. Despite four days of hard racing in the Dolomites, Nibali is confident of doing well in Belgium.

    "Today was a big effort because we did the last climb very hard. Perhaps it can make a difference but probably not much," he said.

    "I'll be up against the usual names in Belgium: Gilbert, Kreuziger, who won the Amstel Gold Race, Dani Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez. They've all prepared specifically for the northern Classics, while I've raced here. I've watched them on television but I don’t know how they're riding. I've done a different build up but I'll be good. We'll see what happens on Sunday."
     

  • Watch Sunny King criterium live on Cyclingnews

    Teammates Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) and Jake Keough happy with the top two spots for the day.
    Article published:
    April 20, 2013, 22:25
    By:
    Cycling News

    Live streaming for NCC race begins at 6:20pm central daylight time

    The USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar will continue on Saturday, April 20 with the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Alabama. You can catch all the action with the live streaming video here on Cyclingnews.

    The elite women's race starts at 6:20PM central daylight savings time, where it will be up to new NCC series leader Lauren Stephens (FCS-Zngine p/b Mr. Restore) to defend her wafer-thin one point lead over last year's overall champion and Sunny King Criterium winner Erica Allar.

    The men's race will follow with series leader Hilton Clarke and his UnitedHealthcare team sure to keep the race under complete control. They've been invincible so far this season and occupy the top three spots in the NCC rankings, but expect last year's Sunny King winner Isaac Howe and his SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis team to challenge.

  • Gallery: Peloton previews La Redoute

    Garmin-Sharp's Daniel Martin on La Redoute
    Article published:
    April 19, 2013, 18:22
    By:
    Cycling News

    Pre-race training for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    The Spring Classics wrap up with Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, and the riders who will toe the line in La Doyenne stretched their legs on one of the most decisive climbs of the race, La Redoute, in training today. 

    The storied ascent has been the site of many race-winning attacks, and it's quite possible that one of the gentlemen pictured in our gallery felt a special lightness - the perfect blend of fitness and freshness - that will propel them to victory here on Sunday.

    Can you tell from these photos who is feeling tranquillo and who might be concerned that they won't be able to follow the moves when the hammer drops?

  • New Liège-Bastogne-Liège finale will be more tactical, says Gilbert

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was forced to the front early on the final climb at Fleche
    Article published:
    April 19, 2013, 19:25
    By:
    Cycling News

    World champion chases first win in rainbow jersey

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) believes that the absence of the Roche-aux-Faucons climb from Liège-Bastogne-Liège will mean that a larger group than normal will contest victory in the finale, although he is hopeful that the Côte de Saint-Nicolas will remain a potential springboard to victory.

    Road works at Roche-aux-Faucons mean that the climb – which replaced the Côte du Sart Tilman in 2008 – will not feature this year. Instead, the peloton will tackle the new climb of the Côte de Colonster with 17 kilometres to go.

    “We have a new final and I think it's going to be more tactical than before. It’s going to change the race although I can’t say for sure how it’s going to be,” Gilbert said at the BMC press conference on Friday. “I imagine there will be more riders still up there at the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and it will be a more tactical race too, where having strength in numbers will play an important role. It’s going to be a different race.”

    On paper at least, the Colonster is less challenging than Roche-aux-Faucons, but Gilbert gave short shrift to the idea that a large group would still be together on the sapping drag to the finish at Ans. The reason? The Côte de Saint-Nicolas, which comes after 256 kilometres of racing.

    “You can imagine everything but it’s the riders who will make the race. We will have a more bunched race but Saint-Nicolas is just long enough and steep enough to make the difference, and the summit is 5 kilometres from the finish, so that’s something that will allow me to fight for the win. The scenario I see is a group of 40 riders on Saint-Nicolas and it will be a sprint of 700 metres there.”

    Gilbert lines up for his home classic still seeking a maiden victory in the rainbow jersey of world champion, but he downplayed the idea that he was under pressure to break his duck. The Belgian came close at Brabantse Pijl last week but at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, he was perhaps too eager to lead the pursuit of Carlos Alberto Betancur on the Mur de Huy and he finished a disappointed 15th.

    “I would have preferred to have won a race,” Gilbert admitted. “The start of the season hasn’t been easy with the extreme weather conditions and so forth. I took the risk of going to Australia and that wasn’t easy with the travel and then after the Tour of Oman I was ill for the best part of a month. So I was physically off as a result of that, but I still came close to getting some wins.”

    Gilbert’s status as world champion, past winner and local hero means that he lines up as one of the principal favourites for the win on Sunday, but he pointed out that Katusha and Astana’s strength in depth will make them difficult to beat. Katusha boast the past two Flèche Wallonne winners Dani Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez in their ranks, while Astana can rely on the top two from Liège last year, Maxim Iglinskiy and Vincenzo Nibali.

    “There are a lot of riders around the same level and there’s nobody who’s destroying the opposition,” Gilbert said. “We saw at Amstel and Flèche that the level is very equal and positioning is very important.”

    BMC manager, John Lelangue, also flatly confirmed that speculation that Gilbert would be prevented from starting Liège-Bastogne-Liège due to a littering offence at last year’s race was wide of the mark. “A bit of a sensationalist article in a French newspaper [L’Équipe] was unfortunately picked up without verification,” Lelangue said. “I can tell you that there was never any threat of not taking the start.”

    The riders in question have, however, been handed a €500 fine, according to AFP. “We don’t have the authority to stop a rider from starting a race,” a spokesperson for prosecutors in Liège said of the L’Équipe article.
     

