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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 23, 2014

Date published:
January 23, 08:00
  • CONI calls Di Luca in for questioning

    An exhausted Danilo Di Luca (Aqua & Sapone) at the finish of stage two at Tour of Austria
    Article published:
    January 22, 19:28
    By:
    Cycling News

    Anti-doping prosecutor wants information after television interview

    The anti-doping prosecutor for the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has requested that Danilo Di Luca come in for questioning after the Italian made sweeping statements about doping in the current peloton in a television interview, to be aired Wednesday night on Italia 1.

    According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Di Luca said that "90 per cent" of the Giro d'Italia peloton were doping last year, and the 10 per cent who weren't were only clean because they were focused on other races and did not care about performing in Italy.

    Di Luca was banned for life in December as the result of his EPO positive from an out-of-competition control prior to the 2013 Giro d'Italia. He had already tested positive for EPO-CERA in 2008 and served a 15-month suspension after cooperating with authorities, and served a three month ban as part of the 'Oil for Drugs' investigation in 2007.

    The Italian gave an extensive interview to the Italian television station, stating that he had doped since he was an amateur, a confession which could lead the CONI to strip him of his race results, including his victory in the 2007 Giro, which he obtained during his comeback from his first doping suspension.

    The CONI has made an appointment for Di Luca on January 30, 2014 at noon.

     

  • Team Sky to use Wahoo Kickr power trainers

    Team Sky will be using the Wahoo Kickr power trainer in 2014
    Article published:
    January 22, 20:40
    By:
    Ben Delaney

    Direct-drive trainers with built-in power meters for use at races and home

    This article first appeared on BikeRadar.com.

    Wahoo Fitness, best known for its iPhone-related cycling and running products, is now the official turbo trainer sponsor of Team Sky. Team Sky riders will use the direct-drive trainers with built-in power meters at races and at home.

    "Wahoo Fitness is a young and innovative company who has produced a fantastic product in the Kickr, which will meet our requirements both in racing and training," Team Sky's head of performance support Tim Kerrison said in a press release. "We love the wheel-off design and the big fly-wheel which gives an excellent, smooth feel. The ability to precisely control the resistance, whilst retaining the smoothness, gives us the opportunity to do great quality and high intensity training efforts on the Kickr."

    The Kickr works on both Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ technology, allowing users to control wattage with their smart phones and laptops. The open technology allows the use of third-party software to control the resistance, too.

    "It is awesome that Team Sky chose us to work with, as it further validates our rapid growth and shows the world that Wahoo Fitness has created the best trainer ever," Wahoo Fitness CEO Chip Hawkins said in a press release. "This collaboration gives us the opportunity to develop future products while enhancing existing products in cooperation with an organization who understands the kind of training necessary to win."

    This is the second relatively new technology company Team Sky signed with for 2014; Stages Cycling recently announced its power-meter partnership with the team.

  • Gillow finds form as Orica-AIS clean sweep Santos Women’s Cup

    Australian time trial Champion Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS) blitzes the field to take out the stage
    Article published:
    January 22, 21:55
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Three-time Australian women’s time trial champion wins final stage in Adelaide

    Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS) seemed to be fully recovered from a virus that kept her off the bike for two weeks prior to her attempt to make it four straight Australian women's national time trial championships in Ballarat earlier this month. Gillow, who suffered from a chest infection, laboured valiantly finishing second and claiming silver 32 seconds behind new national champion Felicity Wardlaw.

    Three days later, Gillow would play a critical role in supporting Orica-AIS teammate Gracie Elvin's successful bid to capture her second straight national road race title. On Tuesday night, Gillow soloed to victory on Prospect Road on stage three of the Santos Women's Cup, while teammates Loes Gunnewijk and Valentina Scandolara helped give Orica its second clean sweep of the three-day event.

    "It was so good to get silver at road nationals, and last night I felt a little bit back to normal after the illness," Gillow told Cyclingnews. "I just wanted to do a hit-out for some TT training, and I had my teammates behind me and we raced really well as a team." Gunnewijk's second place helped her clinched the series overall victory.

