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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 3, 2013

Date published:
January 3, 2013, 12:00
  • Uran looking for a Grand Tour podium in 2013

    Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) wins Gran Piemonte
    Article published:
    January 2, 2013, 19:05
    Cycling News

    Sky's Colombian ready to top good results of previous year

    Rigoberto Uran is ready to aim for the podium in a Grand Tour. The Colombian, who is now in his third year with Team Sky, is looking to continue the progress he made in 2012.

    Uran, 25, had only two wins last year: a stage at the Volta a Catalunya and the Gran Piemonte. But he also finished seventh overall in the Giro d'Italia, also winning the best young rider ranking, and was third in the Giro di Lombardia. He also won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics road race.

    2012 “was a good year, very good. I have always said that the best years are when you have no accidents and can finish the season without problems,” he told the Colombian newspaper El Universal.

    He does not yet know his racing calendar, but knows that he will be riding both La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. 

    From there, he aims at one of the Grand Tours, but doesn't know yet which. “I don't  know if I'll be in the Tour or the Giro, but it's time to make a podium in a three-week race.”

  • Durbridge gears up for first Grand Tour start in 2013

    Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) enjoys his victory
    Article published:
    January 2, 2013, 22:18
    Jane Aubrey

    21-year-old looks to continue progress on the road

    Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) kicked off his second season in the elite road ranks in style, celebrating as he won the Portarlington Criterium at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic on Wednesday. It's not often that Durbridge is able to claim the win in a race other than a time trial, so he was going to savour this one.

    "I don't get to win too many bunch races, it's more time trials and you can't really [celebrate] across the line doing that unless you're Cancellara so I was pretty happy," Durbridge admitted following the win.

    Durbridge is in line to make his first appearance in a Grand Tour in 2013, at the Giro d'Italia, and his early-season build-up will include a somewhat surprising start at the Tour de Langkawi. Durbridge isn't phased by the mountains on the course and knows that it will provide valuable race mileage.

    "It's eleven days’ worth of racing," he told Cyclingnews. "I'm doing the Giro this year so it will be good to get some climbs in in the heat. It will be a really tough tour for me so I'll use it to get through and help out Aidis Kruopis in the sprints and put Cameron Meyer in a good position in the Genting Highlands, things like that. Maybe there's a stage I can go for…"

    When it comes to the Giro, Durbridge said there was no set time for how long he expects to be able to compete, explaining that it would be dependent on how his body handled the three-week race.

    "The last week of the Giro is really, really tough so for me it's just a matter of playing it by ear," he said. "Go for the team time trial, the individual time trial and then see how we go..."

    The 21-year-old will be targeting a repeat performance next week at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships where he took out the elite men's time trial title at his first attempt in 2012. After the semi-classics, his immediate lead-in race to the Giro is likely to be the Tour de Romandie.

    Durbridge has been the subject of a lot of talk at this year's Bay Crits, not only due to his win on Wednesday but also for the noticeable change in his appearance. After a solid year of racing mostly on the road having bid farewell the track, it's a more refined Durbridge in 2013.

    "I'm probably about two kilos lighter than what I was this time last year," he explained. "I definitely haven't been trying but after a long season it's just settling down a little bit."

    In 2012, Durbridge claimed overall victories at Circuit de la Sarthe - Pays de la Loire, Tour du Poitou-Charentes, Duo Normand (with Svein Tuft) along with stage wins at the Critérium du Dauphiné and the team time trial win at the Eneco Tour. It was a big year to kick off a career in the WorldTour but it's not something that weighs heavily on Durbridge.

    "I put a lot of expectation on myself so I don't really think about what everyone else thinks," he shrugged. "If I want to win I just try and put myself in a good position to win. GreenEdge aren't putting any added pressure on me for events. They give me opportunities and if I take them, I take them. If I can replicate it and go one better, that wouldn't be bad."

  • Heatwave no hindrance to Hoskins' race form

    Happy..... the new race leader, Melissa Hoskins (Orica - AIS)
    Article published:
    January 2, 2013, 22:25
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian set for another Bay Crits title

    One of the standout performers within Australian women's cycling in 2012, Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) is enjoying her time on the road while she can. A return to the track lies in Hoskins’ immediate future but the three days of racing on offer at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic is not something she is taking for granted.

    The 21-year-old is on the verge of claiming her second successive overall title at the Bay Crits, despite not winning a stage. It was the same situation for Hoskins last year at the event, and while she has been surprised at the way the three-race series has played out, the yellow jersey remains the best indicator of her consistency. It's not a bad situation for Hoskins to be in considering she was unsure of her form heading into the event.