  • New climb in Liège-Bastogne-Liège softens the challenge

    The peloto packed in the Cote de St. Roch
    Article published:
    April 20, 2013, 07:06
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Cote de Roche aux Faucons replaced with easier alternative

    Road construction means that a key climb in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Cote de Roche aux Faucons, won't be in the race this year. The replacement, the Cote de Colonster, with its summit at kilometre 244 of 261 that make up this year's Doyenne, is not as difficult.

    Since 2008, the Roche aux Faucons has been the third to last climb for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, preceding the Cote de Saint Nicolas, and the long, unclassified ascent to Ans. The climb was narrow, twisting and steep, with a level crossing and sharp right hander just before it. There was also a large open drain running down much of the middle of it. In five years, it has come to form a classic ingredient in the finale of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

    This year, however, road work affecting the upper half of the climb have rendered it unusable. And the Cote de Sart Tilman, which was previously used, is also unavailable due to a horse fair.

    An alternative climb, the Cote de Colonster will be used, and apart from its length of around three kilometres and its position in the race following the unclassified Cote de Sprimont and preceding the Saint Nicolas, it could not be more different to the Roche aux Faucons.

    Steadily rising, broad and well-surfaced, Colonster is far more of a power climb. With no sharp bends, staging ambushes will be impossible. And the steepest part, perhaps eight percent at the hardest, comes right at the bottom, after which it is a straightforward big-gear grind to the top in the woods near Liege University. The climb is 2.6km long and averages a six percent grade.

    As if that was not enough to reduce its importance, together with the Mont Theux (2.7 kilometres at 5.9 percent), the easiest of all the of Liege-Bastogne-Liege's 11 climbs, there are also around three kilometres more of flat road between the Sprimont and the foot of the Colonster.

    And after the top, rather than a difficult descent, there are three kilometres of false flat. It is very close to where the Tour de France stage finished at Seraing last year. What follows is a fast, fairly straight descent to the River Meuse and a return back to the usual Liege-Bastogne-Liege route - a dash round the foot of the Standard Liege stadium, and then onto the Cote de Saint Nicolas.

    It seems like the route change will make it harder for breakaways to stick after La Redoute. Saint-Nicolas is once again more likely to be where the real showdown begins, much closer to the finish.

  • Stephens: The 90s were a complicated era

    Neil Stephens.
    Article published:
    April 20, 2013, 09:13
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    Orica GreenEdge confident in Vance's review

    Nearly six months on from when Orica GreenEdge announced an external review of the team's anti-doping policies, procedures as well as riders and staff, Cyclingnews has been informed that no specific comments will be made until the release of the final report.

    On November 1, 2012, the team announced that sports director Matt White had been released and that Nicki Vance, a former director of WADA, would author a report. Speaking to Cyclingnews at the time, Vance indicated that her investigation would take "between six and eight months.

    Cyclingnews spoke at length with sports director Neil Stephens on Thursday at the team's base for the Ardennes in Liège on a wide range of topics, however specifics regarding Stephens’ involvement within the Festina Affair and the Australian fallout from the USADA investigation were not something that he would elaborate on.

    CN: The USADA investigation and the related fallout in Australia with Matthew White and Stephen Hodge cast a really dark shadow on that era for Australian cycling, have you been surprised with the public reaction to that?

    NS: It's unfair and it's not really correct. Nicki Vance is doing an investigation and it's really good. Everyone's been really proactive in it. It's early days to say anything. Nicki's doing a great, thorough job as everyone within GreenEdge cycling is. We'll wait for that to come out before we draw any lines. 

    CN: But in terms of the general reaction? There are now more question marks over the 80s and 90s... Does a line need to be drawn in the sand and say, we're moving on without answers?

    NS: You've got to get on with life and move ahead. People who want to stick their head in the sand, they shouldn't be around. In the current climate there are some fantastic bike riders out there, there's some fantastic teams and they're doing a great job. Let's just enhance and let's grow with that current environment and enjoy it.

    CN: Has the current generation suffered because of what happened before them?

    NS: Riders, staff, management, sponsors, yeah.

    CN: What were some of the things that you were most proud of throughout that era?

    NS: Well, that era. When I was a bike rider? Your conversation is just starting to go down one channel here. The thing is I had a great career and it finished off with the Festina Affair and that was it. So I had some great moments. Just go through the files. The great moments in my career are the people that I've met.

    CN: It couldn't have been the way you wanted to end your career?

    NS: My career was going to end then anyway. I didn't neck myself did I? Thankfully.

    Stephens has previously stated publicly that while he used EPO, he did not do so knowingly, believing instead that he was being injected with vitamin supplements. Cycling Australia accepted that defence when Stephens' inclusion in the 1998 Commonwealth Games team was challenged.

    The Australian Anti-Doping Authority's investigation into Australian cycling remains on-going.

    CN: Does it bother you that Festina was clouded by the Tour in 98?

    NS: It was a shame and there was some good people there and some good workers... the thing I didn't like about Festina is that I was a foreigner and I felt like a foreigner in that team. In this team, that's one of the policies we have, we all speak English.

    CN: Did the Festina Affair cast doubt over your career?

    NS: Yeah. Shit yeah.

    CN: Are you bitter about it?

    NS: I've had a few things happen to me in life and that's one of them. But it's not the worst thing that's happened to me in life. And so there's bigger shit that's happened to me. I try to just get on with life. You look at it and you say it was a really hard period. It was a pretty complicated sort of an era. I just got on with it.