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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, October 13, 2013

Date published:
October 13, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Santambrogio: The affection of the internet saved me

    Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) won the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia, finishing first atop the Jafferau
    Article published:
    October 12, 2013, 14:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian threatened suicide following EPO positive

    Mauro Santambrogio has thanked the “affection of the internet” for saving him after he appeared to threaten suicide in a post on Twitter on Thursday night. The Italian rider tested positive for EPO at this year’s Giro d’Italia and admitted that he had struggled to cope with the widespread condemnation of his peers and the cycling public.

    On Thursday evening, Santambrogio – whose Twitter account had not been updated since the day news of his positive test broke in June – posted the chilling message “Goodbye world,” followed shortly afterwards by “I can’t do it any more.”

    Santambrogio’s tweets provoked an avalanche of responses, from journalists and fellow riders, as well as from cycling fans, and a couple of hours later, he posted to allay their fears. “I have to and I will win this race,” he wrote. “Thank you for helping me reflect and for saving me.”

    On Friday afternoon, Santambrogio spoke with Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Ciro Scognamiglio near his home in Inverigo, in the province of Como, and explained what had driven him to that point.

    “I touched rock bottom and maybe I even went below that. But now I feel better,” Santambrogio said. “I understood that I was doing something stupid, something that was bigger than me. The affection that I felt around me on the internet saved me.”

    Santambrogio won stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia in the snow atop the Jafferau and finished the race in 9th place overall, but his startling performances throughout the early part of the season had...

  • Basso would welcome Scarponi at Cannondale

    Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali watch on
    Article published:
    October 12, 2013, 16:11 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Two-time Giro champion sees no issues about working with former rival

    Ivan Basso says that he would welcome Michele Scarponi at Cannondale, if the Italian were to sign with the team for 2014.

    “Scarponi is a really good champion,” Basso told Cyclingnews ahead of the second stage of the Tour of Beijing. “Every good rider and champion is welcome in the team. Cannondale have been a top team in the world for many years, so the management know very well who is good to bring into the team to make it the best.”

    Scarponi is out of contract with Lampre-Merida this season and his options for 2014 are believed to include re-signing with the team or moving to either Cannondale or Astana.

    Since the departure of Vincenzo Nibali at the end of last season, Basso has been the sole grand tour contender for Cannondale. A perineal cyst ruled him out of the Giro d’Italia just 48 hours before the start in Naples, however, and Basso’s only grand tour in 2013 was Vuelta a España, where he withdrew with hypothermia on stage on stage 14.

    Basso and Scarponi have long been rivals and have both won the Giro d’Italia for their respective teams, after previously serving suspensions for their links to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. Basso won the race in 2010 (having already claimed the 2006 edition), while Scarponi was awarded the 2011 title after the original winner Alberto Contador was stripped of his title following the retroactive application of a doping ban.

    Despite this, Basso believes that the two riders could work together. “We are professionals, so we know how we have to ride. I have ridden with many champions in my career...

  • NCC champion Allar signs with Colavita

    Erica Allar (CARE4CYCLING powered by Solomon Corp) wins the St. Charles Criterium
    Article published:
    October 12, 2013, 16:59 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Pipes, Prinner move with criterium specialist

    The Colavita/Fine Cooking team announced the signing of 2013 National Criterium Calendar overall winner Erica Allar for the 2014 season. Coming along with Allar are her 2013 teammates Lenore Pipes and Jessica Prinner.

    Allar has been the dominant woman of the American criterium scene, having taken the USA Crits and National Criterium Calendar overall titles two years in a row.

    "We are thrilled to welcome Erica to our program," John A. Profaci, the Vice President of Colavita USA, said. "With Erica's speed and our strengths in teamwork and strategy, Colavita/Fine Cooking will be delivering results that make headlines."

    Allar joins returning riders Lindsay Bayer, Laura Brown, Jennifer Purcell, Whitney Schultz, and Mary Zider on the team. "Colavita/Fine Cooking is a very accomplished squad," Allar said. "We will have lots of options next year for breakaways and sprints."

