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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 1, 2014

Date published:
February 01, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Sagan leads Cannondale at the Dubai Tour

    Peter Sagan
    Article published:
    January 31, 2014, 9:25 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Slovakian looking for first win of the 2014 season

    Peter Sagan will lead the Cannondale team in next week's inaugural Dubai Tour (February 5-8) as he looks to secure his first win of the 2014 season.

    Sagan can count on the support of Damiano Caruso, Marco Marcato, Ted King, Daniele Ratto, Maciej Bodnar, Fabio Sabatini and his brother Juraj Sagan. Sabatini will be back in action after a five-month rehabilitation period following his crash at the US Pro Cycling Challenge.

    Sagan made his season debut at the recent Tour de San Luis in Argentina but was beaten by Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) in the uphill sprint that decided the final stage. He has set Milan-San Remo as hi first major goal of the 2014 season. He will also ride Paris-Roubaix.

    He will face serious sprint competition on the flat stages from Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Thor Hushovd (BMC) but is perfectly suited to the hillier third stage to Hatta.

    "The Tour de San Luis was a positive starting point. Each day I felt more and more comfortable, and that's the most important result in the beginning of the season," said Sagan in a press release from the Cannondale team.

    "The Dubai Tour will be exciting and the high level of the competition will be a big push to improve my performance. I have strong teammates around me; that's all I need to do well."

    Dario Mariuzzo will be the Cannondale directeur sportif for the race. Other squads will then go on to ride the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman. Sagan is expected to miss Qatar but will return to the Middle East for the hillier Tour of Oman.

    "Dubai Tour is an important race, and we expect the entire team to perform well," Mariuzzo said. "Sagan will be our frontrunner and he...

  • Lampre-Merida riders pose for official team photos

    World Champion Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Lampre - Merida)
    Article published:
    January 31, 2014, 11:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    World champion Costa takes centre stage, no Horner in Monza

    World road race champion Rui Costa and his Lampre-Merida teammates posed for the team's official photograph in Monza on Wednesday, challenging the cold of the Italian winter to show off the team's 2014 blue and fuchsia kit.

    Costa, Filippo Pozzato, Damiano Cunego, recent Santos Tour Down Under stage winner Diego Ulissi and Tour de San Luis stage winner Sacha Modolo posed in front of the spectacular Monza Duomo. Rui Costa has opted for an all-white look, with white shorts to match his white rainbow jersey.

    New signing Chris Horner was not at the photo shoot but the team appears to have left a place in the team photo to add him at a later date. Horner is expected to race for Lampre-Merida at the Challenge Mallorca in early February. 

    Many of the riders had returned from the warm of Australia and Argentina and had to suffer in the cold as Roberto and Luca Bettini snapped the photographs. Many of the riders will soon head to Dubai or Tuscany for the GP degli Etruschi –the opening race of the Italian season.

    The Lampre-Merida team is based in nearby Usmate Velate and has done some team time training on the Monza motor racing circuit.

  • Peiper reiterates Evans' Giro d'Italia credentials

    Job done. Cadel Evans (BMC) wraps up victory on stage 3 of the Tour Down Under.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2014, 15:00 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    No sign of fear of Quintana or Horner in BMC camp

    After a promising second place in the Santos Tour Down Under, Allan Peiper has reiterated his belief that Cadel Evans can win the Giro d’Italia. BMC’s performance manager, who recently returned from team training camp in Spain, also welcomed the news that Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will target the race, telling Cyclingnews that another rival will lead to a more settled race.

    “The Tour Down Under really sets the scene for the rest of the trajectory heading towards the Giro,” Peiper told Cyclingnews.

    “Cadel is back in Europe and he’ll be riding races in the next couple of weeks before building towards Tirreno. It’s step-by-step and then the rest will be the last step to the Giro.”

    Evans endured a difficult two-year period following his Tour de France win in 2011 and struggled with health problems a resulting loss of form. The 2012 Tour saw him finish seventh overall despite a promising start to the year that included wins in Criterium International and third in the Dauphine.

    He altered his 2013 race programme, opting to race the Giro d’Italia in a bid to rediscover his top form. That resulted in third overall, however he failed to carry that condition through to July and could not even finish in the top 35 overall.

    “It’s never just one thing that upsets a rider and takes him out of his rhythm or balance,” Peiper told Cyclingnews.

