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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, January 5, 2014

Date published:
January 05, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Lefevere unconcerned by Cavendish's winter condition

    Mark Cavendish rolls to the start line
    Article published:
    January 04, 2014, 14:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    First yellow jersey at Tour de France the target for Manxman

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has declared himself wholly unconcerned by Mark Cavendish’s winter condition, pointing out that the important thing is that his sprinter is on top form come the opening stage of the Tour de France on July 5, still six months away.

    In a tweet ahead of Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s December training camp, Cavendish told followers that he was aiming to lose some weight, playfully adding that this particular titbit would be “bait for lazy journalists”.

    That tweet and a subsequent photograph of Cavendish togged out for winter training duly sparked the interest of Gazzetta dello Sport, who wondered whether the Manxman’s first sprint of 2014 would be “against the weighing scales”.

    The question was given short shrift by Patrick Lefevere. “I’m not very interested in what Mark weighs right now. I’m interested in him winning the first stage of the Tour de France in England on July 5 and wearing the first yellow jersey,” he told Gazzetta. “We can also say that he’s not 1.9 metres tall, so it’s more noticeable if he puts on five kilos. But there aren’t any problems.”

    Lefevere’s point was backed up by Omega Pharma-QuickStep directeur sportif Davide Bramati, who warned of the folly of using photographs as a gauge of a rider’s condition.

    “Maybe it’s the fault of the British champion’s jersey, which is white, a colour that makes you appear heavier,” Bramati said. “I know that Mark has already arrived in Spain ahead of the next training camp. For me, he hasn’t gained any more weight than he did in the same period...

  • Joaquim Rodríguez to start season in San Luis

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
    Article published:
    January 04, 2014, 16:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard aims for Giro and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2014

    Joaquim Rodríguez starts his 14th season as a pro cyclist in Argentina, just as he did in 2013. Katusha's roster for the UCI 2.1 Tour de San Luis includes four Spaniards and two Italians, as Rodriguez is joined by compatriots Dani Moreno, Ángel Vicioso and Alberto Losado, as well as Luca Paolini and Giampaolo Caruso.

    Rodríguez has already revealed to Cyclingnews that the Giro d'Italia will be his main target for the upcoming season, and he believes that the Tour de San Luis offers an ideal start to his campaign.

    "The stages are varied, with no less than three summit arrivals plus a time trial. It’s a perfect route to build up a good work base. I definitely won’t be starting out to win because I’m still behind in my preparation and over all because the South Americans will be arriving in top form and highly motivated," Rodríguez said.

    As well as the Giro, Rodríguez's other big goal for 2014 is Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Catalan was beaten by Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) last year, but is determined to add his name to the palmares. "Liège is the main classic to me, every year again. I was very close in 2013. Its a great race and my attack in the final of last year's race was almost perfect," Rodríguez told Agencia San Luis. "I hope to be lucky next year and win my favorite Classic."

    At the Tour de San Luis, Rodríguez will face tough opposition at the beginning of the road season. Movistar brings the Quintana brothers and Tour of Beijing winner Beñat Intxausti. BMC lines up Taylor Phinney and its new signing Darwin Atapuma while Astana bring former winner Vincenzo Nibali,...

  • Dario Cioni appointed directeur sportif at Team Sky

    Dario Cioni (Team Sky) made it to the finish
    Article published:
    January 04, 2014, 18:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fourth role for Italian after spells as rider, business manager and press officer

    Dario Cioni will serve as a directeur sportif for Team Sky in 2014, his fourth different role at the British team. Cioni was a rider on Sky’s original roster in 2010 before retiring at the end of 2011 to become a business manager, with particular responsibility for the team’s Italian sponsors. He has combined that position with a role as an on-race press officer over the past two seasons.

    Although Team Sky issued no formal press communiqué to announce Cioni’s appointment as a directeur sportif, his profile on the team website has been updated to reflect his new status.

    “I love being part of this team, especially given the huge progress we’ve made in the last four years both on and off the bike. It is nice to have been able to contribute to that in various different areas,” Cioni said, according to

    “I’m really excited to work as a Sports Director as well this year because it means I can combine the tactical experience I learned as a rider with the organisational skills needed to ensure everything runs smoothly off the bike as well.”

