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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, September 14, 2013

Date published:
September 14, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Gesink makes history with Québec WorldTour victory

    2013 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec champion Robert Gesink (Belkin)
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 9:33 BST
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    Belkin Dutchman earns pre-Worlds morale boost

    While Robert Gesink (Belkin) may have felt a bit down on his luck this season after disappointing showings at the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, the 27-year-old Dutchman would experience no ill effects of Friday the 13th as he sprinted to his first victory in over a year at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec.

    Not only did Gesink's victory complete a career podium progression at the one-day Canadian WorldTour event (he finished 3rd in 2010 and 2nd in 2011), but he made history as the first rider to win both WorldTour events in Canada having already won the inaugural Montreal edition in 2010.

    And by winning a tough uphill sprint in the finale of a taxing 201.6km event on the circuit in Old Québec, Gesink has also shown he's on good form for the road world championships in Italy in just over two weeks' time.

    While much attention has been garnered by Peter Sagan's build-up to the world championships in North America rather than the traditional Vuelta a España route, Gesink, too, has undertaken a similar program, albeit he didn't really have much choice.

    "I already did the Giro and Tour so three Grand Tours would be too much," said Gesink. "In the past I think the Vuelta was the best preparation but now if you do it the way I did, it is also a really good preparation for the Worlds."

    Soon after Gesink wrapped up his Tour de France campaign, where he placed 26th overall, and then the Clasica San Sebastian, the Dutchman hopped on a plane to California accompanied by his girlfriend Daisy and 21-month-old daughter Anne to re-charge his batteries.

    "The first of August I flew out to Los Angeles," Gesink told Cyclingnews. "It was directly after the Tour and I had a holiday. I went...

  • Nibali hopes for rain on the Angliru

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 10:22 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    "On wet roads, everything would change"

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is hoping for rain on the Alto de l’Angliru as he bids to re-take the red jersey from Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España on Saturday.

    The Sicilian lost a handful of seconds – and the overall lead – to Horner on Friday’s summit finish atop the Alto del Naranco. Horner had been chipping away at Nibali’s overall lead throughout the final week, and the momentum looks to be with the 41-year-old American as the Vuelta reaches its definitive showdown.

    Nibali remains optimistic about his chances, however. He rejected the idea that he would be unable to better Horner on the steep slopes on the Angliru and thus have to attack from distance, pointing out that it would be difficult to make a telling difference on the descent of the preceding Cordal.

    “It’s difficult to invent something beforehand, I think you have to wait for the last climb,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The descent is technical but if it’s dry, nothing will happen.”

    Nibali has good reason to hope that the heavens open over Asturias on Saturday, as he believes that the combination of slippery roads and 23% gradients on the Angliru would force Horner to change his climbing style.

    “If it rains, I want to see if Horner is able to tackle the climb out of the saddle like he always does. It would be impossible. On wet roads, everything would change,” Nibali said.

    Although leaden skies are forecast in the afternoon, the rain is expected to hold off until after the stage finish. But even if the weather does not turn out to be...

  • Angliru a fitting stage for Vuelta's grand finale

    Juan Jose Cobo slips away to win the stage and the Vuelta on the Angliru in 2011.
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 11:21 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Horner and Nibali face off on Spain's toughest climb

    And so it has arrived. The 12.5 kilometre Alto del Angliru in Saturday’s penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España will likely decide the outcome of the entire race - and as Spain’s most difficult climb, a showdown on the Asturian monster ascent is surely the most appropriate of places.

    The organisers Unipublic have laid on a short, sharp build-up to the climb, just 142 kilometres long and starting in Aviles. It may not have been intentional but given the three preceding climbs, the Cabruñana, Tenebredo and Cordal are in increasing order of difficulty - third, second and first category - the sense of drama before reaching the Angliru should heighten steadily.

    And then in the mining village of La Riosa, the race reaches the Alto del Angliru. Tackled five times since its introduction in 1999, there have been no changes to the steepest, hardest single climb in Spain in the intervening period, bar the resurfacing of the mostly single track road. "It is so hard,” said Alejandro Valverde - second on the climb in 2008 behind Contador, with Purito Rodriguez third - "that all you can do is keep going at your own pace and forget everybody else."

