- Article published:
- May 8, 2013, 19:30
- Barry Ryan
Saving energy ahead of time trial crucial, says Sicilian
Vincenzo Nibali's attempts to unseat Bradley Wiggins at last year's Tour de France were thwarted by the strong arm of the Englishman's Sky team but the Sicilian is hopeful that he can find terrain more amenable to his particular brand of ambush tactics on home roads at the Giro d'Italia.
The signs from the opening days of racing in Italy's deep south have been encouraging for Nibali and his Astana team. While Sky's collective strength remains largely intact, the punchy climbs and sinuous descents in Campania and Calabria exposed chinks in the black armour that will doubtless be tested further as the race progresses.
"The Giro d'Italia has always been like this. There are always lots of nervous stages and on days like these, controlling things with your team is a lot more difficult," Nibali told Cyclingnews in Cosenza. "There's a bit of confusion in the finale and you have some pretty fast riders in there too who are racing for the sprint finish and it all becomes quite complicated. Then when you throw in a bit of rain in the finale over roads that aren't exactly the widest, well, that just makes it all a bit more difficult again."
After limiting his losses to Sky in the Ischia team time trial on stage two, Nibali moved ahead of Wiggins at Serra San Bruno on Tuesday, when the Sky captain yielded 17 seconds in a frenetic, rain-soaked finale that raised eyebrows at Gazzetta dello Sport. Noting that Wiggins's Colombian teammates Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao had contested the stage win rather than wait for their leader, the newspaper speculated on Wednesday morning that the pair had defied orders to chase their own objectives.
"I don't know what to say about that," Nibali said. "Of course, I read about it but I've also heard that Bradley told them to go on and try to win the sprint for the stage, so honestly, I don't really know what went on at Sky. All I can say is that these are very difficult finishes and it's very complicated for everyone to stay together because everything happens so quickly."
Nibali himself had endured a difficult moment on stage four when he punctured on the approach to the final climb, the Croce Ferrata, but his teammate Valerio Agnoli immediately handed over his wheel and the Sicilian was safely in the front group by the time Sky began imposing their rhythm.
"We saw that the weather wasn't great, the descent was slippery and there wasn't long left to the finish but Agnoli gave me his wheel immediately and I was able to get back on almost straightaway," Nibali said.
After arriving in Matera on Wednesday evening, the Giro now begins to wind its way up the Adriatic coast towards Gabicce Mare and Saltara, the scene of Saturday's crucial time trial. At 55 kilometres in length, the stage promises to put minutes rather than seconds between the overall contenders, but Nibali is bullish about his chances of limiting his losses to Wiggins. "The route is really very difficult," he said. "The important thing for me is going to be getting there with the most amount of energy possible and then do a great time trial."
- Article published:
- May 8, 2013, 21:30
- Cycling News
"Fast Freddie" to debut at US pro road championship
The Jelly Belly p/b Kenda team announced today that Fred Rodriguez has joined the US Continental pro squad for the remainder of the 2013 season. The 39-year-old Rodriguez, a three-time US professional road champion and Giro d'Italia stage winner, has spent the past several seasons racing domestically in the US following nine years, 1999-2007, in the European peloton.
Rodriguez raced for the now defunct Exergy team in 2012 and showed well at major US races like the Amgen Tour of California and Colorado's USA Pro Challenge, notching several top 10-stage placings. He has competed thus far this season for the California-based elite amateur Predator Carbon Repair team.
"After dialogue with several teams, I decided Jelly Belly was a good fit," Rodriguez said in a press release. "There are a lot of things this team does both on and off the bike that makes sense for me at this stage of my career. The team has been a staple of American racing for more than a decade and I admire that stability. Plus, Jelly Belly Candy Company is a great company with great values to support."
Rodriguez said he's been rejuvenated in recent years after racing his early career primarily in Europe. He said he hopes to show well in major North American races, beginning with the USA Cycling Professional Road National Championship on May 27 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"We're more than excited to obtain Fred Rodriguez and have him part of the team for the remainder of the season," said team General Manager and Director Danny Van Haute. "Fred's experience and leadership will be a huge asset, not to mention he's a great bike rider who will no doubt garner great results."
