- Article published:
- December 21, 2012, 20:20
- Stephen Farrand
World's number one ranked team the favorite among readers
Team Sky has been voted the best team of 2012, capturing a massive 13,866 votes in the Cyclingnews Reader Poll, almost 10,000 more votes than second placed team Garmin-Sharp.
Team Sky dominated the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first ever British winner of the yellow jersey and compatriot but not always loyal teammate Chris Froome finished a close second overall. Many of their rivals scoffed when team manager Dave Brailsford set the goal of winning the Tour de France with a British rider within five years. Yet Team Sky did it in just three years.
The boys in black and blue also won close to 50 other races and racked up numerous placings, enough to top the UCI WorldTour team ranking and claim the bragging rights of team of the year.
Wiggins dominated Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium di Dauphine, while Mark Cavendish won 14 sprints in his year with Team Sky and even took overall victory at the Ster ZLM Tour in June. Edvald Boasson Hagen had a disappointing spring but won the Tour of Norway and the GP Ouest-France classic in the summer and was second behind Philippe Gilbert in the world road race championships. And he is still only 24.
Many of the Team Sky riders sacrificed their won chances to help Wiggins and Cavendish but they were also given their chance and often took it. Richie Porte won the Volta ao Algarve, Ian Stannard won the British national road race title, Rigoberto Uran won Gran Piemonte and was the best young rider at the Giro d'Italia, finishing seventh overall.
Team Sky perhaps only underperformed in the Spring Classics but plans are in place to make sure that is rectified in 2013.
New ways of doing things
Traditions and the need for experience run deep in professional cycling but Team Sky has brought new ways of doing things to the peloton since the team was created in 2010. They struggled in their first Tour de France, admitted they over analyzed things in 2011 but got everything right in July this summer.
Wiggins was at his best, Froome was the best possible understudy and the Richie Porte, Michael Rogers, Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel and even Mark Cavendish spent hours on the front controlling the peloton and physiologically destroying their rivals.
Team Sky's success in 2012 has forced other teams look at how they do things and forced them to improve their coaching and physiology expertise. Riding hard is not enough against a back up team of race and sprint analysis specialist, coaches, tacticians and some of the best race soigneurs and mechanics. Brailsford's marginal gains mentality and big budget means Team Sky has a decisive edge that has given the confidence to target the biggest races in the sport.
Perhaps Team Sky's biggest problems of 2012 has been their making.
When Mark Cavendish joined the team, talk of going for both the yellow and green jerseys at the Tour de France was a sign of over confidence. Faced with reality and clear chance of overall victory, the team opted to sacrifice Cavendish's chance and put their chips on going for yellow. It paid off, they hit he jackpot, but the decision bruised Cavendish's ego and allowed him to wiggle his way out of his contract and join Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Even a team of Sky's calibre will miss Cavendish's guaranteed double digit win total in 2013.
The team, or at least its main sponsors, also insisted a somewhat utopian zero tolerance stance against doping. Yet there is little concrete proof that the loss of Sean Yates, Steven De Jongh, Bobby Julich has made the team more credible than it already was.
On the other hand, Michael Barry's much delayed confession that he doped while at the US Postal Service team, the botched hiring of Dutch doctor Geert Leinders and Michael Rogers' unexplained move to Saxo-Tinkoff all stood out as serious contradictions and hinted at a lack of consistency and transparency.
Cycling is so complex and so contradictory that no team can have a perfect season, not even Team Sky.
Best team of 2012 Cyclingnews Reader poll
||Belgium's national team for men's cyclo-cross Worlds and road Worlds
||No opinion for best team
Total votes: 28,185
- Article published:
- December 22, 2012, 09:39
- Pat Malach
French team announce 2013 roster
Two-time US under-23 national champion Rob Bush and former Chipotle-First Solar teammate Josh Berry, who finished third this year at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege espoirs race, have signed with French Continental team La Pomme Marseille for the 2013 season.
Slipstream Sports released both riders from their 2013 commitments to its Chipotle-sponsored development team last summer and will likely fold the squad due to lack of funding. Bush, who won the championship road race in 2012 and the criterium in 2011, had been with the team for two seasons. Last year was Berry's first with the team.
“Jonathan Vaughters really took the reins, on this, helping with the team,” Berry told Cyclingnews from Arizona, where he has been training for the past six weeks. “I couldn't be happier with the Slipstream program.”
Bush, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, has been racing on the road since adolescence. He competed with the Texas Roadhouse amateur team and the Marian College squad before signing with Kenda-GearGrinder, a UCI Continental team, in 2010.
