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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, March 9, 2014

Date published:
March 09, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Pourseyedi Golakhour: My Langkawi victory is a clean one

    Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour on the podium
    Article published:
    March 08, 2014, 11:56 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Iranian happy to be first Asian to win the Tour de Langkawi

    Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical) tried to quash doubts over his Tour de Langkawi victory. The Iranian rider has been subjected to questions regarding doping since he took hold of the yellow jersey, but he dismissed the idea that it was anything but clean.

    “I promise that I and all other riders on our team are clean. We are clean and we work hard and we do hard training always,” said Pourseyedi Golakhour in the post race conference. “Now I am training and doing a lot of hard work. Before we came here we did a training camp in Iran and other big countries. At the moment our country is cold so we went for some hot weather. Right now I am doing a lot of hard work and hard training. I am in a strong team and I will do my best for cycling and to keep cycling every day.”

    Pourseyedi Golakhour became the first Asian rider to win the Tour de Langkawi when he safely crossed the line on the race’s final stage this Saturday. The Iranian was obviously delighted at his achievement. “The Tour de Langkawi has been going for 19 years and I am very happy that an Asian rider has finally won the race and that an Iranian rider has won. After 19 years it is a good thing, I am very happy.

    “It is very special times because the organiser invited us to ride with six pro teams. After stage four we had more stages to defend the yellow jersey and I would like to give special thanks to my whole team.”

    It has been a case of defensive riding since the Iranian took hold of the yellow jersey on the queen stage to Genting Highlands. His performance on the climb raised a few eyebrows and many more questions. The Iranian rider attacked from the chasing group and was able to pull out over three minutes on his fellow chasers on the final climb.

    His victory was reminiscent of Mustafa Sayar’s at the Tour...

  • Sagan shrugs off Tinkoff transfer talk

    Peter Sagan won two stages in 2010
    Article published:
    March 08, 2014, 12:15 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale leader ready for the Classics

    Peter Sagan lined-up with his Cannondale teammates for the start of the Strade Bianche race in the shadows of the medieval towers of San Gimignano looking relaxed and keen to race, shrugging off reports that he may ride for the Tinkoff team in 2015 due to a fusion of the Russian team and Cannondale.

    Sagan has been training in Tuscany this week and perhaps flicked through Gazzetta dello Sport during a coffee stop at a bar to read the report that his Cannondale team is reportedly set to be integrated into the Tinkoff team in 2015. However he claimed he has not kept up to date on the latest transfer rumours.

    "I'm not really bothered by what's written in the newspapers. I haven't even read what was written…." Sagan told Cyclingnews, feigning ignorance.

    When Cyclingnews gave Sagan details of what was reported in Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday, that he will join forces with Alberto Contador and continue to ride a Cannondale bike in 2015, Sagan compared the news to previous rumours that he had signed with Fernando Alonso's team.

    "Yeah. But then other stories have come out that I haven’t signed anything. Before that there were the reports that I was going to ride for Alonso's team and now people are talking about Tinkoff. It's always the same story…."

    Sagan finished second at Strade Bianche last year, a few seconds behind teammate Moreno Moser but with the Italian not yet at his best, Sagan is expected to be the protected team leader for Cannondale.

    "I'm really happy that it’s time for the Classics. I'm ready," he said happy that the Italian spring had brought sunny and dry weather.

    Sagan will start in Italy to ride Tirreno-Adriatico before targeting Milan-San Remo and the cobbled Classics, including Paris-Roubaix.

    "We won last year and we'll try to do well again this year," he...

  • Prudhomme unhappy with Sky's withdrawal of Porte for Paris-Nice

    ASO's Christian Prudhomme has been at the Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    March 08, 2014, 15:27 GMT
    José Been

    ASO boss calls move 'cavalier'

    Defending champion Richie Porte will not defend his crown in Paris-Nice after Team Sky withdrew the Australian from the start list to replace Chris Froome in the Tirrenno Adriatico. The Tour de France champion withdrew with back problems. Race organizer ASO was not happy with the late chance to Team Sky's roster.

    "We find it a cavalier move to withdraw the defending champion just before the start of the race," race director Christian Prudhomme told AFP. "We were told that the Tirreno would be more favorable to obtain WorldTour points because of its characteristics and the time trial." 

