Team Sky rider races at home instead of the Tour de France
Bernhard Eisel will ride the Tour of Austria after a nine-year break after he was not selected as part of Team Sky's squad for the Tour de France.
It is the first time since 2003 that Eisel has not spent July in France but insisted that he is looking forward to riding his homeland race again for the fourth time. Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack-Leopard), who was the last Austrian winner of the race in 2008, will also participate again this year, race organisers have announced.
“After 2001, 2002 and 2003 this will be my fourth participation in the Tour of Austria,” Eisel said in a race press release. “Riding at home is always more fun. I am very much looking forward to it and will be happy to see some of my colleagues who I haven't ridden against in the spring or at the Tour de France. The start field in Austria is really a good one.”
Rohregger was also eager about the race. “As the last Austrian overall winner, of course I am looking forward to the race, where I have always ridden well. In the last few weeks I was at the Kühtal for altitude training – to prepared myself for either the France or Austria.”
Rohregger has finished first, second, fourth and seventh in the Tour of Austria over the years, with one stage win.
The two join four other Austrians in the race: Matthias Brändle and Stefan Denifl, (IAM Cycling), Marco Haller (Katusha) and Matthias Krizek (Cannondale). The 2013 Tour of Austria will be held between June 30-July 7.
Team Sky leader to target the Tour of Britain and world championships
Bradley Wiggins has admitted he may never again target overall success at the Tour de France, hinting that he is no longer prepared to make the sacrifices he made in 2012 to dominate stage races and win the Tour de France.
Wiggins has not spoken since Team Sky announced that he would not be part of this year's Tour team.
In the meantime, Chris Froome has been confirmed as the Team Sky's leader for the 100th edition of the Tour and his consistency has marginalised Wiggins and cast doubts about his future role at Team Sky.
“For me it was always about winning the Tour. I’ve done that. If I’m honest I don’t think I’m prepared to make those sacrifices again that I made last year, with my family and so on,” Wiggins told the Guardian's cycling correspondent William Fotheringham during the launch of an attempt on the Etape du Tour by a group of star rugby players in aid of the Joining Jack charity.
“I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved. I’m incredibly happy with that. If I do anything else after this it will be stuff I want to do, stuff that I’m willing to train hard and sacrifice for really. For me it was always about winning the Tour, that was a huge thing for me, a huge journey; I’ve been doing that four years. I don’t know if I’d want to go through all that again to be honest. I’ve always had other goals and there are other things I’d like to try and do.”
Froome is the Tour de France leader
Wiggins acknowledged that Chris Froome is now Team Sky’s first choice team leader for the Tour de France and this seems to be a factor in his future goals as a rider.
When Mike Friedman crossed the finish line of the Stillwater Criterium at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in second place, securing the overall win at the six-stage National Racing Calendar (NRC) event, it marked his first major victory since he won the general classification at the Tour of Korea in 2010. It also signaled a return to top form for the rider who has had to come back from two major health issues that temporarily stalled his career.
"I've certainly had my fare share of obstacles," Friedman, 30, told Cyclingnews this week from his home in Superior, Colorado. "It's definitely been a roller coaster ride. There's no doubt."
The third-year Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies rider relied on three second-place finishes, a third and two fifth-place spots to win the six-stage race last week – the third consecutive year his Minnesota-based team has won the race it considers its home event. The result was a far cry from just a year earlier, when Friedman crashed in a corner of the stage 2 St. Paul Criterium and abandoned the race with a mild concussion.
The multi-time national champion and Olympian from Pennsylvania has been plying the pedals for more than a decade, finding initial success on the track in collegiate cycling for Penn State and then signing with Jonathan Vaughters' TIAA-CREF team in 2006.
But Friedman's move to the professional ranks came to a quick halt that same season when a blood clot lodged in his lung, leading to a diagnosis of Factor 5 Leiden, a genetic blood disorder present in about five percent of the population that causes the blood to clot more quickly than normal. The diagnosis kept Friedman out of racing for the first half of the 2007 season, but he says it...
Spaniard tackles the French Grand Tour for only the second time
Joaquim Rodriguez will look to land on the podium of the Tour de France, after finishing on the podium of both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana in 2012. It will be only the second time the Spaniard has ridden the race.
The Katusha Team captain will be supported by Pavel Brutt, Alexander Kristoff, Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Gatis Smukulis, Yuriy Trofimov and Eduard Vorganov.
“I think we will have the best and strongest roster we could choose,” said Sport Director Valerio Piva. “We will have Joaquim Rodriguez as a leader, and our main goal is to fight for general classification with him. For this aim, we have strong climbers such as Losada, Trofimov and, of course, Moreno, that will be our second in command.
“Moreover, we have also riders for protecting our leader in the first part of the competition, like Brutt, Smukulis, Kuchynski and Vorganov: I expect their work to be crucial, especially in the team time trial and in the breakaways. Then, we will have Kristoff for sprinters' stages, even if we won't have a real train in order to help him: but he's in a great shape, so I think he can do a good job and also support the team in some stages.”