    "It was important for us to get some wins so early this year as it is a confidence booster for all of us," she said "It was great race this year and hopefully there will be more women's team next year so the event can be bigger and better than ever."

    Gillow made her race-winning move at race's halfway mark on the 40-minute, 300m circuit and used her exceptional time trial skills to hold a steady rhythm and keep her rivals at bay.

    "With Shaz [Gillow]  up the road, the other teams were forced to work," Gunnewijk told Cyclingnews. "I stayed in what was left of the field. With one lap to go, Spratty [Amanda Spratt] did an awesome job stringing things out. I was the first one into the last corner to become second on the stage."

    "I feel that being on a team means to be a team player, that's how we became number one in the world," said Gillow of her team's final 2013 UCI ranking. "I think you have to be really dedicated and sacrifice yourself for your teammates and then you get your turn and vice versa." Gillow will now join her Orica-AIS teammates for a weeklong training camp in preparations for his bid for the Oceania championships.

  • Flecha helps kick off Flanders Classics

    Juan Antonio Flecha lines up for his final professional race.
    Article published:
    January 22, 22:00
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard calls Brailsford "best manager ever"

    Flanders Classics, the organisers of the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and most of the other major one-day semi-Classics in Flanders, kicked off their 2014 races yesterday with a presentation in Gent, hosted in part by former Classics riders Johan Museeuw, Juan Antonio Flecha and Ludo Dierckxsens.

    "There are no races that can be compared with the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. After those races, with the the cobblestones and the climbs, you need to recover," Flecha said to Niewsblad.be. "For three or four days after the Ronde or the Hell of the North, you are a total loss."

    The Spaniard, currently out of a job after the dissolution of the Vacansoleil-DCM team, reflected on his time with Team Sky, calling David Brailsford the best manager he'd ever worked with, and Sean Yates of Sky, and Giancarlo Ferretti the best coaches.

    Flecha said that Sky's organisation was superior to other teams, putting riders into three groups for team camps, depending on their calendar and objectives, with the groups only overlapping for a day or two. "In Spanish and Italian teams, the training camp would be a long period with thirty riders at a time. The Sky training camp was much more functional."

    While other teams would have nothing to do after their training rides and massages, Sky's riders were given more freedom because the trainers could follow their progress more scientifically. "They knew that you were going well or poorly without having to have you in the hotel on house arrest."

    Flecha was on hand to present the 2014 Flanders Classics races, which begin on March 1 with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which he won in 2010. Dwars door Vlaanderen (March 26) and Gent-Wevelgem (March 30) follow before the Tour of Flanders on April 6.

    The six races are interrupted by the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, which runs from April 1-3, something that Flanders Classics managing director Gilbert Van Fraeyenhoven said would need to change.

    "We need to establish a pattern," Van Fraeyenhoven said, adding that their races should run on Wednesday and Sunday. "Only in this way can we ensure the survival of the Flemish spring races." He suggested De Panne move to July.

    De Panne organiser Bernard Van De Kerckhove disagreed, saying his race would hold tight to its position ahead of the Tour of Flanders.

    "It is not Flanders Classics who sets the race calendar, it is the people of the UCI and the RLVB (Belgian Cycling Federation) who do," De Kerckhove said.

    "Organizing the Driedaagse in July is impossible. That man is surely forgets that the coast is over crowded [in July], and it is simply impossible to hold a race at that time. The interest in our stage race is great. Applications from the teams are arriving. Our competition is an end in itself for many teams, and not merely seen as just a preparation for the Tour of Flanders."

     

  • Acevedo abandons Tour de San Luis due to illness

    Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp) in action during stage 2 at the Tour de San Luis
    Article published:
    January 23, 02:19
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    Garmin-Sharp down a strong climber in defense of GC lead

    On the eve of the second mountain finish at the Tour de San Luis, race leader Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) lost the support of a strong climber in teammate Janier Acevedo who abandoned stage three due to illness.

