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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 20, 2013

Date published:
June 20, 2013, 14:00
  • Tour de France 2013: 10-day countdown starts here

    Chris Froome (Sky) is getting used to life in yellow.
    Article published:
    June 19, 2013, 11:42
    Cycling News

    Follow all the action on Cyclingnews

    There are just ten days until the start of the 2013 Tour de France, and the 100th edition of the great race promises to write another rich chapter in the history of La Grande Boucle.

    Over the next ten days, Cyclingnews will count down to the 2013 Tour de France with up-to-the-minute news, race and stage previews, exclusive interviews, pre-race analysis and press conference coverage.

    The absence of defending champion Bradley Wiggins means that Team Sky’s efforts are all channelled towards Chris Froome. Backed by Richie Porte, Froome lines up in Corsica as the favourite for final overall victory but he is sure to face a stiff challenge from Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Cadel Evans (BMC) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

    After a troubled twelve months, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) is hoping to fight his way back to the upper echelons of the sport, while young talents such as Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) could illuminate the race. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) will duel for the green jersey at the head of one of the strongest sprint fields ever assembled at the Tour, with André Greipel (Lotto Belilsol), Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) also on hand.

    During the race Cyclingnews will provide live coverage of every stage as well as expert opinion from Robert Millar and rider blogs from inside the peloton. There will be complete coverage with race reports, stunning photography, video interviews and news from every stage of the Tour.

    To kick off our countdown here’s a race preview looking at the race route and the riders competing at the 2013 Tour de France.

  • Contador well supported on Saxo-Tinkoff Tour de France squad

    Contador and his Spanish lieutenants
    Article published:
    June 19, 2013, 13:31
    Cycling News

    Rogers, Kreuziger and Spanish climbers line up with former champion

    Alberto Contador will have the picks of the Team Saxo-Tinkoff litter at his disposal in his quest to add another Tour de France title to his palmares when the 100th edition starts in Corisca on June 29. The Spaniard will have strong support from Michael Rogers, who helped usher Bradley Wiggins to the overall title in 2012, Roman Kreuziger, who recently finished third in the Tour de Suisse, and Nicolas Roche in addition to his two Spanish climbing lieutenants Benjamin Noval and Jesus Hernandez. Italians Matteo Tosatto and Daniele Bennati, and Portuguese rider Sergio Paulinho round out the team.

    "We enter this year's Tour de France with the objective to win the race with Alberto. So obviously we've tried to pick the riders that fits the best to our overall goal, and we've tried to identify and bring together the competencies needed in the team to give Alberto the best possible support and protection over the three weeks on both flat roads and hectic finals, the hilly terrain, the mountains and the team time trial," directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit said.

    "We believe, we have come up with a really strong lineup, a great all round team with a lot of valuable Grand Tour experience. So we feel certain Team Saxo-Tinkoff will make a significant impact on the race, and we look very much forward to three exiting weeks in France," Mauduit continues.

    It will be the first time the Danish team hasn't included a rider from its home country since the 2007 Tour de France, and the team's owner Bjarne Riis struggled with the selections. "On a personal level it has been a tough decision for me to not have a Danish rider in the line-up. But we have committed ourselves to go with the group we believe has the best composition to achieve our overall goal," Riis said.

    "This year, the race to be part of our Tour de France lineup has been tougher than in many years with more than the nine riders selected deserving a spot, and in our reserves group consisting of Nicki Sørensen, Chris Anker Sørensen and Michael Mørkøv, we have three highly competent and strong riders ready to step up if needed. Recently Matti Breschel has also shown great form," he said.

    "I think we have found a great mix of in-form riders. We have a group of strong climbers in the team, we have riders designated to take care of Alberto on the flat roads and in the wind, and I'm sure we will perform well in the TTT as well. At the same time, this team will allow us to ride aggressively or take a more controlling approach in all terrains depending on our needs. At the end of the day this versatility will be a key component in trying to win the race."

    Saxo-Tinkoff for the 100th Tour de France: Saxo-Tinkoff: Alberto Contador (Spa), Michael Rogers (Aus), Roman Kreuziger (Cze), Nicolas Roche (Irl), Matteo Tosatto (Ita), Daniele Bennati (Ita), Sergio Paulinho (Por), Jesus Hernandez (Spa), Benjamin Noval (Spa).