    When I first went up it back in the winter of 1998 for Cycle Sport magazine alongside Fernando Escartin as part of a report on the Vuelta’s newly found climb, the silence was uncanny. Today, though, with tens if not hundreds of thousands of fans lining the route (with more than a few pushing the riders, and although this is discouraged, it is hard to stop), the Angliru becomes a long, tunnel-like ascent of pain for the Vuelta’s remaining 150 riders.

    The first 5.5 kilometres are not so bad, but when the race reaches the ramps known as the Viapará, the road begins to rear more steeply. From hereon, the average gradient is 10.13 percent.

    The first really hard point comes at km 7...

  • McQuaid dossier compiled by investigators with US governmental agency experience, says Makarov

    UCI President Pat McQuaid takes the oath before speaking at the French Senate hearing into anti-doping
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 12:33 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand & Barry Ryan

    Leaked letter from Makarov to UCI Management Committee

    Russian Cycling Federation president Igor Makarov has said that the dossier outlining allegations of corruption against UCI president Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen was compiled by two investigators with experience of working at United States governmental agencies.

    In a letter obtained by Cyclingnews, Makarov wrote to his fellow UCI Management Committee members to explain the background and status of the dossier, and denied that he was responsible for leaking a summary of the dossier to the press last week.

    “Along with other individuals (these persons prefer to remain silent for the moment) […] we decided that some researches should be made to figure out what was going on with the UCI leadership,” Makarov wrote in the letter, dated September 13th.

    “We thus decided to mandate two well-renowned and independent investigators to supervise such research, both of them having a long record and extensive experiences with United States governmental agencies.”

    McQuaid has denied the allegations and decried the leaked dossier as an example of “gangster politics” from Makarov, who is backing McQuaid’s opponent Brian Cookson in the forthcoming UCI presidential election. Makarov has dismissed the claim and he defended the integrity of the investigation in his letter to the UCI Management Committee.

    “In order to avoid any doubts, we can ensure that the investigations strictly complied with all the laws and that no questionable means of investigation have been used,” Makarov wrote.

    Makarov will be in attendance in Zurich on Sunday when both McQuaid and Cookson will address members of the Union Européenne de...

  • Rodríguez bounces back for Vuelta stage win

    Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) heads for his stage win
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 13:50 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Katusha claim third stage win of Vuelta with team leader

    After two and a half weeks of Vuelta racing in which he has repeatedly said that he has not been able to recover from his efforts in the Tour de France as well as he would have liked, Joaquim Rodriguez finally gave some indication of rising form on Friday as he shot away to claim a lone win at Naranco.

    His win was taken in classic Purito style, blasting off a kilometre from the Naranco summit with an unmatchable acceleration and then holding off the opposition on the flatter final segments. He claimed 14 seconds on Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard), the first of the big favourites across the line in fifth, plus a handy ten second time bonus, and is now at 1-57 overall.

    The Vuelta is Rodríguez first stage win since Tirreno-Adriatico, although the Catalan has not exactly been sleeping on his laurels since then, with his second place in the Volta a Catalunya, second place in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, , and third place in the Tour de France. He has now racked up seven stage wins in the Vuelta since he took his first in the Pyrenees way back in 2003, and he has won at least one Vuelta stage every year since 2010.

    “Today was my last real chance with the Angliru tomorrow, but it was the team that really made the difference,” Rodriguez said afterwards.

    “They worked so hard, right the way from kilometre zero to ensure I had a chance, and if I didn’t really believe in my chances today before the start, the team basically convinced me that I had to try for it and see what happened.

    He had received advice about how to tackle the climb from his father Joaquim, a former pro who knew the Naranco well from when it featured more regularly in the Vuelta.

    “Tell the truth, Dad’s been giving me advice every day,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “And so have lots of people. For example, thanks to somebody's advice I knew that with a kilometre to go was where it was hardest and so...

  • Vichot eyes French Worlds team selection after Quebec result

    Arthur Vichot (FDJ) flies the French colours in the stage 14 breakaway
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 16:20 BST
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    French champion second to Gesink in Canadian WorldTour race

    French champion Arthur Vichot (FDJ) is showing good form at the right time of the season for someone who hopes to be selected for France's world championship squad. With the elite men's road Worlds a little more than two weeks away in Tuscany, Italy, Vichot gave the selectors something to consider after the 24-year-old Frenchman finished second to Robert Gesink (Belkin) in Friday's one-day WorldTour event in Canada - the 201.6km Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec.

