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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Date published:
August 30, 2012, 11:00
  • Rodríguez takes big step forward at Vuelta time trial

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
    Article published:
    August 29, 2012, 20:42
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Contador, Froome close gap but Purito keeps red jersey

    For all that the top favourites are closer together than ever before in the Vuelta a España, the one overall contender who came out completely satisfied with today's time trial was Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

    Chris Froome (Sky) had warned - rightly - that Rodriguez would not be so far out of the running on what was an exceptionally technical, hilly course. But considering the Spaniard lost 4:25 to the Briton last year in Salamanca's time trial in the Vuelta, the 38 second difference between himself and Froome on Wednesday's course, not to mention the 59 second margin between himself and Contador, must have felt like a real triumph.

    "It's a big step forward," Rodriguez - who had predicted he could lose up to three minutes on the favourites - said afterwards. "I've got Alberto [Contador] breathing down my ear [at one second overall] but that's fine. They can't take away what I've succeeded in doing"- which in his case, was holding onto the lead, pure and simple. And at tomorrow's steep uphill finish at the Mirador de Ezaro ‘Purito' will surely be the big favourite again.

    "It's a very special day for me and still to be leader is amazing," Rodriguez said, "it's come down to a heck of a lot of hard work, though.

    "I'd like to thank [sports director] Valerio Piva and [team trainer] Seb Weber for being so helpful and supportive. They gave me maximum guidance from the team car, right down to when I should eat and drink, what speed to take the curves at, the lot.

    "We used [Movistar time triallist and former Vuelta leader] Jonathan Castroviejo's times as a reference point because we knew he would do well.

    "Sebastian had got an incredibly detailed plan of the time trial. It really helped, and there's the result to prove it."

    As for his rivals, although much of the focus has now switched to Contador, Rodríguez had nothing but praise for Froome, saying "he did a really good race, he's proving every day that he meant what he said about coming here to fight for the overall, and he's got a lot left to say in this year's Vuelta.

    "I've done well today, but I'm going to have to be careful. Froome hasn't cracked, he's still plugging away and if I can be happy with what I've achieved, it's that final result in Madrid that really counts."

    Froome himself admitted that he had had "a struggle on the climb, I'd like to have won, but I wasn't going great there and couldn't keep to the speeds I wanted.

    "But I can't be disappointed, either, I've given my best and that's all I can do.

    "It's not over yet by any means. Look at how close the top three are, just 16 seconds between us and with all those mountains to come. And we can't rule out [Alejandro] Valverde [Movistar], either."

  • Fränk Schleck fronts Disciplinary Committee of the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency

    Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    August 29, 2012, 22:12
    Cycling News

    Ruling set to be handed down in several weeks

    Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) has appeared before the Disciplinary Committee of the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) late on Wednesday, reports l'

    Schleck tested positive for the diuretic Xipamide at an in-competition test at the Tour de France on July 14, 2012.

    The committee will now determine if Schleck will be subject to any sanctions with a decision set to be handed down in a matter of weeks.

    When the 32-year-old's B-sample confirmed the presence of Xipamide on July 20, Schleck maintained that he had "done nothing wrong" and that he had been the victim of poisoning.

    "The medical world states that this product, when performing in extreme conditions such as in a cycling tour, is very dangerous; it can even cause death," he said in a statement. "Therefore I really need to find the cause that clarifies how this product ended up in my system: since I didn't take anything, I assume it must have been given to me by someone, or it could have happened through an accidental contamination, or it could be caused by something that is not yet known to me since we are still undertaking a number of analyses."


    legal case
  • Armstrong: I won the Tour de France seven times

    The 2004 Tour podium with Armstrong and Basso
    Article published:
    August 30, 2012, 01:02
    Cycling News

    Banned rider unafraid of pending USADA report to UCI

    Lance Armstrong is unconcerned by what the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will issue in its report to cycling's governing body, the UCI.

    On Thursday, Armstrong announced he would not fight USADA's charges of doping and conspiracy which led to the agency stripping the American of his seven Tour de France titles which were included in the any and all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to August 1, 1998. Armstrong was also banned for life.

