- Article published:
- February 27, 2013, 19:10
- Alex Malone
Italian extends race record to 12 stage wins
It was a case of seventh-time lucky for Andrea Guardini who notched up his 12th stage victory at Tour de Langkawi on Stage 7 from Kuantan to Dungun, earning his first win of the year and that of his Astana Pro Team. The win along the east coast of the Malaysia was in many ways the sweetest yet, since he has not won a professional race since taking home three stages at Tour of Qinghai Lake in July last year.
Waiting until Stage 7 to bag the first win was something of a surprise for Guardini, who achieved a record haul of stage victories in just two participations - 2011 and 2012. Guardini had already come close on three occasions taking a 3rd (Stage 1), 2nd (Stage 2) and 2nd (Stage 4) but he finally got everything right on the straight run to the line of the 149.8km stage.
Wearing the blue points jersey, which he has won for the past two years, has been somewhat of a consolation up until now, according to the 23-year-old who took six stage wins at Langkawi in 2012 to eclipse the Graeme Brown of his former nine-stage record.
"I'm wearing the blue jersey but I like this," said Guardini moments after taking his 12th win in Malaysia. "It's so, so good," he added.
"My weight has come down by one kilo, my condition is so good. After the Giro d'Italia [in 2012] I have grown up, and have better total condition with my body.
"Now, I'm winning and this is the result because my condition is very good."
The addition of five World Tour teams has meant that despite Guardini's winning ability, any mistake in the finale has cost him the win. Arguably the departure of Theo Bos (Blanco) due to illness has opened-up the sprints, however nothing can dispute the Italian's impressive record at the 2.HC race.
"With the ProTeams there is real fight to take position in the last kilometre, it is very strong. The guys are much stronger and the speed in the final kilometre is so high," said Guardini.
The win in Langkawi marks not only Guardini's first win of the year but it is also the first for his new Astana team. Guardini signed for the Kazakh outfit at the end of 2012, having picked up 10 wins during the season, including beating Mark Cavendish on Stage 18 at the Giro d'Italia, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was his first professional win such was the young sprinter's reaction after the stage, voicing his delight long after crossing the line.
"This is my first victory here with the Astana team and it's a powerful team. It's so, so good. It's been so many months without winning which is not so simple for a sprinter - especially for me.
"I'm very, very happy to make the first victory of the year for this team," he added.
- Article published:
- February 27, 2013, 19:18
- Cycling News
Event in Cold Spring, NY a stop on UCI World Cycling Tour
New York's Putnam Cycling Classic is the latest event to be welcomed into the UCI's World Cycling Tour for the 2013 season. The tour is a series of qualifying events for the UCI Masters Road World Championships, which this year take place in Trento, Italy in September.
The May 5 event will start and finish in Cold Spring, New York, which sits on the Hudson River about 50 miles north of New York City. The gran fondo-like event will feature a scenic and challenging 79.6 mile (126.5 kilometer) course with 6,532 feet (1,991 meters) of climbing.
“After a superb test event held last October, we were convinced that the next logical step was to expose the natural beauty of Putnam County to an international audience,” Putnam County Director of Tourism Libby Pataki said.
The event will also host a 37 mile fun ride that includes 2,890 feet (880 meters) of climbing.
The Putnam Cycling Classic has also arranged transportation with Metro-North from Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal to the start line in Cold Spring.
“This feature will really appeal to the international visitors coming to our event,” Pataki said. "They will be able to combine the excitement and attraction of a New York City stay with the clean air and beauty of Putnam County. It represents the very best of both worlds.”
For more information visit the
Putnam Cycling Classic web site
- Article published:
- February 27, 2013, 21:25
- Cycling News
Air travel-induced deep vein thrombosis sidelines Rwandan champion
MTN-Qhubeka's Adrien Niyonshuti was set to travel to Europe to take part in the new Professional Continental team's quest for international results, but instead finds himself sidelined for much of the season due to deep vein thrombosis.
The Rwandan champion noticed some swelling in his right calf and was diagnosed with DVT, a clot in a vein in the leg, as well as a pulmonary embolism, another clot in the lungs.
Because the treatment involves taking blood thinners, Niyonshuti will not be allowed to take part in any races and is out for an indefinite period.
