- Article published:
- December 28, 2013, 12:09
- Cycling News
Savio's team remains with Italian brand
Gianni Savio’s Androni-Venezuela team will continue to ride Bianchi’s in 2014 after the Italian bicycle manufacturer announced that the team would ride the Sempre Pro for the second year running.
The all-carbon monocoque racing frame, with a larger downtube, internal cable routing and oversized chain stays, helped the squad to 13 victories in 2013 with wins the Giro della Toscana, a stage in the Tour de San Luis and the overall in the Vuelta a Venezuela.
Savio has been as busy as ever in the off-season, retaining former Italian champion Franco Pellizotti, and signing Dutch champion Johnny Hoogerland from the defunct Vacansoleil team.
The team will ride the Giro d’Italia in 2014. Bianchi will also retain their place in the WorldTour with Team Belkin set to use the Italian brand after ending their association with Giant at the end of this season.
- Article published:
- December 28, 2013, 13:58
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Katusha leader outlines program for 2014
It’s cold and snowy in Andorra right now with some mountain passes completely blocked, but 2013 UCI WorldTour number one Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is already training hard in his adopted home. Yesterday (Friday), the Catalan was out training until well into the early evening, and - unsurprisingly - the season’s big objectives are already uppermost on his mind.
“My first target will be the Giro, which suits me the most of the Grand Tours, above all with such a long time trial in the Tour de France this year right at the end of the race,” Rodriguez told Cyclingnews. “But I’m very keen to have a crack at the Vuelta again, too.”
The Katusha leader is adamant that trying to win both in a single season is possible, despite Vincenzo Nibali’s near-miss last year, his own failure to do so in 2012 and that the last rider who managed to do the Giro-Vuelta double was Alberto Contador, way back in 2008.
“For sure it’s feasible. I only lost the Giro in 2012 in the last time trial by 17 seconds and I came very close in the Vuelta that year, too and lost that one because of an error. If I’m able to be in good form, then why not try for both?”
“On top of that, the Vuelta gives you a level of form that no other race can when you’re aiming at the Worlds.”
Talking of which - on the one-day front, Rodriguez has some unfinished business too. Second in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a silver medallist in the World Championships in 2013, he is determined to go one better in both, if possible in 2014.
“The World’s will be another big objective. It’s going to be a very special race in Spain whatever happens because racing an event like that in your own country automatically gives you an extra degree of motivation. And as a race, anyway, the World’s is such a good one that I couldn’t ignore it if I wanted to.”
Rodriguez will start his year again in the Tour of San Luis, “even if it’s almost impossible for me to win, the South American riders are all in top shape because they’re right at the end of their season. But the good weather is always a huge plus about going there. And then I’ll go on to Dubai.”
“In Oman, after two preparation races, even if I’m not on top of my game, I’ll be getting there and should be able to fight for a stage win.” That was the case in 2013, with Rodriguez winning on the Green Mountain, Oman’s hardest stage. “where I was pleasantly surprised to see I was actually in a good enough condition to fight for a victory on a mountain stage so early on.”
HIs first big objective of 2013, though, remains the Giro or Liege-Bastogne-Liege: “They’re my two favourite races on the calendar, and winning either would be amazing.”
With very few changes in Katusha line-up from 2012, Rodriguez says that “the best thing about this start to the season is we don’t have all the problems about whether we’re in the WorldTour or not, it’s been just a question of getting on with work and training. Everybody in the team is in a better mood than they were at the end of 2012 and you can really see that in the way it’s all coming together for 2014.”
- Article published:
- December 28, 2013, 15:45
- Cycling News
Team boss couldn't afford to keep Chavanel
Patrick Lefevere has talked up Tom Boonen ahead of the 2014 campaign, claiming that his Classics rider is far from finished. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider had a year to forget in 2013, consistently failing to hit top form due to persistent health and injury problems.
It was a season which contrasted sharply to 2012 in which the 33-year-old won E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.
“Tom still has a great value for the team. Team owner Bakala spoke at the training camp to the squad and he told the team that Tom remains the figurehead - no one stood up to protest,” Lefevere told Gazet van Antwerpen.
"Quite a few people say that Boonen is finished. This is nonsense. He was rarely sharper, full of enthusiasm and has had brilliant tests.
