The 30-year-old Dutchman has just completed his first team training camp with his new teammates.
"It's a much smaller team than Vacansoleil-DCM. We started the training camp without the Venezuelan riders so the group was even smaller. It felt very family-like. A nice, new adventure," he said.
After five years with Vacansoleil-DCM, Hoogerland starts his first season in a foreign team but is happy.
"I speak Dutch, French and English so I can manage with the communication. I won't say it's super easy but it's easier than expected. Plus the fact that I usually settle in somewhere quite fast," he told Cyclingnews from his training base in Spain.
"Though I am not really at ease at the moment," he smiles. "I am keeping an eye on my phone and am happy to go home tomorrow. Our baby is due the day before Christmas so these are exciting times. I am actually quite nervous about the birth of our first child."
Hoogerland turned pro in 2009 when Vacansoleil received a Professional Continental license. The Dutch champion stayed with the team for five years but after its demise was left looking for a new home. Several teams were interested but they kept him waiting. When his former teammate Matteo Carrara brought him into contact with Androni Giocattoli, Hoogerland was happy to join Gianno Savio's team.
"It was a waiting game with the other teams and when Androni came along, I said let's do this. It's a...
Europcar leader set Paris-Nice and Amstel Gold as early targets
Thomas Voeckler has revealed he will begin his 2014 season at the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia, before targeting Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo and the Amstel Gold Race in the first part of the new season.
The Frenchman has also listed the Tour de France as a major objective on his programme, knowing that his Europcar team has secured an automatic invitation thanks to securing WorldTour status for 2014.
Voeckler spent last week in Salou, Spain, at a Europcar training camp and will travel to Australia in the new year. He listed his goals for 2014 on his personal website: www.thomas-voeckler.fr.
The Santos Tour Down Under runs between January 19-26 and then Voeckler will return to Europe to ride Le tour Méditeranéen (February 13-16) in the South of France, La Ruta Del Sol (February 19-23) in the south of Spain, the one-day Sud Ardèche (March 1) and La drôme classique (March 2).
Voeckler won two stages of Paris-Nice in 2011 and has often gone on the attack on the hilly stages of the Race to the Sun.
After riding Milan-San Remo, which will suit much more with the addition of the Pompeiana climb in the finale, Voeckler will take a break before riding the Tour of the Basque Country before heading to the Ardennes for the Amstel Gold race on April 20.
He will perhaps ride the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 8-15) and the French national championships (June 29) before traveling to Yorkshire for the start of the Tour de France on July 5.
Kittel delivers in the sprints as team perfects its lead outs
WorldTour Ranking: 16th Win Count: 29 Top riders: John Degenkolb (41st), Marcel Kittel (56th), Tom Dumoulin (60th), Warren Barguil (101st)
On the face of it a tally of 29 victories in their first WorldTour season should be marked down as a major success for Iwan Spekenbrink and his Argos-Shimano team. Marcel Kittel was the undoubted star of the team and his teammates proved they are the best at sprint lead outs.
The German joined the elite group of sprinters due to his all-conquering display at the Tour de France and surrounded his Tour haul with a second Scheldeprijs title, a stage apiece in Oman and Paris-Nice, three stages in the Presidential Tour of Turkey and the ProRace Berlin. Only one win followed his sprint victory on the Champs Elysees but by then his stock was so high that Argos-Shimano's most crucial victory came when their prize asset agreed to sign a contract extension to remain on the team for the foreseeable future.
Away from Kittel, and the team’s impressive aura and success rate wilted slightly. Apart from François Parisien and John Degenkolb picking up a stage win each at Catalunya and the Giro, no rider other than Kittel won a race until the middle of August. There in lies the team’s weakness and as well as their main strength.
In the last two years the team has built the slickest of leadout trains, purposefully signing riders with the job of protecting Kittel. A team such as Omega Pharma QuickStep undoubtedly has stronger athletes on an individual basis but Argos-Shimano's synergy is just as impressive as that of Mark...
Garmin-Sharp sprinter to debut at the Tour de San Luis
Garmin-Sharp sprinter Tyler Farrar will open his 2014 season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina (January 19-26), testing his early season legs against the likes of Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Mark Cavendish and Cannondale's Peter Sagan.
"I'm really excited for it," Farrar told Cyclingnews.
"I've actually never even been to South America, so it will be a little bit of an adventure. I've done the Tour Down Under a few times, so plenty of years I've started my season this early, but never in San Luis. So I'm really looking forward to it."
The seven-day race, which features two or three possible sprint finishes, runs concurrent with the Santos Tour Down Under WorldTour race next season; nevertheless, there will be some world-class competition for Farrar in Argentina.
