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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, October 6, 2012

Date published:
October 06, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Freire turning down offered management positions

    Oscar Freire Gomez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    October 05, 2012, 12:48 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha team confirms official retirement

    Triple world champion Oscar Freire has officially retired from the sport. He will not be at the start line in Sunday's Paris-Tours, his Katusha team announced, although the French race was his last Classics win in 2010. The Limburg World Championship road event, in which he finished tenth, was therefore his very last appearance as a pro cyclist.

    The 36-year-old is now evaluating several offers made by pro cycling teams to become part of team management, according to Biciciclismo. More than two months ago already, Basque squad Euskaltel-Euskadi contacted the Spaniard in view of a deal that would have included active racing in 2013 until the Tour of the Basque Country - including Milan-San Remo - and then joining team staff as a coach, in a similar position as Erik Zabel at Katusha.

    Although this long-term offer was attractive, Freire turned it down, explaining to team manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano that his intention of hanging up the bike at the end of this season was firm. In the meantime, another unnamed World Tour team reportedly made the multiple Classics winner a proposal within its management, but Freire declined this one, too.

    Freire has had more than 70 victories in his pro career, including four at the Vuelta a Espana and seven at the Tour de France. He also won the Tour's green jersey of best sprinter in 2008. But his perhaps greatest victories were achieved in one-day races: winning the World Championships three times, he also added three wins of Milan-San Remo to his palmarès, as well as the Hamburg Vattenfall Cyclassics, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Tours.

  • Bouhanni confident for Paris-Tours

    French champion Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat)
    Article published:
    October 05, 2012, 14:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Young French champion ready to take on national monument

    One of the most promising sprinters of French cycling, national champion Nacer Bouhanni, is eager to build on his good current form to try and win Paris-Tours this coming Sunday. Having beaten John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) for second place in the sprint that concluded Thursday's Paris-Bourges, the FDJ-BigMat rider counts amongst the favourites for the national monument laid out over 235 kilometres.

    Paris-Tours is Bouhanni's last objective of this season. "I've prepared especially for it," he told Velochrono. "I wouldn't be surprised to win it. I do what I have to do, but without too much pressure. The important thing is not to have any regrets once you've passed the line - to know you've given the very best of yourself."

    At Paris-Bourges, where Florian Vachon (Bretagne - Schuller) outsmarted the sprinters to take the victory just ahead of Bouhanni, the 22-year-old had been disappointed with his second place. "If Geoffroy Soupe, who was supposed to lead me out in the finale, hadn't crashed under the flamme rouge, we would have had a bunch sprint," he explained.

    Still, Bouhanni has had many good results this season: On 75 race days, he counted seven victories, 19 podiums and 40 top ten placings. Regularly sprinting against Argos-Shimano's John Degenkolb or Marcel Kittel, he said their only advantage against him was "this impressive train of theirs. But we could do the same..."

    Indeed, FDJ-BigMat's team manager Marc Madiot is looking at improving the squad's fire power for the fast finishes, also with a view to launch his other promising sprinter, Arnaud Démare. Bouhanni and Démare will be the outfit's key sprinters in 2013, as Yauheni Hutarovich will be leaving for AG2R La Mondiale. "He's done a good job...

  • Lance Armstrong: My conscience is clear

    Lance Armstrong (USA) was one of the strongest riders in the 1998 worlds, seen here stretching Markus Zberg in an early break
    Article published:
    October 05, 2012, 15:41 BST
    Daniel Benson

    USADA's reasoned decision expected next week

    Within the next week Lance Armstrong, the UCI and WADA will be sent a file from USADA in which the American anti-doping agency will detail their "reasoned decision" as to why they stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and handed him a life-time ban.

    Armstrong's ban was brought forward after the former US Postal team leader chose not to fight USADA's charges. The exact evidence relating to the case has yet to be released but reports circulated last week that along with testimonies from a number of ex-teammates, USADA are also in possession of positive blood samples. USADA never confirmed as such but what is known is that Armstrong was charged with the use and/or attempted use of prohibited substances; the possession of prohibited substances, drug trafficking, and assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.