He rode with Chipotle for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and he also represented the US on the U23 national team, finishing fourth in the 2012 U23 Paris-Roubaix. He scored two top-10 finishes at the Rutas de America last season, and in 2011 he won stages at the Tour de Beauce and the Cascade Cycling Classic.
Berry, 22, of Sun Valley, Idaho, started out racing in BMX, mountain biking and cyclo-cross, but his talent quickly spilled over onto the road. He signed with the UCI Continental team OUCH-Bahati Foundation in 2010, but he was severely injured in an early season head-on collision with a truck while training in Portland, Oregon, and he missed most of that season. He returned to the road in 2011 with the RealCyclist.com team of National Race Calendar overall winner Francisco Mancebo.
“I joined RealCyclist and they didn't expect much since I was coming back from injury,” Berry said. “I needed a year just to recover and go out and show myself in the NRC.”
Berry eventually made the breakaway at the USPRO road race got the attention of Slipstream North American director Chann McRae. He signed with Chipotle-First Solar in 2012 and spent most of the year racing with the team in Europe. Berry grabbed top-10 finishes at the Coppa delle Nazioni and the Circuit des Ardennes, and he also raced with the US U23 national team and finished third in the 2012 U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege behind teammate Ian Boswell, who signed a three-year deal with Team Sky this year.
But Berry's 2012 season also ended abruptly during stage one of the Baby Giro when a chain ring sliced through the patella tendon in his right knee. While Berry recovered in hospital, his US teammate Joe Dombrowski went on to win the race and signed with Team Sky for 2013. Berry would also like to follow that path to the ProTour level, but first he needs to put together a complete, healthy season.
“I know for myself what I need to make the next step is to have a real, full season,” he said. “You know I got hurt with Bahati, and I never really got to race with them. With RealCyclist I was able to get a good solid season. It ended early but I went to Belgium to race kermeses for two months to finish it off. And then this year I was on amazing form, and I really believe I could have own a lot of races.”
Next season will mark the second year Team La Pomme Marseille has had UCI Continental team status. The team, which competes in the UCI Europe Tour, was previously a French National Division 1 squad. The current pro team is the elite wing of a 38-year-old cycling club started by Serge Bolley, a former professional cyclist and teammate to Jacques Anquetil and Luis Ocana.
“We'll mainly be doing races in France,” Berry said. “My first focus is Tour de [Mediterranean]. There should be some ProTour teams there, and I'd really like to show myself. Then the Criterium Internationale is the next one I'll focus on.”
Berry said he will travel to the French island of Corsica in the beginning of January for the first team training camp. He said he will initially settle near the team base in Marseille, although he hopes to venture over to Nice, where Boswell and Dombroswki live, for some training and to check out the possibility of living there. But before he gets too comfortable in his new arrangement, he wants to repay the faith that both past and future employers have shown in him.
“I'm really grateful for the team backing me after a serious injury,” he said. “There were some people who were supporting me who kind of disappeared after the injury, but Slipstream really stood behind me, and this team is taking its chance by signing me. So I'm really looking forward to proving myself and thanking them by hopefully winning some races.”
Team La Pomme Marseille 2013 Roster:
Benjamin Giraud (FRA)
Thomas Vaubourzeix (FRA)
Yannick Martinez (FRA)
Gregory Tarride (FRA)
Thomas Rostollan (FRA) Elite 2
Antoine Lavieu (FRA) Elite 2
Yoann Paillot (FRA) Elite 2
Justin Jules (FRA) Veranda Curtains U
Jose Goncalves (POR) ONDA Boavista
Christopher Jennings (RSA) Rapha Condor
Jason Bakke (RSA) Team Bonitas
Julien Antomarchi (FRA) TT1 Sanofi
Rob Bush (USA) Chipotle-First Solar Development Team
Josh Berry (USA) Chipotle-First Solar Development Team
- Article published:
- December 22, 2012, 10:12
- Stephen Farrand
Sagan second, Boonen third
Bradley Wiggins(Team Sky) run of awards and recognition after his hugely successful 2012 season continues, with the Briton receiving more than ten thousands votes to win the Cyclingnews best rider of the year category.
Wiggins often divides opinions, yet he racked up 10,560 votes, almost double the total of second placed Peter Sagan, who received 5038 votes.
The season's big winners naturally filled the top ten on the Best rider of the year category: Tom Boonen was third with 4018 votes, reflecting his dominance and prowess in the spring classics, while Marianne Vos was fourth with 3111 after her world title victory on home roads in Valkenburg and her gold medal in the rain soaked road race at the London Olympics.