    The reason for Hoskins' uncertainty is the recent heatwave experienced in her home state of Western Australia, the hottest week in 80 years with an average maximum temperature of just under 40 degrees Celsius. It was a source of frustration for many of the local riders including Luke Durbridge, Cameron Meyer and adopted local, Graeme Brown who all took to social media during the course of the difficult week.

    "For training it's extremely hard," Hoskins told Cyclingnews. "You can't beat the heat when it's a minimum of 25. It makes you feel really lethargic.

    "I was supposed to be out doing motor-pacing with some sprints but I ended up going home because it just wasn't happening... It wasn't looking too good a few days ago."

    This early part of the season will see Hoskins juggle her track and road commitments with the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk fast approaching at the end of February. Fellow West Australian Cameron Meyer experienced some of his best results on the track following on from decent stints on the road, but Hoskins knows that it won't be an easy ride from her perspective.

    "The guys are a little bit of a different breed. After I did the Bay Crits last year, it took me a good two or three weeks to get back. I was absolutely in a hole, to be honest. It was about the time where it was getting critical for us to be going well. I was carrying awesome road form in the sprints but on the track I wasn't sprinting and it was coming down to selection. It came good at the right time and I was all the better, stronger for it."

    Hoskins went on to win two silver medals at the 2012 Track World Championships in Melbourne, in the team pursuit and the Scratch Race. Then she was back on the road for Orica-AIS, taking the overall win at the Tour of Chongming Island before her attention once again was on the track for the Olympic Games. With more racing on the road in 2013, Hoskins should be confident of another solid year.

  • Medalist Sports will not run Exergy Women's Tour

    Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) takes home the overall win of the 2012 Exergy Women's Tour.
    Article published:
    January 3, 2013, 00:30
    Pat Malach

    2.HC-ranked UCI race scheduled for June

    After helping the Exergy Development Group get its namesake women's UCI stage race in Idaho off the ground last year, Medalist Sports will not return as organizer for the 2013 event, Medalist Managing Partner Chris Aronhalt confirmed this week.

    The 2013 Exergy Tour is scheduled for June 5-9 in Boise and carries the new 2.HC designation the UCI added for women's races just this year. The new ranking, the highest available for international events, limits participation to riders on UCI-registered teams and is reserved for only three races on the elite women's calendar.

    The lofty designation could be viewed as a reward for the 2012 event's organization and execution, which earned high praise from riders and management alike, and Exergy Development Group promised after the success of the 2012 event that the race would return in 2013.

    However, since then the company has been plagued with complaints of late payments from multiple vendors involved with the Idaho race and others across the country. In August, Exergy CEO James Carkulis admitted to delays to payments but insisted the bills would be paid in full.

    When reached by Cyclingnews by e-mail, Carkulis declined to comment on who might replace Medalist Sports as technical directors of the race.

    Aronhalt wouldn't comment on why Medalist Sports had not signed up to manage the second Exergy Tour. He did provide a list of his company's events for 2013 through 2015, one of which includes the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in February.

    USA Cycling recently had to step in and cover a sponsorship shortfall for the upcoming UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, after organizers terminated their agreement with Exergy due to the company missing payment deadlines. Aronhalt said Medalist Sports is now involved with the Louisville races in support of USA Cycling.

    The US Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross nearly had to cancel its 2012 races until it found a replacement sponsor for Exergy. The sustainable energy company also abruptly withdrew support from its men's professional team after the 2012 season, although it continues to support the Exergy-Twenty16 UCI women's team.

    Big shoes to fill

    Unlike the ownership structure of most North American races, Exergy Development Group is both owner and title sponsor of the Idaho event. Further complicating matters is the fact that there are a limited number of event management companies available to take on a task this size just six months before the race is scheduled to take place.

    Medalist, a Georgia-based group, is the premiere cycling event management company in North America. It previously ran the tours of Georgia and Missouri and currently manages the Amgen Tour of California, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado and numerous other charity fundraisers and single-day events.

    Medalist is adding the inaugural Tour of Alberta, a UCI 2.1 race scheduled for September 3-8 in Canada, to its list of events this year, and it will once again run the professional championships for USA Cycling in May. The company will also manage the 2015 UCI Road Race World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.

