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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, January 19, 2014

Date published:
January 19, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Quintana still uncertain for Giro d'Italia start

    Nairo Quintana will target the Tour de France but was out in Milan
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 17:55 GMT
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    Decision possible by end of Tour de San Luis

    While it had been reported that Nairo Quintana (Movistar) would opt for a Grand Tour double in 2014 beginning with the Giro d'Italia and later including the Vuelta a España, at this morning's pre-event press conference at the Tour de San Luis he stated that his start in Italy has yet to be confirmed.

    "There is a possibility to race at the Giro d'Italia but I don't know yet, the bosses haven't said anything yet," said Quintana. "I'm fine and I'm preparing myself as best I can for a great season. I hope that I will know this week."

    The 23-year-old Colombian is one of many WorldTour stars who've chosen to begin their 2014 campaign in Argentina at the seven-day, UCI 2.1 rated Tour de San Luis. Quintana makes his Tour de San Luis debut in the race's eighth edition, with his Movistar squad among the 12 WorldTour teams making up half the event's peloton.

    Quintana's 2014 season is eagerly anticipated after his spectacular run of results last year, his second year with the Movistar squad. Quintana placed 2nd overall in his Tour de France debut, including a stage win on the penultimate day, and the mountains and best young rider jerseys. He also earned GC wins at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Vuelta a Burgos.

    The Tour de San Luis features three mountain finishes, Quintana's preferred terrain, but like his fellow overall hopefuls Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), also participants in the pre-race press conference, his aspirations in Argentina two days prior to the opening stage remain modest.
     

  • Gallery: Tour de San Luis has plenty to offer sprinters and GC riders

    Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Tom Boonen, Vincenzo Nibali, Joaquim Rodriguez, Nairo Quintana
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 21:17 GMT
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    Increasing amount of Euro star power drawn to Argentina

    The Tour de San Luis's opening press conference featured a 50/50 split among its six participants regarding their respective realms of sprinters and general classification contenders, and while there was decided contrast between their expectations in Argentina, both camps confirmed that the Tour de San Luis provides an ideal start to the season.

    The marquee names representing the peloton's fastmen included Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen as well as Peter Sagan (Cannondale), while the general classification faction was made up of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

    Cavendish and Boonen, each with one Tour de San Luis stage win in their palmares, made no bones about their aspirations to win sprint stages, and ideally run the table of three on offer in Argentina as their Omega Pharma-QuickStep did at the 2012 edition courtesy of Boonen and then team member Francesco Chicchi. Cavendish won the opening stage last year in his Omega Pharma-QuickStep debut, and was eager to return in 2014.

    "I came here to the Tour de San Luis the first time last year and enjoyed it," said Cavendish. "After the Tour de France, it's a race I want to do every year. We've got a selection of very very strong riders...I think everyone's in great form and we'd like to get it started here in San Luis."

    For Boonen, who hasn't raced in nearly six months after his 2013 season came to an early conclusion due to health issues, his desire to compete once again was palpable.

    "I'm feeling good, and I'm ready to start racing again," said Boonen. "It's been a while since my last race and it's been a long time training to get here. I'm...

  • Strong Avanti representation in UniSA team at Tour Down Under

    Anthony Giacoppo, fourth wheel, opted for a Giro air attack road helmet
    Article published:
    January 19, 2014, 0:01 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Renamed NRS outfit set to animate the race

    Avanti Racing Team has already announced its pleasure at the selection of five of its riders to represent Australia in the UniSA national team at the Santos Tour Down Under [TDU] and the opportunity to race at WorldTour level has excited its five strong contingent who are ready for the challenge.

    Anthony Giacoppo, Mark O’Brien, Campbell Flakemore, Neil Van der Ploeg and Jack Haig will be flying the Avanti flag alongside Brad Linfield and Caleb Ewan on the team. With a heavily focused program as set out by Avanti’s High Performance manager, Mark Fenner, the team has hit its first peak for the season at just the right time. Co-managers Steve Price and Andrew Christie-Johnston are now excited for their riders to get some valuable WorldTour experience under their belts.

    "We work so hard for our rider’s to get these opportunities, this is what it’s all about for us," said Christie-Johnston. "The fact that some of our graduates like Will Clarke, Richie Porte and Steele Von Hoff are also racing gives the current Avanti guys the confidence that they can make it to the top level permanently."