"And what is most important is that his head is good. I expect a great season from him."
Despite the loss of Boonen for most of the season Omega Pharma-QuickStep enjoyed a successful season with 57 wins on the road. The signing of Rigoberto Uran from Team Sky has bolstered the team’s ambitions in the Grand Tours but the excitement has been slightly off-set by the loss of Sylvain Chavanel.
The Frenchman had been a consistent winner for the team since moving from Cofidis but according to Lefevere he could no longer afford to keep the future IAM Cycling rider.
"The sponsors wanted someone who could play a significant role during the Tour and that was Rigoberto Uran. As a result, there was no budgetary room for Chavanel."
- Article published:
- December 28, 2013, 17:35
- Cycling News
Strong desire to win multiple Tour de France titles
Tour de France champion Chris Froome believes that ‘people want to stop talking about doping’ and again stated his desire to win multiple Tour de France titles.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph that took place during a recent Team Sky training camp in Mallorca, Spain, Froome told the British publication that, “I genuinely believe people want to stop talking about doping now. They want to have someone to believe in."
Asked if he fit the bill, the British rider responded: “Well, I definitely feel a responsibility to show people the sport has changed. I understand why there are still a lot of critics, cynicism and doubters out there. Of course, no-one can actually know 100 percent if I’m clean or not, except me. And I know I am, that my results will stand the test of time.”
Froome and his Sky team faced a barrage of questions in the last 18 months. They began to increase when Bradley Wiggins began his ride to victory during the Tour in 2012 and they became more intense due to the team’s hiring of doctor Geert Leinders. The Belgian doctor has been accused of doping riders at Rabobank and is under investigation in his home country.
The USADA investigation of Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team forced the sport under an ever closer microscopic gaze with Sky requiring their staff to sign a zero tolerance doping statement. It led to several resignations from within the team staff. Froome’s march to victory in 2013 involved him winning every stage race he started before the Tour – bar Tirreno – and come July the rider and his team faced persistent questions over the credibility of their performances.
The team took the step of releasing select but not historically complete data to L'Equipe’s physiologist Frederic Grappe, who stated that the rider’s performances were consistent.
Several months on from the Tour and Froome admits that there will always be critical views of his results since a surprise second place at the 2011 Vuelta.
“We can’t force people to believe, it’s going to take time. I know I have a big responsibility but it’s not hard to be clean and to be a champion. Doping has never ever crossed my mind. It’s not an option. I’d rather go and scrub factory floors for a living than cheat to get where I am,” he told The Telegraph.
Tour de France 2014
Froome’s major objective for next season remains winning his second and Team Sky’s third straight Tour title. In 2013 Froome combined his climbing strengths with excellent performances in the time trials. Even when his team was found wanting or exposed he stood resolute in the face of several attacks before cementing his authority in the final week of the race. Despite the dominance he showed in July, he echoed the opinion of team principle Dave Brailsford in insisting that he can improve.
“I still think I can get much better. I’m obviously a decent climber but there are things I can do to improve. Like I’m not the smoothest rider. I’m rugged, all elbows and knees.
“Each time I ride a Grand Tour at the front, I’m learning.
“A lot of guys have struggled to back it up after winning the Tour. Basically, the last guy who was able to was [Lance] Armstrong and we all now know what he was doing. So there’s a bad perception around multiple winning. I want to try to change that.”
Last week it was announced that Froome had signed an improved contract with Team Sky.
- Article published:
- December 28, 2013, 21:00
- Daniel Benson
Australian neo-pro handed impressive race program
Twenty-year old neo-pro Calvin Watson will make his Trek Factory Racing debut at the Santos Tour Down Under next month.
The Australian signed for the WorldTour team after a successful season in 2013 that included the overall win in the Herald Sun Tour.
“At the start of this year I had a nice victory at the Herald Sun Tour and that sparked a bit of interest and got my name out there. Then I went onto ride the Tour Down Under and I raced quite aggressive. That caught the eye and with the help of my manager, and after a few talks with Luca Guercilena, we came to an agreement.”
RadioShack’s team boss, Guercilena, was aware of Watson due to the Australian having tested at the Mapei training centre in Italy and Watson is looking forward to locking horns in the WorldTour.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m looking forward to it,” he told Cyclingnews.