    "His stomach is really bad and he has a fever with chills," said Garmin-Sharp team director Chann McRae. While Acevedo showed in his Tour of California stage win last year that he can endure crippling heat, coupled with an illness the combination proved too much to overcome. Nonetheless, Acevedo had been dropping back for bottles on multiple occasions in support of his teammates.

    Acevedo hasn't been the only rider who's experienced health issues in San Luis thus far. BMC's Taylor Phinney and Dominik Nerz started a bit under the weather dealing with the effects of a stomach bug while Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) have had similar issues, too.

    While those four riders have managed to persevere, Omega Pharma-QuickStep lost a key member of their lead-out train in Alessandro Petacchi who started the race with an intestinal virus and withdrew early on the opening stage.

    Every rider becomes much more critical in a race where teams field six-man squads, and Gaimon now must face three more road stages - two with mountain finishes - with four teammates: Tom Danielson, Tyler Farrar, Ben King and Nate Brown. Nonetheless, McRae believes his team is up to the task.

    "Losing Janier is unfortunate but we have a strong team of climbers here," said McRae.

    Conventional wisdom at the start of the eighth edition of the Tour de San Luis was that Garmin-Sharp would vie for overall victory via either Danielson or Acevedo, the 28-year-old Colombian making his much-anticipated debut for a WorldTour team, but another WorldTour debutant in Phil Gaimon turned the race on its head on the first stage with a stage victory from a near race-long breakaway.

    All of the pre-race favourites in a peloton chock full of WorldTour talent, such as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Quintana and Rodriguez, conceded 4:35 to Gaimon and only gained a handful of seconds back on the first summit finish on Tuesday to Mirador del Potrero.

    McRae told Cyclingnews on the eve of the Tour de San Luis that "We definitely don't want to go away from here without either Janier or Tommy D on the podium," but instead it's WorldTour rookie Phil Gaimon who is filling that role for Garmin-Sharp.

  • UCI to review Tour Down Under World Tour status

    Brian Cookson
    Article published:
    January 23, 02:48
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    While 'worthy', new UCI boss Cookson says Tour Down Under’s role could change

    UCI President Brian Cookson wasted little time before addressing media on plans to review the role and status of Australia's only – and most prestigious – cycling road race. Cookson arrived in South Australia on Tuesday evening to kick off the 2014 WorldTour season at the Santos Tour Down Under, now in its 16th year.

     The trip marks the first time the former British Cycling head, who was elected in late September, has attended the event.

    "I've been to Australia several times," Cookson told Cyclingnews prior to stage two from Prospect to Stirling on Wednesday. "It's the first time I've spent time in this part of Australia and it's great to be here."

    Cookson's top priority for 2014 consists of a newly formed, impartial three-member Cycling Independent Reform Commission, for which the UCI has allocated a budget of three million Swiss francs ($3.7m AUD) to formally investigate alleged wrongdoings, as well as doping issues that have plagued the sport and tarnished its credibility in recent years.

    However on Thursday morning prior to stage three from Norwood to Campbelltown, Cookson turned his attention toward the future of the Tour Down Under and its role in the WorldTour calendar.

    Cookson told media that the review of the calendar was at quite an early stage of the process, but that there have been ideas put forward about the timing of the season and calendar.

    "I don't want to pre-empt the final outcome of the calendar review which is a wholesale review of the whole structure of professional men's road cycling," Cookson said. "When the riders that I talk to say they love coming down here, when the teams tell me they like coming here, that it works for them, it's not stressful and on the contrary that it's a really great start to the year for them, those are really positive kind of things to throw into the assessment process that's ongoing."

    Simultaneous competition from the lower-ranked (2.1 category) – and government-backed – Tour de San Luis in Argentina, as well as a near-two-month gap between the Tour Down Under and the next UCI WorldTour event Paris-Nice in France from March 9-16, is an issue Cookson would like to see considered in the review process.