    Paris-Nice revealed a course without any time trials or uphill finishes in the higher mountains. Many of the Grand Tour contenders, the big names in sprinting and classics' riders like Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans Jurgen van den Broeck, Bauke Mollema, Robert Gesink, Peter Sagan, André Greipel, Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara and Philippe Gilbert opted for the Tirreno Adriatico. The race between the two seas includes a team time trial, an individual time trial and two mountain stages. 

    "We stick to our route without time trials and big mountain top finishes," Prudhomme commented. "We did this to make the race attractive. The race can be decided on the flat stages and on the hillier stages to Mont Brouilly, [Mur de] Fayence or even on the last day." 

    Despite ASO's plans to make it an attractive race, Paris-Nice is left with a field with very few of cycling's super stars but includes outsiders and young guns. The biggest names on the start list are world champion Rui Costa, Giro-winner Vincenzo...

  • Kwiatkowski shows his class with Strade Bianche victory

    Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) can't believe he's won
    Article published:
    March 08, 2014, 17:01 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Beats Sagan into second place

    Peter Sagan is widely considered the future king of the Classics but Michal Kwiatkowski gave his former rival from the junior ranks a lesson in racing at the Strade Bianche and showed that he could go on to be one of the best riders of his generation.

    Kwiatkowski is more reserved and lacks Sagan's natural self belief but he is equally ambitious.

    "We raced like today in the past, as juniors, we always escaped from the others and it’s a fantastic feeling to be on the same level as him," Kwiatkowski said in the post-race press conference.

    "I've got some good memories from our juniors days. "We took two different paths and he arrived at the top faster than me but I did my own work and followed my own way."

    "I'm a little surprised to go so well. My big goals are the Ardennes Classics and Tirreno-Adriatico because I was fourth last year. I'm still only 23, so I know I have to focus on my training and see what happens. I'd love to arrive at the top one day but I know you have to work a lot to get there."

    Kwiatkowski first earned a leadership role at Omega Pharma-Quick Step with second place at the 2012 Tour of Poland. He finished fourth at the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico, 11th in the Tour de France (third in the best young rider's competition behind Quintana and Talansky) and ended the season as part of the Omega Pharma-Quick team that won the world TTT title in Florence.

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step again used their strength in depth to dominate Strade Bianche, with Kwiatkowski going after Sagan, knowing that his teammates would protect his attack.

    "We are always motivated to win and that's the thing. We don’t use races for training," Kwiatkowski said when asked why Omega Pharma-Quick Step is dominating the races this season.

    "We all came here to win, that was the goal. I have to thank the team today. Mark (Cavendish), Ale (Petacchi) and Mark Renshaw all helped me when I had a big crash early on and...

  • Gallery: Paris-Nice through the lens of Tim De Waele

    Tom Boonen flexes his muscles
    Article published:
    March 08, 2014, 19:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    From Floyd Landis to Bradley Wiggins, Richard Virenque to Pavel Tonkov

    The 72nd edition of Paris-Nice starts on Sunday with a stage from Mantes to la-Jolie and while the pre-race talk has been centred around Team Sky’s change in line-up the race could still be one of the most exciting stages races of the season to date.

    Race organisers ASO have turned the typical format for race on its head, discarding the typical summit finishes and time trials, instead choosing to orchestrate a route that could provide a race that goes right to the wire.

    The new look route will see the likes of Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) go head to head and in this exclusive gallery we look through nearly two decades of the race with images from Tim De Waele’s extensive photo gallery.

    From Floyd Landis to Bradley Wiggins, Richard Virenque to Pavel Tonkov, just click here for the gallery.

  • Cancellara: "The strongest rider won Strade Bianche"

    Two-time Strade Bianche champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) finishes 6th in the 2014 edition
    Article published:
    March 08, 2014, 21:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Admits he was unable to put up a fight against Kwiatkowski

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) quietly and sportingly accepted defeat at the end of the Strade Bianche race in Siena, admitting that he'd seen that Michal Kwiatkowski was on great form and having a perfect day.

    Cancellara was in the select group of riders that formed after the seventh section of dirt roads and even fought to get back on after a puncture but was unable to respond when Peter Sagan (Cannondale) attacked and Kwiatkowski went after him.

