- Article published:
- September 14, 2013, 20:07
- Alasdair Fotheringham
French riders earn fourth stage victory of this Vuelta
A few minutes before Chris Horner strode onto the mist-enshrouded winner's podium of the Vuelta a España, a rider 19 years his junior, France's Kenny Elissonde (Fdj.fr) celebrated his first Grand Tour win at the end of a spectacular breakaway following stage 20.
It has been an exceptional Vuelta for France this year, with four stage wins to date, three of them in difficult high mountain stages and going to riders, Elissonde and the equally impressive Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) who are only just in their twenties and in Elissonde's case, riding his first three-week race. So many breakthrough wins in a Grand Tour, which has in the last decade proved tough going for the French, augers well for them.
Part of a group of nearly three dozen breakaways, Elissonde moved ahead with Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) on the Cordal. Whilst it can be argued that Tiralongo dropped back to help teammate Vincenzo Nibali, the Frenchman's sheer determination to stay ahead on the slopes of Spain's hardest climb was ultimately what gave him the victory.
"I had very little info, I barely knew what was going on on the Angliru," Elissonde, who won the Ronde De L'Isard, a hugely prestigious French amateur race, in 2011, but whose only previous pro victory was a stage in Paris-Correze last year.
"I had no times until very late on. In the fog you couldn't see anything, and it was impossible to know if I was going to make it."
"Finally the support car got through, and I learned I had about 1:20 [gap]." In the end, that was barely 26 seconds, but it was enough.
Elissonde has hit the big time with a vengeance, for all he rode well this spring, taking fourth at the Green Mountain stage of Oman and eighth overall. But as he put it himself "if you had told me this morning I would win on the Angliru, one of the most mythical summits of the world and on a very tough course, I wouldn't have said it was possible."
"On top of that, I got in the breakaway, but early on I had very bad legs. I didn't know when I got to the top of the [third-category] first climb of the day if I could stay away." Finally, though, on a rather bigger challenge than a third category. Elissonde took a win that will remain one of the outstanding achievements of his whole career.
- Article published:
- September 14, 2013, 21:20
- Cycling News
Barbados, Turkey back pro-McQuaid measures
With just two weeks to go before the UCI Congress convenes in Florence, Italy to vote in its next president for the next four years, the forces for and against current president Pat McQuaid continue to take the unusual step of proposing to revise the UCI's Constitution ahead of the voting.
Three new amendments have been put forth, according to a UCI press release, supplementing one already proposed by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF). Malaysia put forward its amendment to Article 51.1 of the constitution in July, which would allow any two nations to nominate a candidate. The proposal included language that would make the amendment retroactive to this election.
The Secretary General of the Lithuanian National Federation sent a letter on August 16, 2013 to the UCI requesting that the transitional clause be removed.
McQuaid's nomination may hinge on the amendment being passed: although he claims that the Article 51.1 language which refers to "the federation of the candidate" as being any federation of which he is a member, his honorary membership in the Thailand and Morocco federations would not be historically viewed as valid for a nomination under the article. Should the amendment pass, it would make opposition to his nomination moot.
McQuaid's home federation, Ireland, and the federation of Switzerland, where he resides, both withdrew their nomination of him for the post.
On August 27, the Barbados Cycling Union proposed an alternative version of the MNCF proposal with firm pro-McQuaid language, stating, "the incumbent President shall qualify on the basis of incumbency."
The Turkish Cycling Federation the next day submitted an identical proposal, suggesting "The incumbent president has the right to stand for re-election without nominations."
Turkey also supported applying the amendment to this year's election.
"All three amendments were received before the cut-off date of 30 August for submissions to the UCI Congress," the UCI press release stated. "Several federations expressed concern about external interference in the elections nominations process. Federations highlighted that under Article 6.4 of the UCI Constitution, national federations must remain autonomous and resist financial and political pressure being put upon them, and that the Constitution also obliges federations to report any interference, or pressure, being put on them. The Federations of Barbados and Turkey made it clear in their letters that it was this concern that prompted their two amendments."
- Article published:
- September 14, 2013, 22:00
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Astana leader launches repeat attacks on Angliru
If Vincenzo Nibali's victory at the Giro d'Italia - once Bradley Wiggins (Sky) had gone home - was a question of fulfilling his role as leading pre-race favourite, the Italian's defeat at the Vuelta a Espana - and the way he refused to roll over and lose - was arguably even more impressive.
On Friday evening, after the Naranco summit finish where he lost the lead, Spanish TV commentators were roundly predicting that Nibali had reached a point of no return and would not be able to put up any kind of challenge on the Angliru.
