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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 31, 2014

Date published:
July 31, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Hosking gunning for a medal at Commonwealth Games

    Chloe Hosking
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 1:15 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Australian hoping to improve on bronze in Delhi

    Rest and relaxation is the order of the day for Australia's Chloe Hosking, as she gets her self ready for this Sunday's road race at the Commonwealth Games. The team from down under is looking to retain Rochelle Gilmore's title from Delhi in 2010 and add to the already impressive haul of medals this year.

    Hosking is the only return rider from the Delhi road race team. The 23-year-old says that she's 'gunning' for glory this year, after taking the bronze medal four years ago. "I definitely think I can improve on bronze. I won that medal when I'd just turned 20, and I don't really think I totally realised how big a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games was," she told Cyclingnews on Tuesday, as she recovered from a 4am start to recce the course.

    "I'm definitely gunning for a medal here, but I'll be equally happy if any of my teammates get it."

    Hosking and her teammate Gracie Elvin jetted in on Monday after riding the inaugural edition of La Course. Hosking finished 20th in the bunch sprint and while she was disappointed in her result, the Australian was delighted to have had a chance to show off women's cycling.

    "It was an incredible experience. I think it was such a big day for women's cycling," she said. "I would like to see it again on the calendar… We need to see it return. If they can keep growing it to become one of our Grand Tours, like the Giro Rosa, that would be fantastic. But I realise things like this will take time and La Course was a fantastic first...

  • Meersman secures overall victory at Tour de Wallonie

    After four straight second places, Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) caps off Tour de Wallonie with a stage win
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 3:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian extends for two years with Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    For the Belgian Omega Pharma-Quick Step team, victory in the Belgian Tour de Wallonie by its Belgian rider Gianni Meersman brought up its 50th win in three disciplines for 2014.

    Meersman had finished second on the first four stage of the race but victory on the fifth and final stage sealed his first overall win of the year while teammate Zdenek Stybar finished ninth overall.

    "I am super happy about this victory," Meersman said. "Not only for the GC, but also the stage win because after being four times in second place. For me, it's important to be able to win this stage to finish off the great work of my teammates, and I did it, so I am thrilled. For me it's the second stage race win of my career after 2011 when I won at Circuit des Ardennes.

    "Of course Tour de Wallonie was special as the level of the competition was really good. So, this victory gives me even more satisfaction. I'm happy also for the team because before the race I felt really good. "

    Meersman explained that on the eve of the race he was feeling confident of a good performance having enjoyed almost a month's break of racing and let the team know of his ambition.

    "A few days before the race I called Sport Director Rik Van Slycke and I told him I would like to try for the GC," Meersman. "So, I did it, and we took the GC after two days. It's a wonderful feeling to lead this team and have the team around me so we could win this race. My condition is good. This race opened up the second part of my season.

    The next race for the 28-year-old will be the

  • Millar ready to defend his Commonwealth Games time trial title

    David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) at Tirreno-Adriatico in March
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 5:00 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Scot looking forward to wearing his national jersey for just the second time

    On Thursday morning David Millar will pull on a Scottish team jersey for just the second time in his long career as he looks to defend his Commonwealth Games gold medal in the men's time trial in Glasgow.

    The Commonwealth Games represent a seminal moment in Millar's career with the former Tour de France stage winner handed the chance to go out in glory at his home Games. However the 37-year-old heads into the time trial and then Sunday's road race with his form at a slight unknown having not raced since he abandoned the national time trial in June.

    He then had the rug pulled from under his feet when his Garmin Sharp team dropped him on the eve of this year's Tour de France. It was a major blow to the Scot but within a matter of days — and after a brief stint of television work was thrown in — he was back on the bike.

    "It's gone better than I thought it was going to go four weeks ago. When I found out that I wasn't doing the Tour I thought that it was all going to come crumbling down but it's ended up being really good. I've managed to get myself back in the game, as they say, and I've been training hard for two-and-a-half weeks."

    As the Tour wound its way through the Alps, the Pyrenees and on towards Paris, Millar based himself at altitude in Spain, using the Tour situation as motivation to focus on the Games.