Readers showed their support for great stage race performances too, with Joaquim Rodriguez finishing fifth with 2437 votes. Ryder Hesjedal's victory at the Giro d'Italia was not forgotten, with the Canadian finishing sixth with 1400 votes. Also in the top ten were British track sensation Laura Trott, Andre 'Gorilla' Greipel for another season of consistent sprint, the hugely talented US female rider Evelyn Stevens and Olympic men's Sprint champion Jason Kenny.
Wiggins secured the crown of Cyclingnews's rider of the year for his stage race results but also for his standout personality.
Of course not everyone was shouting 'Allez Wiggo!' in July. Not everyone admires his calculated racing style, or his potty mouth antics and his mod-inspired style.
Compared to many other pro riders, he is unorthodox and original. His personality is not dampened or dumbed down by the fatigue of hours in the saddle. He is self affacing and funny, and often refuses to follow the Team Sky script, hating to roll out perfect sound bites the television media expect from him.
It was easy to see 2012 would be Wiggins' year as early as Paris-Nice. The Team Sky machine was in place and Wiggins used the week long March race as a test for the Tour de France. He then did it again at the Tour of Romandie and again in June at the Critérium du Dauphiné. He was on an unstoppable roll.
Second place in the prologue time trial at the Tour de France set the scene for the three weeks to come and he avoided the multitude of crashes in the first week before imposing his authority on the race on the first mountain finish at La Planche des Belles Filles. He then tightened his grip on the yellow jersey in the Besançon timetrial and his Team Sky teammates helped him strangle the race and reduce his rivals chances to next to nothing.
Indeed in the Pyrenees, only teammate Chris Froome emerged as Wiggins' rival. Froome was arguably stronger on the climbs but did not have the room to truly challenge his team leader, despite venting his frustration with some unexpected surges.
There are conflicting reports on how much Wiggins suffered from Froome's internal rivalry but he then imposed his superiority by winning the final time trial from Bonneval to Chartres and rolled into Paris in yellow as the first British winner of the Tour de France.
Wiggins' life would never be the same again and his popularity, especially in Britain, increased even further when he won gold in the time trial at the London Olympics. He is assured of a knighthood from the Queen in the New Year Honours list and was crowned as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, further lifting cycling in Britain into the mainstream.
When Wiggins was hit by a car out training in November it was front page news for several days and the paparazzi hovered outside his home. He responded in Wiggo style, showing the paparazzi and so the world, the middle finger.
He has yet to clarify if he will target the Giro d'Italia, the hundredth edition of Tour de France or perhaps even a rare double in 2013. Whatever goal he chooses, it will be fascinating and entertaining to see if and how he can handle the pressure and the expectation all over again.
Best rider of 2012 Cyclingnews Reader poll
Total votes: 27409
- Article published:
- December 22, 2012, 11:37
- Cycling News
Rules there are “no grounds” to overturn lower court ruling
Roberto Heras is once again the winner of the 2005 Vuelta a Espana. The Spanish Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling annulling his positive doping test and the loss of the title.
Heras, riding for Liberty Seguros, was leading the Vuelta when he tested positive for EPO after the penultimate stage. The positive doping control was announced in November 2005, and in February 2006, the Spanish cycling federation banned him for two years and stripped him of the title.
Heras did not go to the Court of Appeal for Spot, but appealed the ban through the civil courts. In June 2011, a court overturned his conviction, with the appeal saying that his samples had been incorrectly stored and that the samples are not analysed anonymously.
The Spanish federation appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which ruled that there were “no grounds” to overturn the lower court decision.
After the title was taken from Heras, the victory was given to Denis Menchov of Rabobank. It is now not clear which of the two will be officially recognized as the winner, nor what might happen with prize money.
Heras, who also won the Vuelta in 2000, 2003 and 2004, told the EFE news agency, “I received the news with great joy. I was hopeful but did not have excessive illusions. It was a big decision for me and I am happy to again have the Vuelta 2005.”
Now 38, the Spaniard said that“I never stopped feeling like the winner of the Vuelta and I have great memories of that win.” The suspension was “hard” but with the help of his friends and family, we got through it. He turned to mountain biking, where “I had a great time.”
- Article published:
- December 22, 2012, 13:33
- Cycling News
Dutch site claims Menchov, Boogerd, Dekker and Rasmussen underwent doping
Former Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders played a central role in doping at that team, according to a Dutch media report. Levi Leipheimer is said to have named the doctor in his statement to USADA in the Lance Armstrong investigation.
Leinders has denied all doping-related charges. He was hired for the 2012 season by Team Sky, but his contract was not renewed after questions arose about his tenure at Rabobank.