    Oregon-based Breakaway Promotions, which owns the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic and organizes the country's longest-running stage race with the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, also has experience running the Tour of Utah and multiple national championship events in several disciplines. Breakaway Promotions was involved in some of the initial planning to bring a UCI women's race back to Idaho, but owner Chad Sperry said his company would not be involved with the 2013 Exergy Tour.

    "Breakaway Promotions has not been asked to be involved with the 2013 Exergy Tour, and in light of the struggles that vendors had last year in receiving payment as well as the late date for planning and organization, we would have to respectfully decline if we were asked to," Sperry wrote in an email to Cyclingnews.

  • O'Brien dreaming of green and gold at National Championships

    On the Australian domestic scene Mark O'Brien was taking control. Here he was riding into the winning position at the Tour of Toowoomba.
    Article published:
    January 3, 2013, 02:05
    Cycling News

    Team Raleigh rider in career-best form ahead of Buninyong road race

    It would have been easier for Mark O'Brien to follow the wheels and accelerations of the dwindling peloton during the final stages of last year's Australian National Championships road race. Instead the rider who three National Road Series tours in 2012, decided to play his own card. He attacked, the predominantly European-based professionals followed and he ended the day in 12th-place.

    Only 21 of the 140 starters would ride across the finish-line that day with O'Brien along with a handful of domestic NRS riders and the remaining professionals. O'Brien was part of the chase group that came in behind the top-3 places on the day. If the talented all-rounder, who excels in one-day races and hillier tours saved his energy, there's every chance he could have battled for the green and gold bands of national champion.

    With the 2013 Australian National Championships just weeks away O'Brien believes he has every chance of repeating the most recent feats of former domestic winners Peter McDonald (2009) and Darren Lapthorne (2007) - who has been a training partner in preparation for the extended 195.6km race.

    "He [Lapthorne] will have the national bands on the sleeves of his kit for the rest of his life and no one can take that away from him," explained O'Brien. "It would be such a huge honour to wear the national jersey overseas, the respect you would receive would be so much greater.

    "If I was able to achieve that, then I would be satisfied with my life on the bike," he added.

    The strength of the field has risen over the past editions and the addition of a full Orica-GreenEdge contingent will make it all the more challenging however, O'Brien is heading to the race in the "best form" he's been in, according to the 25-year-old.

    "To win nationals would literally be my dream," said O'Brien. "I know I am up against some of the best guys in the world, so to win would still be a long shot, but to be able to wear the green and gold jersey would be amazing.

    "I am training harder than I ever had before and my training data is telling me I'm in the best form I have ever been in.

    "I have always gone into nationals doing the same training as most professionals, and have always done really well on the Buninyong course, but for 2013 I really wanted to give it everything I have and line up with the best possible form I can have."

    O'Brien, who returned to the Australian domestic scene last year and promptly took out the general classification at the first three NRS tours of 2012; Tour of Mersey Valley, Toowoomba and North Western Tour believes the quality of the circuit has greatly improved. The Victorian-based rider will first gauge his form at the upcoming Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which starts on January 3, before taking the trip to Ballarat for his Bunninyong campaign. O'Brien will then travel to Europe to join his new Raleigh team for the coming season.

    "It was really cool to see the progression from when I had lasted raced the NRS in 2007," explained O'Brien. "It's just a sign of things to come for the series as the level of professionalism and quality of racing had really stepped up.

    "When I'm overseas I'll be following the NRS and will be keenly looking out for who is stepping up, especially now that I have a better insight into how far the racing has come."


  • Orica-AIS warned after collusion concerns emerge from rivals

    The bunch, spread across the road, almost half a lap behind Cromwell
    Article published:
    January 3, 2013, 03:30
    Jane Aubrey

    Tactics during Bay Crits questioned

    Race commissaries were forced to issue a warning to the women's peloton ahead of the final stage of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic on Thursday, following concerns from a rival team about alleged collusion during Wednesday's Portarlington race. Orica-AIS sports director David McPartland was genuinely shocked that such a situation had occurred.

    Orica-AIS rider Melissa Hoskins claimed the yellow jersey from overnight leader Kimberley Wells (Specialized-Securitor) courtesy of her second place finish behind stage winner, Tiffany Cromwell who though entered individually, was wearing her regular Orica-AIS kit.

    Cycling Victoria regulations in place for the race state that: Collusion between teams is forbidden as is negative blocking tactics and offenders will be immediately withdrawn and may face further sanction.

