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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, February 9, 2014

Date published:
February 09, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • No specially-built circuit for Qatar 2016 Worlds

    The peloton rides with the skyline of Doha in the background.
    Article published:
    February 08, 2014, 19:30 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Road race to start and finish on Doha's Corniche

    The head of the Qatar Cycling Federation has ruled out building a special circuit or climb for the 2016 world championships in Doha but said that the ongoing development of the city's transport infrastructure means that precise details of the route are yet to be defined.

    Speaking to reporters in Doha, federation president Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Thani said that the local organising committee had considered constructing a purpose-built course for the Worlds, but that the time frame simply didn't allow it.

    "It was suggested, it was something that was done in Moscow before [for the 1980 Olympics], but unfortunately we don't have the time to do it," Al Thani said. "It's very complicated here because Doha and Qatar are developing very quickly with a lot of infrastructure going around. It would have been difficult to change all the planning. I don't think it would be feasible to do it."

    Doha's Corniche, the city-centre promenade that hosts the final stages of both the men's and women's Tours of Qatar, will be the site of the start and finish lines for the road races at the 2016 Worlds. Al Thani explained that a provisional course has already been sketched out, but added that that Qatar's rapidly-expanding road network means that the current parcours is by no means definitive. In any case, however, it is certain to be flat and likely to suit the sprinters.

    "We already have route planned as it exists now in Qatar, but Qatar is a very fast-developing country and you have new roads every day, and I think it will change over time," he said.

    The fast growth of Qatar's infrastructure has not been without controversy. Al Thani pointed to the fact that the stadia for the football World Cup in 2022 will be linked by cycle paths and rental bikes, but it was also recently reported that 185 Nepalese...

  • Calvin Watson on defending his Herald Sun Tour title

    Last years winner Calvin Watson finished 15 seconds down
    Article published:
    February 08, 2014, 20:30 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    Criterium du Dauphiné the season goal for young Australian

    For last year's winner of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour Calvin Watson (Trek Factory Racing), the opportunity to defend his title arose due to withdrawals from the KordaMentha Australian team and the Jayco U23 Team, and he takes his place on the start line with the number one dossard.

    Having made his debut with his WorldTour team at the Tour Down Under, Watson was given the chance to change his kit from black to white for the race, which has stepped up a level since claiming the overall win on his 20th birthday.

    "The race this year is completely different scenario to last year, obviously the field is a lot higher quality so there are no easy stages this year so it's been pretty chaotic racing and pretty stressful but I'm enjoying the tour and I'm happy to be back here," Watson told Cyclingnews.

    It was on the climb up Mt Alexander that the race came alive and in the descent Watson was one of the many riders who found the heat and hard racing tough.

    "It was really hard yesterday, I think everyone was suffering in that last 20km. I know that personally, I was cramping with 5km to go, so I didn't really have anything to work with so I was struggling in the finish there but I think everyone was in the same boat. The heat out there was just really crazy."

    The race will come down to the triple-ascent of Arthur's Seat on the Mornington Peninsula on Sunday afternoon, with the Amy's Ride Grand Fondo taking place prior to the stage ensuring large crowds on the slopes of the climb.

    "Tomorrow is going is to be the day when all the fireworks happen and the overall is shaped and...

  • Omega Pharma-Quick Step leaves Dubai empty handed

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
    Article published:
    February 08, 2014, 21:53 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Cavendish unlucky in sprint finishes

    While Marcel Kittel and his Giant-Shimano teammates celebrated a hat trick of stage victories at the Dubai Tour, Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team were left wondering when their bad luck will end after a series of misfortune and misunderstanding in the sprints.

    The Belgian team came to Dubai ready to protect and lead out Cavendish, with strong domestiques and Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Renshaw for the final kilometre. However, Cavendish is still searching for his first victory of the 2014 season despite looking lean and on form in his white British national champion's jersey.

    It is easy to jump to conclusions and think that Cavendish may have lost his luster and has been dethroned by Marcel Kittel as the king of the sprints. A analysis of the racing and sprinting during the three stages indicates otherwise.

