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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 12, 2014

Date published:
June 12, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Contador: Riding with Sagan would be incredible

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    June 11, 2014, 13:39 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Tinkoff-Saxo leader talks about expected arrival of Slovakian sprinter

    Alberto Contador has told Cyclingnews that he would welcome Peter Sagan to the Tinkoff-Saxo team with open arms, should the Classics star sign for Oleg Tinkov's squad.

    Speaking at the start of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine, Contador, who currently sits second overall, told Cyclingnews: "If Sagan joins the team it would be incredible."

    Sagan has been constantly linked with a move away from Cannondale since the start of the season with Tinkoff-Saxo and Team Alonso named as possible destinations. With the Team Alonso project yet to get off the ground, all the indications are that Sagan will move to Tinkoff-Saxo and join up Contador for the 2015 season.

    Last month Cyclingnews reported that several sources had told the website that the Slovakian will definitely ride for Tinkoff-Saxo in 2015 and beyond. However riders and teams must wait until August 1 before signing official contracts.

    "He's a rider with a lot of class, he's very strong and he wins a lot of races," Contador told Cyclingnews, giving Sagan a formal welcome to the Russian team managed by Bjarne Riis.

    "He can control a race, and he can win a race so if he comes to our team then it would be very good news. The entire team, all the guys, would be happy to welcome here."

    Sagan primarily rides the Spring Classics before building up for the Tour de France where he has won the green jersey for the last two seasons. Contador, a two-time winner of the Tour has rarely shared a squad with any form of joint leadership. However he insisted that he and Sagan could work together at a Grand Tour.

    "I don’t think it would be a problem. There's a big calendar...

  • Wiggins selected for England Commonwealth Games team

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) happy to be done with another long day
    Article published:
    June 11, 2014, 17:05 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky rider could ride the track if snubbed for Tour de France

    Bradley Wiggins has been named in the England team for the Commonwealth Games further fueling speculation that he will not be part of Team Sky's squad for this year's Tour de France.

    Wiggins vented his disappointment and anger to French sports newspaper L'Equipe and the BBC last week, saying that he would not be selected to ride the Tour de France "as things stand" due to Froome preferring other riders to support him in his attempt to win a second yellow jersey. Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has claimed that the team has not been finalized but it seems Wiggins knows he has little chance of lining up in Leeds for the Grand Depart on July 5.

    It is likely that Wiggins will be busy training on the track in Manchester before riding the individual pursuit event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and then possibly the time trial and road race events.

    Wiggins was named in the England team for the road events but can swap events within the cycling disciplines. It is likely his track objectives will clarified after next week's Tour de Suisse and when the Team Sky Tour de France team has been named.

    According to L'Equipe, Wiggins may struggle to be an overall contender at the Tour de Suisse because he has already started to work on his muscle bulk and strength needed for the track.

    Wiggins is named alongside Stephen Cummings, Jon Dibben, Alex Dowsett, Tom Moses, Ian Stannard, Andy Tennant and Scott Thwaites for the England road squad for the Commonwealth Games. Only Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Jon Dibben and Andy Tennant have been named for the men's track endurance squad, possibly leaving...

  • Tour of Utah route announcement

    The peloton during Stage 6 of the Tour of Utah
    Article published:
    June 11, 2014, 17:45 BST
    Pat Malach

    10th anniversary edition coming up in August

     The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will celebrate its 10th anniversary August 4-10 with 1,207 km and 17,637 meters of vertical gain over seven days of racing. The new route, which will feature two mountain top finishes, includes an added day from previous years and will test the 16-team field with 30 percent more climbing and 32 percent more distance.

    The race will begin in southern Utah for a second consecutive year and roll north through 12 host cities and venues in Utah and Wyoming. The tour will pass or finish near seven ski resorts, from Brian Head in the south to the new finish at Powder Mountain in the north. At 3279.3 meters above sea level, Bald Mountain Pass on Stage 5 will be the highest point ever crossed by a Tour of Utah peloton.

    Some familiar favorites are back as well, as riders will tackle the daunting climb to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort on stage 6 and the Empire Pass climb outside of Park City on the final day.

