- Article published:
- December 29, 2012, 10:15
- Cycling News
British Olympians given 78 honours
As widely expected, Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford have been awarded knighthoods for their services to British sport in the annual New Year Honours list.
Paralympian Sarah Storey, who won four gold medals in road race events in London, has also been named as a Dame, as British sport celebrated its success at the 2012 London Olympics with 78 different titles awarded to athletes and staff.
The New Year Honours are chosen by a special committee and confirmed by the Queen. All the award winner will be given their titles at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in the next few months.
Wiggins felt honoured to be given a knighthood, joking that he expect his family to now call him 'Sir'. He won the Tour de France in July and then took gold in the time trial at the London Olympics.
“It’s an incredible honour and an incredible thing to have,” he said. “[Sir] is not something I would like to use in daily life because it would still sit uneasy with me. The only thing I have insisted on is that my wife and children call me Sir at home but other than that everyone is free to call me Bradley!"
“The goal this year was to win the Tour de France and the Olympic Games and we did that. I think it’s everything else that has happened since then, which have not been the biggest achievements but the most rewarding - things like Sports Personality and the Knighthood - because those things are out of your hands. So to be awarded those is humbling.”
Brailsford's hard work rewarded
Dave Brailsford has masterminded success at Team Sky and with the Great Britain cycling teams on the track and the road in recent years. He was laughed at when he set winning the Tour de France with a British rider within five years but achieved the goal with Wiggins after just three years. He wanted to share his title with his staff and riders.
“On the one hand you feel proud and honoured but on the other it feels quite humbling," Brailsford said on the Team Sky website after his knighthood was confirmed.
"I think more than anything else it’s recognition for everything that has happened in cycling, not just for this year, but over a period of time and the development of the sport. I’m the lucky one that gets recognised."
“I’m just an orchestra conductor and I am only ever going to be as good as the people playing the instruments by making sure they are all coordinated. I am very reliant on being able to recruit and develop the best people in given areas and I think I have been very lucky in having some absolutely brilliant people who have worked with me. But more than anything it’s bike riders that win races and gold medals and I have been incredibly lucky to have such a talented bunch of riders come through the system in the last few years and I think they are the ones that deserve the credit."
- Article published:
- December 29, 2012, 10:45
- Cycling News
Santaromita to take his place in Tour Down Under squad
Alessandro Ballan continues to make progress in his recovery from serious injuries suffered in a crash last week at the BMC Racing Team training camp and is expected to be released from hospital and return to Italy in the new year.
The Italian's first race of the 2013 season should have been the Tour Down Under, January 20-27. His place on the squad to ride in Australia will be taken by Ivan Santaromita.
Ballan crashed on Thursday, December 20, suffering a broken left femur, broken rib and damaged spleen. His spleen was removed in emergency surgery that same day, and had surgery on the femur the next day.
He left the intensive care unit on Friday. "Every day I am getting better," he said in a team press release. "Now it's easy."
Ballan thanked his fans for the many messages and encouragement he has received.
"I am very happy because I have a lot of supporters, not only in Italy, but around the world. A lot of people are thinking of me in this moment and I am very happy and appreciative of all of them," he said.
Whilst the former World champion is improving, he still has a long way to go. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Ballan will not be able to train seriously for three months.
“The doctors who are overseeing his care at the hospital saw enough improvement that he's been moved to a regular care room," team doctor Max Testa said. "What's good is that he continues to get better each day and there have been no complications from the surgeries."
- Article published:
- December 29, 2012, 11:47
- Cycling News
IOC expected to strip him of his bronze medal from 2000 Olympics
Lance Armstrong has not appealed his lifetime ban from cycling to the Court of Arbitraiton for Sport. It is now expected that the International Olympic committee will demand the return of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The UCI officially notified Armstrong on December 6 of the disqualification of all his results going back as far as August 1, 1998, including his seven Tour de France titles. He had 21 days -until December 27, to appeal that decision to the Court, which confirmed on Friday that he had not done so, according to the AFP news agency.
Armstrong had announced in August that he would not challenge the USADA action against him, saying “There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now.”
There were, however, suspicions that he might make a last-minute move.
The IOC had said that it could not move against Armstrong until certain procedures were followed, procedures which are now complete.
"The IOC today will not move because we need to have the situation whereby the UCI notifies officially Mr Armstrong of the fact that he will be disqualified and declared ineligible and that he should hand over his medal," IOC President Jacques Rogge said.
