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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, October 5, 2013

Date published:
October 05, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • RCS Sport chairman steps down

    RCS Sport
    Article published:
    October 04, 2013, 13:50 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Flavio Biondi replaced by Raimondo Zanaboni

    The chairman of RCS Sport, Flavio Biondi, has resigned from his position at a meeting of the board of directors in Milan on Friday morning. He will be replaced by Raimondo Zanaboni, who has been the head of RCS Pubblicità, the company’s advertising arm, since 2008.

    Biondi’s resignation comes at a turbulent time for RCS Sport, which organises the Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Lombardy, and works in several other sports, including athletics, basketball, golf and tennis. Last week, it was revealed that an external auditor had been appointed to control the company’s accounts after the alleged misappropriation of an estimated €13million.

    CEO Giacomo Catano resigned last week and was replaced by Riccardo Taranto, who is leading an internal investigation, while Chief Operating Officer and figurehead of the Giro d’Italia organisation Michele Acquarone has been placed on precautionary suspension, along with external relations manager Matteo Pastore.

    “Some managers have been temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure, considering the significance of the positions that they hold,” the new CEO Taranto told Reuters on Friday, confirming that Acquarone, Pastore and Catano have been suspended.

    Taranto said that the investigative audit “is still ongoing and will continue with the maximum intensity in the coming days.”

    Reuters reports that Mauro Vegni, the technical director for RCS Sport’s cycling races, is not involved in the matter.

    Zanaboni’s elevation to the role of chairman at RCS Sport had been flagged...

  • Andy Schleck targets Tour de France and Classics in 2014

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack) featured in a late breakaway
    Article published:
    October 04, 2013, 15:10 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    “From being a Tour contender I disappeared in the space of a day"

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) will line up for the Tour of Lombardy this weekend before drawing the curtain on his 2013 campaign.

    The 28-year-old has endured a second successive season of difficulties but he believes that a solid 20th place in this year’s Tour de France can form the bedrock to a forthcoming season in which he will target the Spring Classics and the Tour.

    “The Classics and the Tour de France, they’ll be the goals for next year. I hope to start the year well, but I don’t know where yet. I might do more training camps and start racing a bit later,” Schleck told Cyclingnews in an exclusive interview.

    Schleck crashed out of the Dauphiné in June of 2012 and was diagnosed with a broken sacrum. He returned to racing later that season but it wasn’t until the 2013 campaign before he began to even finish races. A disappointing start to 2013 in terms of results improved with 20th at the Tour but Schleck was dogged by question marks surrounding both his form and motivation.

    “From being a Tour contender I disappeared in the space of a day,” he says in reference to his Dauphiné crash.

    “I wasn’t in the media from then. Then when I came back people had this picture of me in their heads and they weren’t used to seeing me riding out the back of the peloton or being dropped and being far back. That was a big part of the speculation. Of course you have more motivation if you’re heading into a race if you know you can do a top five or a top ten.

    “This year, it’s been a hard season especially up until the Tour de France. It was a certainly a lot harder to come back into the races than I thought that it would be. If I look back though...

  • De Gendt signs with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step

    Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil)
    Article published:
    October 04, 2013, 16:02 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian rider obtains one-year contract

    Thomas De Gendt has signed a one-year contract to race with the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team in 2014. His new team made the announcement on Friday.

    "I'm very happy to become a part of this group," De Gendt said. "I've always dreamed of being a part of a something like this, ever since Tom Boonen won the World Cup in Madrid in 2005. Omega Pharma - Quick-Step is one of the top teams, very professional in all aspects and with absolutely competent people in every sector. For a rider this is very important, like it's important to feel the faith of Patrick Lefevere."

    The Belgian rider has several impressive victories and podium finishes in his career, including a third place GC finish at the Giro d'Italia in 2012, as well as victories at the Giro, Paris-Nice, Tour de Suisse, Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Tour de Wallonie. His Giro d'Italia victory was on the Stelvio Pass, in the 20th stage in 2012.

    "We've been following Thomas with considerable interest for some years now," Omega Pharma - Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere said. "Our paths almost crossed a few times these past couple of years, but due to a series of choices and contingent situations, the deal never came through."

