- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 02:01
- Jane Aubrey
Australian ready to try his luck in final week
Taking on the Giro d'Italia is a long way from the comparitively comforting repetition of a velodrome, but for the notoriously studious Cameron Meyer, some habits die hard.
"I've already studied every stage all the way through the three weeks thinking, Tyler [Farrar] can win this stage; and [Christophe] Le Mevel can have a go here and I can get in the breakaway on this stage," the 2010 Australian Cyclist of the Year told Cyclingnews. "I was talking to Matt Wilson, an old-timer, the other day and he goes: 'Cam, I don't look at the stages. I just go day-by-day because I don't want to know what's coming up in the last couple of weeks.'"
Some may call in the exuberance of youth but Meyer has done his homework.
Meyer will be starting in his third Giro this weekend and he's hopeful that this time around, as a 23-year-old with a bit more experience on the road and with added hardness in his legs, the three-week monster won't seem so bad.
"I got called a veteran of the event the other day," he recalled. "You can only ride a race three times so I'm changing to the Tour or the Vuelta next year!"
Having just completed the Tour of Romandie, where he and Garmin-Cervelo took out the teams classification, along with Liege-Bastonge-Liege, Meyer is optimistic about the 3496 kilometres ahead. In previous years, he's come off the track world championships with little or no racing under his belt and the adjustment required has been a shock to the system.
"When I start on Saturday I'm confident I can adapt to the race speed quicker than what I have in the previous two years," he explained. "When you go out onto the road you have to average big power for 200 kilometres of bike racing – our bodies just aren't adapted like the other guys who have 30 more race days in the season than us and they've been doing it year-in, year-out."
While Meyer seems relaxed about the next three weeks of racing, he explains that the steady flow of GC contenders using the word 'fear' to describe some of the nastier stages is "a little daunting." He laughs nervously before adding: "Every time I look at Cyclingnews I see a new favourite like Contador, Sastre, or Menchov saying how hard some of these climbs are going to be. So I'm going, well, that doesn't bode well for someone like me who's got to try and be a domestique in the first few weeks and still get up those hills."
Meyer didn't make it to the finish in Rome in 2009 but it was a different story in 2010 where in Verona, he came 8th in the final time-trial for his best-ever result. While as current national time trial champion he'll be looking to emulate that feat, if not go better this time around in Milan on May 29, there are a few other stages that have caught Meyer's eye.
The Garmin-Cervelo team head into the Giro with Farrar looking for the sprint stages and Le Mevel as their general classification hope so when the Australian is not working for either, he'll be trying his luck in a breakaway on stages 17 and 18.
Meyer explained that with his first WorldTour victory in January at the Tour Down Under, he realised new levels of confidence - "It was a bit of a shock [to take overall] and I had a bit of luck on my side to be able to pull off those victories, but that's the sort of rider I am."
He was the first-non sprinter to win the Adelaide event since 2006 and remarked following his consolidation of the ochre jersey how remarkable it was that "little scrawny Cameron" was now alongside the likes of Andre Greipel on the winners' list. Needless to say, his build is not an issue at the Giro.
"I'd love to be called little scrawny Cam going into the Giro! It should be a benefit being a little bit smaller with all the climbing ahead."
- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 09:02
- Cycling News
Brit brings in most 2011 victories for his squad
After his impressive stage win on the final day of the Tour de Romandie, Ben Swift (Team Sky) will look to take his strong form into the Amgen Tour of California. In the absence of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Swift will lead the line in the sprints as the British team takes on its first crack at the Californian event.
"I should get a few opportunities at California," Swift told Cyclingnews from his base in Italy. "I've got some really nice racing coming up and hopefully I can take my form into those and get some results."
Swift will head to California this week and has both the Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta on his further programme. He will therefore skip the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
However, his win in Romandie was his fourth of the season to date, making 2011 the 23-year-old's most successful season to date.
"I've had good condition since coming off Castilla y Leon and so I was just going to Romandie to try my best. We, as a team, wanted to make sure it was a sprint on the final day and the guys were really fantastic."