    Cioni had already played a significant role in Sky's preparations for last year's Giro d'Italia, when he was charged with scouting the team time trial course in Ischia and he also accompanied coach Tim Kerrison in supervising Bradley Wiggins's reconnaissance in the Dolomites.

    Cioni is the second new directeur sportif appointed by Sky this winter, following the arrival of Dan Frost from Saxo-Tinkoff during the off-season. Frost’s arrival and Cioni’s elevation will help to offset the departures of Dan Hunt, who has taken up a role in football as...

  • Brajkovic balances team duties and personal ambitions in 2014

    Janez Brajkovic goes for a solo spin
    Article published:
    January 04, 2014, 22:00 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Slovenian decries WorldTour points system

    Janez Brajkovic's predicament is one faced by many in the contemporary peloton. His primary task at Astana is to ride in support of Michele Scarponi at the Giro d’Italia and – perhaps – Vincenzo Nibali at the Tour de France, but with one year remaining on his current contract, the Slovenian is also keenly aware of the need to score WorldTour points of his own in order to secure his future.

    For some, the WorldTour rankings effectively make the domestique an endangered species, and in the dying weeks of the season, some riders feel almost obliged to defy team orders and chase points for themselves. At the other end of the spectrum, certain teams in recent years have refused to field high-value departing riders in autumn, lest they carry additional points with them to their new squads.

    "It's a mess, it’s just wrong," Brajkovic told Cyclingnews of the current WorldTour points system. "For a domestique who does his work all the year and sacrifices himself for the leader, at the end of the year, he has no points and he’s not valuable to the team and he risks not getting a contract. I think that’s wrong."

    Brajkovic is pencilled in to ride the Giro in support of Scarponi, although depending on the circumstances, he and Fabio Aru may have a degree of freedom in May. "The main goal is to get a good result with Scarponi, but if I ride really well, I think I’ll have my chances too," he said. In any case, Brajkovic’s aim is to pick up a smattering of points early in the campaign, so that he can ride unfettered by thoughts of WorldTour standings come the summer.

    "My primary goal is to start the season strong. If I can ride really well at the start of the season and get a few good results, there are not going to be problems with the contract,” he said. “But if I don’t start so well and struggle through the...

  • Cassani appointed as coach of Italian national team

    RAI commentators Davide Cassani and Auro Bulbarelli
    Article published:
    January 05, 2014, 10:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Formal ratification due in late January

    Davide Cassani has been appointed as the new coach of the Italian national team, pending formal ratification from the federal council of the Italian Cycling Federation, which will meet in late January.

    Cassani met with FCI president Renato Di Rocco at the Tuscan home of Italy’s most storied commissario tecnico, Alfredo Martini, on Saturday to discuss the role, which was left vacant following Paolo Bettini’s departure last week. Bettini has been linked with a managerial position at the new team being established by Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso for the 2015 season.

    A long-term regista, or road captain, on Martini’s Italian teams during his professional career, the 53-year-old Cassani had little hesitation in agreeing to take on the position of national team coach.

    “If I’ve said ‘yes’ straightaway, it wasn’t for the money,” Cassani told Gazzetta dello Sport, adding that leading the squadra azzurra at the Worlds was simply too tempting a prospect to turn down.

    “The Worlds has always been my race […] I fell in love with cycling thanks to [Vittorio] Adorni’s Worlds victory in 1968, when I was seven years old. For Gimondi’s Worlds in 1973, I refused to go to an uncle’s wedding. I stayed at my grandparents’ house and I watched the finale of the race on the edge of my seat.”

    The 92-year-old Martini welcomed the appointment of his former road captain as commissario tecnico or c.t. “Cassani has the role of c.t. written all over him,” Martini said in Sesto Fiorentino. “As a rider, he was already most perceptive and resolute when it came to understanding situations. And now, he can count on a wealth...

