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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, January 20, 2013

Date published:
January 20, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Riders train at the Tour de San Luis

    Don't try this at home: Peter Sagan (Cannondale) shows off his skills.
    Article published:
    January 19, 2013, 23:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sagan, Rodriguez train in Argentina

    As snow blankets much of Northern Europe, the UCI's push to globalize cycling seems to be working out well for the professional peloton, which gets its 2013 started in much warmer, sunnier climes such as Argentina, where the Tour de San Luis starts on Monday.

    While the WorldTour squads assemble in Australia for the Tour Down Under, some have also sent squads to San Luis to find their race fitness in favourable conditions.

    While Mark Cavendish debuts with Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Peter Sagan will prove a formidable opponent with his well-drilled Cannondale team.

    Alberto Contador once again tries to shed his winter weight with a foray to the tip of South America with the Saxo Bank team. Vincenzo Nibali will be a major rival for the classification as he hones his form on his new Specialized machines with Astana.

    BMC's Thor Hushovd will try to regain his race speed after having a dismal 2012 thanks to illness and injury, while Tejay van Garderen continues his progression as a GC contender.

    There are a host of up and coming riders on the Pro Continental and national teams who will attempt to upset the WorldTour riders' in the seven stage race. The home town team, San Luis Somos Todos will try to repeat its podium performance of 2012, when Daniel Diaz challenged Levi Leipheimer and Contador.

    The Katusha team brings the world's top rider, Joaquim Rodriguez, who will be eager to prove the team's worth after it was left off the WorldTour.

    With Katusha depending on wild card invitations, the pressure to perform in this race and prove themselves to race organisers will be even more intense for the other Pro Continental teams Androni Giocattoli, Vini Fantini, UnitedHealthcare, Netapp-Endura, CCC Polsat Polkowice and  Bardiani CSF Inox.

  • UnitedHealthcare at San Luis to take on the biggest teams

    Mike Tamayo comes back again as team director and looks towards a big season.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 0:31 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Manager Tamayo thinks team can win a stage

    The UnitedHealthcare team has come to the Tour de San Luis with the intention of getting one over on the WorldTour teams and leaving with an all-important stage win. The US Pro Continental team arrived in Argentina with the lofty but not impossible ambition of upsetting the sprint favourites, and while the majority of the race coverage will focus on Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali's overall ambitions over the next week, the first sprint encounters promise just as much excitement.

    Mark Cavendish arrives with his new Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates, while Peter Sagan and Alessandro Pettachi are two of the world’s fastest sprinters in their own right. All three riders have secured green jerseys at the Tour but that hasn’t left Mike Tamayo’s UnitedHealthcare team in any way daunted, with Robert Förster, Jake Keough, Alessandro Bazzana eyeing sprint opportunities.

    "I want a stage win. I think we can do it and we’ve got a good team for it," Tamayo told Cyclingnews.

    "We came to sprint here with Jake, Robert, and Alessandro and I’ve got some great guys for the breaks. We’ve got the best of both worlds. There’s two or three sprint opportunities and then three breakaway/climbing stages.

    The squad have already ridden reconnaissance over a number of stages and in one regard hold an advantage over their WorldTour adversaries. Tamayo believes that with the WorldTour squads out of their comfort zones they can be beaten.

    "You got Sagan, Cavendish, and there are a lot of good guys who are here to sprint, but it’s early season so a lot of these guys are maybe looking for form. We’ll see who’s here to win and who is finding their legs.

    "We’ve not once thought we can’t go for a win, that’s the...

  • Dennis ruled out of Tour Down Under with viral infection

    Rohan Dennis didn't dissapoint either with a strong ride for the silver.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 6:24 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Garmin Sharp lose Best Young Rider from 2012 edition

    Rohan Dennis is almost a definite non-started for Tour Down Under after team doctors diagnosed with a virus. Dennis was set for his official Garmin Sharp debut in Sunday evening's People Choice Classic criterium but will now miss the event.

    Dennis was excited about making a return to Tour Down Under after finishing 5th overall in 2012 and also taking out the Best Young Rider and King of the Mountains classification. This time around Dennis would not be riding for the UniSA Australian National Team and would instead be making his first professional appearance for the squad run by Jonathan Vaughters.