They were proved wrong, and badly so. Instead Nibali shook off Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) with seven kilometres to go on stage 20, launched three more serious attacks further up the climb and only cracked when Horner soared away a kilometre to the finish. Even then, he took fourth on the stage, 54 seconds back, and retained his second place overall - his third straight podium finish in a Grand Tour after taking third in the 2012 Tour de France and first in the Giro this spring. But more than the results, Nibali's adamant refusal to surrender is arguably what impressed the most.
"I've tried everything I could and doing more than what I did was impossible," Nibali said. "I'm happy because I've done the whole climb flat out, and I knew I could count on my teammates in the breakaway."
"It's been a great battle on the Angliru. I was in great shape, but it's normal that I gave in to Horner at the end."
After winning the team time trial and leading the race for 13 days of the previous 20, Astana and Nibali have been in the limelight for a long time at the Vuelta. And just as that may have taken too much of a toll on the Italian, Nibali recognised too that at Formigal [stage 16] he "underestimated Horner and he gained a few seconds."
"But I have to be realistic, I didn't arrive at the Vuelta with the same condition that I had in the Giro."
"I've had great rivals: Horner, Valverde, Purito. The whole pace of this year's Vuelta has been very high. I'm fine with the outcome. Winner of the Giro and second at the Vuelta: it's pretty good."
- Article published:
- September 15, 2013, 06:00
- Peter Hymas
Canadian wraps up 2013 campaign on home soil
With Sunday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal looming as his final race of 2013, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) is hoping to close out a trying year with a solid result to carry him into the off-season. While he's not on the form he had in 2010 when he completed his season with a podium finish at the inaugural edition of the Montréal WorldTour race, a solid block of racing last week at the Tour of Alberta plus strong work in Friday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec in support of teammate Fabian Wegmann have held promise for the 32-year-old Canadian.
"I haven't really felt that great since the Tour," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews on Saturday morning during the three-hour train transfer from Québec to Montréal. "I had to take some recovery and sometimes you know you have good legs and other times you're just wondering so it was good to get Alberta in the legs and it definitely felt better yesterday [in Québec] than it did last year ." In 2012 Hesjedal rode in Québec for the third straight time and experienced his worst outing by far, finishing in 94th place, 5:18 down on winner Simon Gerrans.
On Friday, however, Hesjedal came to the fore on the penultimate 15th ascent of the Cote de la Montagne in support of teammate Fabian Wegmann who has never finished lower than 8th in each of the Québec race's previous three editions.
"It's a race that definitely builds over the day and gets harder and harder," said Hesjedal. "I wanted to try and make it as hard as possible because I knew that Fabian was good. I wanted to get rid of some of the pure sprinters and not have such a big bunch come to the line.
"I tried to test myself also - do a little effort and see where the legs are at. It was good to be on the front of the race and trying in that way. The legs weren't quite good enough to ride away but I hopefully started to shape the race a bit and Fabian finished it off."
Wegmann equalled his best performance in Québec on Friday with a second fourth place result in three years.
"Historically he's done well there and it's a course that suits him with the short, punchy climbs," said Hesjedal. "He's got a good finish on him and he showed that again yesterday." Nine riders arrived at the finish of the 201.6km race together with Wegmann taking fourth behind Robert Gesink (Belkin), Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
"I think's the team's performance was great. We only started with six guys and Thomas [Dekker] has a sore knee from Alberta so we were down to five pretty quick. I think we made good on that."
As a consolation Hesjedal was still able to make an appearance on the podium in Québec, albeit unexpected, as the best Canadian finisher. Hesjedal finished in 39th place, 40 seconds in arrears of Gesink on the uphill finale. One other rider was credited with the same finishing time, compatriot Ryan Anderson - currently of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies but competing in Québec as part of the Canadian National Team - who placed 40th.
It was a result which drew a chuckle from Hesjedal as he told Cyclingnews about the finish.
"We just came in together and I was sure that there was somebody (another Canadian) up there, but I made sure to cross the line in front of him although we didn't really fight for it," said Hesjedal. "I don't feel bad about that because he took the [top Canadian] jersey off of me in Alberta - which was good, he did a good ride on that day and finished with the jersey. That's good for him, he's from Alberta."
Anderson was part of an 18-rider break on stage three that finished nearly 17 minutes ahead of the peloton and ended the Tour of Alberta general classification hopes of anyone who missed the move. Hesjedal had held the best Canadian jersey heading into the stage, but Hesjedal finished 16:48 down on the day and the jersey passed to Anderson who kept it through to the finish.
North American opportunities and the pleasure of racing at home
2013 brings the fourth straight year of the WorldTour races in Québec and Montréal and with the Tour of Alberta appearing on the calendar this year there's now a bridge between two of the USA's premier stage races, the Tour of Utah and Colorado's USA Pro Challenge, and the one-day events in Canada. Being a member of a WorldTour team means Hesjedal has precious few opportunities to compete at home, and extending his race calendar in Canada is a welcome change.