The Dutch website nrc.nl claims to have seen an uncensored version of Leipheimer's affidavit, in which he said “I continued to use EPO while with Rabobank in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and was also assisted in using by the Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders, from whom I purchased EPO.” The name of the doctor was blacked out in the publicly released version of the document.
The website further claims to have proof that former Rabobank riders Michael Boogerd, Thomas Dekker, Denis Menchov and Michael Rasmussen all traveled to Austria for blood doping through the Viennese Humanplasma blood bank. The transfusion are said to have taken place in the village of Steyrermühl.
The riders have all denied such involvement. However, Boogerd told the website that he met Stefan Matschiner, the man behind the blood doping scheme at a wine bar in Vienna, and that he had also paid Matschiner several times. “But that was for vitamins and not for drugs.”
Dekker has never admitted publicly to blood doping, insisting only that he had never been to Vienna. However, this fall his team manager, Jonathan Vaughters of Garmin-Sharp, said that the Dutchman had used blood doping in the past.
The website also says that Bernhard Kohl claimed that “top riders” from Rabobank were involved in Humanplasma, and that they were escorted by “team leaders.” One of these is said to be Leinders, allegedly visiting the clinic in late 2004. Leinders has denied that.
Kohl, who worked closely with Matschiner, was banned after testing positive for EPO-CERA at the 2008 Tour de France. He subsequently made a complete confession and co-operated with authorities.
- Article published:
- December 22, 2012, 14:59
- Cycling News
BMC rider underwent surgery on fractured femur Friday
Alessandro Ballan may be facing the loss of one of his kidneys, after losing his spleen and fracturing his femur and three ribs in a training camp crash. The BMC rider had surgery on the femur Friday, his second operation within 24 hours. His spleen was removed in emergency surgery shortly after the crash.
Ballan has been kept sedated Thursday night, but doctors expected to gradually return him to consciousness today if there were no further complications. The surgery on his left femur occurred Friday evening.
One of the complications which may arise concerns his left kidney, which took a blow in the crash. “We did not give permission for him to be moved to another hospital because of that,” doctor Kiko Llacer told Gazzetta. “Currently the internal bleeding has stopped and we are optimistic. But any further problems would lead to a decision to remove the kidney, which we want to and believe can be avoided, as in this case it would mean that his career is in danger.”
Keeping him unconscious is standard procedure after abdominal surgery, Llacer said. “This practice is also used to prevent the patient from suffering severe pain. Moreover, in the case of an emergency, it is better to have the patient already stabilized. If, as we think, there will be no complications, Alessandro can go home in a week.”
His wife Daniela has been the only one allowed to visit him. She flew from Bergamo to Valencia at dawn on Friday -- “the longest night of my life. I could not even close one eye. Her husband called her before the first surgery “to tell me not to worry.”
After the second surgery, when she had seen him, she said, “the worst is over. Alessandro is strong, has a great temperament, and they are hopeful.”
Gazzetta also reported on details of how the crash happened, saying that Ballan was reaching down for his water bottle when the teammate immediately in font of him slowed down. Ballan was unable to stop, and still in the saddle, flew into the mountainside at a speed of 50-55 km/h. It is believed that the handlebars impacted with his spleen. He never lost consciousness and in fact walked to the ambulance.
- Article published:
- December 22, 2012, 19:13
- Pat Malach
US junior champion moves to Europe
Two-time US junior national champion Max Durtschi will ride for the Leopard-Trek development team next season. Durtschi signed a one-year deal with the Luxembourg-based UCI Continental team that is owned by construction tycoon Flavio Becca 's Leopard SA, the same management company that owns the RadioShack-Nissan ProTour team.
“I was really just fortunate enough to have some people speak highly of me to the organization,” Durtschi said. “Things just kind of fit together and worked out. They actually called me, so I really got lucky that way.”
Durtschi, 22, from Ketchum, Idaho, won dual national championships in the road race and criterium in 2009. He rode with Slipstream Sports' Continental development teams in 2010 and 2011, and last season moved to Saxo Bank's Italian-based development team, which got off to a stutter-stepped start after Bjarnie Riis' ProTour team initially had trouble securing its UCI license.
Durtschi also rode for the U23 national team and on a trip to Belgium contracted a virus that hampered his early season. His poor luck continued with a badly broken wrist suffered in a crash at the Baby Giro. The setbacks wiped out a lot of the season for the former national Nordic ski team member who dreams of one day finding success in the storied Classics like Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but they also left him even more determined to right his ship next season.
