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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 23, 2013

Date published:
February 23, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Jamis-Hagens Berman team victims of hit and run

    The Jamis-Hagens Berman team was involved in a hit-and-run with an angry driver in Tucson, Arizona
    Article published:
    February 22, 2013, 18:55 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Tucson driver being sought by police

    It is a nightmare scenario, one which too many cyclists in the United States face: you’re pedaling along, minding your own business when an angry driver pulls alongside and starts screaming obscenities. It usually ends with the driver speeding away, but for the Jamis-Hagnes Berman team today’s incident ended up with riders on the ground and police being called in to find the hit-and-run driver.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews, Ben Jacques-Maynes described the incident, which happened on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, where the team is holding its training camp.

    “We had just made it out of town onto some quieter roads and were getting ready to start our workout,” Jacques-Maynes said. “We were riding two by two, which is legal in Arizona, and were actually all on the right side of the white line, on the shoulder of the road, when a car drove up beside us and the driver started screaming obscenities at us.”

    According to Jacques-Maynes, the driver swerved into the two riders who were on the front of the 15-man paceline, causing a crash. Tyler Wren was the rider most injured but appeared to escape without any broken bones.

    It was a frightening incident for Jacques-Maynes, whose twin brother Andy was the victim of a hit-and-run in California earlier this year, resulting in a broken collarbone which, combined with his lack of a pro contract for 2013, ended his cycling career.

    The Jamis-Hagens Berman team was fortunate to have its follow car behind it, with directeur Sebastian Alexandre at the wheel. He was able to chase after the angry driver, allowing the team’s photographer John Segesta to employ his zoom lens to get...

  • Puerto: Serrano attempted to use Fuentes as translator

    Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros) is one of his team's most experienced riders
    Article published:
    February 22, 2013, 19:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Denied having Fuentes as a doctor on ONCE, Liberty Seguros

    If by this stage in the Operacion Puerto trial few people could doubt Eufemiano Fuentes ability as a doctor and administrator of all kinds of medicines, Friday's segment of the trial shed light on a previously hidden talent of the Canary Islands gynecologist: translating.

    According to Liberty Seguros pro Marcos Serrano, who took to the witness stand on Friday, Fuentes was the doctor he chose to get his wife to call when he fell ill from what he claimed was a viral infection during the 2006 Giro. As the race moved on, Serrano was left convalescing in an Italian hospital in Tortona, and he told the court he asked his wife, in Spain, to text Fuentes, who he knew spoke Italian, to ask him to translate what the doctors were telling him - which Serrano, who did not speak the language, could not understand.

    The message, on May 23, asking Fuentes "to comment something to do with Marcos" went to voice mail - where it was promptly picked up by the Civil Guard police force, who had just arrested the doctor as part of the Puerto anti-doping probe. Serrano finally checked himself out of the Italian hospital before spending a longer period in hospital in Vigo, Spain for further treatment.

    Serrano told the court that he knew Fuentes from his period as a rider in Kelme, from 1994-1998, when Fuentes had extracted his blood, but only small amounts and for analytical purposes. He denied ever having had Fuentes as a doctor during his time with ONCE and Liberty, contradicting Manolo Saiz, his former director who is on trial alongside Fuentes, who claimed Serrano had been treated by Fuentes during that period.

    Asked to identify his initials on a training plan and race plan allegedly drawn up by Saiz, Serrano said that after identifying RH as Roberto Heras, IG as Igor Gonzalez [de Galdeano] and AV as Angel Vicioso, ‘MS' was not him, but another former Liberty rider, Michele Scarponi. He also said that he would be willing ‘in principle' to...

  • Jelly Belly-Kenda to spend more time stateside in 2013

    The 2013 Jelly Belly/Kenda team
    Article published:
    February 22, 2013, 22:04 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Focus on NRC, major race invitations

    The Jelly Belly-Kenda pro cycling team finished its two-week spring training camp in Southern California this week after a short trip to the Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Arizona, and director Danny Van Haute said he is pleased with what he saw from his 2013 roster.

    “For a first race, it was just an indicator where everybody is at,” the Jelly Belly director said of the three-stage race in Phoenix. “In the time trial we put four guys in the top 12. In the road race we got second, eighth and ninth. In the crit we got second and fourth. Jamis-Hagens Berman was down there, too. [Ben] Jacques-Maynes won the overall, so it was a good battle, a really good battle, and it was an indication of where our guys are condition-wise. I'd say we're not too far off top condition.”

    Van Haute's UCI Continental team is returning for its 14th season with the jellybean maker as its title sponsor – the longest-running title sponsorship among US cycling teams. The squad returns the majority of riders from last year along with some accomplished newcomers.