    Cancellara tried to inspire the chase behind but the race had already slipped his grasp.

    "Kwiatkowski was playing with us," he said as he fought the pain of the 200km race and fought to keep hold of his post-race bidon as schoolchildren and tifosi tried to rip it from his hand.

    "When I saw him get back, I knew who'd win. Riders know when another rider’s is on a great day, we can see it. He was pedalling really easy and his team was strong too. He was the only one to get across to Peter and then dropped him."

    Cancellara has used his strength to win Strade Bianche twice but the rolling hills of Tuscany, the 45km of dirt roads and a stiff side wind made this year's especially selective, almost as selective as an Ardennes Classic.

    "This race was different this year. It was much harder. I'm not saying it's become a climber's race but it definitely suits riders who are a lot lighter than me," he said.

    "To make things worse, both me and Alejandro Valverde punctured and had to chase at one point. I spent a lot of energy to get back on. I don't know if that cost me a chance of victory but I have to be satisfied. I got back on in the same place where Peter attacked but he made a clever move. That's racing. The strongest rider won Strade Bianche. We all saw that."


  • Van Hummel: I enjoy cycling more than ever

    Kenny van Hummel (Androni Giocattoli) celebrates his win
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 8:03 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Sprinter hoping for more victories in 2014

    After believing that his career was over last winter, Kenny van Hummel says signing with Androni Giocattoli-Venuzuela has given him a new lease of life and passion for cycling.

    “I enjoy cycling more than ever now, because it was almost over and I was almost retired,” he told Cyclingnews. “Of course I have pressure, but it’s not like all the other years. I’m happy that I’m still on the bike and I really enjoy cycling more than ever now.”

    Van Hummel had a verbal agreement with Fernando Alonso to ride for his new team in 2014, after his own Vacansoleil-DCM team folded. When the Alonso team fell through he found himself without a contract and no interest from any other teams. The Dutch rider had already begun making plans for his new life when Gianni Savio came along and offered him a place in his Pro Continental team.

    “It was a big issue last year, because I didn’t know what to do and I was already looking to study. Then suddenly Gianni was there and he asked me if I wanted to fill a spot for a sprinter,” Van Hummel explains. “So I said yeah of course, but I had to lose a lot of weight. In my head I had already retired. I lost 10 kilograms before the season started so I am in good condition.”

    The good condition showed on stage six of the Tour de Langkawi when Van Hummel raced to victory over Aidis Kruopis of Orica-GreenEDGE. After the stage, the Dutch rider said that it was a hugely important victory for him after the turbulent winter. It was also the perfect way to repay his new team boss’ faith. “It was a...

  • Porte understands ASO’s ire, says switch to Tirreno makes sense

    Richie Porte heads for the overall win 2013
    Article published:
    March 09, 2014, 9:55 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Says withdrawal from race for Tirreno-Adriatico is not a sign of disrespect

    Paris-Nice race director Christian Prudhomme of the ASO may have said that Team Sky's withdrawal of defending champion Richie Porte in favour of a more suitable Tirreno-Adriatico in lieu of an injured Chris Froome a "cavalier move." but Porte insists that is indeed not the case.

    "I totally understand the remarks from the ASO," Porte told Cyclingnews on Sunday. "Paris-Nice is an historic race and very important to the ASO, and also it's very important to me too, as it was the first big race I won in my career.

    "I don’t think they should see it as a sign of disrespect. I guess sometimes people have to make hard decisions and that’s what we did."

    The hard decision came after reigning Tour de France champion Froome withdrew from Tirreno citing back problems thus leaving a gaping hole in Team Sky's GC plans.

    "I have been professional now for years and I have never done Tirreno," said Porte of the week-long race commonly referred to as the 'Race of the Two Seas' due to its route between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatico coasts of Italy. "I have always done Paris-Nice and other than last year it has always been the race I've always been the most nervous about all season.

    "I looked at the Paris-Nice parcours this year and it was not one that suited me. If the Paris-Nice course was the same as last year, I would still be racing Paris- Nice, but it’s not. It’s a different race with the same name."

    With Porte's departure from Paris-Nice, teammate Geraint Thomas will now be given the reins. With Thomas' promotion, fellow Sky rider Ben Swift was called up for Saturday's Strade...