  • Tour victory remains a dream for Valverde

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rode a smart race and took third
    Article published:
    June 19, 2013, 16:05
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider looking to improve in time trials

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has said that Tour de France victory remains a dream although he acknowledged that a podium finish might be the summit of his ambitions at this point in his career.

    The 33-year-old returned to the Tour last year after missing out on the race in 2010 and 2011 as he served suspension for his links to blood doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Valverde won the final Pyrenean stage to Peyragudes but made no impact in the fight for overall honours, finishing 20th in Paris.

    “It will always be a dream and you always have to try but I’m not so young and I know how hard it is,” Valverde told AS. “The thing is, I think I’m better now. I’m not under any illusions but I will be there with more options than before and I think I’m better than ever.”

    Valverde blamed the almost 100 kilometres of time trialling for his showing at last year’s Tour and was bullish about his chances of limiting his losses in the two short time trials this time around, in spite of conceding more than two minutes to Chris Froome (Sky) in a similar test at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

    “Fortunately the time trials in the Tour aren’t as flat as the one at the Dauphiné. The second one is really very hard and I’ll be able to defend myself much better,” said Valverde, who will participate in his national time trial championships for the first time ahead of the Tour.

    While Valverde agreed that Froome is the logical favourite for overall victory following his dominant display at the Dauphiné, he he was loathe to dismiss the chances of his fellow countryman Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff). “If Contador’s at 100 percent, he’s able to beat him,” he said.

    Valverde will be flanked by Nairo Quintana in the Movistar team and while he welcomed the young Colombian talent’s presence in the line-up, he believes Froome’s chances have been improved by the absence of defending champion Bradley Wiggins from the Sky line-up.

    “With Wiggins, maybe there would have been a bit of rivalry between the two of them within the team. But since he’s not there, they’ve been saved from that problem,” Valverde said.



  • Ted King excited to debut in Tour de France

    He is Ted King
    Article published:
    June 19, 2013, 18:47
    Laura Weislo

    American an important aspect of Sagan's success

    At age 30, American Ted King will finally make his debut in the Tour de France, lining up at the start in Corsica for the 100th edition of the race as one of eight riders who will work to help Peter Sagan repeat as winner of the race's green jersey for the points classification.

    It is a long awaited debut for the Cannondale rider, who rode his first Grand Tour, the 2009 Giro d'Italia, with the Cervelo Test Team, but has not been chosen for any Grand Tours since joining the Italian team in 2011.

    "Naturally, I'm really excited," King told Cyclingnews. "In the past 24 hours [since the announcement] I've gotten a huge outpouring of support - over 1,000 messages between Twitter, Facebook, texts, calls and emails. It's nothing short of flattering."

    King said he knew he was getting close to making the cut when he was still on the long list of 10 riders last week, but finally got the word that he was on the team on Monday, when the directeurs finalized the roster.

    "It's exciting, but the race is still 10 days away, and there is a lot of work to be done before then. In some ways it's business as usual in terms of training, eating, and recovering, just like preparing for any race, but there is also a lot of demand from the media and other obligations."

    Once in Corsica next Wednesday, King and his teammates will unite with a sole purpose, and that is getting Peter Sagan into the green jersey and keeping him there.

    "We've had a lot of success racing together," King said of Sagan. "We have a successful, winning program designed exclusively to support him."

    In his third season racing alongside the Slovakian sensation, King has become an important key to his success. He was part of Sagan's three stage wins and overall victory in the Giro di Sardegna in 2011, and has been by his side through all but two of his 10 Tour of California stage wins, and during his Classics podium romp this year.

    A tireless worker, King can be seen patrolling the front of the race in the critical first 10 kilometers, carefully checking the composition of any breakaway that might try to go clear and pulling back any threatening moves. Once a suitable mix of riders goes up the road, he is frequently called upon to tap out a brisk tempo for hours to make sure the breakaway can be pulled back in time for Sagan to launch his sprint.

    The main difference between Cannondale and other sprinters' teams, like Omega Pharma-Quickstep, working for Mark Cavendish, Lotto-Belisol for Andre Greipel or Argos-Shimano working for Marcel Kittel, is that Sagan doesn't require a classic lead-out train, King said.