    Back from 2013 are Alex Hagman, Nic Hamilton, Christian Kriek, Luis Lemus, Sean Mazic, Emerson Oronte, Ricardo Van Der Velde, Brad Huff and Jeremy Powers. New this season are Morgan Schmitt, who comes to the team following stints at UnitedHealthcare and most recently Team Exergy, Ian Burnett from Competitive Cyclist and promising 20-year-old neo pro Ben Wolfe from the Aetna amateur team.

    Shifting focus to NRC success

    A smaller National Race Calendar this year will allow Jelly Belly-Kenda to compete throughout the season-long series. The team finished 11th in the NRC rankings last year behind domestic elite amateur teams Elbowz Racing and California Giant-Specialized, but the number of events on past NRC schedules was prohibitive for smaller teams, Van Haute said, and marketing obligations for the sponsor drew Jelly Belly overseas, especially to...

  • Rabou returns to Asia Tour with OCBC Singapore

    Despite the exhaustion Thomas Rabou (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team) makes every effort to hold onto that final three-man break.
    Article published:
    February 22, 2013, 23:22 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Dutchman with fresh challenges at Tour de Langkawi and Asia Tour

    Racing in the United States may not have completely suited the strengths of Thomas Rabou but working for the National Race Calendar's top-ranked rider Francisco 'Paco' Mancebo was certainly a good place to be. Rabou spent two seasons with Competitive Cyclist and thought he would remain in the US for 2013 until his former team merged with Kenda/5-Hour Energy, underwent budget cuts and the promise to keep him in the squad could not be fulfilled.

    Signing for OCBC Singapore and racing the Tour de Langkawi was certainly not where Rabou had expected to be late last year but coming back to the Asia circuit after seven years could be what the Dutchman needs. The Asia Tour is set to provide Rabou with plenty of racing within a new environment and offers a leadership role that he has missed for a number of seasons.

    The experience of Rabou means he will be challenged to seek out results for himself this season and it's a role he's more than willing to take up.

    "In a normal situation I would have stayed [at Competitive Cyclist] sure because they told me I could stay," Rabou told Cyclingnews.

    "But then when there is a big budget cut then Mancebo doesn't have the influence anymore. Eventually I had to look for a new team and out of that news there is always new opportunities on the horizon.

    "Luckily this team came for me in the right moment. My [now] teammate Sea Keong Loh helped me to get on board with this team so here I am racing the Tour de Langkawi," he added.

    The Asia Tour is something which Rabou hasn't been apart of since riding for Marco Polo in 2006 – before he spent three years making his way through the ranks of the Rabobank teams and believes the complete change in race style...

  • Blanco’s search for a sponsor continues

    The Blanco Pro Cycling team hit the road during a training camp
    Article published:
    February 23, 2013, 9:01 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Investigation ongoing into Luis Leon Sanchez Puerto allegations

    Blanco Pro Cycling’s search for a sponsor to ensure its survival beyond the end of 2013 is ongoing but team director Richard Plugge is hopeful that the squad’s strong opening to the season has stoked the interest of potential backers.

    The Dutch squad was left without a title sponsor in October when Rabobank withdrew after 17 years in the professional peloton, citing cycling’s doping problem and in particular the ongoing fall-out from doping cases involving the Rabobank team between 1996 and 2007.

    Plugge said that Tom Jelte Slagter’s overall victory at the Tour Down Under in January has helped to illustrate to possible backers the potential of both the Blanco team and cycling itself as a marketing investment.

    “We knew what Tom Jelte could do from the Giro last year but it was a surprise that he won the Tour Down Under,” Plugge told Cyclingnews. “It was a really good surprise because it was something we needed in our search for sponsors. We’re talking with companies all over the world, and we could see that their interest in cycling got bigger because of his win in Australia.”

    On taking over the reins as team director in late 2012, Plugge was careful to point out that a deal with a new sponsor would not be brokered in the opening months of the season, and he reiterated that point on Friday.

    “We’re talking with a lot of companies who are interested in our team, but it’s still only talks,” he said. “It can be a ‘no’ one day and a ‘yes’ another day. So like I said in December, there will be no news on that one until at least the Amstel Gold Race.”

    Luis Leon Sanchez

    For all the positive vibrations coming from activities on the road, however, Blanco’s early months have not been entirely without their problems, although Plugge said that the steady stream of revelations...

  • Vanmarcke looks to repeat at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) went on the attack in the finale
    Article published:
    February 23, 2013, 10:26 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian on life at Blanco Pro Cycling

    Sep Vanmarcke lined up for last year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as an emerging Classics talent but one largely unfettered by undue external expectation. One cool disposal of Tom Boonen later, however, and Vanmarcke became the focus of sharper scrutiny from a home press always eager to probe the lines of succession to Belgium's Classics throne.

