A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Australian adamant he doped only once
Stuart O’Grady has reiterated that he only took performance enhancing drugs once during his cycling career and that his Paris-Roubaix and Olympic successes were achieved without the aid of drugs.
O’Grady announced his shock retirement after this year’s Tour de France but was soon caught up in a French senate investigation into doping during the 1998 Tour de France. The Australian had returned a suspicious test for EPO at the time and within a week of his retirement had claimed to the Australian press that he had taken the substance, once, in the build up to the race. O'Grady won a stage and wore yellow in the 1998 Tour.
Ahead of this year’s Tour Down Under, and with O’Grady set to return to Australia, he said that despite the 1998 findings, he had no further skeletons in the closest when it came to using with drugs.
"I can comfortably sit back and I know that no one can come along and say I have a positive test anywhere else. In 100 years' time my grandkids won't be hearing any new stories about my racing past," O'Grady is reported to have said in Green, Gold & Bold: Australia at the 100th Tour de France, written by former Olympic cyclist-turned-race director and journalist John Trevorrow and his co-writer Ron Reed.
The quotes were picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald, who also highlighted that O’Grady was adamant that the rest of his career was clean.
"I won Paris-Roubaix and my Olympic gold medal plus all my other Tour de France successes clean. I am happy for all my tests ever taken after 1998 to be re-tested. Any...
American team partners with WWF
American outfit Garmin-Sharp has unveiled their 2014 jersey along with news of a partnership between the team and the WWF (World Wide Fund).
The jersey, manufactured by Castelli, has a number of design and colour modifications, including a red Sharp band across the back and the WWF's logo.
The partnership with the WWF came after Dan Martin's win in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. With the line approaching Martin was chased by a fan in a panda suit, leading to a huge social media campaign that lasted all the way until the Tour of Beijing in October.
“We are honored to partner with WWF and help its critical mission of creating a future where people live in harmony with nature,” said. Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Slipstream Sports and Team Garmin-Sharp. “We’re thrilled to contribute to WWF’s efforts to ensure that cyclists, cycling fans, and everyone else have a healthy, thriving planet to enjoy for generations to come.”
“This collaboration is a natural fit for WWF because athletes and fans can be great advocates for the environment,” says Maria Boulos, Director Corporate Partnership, WWF International. “Cyclists do the sport they love outdoors, and they want to have beautiful landscapes and clean air and water to enjoy – not just today, but forever.”
Garmin keep argyle pattern with which they've become synonymous with, but have chosen to go for a paler blue than in previous years.
Belgian struggles with the fallout of positive test
Jonathan Breyne says that the reactions on internet forums to his positive clenbuterol test drove him to attempt suicide last month.
In an interview with L'Équipe, Breyne spoke candidly about his life since finding out about the positive test and what drove him to such desperate measures. “The comments from the fans drove me to act out,” he told the French sports paper. “I could not stand being called a cheater when I 'm not. I took my car, I parked in a parking lot near where my girlfriend works. I took pills.”
Breyne was fortunate that his girlfriend found him within five minutes of his overdose and rushed him to hospital, where the staff pumped his stomach. “I deeply regret doing this for my family, my friends, all the people who support me . But the reactions I read on the forums are always in my head, and it's hard to turn the page.”
It isn't just a possible ban that Breyne has to face, he will also have to pay a year's salary to the MPCC, as his former team Crelan-Euphony are a member of the organisation. He has also had his pay stopped by his team and, after recently buying a house, he will have to survive on unemployment benefits.
While Breyne has recovered physically from the suicide attempt, he is still struggling mentally with the collapse of his career. “I'm still broken, I want to cry,” he told L'Equipe. “Since I learned of my positive control, I haven't been back on the bike. It is not the rain that bothers me, but I do not want anything.”
Breyne tested positive for...
Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider hands out old kit
Rigoberto Urán has been helping out new cyclists in his home town of Urrao, Colombia by giving them his old kit.
Colombia is a a country with a lot of poverty, where cycling is often seen as a way to a better life. There were no formality about the occasion, as the 2013 Giro d'Italia runner-up handed his old team clothing to young cyclists, between the ages of 12 and 18, in his mother's front garden. The kit included jerseys, shorts, hats and socks from his previous squads and was supplied to both male and female riders.
With backing from Suárez Sportswear, Punto Blanco, Gef and Rapha, who supply kits to Sky, a number of commemorative Colombian jerseys were created and sold. The royalties went towards purchasing five bikes, which were taken home by a lucky few. The companies also supplied Urán with extra kit, in addition to his own, to help support the fledgling cyclists.
The Colombian continues to work with the Urrao School of Cycling and more companies are expected to come on board in the next year.