    "There's a 99% chance that I will have to pull out," Dennis told Cyclingnews just hours before the start of the People's Choice Classic.

    "I got word from the doctor last night that I have a viral infection. He said if I do start it's unlikely I'll make the week and I will probably come out worse than when I entered.

    "I still have to talk to the doctor and get his point of view today but I think I just have to look forward to the rest of the year. I can't get too hung up about Tour Down Under even though I was targeting the race. It's only one race I it'll be here next year I guess.

    "It depends on how I improve overnight but at this stage, with how I'm feeling, I don't think it's a possibility."

    With a big season in store for Dennis he had already decided to sit out the warm-up 51km criterium. The first-year professional was already scheduled for a reasonable break from racing following Down Under and this will likely remain unchanged. His next, or rather first race of the year should be Paris-Nice.

    "I wasn't racing for another month or so and I don't think that will change. If I recover from this and look...

  • Nelissen confesses to doping at Rabobank

    Danny Nelissen (Rabobank) with Francois Simon and Jose-Maria Jimenez en route to Plumelec at the 1997 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 10:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Doping organised by the team, says Dutchman

    Former Rabobank rider Danny Nelissen has confessed to using EPO while riding for the team. His admission follows reports in the Dutch media on Saturday alleging that Rabobank began an organised doping programme ahead of the 1996 Tour de France.

    Nelissen confirmed that a doping system was implemented after the Rabobank had endured a low-key start to the 1996 season, the first year that the Dutch bank had served as sponsor of the team, then managed by Jan Raas.

    “We were ridiculed, humiliated,” Nelissen told RTL Nieuws. “We had to do something.”

    Nelissen claimed that he had EPO administered by the team doctor. “I used EPO at Rabobank at the Tour de France in 1996 and 1997,” he said. “I had it administered by team doctor Geert Leinders.”

    Leinders worked on a part-time basis for Team Sky in 2011 and 2012, but was released by the team at the end of last season, before it unveiled its new “zero-tolerance” anti-doping policy.

    While Nelissen said that he never had to purchase EPO himself as it was “issued by the team,” he claimed that he did not see any other riders being injected with the substance. “You did it alone, with the team doctor,” he said.

    Nelissen had won the world amateur championships in 1995, but insisted that he had not doped to take the title in Duitama, Colombia. The Dutchman had previously been a professional for five seasons, riding for PDM and TVM, but interrupted his professional career for a season due to a heart condition.

    Nelissen, who retired in 1999 and now works for Eurosport, said that the pressure of supporting a family had influenced...

  • Greipel gets perfect launch pad from Lotto Belisol

    Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) wins the People's Choice Classic ahead of Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) and Lotto teammate Greg Henderson
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 12:30 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Goss has no answer to German's lead out

    His win may not have been as dominant as it was 12 months earlier, but Andre Greipel's victory in the People's Choice Classic in Adelaide on Sunday evening showed that little has changed for the best lead-out train in the business.

    If there had been any concerns that the Lotto Belisol train might wander down the path of complacency after piloting the German sprinter to 19 wins in 2012, the notion was firmly put to bed with Greipel assuredly taking first place across the line, ahead of Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) and teammate Greg Henderson.

    "Lotto did it perfectly," said runner-up Goss, who sat on Greipel's wheel most of the final lap. "Hendy didn't hit the front until 250 metres to go or less. Greipel had a perfect sit."

    "They're definitely one of the strongest teams," Goss continued. "They're well-drilled. They're patient. They move when they have to and they move as a team. And that's all you can ask for with a lead-out train."

    Olivier Kaisen laid the foundation for the victory, sitting on the front of the peloton with the new face in the train, Tim Wellens, closely behind. Adam Hansen, the eyes and ears of the team, was no worse than fourth wheel the vast majority of the race.

    "That's the plan," Hansen told Cyclingnews following the race. "For sure it's all about communication. We speak lots - you can't speak from fifth position all the way up so it's like Chinese whispers a bit in the bunch. We have a set plan but it never happens: some guys go a bit too early, some guys can go a bit longer. Communication brings it all together."

