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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, March 16, 2013

Date published:
March 16, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Haussler looks to heavens for Milan-San Remo

    Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling)
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 14:45 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Australian wants rain for La Primavera

    Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) may not have performed at Milan-San Remo since his second place to Mark Cavendish in 2009 but that hasn’t stopped the Australian from talking up his chance ahead of Sunday’s La Primavera.

    Haussler will line-up on Sunday as IAM Cycling’s undisputed leader and with the squad hoping to propel him back into Classics contention. It’s been a difficult few years for the 29-year-old who has struggled to reach his 2009 form after a number of injuries and setbacks.

    “In the next two or three weeks I’ll be at my top level,” Haussler told Cyclingnews.

    “I’m here to win. That’s for sure. It might sound cocky and a bit overrated but I‘ve not shown anyone how strong I am this year. The next five races are the most important but I’m going to have to use my head and have a bit of luck on the day.”

    “I’ve not won anything and I’ve not really shone but now I’ve just been building up for the races coming up. This year I’ve been saving myself so I can peak at the right moment.”

    Haussler comes into the Classics after a decent but unspectacular opening segment to the season with three top tens in the Tour of Oman followed by two in Paris-Nice. He said that he generates between 100 and 150 less watts in sprints than a few seasons ago but that his overall strength on climbs has improved.

    “Paris-Nice was solid, hard training. I was always there, but there was just something missing in the finals but I was always there with the last 30-40. Climbing-wise I’ve never been this good before.”

    While his form gives little indication that he may be able to live with the likes of...

  • Is Becca losing patience with Andy Schleck?

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack) is still in the race after stage 2
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 16:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team admits its captain is still in a "difficult period"

    RadioShack-Leopard sport director and Andy Schleck confidant Kim Andersen has denied allegations of Schleck's drunkenness at a Munich airport hotel airport earlier this week. The team admits though that the Luxembourger is going through a “difficult period” at the moment,and team owner Flavio Becca indicated that he is losing patience with his rider. 

    A French politician posted earlier this week on Facebook that he saw Schleck at an airport hotel in Munich on the night after he had abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico Schleck has not been available for comment.

    “The story is untrue,” Andersen told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. “Andy was indeed at the hotel, but it is simply not true that he behaved that way. That is what Andy told me and I have no reason to doubt it.

    “I'm tired of the fact that such a ridiculous story can run around the world.”

    The politician, Pierre-Yves Le Borgn, apologized to Schleck. “I am sorry to have written these lines. I have admired Andy Schleck for years. I didn't know what my Facebook entry would do. Now it is clear to me that it was awkward and naïve.”

    The team is taking the matter seriously, though. “We can't be happy with what we have heard,” Becca told Het Nieuwsblad. "We first want Andy's side of the story. Andy is our captain and we will do all that we can so that he can lead the team in the classics and the Tour."

    However, Becca spoke more harshly to Gazzetta della Sport. “Often I have told Andy that I'm not happy with how he behaves. Now I hope you have the courage to make an honest statement, to clarify things right, and start being a serious athlete trying to...

  • Exergy Tour cancellation leaves USA without women's UCI events

    The Specialized-Lululemon team rolls towards the podium for the over team presentation.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 18:09 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    International women's cycling stagnating

    The announcement was inevitable after the Exergy Women's Tour lost the services of technical directors Medalist Sports, but today's cancellation of the only North American UCI stage race for women is bitter news for the American women's peloton. The only UCI races remaining in North America are the Grand Prix cycliste de Gatineau and Chrono Gatineau in Canada, giving the women of the USA only one option to garner points towards qualifying for the World Championships: leave.

    Exergy Development Group's women's tour was the most ambitious race to grace the shores of the USA since the HP Women's Challenge. With a dedicated, big-money backer in the renewable energy company, and the most experienced technical directors behind it, the race put women in the same spotlight as the men's Tour of California, USA Pro Cycling Challenge and Tour of Utah - Medalists Sports' other events.

    The race attracted the world's top talent, allowing the USA to gain enough points to maximize its team for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and gaining the attention of the mainstream media.

