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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 7, 2013

Date published:
February 07, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Thomas builds for Classics at Tour of Qatar

    Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) wins stage 2 of the Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    February 06, 2013, 10:32 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Welshman on Team Sky's March training camp plans

    Opinion on what constitutes the best final tune-up stage race for the Classics has been divided into two schools of thought: those who swear by Paris-Nice and those who prefer Tirreno-Adriatico.

    In a move that is sure to attract a great deal of analysis in the coming weeks, however, Team Sky's Head of Performance Support Tim Kerrison has decided that the team's Classics squad will avoid both races, and instead will attend a collective training camp at altitude.

    Thus, rather than race in France or Italy in early March, Team Sky's classics outfit, including Geraint Thomas, Bernhard Eisel and Edvald Boasson Hagen, will train in the relative seclusion of Mount Teide, Tenerife for close to two weeks ahead of Milano-Sanremo. The dormant volcano was an important training site for Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome ahead of the 2012 Tour de France, as well as for third-placed Vincenzo Nibali an many of his new Astana and former Liquigas-Cannondale teammates.

    "It hasn't been done before for the classics, so it was a bit of a surprise," Thomas said of Kerrison's plan. "But Tim is pretty clever and I think he knows the breakdown of the races and the efforts we need to do. I think it's worth committing to it this year and seeing how it goes. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't happen, although we all want to have a good classics campaign for sure."

    After a year largely spent away from the road preparing for the team pursuit at the London 2012 Olympics, Thomas would doubtless have been glad to see the back of training camps for the foreseeable future, but the Welshman is open to the experiment.

    "Obviously you just want to race because that's what we enjoy doing, so that's the only negative point to it but I'm still looking forward to it. We've got a good group...

  • Cavendish reveals his frustrations about his year at Sky

    Mark Cavendish was all smiles at the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team presentation
    Article published:
    February 06, 2013, 13:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    British sprinter rediscovers his enthusiasm at Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    Mark Cavendish has described his move to Omega Pharma-Quick Step as like a new start to his career after a frustrating year at Team Sky.

    Cavendish has largely avoided revealing details about his split with the British team, happy to scoop up consecutive stage victories for Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the Tour of Qatar and enjoy 2013, than look back to the problems of 2012. However he opened up during an interview with Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Cavendish confirmed that he realised he had to leave Team Sky after the team management decided to sacrifice Cavendish's hopes of winning the green jersey and winning stages in the final part of the Tour to focus solely on defending Bradley Wiggins' yellow jersey. At the start of 2012, Team Sky had talked about going for both the yellow and green jerseys at the Tour de France, but that changed in the final week of the race.

    "It was the most difficult Tour of my career. I was wearing the rainbow jersey and had the form of my life but I won my least number of stages. It was frustrating," Gazzetta report Cavendish as saying.

    "I never complained about that (going for yellow with Wiggins), it's the biggest goal in cycling. I didn’t want a team exclusively for me, otherwise I wouldn't have gone to Sky. But I knew they wanted to go to the Tour to win the green points jersey too. And I wanted to be part of that. But when we got there, I realised things were different. If things had been made clear before I signed, I'd probably have gone to a different team."

    Cavendish seems to enjoy the laid back mentality at Omega-Pharma-Quick Step much more than the drilled and disciplined corporate mentality at Team Sky. His early season success at the Tour of San Luis and...

  • Siutsou returns and backs Sky’s Giro & Tour ambitions

    Team Sky’s Kanstantin Siutsou
    Article published:
    February 06, 2013, 16:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tells CNHD that targeting both grand tours is “a lot to ask”

    Team Sky’s Kanstantin Siutsou is racing again in Mallorca for the first time since breaking his leg on stage 3 of last year’s Tour de France. The Belarussian told Cycling News HD that getting back into the peloton had been hard, but that he had big goals for the season now he was there.

    In an exclusive interview in issue 41, out now, Siutsou described his return.

    “It has been a long road to recovery,” he said. “From those early days when I was sat in the hospital in Paris, loosing 7cm of muscle from my left leg, the first one-hour ride back on my bike, which felt more like six, up to now. I have always stayed motivated because cycling is my passion, but it has not been easy.