    "I think it took about ten days," he said when asked how long it took before he managed to find his focus after his Tour omission.

    "The...

  • Garner excited about Commonwealth Games debut

    Lucy Garner
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 11:35 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Former junior world champion to support Armitstead in road race

    Lucy Garner (England) is about to embark on her first Commonwealth Games and will be supporting her teammate, and race favourite, Lizzie Armitstead in the road race this weekend.

    The Games are only Garner’s second major international race since turning professional last season and she wants to make the most of it. “I’m just taking the whole experience in and getting ready for Sunday,” she told Cyclingnews.

    “It’s amazing. As a junior I rode the junior Commonwealth Games but it is a little bit different. To make the step up to the senior team is really cool. We’re doing good training, but it’s nice to feel the buzz from all the other athletes in the village.”

    England have come to the race with a line-up that includes four Olympic Gold medallists. Joining Garner and Armitstead will be Laura Trott – who won gold earlier in the Games - Emma Pooley, Dani King and Hannah Barnes. “We’ve got a really strong team, all types of riders that so that we can mix it up a bit. It’s going to be hard, but we’re really going for the gold.

    “We’re going to do as much as we can. We don’t know the exact tactics yet but this is a main goal for Lizzie and we’re all in really good shape to help her.”

    At 19, Garner is the youngest member of the team, but she comes with an impressive palmarès. She is only the second rider, after fellow British rider Nicole Cooke, to win the junior world road race two years on the trot. She turned professional with Argos-Shimano at the beginning of last season and took her first victory in the opening stage of the 2013 Tour of Chongming Island. This year has seen her consistently make it into the top five at races and Garner is happy with her progression this season.

    “My first year was so tough, mentally and physically...

  • Women have fewer chances than before, says Cooke

    A beaming Nicole Cooke and her Olympic Games gold medal
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 14:35 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Former world champ says some riders were pressured to dope

    Despite the success of La Course by le Tour last weekend, former women’s Tour de France champion Nicole Cooke says that there are still fewer opportunities in women’s cycling than when she turned professional. Last Sunday saw some of the world’s best female cyclists duke it out on the Champs Élysées, with Marianne Vos taking the victory. However, when Cooke turned professional the women had a two-week event.

    “It’s been a very sad story for the women’s Tour. When I came into cycling, there was a lot to look forward to, a lot to aspire to,” Cooke told BBC Radio 4 during a trip to the Commonwealth Games. “When I turned professional in 2002, the women’s Tour de France was still two weeks long, but held separately from the men’s event. It was held in August. It’s quite sad to see.”

    Women’s cycling has not been able to keep up with the growth and development that the men’s side of the sport has enjoyed over the years. While the men have suffered as a result of the economic downturn, the women’s peloton has been hit particularly hard. Long-standing races and teams have simply disappeared. The other problem facing the women’s peloton is the apparent unwillingness from certain powers within cycling to invest in the sport, stating the lack of interest as the reason.

    “Those are all excuses,” said Cooke. “I think it then puts the focus on the people governing the sport, who haven’t looked after the interests of female cycling while they’ve continued to follow men’s cycling and promote that.

    “At the moment, the people who actually have the levers of power, who can actually make changes, are the UCI the world...

  • Acquarone fighting to save his reputation after Giro d'Italia dismissal

    Michele Acquarone.
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 16:43 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Former head of RCS Sport suggests millions was taken by forging his signature

    While the organisers of the Giro d'Italia were unveiling the opening stages of the 2015 race at a presentation in central Milan on Tuesday, former race director Michele Acquarone was in another part of the city in an employment tribunal, fighting for his professional reputation and personal pride.

    Somewhat ironically, the 2015 Giro d'Italia will start in Acquarone's home town of San Remo. He will no doubt be there, as a spectator and fan of cycling, just as he was in Paris for the end of the Tour de France.

    Acquarone has told Cyclingnews that he hopes to be back in employment and possibly back in cycling well before May next year after clearing his name. He is angry that he has become a scapegoat for the suspected fraud and refuses to stay quiet.