"When he will be notified Mr Armstrong will have 21 days to launch an appeal. It is only after that period that the IOC can legally take action."
- Article published:
- December 29, 2012, 13:32
- Stephen Farrand
Benedetto Roberti calls for a change of cycling culture
Benedetto Roberti, the Italian investigating judge who has uncovered key evidence against Dr. Michele Ferrari and a long list of his clients, has given a rare interview with Tuttobici magazine, claiming that little has changed in the sport, with new, undetectable versions of EPO and other doping products still being used by professional, amateur and even Gran Fondo riders.
Roberti revealed his own passion for cycling, saying he has ridden numerous Gran Fondo events, where he has seen riders use cortisone suppositories as they line-up for the start. Roberti is a former military judge and angered the Italian Olympic Committee anti-doping investigators by refusing to share evidence he has collected during his meticulous investigations. His penal investigation is expected to be concluded in the New Year, with much of the evidence likely to emerge when a preliminary judge decides who should go on trial. Some evidence has already emerged as part of the USADA Reasoned Decision documentation that snared Lance Armstrong and lead to the UCI disqualifying him from his seven Tour de France victories.
"I've seen things that people can't even imagine," Roberti told Tuttobici, talking about doping in every level of cycling.
"I've learnt never to trust some people. Riders are often considered the weakest link in all of this but the riders are responsible for what they do. They're the start and the end of it all. The rest is just a lot of talking."
"Not all of cycling is bad but things aren't looking good and believe me, nothing has changed. It's not true that the situation has improved in the last few years. We're dealing with scruple-less people who inject themselves with everything, without knowing what they're doing: products stolen from hospitals, from Eastern countries without any guarantees on the quality."
"Riders have recently told me that there are substances in use that can't be found by anti-doping tests. One is Erythropoietin Z by Retacrit, it's known as EPO Z. There's a Chinese EPO that has been released, I don't know its name but it can’t be found (in tests) and was definitely the queen of the Olympics. There's also AICAR, that is brought in from the East as a powder and is apparently a kind of genetic doping. In simple terms, it helps reset muscle fibres after huge efforts. It can't be found in anti-doping tests either."
"So have things improved? Has sport and especially cycling really taken a new direction? I say no and whoever says the opposite doesn't love our sport."
Take Bjarne Riis' licence away
Roberti calls for a generation change and a change of culture in cycling. While the UCI has allowed Bjarne Riis to continue as a team manager with the Saxo-Tinkoff WorldTour team, despite his doping confession and links to the past, Roberti is adamant that people like the Dane should have no place in cycling.
"The UCI should take away Bjarne Riis' licence, he's confessed. They didn’t take away his 1996 Tour win and they even let him work as if nothing has happened. The UCI should take a clear stance and for sure is responsible too," Tuttobici reported Roberti as saying.
"We've got to control whoever teaches cycling to young people. Who raced in the eighties and nineties could be dangerous. Things have to be cleaned up at this level. We need new managers and technical staff rather than a manifesto and ethics codes. We need a jump in the culture and to make doping not worth it. We've got to work with the families because it's about contracts and money. We've got to teach young people that it's more important to promote a sponsor's good name rather than just easy wins."
"You can't fight doping with just repression. The problem is to change people's mentality, make them more responsible. Nobody seems ashamed of what they do. It's not only cycling, the world is like that today; drugged by a thousand offers, especially culturally. People don’t know how to distinguish between good and bad."
- Article published:
- December 29, 2012, 15:43
- Pat Malach
Expresses frustration with UCI, state of pro cycling
Among the UCI Continental teams rolling up the carpet after the 2012 season, the Wonderful Pistachios squad featured arguably the most high-profile sponsor of the bunch. Aside from the ubiquitous $30 million "Get Crackin'" advertising campaign it launched earlier this year, the world's largest grower and processor of almonds and pistachios also sponsors NASCAR auto racing, championship boxing and myriad other national and international events.
But the California-based company drew the line at renewing its support of the cycling team it has sponsored for the past two seasons.
"It was kind of an eye opener, because we did a good job for them," said team owner and general manager Josh Horowitz. "We did everything we could have done for them. Overall they were really happy. A lot of cyclists in the company came out and supported us, but ultimately what it came down to is that for a company like Wonderful Pistachios, what we're doing is so unbelievably insignificant to them. When they're advertising during the World Series and during the finale of Dancing With the Stars, this is not a lot of money for them to support us, but as far as they're concerned it's not even worth it."