    Cavendish sat up and had accepted defeat on stage 2, finishing 30th on the windswept edge of the Palm Jumeirah resort, after his lead-out train failed to punch through a gap and take him up to the front to contest the sprint. Alessandro Petacchi admitted that he failed to set up Renshaw and Cavendish due to feeling the effects of the stomach virus that forced him to retire during stage 1 of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

    Stage 3 indicated that Cavendish is on better form than his results show. He finished in the front group of just 39 riders that formed after the series of aggressive attacks on the climbs but his performance was overshadowed by Kittel's victory.

    Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing), Petacchi, Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) and Andrea Guardini (Astana) were all dropped, but Cavendish managed to get back on to the front group after the climbs with Kittel. If world...

  • Horner to make his Lampre debut at Challenge Mallorca

    Thumbs up: Chris Horner in red on the final day
    Article published:
    February 08, 2014, 22:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    American part of a 12-man team

    Chris Horner will make his debut in Lampre-Merida colours at the Challenge Mallorca next week.

    Lampre-Merida have kept their options open and will make daily decisions on the nine riders who will take the start. Horner will form part of the 12-man team that will compete over the four events that make the Challenge.

    The 42-year-old became the oldest winner of a grand tour when he won the Vuelta a España last season. Despite his victory, Horner found himself out of contract with his RadioShack-Leopard team, after he rejected their initial offers. He eventually signed a one-year deal with the Italian squad at the end of January, after a protracted search for a new team.

    Along with the American will be Lampre-Merida’s Giro d’Italia leaders Przemyslaw Niemiec and Damiano Cunego. Sprinters Diego Ulissi and Maximiliano Richeze also make the list of 12 riders to race on the Spanish island. World Champion Rui Costa will travel from racing at the Tour of Dubai, which finished today (Saturday), to join the team in Mallorca

    The Challenge Mallorca consists of four single-day races, which begins with the sprinters’ course Trofeo Palma on Sunday. Ulisi is likely to be their main hope there, the young Italian already kicking off his season with a stage win at the Tour Down Under. Horner's chances will come on the more mountainous Trofeo Ses Salines-Campos-Santanyì and Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana. The Challenge concludes on Wednesday with the lumpy, 160km Trofeo Muro-Port d’Alcudia.

    Lampre-Merida for Challenge Mallorca: Chris Horner, Damiano Cunego, Diego Ulissi, Sacha Modolo, Maximiliano Richeze, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Josè Serpa, Kristijan Durasell, Jan Polanc, Rui Costa, Nelson...

  • Van Avermaet: I know I've got it in me to win a classic

    Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) salutes as he takes the opening stage of the 2013 Tour of Utah
    Article published:
    February 09, 2014, 0:58 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian ready for leadership at BMC

    Greg Van Avermaet's aims for his first Tour of Qatar in 2007 were typical of any young rider in his first professional race; he wanted to survive each day in the peloton and avoid bringing down any of the big names in a crash. The Belgian would do that and more, of course, marking an auspicious beginning to his career by sprinting to victory on the penultimate stage.

    The Ritz Carlton in Doha, the crosswinds and the desert sunshine are all still here, but as Van Avermaet lines up for his sixth Tour of Qatar on Sunday, he views his Gulf experience with the pragmatism of a Tour of Flanders contender rather than the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a neophyte.

    "It's different alright, because now I know I'll be fine and I will survive here," Van Avermaet laughed. "It's more like a preparation for the classics. It's good to come here from training camp because it's always hard racing, there's a lot of wind, and you get a lot of speed in the legs.

    "Some other riders maybe prefer other races in February, and I've tried a lot of other things - Down Under, Algarve, Bessèges - but I think for me this one fits the best."

    Van Avermaet's position within BMC's firmament of galacticos has shifted slightly as he begins his fourth season with the team. The softly-spoken Belgian has been BMC's most reliable performer on the cobbles in that time, but more often than not has approached those races in a rather secondary role, his light under a bushel.

    With Philippe Gilbert opting to skip the Tour of Flanders, Alessandro Ballan suspended and Thor Hushovd still searching for a return to form, however, Van Avermaet assumes the mantle of BMC's leader for De Ronde from the very outset of the 2014 campaign.