    "We develop the calendar, develop the sport in a structured, strategic way and not just in an ad-hoc way," he said. "Whilst it's important we let the review take its course, I don't think anyone needs to be too concerned. I think this is a really successful event and we want to try to build on that success.

    Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur was quick to defend South Australia's stake in the race and dismiss any notions of a change in date and venue.

    The former UCI Oceania president told Cyclingnews that "for an early season race, six days is perfect, the terrain is okay, and the distance of the stages is 150km which is exactly what is needed. The teams say that and we see good racing everyday, any longer and it would just kill the race. The elements that make our race good are on our doorstep. This is not a race should ever be moved in terms of location or timing."

    "So the last thing I would want to do is damage something as successful as the Tour Down Under," Cookson concluded. "It seems to be as far as I can see a great event, it's had a good reputation, it's built incrementally over the years into one of our really strong events."

    With the reform commission also intensely focused on cleaning up the sport fresh off the heels of banned-cyclist Danilo Di Luca's claim of it being impossible to finish in the top 10 of the Giro d'Italia without using performance enhancing drugs, when asked about former Orica-GreenEdge rider and self-confessed drug cheat Stuart O'Grady, Cookson said: "I'm not going to comment on an individual if I can avoid it, for obvious reasons. But what I will say is I think people, I would encourage everyone to tell all of the truth, if you tell the partial truth - and I'm not saying that anyone is doing – the thing about the truth is that it comes out in the end."

     

  • Tour Down Under gives glimpse of Evans-Porte Giro showdown

    Cadel Waves waves to the crowd
    Article published:
    January 23, 07:02
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Evans lands first blow in shootout with Porte to earn leader’s jersey

    Any doubts of Cadel Evans’ return to form were shattered on Thursday in stage three of the Tour Down Under as he used his Tour de France-winning climbing prowess and his razor-sharp descending ability, sharpened during his world cup mountain bike days prior to turning to the road in 2002, to smash his rivals up the notorious Corkscrew Hill for a 25-second swing, which included valuable bonus seconds, on the leader board.

    "Cadel obviously is absolutely flying," said Porte. "I tried to go with him, but in the hairpins there he just rode away and there's not much you can do. It was a little disappointing, I thought I was in a bit better nick."

    Team BMC’s sporting director Alan Pieper said that seeing Evans ride today reminded him of Evans' world championship ride in 2009. "Seeing him ride today with world championships colours on the top of his jersey and his sleeves brought back a little bit of the memories of the world champs."

    Pieper confided that Evans was completely focused and thoroughly prepared for today’s stage having reconned Willunga Hill seven times this week before the race.

    Evans started the stage trailing the two-time race winner Simon Gerrans by what seemed like an insurmountable 13 seconds with Orica-GreenEdge vowing to hold on to the jersey to the finish. When asked on Wednesday about the rumoured alliance between soon-to-be Giro d’Italia rivals Evans and Richie Porte, GreenEdge’s team director Matt White told Cyclingnews "good luck. No one is dropping Simon Gerrans."

    Gerrans did get dropped. At nine kilometres Evans and Porte attacked giving the millions of cycling fans watching around the world a precursor for their much-anticipated showdown in the Dolomites when the Giro d’Italia visits in May. Gerrans attempted to bridge but was only able to catch Porte as Evans slipped away on the 2.4-kilometre climb averaging 9 per cent gradient and awarded maximum mountain classification points.

    "No surprise [Evans] had to do it on that climb," White said. "Willunga is nowhere near as hard a climb as the Corkscrew. Today was always going to be a big test for all the GC guys and Cadel had great ride."

    Gerrans finished fifth, 15 seconds behind Evans (second overall at 12 seconds), while Porte finished crossed the line in 11th place, to drop lose another 12 seconds and fall to 11th overall, 33 seconds behind. The stage win was only the second of Evans’ career at the Tour Down Under – he also won stage five in 2002 – and his first time to don the ochre leader’s jersey.

