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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, December 29, 2013

Date published:
December 29, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Bianchi unveils Androni-Venezuela’s new Sempre Pro

    Bianchi unveils Androni-Venezuela’s new Sempre Pro
    Article published:
    December 28, 2013, 12:09 GMT
    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.


  • Exclusive: I can win Giro and Vuelta in 2014, says Rodriguez

    Joaquim Rodríguez celebrates after winning Il Lombardia
    Article published:
    December 28, 2013, 13:58 GMT
    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...

  • Boonen is far from finished, says Lefevere

    Tom Boonen leads his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates on a training ride.
    Article published:
    December 28, 2013, 15:45 GMT
    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...

  • Chris Froome: People want to stop talking about doping now

    Chris Froome on the podium of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    December 28, 2013, 17:35 GMT
    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...

  • Watson to make Trek Factory Racing debut at Tour Down Under

    The men's under 23 podium (l-r): Eric Sheppard (2nd,VIC), Rohan Dennis (1st,SA) and Calvin Watson (3rd,VIC)
    Article published:
    December 28, 2013, 21:00 GMT
    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...

  • 2013 Reader Poll Gallery: Garmin-Sharp Cervélo Rca voted best bike

    Defending Giro d'Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal at the team presentation for the 2013 Giro aboard his Cervélo Rca
    Article published:
    December 29, 2013, 1:29 GMT
    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...

  • 2013 Report Card: Ag2r-La Mondiale

    Christophe Riblon is overcome with emotion after winning on Alpe d'Huez
    Article published:
    December 29, 2013, 10:08 GMT
    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
    Grade: D

    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...

  • Bettini swaps Italian national team for new Alonso squad?

    National coach Paolo Bettini says hello
    Article published:
    December 29, 2013, 11:23 GMT
    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, 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...