Nicknamed "Fast Freddie", Rodriguez's professional career spans more than 15 years. His career highlights include three U.S. professional road race wins (2000, 2001, and 2004) plus stage wins in major European stage races: Giro d'Italia (2004), Tour de Suisse (2000) and Tour de Luxembourg (2001). He has won sprint points jerseys at the Tour de Suisse (2000) and twice in the Tour de Georgia (2003, 2006).
Rodriguez has finished on the podium at both Milano-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem plus was the long-time lead-out man for Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen.
- Article published:
- May 8, 2013, 22:55
- Cycling News
Jenkins and English excited to compete in "home" race
Francisco "Paco" Mancebo will lead the 5-hour Energy presented by Kenda Racing Team at the 2013 Tour of California, starting on Sunday, May 12. Fresh off winning the final stage of the Gila Monster Road Race and finishing third overall, Mancebo is a two-time NRC champion.
"Both the team and I are very motivated to race against the big ProTour teams and leave it all on the road," said Mancebo. "My goal is top 10 in the general classification, especially after seeing how tough the stages and time trial will be. I really like the second stage with finish in Palm Springs due to the distance and difficulty, also stage 7 with finish on Mt Diablo, but you need to be strong from the first day. I believe the 5-hour Energy team is capable of winning a stage and doing well in the general classification."
Team Directeur Sportif Frankie Andreu said, "The Tour of California is one of the highlights for the team. The new route covers some exciting new ground and includes some very difficult obstacles that will suit our team. Many of our riders are familiar with Palomar Mountain, the Tramway in Palm Springs, and Mount Diablo, and we can utilize our team's strengths on these epic California climbs. This will be a great opportunity to race against the world's best cyclists, showcase our sponsors, and interact with our fans. The event continues to grow each year and we are excited to take part in the race in 2013."
The 5-hour Energy squad will include seven American riders: Max Jenkins, Nate English, Jim Stemper, and David Williams.
The Tour of California is a home race for the team's two California riders, English and Jenkins. English grew up in Berkeley, California, and is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley.
"The Tour of California will be a special race to me, not just from a sporting point of view, but also personally," said English. "I started racing in the San Francisco Bay Area and know a lot of the local riders who will show their support by lining the roads and rooting for me and my team. I would really love to give my best effort with my best fitness and see how I stack up. At Cali, it'll be special."
Jenkins is originally from Novosibirsk, Russia and became a US citizen in 2007. He currently resides in Citrus Heights, California and is also a graduate of the UC Berkeley.
"Racing the Tour of California is a very exciting opportunity for me, especially since stage 7 finishes on top of Mt. Diablo, which is where I first started cycling," said Jenkins. "I know that road like the back of my hand and it will be exhilarating racing up there. I expect to have a ton of friends and family cheering me up that climb, so it's going to be an experience I'll treasure forever. This is going to be my second time doing the race and so I have some idea of what to expect. I know it is going to be a challenging race, but our 5-hour Energy pb Kenda is the strongest team in the US and we will be able to hold our own."
The squad is currently the number-one ranked team in the NRC standings.
5-hour Energy presented by Kenda Racing Team for Tour of California: Nate English, Max Jenkins, Francisco "Paco" Mancebo, Shawn Milne, Taylor Shelden, James Stemper, Bobby Sweeting,
- Article published:
- May 8, 2013, 23:55
- Alex Malone
Last year's second-place Cupitt aiming for top step at NRS round
Coming off the back of a solid showing at the inaugural Subaru National Road Series round at Battle on the Border, Budget Forklifts is planning a defence strategy for the FKG Tour of Toowoomba. Last year it was Mark O'Brien, now riding for the Raleigh team who stole the show after winning the hill-top finish to Bunya and then consolidated his overall lead with a win in the team time trial. This year Budget plan on doing it again but this time it will be O'Brien's former teammate MIchael Cupitt, who filled spot number-two on the podium in 2012, that is looking to step up.
The team walked away from last week's Battle on the Border with some promising results. The final results from the first-year men's NRS round left Budget with the green points jersey worn by Jesse Kerrison and Alex Wohler and Marc Williams pushed into the top-ten with eighth and ninth-overall respectively. The team was active throughout the four stages and showed consistency and depth by finishing fourth in the team classification.
With an entirely fresh squad in for Toowoomba and with a title to defend, perhaps without pressure, the team won't rely soley on Cupitt to fly the flag. There's a team that could ride high up into the GC standings but as the previous two rounds at the Woodside Tour de Perth and Battle on the Border have shown, overcoming the dominant force that is Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers is going to take some strategising and aggressive racing.