Dr. Jon Patrios, the MTN-Qhubeka physician, explained, “In a situation like this the immediate and long-term health of the athlete takes absolute precedence over the disappointment associated with the team losing one of our high profile riders. Team MTN-Qhubeka’s medical network will continue to investigate possible intrinsic causes of Adrien’s illness and monitor his recovery while striving to facilitate his return to high level cycling."
Many riders wear compression gear when traveling to reduce the risk of clots, but team principal Doug Ryder said the doctors feel that this measure would not have made a difference.
"He is very lucky as we got him hospitalised the day before he was expected to leave to Italy which could have been fatal," Ryder told Cyclingnews.
The team has been posting strong results in Langkawi, where it leads the team classification, and has placed riders in the top 10 of several early-season races in Europe, but Niyonshuti was seen to be a key rider for the team's European campaign. His story of surviving the genocide in Rwanda and going on to achieve a high level in the sport was also an inspirational tale which helped to highlight the growth of cycling in Africa.
"We are not sure about a replacement for him as we still do have 20 riders but we will see over the next few weeks," Ryder said. "With the weather being so bad we have some riders getting sick which is scary but we will try and push through."
According to the team, Niyonshuti will head home to Rwanda where he will work with his cycling academy to help develop more talent from his home country.
- Article published:
- February 27, 2013, 23:02
- Pat Malach
New funding, community support bolsters California event
The Redlands Bicycle Classic in Southern California is shaking things up for its 29th edition, which will run April 4-7 with four stages over four days, including a new opening time trial course at elevation.
The longer, flatter time trial at Big Bear Lake about 64 km northeast of downtown Redlands will replace the 4.9 km uphill Highland Avenue prologue course that has marked the start of USA Cycling's National Race Calendar for the past several years. The stage race will also move for the first time from the end of March to the first week in April.
The 12.7 km opening salvo, which will be a stage rather than a prologue, will take place in the relatively thin air of Big Bear's 2,060 meters of elevation. The out-and-back course will start at the East Boat Ramp on the lake's north shore and head west toward the turnaround in Fawnskin. From there it will head back to the start/finish after taking a brief deviation onto a side road.
“It's a little technical, and there's a little bit of up and down on it,” Redlands race director Eric Reiser told Cyclingnews. “There are some corners there that you have to slow down for, there's no ifs, ands or buts about it, there's no way to take them at speed. But I don't think it's long enough that it will give a huge advantage to anybody.”
The change from prologue to stage will also shake things up for some of the teams and their support riders.
“As it's not a prologue, it will also count for other things like team classification,” Reiser said. “That changes the dynamics for some of those teams that are totally backing one guy, but the team needs to show what they can do, too. And as a stage, there will be a time cut.”
The start at Big Bear is the result of the race organizers' desire for change combined with the local organizing committee's desire to have another cycling event after missing out on hosting a stage of the Amgen Tour of California this year.
“We were contacted by the Big Bear local organizing committee that helped bring the Tour of California there last year,” Reiser said. “They were interested in bringing some kind of cycling event to the community this year, just to keep awareness alive. So that was a good fit. We were looking for something different, and they have a venue up there.”
The remaining Redlands stages will mirror last year's event, won by Kenda/5-Hour Energy's Phil Gaimon and TIBCO-To the Top's Megan Guarnier. The Beaumont Road Race will follow the opening time trial on Friday, April 5, backed by the Downtown Redlands Criterium on Saturday and the traditional Sunset Road Race to close things out on Sunday.
The recent announcement of a newly signed presenting sponsor, the Manuel Band of Mission Indians, also helped put to rest rumors that the race was in danger of being downsized or canceled this year. Redlands Bicycle Classic President Dan Rendler told the Redlands Press-Enterprise that the sponsorship deal is allowing the race to continue.
“It's allowing us to have the race, quite candidly,” he told the Press-Enterprise. “Their sponsorship is quite critical for us to put on the event.”
Earlier this month, the City of Redlands also announced it would waive fees for providing services to the race, including emergency workers, traffic-marking devices and and the use of a parking structure. The amount of the waiver is about $39,500, according to a report in the Press-Enterprise.
Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar told Cyclingnews that the city views itself as a partner of the non-profit Redlands Bicycle Classic committee and considers the in-kind contributions a sponsorship.
“We're telling them that we're comfortable as a community picking up those costs for the activity because we feel we derive cultural as well as financial benefits from those visitors and participants who come here,” Aguilar said.
The Redlands Bicycle Classic is the second-oldest stage race in the US; only the 31-year-old Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon has been around longer. Thurlow Rogers won the first Redlands Bicycle Classic in 1985 when the city initiated and owned the event. Linda Brenneman won the first women's race in 1993.
- Article published:
- February 28, 2013, 01:15
- Jane Aubrey
Season with Garmin Sharp finally gets underway after virus
Garmin Sharp recruit Rohan Dennis will finally get his season underway this weekend at the Strade Bianche after having been forced to withdraw from the Tour Down Under last month due a viral infection.
The plan had initially been for the 22-year-old to race Paris-Nice but his program changed early on in his recovery. Following the Italian 1.1 event, Dennis will then race Tirreno-Adriatico which starts next Wednesday.
"The team spoke to me just after Tour Down Under and said they were considering putting me into Tirreno," Dennis told Cyclingnews from his base in Girona. "It's a little bit easier I think than Paris-Nice ... I think the main reason is that while it's still a big race, it's not as long and probably the weather could be a little bit better."
A less than ideal start to 2013
There were high hopes for Dennis, the Tour Down Under's Best Young Rider in 2012, at the WorldTour opener, especially since he was fresh off the back of his silver medal-winning performance at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships in the individual time trial. Just hours before the People Choice Classic criterium, Dennis was ruled a non-starter.
"The doctors said that I had all the symptoms of viral meningitis; he didn't diagnose me with it," he explained. "I still don't know how serious it was."
Not only was Adelaide-native Dennis missing his home race, but he was also missing the opportunity to back up his 2012 showing where he'd been fifth overall. In his first race for the team, Garmin Sharp had planned to be riding for their new signing.
"It sucked," Dennis said, frankly. "After last year's result I thought that if I play my cards right in the bunch and don't go up the front and waste energy in the first day I could probably have a good crack at the overall."
So despondent with the situation, Dennis would watch the race on television most days but he treated the sessions as if the Tour Down Under was being beamed in from Europe and he was never meant to be there. While he is now back on the mend, Dennis admits that it's difficult to know how well he's recovered.
"It's hard to tell," he admitted. "I was feeling fatigued but every day, I could still push myself fairly deep on the bike before nationals and Tour Down Under but it was just little things - my heart rate wasn't going up at all but I could still put out the power I had to plus more.
"At the moment I'm feeling that pain and it does stop me every now and then - which is probably a good thing - so I'm not going too deep. I think with Strade Bianche and Tirreno it will be a bit of a test and I'll just sort of see with the team time trial especially and a couple of the big hilly stages in Tirreno, it will be interesting to see how I get through them."
The dirt dilemma
On first assessment, Strade Bianche is a race that should suit Dennis, last-up winner of the win the International Thüringen Tour. Then one learns that Dennis is no fan of the white gravel roads which feature in the Tuscan race.
"I'm not the best cyclo-cross rider in the world," he told Cyclingnews. "I won't lie, I don't like the gravel a whole lot and it's something I need to learn how to do. It puts me out of my comfort zone so I'll go there with the objective of whatever goes down, goes down.
"The steep hills I think from what I saw weren't too long. I can go well on them if I've been training for them. It comes down to a lot of skill on the bike as well and practice. I think you probably have to have some fairly big balls to go around some of those corners as hard as some of these guys will on the weekend. I'm not the type of rider that risks too many things when I can't see a big result for me at the end."
Where Dennis is undoubtedly comfortable however, is against the clock - something he will have the opportunity to show with the 16.9km team time trial which opens Tirreno-Adriatico. Garmin Sharp had set the early benchmark in the stage in 2012, only to be pushed into third place by an exceptional performance by Orica GreenEdge and RadioShack. This time around, Dennis is hopeful that the stage could result in his new team's first win of the year after four second placings and three thirds so far in 2013.
Should his body stand up to the tests of the next week or so, Dennis' provisional race program has the potential to showcase the skill that Garmin Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters described to Cyclingnews upon signing the Australian last year.