“Last year was a really rough year,” he said. “It proved to be probably the toughest season I've ever had on the road, but I actually grew and learned more from that season than I have in the past, so I'm trying to see the positive. It had a silver lining, but it was bittersweet.”
He appears to have found a good spot for some redemption. During the Leopard-Trek development team's inaugural season last year, more than half of the riders scored wins. Luxembourg's Bob Jungels, who signed a deal with RadioShack-Nissan for 2013, led the team with six victories, including the overall win at Flèche du Sud, the U23 Paris-Roubaix and the Queen Stage of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta.
The team is directed by Adriano Baffi, the former Italian pro who rode from 1987 to 2001 with Mercatone Uno, US Postal Service and Mapei. Baffi won five stages of the Giro d’Italia and one stage of the Vuelta a Espana during his career. He had been a director of the Leopard-Trek ProTour team when it merged with Radioshack last season, and he subsequently moved to the development squad. Baffi arrived at Leopard-Trek from Astana and had previously worked at Phonak.
“With these 14 riders we will be able to race a solid program with a lot of diverse racing,” Baffi said in statement on the team website. “Results are of course important, as they are for any team, but our main goal remains to search and train talented young riders. We will share our experience with them and create opportunities for them to show their potential.”
Durtschi said he has already had quite a few email and telephone conversation with Baffi, and he's impressed with what he has read and heard so far.
“I can just really tell that he's going to be a great director for development,” Durtschi said. “And I think it shows; last year Leopard-Trek really kind of proved that they were the premiere U23 team. So I'm really looking forward to working with Adriano. I think it will be great.”
The team seems well-suited for the northern classics to which Durtschi aspires. Aside from Jungels' win last year at the U23 Paris-Roubaix, newcomer Sean De Bie of Belgium ran second in the 2012 Tour of Flanders U23 race, and Denmark's Kristian Haugaard comes highly recommended for the classics.
“I think they have a line up of races that really suit me, so I'm really looking forward to it,” Durtschi said.
He should have plenty of company and support during his quest. The team is returning seven riders from the previous year and adding seven more. Half the ream is under 23. Ten nations are represented on the 14-rider Leopard-Trek roster.
Durtschi, who said he will move to the Lucca area of Italy for the season, will also continue to ride for the U23 national team, which will be run next season by former BMC director Mike Sayers.
“I have spoken with him and I think it will work out really well to fit in some races, maybe some Nations Cups, with the national team as well,” Durtschi said.
The team training camp will take place in Spain next month, and Durtschi's season will start in late February, likely at a series of one-day races in Italy.
“I'll get over there pretty soon,” he said. “I'm going home to Idaho for Christmas to visit friends and family first, and shortly after that I'll head to Europe for camp and then the start of the season.”
2013 Leopard-Trek Team
Eugenio Alafaci (Ita)
Jesus Ezquerra (Spa)
Oliver Hofstetter (Swi)
Alex Kirsch (Lux)
Pit Schlechter (Lux)
Fabio Silvestre (Por)
Joël Zangerle (Lux)
Piero Baffi (Ita)
Sean De Bie (Bel)
Max Durtschi (USA)
Kristian Haugaard (Den)
Jan Hirt (Cze)
Daniel Klemme (Ger)
Tom Thill (Lux)
- Article published:
- December 22, 2012, 21:18
- Cycling News
Professional cyclist reported to have "tested positive" as result of error
Madrid’s anti-doping lab will be out of action for three months after an athlete - which Spanish newspaper AS claims to have been a professional cyclist - was wrongly reported to have "tested positive" in a mix-up of urine samples last August.
According to reports in Spain, its Anti-Doping Agency (AEA) explained in a communique that Madrid’s anti-doping lab made the mix up prior to initiating the testing procedure, and one sample which was clean was contaminated with another that contained a high level of a banned substance.
The AEA said that the lab then informed the innocent athlete and his federation that he had tested positive, but when the B sample came through clear and the lab recognised the error - which they rapidly communicated to WADA - no further action was taken against him.
The Madrid lab has now been suspended for three months, effective from December 21st, and the person responsible for quality control has resigned.
Spain has two accredited anti-doping labs, in Madrid and Barcelona, and neither has had any previous suspensions. Madrid has been carrying out anti-doping tests since 1969 and deals with around 8,000 separate samples a year.
The news could not have come at a worse time for Madrid, as it builds towards presenting its candidature for the Olympic Games in 2020. It also coincided with the Supreme Court’s decision to restore the 2005 Vuelta a Espana title to Roberto Heras, a verdict has been linked to alleged irregularities in the anti-doping protocol during the analysis of his samples back in 2005.