"I know there are a few flat days," Farrar said. "So there should hopefully be a few opportunities and some good southern hemisphere weather to start the year off."
Hoping for a solid start
Farrar, a winner of stages in all three Grand Tours, including a Tour de France stage win in 2011, is hoping a solid start will help him improve on the consistent-yet-frustrating results from the 2013 season, which he characterized as a rebuilding year following a disastrous 2012.
"I crashed so much and spent almost that entire season either injured or coming back from injury," he said. "It took me a good chunk of 2013 to really find my feet again."
The first of Farrar's only two wins last season came in May during the Amgen Tour of California's stage 4 final run into coastal Santa Barbara. He almost followed that up the next day with a win during the finish in Avila Beach – taking the technical, slightly uphill bunch sprint in front of Sagan and BMC's Thor Hushovd. However...
RadioShack-Leopard's Jens Voigt and Garmin-Sharp team manager Jonathan Vaughters earned the top spots in the Cyclingnews reader poll for best rider and non-rider on Twitter for the second year running.
Ever popular with the fans, Voigt endeared himself to his nearly 150,000 followers with a constant stream of updates on races, his travels and his adventures with his large family. Unlike many riders, Voigt takes the time to respond directly to messages, even inviting fans to meet him for photos when they visit nearby.
The result was a huge margin of victory in our reader poll: Voigt topped Mark Cavendish by nearly 2,000 votes with 36.3% of the vote. David Millar rounded out the rider Twitter podium with 2333 votes, or 13%.
Vaughters had an even larger margin of victory, parlaying his running commentary on race action, doping cases, fish stories and occasional scatological humor into a massive tally of 5404 votes, racking up 38.4% of the entries. Anonymous commentator the Inner Ring was second with 15% ahead of notable cycling journalist Paul Kimmage.
Italian photographer shares his memories of the season
Continuing our series of retrospective galleries by our photographers, Stefano Sirotti shares some of his best images and special moments from the 2013 season.
Sirotti has taken over the role his father held for three decades, covering professional road racing from the back of a motorbike and the roadside from the Tour Down Under in January until Il Lombardia in October.
Sirotti covers the major international races but also the smaller Italian races that are not often seen or followed in detail even by Cyclingnews.
During the 2013 season he photographed Vincenzo Nibali's victories at Tirreno-Adriatico and in the snow at the Giro d'Italia, he captured the moment Bradley Wiggins' Giro d'Italia ended in the rain and the emotions as Taylor Phinney held of the peloton to win a stage at the Tour de Pologne.
Sirotti followed every moment of the Tour de France and the Vuelta. He then returned home to Italy for the world championships in Tuscany.
Click here to enjoy his collection of Italian flavoured images.
Although Duarte is due to become a father soon, he has been working hard over the winter, and will be a contender in the mountain stages. Rubiani, seventh overall in the race last year and the mountains classification winner in 2012, will be the co-leader.
Oscar Pellicioli will direct the six-man line-up, which will also include sprinters Edwin Avila and Leonardo Duque, who won the Trofeo Beghelli in October.. Juan Pablo Valencia and track specialist Juan Esteban Arango will round out the line-up, the latter in preparation for the UCI Track World Championships in Calì.
Team Colombia for Tour de San Luis: Fabio Duarte, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Edwin Avila, Leonardo Duque, Juan Esteban Arango, Juan Pablo Valencia.
In a terrible weekend for professional cyclists, two young promising riders have passed away. The 21-year old Swiss rider Felix Baur died after a road accident in Spain. Spanish authorities found a bruised man on the roadside who was brought to into hospital. It was unclear initially who the cyclist was but Baur's team, Atlas Personal-Jakroo later confirmed his identity.
The accident happened at 10 am Wednesday morning when a car collided with him. The driver of the car was tested for his blood alcohol levels which were returned negative. Spanish authorities are further investigating the circumstances of the accident.
Atlas Personal-Jakroo had been at a training camp in the Spanish city of Valencia, preparing for the upcoming season. Baur was a promising rider with eighth place overall at the Tour of Bern his best result in 2013.
In a second tragic fatality over the weekend, Dominican Euris Vidal died in Pueblo Nuevo, in the province of Santiago, Dominican Republic, following a robbery. The 26-year-old was competitive on both the road and track and was to ride with Predator Cycling in 2014.
Vidal was shot in the neck as he attempted to foil two men mid-robbery. He was taken to the José María Cabral y Báez hospital but died shortly after. The Dominican Cycling Federation expressed its condolences.