    Even so, in a recent interview with LAVA, Armstrong claimed that his conscience was clear, and consistently pushed a for everyone concerned to move on.

    "It's their drama. Not mine," he told the US publication.

    "I was raised in a way, and maybe my mom was this way, and her life wasn't perfect, it was complicated. But she always looked forward. She looked a day, and a month, and a year, and 10 years from now. Some people don't do that. They sit around and talk about the past. You always get high-school friends who sit around and talk about "hey remember that time?" and I'm like "why are you asking me about that?"

    "I wake up and my mind and my...

  • Saur-Sojasun in search of new co-sponsor

    Saur-Sojasun pose for their team photo at the start of Scheldeprijs
    Article published:
    October 05, 2012, 18:34 BST
    Cycling News

    Pro Contintental squad registered as Team Sojasun in 2013

    The company of Sojasun, specialized in soja-based food products, will be Stéphane Heulot's main sponsor next season as Saur has decided to retract from its support of the French pro cycling team Saur-Sojasun. Heulot has registered the outfit under the name of Sojasun for next season, but the team management is hoping to attract another sponsor to fill the gaps on the team jersey.

    "We are working towards it," the team's development director Philippe Raimbaud told L'Equipe this week.

    At the moment, Heulot has 21 riders signed up for next year. Alexis Vuillermoz (Team Lapierre) will be making the transition from mountain bike to professional road cycling with the team in 2013 as a two-year contract between the two parties is about to be signed. Vuillermoz will be joining five other new recruits at the team, Rémi Pauriol (FDJ-BigMat), Julien El Farès (Team Type 1-Sanofi), Fabien Schmidt (Roubaix Lille Métropole), Evaldas Siskevicius (La Pomme Marseille) and neo pro Maxime Daniel (Sojasun Espoir).

    A total of 15 riders already under contract will be staying with the outfit in 2013: Anthony Delaplace, Jimmy Engoulvent, Brice Feillu, Jérémie Galland, Jonathan Hivert, Fabrice Jeandesboz, David Le Lay, Cyril Lemoine, Jean-Marc Marino, Rony Martias, Maxime Médérel, Jean-Lou Païani, Julien Simon, Yannick Talabardon and Etienne Tortelier.

    Five riders will be leaving the team at the end of the season: Jérôme Coppel, Cyril Bessy, Guillaume Levarlet, Stéphane Poulhiès (Cofidis) and Laurent Mangel (FDJ-BigMat).

  • Massive changes at Christina Watches as team seeks to change domestic Danish image

    Angelo Furlan gives Rasmussen and Schumacher a noogie
    Article published:
    October 05, 2012, 19:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Nine of 16 riders and team's only sport director leaving at end of season

    Michael Rasmussen's team Christina Watches-Onfone will undergo massive changes in the coming year, and no longer considers itself a Danish team. Nine of the 17 riders are leaving the team, as is its only sport director. The team will also concentrate more on international races and less on domestic races in Denmark.

    The Danish media said that “chaos threatens” at the team, but CEO Claus Hembo told,  “Our squad will now be strengthened even more. This has meant that we now must say goodbye to riders who either leave of their own accord or who we do not feel fit into our set-up for 2013.”

    The team, which is hoping to ride the Tour de France in 2016, recently announced that it would not seek a Professional Continental licence for the coming year, as expected, but would continue at the Continental level.

    One serious matter of debate is whether the Continental team should be mostly Danish or not,with the springtime departure of sport director Michael Blaudzun apparently marking a change on the team. One of the riders leaving is Dane Rasmus Guldhammer.

    “I was fine with sport director Michael Blaudzun of Team Christina Watches, but after he stopped, it has been a difficult time on the team,,” he told “The economics has not been anything special. It is foreigners and not me, who had the largest salaries on the team.”

    Michel Riehs, one of the most experienced riders on the domestic scene, is also leaving at the end of the season, as his salary demands were not met. He too said that Blaudzun's departure was “a big loss for the team.”

    Blaudzun joined the team from the beginning, but quit this past spring, saying, “It has been incredibly demanding, and I have not always agreed...

