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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 2, 2013

Date published:
February 02, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Saiz plays down his links with Fuentes in Operacion Puerto

    Manolo Saiz arrives for the Operacion Puerto trial
    Article published:
    February 01, 2013, 19:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Ex-ONCE and Liberty boss says Roberto Heras, Angel Vicioso and Marcos Serrano worked with Fuentes

    Manolo Saiz made his long-awaited appearance on the witness stand during the fourth day of the Puerto trial's proceedings in Madrid today (Friday). The former ONCE and Liberty Seguros team manager, who is one of five defendants facing a charge of crimes against public health, played down the extent of his professional relationship with Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the investigation. Saiz insisted he had had no professional link at all with Fuentes between 1991 and 2004.

    However, he did reveal that three of the riders on the Liberty team had asked him for permission to work with Fuentes. He then named Roberto Heras, Angel Vicioso and Marcos Serrano. According to Saiz, "Everyone in the peloton knew that Heras was working with Fuentes before signing for my team." He later added that he was not sure whether Isidro Nozal, another former Liberty rider who was prevented from starting the 2005 Dauphiné Libéré due to elevated haematocrit, had also been working with Fuentes.

    "On repeated occasions I told him that I didn't like anybody going outside the team, but one day I acceded," Saiz said of Heras, who rode for Liberty in 2004 and 2005. "But agreeing to that is not the same as acting as an intermediary," he said. Saiz then admitted that Serrano and Vicioso had also asked for his permission to collaborate with Fuentes, and he also gave them the OK.

    Saiz denied that he had any knowledge about the practices employed by Fuentes. "I didn't know what Dr Fuentes's practices were, nor in fact those of any of the doctors who worked with me on the team. For 280 days a year, I had no control over what the cyclists were doing," said Saiz, who stated that his professional relationship with Fuentes finished at the end of 1991 when the doctor stopped working with ONCE. After that, said Saiz, "I've never been with him in the company of a cyclist." He later stated categorically: "I've never given my riders banned...

  • Women's 'cross Worlds lifted by success of Sanne Cant

    Belgian women's champion Sanne Cant is fifth overall in the World Cup standings.
    Article published:
    February 01, 2013, 19:55 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    Belgian champion gaining popularity for women's racing

    Into yet another long, hard cyclo-cross season, Belgian Champion Sanne Cant can hold her hands up high. She has taken her personal game up another level and brought with her the whole women's cyclo-cross field.

    With six wins and 19 total podium placings including two in the Koksijde and Zolder World Cups this season so far, she has surpassed her season of last year where she nailed the podium 10 times including the Koksijde World Championships and scored top five 21 times.

    "I definitely expected that there was going to be a wider top-end of riders without Daphny van den Brand [who retired last season], but I never thought it would go so well! I won races on tracks that I usually can't do anything on," said Cant. "Of all the races this season, I am most proud of my performance at Zolder World Cup and Loenhout [finishing 3rd and 1st]. They were both courses that were not ideal for me and yet I was able to put in a good showing."

    But one would ask how a single rider, barely 22 years old, could have such an impact on the future of women's 'cross. The answer is clear: Belgium is the homeland of 'cross and Cant is one of their own. And when the Belgians have a rider who can go for the win, they pay attention. This includes the press and media.

    Three-time world Cyclo-cross champion Erwin Vervecken said, "If you can get a Belgian to compete with the top girls to win big races, then their situation would change a lot. If she would win five races a year, then people would be more interested in women because they know someone who lives close. Then they'll come early for women's races."

    Vervecken said, "It may be a young sport for women, but I still don't understand the UCI's stand...

  • Report: Yorkshire Tour de France Grand Depart to cost £10m

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) seals victory in the Tour de France with a commanding ride in the final time trial
    Article published:
    February 01, 2013, 20:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Leeds council expects a ten-time return on investment

    The 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire will cost the British region an estimated £10 million according to a report by the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper.

    Tour de France organisers opted for Yorkshire ahead of other bids from Edinburgh in Scotland and Florence in Tuscany when they announced the host of the 2014 Grand Depart last December.

    Leeds will host the pre-race events, with the stage one on July 5 taking the riders from Leeds to Harrogate. Stage 2 will tackle the Pennines between York and Sheffield, before a transfer south for the last stage in Britain between Cambridge and central London.

