UCI president Pat McQuaid has rejected Lance Armstrong’s claim that he fears an external audit of the governing body by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and called on the American to produce any evidence he might have to the contrary.
McQuaid has repeatedly denied allegations that the UCI covered up positive tests from Armstrong during his career and defended the UCI’s decision to accept donations to anti-doping from Armstrong.
“As I have said on numerous occasions, I have nothing to hide and no fear of any investigation or Truth and Reconciliation process. If Armstrong – or indeed anyone else – has evidence to the contrary, he should produce it now and put a stop to this ongoing damage to cycling,” McQuaid said in a statement on Friday.
The UCI’s short-lived Independent Commission, established to investigate its actions during the Lance Armstrong case, ran aground at a preliminary hearing in January, but McQuaid said that the UCI remained “totally committed to conducting an independent audit into its behaviour during the years when Armstrong was winning the Tour. The UCI’s invitation to WADA to work with us on this stands. If WADA will not, however, the UCI will press ahead itself and appoint independent...
"They are not competitors in the race. If we are in the front of the race with Andre, for sure Jurgen can profit from those positions, because he has to be up there as well," Sergeant said in this video interview.
He also added that the riders like Adam Hansen who are dedicated to leading Greipel out in the sprints have also shown they can support Vandenbroeck in the climbs. "It is one team with two goals," he said.
Having multiple aspirations has helped in years past, in particular for the 2011 Tour de France, as Omega Pharma-Lotto, when the team came with three leaders, Vandenbroek, Philippe Gilbert and Greipel, and after stage nine the team was down to six men after a series of crashes including that of Vandenbroek. ""It's not always a disadvantage to have more than one leader, if something happens, then you have another."
Katusha captain plans to be aggressive in the mountains
In 2012 Joaquim Rodriguez finished a close second to Ryder Hesjedal at the Giro d'Italia and was third overall in the Vuelta a Espana after leading the race for 12 stages. He also topped the UCI WorldTour ranking after a consistently successful season, carrying the Katusha team.
The pocket-sized Purito, nickname after a make of Spanish cigar, has opted for a different set of goals in 2013, targeting overall victory at the Tour de France.
Such was his determination to have a shot at the Tour de France, he even threatened to quit the Katusha team if they missed out on a Tour spot due to their licence problems with the UCI. At 34, the Catalan climber believes the 100th edition of the Tour could be his last shot at victory.
Rodriguez has not ridden the Tour de France since 2010 when he finished seventh. It is also only his second Tour appearance. Yet as the race is about to begin in Corsica, Rodriguez is confident he has made the right decision.
"I think I'm at the same level of form as I was last year, if not even better. I'm feeling good. I worked well after the Dauphiné. I like the route this year and so let's see what verdict the race comes up with," he told Cyclingnews.
Rodriguez showed his ability early in the season and in the Classics, finishing second behind Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) in both the Volta a Catalunya – his home stage race, and at Liège - Bastogne - Liège.
It will be a stronger, more confident version of Australian Champion Gracie Elvin (Orica - AIS) who takes to the start line of the Giro Rosa on Sunday.
In her first season as a professional, Elvin will be taking on the Giro Rosa for the second time having spent six months with the Faren Honda team in 2012.
"Last year it was a matter of seeing how I went and getting some really good experience," Elvin told Cyclingnews. "I was racing with Faren Honda and it was cool just to have that as an extra experience in itself and just be in a non-Australian team and see how differently it was run compared to all the AIS stuff that I've done."
The 24-year-old lines up with Amanda Spratt, Jessie MacLean, Loes Gunnewijk, Melissa Hoskins, Tiffany Cromwell, Shara Gillow and Sungeun Gu in the prestigious Italian stage race as part of an Orica-AIS team that is focussed on opportunism with no rider singled out as a GC contender - just yet. Both Gillow and Cromwell have won stages when the race was known as the Giro Donne and if Elvin gets the chance, she too will be hoping to add her name to the list of stage winners. Without the team's stand-out performer of 2013, Emma Johansson, Elvin told Cyclingnews that the squad was nonetheless confident.
"We're all in really good form and we've all been training really well so everyone's fit and happy and healthy so I think we'll actually get some good results and I reckon a few of the girls can get quite high up on GC," Elvin explained. "We're all really excited and are just keeping an open mind. We race so well as a team so anything can happen. We'll all support each other no matter what."
Elvin enjoyed a spectacular start to her season with Orica-AIS, winning the
Marcel Kittel seemed to ooze confidence rather than show signs of fear and nerves as the hours counted down to the start of the Tour de France in Corsica; his hair, his sunglasses and his sprinter's natural confidence made him look more like a member of boy band than a professional cyclist about to begin a three week Grand Tour.
The 25 year-old German made his Tour de France debut in 2012 but retired on stage five after a stomach problem wrecked his hopes of being competitive in the sprints.
He has performed much better this season after Argos-Shimano secured a WorldTour licence and is rightly considered one of the star sprinters of the 2013 Tour de France, alongside Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and Andrei Greipel (Lotto Belisol). Their first showdown in Bastia on Saturday should be spectacular.