    The UCI is now waiting for communication from USADA detailing the reasoning behind its decision before moving on to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ruling, or to gain jurisdiction over the case.

    After taking part in a run with his fans in Montreal, Canada, Armstrong said "I'm absolutely not afraid," of anything which may be in USADA's report.

    He was in the Canadian city to speak at the World Cancer Congress where he opened his speech with:
    "My name is Lance Armstrong. I am a cancer survivor. I'm a father of five. And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times."

    legal case
    Lance Armstrong
  • Galician town of Pontevedra set to host Vuelta 2013 start?

    Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) wins the Pontevedra time trial.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2012, 02:23
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    TT finish town could be back on 2013 route as Grand Depart

    Pontevedra is strongly rumoured to be set to be the start of the 2013 Vuelta a España, with an announcement confirming the news expected perhaps as soon as the end of this week before the race leaves Galicia, local media say.

    The Galician tourist resort and fishing town has long since been a regular feature of the Vuelta, hosting its first start back in 1965 and has had three finishes, but has never been the Grand Depart for Spain's biggest bike race.

    Little has been revealed yet about the 2013 Vuelta route, except that a stage in Pamplona, where the race began this year, is said to be very likely. Since 2010, the race has kicked off with a team time trial - which, if Wednesday's Stage 11 time trial is anything to go by, would be a very technical, hilly affair.

    After a long gap since the early 1990s when the Vuelta barely visited Galicia, Spain's most north-westerly region has featured heavily both in 2011 and in 2012, with five stages alone this year.

    Vuelta a España
  • Wurf to take lessons learnt into 2013 with Brixia Sport

    Cameron Wurf (Champion System) finished in second place
    Article published:
    August 30, 2012, 04:27
    Jane Aubrey

    Return to altitude in Colorado proves a struggle

    Earlier this week as part of the announcement that Brixia Sport would be taking the reins at Liquigas-Cannondale for next season, it was revealed that Cameron Wurf would be making a return to the team after a one-year absence.

    "They certainly made it very clear to me last year when there was that problem that I would always be welcomed back, so when the opportunity opened for the transfer period they made contact with me and said they'd like to have me back," Wurf explained.

    "I'm really excited to go back there and race with all the guys that I because such good friends with a couple of years ago."

    Wurf found himself riding for Champion System in their debut Pro Continental year following a breakdown in communication between the Australian's agent and the Italian outfit. It's a situation that the former Olympic rowing representative made the most of but as his hastily pulled together year winds up, Wurf is ready to take the tools and experience that he has gained with Champion System and use them to his advantage in his second stint with the ProTour team.

    "I've had a little bit more freedom within races to chase my own goals, and also the responsibility to perform particularly in Qinghai Lake," the 29-year-old runner-up of the Chinese event told Cyclingnews. "Ed Beamon made it pretty clear that it was expected that I perform there because that's why he had me on the team. So I went there with a bit of extra motivation and determination, that's the main thing. In the end it was a great opportunity to be able to perform under those conditions and hopefully next time I'm called upon to perform, the skills that I learnt there with Ed's little bit of driving behind me will hold me in good stead."

    Coming out of Qinghai Lake, Wurf has come to the realisation that maybe he is more diversified in his abilities than what previously thought so he's optimistic when it comes to his future performances.

    Wurf rode the Tour of Tour of Utah and then last week, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. He had hoped that the return to altitude after his stint in July would result in some joy however the experience proved a real struggle. He had in fact become comparatively weak.

    "Losing that power meant that when I rocked up in America and racing at that higher level and with guys coming straight from Europe who still had the horsepower in them, I was instantly in difficulty," Wurf explained. "I could grind away all day and often make the initial selections but once the big hitters hit the turbo I was instantly in difficulty. It was an interesting experience because I would be one of the first riders dropped but by the finish climbs I was often making the selections.

    "It will come back," he continued. "Altitude's a funny thing and that's the beauty of those races - no one knows how anyone will react. Look at Christian Vande Velde and the way he stole the show on the last day. It makes it more exciting. I was pleased to have one good race this year at altitude and next year it might be the USA Pro Cycling Challenge with the Brixia jersey on."

