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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, September 8, 2012

Date published:
September 08, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Sagan and Boasson Hagen favourites for GP Québec

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) celebrates on the Champs-Élysées after a remarkable Tour de France debut.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2012, 16:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Both riders in Canada with ambition

    The challenging GP Québec may have lost two of its main media attractions - Cadel Evans (BMC) and Andy Schleck (RadioShack) - but the first of the two Canadian WorldTour races has still attracted a top level field of international cycling stars. Tour de France green jersey winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas) and Norwegian finisher Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) are the event's main favourites, together with Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).

    Both Sagan and Boasson Hagen claim that the demanding circuit race in Quebec city, which involves several short but steep ascents, suits them perfectly. Still, Sagan admitted that he felt uncertain of his form at the end of what has been a breakthrough season for him. "The course suits me, but it will depend on how I feel," the 22 year-old Slovak told La Presse.

    "It has been difficult to keep my form after the Tour de France. I had a short break but then I trained well. My form is on the rise, but it will only be at the Worlds that I'll be at the top."

    Sagan pointed at Boasson Hagen as his main rival, who won the GP Plouay in France recently. The Norwegian also got second at the GP Québec two years ago, and has showed himself more confident of his victory chances.

    "The course suits me perfectly," Boasson Hagen told Radio Canada upon is arrival in Canada. "It's good to be one of the favourites. I feel good, and I look forward to the racing."

    But the Sky rider too was aware of the high quality of the participating field. "The competition will be difficult, there are other guys who are very strong," he added. "I hope I can waste as little energy as possible throughout the race, and stay to the front as much as possible."

  • Gilbert storms away in Segovia for second Vuelta win

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) takes his second stage win of the Vuelta
    Article published:
    September 07, 2012, 19:00 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Long uphill acceleration doubles Belgian’s Vuelta score

    For the second time in the 2012 Vuelta a Espana, Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert (Team BMC) snapped up a stage win with a gutsy late attack, a victory which confirms that he is leaving the race in as good condition as he could possibly want.

    It is the second win that Gilbert has taken in 2012 and also the second time that Gilbert has taken a stage so late in the Vuelta. In 2010, he also won in a very technical final in Toledo.

    That year he finished 18th in the Worlds, this year, on a more favourable course, with considerable local support and on roads where he has won Amstel Gold twice, and without the long trip to Australia, the chances of a better result in the World’s look very good indeed.

    “I’m very happy to win a second time in the Vuelta,” Gilbert confirmed, “the first part was pretty straightforward, the last part much more technical.”

    “Just before we reached the city centre, there were a lot of corners and then the bunch split in two which made it a bit easier because there were less riders to deal with.”

    “I didn’t know the final, I heard there were some cobbles, but there were more than ‘some’, there were a lot. Rather than 500 metres, two kilometres, it was very dangerous because we were going full gas.”

    Fortunately, as Gilbert pointed out, he had three teammates with him, although Mauro Santambrogio was unlucky to crash. He then had to rely on former world champion Alessandro Ballan, who made a very long pull on the front, and Klaas Lodewyck to pull back a late attack.

    “They didn’t panic,...

  • UCI may not appeal Lance Armstrong ban

    UCI President Pat McQuaid speaks to the press
    Article published:
    September 07, 2012, 19:56 BST
    Cycling News

    McQuaid asks USADA for files on Garmin riders

    There is no appeal in the works by the UCI over the lifetime ban of Lance Armstrong, and the nullification of his results imposed by the US Anti-Doping Agency, Reuters reported today.

    UCI president Pat McQuaid said he is still waiting to see the full dossier from USADA, which in June charged Armstrong and five associates from the US Postal Service team with doping, trafficking and conspiracy to cover up widespread doping activities.

    Armstrong chose not to take the case to arbitration, effectively accepting the lifetime ban and having his seven Tour de France titles stripped.

    "The UCI has no reason to assume that a full case file does not exist. They have a full case file so let them provide the full case file," McQuaid said.