The squad, which originally joined the Continental ranks in 2010 as Adageo Energy, will join Team Exergy, Chipotle-First Solar and Competitive Cyclist on the domestic cycling trash heap next year. As many as 60 professional riders could find themselves without contracts for 2013, and Horowitz is also throwing in the towel.
"There's just been a lot of disappointment," he said of his run at owning a pro cycling team. "I've decided that pro cycling in the US is not a viable way to make a living. With everything that's been going on with Lance and all the other turmoil in the sport, there was just no way I was going to waste my time and try to find new corporate sponsorship in this environment."
Horowitz said his decision to leave the elite level of the sport is born from a frustration at what he sees as a poor performance by the UCI in widening cycling's appeal beyond hardcore fans.
"That's why Wonderful Pistachios didn't renew," he said, "because they know the only people we're reaching are cycling fans."
The UCI's decision to ban cameras from riders or their bikes during races is just one example of how the international governing body has missed an opportunity to expand cycling's appeal, Horowitz said.
"We need to try things that make the sport more fun," he said. "But the UCI and other rule makers have said, 'No no no. It's got to be the same way it's always been.' You see all these other extreme sports doing so well and their athletes are getting heavy endorsements and all that because they're not afraid to make their sports interesting. It's not just that the only people we appeal to are cyclists, it's that the only people we care to appeal to are cyclists."
To that end, Horowitz said he will focus his future energy on his latest effort, the Broken Bones Bicycle Company, which offers an "edgy" line of carbon road bikes that Horowitz hopes will appeal to a younger generation that may not see cycling as a "cool" avenue to pursue.
"I think there's a fundamental problem with the sport," he said. "And I think through Broken Bones maybe I can do more from that edge to make the sport appeal to younger audiences. So one of my things is making cool, funky bikes that appeal to young kids. Right now a young kid looking through a bicycling magazine is going to go through it and think that this sport is not cool. They like to ride their bike, but they're 18, maybe 20, and they want to do a sport that's cool. Maybe if they're flipping through that same magazine and they see one of our ads, maybe they'll think there is something cool and edgy about it."
The Wonderful Pistachios UCI Continental team featured 13 riders on its 2012 roster and employed 12 riders in 2011.
- Article published:
- December 30, 2012, 08:00
- Stephen Farrand
Italian sprinter responds to suspicions about his great season
Mario Cipollini has celebrated the tenth anniversary of his 2012 world road race title true to character, with a party in a Tuscan nightclub attended by many of his former teammates and the staff who helped him win the rainbow jersey in Zolder.
Looking a little older, with some grey hair in his beard, but still looking smart in a suit and tie, Cipollini sat with his former teammates Paolo Bettini, Luca Scinto, Mario Scirea, Davide Bramati, Matteo Tosatto and 93 year-old former national coach Alfredo Martini. They laughed and smiled as they exchanged memories of the race as highlights were shown on a huge screen.
Cipollini beat Robbie McEwen (Australia) and Erik Zabel (Germany) to win the world title, remembering how Alessandro Petacchi played a special role in the lead out and his fear that McEwen would jump him coming out of the final corner.
Now close to 46 and busy with his own bike company after finally retiring in 2008, Cipollini gave each of the riders a special memorial bracelet and promised there will be another party in ten years time.
"I wanted to relive what happened ten years ago. It was a special world championships because we created a special team spirit. Thanks to the work of then national coach Franco Ballerini we started a series of titles that showed that being rivals from trade teams doesn't mean Italian riders can't all ride together," he said.
"I'm happy to celebrate that day with everyone who was there and who helped me win. Not everyone could make in person it but they're all here in spirit, especially the late Franco Ballerini. Seeing the video images of him talking on television after we won is a very moving moment."
"I think the best way to remember what happened in Zolder that day is the photo of me crossing the line. I sprinted for he last to hundred metres and won but all my other teammates put their arms in the air in celebration. We were all world champions that day and showed how to race as a national team."
Defending his generation
In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Cipollini recalled that the Italian team dominated the race.
"We kept the race under our total control, even when people attacked. We were relaxed because we'd dusted off some old friendships in the peloton. We did things intelligently. Only an accident, or perhaps not even that, could have stopped us," he said.