    Wurf will probably wrap up his season with next week's Tour of China before once against returning to his Tasmanian base, and eying a more complete season of racing starting January with the national championships.

    "I'm already thinking about that," he admitted. "I'm pretty excited. If I do finish up the year a little bit earlier it will give me a bit more time to prepare for it."

    With the change to the format to the 2013 Australian Road Nationals where the individual time trial will now take place before the road race, Wurf is confident of posting a result that would improve on his 6th place in the individual time trial behind winner, Luke Durbridge.

    "It makes it easier," Wurf said. "Focus on that and have a couple of days off and then do the road race. The time trial doesn't affect your road race but the road race certainly affects your time trial."


  • Petacchi to replace Guardini at Farnese Vini?

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) celebrates victory in stage 1 at Bayern-Rundfahrt, the Italian's first win of 2012.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2012, 06:25
    Cycling News

    Chicchi and Taborre reported to be joining squad in 2013

    Alessandro Petacchi, currently with Lampre - ISD, is in talks with Farnese Vini - Selle Italia according to Velochrono. The 38-year-old is apparently in the final stages of signing and announcing his move to the British-registered, primarily Italian roster for 2013. Director sportif Luca Scinto is dealing with the loss of his star sprinter Andrea Guardini, who is moving to Astana next year, and has reportedly acquired Petacchi to fill the position.

    "I hired a great sprinter who runs a great team. In a few days, I'll tell you who it is," said Scinto on Twitter earlier in the week.

    While the contract is yet to be announced, it appears the team has already arranged for additional riders Fabio Taborre (Acqua & Sapone) and Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) to join Petacchi at Farnese Vini in 2013.

    Taborre has one victory to his name this year when he took out stage 5 at Tour of Austria and has a number of high-place finishes in Italian one-day races in recent months. Chicchi has achieved five wins including two stages at Tour de San Luis and out-sprinted Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) to win the Handzame Classic in Belgium.

    Farnese Vini is also dealing with the possible loss of their classics specialist Filippo Pozzato, who will face a hearing before the Italian Olympic Committe anti-doping tribunal on September 11. Pozzato may face a subsequent one-year suspension for his links to Dr. Michele Ferrari.


  • Mirador de Ézaro: A new challenge for the Vuelta

    After defending red in the time trial, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has made a significant stride towards winning the Vuelta a Espana.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2012, 08:30
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Climb has slopes of 29 percent, steeper than Angliru

    The Mirador de Ézaro climb, tackled this afternoon by the Vuelta a España for the first time in its history, is not just famous for being the lookout point with one of the best views in Galicia: it is also set to become one of the steepest roads that a Spanish bike race has ever tackled.

    The Mirador de Ézaro is just 1.9 kilometres long in the official Vuelta route book, although local cyclists say it is actually slightly shorter, 1.6 kilometres, with an altitude difference of 250 metres in that distance. What nobody argues about is that with an average gradient of 13 percent and sections early on of at least up to 29 percent, at certain points this is even steeper, albeit much shorter, than the infamous Cueña les Cabres segment of the Angliru - a ‘mere’ 23.5 percent. And more than one rider, surely, will opt for walking, rather than riding up it.

    “This climb has a segment of 300 metres which is more than tough, it’s impossible,” recounts Galician ex-pro Ezequiel Mosquera – who tested positive for hydroxyethyl starch at the 2010 Vuelta – in the Faro de Vigo newspaper. “The route book says that part is 25 percent max but people who know about climbs say it can be up to 30 percent depending on how you tackle the two bends of what is a real wall.”

    Just to add to the fun, the road surface is cement and concrete, not tarmac. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

    Mosquera recounts that the first riders to tackle the climb were the CC Noia in the early 90s, using a 39x23 gear. However “most of them went up on foot - on foot and backwards, because it was impossible to go up walking forwards!”

