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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 22, 2014

Date published:
February 22, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • US Continental teams react to Tour of California invites

    Two Jelly Belly national champions: Fred Rodriguez and Luis Davila
    Article published:
    February 21, 2014, 20:00 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Four squads selected, down from five in 2013

    Four US Continental teams got the nod for the Amgen Tour of California's start list when the race announced its route and remaining teams Thursday afternoon. A new UCI rule allowing races to invite more WorldTour teams cut into the Continental ranks slightly, with one less domestic team receiving an invitation this year.

    Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Jamis-Hagens Berman, Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis and Axel Merckx's reformulated Bissell Development Team will represent the division-three teams in California May 11-18 for the UCI 2.HC race.

    Jelly Belly will be back in the race for the first time since 2011, and the California-based team is coming into the season with its strongest roster ever. Team manager and director Danny Van Haute said his staff and riders are excited to put on a good show in the team's home state.

    "We have three former [WorldTour] riders in Jacob Rathe, Freddie Rodriguez and Matthew Lloyd, and they're no slouches, they're pretty good bike riders," Van Haute said. "I think it's the first time in our history of the Tour of California that we have a chance of winning a stage and maybe - I'm not saying we could win the Tour of California - but we have a good chance of making a top 10 in the GC."

    Jelly Belly's Serghei Tvetcov, who last season raced in the USA Pro Challenge, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and the Tour of Alberta while on Jelly Belly, will compete in his first Tour of California. The two-time national Moldovan time trial champion said he is looking forward to the experience.

    "It's a style of life that's different, and everyone in Europe is watching TV and thinking about Hollywood and L.A., so it's different and everybody wants to see it,"...

  • Urán left Sky to pursue his own goals

    Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma Quick Step) crosses the line
    Article published:
    February 21, 2014, 22:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Colombian confident about Giro d'Italia

    Rigoberto Urán believes that his move to Omega Pharma-QuickStep was necessary to further his cycling career. The Colombian rider said that his own ambitions would have fallen by the wayside if he had remained at Sky.

    "After three very good years at Sky, like it was when I left Caisse (d'Epargne), I needed to change to find my own goals," he told Spanish newspaper AS. "I have learned and I feel happy in my new structure, now it is my turn to return their confidence."

    Urán joined Sky in 2011 and was immediately put to work as a lieutenant for Bradley Wiggins. Top 10 placings at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Clásica San Sebastián showed that there was a lot more to come.

    In 2013, he stepped up to the plate when Wiggins abandoned the Giro d'Italia, to take a stage victory and second overall. It looked like Urán had finally earned the right to lead a team of his own, but with the rise of Chris Froome and Richie Porte, the top of the Sky tree was becoming increasingly crowded.

    The Colombian will return to the Giro again this year to lead Omega Pharma-QuickStep's general classification challenge. Urán admits that it won't be an easy fight. "My role will be complicated, but I hope to be at the top. Omega has no tradition in the general classification," he said. "We will all do our part and give our best.

    "This is my biggest challenge. I know I will measure myself against people of the quality of Nairo (Quintana), Purito (Joaquin Rodríguez) or (Richie) Porte, but I must give everything to finish as high as possible, despite the difficulties and rivals. It is a route that I love and it can favour me, there are enough mountains."

  • Volta ao Algarve summit finish is first test for Contador

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished in 4th place at the Volta ao Algarve time trial.
    Article published:
    February 22, 2014, 10:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard looks forward to Alto do Malhao

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was broadly satisfied with his showing in the stage 3 time trial at the Volta ao Algarve but said that he will know a lot more about his condition after the summit finish at the Alto do Malhao on Saturday afternoon.

    Contador finished in fourth place on Friday’s 13.6km time trial, 20 seconds down on stage winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who hurtled around the course at an average speed of some 58.078kph.

    “The sensations weren’t excellent but, taking into consideration the fact that we’re at the start of the season, it’s still good,” Contador said, according to Biciciclismo. “These time trial events are useful for training.”