"I think because they [Huon Salmon-Genesys] are so strong it is easy for them to get the lead early and defend," Cupitt told Cyclingnews. "They really know how to defend and hold onto the leader's jersey. Maybe if we can get a time gap or jump on them early - we've got a strong team here - then we can defend that and swamp all the moves.
"We've got a couple of other guys who are pretty capable of winning the tour with Jack [Anderson] - he's climbing really well and Karl [Evans] who's a really good climber. He was third up Bunya last year so I think we have equal pressure between the three of us. We'll just see how it pans out but we've got a few options.
"Hopefully come a couple of days in I'll be confident I'll be able to give it a good nudge to climb with the in-form Genesys guys who are all climbing quite well.
Cameron Watt, the team's sports director, has chosen an entirely fresh-face squad for Toowoomba which compared to most of the other teams, goes against the norm of bringing most of the the riders from Battle on the Border onto the next race in Queensland. This tactic Cupitt believes could pay dividends as the team has been preparing with smaller races and training hard to make sure they are in the good condition for the third round of the NRS' 2013 season.
"I think Cam wanted to have a fully-fresh squad. Everyone has been training really hard and doing other little races in the lead-up. I'm off to a bit of a slower start to last year - last edition was a month later but hopefully getting Perth under my belt and a few more k's can turn it up a little bit.
One of the most critical days apart from Stage 2 to Bunya Mountain, will be the 27km TTT on Stage 3. The group effort is part of a double-header which will see the teams back-up for a 113km road race in the afternoon. The distance for this year's TTT is significantly longer than the previous edition and with exposed roads and rolling terrain, the time gaps could rule out a number of riders and teams from challenging for the overall. Budget's credential-filled time trial squad however, should be one of the few realistically capable of riding for the win that day.
"It's definitely exposed and a little bit lumpy as well," he told Cyclingnews. "It could be a crucial part of the tour I think. It's quite a fair bit longer this year and lumpier.
"We've got Sam Horgan who was Oceania champ in 2012, Jack Anderson is a really good time triallist, I'm not too bad and then a couple of endurance track guys like Peter Loft and [Luke] Ockerby - they've got a fair bit of horse-power. Karl Evans just won the South Australian TT champs on Sunday so I think we've got a good all-round team for the TTT. There's no real weakness.
Aggressive race and putting multiple guys in the breakaways generally pays-off, according to last year's second-place at Graft to Inverell. The team is known for piling on the pressure by not resting on having a single rider up the road. The more riders that try, the better the odds and that's exactly what they will be doing when the racing begins today with a 112km stage from Oakey to Highfields.
"We always try and get as many guys as we can up there. We don't just say 'we want you to get in the break today' we want three or four in the brake. Sometimes then you get two out of four. Sometimes we try and send two in the break and then you at least get one out of the two. We just try and throw a few more eggs early and it usually pays off."
- Article published:
- May 9, 2013, 08:30
- Pat Malach
Lewis to miss season target after leg fracture
Champion System will make its debut at the Amgen Tour of California this year with an eight-rider roster representing three continents.
Chad Beyer, Chris Butler and Canadian national road champion Ryan Roth will make up the North American contingent of the Chinese-registered UCI Pro Continental team. They'll join Irish national champion Matt Brammeier, Slovakia's Gregor Gazvoda and Bobbie Traksel of the Netherlands on the roster. Asian riders Chun Kai Feng of Chinese Taipei, and Kin San Wu of Hong Kong, both former national champions, will race in the states for the first time.
Notably missing from the roster is Craig Lewis, a former World Tour rider with Slipstream and HTC-HighRoad. Lewis broke his elbow during La Flèche Brabançonne in Belgium on April 10 and will skip the tour.
"It's a big disappointment to us," Beamon said. "It was a big goal and target last year to get Craig in this race. And certainly we went into the start of the season at training camp with the high hope that we would get the start, and, you know, some big expectations on Craig."
Beamon said that although Lewis can ride, his form is not very high at the moment and the two of them made the tough decision to sit this one out.
"This race would be so much pressure on him that I'm afraid we could hurt his season if we tried to push him into it," Beamon said. "So we kind of agreed that probably the best - albeit disappointing - solution was to just pass."