    There had been some speculation that the UCI would take its objections over being usurped as results management authority in this case by USADA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but McQuaid countered those ideas, stating, "unless the USADA's decision and case file give serious reasons to do otherwise, the UCI has no intention to appeal to CAS or not to recognize the USADA's sanctions on Lance Armstrong.

    "We need to examine the decision and the file in order to deal with it properly and this is going to take some time. However, I can assure you that this will be prioritized."

    McQuaid may, however, be looking into further is allegations that riders gave their testimony against Armstrong in a deal with USADA for a reduced sanction over past doping admissions.

    Although the names of...

  • Hushovd recovering from virus, will be ready for 2013 season

    Thor Hushovd (BMC) was dropped from the breakaway.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2012, 21:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Infection caused muscle inflammation, poor performances

    The BMC Racing Team announced today that it has found the reason behind Thor Hushovd's dismal season: a viral infection caused muscle inflammation which weakened his performance on the bike.

    Hushovd underwent four days of testing at the Salt Lake City Health and Fitness Institute with the team's medical officer Dr. Max Testa. "The purpose of the tests was to explain his reduced exercise tolerance that has been limiting his performance throughout the season," Testa said. "At the end of the four days, we determined Thor suffered a post-viral syndrome with secondary myositis – or muscles inflammation. His medical condition is currently improving, and a full recovery is expected for next season."

    The diagnosis was relief for Hushovd, who was brought in to the team to bolster its Spring Classics team, but fell ill prior to Milan-San Remo. He struggled through the Classics, and could only manage 14th at Paris-Roubaix. He has not raced since he dropped out of the Tour of Poland in July, even giving up his place to represent Norway in the 2012 Olympic Games.

    "It's a really big relief that I've been fighting all year with these bad sensations on the bike," Hushovd said. "After a while, you lose some confidence. But now that I've finally found out why I had this weakness, I'm relieved. Now I know that I can come back strong for next year."

    With the worst of it behind him, Hushovd is set to return to training in a few weeks. "Right now, I'm just keeping the muscles active," he said. "Yesterday I rode my bike and did some core training. So now I'll just be trying to stay active until the first of October so I don't lose too much fitness."

  • Niermann to retire after Vuelta and become team coach

    Grischa Niermann looks like he wishes he'd worn a wetsuit.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2012, 22:51 BST
    Cycling News

    Picks up role on Rabobank continental squad

    Grischa Niermann (Rabobank) will hang up his bike at the end of the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday and start his new career as a coach on the team’s continental squad.

    The 36-year-old turned professional with Rabobank in 1999 and has ridden at least one grand tour in every season since, becoming one of the team’s most recognised domestiques. In all he competed in 9 Tours de France, finishing third in the young rider’s classification in his first attempt in 2000.

    “I’m now 36 years old, and have been active as a professional rider for seventeen years. At a certain point, you automatically start thinking about your future. In addition to that, I was given a nice chance to become a coach for the team now. When I look back at my career, what makes me proudest is my value for the team. Looking forward, first of all I want to conclude my life as a rider properly, and afterwards invest in my new career: coach.”

    Although his career rarely saw him on the top step of the podium, Niermann relished being part of a successful squad and pointed to the 2000 Tour de France as his proudest moment.

    “That would have to be my first Tour in 2000, the year we won four stages. I myself finished 24th, that was the best I achieved with the team. Of course I experienced other nice things as well; the role I was given, supporting Robert [Gesink] and the other good guys in the team. Looking back, that’s what I enjoyed the most, I felt most useful playing that role. Look, Dennis Menchov, Erik Dekker and Michael Boogerd knew the way themselves, but I was really there for those younger guys, I taught them an awful lot. I’ve got a good bond with Robert, that went well from the beginning, we always shared the...

  • UCI to introduce doping amnesty?

    UCI President Pat McQuaid
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 1:10 BST
    Cycling News

    McQuaid to raise possibility at a meeting later this month

    UCI President Pat McQuaid has raised the possibility of a doping amnesty in order to once and for all deal with a tarnished era.