“With being in the Australian programme all the home riders look up to going to GreenEdge but there’s so many talents coming out of Australia they weren’t ready to sign me this year and that’s totally fair enough. I was more than happy to come to a team like Trek. It’s an international team but it’s still a bit outside of your comfort zone. It was nice to have a change as such. If you get the sniff of a pro contract you can’t say no to that.”
The Tour Down Under will be his first race but Watson has been given a race programme that any neo-pro would be proud of.
“I’m starting at the Tour Down Under, that’s public already, but after that I’ll come back to Europe. Nearly all my races will be WorldTour, which is cool. I know it will be a big step but Luca, Baffi and the trainers will ease me into it and have put together a programme for me.
“I’ll do some one day races in France and then one of the big objectives will be Romandie, California and the Dauphine. They’re big races but I’m excited about the challenges that lie ahead.”
In his debut season the emphasis won’t be on which WorldTour races Watson can rack up, though. Instead the former Jayco AIS rider will be expected to focus on learning his trade and helping the team.
“At the same time I’m not getting ahead of myself. I’ll be there to learn, develop and work for the leaders. If any opportunities do arise I’ll try and take them. This team has so many champions and I’ll try and flourish.
“The team that’s going to the Tour Down Under is quite ambitious I think. We have guys suited to all the terrain. I’m going to be there to support whoever the leader is and at this stage it looks like Fränk Schleck Schleck will be in good condition. We have to see how the race pans out.”
- Article published:
- December 29, 2013, 01:29
- James Huang
Cervélo back on top after a one-year hiatus
Specialized managed to topple seven-time winner Cervélo from its perch last year but the king has roared back to claim its eighth title, this time with Garmin-Sharp's ultralight Rca.
The Rca builds on the same engineering-centric design philosophies Cervélo has long used on its popular R-series: stiffness, low weight, and rider comfort. Key features include the so-called 'Squoval' tube profiles, the extra-wide and oversized BBright bottom bracket shell, huge chain stays, and ultra-tiny seat stays.
What makes the Rca model special, though, is that it's built by hand in Cervélo's California design studio by the engineers that designed it, not in some far-off factory overseas. As a result, claimed frame weights hover at an unreal sub-700g, which leaves Garmin-Sharp team mechanics plenty of latitude for some creative builds, such as the pseudo-TT setup used by riders at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.
Such attention to detail doesn't come cheaply, of course, and each Rca frameset carries a price tag of US$10,000 – not that the team riders have to worry about that, of course.
Team Sky's Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think 2 came in second again this year, despite another dominating performance in the Tour de France this year with Chris Froome. Pinarello can't claim anywhere near the Cervélo Rca's outlandish weight but its curvaceous chassis nevertheless offers one of the most planted and confidence-inspiring personalities we've encountered, plus exceptional ride quality.
Specialized fell to third place this year with its aero-inspired S-Works McLaren Venge. Designed to be a race machine above all else, the deep-profile frame is neither ultralight nor particularly light but then again, that's not the point. The aim here is only to get to the finish line first – and in this field, third place is still pretty good.
Click here for a gallery of all 10 team bikes nominated for the 2013 Reader Poll.
2013 Best team bike:
||Garmin-Sharp Cervélo Rca
||Team Sky Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think 2
||Omega Pharma-QuickStep Specialized S-Works McLaren Venge
||Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod
||RadioShack-Leopard Trek Domane Pro-Fit
||Europcar Colnago C59 Italia
||BMC Racing Team BMC SLR01
||Belkin Procycling Team Giant Propel Advanced SL
||Cofidis Look 695 Aerolight
||Argos-Shimano Felt F1 FRD
- Article published:
- December 29, 2013, 10:08
- Zeb Woodpower
Betancur and Riblon star
Ag2r-La Mondiale 2013
WorldTour Ranking: 12th/19
Win Count: 8
Top riders: Carlos Betancur 14th, Domenico Pozzovivo 34th, Jean-Christophe Péraud 48th
In 2013, Colombian riders returned to the very forefront of international cycling, and Carlos Betancur in his first season at the French Ag2r-La Mondiale team was a revelation. The acquisition of Betancur ensured podium places but the season highlight was Christophe Riblon’s stage win at the Tour de France on the double ascent of Alpe d’Huez. Once again, though, there was an imbalance of performances with only eight riders standing atop the podium and a lack of success at the WorldTour level
Ag2r-La Mondiale had somewhat of a transitional season following the loss of Nicolas Roche to Saxo-Tinkoff which led to a change in tack for Ag2r in the Grand Tours.