    "Ultimately we want to send more guys to the WorldTour," said Price. "For our riders to have the chance to use the UniSA team as a stepping stone to what we hope will be a long and fruitful career is perfect."

    Returning after his WorldTour debut last year at this very race, Anthony Giacoppo is now the elder statesmen of the team. At just 27-years-of-age, Giacoppo will provide valuable support on the road to his teammates.

    "I think it will be to my advantage having done my first TDU last year as I’ll have a better understanding of how it all works," said Giacoppo. "I think for some, your first big race -especially a WorldTour race- can be a bit daunting."

    But Giacoppo is not daunted by the cut and thrust and will be using his bunch nous to guide himself...

  • Garmin-Sharp’s ‘Man of Steele’ to don Green and Gold for first time

    Steele von Hoff in his 2014 Garmin kit at the Tour Down Under team presentation
    Article published:
    January 19, 2014, 5:32 GMT
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Steele von Hoff to race People’s Choice Classic in championship strip

    When newly crowned Australian men's National Criterium Champion Steele von Hoff rolls to the start of the People's Choice Classic in Adelaide to kickoff the weeklong Santos Tour Down Under, the 26-year-old sprinter for Garmin-Sharp will do so wearing the green and gold jersey for the first time.

    The Victorian native from Mornington, who took advantage of a last-lap crash from the Drapac Cycling train to capture his first national championship after finishing second the year before, says he is looking forward to tonight's 25-lap, 50km circuit.

    "I am pretty excited to be wearing the colours tonight," he told Cyclingnews on Sunday afternoon. "I don't get too many opportunities this year to wear the jersey so this is my biggest one."

    According to von Hoff, the jersey represents a dream come true. "It's a huge honour to be in that jersey," said von Hoff, who still has his sights set on a national road race title. "It means you are the national champion and best at what you do in that discipline. I have always wanted to win this jersey and I couldn't be happier."

    However a win at the People's Choice Classic will not be easy with the likes of 4-time Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and 14-time TDU stage winner Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol on deck for his sixth to Australia's grandest race.

    "There are other teams with such great lead-out trains, so someone like myself on a team with such major GC aspirations won't get much support," said von Hoff. "So to get to the finish line I will look to Lotto, Giant-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge.

    "There are a few corners quite...

  • Wanty-Groupe Gobert signs De Greef and Napolitano

    Danilo Napolitano (Accent.Jobs-Wanty) wins the sprint on stage 1
    Article published:
    January 19, 2014, 10:07 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian team has 23 riders on the 2014 roster

    Francis de Greef and Danilo Napolitano have found a new team in Wanty-Groupe Gobert, for the 2014 season.

    The Belgian Pro Continental team now has 23 riders on the roster for this season. De Greef turned pro with Silence-Lotto in 2008 and rode with the team ever since. When Lotto-Belisol signed nine new riders for the new season, to fulfill other and higher ambitions, De Greef didn't manage to resign a contract.

    The 28-year Belgian has started and finished 11 Grand Tours in his career: six Giro's, two Tours and three Vuelta's. His best result was a 19th place in the general classification of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, with several other consistent finishes around the 20th position mark in five other Grand Tours. He never managed to win a race in his career with the eighth place in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen in 2009 being his best individual result.

    Napolitano was already part of the Accent Jobs-Wanty team in 2013 but didn't deliver the sprint results he was signed for. With only one victory and three podium finishes the 32-year old Italian sprinter was left aside for the 2014 team at first. Just like De Greef he kept training hoping to strike that deal for the upcoming season. Both riders signed with Wanty-Groupe Gobert in Spain last week.

    Accent Jobs-Wanty, now rebranded as Wanty-Groupe Gobert, only kept nine of its riders from the 2013 line-up. It signed no less than 14 new riders, including Astana's Kevin Seeldraeyers, De Greef's teammate Frederique Robert from Lotto-Belisol, Michel Kreder from Garmin-Sharp and Vacansoleil-DCM's Wesley Kreder, Mirko Selvaggi, Frederik Veuchelen and Bjorn Leukemans. 

    The team was also interested in signing former Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez, but needed to secure extra budget to do so. Wanty-Groupe Gobert missed out on a wildcard for...