    Twelve months on, as he returns to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to defend his title, Vanmarcke's status as a potential king-in-waiting could be marked by the number of emissaries from the local media who gathered at the Blanco Pro Cycling team hotel on the outskirts of Ghent on Friday afternoon.

    "I'm pretty much the same rider but for sure I'm more confident now," Vanmarcke told Cyclingnews. "I feel good, I feel strong and since last year, I know I can finish it too so that's given me a lot of confidence."

    The off-season saw Vanmarcke make the switch from Garmin-Sharp to Blanco, and definitely step up to the status of a definitive team leader, a role he will share with Lars Boom during the cobbled Classics.

    Boom has enjoyed a fine start to the campaign, winning stages at the Tour Mediterranéen and the Tour du Haut Var, but Vanmarcke insisted that the pair would have no problem in dovetailing their efforts this spring, starting on Saturday at Het Nieuwsblad.

    "We're both in good shape. Lars has already shown it in his results and I know I'm in good shape myself," he said of his own efforts at the Volta ao Algarve. "It will depend on how we feel tomorrow and in the weeks to come. We'll see day by day, and during the race we can decide who should lead. And then if we're in the final with two, we take it in turns to attack.

    "We shared a room in training camp so...

  • Riders ready for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad showdown

    The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad podium: Tom Boonen, Sep Vanmarcke and Juan Antonio Flecha
    Article published:
    February 23, 2013, 10:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Peloton faces first Belgian race in wintry conditions

    For many observers, the cycling season really begins today with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium. The peloton will be taking on the first Belgian race of the year in wintry conditions, but that only seems to add to the attraction of the first race on the cobbles and helligen (hills). This year's race is wide open with a number of big-name contenders ready to fight for victory. Cyclingnews has gathered quotes from various riders as to their feelings about today's race and weather.

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) won the race in 2010 and has also finished on the podium four other years: “I love the Omloop. It is the first race on the cobblestones, up the Flemish 'hellingen' and with a unique public that breathes cycling.” (Het Nieuwsblad)

    Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) won in 2007, when the race was still known as the Omloop Het Volk: “I want to win the Omloop for the second time.  As I won the opening Italian race Laigueglia last Saturday for the third time. It's time for more honours. My years of understanding have dawned.” (Het Nieuwsblad)

    Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) is coming off a stage win at the Tour du Med: “I'm just happy to be here. Last year I left the hospital at this time, and I start (...) as one of the favourites in the first Belgian race. I intend to make the best of it.” (Het Laatste Nieuws)

    Other riders were more worried about the weather, as they tweeted before the start of the race.

    Bernhard Eisel (Sky): “You know it's cold outside, when you see #belgiumfans in winter jackets, and not in t-shirts and a beer in their hands! Ready...

  • Start gallery: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    Dutch champion Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
    Article published:
    February 23, 2013, 12:03 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    The peloton gathers in Ghent for Opening Weekend

    The temperature may have been hovering above freezing in Ghent on Saturday morning but there was a distinct sense that spring had sprung as the peloton gathered in Sint-Pietersplein for the start of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the race which heralds the beginning of the Belgian cycling season.

    The peloton has warmed up all around the globe in recent weeks, from Australia to Oman, but any early-season indications of form will be given a rather more robust test over the 199 kilometres and twelve climbs that make up the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

    A quick canvass of the riders edging their way to sign on suggested that Lars Boom (Blanco Pro Cycling) is considered the danger man this afternoon. The confident Dutchman’s stage victories at the Tour Mediterranéen and Tour du Haut Var have not gone unnoticed among his peers and he has a perfect foil in the form of defending champion Sep Vanmarcke.

    While Boom is the riders’ choice for victory, Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) was the man highlighted in Saturday morning’s edition of newspaper Het Nieuwsblad as the number one favourite for the win. The Italian won in 2007 and, fresh from victory at Trofeo Laigueglia, he enters this year’s race on a high. “I hope that being picked as favourite doesn’t bring me bad luck,” said Pozzato, who, like many, wrapped up against the cold: “I’m not worried about it. It’s normal here, we’re in Belgium.”

    The fans’ favourite in Flanders, however, is Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and as always, the loudest cheer of the morning was reserved for Tommeke, who was one of the last riders to reach the podium to sign in. The reason? His progress from the team bus was blocked by television crew upon television crew, all looking for a word with the Belgian champion.

    A relaxed Boonen was happy to oblige, although he insisted that he is not among the contenders for the...