    After winning two stages in succession, the on-form Kwiatkowski holds a 32-second lead over Contador on general classification, and the Spaniard acknowledged that it would be difficult to overhaul that deficit. “It would be a surprise if Kwiatkowski doesn’t win the race,” Contador admitted.

    Nonetheless, Contador is looking forward to testing his legs in earnest on the Alto do Malaho, the 2.5km-long climb at an average gradient of 8.9% that was decisive in each of his two overall victories at the Volta ao Algarve. Contador was first to the top in 2010, while he was out-sprinted by Toni Colom at the summit the previous year.

    “I know this climb well and there won’t be big gaps at the top,” Contador told L’Équipe. “I have reason to be satisfied with my start to the season and I’ll know a bit more about where I am after this summit finish. We’ll see if the work I did at altitude this winter shows its first benefits.”

    Contador delayed his start to the 2014...

  • Team Sky bikes stolen on the eve of Tour du Haut-Var

    Sky's Pinarello Dogma bikes lined out before the start of the race
    Article published:
    February 22, 2014, 11:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team will compete in race in spite of theft

    Team Sky has confirmed that it will be able to take part in the Tour du Haut-Var in spite of having 16 bikes stolen from a support vehicle parked outside the team hotel in Trans-en-Provence on the eve of the race.

    When Sky mechanics awoke on Saturday morning, they discovered that thieves had broken into the support vehicle and stolen 16 bikes as well as training wheels and other equipment.

    However, the team was able to source bikes from its training base in nearby Nice, and announced that seven of its eight riders will be racing on team-issue Pinarello bikes. An additional bike has been borrowed from the Bretagne-Séché team, which was sharing the same hotel as Sky.

    “The thieves took all the bikes, bar two, and we presume they only left those because they’d run out of space in whatever transport they were using. They also took some of the spare training wheels, and various bits of other equipment,” race coach Shaun Stephens told the Team Sky website.

    “We’re still able to take part in the race though and seven of our eight riders will be riding team-issue Pinarellos. The two that were left in the van are going to be used and we managed to source five others from our training house in Nice, which is about an hour away from where we’re staying. Fortunately the show goes on.”

    Stephens paid tribute to the Bretagne-Séche team for offering its help, and explained that neo-professional Sebastian Henao – the younger brother of Sergio – will ride a loaned Kemo bike on Saturday’s opening stage to La Croix Valmer.

    “That was a really nice gesture from them and we appreciate it a lot. Things like that really show the spirit of cycling and we can’t thank them enough,” Stephens...

  • Judge to rule on re-opening Armstrong, SCA Promotions case

    Lance Armstrong liked to control the media
    Article published:
    February 22, 2014, 13:34 GMT
    Cycling News

    Decision expected next week

    A Texas district court judge is expected to rule next week on whether to allow Lance Armstrong's attorneys to block SCA Promotions of Dallas, the company that paid out bonuses to Armstrong for his now-stripped Tour de France victories, from re-opening its suit to have those payments returned.

    SCA Promotions reached a reported $7.5 million settlement in 2006 with Armstrong after refusing to pay out an estimated $12 million in bonuses on grounds that there was evidence that he had doped to achieve those victories. Armstrong testified under oath that he did not dope, but in 2012, after having his titles stripped by the US Anti-Doping Agency and being handed a lifetime ban, Armstrong admitted to doping in a television interview.

    SCA Promotions then appealed to re-open its case, and the arbitration panel ruled 2-1 last October to review it. Armstrong's attorneys asked district court judge Tonya Parker to overrule the panel, arguing the case was closed, and even Armstrong lying under oath was not sufficient to re-open it.

    "There is no case [...] that gave an arbitration panel any authority beyond the conduct of the proceeding that was going on before them," Armstrong attorney Tim Herman said to the Associated Press.

    SCA Promotions lawyer Jeff Tillotson disagreed, arguing that the language in the settlement allowed for the panel to review any future claims regarding the settlement, and that something should be done because Armstrong "lied at every step of the way."

