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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, August 29, 2013

Date published:
August 29, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Romain Feillu hopes appendectomy will solve performance problems

    Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM) on the podium following his second place finish
    Article published:
    August 28, 2013, 15:40 BST
    José Been

    Frenchman has suffered from stomach ailment since 2011

    For the past two seasons the French sprinter Romain Feillu had zero victories. After his emergency appendix surgery mid-August the Vacansoleil-DCM rider is optimistic that he has finally found the reason he has under-performed. "These health problems may have cost me one and a half or maybe even two years. The doctors are unsure of that," the Vacansoleil-DCM rider told Cyclism'Actu and Cyclingnews, "but after my surgery for appendicitis I feel I am on the way back. I am not tired, and at 29 years old I still have a lot to win."

    Feillu , a pro since 2007, started with Vacansoleil-DCM back in 2010 and won the Tour de Picardie, the GP de Fourmies, the Tour du Finestère and eight stages in several stage races. His last victory dates back to June 2011 when he won the final stage of the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg.

    In 2012 and 2013 he earned several podium places but no victories. The Frenchman explained that health issues were to blame. "I have had problems with vomiting, even back in 2011 when I was very successful," Feillu said. "But in the past six months alone I have been to the hospital five times. The doctors didn't know what was wrong. They even said that I had forced things myself, that I had done too much. The last time I went to hospital I said never mind. If you go to hospitals so many times and they never find anything, it just doesn't make any sense anymore."

    In August 2012, Feillu was diagnosed with a bacterial infection of the stomach. “The problems with the vomiting just kept bothering me. Maybe it was a food allergy, or maybe I was not eating well. It was a bit of a mystery," he said. "When they found the bacterial infection and I started watching my diet better, things improved...

  • Matthews shines in Spain

    Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) wins in Lago de Sanabria.
    Article published:
    August 28, 2013, 18:03 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Former U-23 World Champ takes first Grand Tour stage win

    Former U-23 world champion Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) took his maiden Grand Tour stage on Wednesday in what was an extremely tough bunch sprint finish at Lago de Sanabria on stage 5 of the Vuelta a España.

    Just 22 and taking part in his first Grand Tour, Matthews took his first WorldTour win as far back as 2011, in the Tour Down Under. But after wins in the Clásica Almeria – one of Spain’s last surviving one-day races – and stage victories in the Tour of Utah in both 2012 and 2013, Matthews win in the Vuelta represents a big step up for the young Australian pro.

    The victory itself was not at all easy, coming at the end of a technically challenging final few kilometres, a stage with a lot of climbing and to cap it all a very fast final hour as Garmin-Sharp and Orica-GreenEdge raised the pace dramatically to pull in a very dangerous five-man breakaway.

    “It’s the first Grand Tour I’ve ever done so I wasn’t expecting this win, but I was hoping for something here,” said Matthews, nicknamed Bling after turning up at a track race as a teenager adorned in a large selection of gold jewellery.

    “I knew I had the form, but it’s one thing having the form and another being able to win and that takes a lot of devotion form the team and that hard work was exactly what they did today.

    “20 other guys could have won today, but I was lucky to be in the right position and I had the legs to finish it off.”

    Matthews singled out Julian Dean, who gave the team a very detailed breakdown of what was a dauntingly difficult finish as being another key to his success. “He told us exactly what to expect, and knowing that in advance was...

  • Piedra rues missed opportunity in Vuelta a España breakaway

    Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural) on a huge ride for his small team
    Article published:
    August 28, 2013, 19:30 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Caja Rural pro says five-man break could have succeeded

    Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural) says he was convinced that the breakaway on stage five of the Vuelta a España could have succeeded had the rainy weather continued right the way to the finish.

    “It was very close,” Piedra, one of the five riders that took off early on the hilly stage to Lago de Sanabria, said afterwards. “We were working well, we got a really good gap” – a maximum margin of 10-25 which only shrank notably in the last 20 kilometres.

    “When we hit the rough roads with about 30 kilometres to go and it started to rain, I thought that would see the peloton sit up a bit with the conditions becoming more difficult.

    “But instead they kept going and we had a really tough battle out there to stay away.”

    Piedra and the four other breakaways did not surrender without a major struggle though, with the Spaniard caught around seven kilometres from the line, making for a 165 kilometre breakaway, and Arnaud Courteille ( and Jurgen Van De Walle (Lotto-Belisol) sticking it out until three kilometres to the line.

    Piedra clinched Caja Rural’s biggest victory of the team’s recent history last year when he took a hugely prestigious win on the Lagos De Covadonga stage for the Pro Continental squad.

  • Flecha aims to continue racing in 2014

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) attacks the Oude Kwaremont
    Article published:
    August 28, 2013, 20:32 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Veteran Spaniard yet to confirm team for next season

    Spanish Classics star Juan Antonio Flecha says that he will continue racing in 2014. There had been doubts whether the former Het Nieuwsblad winner would continue racing, particularly as his current squad, Vancansoleil, is folding at the end of the year. But the 35-year-old is determined to keep going for now.

    Currently taking part in the Vuelta a España, where he has been very active - with a blistering late attack on stage four the highlight so far - Flecha told Spanish radio “I think I’m going to keep going, and I hope to have a clear direction” - a confirmed team - “soon.”

    Flecha did not go on the attack again on stage five, saying he was working for Vacansoleil teammate and sprinter Grega Bole. “But my condition’s good,” he insisted, “I did the Tour” - and then went on to take sixth in the Tour of Denmark - “but came back well rested and I’m enjoying myself here. If I get a win then so much the better.”