    "It gives me pressure, but it's good to have that pressure," he said. "I like to be leader there because...

  • Report: Alonso and Cannondale to merge

    Fernando Alonso and Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    February 09, 2014, 10:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Bike manufacturer keen to keep Sagan on board

    Fernando Alonso may be looking to join forces with the Cannondale team in an attempt to join the WorldTour, according to a report in Biciciclismo.

    The report states that the new team would be known as Team Alonso Cannondale. Current Cannondale rider Peter Sagan has been heavily linked with a move to Alonso's team, after his contract runs out with the American team, at the end of this year. It is believed that the potential loss of the Slovakian is the driving force behind the merger.

    While the team has a number of strong riders, there is no doubt that Sagan is top of that list and the team may struggle without him. The potential union could help Cannondale retain their number one rider and provide some much needed cash.

    Cannondale has already looked into taking on a second sponsor and had talks with Oleg Tinkov, towards the end of last year. The Russian businessman chose not to join forces with the bike manufacturer in favour of buying out Bjarne Riis at Saxo-Tinkoff. The result was that Cannondale bought a majority share in Brixia Sports, who owns the cycling team.

    With Alonso’s cash and influence, the team may be able to build a stronger rider base along while also retaining Sagan. A number of leading Spanish riders have been linked with the outfit, including Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodríguez and Samuel Sánchez, and Portuguese world champion Rui Costa. However, no contracts can be signed until August 1st 2014.

    The Spanish Formula One driver has made his intentions of starting a...

  • Gallery: On the startline of the Mallorca Challenge

    Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    February 09, 2014, 11:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sprinters set up for opening stage

    Blue skies and relatively warm weather greeted the peloton at the start of the Spanish road season on Saturday at the Mallorca Challenge. The four day event kicks off with a glorified criterium through the streets of Palma, with long, flat roads ideally suited to the sprinters of the peloton.

    Made up of riders starting a race for the first time this season - Bradley Wiggins (Team) and Chris Horner (Lampre Merida – and riders who have made the trip from last month’s Tour de San Luis, the Mallorca Challenge differs from most stage races on the calendar in that it allows riders to start or skip stages. They have to start and finish all four in order to qualify for the right to challenge for the overall but with excellent training terrain on the island a number of riders chose to skip today’s criterium.

    Among them were Horner and Wiggins. The American only recently signed with Lampre and chose to head into the island’s mountains after appearing briefly at the team’s presentation prior to the start of the criterium.

    Click here for the gallery.

  • Herald Sun Tour's fourth stage cancelled due to extreme weather

    Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) with the winners wheel
    Article published:
    February 09, 2014, 12:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Threat from bushfires ensured no fireworks on Arthurs Seat

    There was no final stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour's 2014 edition, after consultations between Victoria Police and race organisers concluded that today’s race at Arthurs Seat would not proceed due to extreme weather conditions.

    Whilst there was no immediate threat on Arthurs Seat, emergency services including police and fire brigade, had been diverted to other areas under threat across the state.

    Race director John Trevorrow said the cancellation was the right decision on what is a tough day for emergency services across the state. "Simon is a deserving victor of the 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour and will sit comfortably amongst an honour roll that features so many of Australia’s great bike riders," Trevorrow said.

    "Whilst we are obviously disappointed that this great stage at Arthurs Seat could not go ahead, we understand the decision made by authorities.

    "It is a pretty dark day out there and the safety of the public state wide and our own riders and spectators is by far the priority.

    "We had a number of event staff who have left the race to go home having received news that their houses are under threat, so there is a much bigger picture involved here."

    The overall, points, king of the mountains, youth and teams classifications were all unchanged after Stage 3 as Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge), Jack Anderson (Drapac), Thomas Hamilton (Jayco U23 Australia), Jack Haig (Avanti) and Orica-GreenEdge respectively, as leaders of the classifications were awarded for their victories in the blustery conditions during a presentation that at 2:30pm which was the intended starting time of the stage. Cam Wurf (Cannondale) was also awarded the most aggressive rider prize to cap off the race having also finished second overall.