"I just enjoy it," said Hesjedal. "I appreciate being here, I appreciate the fans, the support and it's fun to be in Canada and racing in top-level races. This is the fourth year of these Grand Prixs so it's already getting some history there and with Alberta it's a nice stretch you can look forward to at the end of the season.
"If you're not in the Vuelta you need racing and those guys have put together a good block - going at altitude in Utah through Colorado, and Alberta to fill that gap from Colorado to here. We'll see how the guys take it from this North American campaign into the world championships and meet up with the Vuelta guys.
"There's other guys doing different programmes as well, such as the Tour of Britain, so everyone chooses their path and I guess the guy that wins can say it was the right one," Hesjedal said with a laugh.
While there will be no world championships on Hesjedal's calendar, there's still one last race in Sunday in Montréal.
"I have to be realistic - it's been a hard year, a long year, and I'm just happy to be in these races in Canada. Montréal suits me a bit better [than Québec] and our team has more pure climbers on it so it should suit the team all around a bit more.
"If it comes down to a bunch of guys it's a different sprint. It's definitely one where not a pure sprinter can go. That's how I was on the podium, I took it from the corner, so we just have to make sure we give ourselves a chance to be in the final. We can't let anybody slip away and we'll try to have all the options we can. I'd love to be in the front of the race and finish on a high note."
And on Sunday afternoon, at approximately 4:00pm in Montréal following the race finale, Hesjedal will take a welcome off-season break.
"I did that in 2010 and 2011, stopping in Montréal, and it's a good time to stop the season. With a break maybe you can hit next year a bit sooner and better."
Just like 2012, when Hesjedal made history at the Giro d'Italia.
- Article published:
- September 15, 2013, 09:56
- Cycling News
Cromwell and Gillow for women's elite team
Cycling Australia has announced their line-up for cycling’s World Champions which take place later this month in Florence, Italy.
Cadel Evans (BMC) and Richie Porte (Team Sky) headline the men’s elite team with the in-form Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) and Rory Sutherland (Saxo Bank) also featuring. Porte and Dennis take Australia’s two slots for the men’s elite time trial.
Simon Gerrans misses out through injury, while Adam Hansen removed himself from possible selection. Michael Mathews, Mathew Hayman, Simon Clarke, Cameron Meyer, and David Tanner make up the rest of the nine-man team.
Directeur Sportif for the elite men, Brad McGee, takes charge for the first time.
“Cadel, Richie and Rohan Dennis have all shown very strong recent form and they will be supported by a highly capable line up of seasoned professionals.” said McGee, who will take the helm for the first time in Florence,” said directeur sportif for the men Brad McGee.
“Despite a couple of late injury set backs we have a strong squad capable of making the podium and we are going to Italy expecting success.”
The seven-strong Australian women’s team comprises of four Orica-AIS riders. Tiffany Cromwell, Gracie Elvin, Shara Gillow, and Amanda Spratt are joined by Amy Cure, Lauren Kitchen and Lotto’s Carlee Taylor.
Gillow will represent the team in the individual time trial.
"Australia always go into the Worlds with the expectation that our athletes will challenge for podium positions. Despite recent high profile omissions through injury, this group is capable of delivering across the categories.” said Cycling Australia’s High Performance Director Kevin Tabotta in a team statement.
“Shara Gillow and Tiffany Cromwell have recorded some of the best Aussie women’s results in recent memory, particularly in events such as the Giro Rosa, and on a good day this road race course will be well suited to them.”
Men’s elite team: Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE), Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Mathew Hayman (Team SKY), Michael Mathews (Orica-GreenEDGE), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE), Richie Porte (Team SKY), Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Bank Tinkoff Bank), David Tanner (Belkin Pro Cycling)
Time Trial: Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), Richie Porte (Team SKY)
Women’s elite team: Amy Cure (Jayco-AIS / Team Polygon Australia), Tiffany Cromwell (Orica-AIS), Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS), Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS), Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle Honda), Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS), Carlee Taylor (Lotto-Belisol)
Time Trial: Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS)
U23 team: Caleb Ewan (Jayco-AIS WTA), Campbell Flakemore (Jayco-AIS WTA/ Huon-Genesys), Damien Howson (Jayco-AIS WTA), Bradley Linfield (Jayco-AIS WTA), Adam Phelan (Drapac Profesional Cycling), Samuel Spokes (Jayco-AIS WTA / Etixx-Ihned), Calvin Watson (Jayco-AIS WTA)
Time Trial: Campbell Flakemore (Jayco-AIS WTA), Damien Howson (Jayco-AIS WTA)
- Article published:
- September 15, 2013, 11:55
- Cycling News
Course has to be right for sprinter to take title
Mark Cavendish has said that he can win the Tour of Britain one day. This year's climbing and time trial are not for him, but with the proper course, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider insisted he could take the title.
