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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, January 18, 2014

Date published:
January 18, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Diamondback jumps into road racing with Optum

    Diamondback is jumping into the road racing game for the first time with Optum Pro Cycling
    Article published:
    January 17, 2014, 15:10 GMT
    Ben Delaney

    American manufacturer partners with top domestic team

    Born in California as a BMX brand in the 1970s, Diamondback is not known for its road bikes. With the 2014 sponsorship of the US domestic squad Optum Pro Cycling, Diamondback is hoping to change that.

    Optum Pro Cycling has a men's and a women's team. Both will be racing in the US and Canada on Diamondback’s Podium Equipe, which BikeRadar reviewed last year.

    Diamondback is part of the Accell Group, which owns more than 20 bike brands, including Lapierre, Raleigh, Redline and Torker in North America, and Ghost, Batavus and others in Europe.

    “Diamondback has made a significant commitment to our program and is working very closely with our staff and athletes to deliver the most competitive racing machines available,” Jonas Carney, Optum Pro Cycling men's performance director, said in a press release. “Diamondback’s willingness to support us, and to collaborate in the areas that will help our riders get the most out of their racing, will be a major asset in 2014.”

    Women’s performance manager Kevin Field said Diamondback designers are taking rider feedback for new frame improvements.

    Optum was the number one men's team on last year's USA National Racing Calendar (NRC). The women's team won the USPRO Road National Championships with rider Jade Wilcoxson.

    Sprinter Alex Candelario said he knows Diamondback from the brand's roots in mountain biking: “So to now be sponsored by such an American icon is truly something to be proud of."

  • No Tour de France for Quintana in 2014

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar) works for Alejandro Valverde
    Article published:
    January 17, 2014, 15:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Colombian confirms he will ride Giro and Vuelta

    Nairo Quintana has confirmed that he will not return to the Tour de France in 2014, and will instead ride the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. The 23-year-old finished second overall on his Tour debut in 2013, and also won the mountains classification, the white jersey and the final mountain stage to Semnoz.

    “I’m preparing the season for the big objective, which is the Giro d’Italia,” Quintana told Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. “With my team, we’ve decided to ride it, before going to the Vuelta a España.”

    Quintana put up the firmest resistance to Chris Froome’s dominance at last year’s Tour, attacking on the road to Ax-3 Domaines and Mont Ventoux, and dropping the Sky rider at Alpe d’Huez and Semnoz. However, Movistar have decided to send him to the Giro and Vuelta this season, and the veteran Alejandro Valverde will lead their yellow jersey challenge in July.

    “Valverde will be the team and the Tour, and for now, I’ll focus on the Giro and Vuelta,” Quintana said. “We’ll leave the Tour for other years.”

    Quintana begins his 2014 season at the Tour de San Luis, which gets underway on Monday. The race features three mountaintop finishes, at Mirador del Potrero, the Alto del Amago and Mirador del Sol, but Quintana said his priority in Argentina will be preparing for the season to come.

    “It’s a race that you need to get used to being on the bike again,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to get into your rhythm for the rest of the season.”


  • Tinkov: We could boycott the Tour unless we get a share of TV revenue

    Riis and Tinkov getting on well at the team's training camp
    Article published:
    January 17, 2014, 16:02 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Tinkoff-Saxo team owner explains how he wants to change the cycling business model

    Oleg Tinkov is proud to be a self-made man after creating a series of businesses and then selling them for a profit. Now he wants to use his business instincts to revolutionise the way professional cycling is managed. He wants the major race organisers to share their TV revenue to create a more stable team structure.

    In the second part of an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews after a training ride with his Tinkoff-Saxo team in Gran Canaria, Tinkov explains what he thinks should be done.

    He's ready to challenge ASO for a share of their TV rights income, jokes about kicking Team Sky's ass and about his own ego. But he is very serious about shaking up professional cycling and making Tinkoff-Saxo into the best team in the peloton.

    Read part one of the exclusive interview here.

    Cyclingnews: You're a successful businessman, who likes cycling and has invested in it. What do you think should be done to improve it?