  • Tour of Alberta to debut in 2013

    Riders who take part in both the USA Pro Challenge and the Canadian WorldTour races, such as the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, will have the six-day Tour of Alberta to fill the gap next year between the events.
    Article published:
    October 05, 2012, 22:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Bridges gap between USA Pro Challenge and Canadian WorldTour races

    North America has a new UCI-ranked stage race for 2013 with the debut of Canada's Tour of Alberta, slated for September 3-8. The UCI 2.1-ranked, six-day event's position on the calendar will provide an ideal bridge between the UCI 2.HC-rated USA Pro Challenge, taking place August 19-25 in Colorado, and the two Canadian WorldTour races, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal scheduled for September 13th and September 15th respectively.

    According to The Province, retired Canadian cycling star Alex Stieda is working with an Edmonton group to bring the stage race to fruition and the event has a funding commitment of approximately $2 million from the Alberta government.

    The race route will be unveiled on October 15 in Edmonton.

    With its UCI 2.1 ranking, the Tour of Alberta will be the highest rated stage race in Canada for next season. The country's other UCI multi-day event is the 2.2-rated Tour de Beauce, scheduled for June 11-16 next year.

  • Orica-GreenEdge want to end 2012 as it began

    Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) wins on stage 4 of the Vuelta
    Article published:
    October 06, 2012, 2:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Lapage says team has "several cards" to play in Beijing

    Orica-GreenEdge will be aiming to finish their inaugural season just as they began with victory in the year's final WorldTour event, the Tour of Beijing next week in China.

    "We're going to China to chase a good result for the team," said sports director Lorenzo Lapage. "We have had an amazing debut on the WorldTour and to finish it off on a high note is a big priority for us. We're going with a top motivated group of riders for this."

    Orica-GreenEdge got off to a dream start in the UCI WorldTour with overall victory for Simon Gerrans in the Tour Down Under and then Milan - San Remo before Michael Albasini claimed GC honours at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, all before the end of March.

    Simon Clarke carries the team's hopes for the mountainous stages with the recent Vuelta a Espana mountain classification winner looking to continue his good form.

    "Simon is obviously in great form and he is one of several cards we can play at the Tour of Beijing," explained Lapage. "He came out strong from the Vuelta and showed at the World's and the Tour of Lombardy that he's still really motivated to race hard."

    The team's sprint stocks in Beijing certainly won't be lacking a three-pronged attack courtesy of Allan Davis, Leigh Howard and Aidis Kroupis. Last month, Howard earned his first solo victory of 2012 at the Tour of Britain over Mark Cavendish, while Kruopis has five to his name so far this season. Davis meanwhile, will be chasing his first stage win since of the season after a number of podiums at his last start Vuelta a Espana.

    The full Orica-GreenEdge line up for the Vuelta a Espsana is:...

  • Gripper: Cycling cannot move forward until Lance issue is resolved

    Anne Gripper spearheads the biological passport.
    Article published:
    October 06, 2012, 3:18 BST
    Cycling News

    UCI must support USADA in Armstrong case

    Former UCI anti-doping chief Anne Gripper, who played a major role in the introduction of the blood passport system as well as a number of doping cases during her tenure from 2006 to early 2012, says she is satisfied with the USADA investigation, charges, subsequent lifetime ban and stripping of Lance Armstong’s seven Tour de France titles.

    Gripper had remained silent in regard to USADA’s case against Armstrong and the UCI’s position until recently. She has since voiced her confidence in USADA and more specifically its chief executive Travis Tygart’s ability to manage such a case. While Gripper is unfamiliar with the full details of the case and was unwilling to comment on Armstrong’s verdict specifically, she commended USADA on their structure and reputation.

    "I really can’t speak about [Armstrong's] guilt. I don't have enough information," she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

    "But I trust USADA's ability to investigate a case like that absolutely, implicitly. USADA is one of the best resourced, best set-up national anti-doping organisations in the world. I know Travis Tygart personally. I would trust anything they decided was correct."

    Gripper was further confident that no allegations would surface in USADA’s report that involved her time spent with the UCI however, UCI anti-doping panel member Robin Parisotto noted that if the governing body became embroiled in any claims by USADA, that it would be logical for the parties involved, including Pat McQuaid to stand...