Since 2007, Cavendish has won seven stages at the race, including three last year.
"With time bonuses, given the right course, there is a year I believe I could win here," he told UK Eurosport.
It won't be this year though as the race features its first mountaintop finish, and a time trial. "This year there is a 10-mile time trial, so it's a very British route in some ways."
"It is a very difficult race so, as a pure sprinter, it's not possible this time. But who knows in the future, if the course is different."
Cavendish won the final stage of last year's Tour, his last win in the World Champion's jersey. "To be able to get that win was very significant for me. I was unfortunate not to win my first race in the jersey, I was sick, but I won my second race in it. So to win my second and last race book-ended quite a spectacular year.
"I was honoured to be able to finish that off, in front of home crowds. That was superb."
The Tour of Britain starts on Sunday in Scotland and finishes in London next Sunday.
- Article published:
- September 15, 2013, 12:20
- Stephen Farrand
Cookson defeats McQuaid 27-10 for European support
The members of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) have voted 27-10 to back Brian Cookson as the next UCI president.
In a secret vote held at an exceptional general assembly in Zurich on Sunday morning, 41 delegates voted, with Cookson securing an important majority.
As a consequence the UEC has mandated their 14 delegates at the UCI Congress to vote for Cookson at the UCI elections in Florence on September 27. However the vote at the UCI Congress is a secret vote. A total of 42 delegates vote in UCI presidential elections, with a simple majority enough to win the election.
Early in the meeting, the representatives of different European national cycling federations also voted against supporting the proposal by the Morocco and the Asian Cycling Confederation to allow a presidential candidate to be nominated by any two federations, rather than the federation of the candidate.
With Pat McQuaid struggling to defend his nomination, the weight of the 14 UEC votes could play a major role if McQuaid can legally stand for a third term. The vote on constitutional change will be made at the UCI Congress in Florence before the election of a president.
McQuaid quickly left the meeting but insisted he is still confident of being elected for a third term.
"I've got a valid nomination and I'll be running for president. The elections is in two weeks and there's a lot of work to be done," he said.
"I'm confident I'll have a majority due to the feedback I've had from delegates and confederations."
Cookson was congratulated by many of the European national federation presidents who voted for him.
"This is a vital vote, it's 14 votes secured," he said.
"There's still a long way to go and I've been speaking to people all around the world. I'm confident that things are not quite as solid (for Pat) as he might believe. We'll see."
"I think people liked what I had to say. I'm trying to raise the tone of this election and hopefully the next ten days can be more positive in spirit. I think the candidates need to focus on the issues and not on personal aspects."
During the general assembly, both incumbent president Pat McQuaid and rival candidate Brian Cookson gave speeches, laying out their plans and proposals for the future of cycling.
Cookson revealed that if McQuaid's candidature was ruled unconstitutional, he would only agree to become president if he secured a majority vote.
Both candidates promised to work to restore the credibility of cycling after the many doping scandals. They both said they would develop women's cycling, defend cycling at the Olympics and fight any plans for a commercially run WorldTour system.
Cookson denied McQuaid's recent suggestion that he will work from Britain rather than living in Switzerland, while McQuaid asked for a third term to finish off the work he has done as UCI president.
- Article published:
- September 15, 2013, 14:49
- Cycling News
Garmin rider flies home early for medical examinations
Thomas Dekker's has been forced to pull out of Sunday's GP de Montreal after sustaining injures to both knees in two crashes.
Dekker had been in consideration for Garmin's world championships team time trial squad, but now must fear that his place is in jeopardy, as well as the rest of his season.
He injured his right knee in a crash while testing the prologue course in the Tour of Alberta on September 3. At that time, his management tweeted,”he is ok, but he will need to accelerate from his saddle in the prologue. His focus is to make the World TTT squad.”
He was able to ride out the whole race, which was won by his teammate and roomate Rohan Dennis.
From there the team moved east to prepare for the GP de Quebec, where disaster struck again, as Dekker crashed again, inuring his left knee. He had to abandon the race, and watched the ending of it from his bed in his hotel room, which he tweeted was “not easy”.
The Dutchman, who turned 29 last week, was scheduled to ride today's GP Montreal as well, “Flying back tonight. Knee is hurting too much. Monday I have to take a scan... Dissapointed..!!” he tweeted on Saturday.
The run of bad luck weighed heavily on him. “For me the last 2 weeks it's everyday friday the 13th. Bad crash again. When does the bad luck going to finish...???"
Very little has gone as planned this year for Dekker in this, his second year with Garmin-Sharp and his second full year back from his doping suspension. He started the year off by making a full doping confession to the Dutch federation, and between that and the spate of other former Rabobank riders' confessions, admitted that “I had a lot on my mind with all those doping confessions. Then your head is not always in training and competitions."