    Oleg Tinkov: I like to do simple things in business and in cycling too. People are talking about the doping problem, the lacking of sponsors and the lack of professionalism. But at the end of the day, it's very simple: Cycling needs to change its business model. If teams always depend on just sponsorship, things aren't going to get better.

    Now people like me, other wealthy guys and governments like in Kazakhstan and Russia are starting to pay the bills. That's better than a full commercial sponsor.

    CN: But is that fair? How can teams that only have commercial sponsors like Garmin-Sharp or Lotto-Belisol compete against teams backed by wealthy team owners?

    OT: Maybe it's not fair but it's the market. I don’t believe in Jonathan Vaughters’ model....

  • BMC Racing fires Ballan following doping ban

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) celebrates winning stage 7 at the 2012 Eneco Tour
    Article published:
    January 17, 2014, 17:12 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Ochowicz declines to expand on statement

    BMC Racing has announced that it has fired Alessandro Ballan following the Italian Olympic Committee’s decision to hand him a two-year suspension for blood doping.

    Ballan’s suspension stems from the Mantova-based doping investigation centred around his former Lampre team. Phone taps from investigators revealed that Ballan had undergone a blood transfusion in the spring of 2009, his final season at the team before joining BMC.

    Ballan’s claims that he had undergone ozone therapy to treat cytomegalovirus, rather than a performance-enhancing transfusion, did not convince CONI’s anti-doping panel at a hearing in Rome on Thursday, and his two-year ban was announced on Friday morning. BMC’s official response to Ballan’s ban arrived some nine hours later.

    “The BMC Racing Team announced Friday that it is terminating the contract of Alessandro Ballan,” read the BMC statement. “Ballan received a two-year suspension from CONI Friday for charges in connection with his former team. In accordance with the BMC Racing Team's strict anti-doping policy, Ballan is no longer a member of the BMC Racing Team, said president/general manager Jim Ochowicz.”

    Cyclingnews had contacted Ochowicz by telephone earlier in the day, but the BMC general manager said that he would not comment on the matter ahead of the release of the team’s official statement. “We just heard about it, I mean I’m in California and it’s 7 o’clock here. So I just read it on Cyclingnews and I heard the reports. We have a statement coming out shortly, so that will be our statement,” Ochowicz said.

    Asked if he would be willing to field questions after the publication of BMC’s statement, Ochowicz said, “No. No,...

  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège €5000 richer for 100th edition

    Profile of the 100th Liège-Bastogne-Liège
    Article published:
    January 17, 2014, 20:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    New prime in Bastogne at kilometer 100, Faucons returns

    The oldest of cycling's five Monuments turns 100 this year, and the organisers of Liège - Bastogne - Liège have planned a number of ways to celebrate this landmark for 'La Doyenne', including a €5000 bonus at the 100 kilometer mark in Bastogne for the first rider through.

    The 263km course was announced today, with 100 days to go before the race, in Bastogne by André Gilles, provincial councillor and President of the Province of Liège, Christian Prudhomme, director of cycling at Amaury Sport Organisation, and Paul Bolland, chairman of the RC Pesant Club Liégeois, the club which first organised the race in 1892.

    The race will be peppered with 10 climbs, nine of which come on the return trip from Bastogne. The iconic Côte de Stockeu (km 173,5), La Redoute (km 218.5) and the final Côte de Saint-Nicolas (km 257.5) will once again be joined by the Côte de Roche-aux-Faucons, absent from last year's event due to road works.

    Three countdown clocks were started to measure the days to go until the race: one each in Bastogne, Liège and Ans, and organisers have planned numerous tributes over the coming weeks including exhibitions, books, television clips and a cyclosportif.

  • Michael Matthews targeting "career goal" Milan-San Remo

    Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) claimed the final stage of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 1:30 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    Racing Tour Down Under to start the season

    Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) burst onto the international cycling scene in 2010 winning the U23 world championships road race. Matthews signed a two-year deal with Rabobank from the 2011 season and started with a bang claiming Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under. While his stint with the Dutch team had its highlights, Matthews moved across to Orica-GreenEdge at the end of 2012 and hasn’t looked back since with a debut Tour de France on the cards for 2014.