    The big favourite for today’s climb has to be Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), a specialist in these sorts of ascents. Purito is this year’s winner of Flèche Wallone as well as the uphill finish of Assisi in the Giro and the Fuerte de Rapitan ascent in the town of Jaca in the Vuelta. And that’s just this year.

    “I have marked this stage with a cross in my route book,” Rodriguez warned, “and I would love to win here just I have done in climbs like Valdepeñas [de Jaén], El Escorial [both in 2011 – ed.] and Jaca [in 2012].”

    It will be interesting to see whether Philippe Gilbert (BMC), another winner on the slopes of the Mur de Huy, can fend off Rodriguez add a second Vuelta stage to the one he took in Barcelona.

    With Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) lying just one second behind Rodriguez, and 12, 8 and 4 seconds on offer as bonuses, the battle for more than just a stage win is in play. Were there no bonus seconds on offer, Contador would currently lead the Vuelta overall by 21 seconds from Chris Froome (Sky) - but as things stand, Rodriguez is in the top spot, and the big favourite to gain more time today.

  • IG Pro Cycling Index: Rodriguez replaces Sagan in top three

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was surprised to retain the red jersey.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2012, 09:02
    Cycling News

    Wiggins leads, Boonen second

    Joaquim Rodriguez has started the Vuelta a España with a bang and has moved himself back up to third place in the Index. The Spaniard has held the leader’s jersey for seven days already, won a stage and come second in another three.

    In last year’s Vuelta a España Rodriguez won two stages but only came 19th overall. The signs so far are pointing towards a performance similar to this year’s Giro d’Italia where he came second. Tom Boonen and Bradley Wiggins remain in the two spots above him in the Index. It remains to be seen if he will be able to win his first Grand Tour as he faces tough pressure from Chris Froome, Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador.

    Alejandro Valverde, John Degenkolb and Simon Clarke are three of the other big movers due to their performances in the Vuelta so far. Clarke has had a quiet year with the majority of hi points coming from his second place at the Tour of Norway. But stage 4 of the Vuelta saw him get his biggest win of his career when he was the strongest of the days break and outsprinted Tony Martin (9th) in the final metres. Clarke moved up 36 places to 126th.

    Valverde has won two stage of the Vuelta so far and has climbed seven spots and is now back in the top 20 in 18th place. John Degenkolb has been far and away the fastest sprinter in the peloton picking up four stages in the race so far. He is on the cusp on the top 20 in 22nd spot and is the highest ranked Argos Shimano rider by some way. Marcel Kittel is the next highest in 61st place.

    The largest one day race that took place last week was the GP Ouest France – Plouay (Tier Two). Won by Grega Bole last year the race is often a close fight between sprinters and attacking riders. This year Edvald Boasson Hagen. The results propels Boasson Hagen back up to 11th spot.

    The biggest stage race was the Tour of Denmark which sits in Tier four of the Index alongside races like the Tour of Utah and Beijing. This year’s winner was Lieuwe Westra who must be happy to finally win a stage race after coming second this year in Paris-Nice (Tier 1), KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde (Tier 3) and the Tour of Belgium (Tier 3). The Dutchman moved up 11 places to 29th and is still Vacansoleil’s top ranked rider. He beat Ramunas Navardauskas and Manuele Boaro to second and third place respectively.

    Highest mover of the week: Nacer Bouhanni from 160th to 118th. The French national champion has placed in the top ten seven times already in the Vuelta a España.


    About the IG Markets Index

    The IG Pro Cycling Index is a 12-month rolling ranking system designed answer the question “Who is the best cyclist in the world?” We teamed up with sports data experts Opta to create a comprehensive cycling ranking system that was based on an entirely new formula. We source results from the 120 top international road races throughout the season. Races are ranked by our expert panel, based on their prestige and their importance to cycling fans and put into four tiers in three different categories.

    The IG Pro Cycling Index has a number of features that make it unique: Races are tiered depending on history, importance and calibre of field rather than UCI Class. So winning the Tour of Beijing will not give you the same points as winning Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné. Wins carry much greater weight and are rewarded more than placings. Bonus points are awarded for multiple victories in the top races, winning the most prestigious stages at the Grand Tours or winning multiple classics.