    “There’s a number of factors. It was a hard year when he won the Tour de France and then he got sick the next year. He wasn’t where he wanted to be and lost confidence in himself maybe, and then feeling maybe that people around him, no just the team but the public and press. They’re all things that can...

  • Savoldelli summoned by Italian anti-doping investigators

    Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) is keeping a low profile in the opening week of Le Tour. And that's a good thing.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2014, 15:58 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Former Giro d'Italia winner says he's not worried

    Former Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli has been summoned for questioning in Rome by the Italian Anti-Doping Procura on February 12 "following development of investigations underway for violation of the anti-doping rules".

    The summons lists three possible anti-doping rule violations: 2.2: use or attempted use of a banned substance or prohibited method by an athlete and 2.8: Administration or attempted administration of banned substances or prohibited methods; and 3.2: for consulting and services from people who have been suspended."

    According to a report by, USADA could have handed over evidence of Savoldelli's involvement in doping while at the Discovery Channel team and his links to Dr. Michele Ferrari. 

    When contacted by Cyclingnews, Savoldelli suggested that it could be related to the recent accusations that Danilo Di Luca made on Italian television.

    "It'll be for the Di Luca case, we raced together (at LPR Brakes in 2008)," he told Cyclingnews. "We'll see what emerges. I just hope that they aren't trying to make a splash in the media about it."

    However, Savoldelli accepted that the summons could also be related to the ongoing investigation into Dr. Ferrari in Padova that is linked to the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong, the US Postal Service team. USADA has reiterated several times that it continuing to investigate doping in professional cycling.

    Savoldelli raced with Armstrong at the Discovery Channel team in 2005 and stayed with the Discovery Channel in 2006 after Armstrong retired. He also rode for Team Telekom (2003-2004) and Astana (2007) before ending his career with LPR Brakes-Ballan. He won the Giro d'Italia in 2002 and in 2005, while riding with the Discovery Channel. He also rode in the Tour de...

  • Speedy Coquard aiming for a big win in 2014

    Bryan Coquard (Europcar)
    Article published:
    January 31, 2014, 19:00 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    After six victories for Europcar, Coquard hopes to impress in WorldTour

    Six wins and a string of other high finishes made Europcar's Bryan Coquard one of the best new pros of last season. Having agreed an extension to his contract with Jean-René Bernaudeau's team, Coquard is relishing the prospect of competing in WorldTour events throughout this season following Europcar's elevation to the top level and can't wait to get back to racing at this weekend's GP La Marseillaise.

    A pocket rocket standing 1.69m and weighing in at just 58kg, the 21-year-old Frenchman has refused the temptation of completing his pre-season training in warm weather climes in order to stay near friends and family in St-Nazaire in western France. The poor weather has been hard to deal, he tells Ouest France, but it has also made him even more eager to race and see how he fares in the biggest events on the calendar.

    "It is going to be a pivotal year. We have just stepped up to the WorldTour, which means more big races, without wanting to denigrate the Coupe de France events or the other races that I did last year. In my mind, there are no small or big races, the important thing is simply to be able to raise your arms and celebrate victory," he said. "However, I don't expect to win as often when I'm mixing it regularly with the best. I would prefer to win one race, but a really big one. A stage win at Paris-Nice suit would suit me very well."

    Although labelled a sprinter, Coquard sees himself as a punchy rider who can cope well on the climbs. With this in mind, he believes his future lies as much in the Classics as it does in bunch finishes. "That's the target I've been pushing myself fully towards in training," he said.

    The Europcar sprinter adds that even though he is often ordered to hide himself in the peloton and stay as fresh as possible for the final sprint, he often feels like he's got the...

  • Movistar: this year's objective is to win a Grand Tour

    The 2014 Movistar squad is presented at the team launch in Madrid
    Article published:
    February 01, 2014, 9:31 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spanish team launched today in Madrid

    Movistar's team launch in Madrid on Friday saw Spain's only remaining WorldTour squad confirm that in 2014 they will be looking for a Grand Tour victory, arguably the only result which was lacking in their impressively strong 2013 season.

    The Spanish team completed last year as the best-ranked squad in the UCI WorldTour classification, leapfrogging ahead of Team Sky after a victory in the Tour of Beijing. They scored no less than 32 wins, 15 of them WorldTour victories, their best total in three years' sponsorship by the telecommunications company.