    The likeable Italian manager was suddenly sacked by RCS Media Group last October after the Italian media company discovered a massive misappropriation of funds in the account of RCS Sport. Initial reports suggested €13 million of company funds had disappeared after money was carefully and gradually drained from several RCS Sport accounts over several years.

    Acquarone has always denied any wrong doing and is not under investigation by Italian police, but was dismissed from his role of Chief Operating Officer and Director of the Giro d'Italia, with RCS suggesting he should have and could have known about the misappropriation of funds.

    As a consequence of the case, CEO Giacomo Catano was also dismissed, Matteo Pastore, the head of communications and external relations at RCS Sport has apparently reached a settlement and left the company, while Laura Bertinotti, head of...

  • Team Sky leads the chase for Nicolas Roche

    Nicolas Roche happy for his Tinkoff Saxo teammate
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 17:22 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    The cycling transfer season opens on August 1

    Friday August 1 marks the start of the official transfer window in professional cycling, with riders allowed sign news contracts with new teams for the 2015 season.

    As usual, Cyclingnews will have complete coverage of the changes and transfers that will shape the 2015 peloton.

    A number of high profile riders are expected to change team for 2015, with announcements likely in the weeks ahead. It’s only a matter of time before Peter Sagan is unveiled as Tinkoff-Saxo’s marquee signing and Cyclingnews understands that the Slovak’s brother Juraj, Maciej Bodnar and one other Cannondale rider will also join Oleg Tinkov’s squad for 2015.

    Tinkoff-Saxo is apparently undergoing several changes to fulfill Oleg Tinkov's ambition of creating the best team in the sport.

    Two sources have also confirmed that Team Sky are leading the chase for Nicolas Roche with the Irish rider set to leave Tinkoff-Saxo after two seasons with the squad. Team Sky is in pole position to sign Roche, with IAM Cycling and Trek Factory Racing also negotiating with the rider.

    Cyclingnews contacted Roche’s agent Andrew McQuaid, who would only provide a no comment to the speculation.

    Boasson Hagen in talks with MTN-Qhubeka

    One rider who looks to possibly be leaving Team Sky is Edvald Boasson Hagen, with MTN-Qhubeka confirming to Cyclingnews that they have talked to the Norwegian’s agent.

    The South African team is one of the busiest players in the rider market at the moment with at least three or four major signings expected as it looks to develop and grow under the guidance of Cervelo bike brand co-founder Gerard Vroomen. The team has announced it will use Cervelo bikes in 2015 instead of Trek, with former NetApp-Endura manager Brian Smith charged with building...

  • Dowsett digs deep for Commonwealth Games gold

    Alex Dowsett (England) with his Commonwealth Games gold medal from the time trial
    Article published:
    July 31, 2014, 17:52 BST
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    English rider uses Tour de France disappointment to drive him to glory

    After missing out on the Tour de France due to illness, nothing was going to get in the way of Alex Dowsett (England) and gold at the Commonwealth Games. The 25-year-old, dug as deep as he could to beat Rohan Dennis (Australia) by nine seconds in the time trial in Glasgow on Thursday.

    "I just fought like I’ve never fought before. No one wanted that more than me today," Dowsett said before he went to go and collect his medal on the large stage in Glasgow Green. "I had a point to prove to myself, I had a point to prove that I was worthy of that Tour place. I know I was worthy of that Tour place. I was unlucky in when I got ill. I don’t have anything against the team for not taking me. If I was the team manager then I probably wouldn’t have taken me as well."

    Dowsett was expected to make his Tour de France debut this year as one of Alejandro Valverde’s support riders. However, a cough that developed into bronchitis during the Tour de Suisse in June put paid to his ambitions. To add insult to injury, Dowsett was forced to hand over his national time trial title, of which he has had sole ownership since 2011.

    After the disappointment in June, the Commonwealth Games took on a bigger purpose for Dowsett. He has been knuckling down with his new coach Mark Walker, with whom he joined forces at the start of this year. The months of effort paid off and Dowsett says that this result will stand up there with anything he has and is yet to achieve. "It goes a lot deeper than simply winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, it’s like a personal victory for me," he said.

    "I think a lot of nations that...