    The team will work to win Allar a third overall title in the NCC in 2014, a task made somewhat less daunting by the large reduction in the number of race days on the calendar, just announced by USA Cycling this week.

    Allar said it was a challenge to get to all 24 of the events this year - a calendar that amounted to nearly 40 days of racing for the women - but that the reduced calendar will be better.

    "I am glad that the NCC is shorted next season. There were simply too many events in the NCC this year," Allar told Cyclingnews. "I was interested to see how the shortened NCC schedule would affect the NRC schedule. I have confidence in the people at USA Cycling and the committees in that they would create balance in both series and it looks as though they've done just that. I am excited about the 2014 season."

  • Sylvain Chavanel motivated for Paris-Tours

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma QuickStep)
    Article published:
    October 12, 2013, 21:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Final race with Omega Pharma-Quickstep for Frenchman

    Sunday's final Classic of the year, Paris-Tours, may be the final race with Omega Pharma-Quickstep for Sylvain Chavanel, but the 34-year-old is still motivated to get one last victory out of the season.

    "It is my last race with the team and I would like to close my experience with this great team with a good performance," Chavanel said. "We had great years together and that is why I would like to leave with a great race. This week I trained well, even on the parcours of the race, so I am pretty confident in being a protagonist and being there in the final on Sunday."

    Chavanel has spent five years with the Belgian squad, but will be moving to the Swiss project IAM Cycling for the coming season. He signed with Quickstep after a successful 2008 season with Cofidis that included his first Tour de France stage win and a stint in the leader's jersey at the Vuelta a Espana.

    In his years with Omega Pharma-Quickstep, he accumulated two more Tour stage wins and spent time in the maillot jaune as well as leading the Vuelta again in 2011. Additionally, he was part of the team's world championship TTT squad for both 2012 and 2013.

    Although he's won two semi-classics, Brabantse Pijl and the Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2008, Chavanel has never had luck with this French finale to the one-day calendar, although he has shown his flair for riding off the front of the race in the past.

    “I've never had a lot of luck in this race," Chavanel said."But to me this race is important because in 2000 it was the race that gave me visibility when I was young. I took a solo breakaway for 220km alone, with 33 minutes of a maximum gap, and I was caught 15km from the finish. The big cycling public discovered...

  • Hushovd abandons Tour of Beijing

    A happy Thor Hushovd (BMC) after winning stage 1 at the Tour of Beijing
    Article published:
    October 13, 2013, 10:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Norwegian returns home due to daughter's illness

    Thor Hushovd (BMC) has left the Tour of Beijing in order to return to Norway, where his daughter has been hospitalised with an undisclosed illness. The Norwegian was a non-starter on stage three of the race, from Yanqing to Qiandiajian.

    "Obviously, it is a big disappointment," Hushovd said, according to a BMC statement. "Of course, I wish I could finish my season in downtown Beijing on Tuesday."

    Hushovd had claimed victory in the bunch sprint on the opening stage of the Tour of Beijing but lost his overall lead to Nacer Bouhanni ( on stage two.

    His abandon brings the curtain down on his second season at BMC. After a lacklustre 2012, Hushovd continued to struggle in the early part of this season and failed to make an impact at the classics. As the campaign progressed, so too did Hushovd’s form, however, and he finishes the year with a haul of nine victories, including the Norwegian national title and two stages at the Tour of Poland.

    “I had my ups and downs in the beginning of the year. My classics were a disaster,” Hushovd admitted. “But I had nine wins, which is quite good. So in total, I am satisfied with my season."

  • Ulissi still keen to improve

    Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida)
    Article published:
    October 13, 2013, 11:26 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian claims another win at Giro dell'Emilia

    After adding Giro dell’Emilia victory to his recent triumphs at Milano-Torino and the Coppa Sabatini, Diego Ulissi is Italian cycling’s man of the moment, but the Lampre-Merida rider says that he needs to make a further leap in quality if he is to win a 250-kilometre classic.