    "Sagan is a crafty and intelligent rider. He relies more on his strength and savvy in a sprint, and he used it to great success in his first Tour de France."

    It's easy to forget that Sagan made his own debut at the Tour de France only last year, especially with his three stage wins and his utterly dominating performance in the points competition - he won by 141 points over Greipel. King expects that he will be called upon to work harder and later into the stages than he has in the other races he's done this year with Sagan.

    King says he's as ready as he has ever been for this Tour de France, physically, but having never been on the race he has only a vague notion of the enormity of the circus he's about to perform in.

    "Having done two Giros, I know what to expect physically to get through a three-week race, but as far as the other aspects, I'm going to go into it with an open mind."

    King can count on the support of his family, who are currently looking into travel to France despite the fact that his father, also called Ted, had a stroke ten years ago and his mobility issues make travel difficult. "Travel isn't easy for him, but they're huge supporters of mine, and I'm sure they'll want to be there to see me race as a Tour rookie."

  • Becca ordered to repay 900,00 euros to Bruyneel

    Team owner Flavio Becca with Fabian Cancellara
    Article published:
    June 20, 2013, 08:13
    Susan Westemeyer

    Money borrowed in 2012 to pay salaries

    A Luxembourg court has ordered Flavio Becca to pay back the rest of the money he borrowed from Johan Bruyneel in spring 2012 to pay salaries at Team RadioShack-Trek.

    Then-team manager Bruyneel lent team owner Becca 1.5 million Euros on March 1, 2012. Since then only 600,000 Euros have been paid back. Bruyneel went to court in Luxembourg about the matter, and now Becca has been order to pay the remaining 900,000 Euros plus interest.

    A spokesman for Becca told that the decision would not be appealed but hoped that a private settlement could be reached.

    Bruyneel was dismissed by the team after the USADA's “reasoned decision” indicated his role in the Lance Armstrong doping affair.

    The RadioShack-Leopard team's future currently hangs in the balance. Radioshack will stop its sponsorship at the end of the season. There have been reports that Becca is trying to sell the WorldTour licence, with Trek interested in taking over as sponsor and building a new team around Fabian Cancellara.

    There have also been several reports of non-payment of rider and staff salaries over the last few years. Most recently a number of riders and staff were said to have not been paid in May. Becca denied this to Cyclingnews.

    On Wednesday the Radioshack-Leopard team named it's line-up for the Tour de France. Cancellara is not riding, with Andy Schleck named as team leader.

  • Vacansoleil looking for stage wins at Tour de France

    Johnny Hoogerland won the climber's classification
    Article published:
    June 20, 2013, 09:18
    Susan Westemeyer

    19 year-old Danny van Poppel included in the Tour team

    Vacansoleil-DCM will look for stage wins in the Tour de France, naming a team of mixed riders when it announced its line-up for the Tour de France on Thursday morning. The nine-man squad ranges from 35-year-old Juan Antonio Flecha, riding his tenth Tour, to debutante 19-year-old Danny van Poppel, who will target the sprint stages.

    Five Dutch riders are in the line-up: Wout Poels, Johnny Hoogerland, Lieuwe Westra, Boy van Poppel and Danny van Poppel. Thomas De Gendt, Kris Boeckmans, Flecha and Sergey Lagutin round out the squad.

    Hoogerland wore the mountain jersey in the 2011 Tour, after he and Flecha, then riding for Team Sky, were struck by a television car. He suffered a serious training crash in February, and has only been racing since the end of April. Poels is also making a comeback from a serious crash at last year's Tour.

    “The Dutch World Tour-team has always been about a surprising, passionate and attractive style of racing. That is exactly how the squad hopes to pick up a stage win in France’s national tour” the team's press release said. “This does not mean that they’ll be forgetting all about the GC.” The team will look to both Poels and De Gendt, who finished third in the 2012 Giro d'Italia.

    The biggest surprise in the team is the presence of Danny van Poppel, who is just 19 years-old and will be the youngest rider in the Tour since World War II. He will turn 20 on July 26, less than a week after the race ends.

    “Danny van Poppel making the team is probably the biggest surprise for outsiders," directeur sportif Aart Vierhouten said. “I have witnessed every time that when he rises through the ranks it does not affect him much at all.

