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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, January 12, 2014

Date published:
January 12, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Cadel Evans: Not setting expectations too high at Australian Road Nationals

    Cadel Evans (BMC) at the sign in for the 2014 national road race
    Article published:
    January 11, 2014, 2:30 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Former world champion says he is hopelessly outnumbered

    Just one day after a quote in the Sydney Morning Herald sparked a debate on the value of the national championships, Australia's most decorated professional cyclist, Cadel Evans, was given a warm reception by more than a thousand spectators during the sign-in at the 2014 Cycling Australia National Road Race Championships in Ballarat today.

    "It's quite exciting," said the former Australian MTB national champion. "Most people seem to be happy to have me here, and it's so nice to be welcomed by everyone. I can't say I'm going to get an easy run from Drapac and Orica-GreenEdge of course."

    Evans, the 2009 UCI World Champion and 2011 Tour de France winner, is just one name in a stacked field that includes Simon Gerrans, Matthew Lloyd, Rohan Dennis, last year's winner Luke Durbridge, and rival Richie Porte, to make this one of the most heavily contested – and anticipated – Australian national championships in history.

    Numbers will be against Evans as the only BMC rider in the race who has never won the national road race title and returns to the championships after a nine-year hiatus. Both GreenEdge and Drapac will race en masse with GreenEDGE fielding 12 riders from its WorldTour squad including both the two previous winners Durbridge and Gerrans (2012), while recently licensed Pro-Continental team Drapac had 13 riders on the start line, including 2007 national champion Darren Lapthorne.

    "I‘ve always been here on my own," said Evans. "That's been my biggest difficulty and that's the same today. But now we have a WorldTour team in Australia a good continental team in Drapac. I just have to be realistic about these things. I'm hopelessly...

  • Valverde: No Pyrenees but the Vuelta will be very tough

    Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana show off the 2014 Movistar jersey made by Endura
    Article published:
    January 11, 2014, 16:13 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    2009 winner set to challenge again in 2014

    As a former winner, twice second, twice third, fourth and fifth overall in the Vuelta since 2003, Alejandro Valverde’s home race holds few secrets for the Spaniard. And at the Vuelta launch on Saturday the 33-year-old said he did not agree with those claming that the 2014 race route was be a lot easier than 2013.

    “Maybe it’s a bit less hard but the Vuelta is always difficult,” the Movistar rider stated categorically. “It’s the riders who make a race tough, more than the route itself.”

    Asked to pinpoint a stage that could be particularly challenging, the Spaniard said, “I don’t know the Aralar [stage 11 summit finish] climb, but it’s clearly very hard.”

    “Overall there are a lot of shorter, punchy climbs, which will make it difficult, even without the Pyrenees.”

    “I don’t think the final time trial will cause any changes, unless there’s a 15 or 20 second gap between two of the top riders’ placings. On paper it should all be decided.”

    He said he preferred a short, almost symbolic time trial on the last day to a bunch sprint stage because “when it’s 120 kilometres and ends on the [central Madrid avenue of Paseo de la] Castellana your head disconnects early on and then when you start going flat out on the last few laps it’s very tough. At least in 10 kilometres it’s all over quickly.”

    It was, he said, far too early to start naming favourites - although he then reeled off a list including “Contador, Purito [Rodriguez - Katusha], Samu [Samuel Sanchez.”

    Valverde’s team-mate Nairo Quintana may be in the Vuelta, although after racing the Giro in May it has yet to be decided whether the young Colombian will be up for a...

  • Nibali to ride the Tour of Flanders

    Vincenzo Nibali
    Article published:
    January 11, 2014, 16:56 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Astana leader to taste the cobbles before the Tour de France

    Vincenzo Nibali will get a taste of the cobbles in preparation this year's Tour de France by riding the Tour of Flanders, his Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli has revealed.

    Stage five of the Tour de France includes a total of 15.4km of cobbles divided in nine different sections. For any overall contender it will be vital not to lose time and Martinelli thinks Nibali could even gain time on Froome even if he has never raced on the cobbles.