    With no general classification aspirations, Flecha had initially tipped current race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) for the stage win, but said that after a few days racing, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was also creating a very good impression.

    After three years in Sky in which he took one of their earliest wins in Het Nieuwsblad in 2010, Spain’s top cobbled-Classics specialist placed eighth in Paris-Roubaix and fifth in Ghent-Wevelgem.

  • Nibali settles into role of Vuelta a Espana leader

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) became the surprise leader of the Vuelta after stage 4 following former red jersey wearer Chris Horner being on the wrong side of a split
    Article published:
    August 28, 2013, 21:34 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Italian in top spot for third stage

    After four days of racing on Galician Galicia in the Vuelta a Espana, and a tough fifth stage out of the remote northwesterly region of Spain that was only decided by a bunch sprint at almost the last possible moment, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) looks to be settling into his role of leader.

    There has been much debate over whether the ‘Shark of Messina’ had bitten off more than he could chew by taking the lead so early on in the race. But if yesterday’s very difficult terrain and post-stage kerfuffle over whether he had the lead or not did not make matters easier for Nibali, today’s more straightforward racing and finale - albeit with its fair share of climbing - seemed much more to his liking.

    “It’s good to be in the lead, and we’ve defended it without any problems, using up only a little energy,” Nibali told Spanish radio after the stage.

    “We kept things under control at the start, then Garmin and Orica came in to work on the front and they did a really good job working for the sprint. It was pretty calm early on then very fast at the end.”

    “Let’s just hope that tomorrow’s pretty much the same, although it’s an easier stage, anyway. It’s been a very nervous start to the race, but there’s still a long way to go.”

    “I thought the break would make it to the finish,” added Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), one of his most dangerous rivals. “It was a very hard stage, and I’m just glad to get out of Galicia in one piece and in good shape.”

  • Di Luca to face CONI over Giro EPO positive

    Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) on the attack late in stage 4.
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 0:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Third-time offender to face life ban

    Danilo Di Luca has been summoned to a hearing before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in Rome next Wednesday which could see him banned from the sport for life.

    Di Luca was forced to quit the Giro d'Italia earlier this year after testing positive for EPO during an out of competition test preceding the race. Di Luca's teammate, Mauro Santambrogio, also tested positive for EPO following a control on the opening day of the Giro.

    With scandal brewing, the Vini Fantini team were quick to distance themselves from Di Luca following news of his positive test. Apart from Valentino Sciotti, the close ally of Di Luca who secured a place for him within the Vini-Fantini set-up, it is hard to see any other sponsors wanting to be associated with the tainted Italian.

    Di Luca's troubles began following his implication in the Oil for Drugs in 2004. His second strike was a positive test for CERA at the 2009 Giro d'Italia, brought on by the "pipì degli angeli" scandal of the 2007 Giro.

    Now facing sanction for his third offence, 37-year-old Italian, appears to be a lost cause with Giro chief Michele Acquarone declaring: "He needs help."

  • Budget Forklifts say they're winning the battle for Continental supremacy

    The team from Budget Forklifts work for Luke Davison
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 2:35 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Team laments being "underestimated and under-rated"

    Who is the top team in Australia at UCI Continental level? It's a question that Budget Forklifts' team manager Cameron Watt believes is worthy of plenty of thought and a look at the stats before answering.

    There can be no denying that the long-term success of teams such as Professional Continental hopefuls Drapac and Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers has earned them top-billing among the three Continental teams on the Australasian circuit. But there has been a shift over the last 18 months, particularly on the home front. Since the beginning of the 2012 National Road Series, Budget Forklifts has won eight rounds, followed by Huon-Genesys with five and Drapac, four.

    "We feel that because we're the third continental team in Australia sometimes we get overlooked," Watt told Cyclingnews off the back of the team's latest victory at the Tour of the Great South Coast.

    "It's probably not politically correct, but it's like we're the ugly step-child of Australian Continental racing. Perhaps that's because Drapac and Genesys have had so much success for a long time. We'd like everyone to focus on the now, and recent times – we've matched them and if not out-raced them in recent times so we're every bit a part of the scene as them."

    In June, Budget Forklifts made the most of limited opportunities to race on the UCI AsiaTour – with one, maybe two invites available for Australian-registered teams at each race – finishing with Kristian Juel and Blair Windsor in the top 10 overall at the Tour of Singkarak. It was a big result for the team in a fruitful week with a stage win for Jacob Kauffman, and...

  • Keukeleire breaks collarbone in training

    Jens Keukeleire (Orica GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 4:16 BST
    Cycling News

    Operation booked for Friday

    Jens Keukeleire (Orica GreenEdge) has broken his collarbone after jamming his chain in a sprint effort whilst training on Wednesday.

    Keukeleire was quick to put events to twitter after the accident by tweeting:

    "Bad luck on training today, chain gets stuck during sprint followed by crash. Result broken collar bone! Surgery this Friday."

    The crash puts a dent in the otherwise successful season for Keukeleire who recently opted to remain with Orica GreenEdge for another two years. At just 24-years-of age, Keukeleire presents an exciting prospect for GreenEdge, a prospect further brightened by back-to-back stage wins at the Vuelta a Burgos earlier in the month.

    With consistent performances in the spring classics ever since his debut season with Cofidis in 2010, Keukeleire will be justified in switching his attention to the 2014 classics season should his recovery from the crash spell the end of his 2013 campaign.