    Armstrong faced a similar suit from Acceptance Insurance Holdings last year, a company which paid out bonuses for his first three Tour de France titles, but

  • Van Garderen satisfied with second at the Tour of Oman

    Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in action at the Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    February 22, 2014, 16:10 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    "It's shows I did my homework in the winter"

    Tejay van Garderen (BMC) needed just a couple of minutes to recover from his intense effort on Green Mountain before offering his version of events on the 5.7km, 10.5% climb at the end of stage 5 of the Tour of Oman.

    The race is the American's first of the 2014 season but he showed his form and class by finishing second behind winner Chris Froome (Team Sky).

    Froome was on another level as he used his egg-beating pedal stroke to scale the twisting road, but van Garderen was impressive as he distanced Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Robert Gesink (Belkin).

    He finished 22 seconds behind Froome and is now 26 seconds down overall, but his place on the final podium in Muscat on Sunday seems assured.

    "I'm definitely happy with where I'm at," van Garderen said as he wiped down his face with a towel and took a drink before riding down the climb to the awaiting team cars.

    "I've put in a good winter of training. I'm coming off a fair bit of jet leg and it's my first race of the year, while some of these other guys have done two stage races. I was playing it kind of safe and not getting ahead of myself but I'm happy to be the runner-up behind Froome. It shows I did my homework in the winter."

    Van Garderen then gave a blow by blow account of the decisive final two kilometres of the brutal climb to the finish.

    "[Sergio] Henao was up the road and then Gesink put in an attack too. After his go, everyone in the group was looking pretty tired. I was thinking that if I could get away clean with Henao, then the tactics would dictate that Froome would stay in the group because he had a teammate up. But Froome was being careful; he followed my wheel and countered me as soon...

  • U23 cyclo-cross world champion Van Aert extends with Vastgoedservice

    U23 men's world champion Wout Van Aert (Telenet-Fidea) solos to victory at the Superprestige finale in Middelkerke
    Article published:
    February 22, 2014, 18:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian adds another year to contract

    In a contract tug-of-war, U23 cyclo-cross world champion Wout Van Aert has added another year to his contract with the Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace team after his current Telenet-Fidea manager Hans Kasteren tried to buy his contract back.

    The 19-year-old parlayed his new status as holder of the rainbow jersey into a more lucrative contract with the team of Timmy Simons, having inked a four-year deal prior to the world championships in Hoogerheide.

    Van Aert now has a professional contract that runs through December 31, 2018. "I am convinced that I made the right choice," Van Aert said. "This agreement shows a lot of trust from the Vastgoedservice - Team Golden Palace. The management has planned a great project that I definitely want to be a part of. The outstanding results of the team during their first two months of existence now prove their vision was correct."

    Van Aert joins former Telenet-Fidea teammates Rob Peeters and Joeri Adams in the squad on March 1.

  • Uran unruffled by another placing at the Tour of Oman

    Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) in Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    February 22, 2014, 19:10 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Colombian still hoping to ride the Tour de France after targeting the Giro d'Italia

    Little ruffles Rigoberto Uran and after a second consecutive strong performance at the Tour of Oman, he was neither happy nor disappointed about being in third place overall behind Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC).

    On Friday the Omega Pharma-Quick Step climber finished second to Peter Sagan after joining forces with the Slovakian and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the descent to the finish.

    Taking the wrong line around a late roundabout cost the trio dearly, and they were almost caught at the line. If they had stayed away, Uran would have started the decisive Green Mountain stage with a much bigger margin on Froome and could have perhaps held on to take the race lead. Instead, Froome won the stage and finished 33 seconds ahead of Uran, taking all the glory.

    Yet Uran was ready to accept the twists and turns of bike racing, quietly satisfied that his shown his new Omega Pharma-Quick Step team that their investment and confidence in signing him as their Grand Tour leader was money well spent.

    "I think it's been two good stages for me. I was perhaps hoping to win a stage but Froomey is very strong," he told Cyclingnews as he readied to head back to the race hotel.

    "I'm satisfied. I think I'll end this race in a good place. It show's that I've worked hard during the winter in Colombia, that I'm ready for the more important races that are coming up like Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya. I don't know if I'll be able to win them but I'll be trying, and I want to do well."

    The Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France?

    Uran already seems to fit in well with the laid-back but...