    The UCI will meet on the 19th and 20th of this month and in an interview with the Associated Press, McQuaid said he will propose the pardon.

    "I think there's room for it and I think the UCI could do well to [introduce it]," McQuaid said. "It's a subject I will bring up myself at the management committee of the UCI and it's something which we would look into possibly doing."

    The move comes in the wake of Lance Armstrong being stripped of his results dating back to August 1, 1998 by USADA and being hit with a lifetime ban which the UCI is yet to ratify. McQuaid has also said that he will be looking into statements made by Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters, who wrote in the Cyclingnews forums that several of his riders had doped in the past, including Tom Danielson, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde.

    McQuaid said that concrete plans for the parameters of the amnesty, how it would work and the potential outcomes all need to be considered.

    "We have to work in the world anti-doing rules and sanctions," he concluded.


  • Gerrans displays top form ahead of world championships

    Simon Gerrans won with grit and determination
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 4:30 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Cauberg well suited to Australian Champion's strengths

    Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) may have planned his season to perfection with the Australian Champion displaying solid form on Friday at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec in Canada.

    The 32-year-old chased down BMC'S Greg Van Avermaet and then out-sprinted him in a duel over the last 200 metres in the finishing straight to win the event, bringing into focus Gerrans next major objective - the UCI Road World Championships.

    "Right from the beginning of the season it was a goal of mine to come into good shape for these later races of the year so it's a real buzz to be back there winning again," Gerrans said following his win in Quebec. He didn't expand on what exactly these "later races" are but the world championships have been in the back of Gerrans' mind from the outset in 2012. Cycling Australia officials have also targeted both this year's world championships and the next for Gerrans and he was named on the long list for the 2012 event a fortnight ago with the final line-up to be announced by September 10.

    The Ardennes has been a happy hunting ground for Gerrans in the past finishing third at Amstel Gold in 2011 and also boasting top 10 finishes at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2009. Amstel Gold, with its finish on the Cauberg is particularly suited to Gerrans and so with the 1.2km climb in line to produce a final selection in the world championship road race, the Australian should be in line for finish inside the top 10.

    The 261km world championship road race won't finish on the Cauberg like Amstel, instead, the finish line is around 1700m beyond the summit - but a look at Gerrans' previous results indicate that this may...

  • Roche: we've done worse in this year's Vuelta

    Nicolas Roche (AG2R) had another top ride to Ancares
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 6:52 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Ag2r rider previews final summit finish of Bola del Mundo climb

    On Saturday the Vuelta a España faces its final summit finish of the 2012 race, the Bola de Mundo, a climb which rises to 2,247 metres above sea level high in the Sierra de Madrid. It is the last opportunity for Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to re-turn the tables on Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Tinkoof), or for the Madrileño to open up an even bigger gap overall.

    The last three kilometres of the climb , which are cement not tarmac, are one unusual feature of the stage. Amongst the peloton, Ag2R rider Nicolas Roche, the team's best-placed rider on GC in 12th spot, knows the Bola de Mundo from 2010, the only previous occasion on which the Vuelta has tackled the entire 11.4 kilometre climb and he believes it is "not as tough as the Cuitu Negru climb that we did last week."

    "The Navacerrada climb [that forms the first segment of the Bola] is not as tough as Pajares, the first part of the Cuitu Negru, either or as long."

    In 2010, the last time the race tackled the Bola del Mundo, Roche held onto seventh place overall with a sixth place on the stage, 4:43 down.

    "It went pretty well, although to be honest you're not really thinking that much by that point in the race," Roche said.

    "I had a good day so I just concentrated on [Frank] Schleck [fourth on the stage] and [Joaquim] Rodriguez [third], and then [Xavi] Tondo [fifth]. I was pleased cos I dropped Tondo, who was only a few seconds ahead of me overall, but then he got back up to me in the last 100 metres. "

    "I'm not one much for thinking about it and saving energy, I go hard until I can and then I ease back. It's a strong point but sometimes a weakness."

    According to Roche, by that stage in the game, in a Grand Tour's third week,...