Manxman beats Kennaugh in sprint finish
Cavendish returned to the island for the Christmas break and took part in the local hamper race before he left. The race attracted a number of professionals, including Team Sky rider Kennaugh, Raleigh rider Mark Christian and former Saxo Bank rider Jonny Bellis.
There was no catching him once he made his escape, with Kennaugh and Christian, as the trio hit 40mph on some parts of the course. It may have been an amateur race, but Cavendish was pushed hard by Kennaugh in the sprint, although there was little doubt as to who would be the final victor.
Cavendish will be heading to his first Omega Pharma-QuickStep training camp of the year next week, before officially beginning his season at the Tour de San Luis.
Danish manager confirms mutual interest
Chris Horner might make a move to Danish continental team Christina Watches. Manager Claus Hembo has confirmed to Danish paper BT that Horner's manager contacted the team. "We have been talking for a few days now. I have told his manager that we are very interested [in signing Horner]. We are honored. It shows that we have international stature."
Horner has been without a team since the beginning of the year, and is training in neutral kit in the United States while his manager tries to secure a job for him. The 42-year-old veteran was offered to teams including Europcar and Vini Fantini in 2013. His former team Lotto-Belisol ruled out a return, as did United Healthcare.
Trek Factory Racing, the latest iteration of his 2013 team, RadioShack-Leopard, was interested in signing the Vuelta winner, but negotiations ground to a halt because the team and rider couldn't agree on his salary.
“We have to prioritise the youngsters and above all, I can’t give Chris what he wants: we have other priorities,” team manager Luca Guercilena told Tuttobici in November.
"We need extra sponsor money to sign him," Hembo said. "I am calling my network at the moment. We need about 1.5 million [Danish krones - $273,000]. That's not his salary, it's what we need. I can imagine we need money like this. Imagine we line up for the Tour of Denmark with the Vuelta...
Former rider to discuss vacant position of national team coach
Italian cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco is set to meet with Davide Cassani on Saturday to discuss the position of coach of the Italian national team, which has been left vacant following the resignation of Paolo Bettini last week.
The FCI announced on Friday evening that Di Rocco and Casssani will meet at the home of former commissario tecnico, Alfredo Martini, in Sesto Fiorentino, Tuscany.
“Having spoken on the telephone […] the federal president Renato Di Rocco and Davide Cassani have agreed to meet tomorrow in Tuscany,” read the FCI statement.
The 92-year-old Martini led the Italian team to six world titles during his twenty-two years at the helm, and was a key advisor to fellow Tuscans Franco Ballerini and Bettini during their spells in charge of the squadra azzurra. Cassani, currently a commentator for RAI television, was a respected professional, who served as Martini’s road captain, or regista, during the later years of his career, which came to an end in 1996.
The symbolic Sesto Fiorentino rendezvous would appear to mark Cassani’s anointment as new Italian coach, although formal confirmation will have to wait until late January, when the federal council next meets.
It remains to be seen, too, whether Cassani would take up the reins straightaway, or if he will remain in his RAI commentary position until after the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France before taking charge in time for the world championships in Ponferrada.
The day-to-day specifics of the role are also up for discussion, given that last winter, Bettini briefly appeared set to step into a supervisory role with Max Sciandri earmarked for the position of coach to the elite men’s national team.
In any case, Cassani appears the popular choice to take over from...
Spaniard voices support for Rogers in clenbuterol case
Alberto Contador has refused to rule out the possibility of Samuel Sanchez signing for his Tinkoff-Saxo team, although he noted that it would "not be strictly necessary" for the team to replace Michael Rogers on its roster should the Australian be handed a ban following his positive test for Clenbuterol.
Sanchez is without a team for 2014 following the demise of the Euskaltel-Euskadi squad at the end of last season, and he confirmed to Cyclingnews last week that he does not have a concrete plan in place for the coming year, in spite of rumours linking him with a number of teams, including Tinkoff-Saxo.
"Samuel is a great rider and we get on really well but I don't know exactly how the situation is in terms of conversations with the team," Contador said, according to Marca, adding that he would have a better handle on the situation when the Tinkoff-Saxo team assembles for a training camp next week.
"Is it a possibility? I'd like that," Contador said of Sanchez's possible arrival. "Who wouldn't like a rider of his quality on his team? And all the more so given the great relationship we have."
Contador also expressed his support for Michael Rogers, who tested positive for clenbuterol at the Japan Cup in October and is currently awaiting analysis of his B sample. The Australian has claimed that the positive test was triggered by eating contaminated meat during the Tour of Beijing.
"I hope that everything can be clarified. Personally I think it was due to...