Betancur had a super start to the season, although could not recapture that form in September for the Worlds and Il Lombardia, while Riblon had a super month in July. Disappointingly, Riblon was the only rider to win a WorldTour race, with stage victories at the Tour de France and Tour de Pologne. Beside Riblon’s stage wins and combativity prize at the Tour, Betancur and Romain Bardet won young rider classifications (Giro d'Italia and Tour of Beijing, respectively) but that was it for the team's successes at the WorldTour level in 2013.
Bardet will be burdened with the pressure of being another French hope for future Tour success but he may just be capable of delivering. His breakthrough Tour de France was representative of the team’s season, plenty of promise but no cigar.
Changes over the off-season saw 11 riders join and 10 riders leave, including Steve Houanard, who was sacked after a positive test for EPO. The loss of Roche, Sébastien Hinault, Martin Elmiger and Kristof Goddaert among others impacted on the nucleus of the team.
When Blel Kadri soloed to the win at Roma Maxima, the season appeared full of promise. In the Ardennes, Betancur placed third at La Flèche Wallonne and backed that up with fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège days later. This came off seventh place overall at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco although he did not finish Amstel Gold.
At the Giro, Betancur and Domenico Pozzovivo were riding under the radar with all eyes focused on Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali. Betancur had three second places on stages at the Giro, while his duel with Rafal Majka in the final week for the white jersey was an intriguing feature of the race.
Betancur didn’t post another result in the season but will have the knowledge that he can complete for a podium place at Grand Tours in the future. His win of the maglia bianca in the cold and wet proved he is an adaptable rider capable of persevering when the going gets tough. Betancur will make his Tour debut in 2014 and a different schedule may see him hold form until October.
The piece de résistance of the season was Riblon’s win at the Tour. Kadri, Bardet and Riblon all enjoyed a stage with a red dossard, having been judged the most combative on the previous day, and it was Riblon who was the eventual winner of the competition. A stage win and most combative meant the cameras scanned the peloton for the Ag2r riders throughout July but largely, they failed to fire.
Riblon held his form to snag a stage at the Tour de Pologne but that would be it for WorldTour wins in 2013
Pozzovivo entered his second Grand Tour in 2013 with little expectation and his sixth place overall at the Vuelta a España was a nice surprise. Third place in the Stage 11 time trial set up another top ten finish for the part-time pianist.
With his result, Ag2r could claim a respectable showing in the Grand Tours and with the promise of what Bardet, Betancur and Pozzovivo can achieve, next year looks like an exciting prospect.
While the overall classification results were promising, Bardet notched the only overall victory. Results were posted at Étoile de Bessèges, Tour Méditerranéen, Giro del Trentino, the Tour de France and Tour de Pologne.
The team needs to step it up with a greater spread of winners but with the team having spent another season together, there should be a better understanding if each other’s talents and how to excel.
While Bardet let the cycling world know of his talents at the Tour, it was the performance of Jean-Christophe Péraud in July that also occupied the newspaper columns. Unfortunately after crashing during the warm-up before the final ITT at the Tour, Péraud broke his collarbone. He decided to race on to protect his top ten placing yet was undone by the wet and greasy roads. He crashed on the corner where his wife was cheering him on and landed on the same side as he had previously that day. His Tour was over.
The sacking of Sylvain Georges after a positive at the Giro was expected and the team’s commitment to the MPCC anti-doping movement mean it voluntarily missed the Critérium du Dauphiné. This made it two doping sackings in consecutive years after Steve Houanard’s EPO positive Disappointingly, Georges had only moved to Ag2r at the beginning of 2012 after an on-off racing career and looked like a good addition to the team.
The failure to be competitive on the WorldTour is an area which needs drastic improvement. As a staple of the peloton, Ag2r need to prove that deserve to be at the top because of results and not just because of their brown shorts.
What to expect in 2014: With a solitary overall victory in 2013, Ag2r need to build confidence in their GC riders by chasing wins at week-long races. The responsibility of leading the race and spending time in the leader’s jersey is what their riders need.