    "Nibali doesn't know what it's like to race on the cobbles but of all the big-name overall contenders, he's the one who can gain the most," Martinelli told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "He's got better bike skills than Froome and Contador and so he's got to find out what it's like to fight for a place at the front, elbow to elbow with the riders who want to pass him on the cobbles, on the rough roads full of holes. He needs to get a taste of what it's like to hit the cobbles in the peloton and then ride at 50km/h strung out in a line. And the Tour of Flanders is perfect for that."

    Martinelli claimed the 2013 Giro d'Italia winner was keen to test his bike skills on the cobbles, despite the risk of racing the Tour of Flanders along side the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan and Tom Boonen on April 6.

    "He's keen to give it a try because he's never ridden on the pave," Martinelli said. "He'll have Dutchman Westra with him, who grew up riding the pave."

    "Vinokourov asked me if riding the Tour of Flanders is a bit risky but I told him that riding Paris-Nice or Criterium is also risky. Vincenzo will ride the Flanders for the cobbles, not to win it. He'll ride Amstel for the same reason. He's always suffered on narrow roads. He won't ride Fleche-Wallonne but will ride Liege-Bastogne-Liege."

    Martinelli revealed that the

  • Gallery: 2014 Vuelta a España presentation

    Samuel Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde pose with a map showing the route of the 2014 Vuelta a España
    Article published:
    January 11, 2014, 18:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    69th edition unveiled today in Cádiz

    The route of the 2014 Vuelta a España was unveiled today at a presentation held in Cádiz, Spain. At the Cádiz Conference Centre, the Vuelta's director Javier Guillen revealed the event's 21 stages and further commentary of the route was provided on stage courtesy of two-time Vuelta champion and race commentator Pedro Delgado, current professionals Alejandro Valverde and Samuel Sanchez, former pro Javier Minguez and Spanish journalist Carlos de Andres.

    In addition to Valverde and Sanchez, professionals in attendance included Warren Barguil and Luis Ángel Maté. Reigning Vuelta champion Chris Horner was not present at the route unveiling.

    The presentation also included a tribute to legendary climber José María Jiménez who will be honoured at the 2014 Vuelta. A little more than 10 years has passed since Jiménez's death and a special award will be presented to the winner of the final mountain stage to Ancares on the penultimate day. Carlos Sastre, Jiménez's brother-in-law, will present the award to the stage winner and the Tour de France champion took part in today's tribute as well.

    Click here to view the gallery.

  • Evans sparks debate over the value of Australian national title

    2009 Worlds: Australia's Cadel Evans basks in the moment of winning the world championship
    Article published:
    January 11, 2014, 20:20 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Tour winner causes a Twitter stir

    On the eve of one the most anticipated national road race championships in Australian cycling history, social media was set abuzz following a head-to-head Q&A between pre-race favourites and soon-to-be Giro d'Italia rivals, Cadel Evans and Richie Porte, in an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

    Journalist Rupert Guinness posed 15-questions to both Evans and Porte covering a wide range of topics, including the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and this weekend's National road race championships.

    Evans' response to what it would mean for him to be the national champion caused a Twitter stir.

    Australia's first – and only – Tour de France champion stated: "I suppose I would be obliged to wear a national champion's jersey for the year" and that as a professional his aim is to get WorldTour points, so other than the jersey, in the grand scheme of things, "it doesn't count for much."

    In contrast to the 2009 UCI World Champion, Porte answered by saying that earning the green and gold stripes would be "absolutely brilliant" and that wearing the "distinctive jersey" would make for a "very special year" training and racing in Europe.

    The fallout was immediate, with tweets questioning Evans' patriotism and character. Evans' manager Jason Bakker, however, came to the defense of Evans by tweeting "What a load of rubbish" in regards to those questioning his patriotism and that Evans possesses "enormous national pride." Bakker had a further dig at Evans' critics by saying "hang, draw and quarter him on a comment."

    In response to speculation over Evans’ patriotism, Guinness defended Evans when talking to Cyclingnews.

  • Vuelta to pay homage to José María Jiménez in 2014

    There was a tribute to José María Jiménez during the 2014 Vuelta route presentation
    Article published:
    January 11, 2014, 21:55 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Sastre to award prize on race's final summit finish

    A little over ten years since his death, the Vuelta a España will pay homage to one of Spain's legendary climbers, José María Jiménez, in 2014.