The victory came after several days of hard competition but Swift still felt fresh enough to wrap it up. "It's was all pretty tough racing in Romandie but I actually enjoyed the terrain," he said. "There were no really hard mountains but plenty of stages that can shake you up."
Swift's win in Romandie, his two in the Tour Down Under and a win in Castilla Leon mean that he's the team's most successful rider this year. Greg Henderson has two victories and Steve Cummings one, but Swift, who took his first win in the 2008 Tour of Britain, doesn't believe this is a break-through season for him.
"I'm not sure about it being something like a breakthrough year. I'm definitely enjoying a good season but I just want to keep going and chipping away. I'm not looking for peaks of form, instead I just want to be continuously consistent and do the best that I can," he said.
"I'm more of a complete bike rider now and I can definitely hold my own a lot more and I'm really enjoying it."
- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 10:24
- Cycling News
Czech rider hopes outsider role to his advantage
Astana rider Roman Kreuziger is ready to take on a new leadership role at the upcoming Giro d'Italia. The Czech stage race hopeful has been working towards his main 2011 season goal since last winter.
"At the Giro del Trentino, I won a stage, which was very important to me and my confidence before the Giro. Then in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, I made a beautiful place and a good effort, finishing fourth. Finally during Tour de Romandie, I worked for Alexander Vinokourov in the key stages and I found a good rhythm and good legs," he said.
Taking this week to recover before the Giro start, Kreuziger looked back on his preparation, which has never been as thorough. "I did a lot of training camps since the start of the season. In December, I went to Mallorca, in January in Calpe, in February to Etna and late March and early April to Tenerife. Also, it's been two months since I do stretching every day for 20 minutes and I didn't drink a drop of alcohol - I have been very serious."
The 24-year-old has been building towards the Giro since the end of last year. "In November we already talked about it and it was confirmed on the first training camp in early December in Montecatini, since then I'm only focused on this goal," he said. "There may be some who were worried about the lack of results earlier in the season, but everything was done with the aim to keep forces for the Giro and reach my peak form during this race."
Kreuziger, who still has everything to prove as a Grand Tour contender, feels ready for his first team leadership challenge. "I hope to win a stage and be amongst the best overall," he stated. "I have never finished on the podium of a grand tour or in the top five, but this year I'm prepared for that. I did everything I needed to do and I think I can do well."
The Czech's confidence will be put to the test by a number of high-profile overall favourites such as Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank), Michele Scarponi (Lampre), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Denis Menchov (Geox). But Kreuziger thought that his outsider status could be an advantage. "I think that the presence of favourites like them can turn in our favour because it is their team who will be responsible of the race from the start of the Giro, and that's an advantage for us," he said.
- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 10:58
- Daniel Benson
Astana rider sidelined from Giro line-up, replaced by Kazakh rider
Fredrik Kessiakoff may have been dropped from Astana's Giro d'Italia team but the 30-year-old Swede is confident that he can have a successful second part to the season.
The former mountain biker had been pencilled in to ride the Giro all through the winter and early part of the sping. However, the team decided to make a late change, dropping Kessiakoff in order to give his slot to a home-grown rider from Kazakhstan.
"I have full respect for whatever the team decides," Kessiakoff told Cyclingnews. "I'm a paid rider and the team is about results and promoting the team in the best possible way. Yes, I was pre-selected for the race and had been talking about riding the Giro for a long time but the team decided to put in a Kazakh rider. It's a Kazakh team and they wanted to see a better national representation in the line-up. Of course I'm disappointed but I respect their decision."
Kessiakoff was adamant that he had no problem putting his personal wishes aside for the team. "I've had the Giro as an objective for a long time and I was certainly trying to build up for it and be there in the best possible shape to help out Roman Kreuziger. At the same time it's not a surprise that these things happen. I'm a paid rider and I'm paid to go where the team tells me and if they want a better set-up for the team then that's their decision."