    "I'd say Empire Pass is probably my favorite climb in the entire world," said 2013 winner Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), who took the overall lead away from Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) on the climb up Empire Pass last year. "It's really, really steep, so you are using arms, and that takes a lot of oxygen out of your body that you have to use for your legs. So it really puts a strain on your lungs and makes it a unique climb."

    Host venues for 2014 are Cedar City, Panguitch, Torrey, Lehi, Miller Motorsports Park, Ogden, Powder Mountain, Evanston (Wyoming), Kamas, Salt Lake City, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort and Park City.

    The racing will start Monday, August 4, with a 181.6km course that starts and ends in Cedar City. Riders will start in the flat lands of the western desert before hitting the climb up Parowan Canyon to Brian Head, the home of Utah's highest-elevation ski resort. After cresting the second KOM of the day on Cedar Canyon Highway, the race will descend nearly 1219.2 meters...

  • Team Belkin uses Tour de Suisse as Tour de France dress rehearsal

    Bauke Mollema (Belkin) giving it his all
    Article published:
    June 11, 2014, 19:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Mollema and Ten Dam to lead Belkin in Switzerland

    The Tour de Suisse, from June 14 to 22, will be the last serious test in the run-up to the Tour de France for several Belkin Pro Cycling Team riders. Bauke Mollema hopes to put the finishing touches on his preparation in Switzerland after an altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada.

    "The training went very well," said Mollema. "We had a good camp. After a few days to acclimatise, we did some long workouts. I once spent seven hours on the bike. During the final week, we focused on intensity and explosiveness with some interval training. My legs felt better every day. Last year, I had my first altitude training camp. That worked well for me. Hopefully, I can benefit from it again."

    Mollema has fond memories of the Tour de Suisse. Last year, he finished second and won the tough mountain stage to Crans Montana. "It's a nice race," said the Dutchman. "I also finished fifth in 2011. I want to improve towards the Tour the France in Switzerland. Hopefully, I can achieve some good results along the way."

    Belkin Director Sportif Nico Verhoeven said, "The Tour de Suisse is a good preparation toward the Tour, but it's too important to see as a training race. Bauke and Laurens ten Dam will be our leaders. The team will assist them as much as possible. Hopefully, we can match Mollema's result from last year. After his second place, a podium finish is a nice goal this time. However, if we race well, we could also be satisfied with a fifth place looking towards to the Tour."

    Team Belkin for Tour de Suisse: Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Marc Goos, Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Leezer, Bauke Mollema, Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants.

  • Froome believes Tour de France preparation is on track

    Chris Froome taking a sip from a bidon
    Article published:
    June 11, 2014, 21:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky rider will not return to Teide before the race

    Chris Froome safely negotiated the Col de Manse to retain the overall lead at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Wednesday, and the Sky rider has declared himself pleased with his shape ahead of the Tour de France.

    Speaking to reporters in Gap after stage 4, Froome said that he will not return to Sky's altitude training base atop Mount Teide between now and the Tour, which gets underway in Leeds on July 5.

    "After the Dauphiné, I won’t go back to the Canaries," Froome said, according to L'Équipe. "We'll do a training camp in the Alps and a bit of reconnaissance of the stages in the Pyrenees. Between now and the Tour I still have a kilogram to lose to get down to 66 to 67kg for the start."

    Froome enjoyed an untroubled day in the yellow jersey at the Dauphiné on Wednesday, although he admitted afterwards that he would have been happy to yield the overall lead to early escapee Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

    The Frenchman was the best-placed rider in the break of the day and spent much of the afternoon in the maillot jaune virtuel, only for the high speed in the main peloton to reduce his advantage before the finish in Gap. Bouet’s efforts saw him move up to seventh place overall, but Froome remains in first place, 12 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

    "We were relaxed coming into the stage and it wouldn't have been the end of the world if Ag2r had taken the jersey from the break with Maxime Bouet in it, but in the end the race was so fast that we were able to keep it," Froome said. "We didn't want to take any risks on that last descent and we always had the situation...