    The result was a master class in the art of the lead out. Lotto Belisol had the numbers game won with a lap to go, having taken over from Argos-Shimano on lap 28 of 30. Sporting their new, intergalactic-look platinum...

  • Contador announces possible Giro d’Italia and Tour de France bid at San Luis

    Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) on a training ride in San Luis, Argentina prior to next week's Tour de San Luis.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 14:32 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Spaniard begins season in Argentina

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) may have another crack at a Giro d’Italia and Tour de France bid in 2013. Speaking ahead of the Tour de San Luis, the 2012 Vuelta a España winner told the press that the option of competing for wins at both races was appealing but that his final decision on a race programme has yet to be made.

    Asked he would aim to win two grand tours this year, he said: “It could be the Giro and the Tour. That’s the most possible option because the Giro isn’t as difficult as it has been for the last few years. It’s possible to do the Giro and then go the Tour and try and win both.”

    After the press conference, Contador’s press officer was keen to stress that no definitive plans have been made with regards to a race programme but the Italian press contingent were already licking their lips with the prospect of seeing the 2008 winner duel with Bradley Wiggins ahead of the Tour de France.

    Contador attempted the Giro and Tour double in 2011. He wiped the floor with the opposition in Italy [though later CAS stripped him of the title] at times toying with the peloton, but he came unstuck at the Tour, succumbing to fatigue, injury and fresher riders’ legs.

    Whatever race programme Contador does plump for, the Tour de France will remain the priority, although he was keen to stress that soft-pedalling around the Giro in preparation for the Tour was never going to be an option.

    San Luis

    Unlike last year, Contador has his destiny in his own hands and he looked a more relaxed rider as he held court with the press. Last year CAS was yet to rule on his doping case and his participation in San Luis was overshadowed by the looming case.

  • Voigt says thanks to Adelaide for a decade of support

    Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) was looking to entertain the crowd in his first race of the year
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 15:46 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    "Old diesel engine" gets a kick-start in likely farewell

    It's been ten years since Jens Voigt rode his first Tour Down Under. On Sunday night, at the People's Choice Classic, the event's warm-up criterium, the 41-year-old was determined to put on a show, his way of saying thanks in what is likely to be his final appearance racing at the Australian WorldTour event.

    "We had a little easy ride this morning and I said: 'You know what? I don't have a chance of winning anyway so I might as well do something silly and show myself, entertain the crowd,'” Voigt told Cyclingnews after the race. "I did get a nice big cheer yesterday at the team presentation and just a way to say thank you to them. To say thanks for welcoming me and now I'm here to entertain you."

    Voigt, one of the most popular members of the peloton, went on the attack from the opening lap. Along with Zak Dempster (UniSA - Australia), the pair opened up a gap that was as large as 57 seconds before being reeled in by the peloton, which was being driven by Lotto Belisol, with nine laps to go.

    In 2012, it was thought that the race would be his last time in Australia but after deciding to race for at least one more year, it was only fitting that he would once again kick off his season in Australia.

    "It's a good kick-start for my old diesel engine to shake off the dust from the winter and get it going," he explained. "It's nice, short, vicious, and that's what I need to get my body a kick-start to get into the season."

    Voigt admits that reviewing his plans for retirement for one more season has become a recurring trope in recent years. "I keep saying that," he said. Even on Sunday night, he was unwilling to say "definitely" instead choosing "very, very probably" but it's a...

  • Germany names Worlds 'cross team

    Philip Walsleben (BKCP Powerplus)
    Article published:
    January 20, 2013, 17:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    National champion Walsleben in Kentucky, but no women riding

    Germany is sending sending former U23 world champion Philipp Walsleben to the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 2 and 3. He will lead a team which this year does not have any women in attendance.

    Walsleben is a four-time national champion, having most recently won the title earlier this month. Second in that race was his teammate Marcel Meisen, who will be Germany's other rider in the Worlds race.

    Michael Schweizer and Yannick Eckmann are nominated for the U23 race, with national Junior champion Marco König representing the country in that race.

    Germany is not sending any women to the championships.

    Walsleben will look for a top ten finish in the race. “Walsleben and Meisen have very often ridden amongst the prize winners in the World Cup races, so that we are confident that they can bring in good placings in the World Championships,” said German cycling federation vice president Udo Sprenger.