The decision to sub Kessiakoff leaves him without any planned races for the rest of the season, although he is hopeful of making Astana's selection for the Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta. However, he admits that a Tour de France slot is not on the cards.
"My race schedule only went up until the Giro and that's all I was focusing on. I was just going to take the second part of the season as it comes. So at the moment I don't have any races and I'm waiting to finalise the second part of the season with my team."
Kessiakoff signed a two-year deal with Astana at the end of 2010. He rode one season with Garmin-Transitions - now Garmin-Cervelo - but left the team after a disappointing year affected by a loss of form and a horrendous crash at the Volta ao Algarve.
"Last year was very difficult and this year I'd made some adjustments and it improved my health. My form has improved and lately I've been training harder and harder and going deeper in races. I was hoping to show that in the Giro. I'm a lot better than last year and I'm still happy with the way things are going. So I'm optimistic about the second part of the season."
- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 13:17
- Cycling News
UCI deny claims that they failed provide French prosecutor with positive doping probes
The criminal investigation launched after police searches during the 2007 Tour de France has been dismissed. Public prosecutor Jean-Christophe Muller in Pau confirmed today that there will finally be no hearing for Alexander Vinokourov, Iban Mayo and Christian Moreni in their respective cases.
French police had searched the hotel rooms of the three riders on July 24 and 25, thereby opening the investigation.Vinokourov had tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion on July 21 and left the Tour on the second rest day. Mayo returned a positive doping sample for EPO on July 24 and Moreni, together with his whole team, left the Tour following a testosterone positive on stage 11.
Since then, the public investigator sent three international letters to the International Cycling Union, but according to them the UCI never complied to the request of handing over the riders' positive doping samples needed to continue the case. According to Sudouest.fr, the governing body of cycling based its refusal upon the confidentiality of these "personal medical elements".
However the UCI has contested this claim. A spokesperson for the UCI told Cyclingnews that they were sent a letter of request on July 29, 2009. The UCI replied on August 6, asking that an official commission with legal jurisdiction must request the data. According the UCI they never received a reply.
- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 16:25
- Daniel Benson
Vaughters calls for caps on salaries and budgets
The UCI's new sporting criteria combined with its transfer regulations is having an adverse affect on the stability of teams, according to Garmin-Cervélo boss Jonathan Vaughters.
The UCI’s rules allow for a fixed transfer period from August 1 to 20 October, with teams only able to recruit during that period although they are allowed to privately talk to riders throughout the year.
However, under the new ranking system all of a rider’s points transfer with him, creating an environment in which teams could be in a position of developing riders for opposing squads and see their talent leave at the end of the year. Such a scenario could see a team stripped of its points and without a ProTeam licence the following year.
Vaughters, who runs one of the biggest teams, has expressed concern to Cyclingnews that his crop of young, talented Australians have been strongly linked to the GreenEdge and could leave at the end of 2011 to join the nascent squad.
The reality of such a situation occurring has left Vaughters facing a dilemma over whether he races such riders in top level races, aware that any points they gain between now and then will go to their new team in 2012.
“I’m really annoyed and I sent my riders an email saying that with Grand Tour selection, that long term loyalty to the team is definitely something that I consider. I'm not very happy or proud about that email. It just should not be a part of my selection mindset. At the end of the day I’m not going to flick them, but it sure did cross my mind.” Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
"I was in the same position in 2007-2008, as Bannan is now, and I respect how hard it is with grumpy folks like myself around. However, in 2008, the system of being able to buy points was not there. We relied on our team's early season performance and the generosity of ASO to get us into the Tour, not more. Now, if you purchase enough points, you are automatically considered for a license.
“It’s not a problem caused by me or Aussie riders on the teams, it’s the due to the current sporting criteria weighting system and the fact that 100 per cent of a rider's points are transferable. Those three things are horrible. They’re pulling the thread work of teamwork apart.