  • No Tour de Suisse or Tour de France for Lovkvist

    Thomas Lovkvist (IAM Cycling)
    Article published:
    June 11, 2014, 22:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Swedish rider takes a break ahead of Vuelta a Espana

    Thomas Lövkvist and his IAM Cycling team have decided to cancel his participation in both the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.

    Lövkvist said that he is overtrained and in need of rest. Instead of the races in Switzerland next week and France in July, he will target the Vuelta a Espana later this summer.

    "Up until last night, I was ready to go to Switzerland and compete to the best of my ability," he told Eurosport. "But I began to think that my expectations weren't realistic. I've been aware this might happen, and above all, it's nice to have my team's support behind me. My manager told me to take it easy and go home and rest."

    The 30-year-old plans a few weeks of light training and rest in the hopes of recovering his energy and enthusiasm.

    Lövkvist also said that if the Vuelta does not go well, he may call his career quits and forgo signing a new contract for 2015.

    "If I come back to the Vuelta and do well, then I may get a contract," he said to Eurosport. "I'm worried that if I do not do well in the Vuelta, it will not be fun and then I won't get a contract. But then I'm thinking I might not want a contract in that case either - it might be time to take the next step in life."

  • Luca Benedetti claims first professional win in Quebec

    Luca Benedetti (Amore Vita-Selle SMP) leader after Stage 1
    Article published:
    June 12, 2014, 1:05 BST
    Pat Malach

    Italian only signed for Amore Vita-Selle SMP on June 1

    It took just six races for Amore Vita-Selle SMP's Luca Benedetti to score his first professional win, which came Wednesday at the UCI 2.2 Tour de Beauce in Quebec.

    Benedetti signed with the Italian-based, Ukrainian-registered Continental team on June 1 and raced with the outfit for the first time earlier this month at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, where he placed fourth. He followed that up by winning the mountains classification at the Grand Prix Saguenay last week before winning a bunch sprint during stage 1 in Beauce. 

    "He is a rider for the future," said Amore Vita director Phil Cortes. "He won 11 races last year and four races this year as an amateur. He was signed with the team, but he waited to come up to the pros because his wife gave birth to a baby girl in March. So he wanted to take the time until he was really ready, and that's why he signed his contract on June 1. But he is very good, and he is the future of the team."

    Benedetti benefited from solid team tactics on Wednesday after his teammate Leonardo Pinizzotto was one of the last riders to bridge to a breakaway group of 10 riders that stayed away until the closing kilometers. When the breakaway looked certain of being caught, Pinizzotto jumped away again and stretched his time off the front into the final 3km, giving the team the opportunity to wait until the last minute to take over the front and set up a lead out for their new sprinter.

    "It was a good sprint for me because I was fresh," Benedetti said. "I didn't have to race a lot because one of my guys was in the front, so I was pretty fresh and really ready for that sprint. Our goal was to race hard but conserve our energy during the whole race. We were...

  • Horner will return to racing at Tour de Slovénie

    Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida)
    Article published:
    June 12, 2014, 2:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Diego Ulissi recovered from fever that forced him out of the Giro

    In April, Chris Horner was training on the shores of Lake Como in preparation of the Giro d'Italia when he was hit by car suffering fractured ribs, a punctured lung and a lengthy stint on the sidelines. The 42-year-of American is set to make his comeback to racing at the Tour de Slovénie with the intention of performing well to book a place on Lampre-Merida's Tour de France team.

    Also lining up alongside Horner will be two riders who recently completed the Giro; Diego Ulissi — who won two stages before withdrawing from the race due to fever — along with 22-year-old Slovenian Jan Polanc.

    "In April I was training with enthusiasm, preparing the approach to Giro d'Italia," Horner said. "Unfortunately, I had to face this terrible accident that prevented me from being at the start of the corsa rosa and forced me into a period of inactivity."

    It will be 70 days since the crash when Horner lines up for the individual time trial to open the UCI 2.1 Tour de Slovénie and the 2013 Vuelta a España winner knows the consequences could have been far worse.

    "The crash in April was of course very difficult and scary, but I am grateful that it was not more severe," Horner said. "It could have easily been career or life threatening.

    "It was hard for me to stop and to renounce participating in a top race for which I was training really hard for...