"Rohan is the rare talent that can ride a 3:54 team pursuit, climb with the best in the world, and win in tactical situations," he said. "He will be one if the best riders in the world, the question is only when."
The Tours of Romandie, Suisse and California all lay on the horizon.
"I was pretty happy with the level of races, they've really chucked me in there and there are a couple of races where I'll be able to have a good crack at the overall," Dennis explained.
"I'm looking forward to really digging my teeth into Suisse and California. Hopefully I'll still be doing them and see where I am at against some of the guys that are training for the Tour."
- Article published:
- February 28, 2013, 05:25
- Cycling News
Convicted former agent continues pressure on ex-Rabobank rider
The pressure remains on former Rabobank rider Michael Boogerd to come clean on his alleged doping practices, this time with former agent Stefan Matschiner specifically calling him out.
Boogerd is been named as having been involved in the HumanPlasma blood doping programme, as well as the general Rabobank team doping which has been uncovered. He most recently said that before he speaks out, he first wants to see what his teammates say.
"Because if I'm the only one saying what I know, I will soon be the scapegoat." Boogerd has admitted to meeting in Vienna with Matschiner, the man behind the HumanPlasma blood-doping scheme, but says it was only "for vitamins".
In an interview published in Thursday's Het Nieuwsblad, Matschiner says:
"I want him [Boogerd] to step forward. He must stop lying."
It's a slight change of tack for Matschiner who, when previously said that he would "not betray athletes" in an interview with Dutch newspaper NRC and when asked specifically about Boogerd's alleged past said:
"Maybe you should ask Michael again," Matschiner said. "There were probably many invoices. But I guess you could have bought lots of vitamins."
In 2010, Matschiner was given a suspended prison sentence for violating Austria's anti-doping laws.
- Article published:
- February 28, 2013, 09:02
- Cycling News
Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima begin season for RCS Sport
The eyes of the cycling world will turn to Italy in the coming two weeks with a series of high-profile events in the build-up to the first monument of the season, Milan-San Remo.
The action gets underway on Saturday with the evocative Strade Bianche, which brings the peloton over the dirt roads of Tuscany to a stirring finish in Siena’s Piazza dal Campo. Though just six years old, Strade Bianche is already becoming something of a classic, with a high-quality field on hand to try and wrest the title from Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard).
Cyclingnews will report live from Strade Bianche and you can read a preview of the race here.
The following day sees the return of the Giro del Lazio, resurrected by RCS Sport under the new title of Roma Maxima. Starting and finishing in Rome’s Forum, in the shadow of the Coliseum, few races are blessed with such a spectacular setting.
On March 6, the attention shifts to the stage racers, including Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, who all line up at Tirreno-Adriatico, before Milan-San Remo opens the classics season in earnest on March 17.
To whet appetites for the season ahead, RCS Sport have put together the following video, capturing the essence of their events, which of course also include the Giro d’Italia (May 4-26) and Il Lombardia (October 6.)
- Article published:
- February 28, 2013, 10:13
- Cycling News
Dutch team with absolute priority on GC
Robert Gesink will lead the Blanco Pro Cycling Team in Paris-Nice, which starts Sunday, March 3. He will look to add to the team's ten victories so far this season.
I have finished Ruta del Sol, Murcia and Almeria with a good feelings,” he said in a team press release. “The team has started the season with an important victory of Tom-Jelte Slagter in the World Tour. Ten victories in total for the team already, not a bad start at all I think."
“For Paris-Nice I am surrounded by strong guys. Especially our youngsters Kelderman and Kruijswijk helping me on the climbs. Working with these guys could set the standard for the rest of the year. I keep good memories of Paris-Nice and will start with confidence.”
He will be supported in the “Race to the Sun” by Stef Clement, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Mark Renshaw, Rick Flens, David Tanner and Maarten Tjallingii.
“Our main focus will be the general classification with our leader Robert Gesink. With Wilco and Steven we have three guys for the difficult uphill stages. In the flat stages we have strong guys like Flens and Tjallingii surrounding Robert to protect the GC,” said sports director Nico Verhoeven
Although the team's absolute priority is the GC, it will also look to Renshaw in the sprints. The Australian just won the Clasica de Almeria.