    "After a highly successful inaugural year, it is with our sincerest regret that Exergy Development Group announces that we will begin initiating the cancellation of the 2013 Exergy Tour by the end of March," the company's press release stated last night. "After a tumultuous year, it was our hope that appropriate co-sponsors would assist financially in order to help advance the mission and the event."

    The announcement comes on the heels of the demise of the Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden, a Dutch UCI 2.2 stage race scheduled for June, and the near collapse of the most prestigious remaining women's stage race, the Giro Donne.

    It is a blow for the UCI's new 2.HC designation, which had been applied to three races: Exergy Tour,...

  • Operación Puerto prosecutor dismantles Fuentes defense in final arguments

    Eufemiano Fuentes was at the center of Operacion Puerto
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 19:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    UCI clarifies it requested evidence along with WADA

    The final arguments were heard in the Operación Puerto trial, where five defendants including doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes face two years in prison for crimes against public health. The state prosecutor Lucia Pedrero systematically dismantled the defence of Fuentes, pointing out 12 "contradictions and lies" in the case, according to Europa Press.

    Fuentes, his sister Yolanda, former sports directors Manolo Saiz and Vicente Belda and trainer José Ignacio Labarta are facing charges stemming from the 2006 Operación Puerto investigation that unearthed 224 blood bags, coded documents and other doping paraphernalia in Fuentes' clinic in Madrid.

    According to the prosecution, the 12 lies laid out by the defense are: that Fuentes never endangered the health of his athletes; that analyses were done before and after extractions; that the blood was only taken out if hematocrit was too high; that the blood was kept to have in case of an accident; that the athletes were informed of the risks, that he did not perform transfusions on athletes in competition; that Jesus Manzano and Isidro Nozal were not his clients; that the refrigerated storage units had security systems; that he did not know that glycerol was for exclusive use in a hospital; that he used the codes for fear of the press; that his associate knew the identity of all the clients; and that the blood bags were damaged by the Civil Guard during the raid.

    The defense hinges on Fuentes team proving that there were no violations of standard health practices. Fuentes argued that "The law only demands that the locations are hygienic," and said the locations the transfusions were performed "met the minimum requirements laid out by the law".

    The prosecutions

  • Sagan unperturbed by Cancellara comments ahead of Milan-San Remo

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wins stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 20:40 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Pre-race favourite relaxed ahead of La Classicissima

    There is nothing quite like a dash of polemica to heighten the sense of anticipation on the eve of Milan-San Remo, and when the media gathered to hear Peter Sagan's pre-race thoughts on Friday afternoon, it was no surprise that Fabian Cancellara's recent criticism of the Slovak's style was top of the agenda.

    Speaking at Tirreno-Adriatico during the week, Cancellara had told reporters that he would not collaborate with Sagan if the pair went clear at Milan-San Remo on Sunday, citing the way the Cannondale youngster had sat on his wheel before winning stage 1 of last year's Tour de France in Seraing as exhibit A in his case against Sagan.

    Cancellara, it should be noted, has previously spoken in this regard. In 2011, frustrated by the queue of riders lined up on his wheel at the Tour of Flanders, he famously warned his rivals that they would need "to fasten their seatbelts" ahead of Paris-Roubaix the following weekend.

    It is the first time, however, that Cancellara has trained his inner Alex Ferguson squarely on Sagan, and – perhaps even more than bookmakers' short odds – that is an indication in itself of the expectations on Sagan's shoulders this spring as he chases his first classic victory.

    Sagan seemed unperturbed by Cancellara's words when they were put to him at Cannondale's pre-race press conference in Milan, and while reluctant to fan the flames, he couldn't resist a gentle dig of his own at his rival's psyche.

    "This year if I'm in front with Cancellara, the risk for him is that if we get pulled back, then he won't win the bunch sprint whereas I can...

  • Phinney stronger, more confident for Milan-San Remo

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) rode solo for 120km trying to make the time cut in Tirreno-Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 15, 2013, 22:38 GMT
    Pat Malach

    American ready to ride for BMC teammates

    Days after his heroic-but-unsuccessful attempt to finish Tirreno-Adriatico's brutish Porto Sant'Elpidio stage within the time cut so he could start the the next day's time trial, BMC's Taylor Phinney said he is recovered from that heartbreaking 120km solo effort and is ready for Milan-San Remo.

    "I went out and did three hours with the boys today around Tuscany," Phinney said from his Italian home on Thursday. "So that felt pretty good."

    Phinney gained international acclaim Monday when he toughed out the 209km stage after all of the other riders in his gruppetto quit the race. Phinney was hoping to go for a stage win on the final 9.2km time trial the following day, but instead found himself riding solo in icy cold rain only to finish outside the time limit. After the stage, the race organizer apologized for the route's extreme difficulty, and Phinney, who said the effort was partially a tribute to his father Davis, admitted breaking down on the massage table.

    But that was days ago, and now the first Monument of 2013 is up for grabs in the country Phinney considers his adopted home. Phinney lived in Italy with his family for three years until he was 15, speaks fluent Italian and has developed a following there; it's more than enough motivation to put the Tirreno disappointment behind him and look forward to Sunday.

    "I've always loved Milan-San Remo," Phinney said. "It's always an unpredictable race. You look at the profile, and there's nothing super special, but it's always a really exciting race to watch, and it makes it a more exciting race to actually [compete] in knowing that you're giving the fans some good entertainment.

    "I love how long it is, just everything about it," Phinney continued. "It's one of...

  • Video: Gimondi inducted into Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame

    Eddy Merckx leads Felice Gimondi in the 1974 Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    March 16, 2013, 10:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian joins Merckx

    Italian cycling legend Felice Gimondi was inducted into the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at the Sala Montanelli in the offices of Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday. Gimondi becomes the second rider to enter the Hall of Fame after Eddy Merckx, who was elected in 2012.

    Gimondi won three editions of the Giro d’Italia, and stood on the 9 times. Gimondi was also a great classics champion, winning Il Lombardia in 1966 and 1973, Milan-San Remo in 1974, and the title of World Champion in 1973.

    Nicknamed "The Phoenix" he became the second ever rider to win all three grand tours after Frenchman Jacques Anquetil.

    “I’ve deeply moved by this important tribute, even if I have arrived second behind Merckx yet again! Joking apart, it is a great pleasure for me and it makes me even happier to receive this beautiful trophy in the company of my team-mates and fellow adventurers in the fabulous world of cycling.

    Gimondo was joined at the event by a number of ex-teammates and rivals, including Eddy Merckx,1965 Giro d’Italia Winner Vittorio Adorni and three-time Giro d’Italia runner-up Italo Zilioli.

    “Each one of them deserves a small part of this trophy: Vittorio, who welcomed me into his home when I was still a young rider; Italo, from whom I learned a great deal, especially his humility and approach to things.

    “I would also like to thank La Gazzetta dello Sport and RCS Sport for honouring me in this way. It is an unforgettable day for me.”


  • Blanco names Catalunya squad

    Robert Gesink (Blanco) gives his all
    Article published:
    March 16, 2013, 11:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Injuries and illness force changes for Dutch team

    It may only be mid-March but Team Blanco are already feeling the strain as they look to assemble a competitive squad for next week’s Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Injury and illness to key team members in recent weeks has seen the Dutch squad stumble towards the Spanish stage race with doubts over the health of team leader Robert Gesink, who abandoned last week’s Paris-Nice.

    Despite uncertainly over Gesink's form the team has enjoyed a strong start to the season with 10 wins in total.

    The team has already named its squad for Catalunya with Stef Clement, Robert Wagner, Laurens ten Dam, Steven Kruijswijk, Jetse Bol, Jack Bobridge, and Moreno Hofland joining Gesink.

    Both Bobridge and Hofland have been drafted in to replace Juan Manuel Gárate and Marc Goos, with the Spaniard recovering from flu and Goos finding his feet after surgery on a broken collar bone.

    “With Robert, the big question is how well he has recovered from Paris-Nice as he had to abandon the race there. The same goes for Steven who took a spill. Laurens was in preparation for the Tour of the Basque Country and the classics and did not ride for three weeks. In the meantime, he has also been sick,” said team director Merijn Zeeman.

    “As usual, we’re aiming for a good finish in the final standings, but in this case, we have to take a wait and see approach. Sunday, we’ll see how fit the guys are and what expectations are therefore realistic”.

    A Dutch rider has only won the race once, with Ariel den Hartog topping the standings in 1966.

    The race begins on Monday with a 159.3km stage in Calella.