    “The hardest moments were when I had to watch the Tour de France, with my team needing my help, from my hospital bed. It made me determined to come back in better shape. I think that I am there, but we will see.”

    A key teammate of Bradley Wiggins throughout last season until his crash, Siutsou is unsure who he will be working for in 2013.
    “I am looking to build up my fitness to help the team at one of the major stage races. At the moment I do not know which one that will be. I think that we have two great leaders for both those grand tours, but they will need the best team there to support them.

    “Being competitive at both the Giro and the Tour is a lot to ask; not only of the leaders but the whole team. But we have a great coaching staff here and if they say that it is possible, then I believe them.”

    Cycling News HD

    The full interview with Kanstantin Siutsou is available in issue 41 of our digital magazine Cycling News HD, out now. The issue also...

  • Andy Schleck quits the Tour Méditerranéen

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) was taking a relaxed approach to the start of Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    February 06, 2013, 17:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Respiratory issues causes more problems for Radioshack rider

    Andy Schleck failed to finish stage one of the Tour Méditerranéen after being dropped after 104km of the stage won by Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol).

    The troubled Luxembourger is suffering with a respiratory problem according to his RadioShack Leopard team but hopes to recover and race again in time for the Tour du Haut-Var (February 16-17).

    "This morning I already had breathing problems. Instead of getting better, it just got worse during the race because of the cold and the wind," Schleck said in a press release.

    "I didn't want to abandon out of respect for the fans and the organization, but also because I need this competition. After the Tour Down Under I felt I was in a good way and I was really looking forward to this race. I am now sicker than I was before. I need to let my body recover and I hope I can resume training as soon as possible. In theory my race program will not change."

    Schleck fractured his pelvis during the time trial stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in early June. He missed the Tour de France and hardly raced for the rest of the 2012 season, completing only 28 days of racing in the whole season. He is determined to bounce back and be a contender at the Tour de France in July but has not finished a race since last year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege after also quitting the Tour of Beijing last October and the Tour Down Under in January.

  • Cancellara downplays role in Bruyneel departure

    Team owner Flavio Becca with Fabian Cancellara
    Article published:
    February 06, 2013, 19:41 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Swiss rider returns to racing at Tour of Qatar

    After six months away from racing, Fabian Cancellara has made his return to competitive action this week at the Tour of Qatar, the early test site of choice for the cobbled classics. His focus on late March and early April is already such that, on Monday night, he watched a DVD of last year's Tour of Flanders in his hotel room, but Cancellara was also asked to revisit the recent past when he spoke with a small group of journalists in Doha.

    The landscape of Cancellara's RadioShack-Leopard squad has shifted significantly since he last turned a pedal in anger at the London 2012 Olympics, as Johan Bruyneel was finally removed his position as manager following the release of USADA's Reasoned Decision on the Lance Armstrong case in October.

    On the eve of the RadioShack communiqué announcing Bruyneel's departure, Cancellara publicly expressed his reservations about the Belgian's role at the squad, prompting speculation that he had issued an ultimatum on the matter to team backer Flavio Becca. Over three months on, however, Cancellara was keen to downplay the significance of that timely intervention.

    "It's not my team, it was in the hands of Flavio Becca and the people who work in the office," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm just a bike rider. I'm important, that's clear, but I'm one of the employees of the team. I can bring all my experience, but I think they found out by themselves that they had to change something.

    "For sure, it was not a good situation for...

  • Howard continues Orica GreenEdge's winning run at Challenge Mallorca

    Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) was quickest again in Mallorca
    Article published:
    February 06, 2013, 23:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian building for spring classics assault

    With two wins in three days at Challenge Mallorca, Leigh Howard’s second year with Orica GreenEdge is looking extremely promising. Heading into the season, Howard outlined he would simply try to win as many races as possible in 2013 and he’s off to a cracking start. Taking to the top step of the podium at two out of the four Mallorca races - Trofeo Migjorn and Platja de Muro - should provide him with plenty of confidence heading into the spring classics.