    "Now the time has come; we were sort of reciprocally destined to meet again sooner or later. We believe Thomas is talented. We’ve been following his sports history. An athlete who can win a stage at Paris-Nice, one at the Tour de Suisse, the reigning stage in the Giro and even take third place in the race for the pink jersey definitely cannot have lost all his skills in just a few months. We're certain that Thomas has everything it takes to make a return and prove himself as part of our group. We've offered him a one-year contract with the conviction that for him, it can be a year of...

  • 18 teams apply for 2014 WorldTour licences

    The big-name riders at Team Europcar in 2013
    Article published:
    October 04, 2013, 17:23 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Europcar the only new applicant

    The UCI has announced that 18 teams have submitted applications for the 18 available WorldTour places in 2014. Europcar is the only new licence applicant, and must automatically present a file to the Licence Commission, along with five teams who are applying for the renewal of their existing licences.

    Twelve squads are already in possession of a WorldTour licence for 2014, including Katusha – who had to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to secure its entry into this year’s WorldTour – and Trek Factory Racing, which takes over from RadioShack-Leopard, having purchased the licence from backer Flavio Becca.

    Those twelve teams’ registrations will be completed by November 4 provided, the UCI says, that “no irregularities are brought to notice,” in which case, they too will be requested to appear before the Licence Commission.

    Katusha was originally denied a WorldTour licence last year after questions were raised about the team's ethical record. After Katusha's successful appeal to CAS, the WorldTour was exceptionally expanded to 19 teams for the 2013 season.

    Europcar and the five teams applying for a renewal of their existing licences – Astana, Lampre-Merida, Movisar, Orica GreenEdge and Sky – must automatically submit their files to the Licence Commission before they are ratified as WorldTour teams for 2014.

    All teams were requested to submit a registration file before October 1 that included sponsorship contracts and a bank guarantee.

    The UCI has also published a list of the 16 teams who have applied for Pro Continental licences in 2014. These teams include IAM Cycling, Drapac, Cofidis, MTN-Qhubeka and the Accent Jobs-Wanty team that will be managed by current Vacansoleil-DCM directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren.

    Although Luca Scinto has lost Vini Fantini as a backer in 2014 (the vintner will sponsor a Continental team based in the Abruzzo region...

  • Andersen confirms as sport director for Trek in 2014

    Stuart O'Grady, Fabian Cancellara and Kim Andersen discuss where Leopard Trek will ride.
    Article published:
    October 04, 2013, 21:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Dane to continue work with Fränk and Andy Schleck

    Kim Andersen will once again try to lead to Andy and Fränk Schleck to glory in 2014. The Dane confirmed that he has signed on to be a sport director for Team Trek in the coming year.

    “We have agreed on a one-year contract and then we will see what happens,” he told bt.dk. “I think it is a very exciting project that has been started and it is a project that should last for many years.”

    The Schlecks are not the only big names on the team, and not necessarily the biggest. “When we have a rider like Fabian Cancellara on the team, there will be much focus on him and he will try to follow up on the results he has shown in recent years. And so we hope that Andy and Frank come back to the top in the big races.”

    Andersen has long had a close relationship with the Schleck brothers, and even lives close to them. The Danish newspaper said that Trek wanted him with the new team from the start, but that he waited to make sure that the Schlecks would be signed. Without them, he would not have joined the team.

    “Right now I could not imagine being on a different team than them.”

    He said he was “convinced that they could come back at the top level. I know that Frank is at a good level, and I hope that Andy can be brought back to the top level.”

    Andersen worked with the Schlecks at Saxo Bank and Leopard/RadioShack until Johan Bruyneel came to the latter team. When the Belgian left after one year, Andersen returned to the Schlecks' side as a sport director.

  • Ullrich refuses to hand over Olympic medals

    Bjarne Riis leads Jan Ullrich at the Tour de France
    Article published:
    October 05, 2013, 5:13 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    "Those medals belong to me"

    According to Senegalese website Senego Jan Ullrich has stated in an interview with Sky Sports on Friday that he has no intentions of returning the medals he won at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The German rider who has been embroiled in doping controversies common to the Armstrong era won gold in the road race and silver in the time trial at the Olympics in Sydney.