"Now, I have been informed that the teams are misunderstanding the way this sporting value system works, but from what I can see in the rules, if you buy enough points to be in the top 15 teams, you'll most likely have a license. That type of system totally discourages a team manager, like myself, from ever sending a rider who I think may transfer to another team to any good race because you’re basically giving points to another team.
"I have no interest in not selecting riders to races based on rumors and the like. It upsets me that this even crosses my mind."
Jack Bobridge and Cameron Meyer are two riders possibly on their way from Garmin to GreenEdge. Both were signed on the back of promising junior pedigrees and have blossomed into two of the most exciting riders on the pro circuit.
“I like Jack and Cam, quite a bit, and I was really upset about the system but that’s not their fault, and quite frankly it’s not Shane Bannan’s or GreenEdge’s fault either. All they’re doing is operating with the incentives and disincentives that are given to them.
"Right now, if you're a rider on the market, those incentives favor not working for your current team and riding for 9th place instead. That is horrible."
Added Vaughters: "I am lucky that both Jack and Cam are honorable guys that like winning, either for the team or themselves. And I know they won't race selfishly, no matter what they are doing next year. But why tempt them?"
While Vaughters has the relative security of having a team rich in talent and more importantly points, not all teams are as lucky. Saxo Bank saw their team decimated by last year’s exodus to Leopard Trek. The Danish team fell from being the number one team on the planet to a squad utterly reliant on Alberto Contador’s points gained in 2010. Had the Spaniard been banned for his positive test at last year’s Tour then the team would have been outside of the ProTour, calling into question their sponsors' commitment.
Points system is killing 'panache'
Already this year, the sport’s points system has had an effect on the outcome of several road races. Last week Jerome Pineau hit out the collective defensiveness sweeping the bunch.
“What ruins everything is the UCI points system. Teams think about getting sixth and ninth place instead of trying to win and finishing 10th. They say that earpieces are killing panache, but these points do the same thing. People play it defensively,” he told Ouest France.
At the Tour of Turkey Allan David (Astana) was a first hand victim of the new attitude. An Australian, he too is out of contract at the end of the season and with Astana far less secure in term of points, found that his teammates were no longer told to work for him at the race.
"It's a fact," he said referring to his belief that he and other Australians were now on the outer with their current teams. "There definitely [are such riders]. I can tell you firsthand. It's disappointing … As Aussies, we finally have this opportunity to have a team. It's normal [for it to be] interested in Australian riders up for contract. Some teams should just respect that, get on with the year and get as many results out of us as they can while they still have us."
“It’s not Allan's fault, Astana's fault, or Shane Bannan's fault, it's just a system that needs to be adjusted,” Vaughters added.
“And it’s another example, right along with the race radios, and bike design and technology of why the UCI needs to have people that actually work in the field be an integral part of the rule making. Until they do that these sort of errors and dramas are going to happen over and over again.
“Did I think about playing the situation and leaving certain riders out of races? Does it make me angry that I’m potentially developing riders for somebody else? Yes, absolutely. Am I going to act on that? No. Cam is doing the Giro, GreenEdge or not, and I hope he has a great Giro, whether the points end up as mine or somebody else's. But I can tell you, this is a problem that isn't going away until the system is revisited."
In theory and according to the rules, a Meyer or a Bobridge, and they’re just examples of a growing trend, may have already signed contracts with new teams, leaving many squads in the dark until August at the very earliest.
“Let’s have it be a big honour if you’re the number one ranked team in the world but lets have it stop affecting whether you’re selected for the Tour de France or the ProTour. Or perhaps totally redesign the rankings and have total budget caps to ensure fair competition amongst teams."
"Or maybe just split the points, 50/50, teams and riders. Keep teamwork and fairness in the highest possible regard. Winning races and winning the ranking should be the goal of every team, not selfishly chasing around points at the cost of teamwork and unity.
“Unless you have people working in the field of cycling, with the teams and riders and the physical and sporting dynamic, unless you have those people involved and creating and voting on the rules you’re always going to come up with an inferior system that only causes problems.”
- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 16:50
- James Huang
Company to phase out non-SRAM meters
SRAM has announced the acquisition of US powermeter company Quarq, maker of the tidy chainring spider based CinQo.
"We are looking forward to the opportunities that this partnership represents for further innovation and integration of bicycle components and power measurement," said SRAM CEO Stan Day in a press release. "Quarq’s growth has been impressive and their technology and product base are strong. Power measurement represents a rapidly growing segment of the cycling market and we are very content to have partnered with a leading brand in Quarq, and a technology pioneer in Jim Meyer."
According to the release, Quarq co-founders Jim and Mieke Meyer will continue to run the company for now and production will stay put in Spearfish, South Dakota "for the near term" – meaning it's sure to relocate once the logistics can be figured out. Likewise, sales and customer service for Quarq will carry on unchanged for the time being but both will eventually be brought into the SRAM fold.
In terms of the product itself, SRAM has previously collaborated with Quarq and SRM for its crank-based powermeter offerings and SRAM subsidiary Zipp also has a long-running relationship with Powertap. While SRAM road and PR media manager Michael Zellmann officially states otherwise, one can't help wondering how this will affect that relationship.
"We will continue to work with SRM and sell their products as we do today – same with Powertap/Zipp," Zellmann told BikeRadar.
As for team sponsorship agreements – many SRAM-sponsored teams are using the company's S975 crank with SRM power meters – Zellmann says that is, "to be determined."
Quarq's web site, on the other hand, is more explicit, saying that, "complete pre-assembled powermeter packages for SRAM, FSA, Rotor and Cannondale will continue to be available and Quarq will continue to sell powermeters for retro fitment on SRAM, FSA, Rotor, Cannondale, Specialized and Lightning cranks." All non-SRAM powermeters will be phased out over time, though – likely once the current stock is exhausted.
Quarq adds that it's continuing on with the release of its Qalvin iPhone app as planned and a mountain bike CinQo is already in development.
However, it's unclear at this point what the acquisition of Quarq will mean for SRAM subsidiary Zipp, who have long had a relationship with Powertap, though we see it likely to continue for the time being given the breadth of wheel product and lack of a suitable Quarq-based replacement.
More interesting, the Quarq acquisition represents SRAM's first major foray into the world of consumer electronics and from a business standpoint it's unlikely that SRAM will want to continue to use competing technologies in its product range. This is speculation on our part, but future possibilities could include a Quarq-based hub powermeter, a SRAM-branded computer display to go along with the measuring devices, or the long-awaited completion to Quarq's own Qranium display head since SRAM may not be comfortable pushing the Garmin-Quarq association (Quarq currently doesn't offer a matching computer head at all) given the pending release of Garmin's own pedal-based powermeter.
And this is definitely a stretch, but despite SRAM's preference for mechanical drivetrains one might also wonder what else SRAM might use electronics for in future...
This story originally ran on BikeRadar.com.
- Article published:
- May 5, 2011, 18:00
- Cycling News
Batavus Pro Race and Circuito Montañés will not take place this year
Two European races have been cancelled by their respective organisers for this year. The Dutch Batavus Pro Race (Cat. 1.1) and the Spanish stage race Circuito Montañés (2.2) will not take place in 2011.
The organsiers of the Batavus Pro Race, also known as the Profronde van Friesland, have made known that they were unable to gather the necessary funds to support the event in time after Batavus, the race's sponsor since 2008, bowed out. The race has thus been held seven times so far with Markus Eichler as winner of the last edition in 2010.
Also, the more famous Circuito Montañés will be scrapped off the teams' calendars this summer. Event organiser Julián Pelayo passed away last year and this, according to Biciciclismo, was the main reason the race will not get underway this season.
The Circuito Montañés was raised to a professional competition in 1986 when Pelayo took over the organisation, and counts amongst its most recent winners José María Jiménez, Javier Ochoa, Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema, Tejay Van Garderen and Fabio Duarte.