    The Grand Depart organisers have never revealed their budget for the event. The Yorkshire Evening Post claims the Grand Depart will cost Leeds close to £3.6m, with other cities and regions covering the remaining £6.4m.

    It is estimated that close to £4.5m will go to race organisers ASO, with the rest spent on costs such as resurfacing roads, hospitality, events, safety, IT and a festival.

    Local councilors are convinced that hosting the Grand Depart will produce a ten-fold return on investment and boost Yorkshire's profile around the world.

    The Yorkshire Evening Post quotes council leader Keith Wakefield as saying: “Hosting the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France is in my view the biggest sporting coup Yorkshire has ever achieved. The eyes of the world will be firmly on the city and the region next July, offering profile-raising and promotional opportunities for the county on an unprecedented scale."

    “While this is a significant amount of...

  • Gilmore combines twin roles at Wiggle-Honda

    Owner, manager, rider Rochelle Gilmore in the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling kit
    Article published:
    February 01, 2013, 22:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian forced out with suspected broken collarbone

    It's rare for a major race to seem like something of a break, but that was how it felt for Rochelle Gilmore when she reported for the Ladies Tour of Qatar last Sunday in Doha. After a winter spent putting together the new Wiggle-Honda squad, the team's owner and manager was happy to have time - finally - to devote her full attentions to her role as a rider.

    Unfortunately for Gilmore, her race was to end prematurely when she crashed on the finishing circuit of Thursday's penultimate stage to Madinat Al Shamal, sustaining a suspected fractured collarbone. Post-race x-rays proved inconclusive, and Gilmore will travel home to Australia for a full assessment, but before boarding her flight, she was on hand to watch the final stage on Doha's Corniche in her capacity as manager.

    "I think there's probably a small crack but not too serious: I have a bit of movement but a lot of pain too," Gilmore said at the finish area. "There weren't many staff at the hospital last night, so I decided that I would have x-rays when I go back to Australia."

    Gilmore's misfortune was all the more frustrating given it that it occurred on the first day that she and new teammate Giorgia Bronzini were both in the leading group approaching the finale. "The road funnelled in a little bit near the finish line," Gilmore said. "Liesbeth De Vocht from Rabobank ran into some cones and I just went over the top of her."

    The highly-touted Wiggle-Honda outfit ended the Ladies Tour of Qatar empty-handed but Gilmore was pleased with her teammates' performances over the four days, particularly on the final stage, when the squad combined with Argos-Shimano to control...

  • Blythe: I want five wins and to ride the Classics

    Adam Blythe (BMC) wins the sprint in Binche
    Article published:
    February 02, 2013, 9:34 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    BMC’s British sprinter is confident in new focus

    The Tour of Qatar marks the start of Adam Blythe’s season. Although it’s not a make-or-break year for the Englishman, who is only 23 and has a contract with BMC through to the end of 2014, he admits that he’s putting pressure on himself to perform better than he ever has. He not only wants more wins, he wants to participate in bigger races more often, and be a contender in those events.

    Judged by BMC team-mate and close friend Philippe Gilbert as hugely talented but sometimes lacking in application, Blythe has worked harder than ever before during the off-season with the goal of making that ability count. “Things are going a lot better than last year. I was moving house last year, but this year I’ve been doing a lot more training. I did four days on the track at Zurich, which was good fun. I’ve just done the Madison champs on the track with Peter Kennaugh, which was great fun too, so I’m going in the right direction now,” he told Cyclingnews at BMC’s team presentation.

    Blythe only raced 53 days in 2012, partly as the result of a mid-season hip injury, but also because BMC didn’t seem to be able to work out how to get the best out of him. That started to change when he began to work more with British DS Max Sciandri in the second half of the year, when he took a couple of victories and his confidence returned.

    “Towards the end of the season I got a lot more race days in, one after another. That helped me because I think I’m better at racing and getting fit than I am at training. That’s what I’ll be trying to do more of this year. It doesn’t matter what kind of race it is as long as I am getting race-quality fitness,” he explained. “It was a...