    Howard’s second victory at Trofeo Platja de Muro was once again the result of a perfectly delivered race plan. The team wanted a rider in the breakaway and with Michael Matthews making the initial selection, the team could save their energy until later in the 169.8km race.

    "We really wanted a rider in the early break," said sports director Neil Stephens. "This took the pressure off us and also gave us an extra rider up the road ahead of the finish."

    With Matthews wrapping up the KOM prize and eventually caught by the chasing peloton, the team went to work to set up the sprint. Howard was missing his lead-out man Mitch Docker from Trofeo Migjorn but the classics specialist Sebastian Langeveld was more than capable of taking up the role.

    "It is always great to win but we managed to win the King of the Mountains jerseys here as well," said Stephens. "We are not normally thought of as a team of climbers so that makes it even better."

    The team is undoubtedly bearing the fruits of a busy January which for Howard at least, started on New Year’s...

  • USADA extends deadline for Armstrong talks

    Expect to see Lance Armstrong in suit and tie this fall if his case goes to arbitration
    Article published:
    February 07, 2013, 1:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    SCA Promotions to move ahead with case

    The United States Anti-Doping Agency has extended the deadline afforded to Lance Armstrong for the former seven-time Tour de France to share evidence. Armstrong confessed to the use of performance-enhancing drugs in a two-part interview with television mogul, Oprah Winfrey last month.

    "We have been in communication with Mr. Armstrong and his representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling," said USADA boss Travis Tygart. "We have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on details to hopefully allow for this to happen."

    The statement from Tygart indicates a shift from the Armstrong camp which has previously refused to work with the anti-doping body.

    "USADA has no authority to investigate, prosecute or otherwise involve itself with the other 95% of cycling competitors," Armstrong lawyer Timothy Herman claimed late last month. "Thus, in order to achieve the goal of 'cleaning up cycling,' it must be WADA and the UCI who have overall authority to do so."

    USADA worked with Interpol and other anti-doping associations around the world to snare Armstrong and force other riders to confess and testify. It has also banned Dr Michele Ferrari and other doctors who worked with Armstrong and the US Postal Service Team. The UCI ratified USADA's bans after studying the 1000 pages of evidence.

    Meantime, SCA Promotions - the company that insured US Postal and Discovery Channel's management company Tailwind Sports – has indicated that it will move ahead to sue Armstrong to recover more than $12 million it paid him in bonuses for winning the Tour de France seven times.

    The company was one of several which insured Tailwind Sports, the owner of Armstrong's US Postal and Discovery Channel teams from having to pay out the $5 million...

  • Gallery: Hitec Products UCK show-off riders for coming season

    The Hitec Products team
    Article published:
    February 07, 2013, 4:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Road World’s medal winners Neylan and Borghini headline roster

    It was immediately after the team's first training camp in Girona that the Norwegian-registered Hitec Products UCK women's team got it's season started in the best possible fashion. The win in the opening stage at the Ladies Tour of Qatar with young sprinter Chloe Hosking is just the start of things to come for the re-built outfit that boasts three riders from  top-six at last year’s UCI Road World Championships.

    Hosking was afforded the honour of taking her new team’s first race win of the year with the team now regrouping ahead of a busy spring classics campaign that kicks-off with Omloop Het Nieuwsblaad on 23 February. The team has bolstered its youthful roster this year with the signings of last year's World's silver medal winner Rachel Neylan along with third-place Elisa Longo Borghini and 19-year-old Rossella Ratto.

    Take a look inside the Hitec Products individual rider gallery to get an idea of what the riders really look like – when not wearing helmets and sunglasses. This year the squad will ride the Scott Foil equipped with Shimano Di2 Dura-Ace groupsets and Shimano wheels.

    The Hitec Products UCK roster for 2013: Miriam Bjørnsrud (Nor), Emilia Fahlin (Swe), Chloe Hosking (Aus), Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Nor), Tone Hatteland Lima (Nor), Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita), Siri Minge (Nor), Emilie Moberg (Nor), Rachel Neylan (Aus), Lise Nostvold (Nor), Rossella Ratto (Ita), Thea Thorsen (Nor)