    His statement comes on the back of the acknowledgment from the IOC that they have received the bronze medal that Lance Armstrong won in the time trial event at Sydney. Ullrich was steadfast in his belief that the medals belonged to him, and no one else.

    "I do not really understand why we attach so much importance to things that belong to the past," said Ullrich. "These medals belong to me. Anyone who wants to see them can to my house.

    "This story is fifteen years old, we would do better to look forward."

    Ullrich admitted to blood doping with aid of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in an interview with German magazine, Focus, in June this year. In the interview he pointed out that he believed that everyone in that era was cheating and he was only leveling the playing field.

    "Almost everyone at the time was taking performance-enhancing substances," he said. "I didn’t take anything that was not taken by the others. It would only have been cheating for me if I had gotten an advantage which was not the case. I just wanted to ensure I had an equal opportunity.”

     

  • Four African riders to make WorldTour debut at Lombardia

    The MTN-Qhubeka team line up for a team shot before rolling out for training
    Article published:
    October 05, 2013, 7:20 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    MTN Qhubeka looking to impress Giro organisers on Sunday

    Four African riders will take part in their first ever WorldTour race at Il Lombardia with MTN-Qhubeka on Sunday. The silver medallist in the U23 men's road at the World Championships, Louis Meintjes, will line up along with Tsgabu Grmay, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Meron Russom as they make their respective WorldTour debuts.

    Russom has raced a number of prestigious races with MTN-Qhubeka this season including Bayern-Rundfahrt and Giro del Trentino, but he remains excited for his WorldTour debut.

    "I'm happy to be able to race against all the big riders in the world and also to be working for our team in the WorldTour," Russom said. "It seems like the weather might be the same as the World Championships last week.

    "I've taken a look at the profile and it's going to be a hard race. I think we are ready as a team and someone like Sergio [Pardilla] could make a good result so we will all give our best for the team."

    Pardilla comes into the last monument of the year on reasonable form after finishing sixth overall at the Tour of Britain and will be looking forward to racing what he believes to be one of the most memorable races of the season.

    "Lombardia is a beautiful race that's always hard. It's a day for climbers. The race has great history and is known as 'The Race of the Falling Leaves,'" said Pardilla. "It is the last big race that gives closure towards the end of the season.

    "It is the last of the five Monuments and undoubtedly, it is one of the most memorable race."

    With MTN-Qhubeka hoping for an invite to their first ever Grand Tour next year, Sunday’s race may prove crucial given Il Lombardia organisers, RCS Sport, also run the Giro d’Italia and Milan-San Remo. MTN undoubtedly left a good impression upon the Italian company after Gerald Ciolek

  • Contador taking pay cut to help save Saxo Bank team

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) returned as defending champion.
    Article published:
    October 05, 2013, 10:14 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Still no announcement on new sponsor for Bjarne Riis' team

    Alberto Contador has had to accept a pay cut of 10-15 per cent, according to a report in the Danish media. The Spaniard is said to have accepted the reduced salary, in light of the team's financial problems, with Team Saxo-Tinkoff owner Bjarne Riis still to announce a new sponsor for the coming season.

    BT.dk reported that Riis recently met with the Spanish rider and told him that the pay cut was necessary if the team is to survive next season. Although Contador still has two years to go on his contract, the website said that he understood the problem and accepted the pay cut.

    Contador is said to earn about 25 million Kroner annually, or roughly 3.3 million Euro. A 15 per cent cut would bring him down to 21.25 million Kroner or 2.8 million. However he apparently also has an agreement with bike producer Specialized which brings him 15 million Kroner (2 million Euro) annually.

    His spokesman Jacinto Vidarte told the Danish site that Contador was in constant contact with Riis who assured him the team would continue next season. He would not comment on the pay cut.

    “I don't have any information about that , and it is not important at this time. Right now it is important that the team will continue and that Contador continues on the team. That's all we have to say.”

    Tinkoff Bank was co-sponsor for the team but after the Tour de France it was announced that the relationship would end. Saxo Bank will stay on as sponsor but is not expected to make up the moneys previously provided by the co-sponsor.

    Riis had said that he was negotiating with a potential new sponsor and BT.dk says that there are actually two (unnamed) parties currently in discussion.

    Time is...