    The man known as ‘Bling,’ will approach the 2014 season hoping to peak at various points which includes participation in the Tour. "My coach, Brian Stephens, and I divided the season in three parts, so during the first one I would like to be well prepared for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo and leading up to Amstel Gold Race," Matthews told Cyclingnews.

    "For the second part, the Tour is the main goal and the Classics in August and Worlds is the focus in the third part."

    Having claimed two stage wins at the Vuelta a España last year and a stint in the green jersey, Matthews was buoyed by his success in his grand tour debut. "It definitely helped me to get my confidence back after a really bad two years, but I will work harder and hope this is just the beginning," he said.

    Matthews told Cyclingnews that he hoping this year’s Tour will be the first of many more. "Racing the Tour is like a dream come true. I was waiting for this opportunity. For a sprinter the biggest goals are the sprint stages and of course the green jersey," he said.

    Having seen teammate Simon Gerrans snare the Australian road race title on Sunday,...

  • Tour Down Under start under threat from bushfires

    The 2014 Tour Down Under starts in just a few days
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 3:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Decision to be made on Monday afternoon

    Having experienced the hottest weather in the world this week, Adelaide is now bracing itself for bushfires which are threatening the go ahead of the Tour Down Under’s Stage 1. Race director Mike Turtur explained at the pre-race press conference that the organisers are listening closely to experts and taking updates on the situation in the Barossa Valley. On Saturday afternoon, an emergency fire warning was announced for the Eden Valley fire in the Barossa which was travelling North.

    "If it's a no-go zone for the Barossa, it's a no-go zone, it's as simple as that. It's possible that there will be a cancellation of the stage depending on the advice of the correct people," Turtur said.

    "We exist in a volatile environment with a climatic condition but fire has always been a big consideration for us but you just have to deal with the situation on its merits. A decision will be made by 5pm on Monday.

    "We will take advice from the South Australian police, country fire service and so on and make a decision."

    Whatever decision is made on Monday, there is the possibility that the condition could change overnight with uncertainty over winds fanning the blaze. The Barossa Valley has hosted numerous stages of the Tour Down Under and is just one of several areas in the state currently under threat from bushfires with South Australian and Victoria suffering from a heatwave.

    In the history of the race, which started in 1999, there have been no changes to stages in the race and Turtur explained that the either the stage would be cancelled or would not be raced. "When you're dealing with logistics of road racing, it's difficult just to redesign the stage on the run. It’s not an easy situation," he said.

    While the race is of primary concern to Turtur as race director, he explained that he his thoughts were with those immediately affected by the fires.


  • Evans believes Tour Down Under opening stage suits riding style should it proceed

    Former World champion Cadel Evans with his BMC teammates
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 4:01 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Says fire-threatened stage one could decide who loses TDU

    It has been four years since former UCI Road World Champion and Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, rolled up to the start line at the Tour Down Under. On Sunday, during the People's Choice Classic criterium, Evans will mark his return to Adelaide among the throngs of cycling aficionados all on hand in Adelaide to yell for Cadel once more even after recent comments made in the Sydney Morning Herald sparked debate over the value of the Australian National Road Race Championships.

    Fresh off a sensational second-place finish behind now two-time winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and ahead of soon-to-be Giro d'Italia archrival Richie Porte (Sky) at the Australian Road Nationals in Ballarat last week, Evans has shown spectacular early season form that could see the Team BMC road captain as a major contender for the ochre jersey.

    "My job is to be at the biggest and best bike races in the world and do the best that I can at them," Evans said. "That has always been my focus especially in the last 10 years. I am happy to be back racing and my international program this year allows me to be here. It's a WorldTour race and it's in Australia, and I would love to get the team off to a good start and that's the main thing."

    Pending a late afternoon decision on Monday on whether or not to proceed with the opening stage due to an outbreak of bushfires, the peloton will race 135km from Nuriootpa to Angaston with the climb up Menglers Hill set to cause a selection before a potential sprint to the finish.

    Riders will have a chance to capture...