Kittel has won sprints at the Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Picardie, the Tour of Turkey and most recently at the Ster ZLM Toer, where he beat many of his big-name rivals. He also took their scalps at the Scheldeprijs race in Belgium and won the ProRace Berlin.
He will target the flat stages and pure sprinter finishes at the Tour de France, while teammate and compatriot John Degenkolb will look for success on the hillier stages. Kittel is hoping he can hit the jackpot and win Saturday's opening stage and so pull on the first race leader's yellow jersey. However he is aware that this year's Tour de France parcour offer plenty of other chance should he miss out in Bastia.
Australian says big changes made but there's more to be done
Apart from Alberto Contador, the rider in most demand at Saxo-Tinkoff's pre-Tour de France press conference was Michael Rogers. Last year the Australian helped Bradley Wiggins claim the yellow jersey as a key member of Team Sky's line-up. Twelve months on, he is hoping to repeat that feat with Contador. What everyone wanted to know was how the experience Rogers gained last year might be able to assist him and his new team this year.
Rogers started out by saying he's learned a lot at from all of the teams he's ridden for, which include Mapei, T-Mobile and HTC, as well as from all of the leaders he's worked with. "I take what I think is positive and apply that to how I race and how I make decisions on the road," he explained.
He admitted, though, that his stint at Sky was particularly interesting given the way the British team has dominated stage racing over the past two seasons. "Sky have certainly curved the sport - taken it in a new direction through science. If you go back a couple of years before that HTC did the same thing, especially with the team based around Mark Cavendish and the lead-out. They took that to a new level. Since then other teams have been catching up.
"When a team changes the sport like that, they become the reference point for all the other teams and within a year or two the other teams catch up. That's just how the sport progresses," said the 33-year-old Australian, who was Sky's road captain during the 2012 Tour.
"I think we can learn from all teams and all riders, not just Sky," Rogers continued. "However, everyone is obviously watching what they are doing and generally trying to improve. But I don't think you can just copy a team. Every team has its own characteristics and has to find the road that best suits it."
Last rider to win flat opening stage of Tour in 1966 warns of difficulties
The last rider to win a flat opening stage of the Tour de France, Germany’s Rudy Altig, says that he believes that Corsica's narrow, twisting roads will be very tough for the sprinters in Saturday's first day of racing.
"We raced there once as part of Paris-Nice, we'd do one stage, I think it was Ajaccio-Bastia and then get the ferry across to Nice, sleep on the ferry and then finish off with a Nice-Nice stage and with the usual finish the Promenade des Anglais," the former World Champion and Vuelta winner Altig told Cyclingnews.
"I remember the roads were really difficult, hilly or mountainous in Corsica. It's going to be difficult for the sprinters, I think."
Altig was the Tour's last ever winner of a flat opening stage, back in 1966, when he won at Charleville in eastern France in 1966. Although a gifted sprinter and track racer, who took the opening stage of the Tour three times out of four participations, on that occasion he took the victory with a long distance attack. The last bunch sprint winner was Rik Van Looy in 1965.
"I got away alone with 30 kilometres to go, and I got to the finish with about 30 seconds advantage," Altig recalled to Cyclingnews. "It was difficult, I had to keep the peloton at bay, it was always about 30 seconds or so, which was not easy. It was hilly, although the finish itself and the last kilometres were flat.
"But with about ten kilometres to go, I was sure that I had got the win. And I kept the yellow for around ten days to the foot of the Pyrennes, and I won the last stage as well [and also stage 12-Ed.], so it was definitely my best Tour." There is every chance, he agrees with a laugh, that Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) will do the same – and win the first and last stages of this year's Tour, too."
Garmin Sharp strongman ready to soak up Grand Boucle
Successfully making his way through his first grand tour at the Giro d'Italia in 2012 has proven to Jack Bauer he has what it takes to survive the next the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Bauer, like the rest of his Garmin Sharp teammates, was officially announced for the Grand Boucle just days before the start in Corsica but from the start of the year, there's been only one thing on his mind: a start at the Tour.
"It is a dream come true as it is for any Kiwi cyclist. This is the pinnacle of any road cycling event and to start it as a Kiwi, not many have done in the past, is something I have dreamed about since I was a kid," said Bauer.
"Since Paris-Roubaix I have had nothing on my mind but this. I've made a lot of sacrifices and put a lot into it but I am really happy to be here and on the start line," he added.
"I remember watching it back in my day and it seemed like an impossible road to get here and yet here I am on the eve of the Centenary edition. It is pretty special."
Bauer is a relative late comer to the WorldTour ranks, having signed with Jonathan Vaughters' squad for the 2012 season at the tender age of 26. In what appears to be a trend at the US-registered outfit Bauer was given the opportunity to ride a three-week race at the Giro in his first professional season - after two years with the Continental Endura team.
He showed his class in the opening time trial and finished in 13th place and bested the eventual Giro winner and teammate Ryder Hesjedal in the process. Garmin-Sharp arrive in Corsica with a number of cards to play in the GC game with Bauer undoubtedly key to the team on the flatter stages and will