  • Rui Costa targets top ten finish at Tour de France

    Rui Costa gets ready to go out on track
    Article published:
    January 05, 2014, 11:14 GMT
    Cycling News

    World champion to explore possibilities in grand tours

    World champion Rui Costa will target a top ten finish at the Tour de France in 2014 as he makes the step up to a leadership role at his new team Lampre-Merida. He joins the squad on a one-year deal from Movistar, where he had spent five seasons.

    The Portuguese rider is pencilled in to lead the Lampre-Merida’s overall challenge at the Tour, a race in which the team has struggled to make an impact over the past two years. Rui Costa has shown his stage racing pedigree by winning the Tour de Suisse in 2012 and 2013, but he acknowledged that a three-week race is a very different matter.

    “One day, I have to assume the role of leader and test my limits in a three-week race,” Rui Costa told Eurosport Portugal of the Tour. “The objective is to be in the top 10, see how my body works and see if I’m cut out for a race of 21 days like the Tour.”

    Costa has ridden the Tour de France on five occasions during his career, with a best overall placing of 18th in 2012. Last year, he was forced to sacrifice his overall ambitions and wait for teammate Alejandro Valverde when he suffered mechanical problems on stage 13. He went on to reach Paris in 27th place overall, albeit with the considerable consolation of two stage victories.

    Like all world champions, Costa will be keen to mark his tenure in the rainbow jersey with an early victory, although he pointed out that the Ardennes classics – and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in particular – would be his principal target in the opening months of the season.

    “I like to be good in every race. Of course, Paris-Nice and the...

  • Durbridge doubtful for Australian time trial championships

    Luke Durbridge takes the win.
    Article published:
    January 05, 2014, 13:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    Orica-GreenEdge man missed Williamstown Criterium through illness

    Luke Durbridge's defence of his Australian road and time trial titles is in doubt after he was a non-starter in Sunday's Williamstown Criterium, the final event in the four-day Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic series.

    The Orica-GreenEdge rider was an impressive winner of the Portarlington Criterium on Saturday, out-sprinting Patrick Shaw (Satalyst) after they had escaped midway through the race, but he was forced out of the final event with a sore throat.

    Under-23 world time trial champion in Copenhagen in 2011, Durbridge has won the elite men's time trial title at the Australian championships in each of his first two seasons as a professional. This year's race takes place in Ballarat on Wednesday, while the road race takes place next Sunday.

    Orica-GreenEdge directeur sportif Matt Wilson said that Durbridge's illness is such that he is by no means certain to start the time trial on Wednesday.

    “No, not at all,” Wilson told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Last night [Saturday] he was saying there was a little bit of something in his throat, and then he woke up this morning saying it was really, really sore, so there was no way we were risking him today. We'll nurse him in the next couple of days and hope it doesn't get any worse.''

    Durbrige tweeted on Monday that he will be on the start line come...

  • Bronzini makes history at Bay Crits

    Giorgia Bronzini retains the leaders jersey
    Article published:
    January 05, 2014, 22:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    First non-Australian to win the title in 20 years

    Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Giorgia Bronzini completed her almost total domination of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - the Bay Crits - with a powerful sprint victory on stage four on Sunday, taking her personal total in the race up to three. The former two-time World road champion hit the finish line several lengths clear of the battle for second place once again, which was taken by compatriot Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) ahead of Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Securitor).

    The race had seen a five-rider breakaway escape early, but the break was caught at the start of the final lap. That's when Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Charlotte Becker led Bronzini out to perfection.

    "It was another hard race today because the lap was flat and really fast, and you had to brake into all the corners and sprint out again, so it was hard on the legs," Bronzini said.

    "We had a breakaway with Linda [Villumsen], and we were happy with that because Linda was the strongest rider in front," the Italian said. "With about five laps to go, the dhb Dream Team began to work, because they have a sprinter, too, and they had no one in front. For us this was good, because I was in the wheel and I could just think about the sprint.

    "In the final, Lotte was next to me, to put me in the best position in the last corner," Bronzini said. "I came out of the wheel in the last corner and just sprinted, so I had not so bad legs!"

    With an already near-unassailable lead...