    But after Nairo Quintana finishing second at the Tour de France in 2013, and Alejandro Valverde taking his umpteenth podium at the Vuelta, as well as four stage wins in the Giro going to the Spanish squad, Movistar say they are going into the 2014 season with the stated aim of taking an elusive Grand Tour win.

    The team has the economic stability - Movistar announced last autumn they are sponsoring the squad until 2016 - not to feel under too much pressure. But given their previous victory in one of the three-week stage races was in the Vuelta in 2009 with Valverde, a Grand Tour win is long overdue.

    "Looking at our palmares we [the Movistar management] are the first to admit that we have to take that step towards victory," said Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue on Friday. "But we know it's the hardest step to take and only one person manages to do it.

    "Both Nairo and Alejandro" - the Colombian in the Giro, the Spaniard in the Tour and both in the Vuelta - "are capable of doing that, and by...

  • Chavanel leads the line and a new challenge at IAM Cycling

    Sylvain Chavanel lines up for IAM Cycling in 2014.
    Article published:
    February 01, 2014, 11:45 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Exclusive interview with French all-rounder

    Sylvain Chavanel’s debut campaign with IAM Cycling has not even started in earnest, and already the first victory of the season has arrived in the form of an invitation to the Tour de France. The acquisition of the former French champion made that wildcard something of a formality, but even so, it was a welcome boost to Chavanel ahead of his debut in IAM colours at the Grand Prix d’Ouverture La Marseillaise on Sunday.

    “To find out this early in the season is good for everybody involved, and it helps us to plan for the Tour and work towards it in the right way,” Chavanel told Cyclingnews over the phone earlier in the week, after a day spent reconnoitring the final time trial of the Tour from Bergerac to Périgueux at the behest of the local organising committee.

    “It’s close to where I live and I’m the ambassador for the stage in Bergerac,” he explained. “I went and had a look today, and a lot of people came out just for the recon and that’s very heartening.”

    With three Tour stage wins and two days in the maillot jaune already on his palmarès, Chavanel can approach July unfettered by pressure, with the freedom to enjoy and animate the race in equal measure. “Exactly, I have no need to go there with a burden my shoulders for the general classification or whatever else,” he said. “I’ll go there to maybe try to wear the yellow jersey early on, or win stages.”

    The month of April is a different proposition, however, and Chavanel would be forgiven for feeling that he has unfinished business with the spring classics after his agonising second place at the 2011 Tour of Flanders and a string of best supporting actor nominations but no monument victory of his own during his time as a mainstay of...

  • Tour de France to host one-day women's race on the Champs-Élyseés

    The Champs Elysees stage usually turns in front of the Arc de Triomphe and heads back, but in 2013 will go all the way around the traffic circle.
    Article published:
    February 01, 2014, 13:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Women to race on the same roads in Paris

    Tour de France organisers Amaury Sports Organisation has announced that a women's one day race will coincide with the final day of this year’s Tour de France in Paris on July 27.

    Described by ASO as "event is destined to become an iconic race in the women’s calendar" the race will bring the women's peloton to the fore of world cycling with huge television audiences guaranteed via international broadcasters France Télévisions and Eurosport.

    The race will be know as the La Course by Le Tour de France and run along the same finishing circuit that the Tour de France takes on with a finish line on the Champs-Elysées.

    "Making a contribution to the development of all forms of cycling is a vocation for the Tour de France," Yann Le Moenner, Managing Director of A.S.O said in a press release.

    "This is even more so when it is about supporting a discipline that is clearly on the up and has been making its mark in professional sport for many years now. As the event par excellence that attracts enormous crowds and TV viewers, the Tour has decided to welcome a women’s race during one of its outstanding stages, in an event that will have maximum exposure. La Course by Le Tour and its champions are invited to conquer 'planet bicycle'".

    Le Tour Entier has petitioned for greater rights and awareness of the women’s peloton and this event is direct result of their work.

    "The Le Tour Entier group (LTE), founded by myself, Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley and Kathryn Bertine are passionate about helping to grow women's cycling and women's sport and we have long been convinced that one of the best ways of achieving our mission is to work with the Tour de France, the beacon of world cycling," said Chrissie Wellington.

    "It was wonderful for LTE to have the opportunity to work together with A.S.O to realise our shared...