  • Team Blanco suspend Luis Leon Sanchez

    Rabobank's Luis Leon Sanchez loses out to Bradley Wiggins in the time trial at the Tour of Romandie
    Article published:
    February 02, 2013, 9:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    Links to Fuentes become too much for team

    Team Blanco Pro Cycling has opened an internal investigation into Luis Leon Sanchez and his links to Eufemiano Fuentes. He has been suspended by the team until further notice. The Spaniard has been with the squad – formerly Rabobank – since signing a lucrative deal in 2011. The 29-year-old started his career in 2003 at ONCE, under Manolo Saiz, before moving to Caisse d’Epargne in 2007.

    However the Blanco management released a statement saying:

    "Team Blanco has started an investigation against rider Luis Leon Sanchez after stories in the media about his possible involvement in the case-Fuentes. Until there is clarity about the outcome of the investigation is Luis Leon Sanchez is not included in a selection of Blanco."

    In October of last year the team announced that there was ‘no problem with Sanchez’ but with the Operacion Puerto trial opening this week the intensity has magnified. Last week the team said they would investigate claims made by NRC Handelsblad which suggested that Sanchez was known by the code-name of Huerto and number 26.

    Sanchez has always denied doping but was part of the Liberty Seguros team in 2006 that was hit by the Spanish police investigation and saw police discover dozens of bags of blood in Eufemiano Fuentes's lab in Madrid. Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Michele Scarponi, Alejandro Valverde and others have all served bans for doping..

    Sanchez in a multi winner of Tour de France stages, has won the Spanish time trial championships four time, and finished in the top ten in several grand tours.


  • Guardini looks to get off the mark in Qatar

    Andrea Guardini (Astana)
    Article published:
    February 02, 2013, 13:30 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian will not be in Astana’s Giro d’Italia team

    It’s often a case of all or nothing in sprinting, but few riders take that maxim to quite the same extremes as Andrea Guardini (Astana). Take his Giro d’Italia debut last year: for two and half weeks, the Italian youngster was marked absent from the bunch sprints, but when an opportunity finally presented itself on the pan-flat stage to Vedelago, Guardini duly popped up and claimed the scalp of Mark Cavendish to take victory.

    “Let’s say that I tend to do either really well or really badly,” Guardini told Cyclingnews in Doha ahead of the Tour of Qatar. “I usually struggle to get a lot of placings, but to be honest, I’d rather just get one victory and no placings.”

    Indeed, Guardini’s grand tour batting average is a healthy 1.000 – one unimpeded sprint, one victory – and it was a similar story at his Tour of Qatar debut two years ago. After missing the split for four consecutive days, he flashed to victory on the final stage. Like the former Juventus and AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi, it seems, Guardini can disappear from view for long periods, but when a half-chance falls his way, he finds a way to take it.

    Through the hard slog of dog days in the gruppetto, or the frustration of getting bottled up within sight of the red kite, Guardini keeps his morale up by keeping better times in mind. That Giro stage win, in particular, has helped the 22-year-old to keep his setbacks in perspective.

    “That stage will always remain in my head even when I go through difficult moments,” he said. “I can’t forget the day that I managed to beat Cavendish. It’s something that...

  • Greg LeMond launches new company

    Greg LeMond
    Article published:
    February 02, 2013, 16:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    LeMond Inc is set up

    Tour de France winner Greg LeMond has launched a new company LeMond Inc. The brand will specialise in innovative cycling products with the LeMond Revoluton Indoor Training becoming the flagship product. The trainer is used by the Garmin-Sharp professional cycling team.

    LeMond plans to release a line of Revolution compatible accessories designed by Greg and his inspired ensemble of innovators. “For the last 30 years I have been passionate about design and technology. This new company gives me the opportunity to dream again. For starters, I am excited to bring LeMond to Minneapolis. The community here is full of engineers, developers, and designers with a serious passion for cycling and I really look forward to drawing from this deep talent pool."

    "The Revolution trainer will serve as our foundation," said LeMond, who won the Tour de France in 1986, 1989 and 1990, and was also the pro world road race champion twice.

    "We plan to change the way all cyclists relate to cycling, starting with indoor trainers,” said LeMond. “As we create new products, our goal will be the integration of the cycling experience in all of its forms. Cycling is going through a dramatic transition and we are ready to step up and play a role in its future. This future is bright and LeMond will be there with the products to make our cycling experiences more meaningful, successful, and safe."

    LeMond has become increasingly vocal in cycling over the last few months. He became a member of the Change Cycling Now lobby group last year, and was initially touted as a candidate for the UCI presidency. He has called for the current UCI President Pat McQuaid to stand down.