Team Sky has perfected this art as Wiggins in 2012 and Froome this season have shown. Their riders are more than capable but they need to look to more than the odd stage win and top ten grand tour places. There will come a time when the team needs to deliver on its promise and they have to talent to do so. They also have a good balance of experience which should work in their favour.
With Bardet, Betancur, Péraud and Riblon, Ag2r have an array of grand tour riders and the challenge for 2014 will be to build on the success of this season.
Rider of the Season: Having ridden with the Italian team Aqua & Sapone for two seasons, Betancur’s first season at a WorldTour team was an overwhelming success. It was at the Giro where Betancur particularly excelled, in what was just his second grand tour appearance. Having placed 59th at the 2011 edition, there was little expectation the Colombian climber would perform so well.
Betancur mistakenly celebrated victory on Stage 9 at the Giro, failing to register that Maxim Belkov was up the road, but this faux pas was quickly forgotten with victory in the youth classification.
In 2010 Betancur had won two stages at the amateur Giro, the GiroBio, and his 2013 results suggests that he could be future winner of the race in years to come. While Betancur won’t take part in the 2014 Giro, it is a race that is sure to take his fancy in the future considering his success in this year’s edition.
Best signing: The addition of Sébastien Turgot will add class and hopefully some victories. Turgot has proven himself in the Classics and will be given the opportunity to improve upon his second place at the 2012 Paris-Roubaix.
As the only big name signing for 2013, Ag2r appear to be learning from the off-season and limiting the amount of change in the squad. Damien Gaudin is another good signing but with the acquisitions from last season still yet to really fire Turgot may find the pressure to perform is off and he can find his feet a little at first.
Biggest loss: With only minimal change to the squad as John Gadret moves on there is little to be said of the departures. Gadret had disappointing season as he had no results to speak of on the road. He won the French Cyclo-Cross championship early in the year and his to Movistar isn’t one likely to induce tears of regret.
Man to watch: Romain Bardet had a breakout Tour, placing 15th overall and fourth in the young rider classification. With a long term contract signed, he looks to be the future GC star for the team. Soon to turn 23-years-old, he has his best years ahead of him and will be nurtured as a future French star of the sport.
Bardet finished off the season strongly with victory in the young rider classification at the Tour of Beijing after a long season. He managed to notch his first overall victory in August at the Tour de l’Ain as he also took home the points classification. While French riders have been burdened with the weight of expectation since Bernard Hinualt won his last Tour title in 1985, this generation of riders look like spreading that load between them in order to conquer the yellow jersey.
- Article published:
- December 29, 2013, 11:23
- Cycling News
Two-time World champion said to be going to new 2015 team
Paolo Bettini has resigned as coach of the Italian national road team and is said to be moving to the new team sponsored by Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso, according to reports in the Italian media. The 39-year old took over the national team in June 2010, but was never able to lead the team to a world title.
Bettini has turned in his resignation to Italian federation president Renato Di Rocco, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport. The announcement of his partnership with Alonso is expected to be made on January 7. The Spanish race driver is setting up a WorldTour team for 2015, with a sponsor rumoured to be in Dubai.
Di Rocco must now appoint a new national coach, and according to Tuttobiciweb.it, has two candidates at the top of his wish list, Davide Cassani and Stefano Zanini. Zanini, 44, rode from 1991 to 2007, and since then has worked as a directeur sportif at a number of teams, most recently Astana.
Cassani, 52, rode professionally from 1982 to 1996, and since then has worked as a commentator for RAI Sports. He was responsible for starting the controversy around Michael Rasmussen at the 2007 Tour de France, when he mentioned seeing the Dane training in Italy when his whereabouts claimed he was in Mexico. Rasmussen ultimately was removed from the Tour, which he led, and was ultimately given a two-year ban.
Bettini was named to head the Italian men's national team in June 2010, to replace the deceased Franco Ballerini. “I was a great athlete, but I don’t know if I will succeed in being a great manager. Certainly I will give everything to achieve great results,” he said at the time.
The results never appeared. The best that his riders were able to do were off the podium, with Filippo Pozzato finishing fourth in Geelong in 2010 and Vincenzo Nibali fourth in Firenze in 2013.