    After 16 laps of an arduous 12.6km circuit through Old Quebec, Vichot finished on the podium from a select 10-man group which emerged in the closing kilometres to sprint for victory on the Grande Allee thoroughfare's uphill finale. Joing Gesink and Vichot on the podium in third place was Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

    "I was already in the pre-selection for Worlds and our final selection will be announced on Sunday," said Vichot. "It's important to be part of the Worlds. It's a race that I dream of, and I hope the points scored here today count in my favour."

    In his fourth season as a professional, all with FDJ, Vichot first came into prominence, at least among English-speaking fans, with the Vichot fan club that sprang to life at the 2010 Tour Down Under. Vichot has made steady progress through his career thus far by winning a stage of Paris-Correze in 2010 followed by victories at French one-day races Les Boucles du Sud Ardeche and the Tour du Doubs in 2011.

    Vichot's 2012 season was highlighted by a solo victory in stage 5 at the Criterium du Dauphine and his winning ways continued this season with overall victory at the Tour du Haut Var plus the French road championship.

    His second place finish in Quebec is only the second time he's placed on the podium in a WorldTour event,...

  • Veilleux bids adieu to pro peloton in Quebec

    David Veilleux amidst family and friends following Friday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 17:45 BST
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    Quebec native ends career on home roads "with my head high"

    Quebec native David Veilleux's penultimate day in the professional peloton at Friday's home Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec didn't quite have the hoped for storybook ending as he withdrew late in the race after being dropped by the peloton. Nonetheless, when the 25-year-old Canadian rolled across the finish line alone after the 14th of 16 laps, he was welcomed home with applause and adulation.

    "It was a good day and I tried to enjoy my time here knowing it's my last few kilometres of racing," Veilleux told Cyclingnews after the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, surrounded by family and friends sporting Europcar jerseys and wielding "Le Caribou" (his team's nickname for the Quebecois) banners. "I'm happy to spend it here in front of my friends and family and all my fans. I was really happy to see a lot of people who came out to cheer for me. I'm really thankful for that."

    Just this past Wednesday Veilleux made the unexpected announcement that he was retiring from cycling after the two WorldTour races in his home country of Canada - Friday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and Sunday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal - bringing to a conclusion a career which seemed to be just hitting its full stride.

    After spending four years on US-based Continental teams, Veilleux joined French Pro Continental squad Europcar in 2011 and has remained there through his imminent exit from the pro peloton. Veilleux won races in each of his three years at Europcar with this season his best to date, highlighted by a solo victory in the opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine (and a stint in the leader's yellow jersey) and his Grand Tour debut at the Tour de France, which Veilleux finished in 123rd place. Veilleux also won the Boucles de la Mayenne stage race and placed 2nd in stage two at the Rhone-Alpes Isere Tour.

    "I think this summer I really achieved a lot of my...

  • Horner closes in on Vuelta victory on the Angliru

    Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) rides towards Vuelta a Espana victory on the Angliru.
    Article published:
    September 14, 2013, 18:55 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    American set to become oldest Grand Tour winner

    A spectacular duel between Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the slopes of the Angliru ended with the American shedding the Italian star and soaring away into the mist for near-certain outright victory in the Vuelta a España.

    Barring absolute disaster, by Sunday evening Horner will be America’s first-ever winner of the Vuelta, at an age, too, when all but a handful of pros have long hung up their wheels. The Vuelta’s previous oldest winner was a sprightly Tony Rominger, a mere 33 years old when he took his third Spanish title in 1994. The Giro’s previous most senior winner Fiorenzo Magni aged 35 in 1955, while the Tour’s oldest victor was Fermin Lambot 91 years ago, aged 36. Horner’s record pulverizes these previous bests by a long way.

    “I don’t need any time for this to sink in, I’ve had lots of time to think about it and what this accomplishment would be like,” was how Horner described it afterwards. “I’ve had lots of time to think about how much I suffered to get here, and the feelings I have now will last a lifetime.”

    Regardless of his age, Horner’s final battle against Nibali was a memorable one. Nibali shed the American early on, was caught, then tried again and again to drop his rival. Only when Nibali was utterly spent did Horner turn the tables for once and for all, powering away to cross the line in second place behind Kenny Elissonde (Fdj.fr) at 26 seconds.

    With Nibali finishing fourth at 54 seconds, Horner’s lead (thanks to a final time bonus, too) stretched to 37 seconds. Not quite the 40 seconds he’d previously said he wanted to be able to savour his victory ride into Madrid, but...