  • Visconti to undergo surgery on broken tibia

    Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) wins the stage.
    Article published:
    January 19, 2014, 11:04 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian crashes during People's Choice Classic

    Giovanni Visconti [Movistar] has been taken to hospital after fracturing his leg in a crash during the People's Choice Classic.

    The Italian came down in the early stages of the race, after a number of riders collided in front of him. While the others involved in the crash managed to re-start the race, Visconti was left on the ground. He was taken to a nearby hospital with a suspected broken tibia in his right leg.

    Movistar later confirmed that Visconti had indeed broken his leg and he will undergo surgery on the injury, this evening. Race Doctor Mark Fisher confirmed that Visconti would have a rod put into the bone and is expected to be in hospital for three to four days.

    Race Director Mike Turtur extended his sympathies to Visconti, saying that "it's an unfortunate accident that sometimes happens in racing but we'll all have the support we can to Giovanni and his team as he recovers from his injuries."

    Visconti was in Australia to race at the Tour Down Under, which is due to start on January 21.

  • König: I can make top 10 at the Tour de France

    Leopold Konig (Team NetApp-Endura) wins stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana
    Article published:
    January 19, 2014, 12:12 GMT
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Czech rider believes NetApp-Endura can secure wildcard entry

    Leopold König not only believes that his NetApp-Endura team will be awarded a wildcard entry into the Tour de France this year, but that he can better his Vuelta a España result too.

    Last year's Vuelta was König's debut at a Grand Tour. He impressed with his ability to stick with the favourites until the final kilometres and finished ninth overall, 10 minutes down on the winner Chris Horner. The Czech rider also held off a charging Daniel Moreno, to take victory on stage 8.

    “I don’t think it will be harder,” he told Cyclingnews, when asked if a repeat performance would be difficult. “I think I can improve on the GC result. I don’t see anything to say that we can’t do it again. I am confident about the top 10.”

    This isn't the first time that NetApp-Endura have made a bid for a Tour de France wildcard. The did so last year, but missed out when the three available spots were handed to French squads. With the number of home teams looking for a place in La Grande Boucle down to two, König believes his team has a better chance at gaining entry. “I think there are some circumstances in our favour,” he said.

    “Some teams have folded and there are now three French WorldTour teams, so that is something we can benefit from. I think we have done well. At the Vuelta the whole team showed that we are able to do those races and we can even make the race and make it interesting. That is really important.”

    While stating that the Tour de France parcours is not as challenging as the one he faced in the 2013 Vuelta, the Czech rider believes that the opening stages will be hard. “I did the Tour of...

  • Caleb Ewan nets podium in People's Choice Classic

    Caleb Ewan with his gold pan for winning the U23 title
    Article published:
    January 19, 2014, 12:19 GMT
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Australian U23 national champ takes another forward step

    Just one week after Australian cycling prodigy Caleb Ewan netted not one, but two Australian U23 national titles, the New South Wales native from the Southern Highlands, showed he is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the UCI’s WorldTour heavyweights after a third-place sprint finish at the Tour Down Under’s People’s Choice Classic on Sunday night in Adelaide.

    Ewan won the U23 Australian national criterium last week in Ballarat before dominating a sprint finish to win the 132.6km U23 men's road race just two days later. However the 2013 Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic-winner was not expected to fight for a podium spot in his first Tour Down Under appearance.

    "It was really tough today, I really had to fight for position," said Ewan, who finished fourth in the 2013 UCI U23 Road Worlds. "A lot of these Europeans don't know who I am and just think I'm a little punter coming into the race. It's natural they don't give me much respect, but now hopefully I've showed myself to them."

    "I know I can be up there in the pointy end of the race, so it just gives me a bit more confidence for the next few days," he said.

    Ewan, a much-heralded talent who signed with Orica-GreenEdge to a pre-contract in October, made his WorldTour debut with the UniSA composite team before returning to U23 competition. With an estimated 95,000 fans in attendance, Ewan says the step up in competition was rewarding, but also a bit daunting.

    "I'm actually a little bit frightened now – they're amazing, those guys," said Ewan regarding his debut WorldTour showdown with eventual winner Marcel Kittel and runner-up Andre Greipel, himself a 14-time Tour Down Under stage winner. "I tried to kick and he (Kittel) was just riding away from me. Wow – it's crazy."

    The 19-year-old...