    The 2008 Tour de France winner, Carlos Sastre, will give the winner on the Ancares stage - the last mountain-top finish of the race - an award in honour of ‘Chava', who was Sastre's brother-in-law.

    "He was an almost unique rider, who loved the Vuelta and the Vuelta loved him," Sastre said during the Vuelta presentation in Cadiz on Saturday, during which video clips were shown of ‘Chava' in action on the Spanish race.

    A gifted climber, Jiménez's most memorable Grand Tour performances were almost exclusively in the Vuelta. He took nine stage wins in the mountains including on the Angliru, led the race for four days in 1998 and finished on the podium that year after a memorable fight against Banesto teammate Abraham Olano.

    Jiménez also took the King of the Mountains title twice, and - although wildly inconsistent as a rider, which made it impossible for him to fulfill the predictions that he would be a successor to Miguel Indurain and Pedro Delgado - the points competition in 2001.

    After retiring and a failed attempt at a comeback, Jiménez died after suffering an embolism while undergoing treatment for health and psychological problems at a clinic in Madrid. He was just 32.

  • Barguil eyes possible return to Vuelta in 2014

    Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) won his second stage of the Vuelta ahead of Rigoberto Uran (Sky)
    Article published:
    January 11, 2014, 23:05 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Young French star undecided on whether to tackle Tour or Vuelta

    With defending champion Chris Horner not amongst the public at the 2014 Vuelta presentation, France's Warren Barguil was one of the few non-Spanish riders present at the race launch in Cadiz on Saturday.

    The Argos-Shimano rider and former Tour de L'Avenir champion won two stages in the Vuelta in 2013, a remarkable debut in anyone's book but particularly after he had a bad crash earlier on in the race. Just 21 at the time, he first took a solo win in blazing heat at Castelldefels then managed to outwit Giro d'Italia runner-up Rigoberto Uran in a two-way battle at the Pyrenean ski station finish of Formigal.

    Fast forward four months and Barguil says although he knows where he will be racing until the end of the Classics, the decision on whether he goes to the Tour or re-focussed on the Vuelta again has still not taken - and won't be until late April.

    "Everybody wants to do the Tour, but as a French rider, even more so," the talented young climber said as the audience filed out of the Cadiz congress hall where the presentation had been held.

    "At the same time, there's less media pressure at the Vuelta and fewer French journalists so for a young rider it could be better there for that reason. But there's lots of factors.

    "And I like the Vuelta too, a lot. I know I've got good memories of this race. I can do well there on the climbs and the route is a tough one again. There's not too much time trialling and there are stages which finish" - such as stage 19 - "after a tough climb and a descent, which is really good for me. Ok,...

  • Australia yells for Cadel at Australian Road Nationals

    The 2014 Men's road race podium, Richie Porte (Team Sky), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Cadel Evans (BMC)
    Article published:
    January 12, 2014, 9:28 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Evans sprints to second place behind Gerrans

    An estimated 23,000 spectators lined the Australian National Road Race Championships' 10.1km course in Buninyong, just 12km southeast of Ballarat, Victoria to watch the greatest Australian field ever assembled, including former World Champion and Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, race the 18-lap, 183.6km circuit.

    Evans, the sole Team BMC rider on the start, and making his first trip back to Ballarat in nine years, downplayed his championship aspirations in the lead-up to the race. Evans told Cyclingnews he was "hopelessly outnumbered" by both Orica-GreenEdge and Drapac Pro Cycling. Nevertheless, the 2009 UCI World Champion overcame a wheel change on lap 16 and had a crack on the final climb up Buninyong Hill before sprinting to the finish behind now two-time champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and rival Richie Porte (Sky).

    "I have always been here on my own and never had a teammate," said Evans after finishing his fifth Road Nationals. "I feel as though everyone just wants to be in a break without me, or then in the final kilometres follow me. This was by far my best opportunity."

    The 36-year-old Evans, who turns 37 in February, wanted to jump with 160 metres to go he did not have enough in the tank which was compounded by a slight gradient and noticeable headwind at at the finish line. "I left it a bit late but I just couldn't accelerate anymore, I exhausted myself too much early on," he said.

    The former national XC MTB champion, was an odds-on fan favourite to win his first national road race jersey despite receiving some negative feedback after comments he...