    "That has proven to be the case now that he’s joined the pros where he has already made it up to the podium quite a few times. Nineteen is young, but luckily that is not a problem in the Tour today. The young kids they are able to connect, where this was impossible ten years ago.”

    Team Vacansoleil-DCM for the 100th edition of the Tour de France: Kris Boeckmans, Juan Antonio Flecha, Thomas De Gendt, Johnny Hoogerland, Sergey Lagutin, Wout Poels, Boy van Poppel, Danny van Poppel, Lieuwe Westra.

  • Team Blanco set to become Team Belkin on Monday

    Team Blanco time trials
    Article published:
    June 20, 2013, 10:30
    Stephen Farrand

    Dutch team expected to unveil new sponsor and colours before the Tour de France

    Team Blanco is expected to officially announce it will become Team Belkin at a special media event in the Netherlands on Monday.

    The team has sent out invitations to a media event in the Media Park Hilversum, south-east of Amsterdam. The invitation says: "Join us on 24th June as we unveil the future of … pro cycling team."

    "Hear everything about the future of the Blanco Pro Cycling Team and our Tour de France strategy"

    Team manager Richard Plugge is expected to confirm Belkin as the team's sponsor after reports emerged that a two and half year sponsorship deal was agreed to at the end of May.

    The Dutch team is expected to swap its blue and white colours for Belkin's green, black, grey and white, with the new Belkin icon, a dot man design that signifies People Inspired Products (PIP) also likely to figure on the jersey.

    Cyclingnews understands that a website and Twitter account for Team Belkin have already been created.

    The Dutch team has been without a title sponsor since Rabobank announced last winter that it was ending its backing. This year's team budget is still being paid by the bank but the team took up the Blanco name after Rabobank did not want its name linked with professional cycling due to a long series of doping revelations in the Netherlands and the impact of the Lance Armstrong USADA investigation.

    Belkin was founded in a garage in southern California in 1983 and has grown to be a privately held company with more than 1,200 employees in 21 countries. It describes its products as ranging from “wireless home networking and entertainment, to mobile accessories, energy management, and an extensive range of cables.” It has a European base near Schiphol airport in the Netherlands.

    Blanco named Bauke Mollema and not Robert Gesink, as team leader for the Tour de France on Tuesday after he finished second in the Tour de Suisse. Sprinters Mark Renshaw and Theo Bos missed out on places as the team targets a top ten place on general classification.

  • Froome leads Team Sky in Tour de France

    Chris Froome (Sky) took over the race lead in Valmorel
    Article published:
    June 20, 2013, 12:19
    Susan Westemeyer

    Briton has a balanced team ready to target overall victory

    Chris Froome is ready for the challenge of winning the Tour de France with a balanced Team Sky ready to help him in the effort of taking his first ever yellow jersey in Paris.

    Team Sky announced its line-up on Thursday afternoon. Eight of the riders rode the Criterium du Dauphine together, which Froome won. The nine riders squad selected include Froome, Richie Porte, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Peter Kennaugh, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas. There is no place for Bernhard Eisel and Colombian riders Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Hernao, who seemed to have been saved for the Vuelta Espana.

    Froome finished second in last year's Tour de France behind teammate Bradley Wiggins, who is not able to ride it this year due to injury.

    “Making the final selection of riders has been especially tough this year but we believe that we've found the right combination for the Tour de France,” said team manager Dave Brailsford in the official team announcement. “We have a group of nine riders that are all in great form and ready for the challenge ahead.

    “The Tour de France has been the main goal for Chris this season and he goes into the race in great shape. With four stage-race wins this year Chris has not only grown as a rider but also importantly as a leader.”

    Froome spoke about his ambitions for Tour de France success to Cyclingnews on Tuesday. He says he has huge faith in his teammates. 

    “I’m delighted with the balance in this team and every one of these riders is going to play a pivotal role once the racing begins. Most of us were at the Criterium du Dauphine and I was hugely impressed there with the way the team came together in control of the leader’s jersey. It gave me huge faith and I could not be happier with the selection,” Froome said.

    “We’re ready, excited and can’t wait to get going.”

    Team Sky for the 100th Tour de France: Christopher Froome, Richie Porte, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Peter Kennaugh, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas.