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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 21, 2013

Date published:
February 21, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Teams presented at Tour de Langkawi

    Peter Stetina (Garmin - Sharp)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 14:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Bos, Guardini and Rolland headline 18th edition

    The 18th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi begins in earnest on Thursday, but the teams’ presentation took centre stage in the 24 hours beforehand, with an array of WorldTour riders taking to the stage. The 10-day race, which includes two summit finishes to Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands, also promises sprinters with a number of opportunties.

    With a host of world class sprinters representing an unprecedented five UCI ProTeams, along with eight UCI Professional Continental Teams in the field of 22 teams presented at Dataran Lang in Langkawi today offering what is touted as the strongest field to ever take the start line in the race.

    Andrea Guardini – winner of 11 stages in the race - looks set to do battle with Blanco duo Theo Bos and Greame Brown but Andy Fenn is another stage potential winner.

    "I am happy to be able to return to LTdL and especially to Langkawi, as this is the place where I collected my first win as a professional two years ago. I also want to register my first win for my new team here," said Guardini.

    For a complete race preview, click here, and enjoy the team’s presentation pictures right here.



  • Valverde to cut back on racing ahead of Tour challenge

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was in full race mode at Trofeo Deia
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 16:27 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard already racks up four triumphs in 2013

    In just seven days racing in 2013, Alejandro Valverde has already taken four victories including one overall stage race win at the Tour of Andalusia - and his team, Movistar, are already talking about how they will need to keep a tight rein on the Spaniard in order to ensure he reaches the second half of the season in good shape.

    Movistar sports director Eusebio Unzue told Spanish sports daily MARCA that the plan is for Valverde to reach the Tour de France with around 28 or 30 days racing in his legs, up to nine days less than 2012.

    “If he gets to the Tour fresher then he’ll do a better race there and then he can go for the Vuelta,” Unzue said.

    “Although the organisers, public and even Alejandro himself may not understand it, because they want to see him race, there will come a point when we have to limit the amount of energy he uses up,” team trainer Mikel Zabala added.

    “He could win races from January through to October, but we have to be careful and make sure he doesn’t burn himself out.”

    Valverde has even taken the opening prologue of Andalusia this year, which has hardly been one of his specialities in the past. “He’s the same Alejandro as ever, he gets back to a competitive level very fast,” says Unzue, “but Sunday was a surprise for all of us, even Alejandro. He had said he was feeling good half way through and decided to go all out for the win.”

    “This year he should bet it all on the Tour de France, though, and that’s why we have to be careful about how and where he races.”

    As a result, rather than take part in Paris-Nice - in which he finished third and won a stage last year...

  • Katusha provisionally suspends Vicioso for failure to appear in Operacion Puerto trial

    Angel Vicioso and Oscar Pereiro
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 18:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard set to testify via video link on Friday

    The Katusha team has provisionally suspended Angel Vicioso after he failed to make himself available to testify in front of the judge presiding over the trial of Eufemiano Fuentes in the Operacion Puerto case.

    "As of now Vicioso is suspended from all competitions," a Katusha spokesman told Reuters.

    Vicioso was a member of the 2006 Liberty Seguros team which was targeted as part of Fuentes’s blood doping scheme. He is now scheduled to give testimony via video link on Friday.

    Vicioso was due to appear on February 12 but was given a postponement for medical reasons because he is suffering from back pain. The judge stated yesterday that they had been unable to locate Vicioso for a rescheduled appearance, and threatened to send security forces after him should he fail to show at his scheduled time.

    Speaking to local media, team manager Viacheslav Ekimov explained the suspension of Vicioso. "He told us he had settled his case but it turned out that he didn't tell us the truth."

    Katusha just this week won its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to regain its WorldTour status after the UCI refused to grant it due to ethical issues within the team, and the team is ensuring Vicioso follows through on his legal obligations with this provisional suspension.

    "We want to cooperate with the UCI in every possible way, therefore such actions by Vicioso just discredits our image," Ekimov said.

    Vicioso is set to address the court via video link from Lleida at 10:30 local time on Friday, followed by his former teammate Marcos Serrano at noon, also via video link from Vigo. Alberto Contador was originally set to speak on Friday but attorneys for the defense waived his appearance...

  • Armstrong declines to cooperate with USADA

    Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 18:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Testimony will wait for "international tribunal"

    Lance Armstrong has decided to pass up an opportunity to cooperate with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in exchange for a possible reduction in his lifetime ban for competition, his attorney Tim Herman confirmed today.

    Armstrong's legal team continues to challenge USADA's jurisdiction in the latest statement, but says Armstrong would be willing to work with an "international tribunal" if one were to be established.

    "Lance is willing to cooperate fully and has been very clear: He will be the first man through the door, and once inside will answer every question, at an international tribunal formed to comprehensively address pro cycling, an almost exclusively European sport," Herman wrote.

    "We remain hopeful that an international effort will be mounted, and we will do everything we can to facilitate that result. In the meantime, for several reasons, Lance will not participate in USADA’s efforts to selectively conduct American prosecutions that only demonize selected individuals while failing to address the 95% of the sport over which USADA has no jurisdiction."

    USADA CEO Travis Tygart responded that his organisation will move ahead with its investigation without Armstrong, having provided the Texan with an opportunity to cooperate.

    "We have provided Mr. Armstrong several opportunities to assist in our ongoing efforts to clean up the sport of cycling," read a statement from Tygart. "Following his recent television interview, we again invited him to come in and provide honest information, and he was informed in writing by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that this was the appropriate avenue for him if he wanted to be part of the solution. Over the last few weeks he has led us to believe that he wanted to come in and assist USADA, but was worried of potential criminal and civil liability if he did so. Today we learned from the media that Mr. Armstrong is choosing not to come in and be truthful and that he will not...

  • Vanmarcke gears up for Het Nieuwsblad

    Sep Vanmarcke in the latest issue of CNHD
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 19:58 GMT
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Q&A between CNHD and Blanco star

    Sep Vanmarcke’s 2012 wasn’t as straightforward as he would have hoped. The Belgian took his first professional win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but fell ill and broke his collarbone later in the year. After his move to Blanco over the winter, he hopes to find more success this season. Vanmarcke spoke exclusively to Cycling News HD, ahead of defending his Het Nieuwsblad title this weekend.

    CNHD: Last year was up and down for you, you won Het Nieuwsblad, but then you broke your collarbone. What is your assessment of last season?

    SV: “It was a great start, with my victory. I had a really good classic season, but unfortunately I got sick just before Flanders. So Flanders and Roubaix weren’t good and then I had a break. I started over again, in Norway, and did Dauphiné, but then at the Dauphiné I got sick. I had a lot of stomach problems and I think it took me a month before I was really over it. It held on for a long time, so I didn’t race for quite a while. Then, at Garmin, we didn’t have that many races. I had to wait for racing until August, so it was a long time that I wasn’t racing. I started racing again in August and in September I was feeling really good, but then I broke my collarbone. Yeah, like you said, I had some ups and downs. The classics were really good and then I had some bad luck in the rest of the season.”

    CNHD: How are you settling into your new team?

    SV: “I’ve only been to two training camps with them, but so far it has been great.”

    CNHD: What was it that made you decide to leave Garmin?

    SV: “Now I’m still young and I needed to search where I can develop best, for my goals and my career. I think at Blanco I...

  • Boonen uncertain of form for Belgian openers

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at home on the cobbles.
    Article published:
    February 20, 2013, 23:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cavendish to lead in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

    After an off-season interrupted by intestinal problems and an infected elbow, Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Tom Boonen is unsure of his form for the two opening races in Belgium, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

    Boonen was confirmed for Saturday's Omloop, but said he doesn't feel as confident as he did last year, when he came a close second to his young compatriot Sep Vanmarcke in a three-man sprint.

    "It is what it is for the moment," Boonen said. "I think right now I just need to try to do as many races as possible. I have as many question marks as everybody else about my shape. I really don't know, I have no idea how I will react after 200 kilometers, hill after hill, cobblestone after cobblestone. Today at training I tried to go a little bit faster and it was still hard, but we'll see."

    While the team's directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters named Sylvain Chavanel and Niki Terpstra as potential alternate leaders for Saturday's race, Boonen had another name to add. 

    "I think Stybar was going really good in Oman. For sure Niki Terpstra and Chavanel will be able to play a role as the captain in the final of Omloop if I will not be there. We have a few guys that will normally be in the final and we'll try to put one of them in front. I will do my best to be there again as last year or to play a role for my teammates if the feeling isn't the same as last year."

    "The wind is probably the most important factor of the day on Saturday." Boonen said. "If it is the same as it was today It's going to really destroy the race. it is going to be a very hard race."

    Peeters said that Boonen will decide after Saturday's race if he will start in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the next day. The team will have...

  • One-day Vuelta a Murcia to run on Saturday

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) on the podium
    Article published:
    February 21, 2013, 10:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Five climbs to challenge top names in field

    The Vuelta a Murcia, formerly a five-stage race, will feature a stellar line-up when it is held as a one-day race on Saturday, February 23. Alejandro Valverde, who recently won the Ruta del Sol, will headline the race.

    Valverde, who took the overall title in Ruta del Sol by winning both the first and last stages, will lead a strong Movistar team which will also feature Rubén Plaza, Pablo Lastras, Juan José Cobo and Nairo Quintana. Valverde won the race twice when it was a longer stage race, and Quintana won it last year when it was two stages.

    Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi will open his season at the race. Astana will be led by Jani Brajkovic, whilst Blanco is sending its best climbers in Bauke Mollema (third at Ruta del Sol), Robert Gesink and Stef Clement. Jonathan Hivert of Sojasun, who won the second and third stages at Ruta del Sol, will lead Sojasun in the race.

    There will be plenty of work for the climbers in Saturday's 185km race. The first climb, the Alto de Pliego, at km 50.3. and is category three, as is the next climb, the lto de Cola de Caballo.

    The real climbing starts shortly after that, with the category one Alto de Espuna a km 127.9, followed almost immediately by the Collado Bermejo-Cima Marco Pantani.  It is also a category one climb topping out at 1170 metres.

    A long descent leads to the day's third intermediate sprint, but the climbing is not yet done. The stage ends with another climb, this time up the category three Alto Castilla de Lorca, where the winner will be crowned.

  • Giro d'Italia confirmed start in Ireland for 2014

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) in Milan having secured the Giro d'Italia, the first man from Canada to do so
    Article published:
    February 21, 2013, 11:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    First grand Tour visit since 1998 Tour de France

    The 2014 Giro d'Italia will start in Ireland, with the grand tour beginning in Belfast before heading down towards the Irish capital of Dublin. The race will hold three stages in Ireland and represents the first time a grand tour has visited Ireland since the 1998 Tour de France.

    The 2014 edition of the Giro will begin on  May 10 and will involve stages taking in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin.

    The exact route was not announced this morning, with organisers RCS still needing to plan logistical issues with teams. It's understood that there will not be a rest day in between the Irish stages and a return to Italy.

    The official announcement was made this morning at Titanic Belfast in the presence of Arlene Foster, Tourism Minister of Northern Ireland. The project to bring the Giro d’Italia to Ireland is supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the City of Belfast, Fáilte Ireland, the City of Dublin, Mediolanum International Fund Ltd and Mediolanum International Life Ltd.

    Michele Acquarone, the Director General of RCS Sport, said: "We are delighted to be taking the Grande Partenza of the 2014 Giro d’Italia to Ireland. This is an ambitious project for us for many reasons.Using sport, in particular, cycling, to unite the island, is an idea we find deeply attractive. We recognise that, to do so, logistical perfection will be required on all sides. It will be the first foreign start for any Grand Tour since the implementation of a new UCI regulation prohibiting rest days on three-week Tours until the completion of at least seven days of racing.

    The 2014 Giro will mark the race's eleventh foreign start, after San Marino (1965), Montecarlo (1966), Belgium (1973), Vatican City (1974), Greece (1996), France (1998), the Netherlands (2002), Belgium (2006), the Netherlands (2010) and Denmark (2012).