    “I’m the first one to realise that I’m still missing something,” Ulissi said, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. “But I’ve made great strides this season and I want to continue like that. I have [Lampre trainer and former classics specialist] Michele Bartoli very close to me and he makes me work very hard. I’m sure that will bear fruit.”

    Still only 24 years of age, the former junior world champion has put together his best season to date as a professional, claiming six victories in total, but it is his late-season form that has particularly caught the eye.

    There was a certain degree of inevitability about Ulissi’s victory on the hilltop finish atop Bologna’s Colle di San Luca on Saturday, coming as it did after similar wins on Superga at Milano-Torino and in Peccioli at the Coppa Sabatini.

    “If I’m in one of those moments where everything comes off, it’s also because I have a team that is supporting me in everything I do,” said Ulissi, who had help from Michele Scarponi, Damiano Cunego and Kristijan Durasek in the finale of the Giro dell’Emilia.

    “It was a difficult finale to interpret, with a lot of attacks and counter-attacks. Durasek’s attack from distance was fundamental because it meant I could stay on the wheels. I was able to tackle the last climb of San Luca...

  • Bouhanni enjoying late season success at Tour of Beijing

    Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) on the podium in Tour of Beijing
    Article published:
    October 13, 2013, 12:45 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    FDJ rider says summit finish is too hard for him to keep lead

    Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) extended his lead at the Tour of Beijing after his second victory in as many days on stage 3 to Qiandiajian.

    The finale was a fast one with a lot of attacks, including a late effort from Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) but Bouhanni held tough on the final climb and finished with a clear gap over his fellow sprinters.

    The Frenchman waited until the perfect moment to pounce, after sitting on Alessandro Petacchi’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep lead-out train in the closing kilometres.

    “I was behind Petacchi with 250 metres to go,” Bouhanni said after the stage. “I went to the left, I didn’t hesitate and I went for it.”

    Bouhanni held off Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) to take the victory, his eleventh of the season. In recent weeks, he has won the Tour de Vendee, GP Fourmies and hat-trick of stages at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes.

    After two flat stages in the opening two days, stage three was a tougher prospect for the sprinters, who had to contend with seven climbs in order to stay in contention for the win. Now in his third year as a professional, Bouhanni has built up the resistance necessary to survive a succession of climbs, and the sprinter found his way into the reduced lead group at the finish.

    “It was hard,” said Bouhanni. “But the team worked really hard and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Normally I’m good on a two or three kilometre climb and today I was fine.”

    On Monday, the riders take on the Tour of Beijing’s first-ever summit finish, to Mentougou Miaofeng Mountain. Bouhanni holds an 11-second lead after stage 3, but he dismissed any notion that he might keep...

  • Flecha looking forward to taking a break from cycling

    Juan Antonio Flecha in his last WorldTour level race
    Article published:
    October 13, 2013, 14:50 BST
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Spaniard has no post-career plans yet

    Juan Antonio Flecha will bow out of professional cycling, when the Tour of Beijing finishes next Tuesday.

    The Spanish cyclist announced after Il Lombardia, last week, that his 14-year career will come to a close. Unlike Marco Pinotti, who also retires after the race, Flecha is still undecided on what he will do once he's retired.

    "I just want to enjoy what I've done, take my time and decide what I want to do," Flecha told Cyclingnews, ahead of stage 3 of the Tour of Beijing. "Maybe I will stay in cycling, if I have the opportunity to stay in cycling or not. We will see, but I don't want to rush on that.

    "For the moment I will take some time off and enjoy my time, enjoy life and then we will see." Many riders head into sport directing, after retiring. While agreeing that it is a possibility, he says that it's one of many. For now, he is going to be swapping "the bike for the surf."

    Flecha's Vacansoleil team are also coming to a close at the end of the season, after they lost both their primary and secondary sponsors. They are one of five pro teams to do so, but he says that this didn't play a part in his decision. Instead, Flecha sees his decision to retire as a moment of clarity, rather than something that was forced upon him. "It was something that I was thinking about since last year," he says.

    "When you near the end of your career you think, maybe this is the last one or maybe that is the last one. I was almost 90% decided at the end of last year and coming into the beginning of the season. Then I saw it most...