    "It's not quite a hilltop finish today," said Evans immediately after the race. "But it gives an indication of who's climbing best. On a 2km climb, you have a bit more time to think.

    "Simon Gerrans and Orica, they really showed their expertise and they were really in their element in the first two days," he added.

    With three stages remaining, including the infamous Willunga Hill on Saturday’s stage four, neither Evans nor Porte are calling a winner just yet.

    "We come into slightly different racing now, slightly more selective with the climb there," said Evans. "So going towards Willunga, it's a good indication, but I suspect everyone will probably we watching me now and trying to put the responsibility on myself and of course my team.

    "The team has also shown they have the legs and we have the strength to do what we need to do, at least on Willunga."

    When asked if Evans could be beaten, Porte responded, "yesterday we were saying the same about Simon. Saturday will tell."

    "It's good to be back at my best level," said Evans, who last won a WorldTour race at Dauphine in 2012. "I just want to come back after these ups and downs of these last two years and be back at somewhere near my best."

  • Gerrans drops leader’s jersey to Evans on Corkscrew Hill

    Cadel Evans (BMC) signs on
    Article published:
    January 23, 07:56
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Simon Gerrans’ bid for a third Tour Down Under title now in serious doubt

    Following stage two of the Tour Down Under on Wednesday, Orica-GreenEdge team director Matt White boldly stated "No one is going to drop Simon Gerrans." Apparently Cadel Evans (BMC) did not get the memo.

    Joined by archrival Richie Porte (Team Sky), the soon-to-be 37-year-old, on14 February, Evans kicked with nine kilometres to go up the notorious Corkscrew Hill on stage three toward Campbelltown, quickly leaving both Porte and a respondent Gerrans in his wake.

    "No surprise [Evans] had to do it on that climb," said White. "Willunga is nowhere near as hard a climb as the Corkscrew. Today was always going to be a big test for all the GC guys and Cadel had great ride."

    Gerrans, a two-time Tour Down Under champion, relinquished the jersey to Evans, who has never worn the ochre leader's jersey in his vaunted career. Entering stage with a 13 second lead over Evans and 21 seconds over Porte, his two biggest threats, now finds himself sitting in second place nine spots ahead of Porte, now 33 seconds in arrears.

    "That was one of the toughest parts of the tour," said Gerrans, who outsprinted both Evans and Porte earlier this month to capture his second Australian national road race championship. "Corkscrew is a very difficult climb especially when it comes to such a critical part of the stage. Everybody was going 100 per cent."

    When Gerrans was asked if any alliance was discussed between himself and Porte to chase Evans down, after Porte had joked the day before about an offer of a collaboration with Evans in an attempt to unseat Gerrans' tightening stranglehold over the leader's jersey, he told Cyclingnews. "We definitely said 'come on let's work together' and try to catch him on the downhill but then as soon as I saw that group coming from behind us I knew Daryl Impey would be right there and a few other guys to hopefully work together to get Cadel back."

    But Gerrans reinforcements offered little support after cresting the 2.4 kilometre climb averaging nine per cent gradient. "I sort of waited for those guys hoping for a little bit of collaboration to bring back Cadel but that point I think everyone was on their limits and I don't think we took too much more time out of him after that."

    With stage four to Victor Harbour being ideally-suited for pure sprints like Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel, Orica-GreenEdge will be targeting stage five's Willunga Hill to pull back time and hopefully slip Gerrans back into ochre.

    "It wont be easy to get back but its not impossible," said Gerrans on taking back the leader's jersey. "I don't think we have ever seen anyone start that Willunga stage in the lead hold that all the way to the finish.

    "It's not going to be easy for Cadel," added Gerrans, referring to Willunga's uphill finish used for the past two tours. "We are going to throw everything we've got at him. Cadel is going to have to pull out something pretty special to hold that lead and win that stage as well."