The team has spent much time preparing “on site” for the race, checking out many of the stages in advance. “The three stages in Corsica will be tough, especially the third, that's why we will be there a little earlier than expected in order to check it. Obviously, the third week will be crucial and the most demanding one: but it's a three-week long competition, so we have to pay attention everyday.
“Anyways, we checked all the time trials, we went to see the courses of Pyrenees stages, we tried the Alps during and...
Ivan Basso will race for the first time this weekend since the Tour de Romandie as he makes his comeback from a saddle sore problem that forced him to miss the Giro d'Italia.
The Cannondale rider will be in action in the Italian national road race championships. He will not ride the Tour de France but has his sights on a podium spot in the Vuelta Espana and a place in the Italian Squadra for the world road race championships in Florence.
Basso only has 22 days of racing in his legs and hasn't pinned on a number for 63 days. Due to his reported golf ball-sized saddle sore, he was unable to ride his bike for 35 days.
"I've never had such a long break, even in the winter," he told Gazzetta dello Sport before Saturday's road race in the Val di Non, near Trento.
"I was in great shape for the Giro but after starting again, the bike didn't even feel like it was mine. Now I've got 2,000km in my legs and I really want to keep working hard."
"I won’t be riding for myself in the nationals but to help Moreno Moser and Damiano Caruso, who could go well if he's kept his form after the Giro. This is the start of my season with the Vuelta as my big goal. But I know I've got to take it step by step."
The Vuelta and the worlds
Basso is 36 in November and is aware that he faces an important moment in his career. But he is confident for the rest of the season.
"There's no problem. I know what I did, how I train and what I can still do," he said.
"I don’t know if I'll win the Vuelta but I'll go close. There are 13 uphill finishes, of which ten are real climbs… I think I'll be competitive. I think I can finish on the podium."
Basso also intends to be part of the Italian national team in Florence to help...
Pinarello has released details of a new time trial bike, the Sibilo, that will debut at the Tour de France under Alejandro Valverde of the Movistar squad.
The Sibilo is the second high-end TT bike from the Italian manufacturers in less than two months, following the Pinarello Bolide, which was developed with and used by Team Sky.
Early details suggest a close relationship with the Bolide, including airfoil tubes, track bike-style rear-dropouts and a so-called ‘concave back’ allowing the wheel to sit closer to the frame are common traits.
However, the Sibilo also carries some aerodynamic refinements over the Sky bike. The front brake has been further integrated into the fork, making for an even sleeker leading edge, and the seatstay cluster has been refined – the rear brake has been shifted to the chainstays, which removes the need for the fairing seen on the Bolide.
The bulky Campagnolo EPS battery seems to have caused a headache, however, and is mounted awkwardly at the bottom of the down tube.
Pinarello has not made any claims on aerodynamic or weight improvements of the Sibilo over the Bolide – or the bike they both supersede, the Graal.
Elsewhere, the Sibilo apes properties of the Bolide. It uses the same Torayca 65HM1K carbon, has internally routed cables, a stiff BB86 bottom bracket and 1 1/8in headset bearings, and is also compatible with mechanical and electronic groupsets.
Two top-end time trial bikes is an unusual range configuration but stems from Pinarello sponsoring two WorldTour...
UCI Presidential candidate open to truth and reconciliaton
Ahead of Monday's release of his manifesto in Paris, UCI Presidential candidate Brian Cookson took to the twittersphere for a Q&A session on Friday. Later on his blog, Cookson specifically responded to questioned posed by journalist Paul Kimmage, where the Brit said that he believed in "freedom of debate".
Kimmage is the subject of defamation proceedings by current UCI President Pat McQuaid, his predecessor Hein Verbruggen and the sport's governing body, believed to stem from an interview the journalist did with Floyd Landis for The Sunday Times in 2011.
Kimmage put the following questions to Cookson: There were three plaintiffs (PMCQ, HB and UCI) on the legal suit I was served: Were you party to this decision? I'll try again...Were you party to the decision to sue Floyd Landis? Is suing whistleblowers in your manifesto? As an example of openess and transparency would you mind answering my questions please? #askbrian
Cookson was hesitant to answer the queries directly "because they involve legal actions which are still live" but said that he was committed to providing answers as soon as he was able.
"What I can say as a general point, is that the UCI has expended too much time, resource and money fighting battles which have distracted it from far bigger problems – in particular doping," Cookson wrote.
"I can also say that if I am elected in September, the UCI will not use the courts to silence whistle-blowers, journalists or other dissenting voices. This is not to say we would not seek to communicate our own point of view or correct inaccuracies or unbalanced comment when appropriate but I am a firm believer in freedom of debate as being good for the long-term health of any sport."
Meantime, Lance Armstrong, who received a lifetime ban from...