    No official penalty will be issued, but chief commissaire Laurie Noonan said that measures were likely to be put in place next year to prevent any issues from occurring.

    Orica-GreenEdge were in fact hamstrung and placed in the awkward situation courtesy of the fact that individual entrants, Cromwell and Gracie Elvin, were unable to wear any other jersey than their trade team kit. McPartland admitted to Cyclingnews that he was not surprised that the suggestions of collusion had therefore occurred but made clear that there was no directive from team management to collude.

    "It is a disadvantage for the others, I'm not going to lie about that," he told Cyclingnews.

    Far from a case of sour grapes, concern was more about a plea for a level playing field for all. Teams in line for the classification were subject to an $1100 entry fee along with the $675 for each of their five entrants - making it one of the most expensive races of the season regardless of the status of team. Representatives from Specialized-Securitor were at pains to criticise race organiser John Trevorrow or Orica-GreenEdge but they were pushing for accountability.

    "The spectacle that John Trevorrow puts on is outstanding; this race enables women to further their cycling careers. The first stage was fantastic, the second stage was always going to be a tough ask to come up against GreenEdge," Specialized-Securitor team manager Liz Phillippou admitted.

    "We had some concerns coming away from the second race because it looked like there was clear collusion,"Philippou continued. "To back that up was the fact that there were a number of girls that weren't listed in the five person team, in terms of the rules, that were still wearing GreenEdge colours. So that creates a lot of confusion for the other competitors. Even the yellow jersey winner by her own admission said 'we had a rider up the road' which as we know was not in the team so she could relax."

    Adding to the confusion was the fact that Cromwell explained following her win that because she was racing as an individual she had "free reign" over her race plan.

    "It's a big concern for the domestic and local teams here who don't have the same level of funding or support," said Philippou. They've got riders who are aspiring to be a part of GreenEdge but it's important to be sure that the value set that GreenEdge has is a strong one. It puts a question mark over what their standing is in the cycling community."


  • Farrar to lead Garmin-Sharp in Tour Down Under

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) celebrates his victory in Colorado Springs, the second stage win of the USA Pro Challenge for the American sprinter.
    Article published:
    January 3, 2013, 09:56
    Cycling News

    Sprinter returns to racing after being knocked out of Tour of Britain

    Tyler Farrar will return to racing at the Santos Tour Down Under. The American sprinter will lead Garmin-Sharp in the year's first WorldTour race (January 21-27).

    Farrar will be leading a team of four Australians – Lachlan Morton, Steele von Hoff, Nathan Haas and Rohan Dennis – as well as Jack Bauer of New Zealand and South African Robert Hunter.

    It will be Farrar's first race after abandoning the Tour of Britain in September. He suffered a severe concussion in a crash in the first stage, which also kept him out of the World championships and put an early end to his season.

    Farrar had only two individual wins on the 2012 season, winning two stages at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He finished second overall at the Tour of Qatar and was second in the Scheldeprijs, which he had won in 2010.

    The 28-year-old previously rode the Tour Down Under in 2011

  • NetApp-Endura looks to Qatar and Oman debuts

    Team NetApp-Endura for 2013
    Article published:
    January 3, 2013, 11:36
    Cycling News

    Team opens season at Tour of San Luis

    Team NetApp-Endura will ride the Tours of Qatar and Oman for the first time in 2013. The German Professional Continental team has received invitations to every race in January and February that it hoped for, and is still hoping to ride one of the grand tours again this year.

    NetApp will open its season again at the Tour of San Luis in Argentina (January 20-27), as it did last year. Then it will take on the Tour of Qatar (February 3-8) and the Tour of Oman (February 11-16). “Both races, which are organized by Tour de France organizer ASO, are for the sprinters, the team noted. The team will then open the Belgian Classics season at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 23.

    The ASO connection is important to the team, which hopes for its second invitation to a grand tour, after appearing in last year's Giro d'Italia. “We still face the biggest challenge,” said team manager Ralph Denk.  “We have announced our goal of wanting to ride a grand tour again in 2013. We have good discussions with all the organizers and look forward to the first decisions.”

    Meanwhile, the team will use the early races as “an optimal preparation” for whatever may follow. “The first months of the year are important to set up the ground basis for the whole season. We have been invited to all the races in January and February that we wished for. That is a perfect opening.”

    NetApp-Endura was formed by the merger of Team NetApp with Continental-ranked Team Endura Racing. The team goes with 21 riders, and will look to improve on the 11 wins which NetApp brought in over the 2012 season.