When asked about suspicions about his extraordinary form in 2002 -Cipollini also won Milano-Sanremo, Ghent-Wevelgem and surprise mid-season retirement, he hit back, defending his generation. He dismissed the suspicions as 'criticism and allusions by people who don’t know things."
"I start winning in 1989, in my first season as a pro and I kept going until 2004. Those thoughts are from people who don't understand cycling. It's easy to talk now; everyone talks and everyone judges. But a rider's life is about a lot more than a few anti-doping controls. The sacrifices that you do are so hard that people can't understand them," he said.
"Cycling is about pain and suffering and nothing changes that. The foundations of this sport are courage, sacrifice, putting up with pain and giving up a lot in life. There will always be doubts but there will be in every sport, not only cycling."
- Article published:
- December 30, 2012, 10:25
- Cycling News
A look back at some of the biggest moments
2012 was a roller coaster year for cycling, packed with some great racing moments but also some damning revelations and confirmations about the past.
Cyclingnews looks back at the best racing moments over the year's racing with this giant photo gallery.
The 2012 season started under the blue skies of the Tour Down Under in Australia and then returned to Europe with Tom Boonen dominating the cobbles and Joaquim Rodriguez conquering the Ardennes with victory at Fleche-Wallonne.
Ryder Hesjedal become the first Canadian to win the Giro d'Italia after a close battle with Rodriguez in the mountains, while Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner at the Tour de France after a tour de force by Team Sky. Teammate Chris Froome was Wiggins' biggest threat and finished second overall after Team Sky also won six stages, with world champion Mark Cavendish winning three of them before confirming his move to Omega Pharma-QuickStep for 2013.
The London Olympics came just a week after the Tour de France but Wiggins held his form to win gold in the time trial and became a national hero at home. Cavendish and Great Britain were unable to complete a double in the road race however, with Alexandre Vinokourov spoiling the party with a late attack to beat Rigoberto Uran in the sprint on the Mall.
The Vuelta a Espana also saw a comeback and produced more thrilling racing, with Alberto Contador snatching victory from Rodriguez with an audacious but determined attack. John Degenkolb confirmed his sprinting talent, winning five stages.
Philippe Gilbert had a disappointing early season but bounced back and silenced his growing critics by winning the world title in Valkenburg. Nobody could match his attack on the Cauberg climb and he will deservedly wear the rainbow jersey in 2013.
Marianne Vos was crowned the queen of women's cycling after her Olympic and world championship double, while the UCI finally took concrete steps to help develop women's racing by introducing equal prize money for men and women in major races.
- Article published:
- December 30, 2012, 11:05
- Cycling News
Italian starts 2013 early after move from Farnese Vini
Italian sprinter Andrea Guardini will make his 2013 debut with the Astana team at the Tour Down Under, with the Kazakhstani team also naming Enrico Gasparotto and 2012 Liège–Bastogne–Liège winner Maxim Iglinskiy in its squad.
Surprisingly, the Tour Down Under organisers also listed Andrey Kashechkin in the press release announcing the Astana line-up for the early-season WorldTour race. However he was suspended by the Astana team on Friday after he refused to sign the team's internal code of conduct. Kashechkin returned to racing in 2010 after serving a ban for blood doping. His name does not appear on the official race website, with a note saying his replacement will be announced at a later date.
Guardini has shown his sprinting speed with a haul of wins in the last two years, including taking Mark Cavendish's scalp on stage 18 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia. However the pocket-rocket Italian struggles on the climbs and will face major competition from the on-form Australians, multiple stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) fellow Italian Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) and Britain's Ben Swift (Team Sky).
Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli and general manager Alexandre Vinokourov both expect big things from Guardini in South Australia.
"Adelaide should watch out for Guardini, he will make his presence known at the finish," Vinokourov warned.
Martinelli said: "Guardini has all of the characteristics of becoming a world class sprinter. His explosive jump and tremendous leg speed took him to more than 20 top ten finishes last season, including a win at the Giro d'Italia against the World Champion. Astana is sending a strong squad in support of Andrea."
The Astana team will be managed in Australia by new directeur sportif Stefano Zanini.
The race opens with the People's Choice criterium on Sunday January 20, with the six-day Tour Down Under between Tuesday January 22 and Sunday January 27.