Lacking a realistic GC podium threat, the Champion System team will focus on stage wins and possibly chase some jerseys. With no pure sprinter or time trial specialist, stage wins will have to come from breakaways, and Champion System hopes to be well represented.
"Our approach is going to be a little bit more optimistic, because across the board, they're all good all-around riders," Beamon said. "They're all capable of getting their nose in the breakaways and turning them into something. So from a stage perspective, that's what we'll be looking at."
The team will be looking especially hard at the early stages at the very southern end of the state, Beamon said.
"Certainly the first day is never as controlled as it's going to become," Beamon said. "We've been looking at the first three stages and there are some lumps in all of them. And for our guys they seem to be good parcours.
"We're thinking that those first few stages could be good opportunities to kind of open things up a bit," he continued. "It could potentially be the thing where people are looking down the road. You know, breakaways succeed because things happen that people don't expect. So we'll try to make things happen."
And when the roads turn uphill, the team can throw former BMC rider Butler into the mix.
"Butler's really shown some good form in the hills in the last month," Beamon said. "I hate to call him a GC guy, because I'm realistic enough to know that we're not playing for a podium there. But I think he can put in a strong performance, and maybe with the right break get a top 10 put of it."
The stage 6 individual time trial, with its steep uphill finish, should favor Butler as well. "As far as the impact on his GC," Beamon said, "it's actually a better scenario than a big blast along the coast."
No matter what happens, with Champion System stepping up as a jersey supplier and a sponsor for the race, the team intends to make the most of the eight days of racing in California.
"We've been traipsing all over the world," Beamon said. "So the North Americans are especially excited to race closer to home in North America's big show. Some of them have done it and some of them haven't, but they all know the reputation of what a great race it is. So they're all excited about that."
Champion System Tour of California Roster
Chad Beyer (USA), Chris Butler (USA), Matt Brammeier (Irl), Chun Kai Feng (Tpe), Gregor Gazvoda (Slo), Ryan Roth (Can), Bobbie Traksel (Ned) and Kin San Wu (Hkg).
- Article published:
- May 9, 2013, 08:51
- Cycling News
Colombia “surprised” at positive doping control from Costa Rica
Marlon Perez said that he was “surprised” at his positive doping controls from the Vuelta a Costa Rica, denying that he had ever used performance-enhancing drugs. The UCI announced last week that he had tested positive at the race last December.
He returned analytical findings of metabolite GW1516 sulfone – Metabolic Modulator and sibutramine in urine samples collected from him during tests at the Vuelta a Costa Rica on 19 and 26 December, 2012, after winning the stages on those days.
In a statement released on Friday, he said “I am very surprised by this, because in no time have I taken any medications to improve my athletic performance.”
The 37-year-old, who did not find a team for the 2013 season, mentioned the possibility that he may have used a tainted product. “During the months of August and September, because I was a little overweight, consumed a natural product to help decrease my size, but not to improve my athletic performance.”
Perez reiterated that he did not dope for the race and that his team was also innocent. “I wish to make clear that my participation in the Tour of Costa Rica 2012, did not consume any medication thinking of improving my athletic performance and GW-Shimano team had nothing to do with my preparation for this event.”
The Colombian turned pro in 2003 with 05 Orbitel, riding later with Colombia-Selle Italia, Tenax and Universal Cafe before hitting the top league with Caisse d'Epargne in 2008 and 2009. From there he went to the amateur team GW-Shimano
- Article published:
- May 9, 2013, 09:11
- Cycling News
American team will battle for overall and stages
Garmin-Sharp has announced their Tour of California team with Dave Zabriskie set to lead the US-based WorldTour squad once again.
The 34-year-old American has finished second overall in the race on four occasions. In 2006 he was runner-up to one-time teammate Floyd Landis and despite winning several stages in the race since he has yet to snatch the overall title, with second places in 2009, 2010 and 2012. The race marks Zabriskie's first race on US soil since serving a six-month suspension for doping.
This year he will be supported by a blend of youth and experience as Garmin have already dispatched a strong squad to the Giro d’Italia to defend Ryder Hesjedal’s 2012 title.
Rohan Dennis, Alex Howes, Caleb Fairly, Lachlan Morton, Jacob Rathe, and Johan Vansummeren are all set to ride. Tyler Farrar also makes the trip and will be looking to end Peter Sagan’s recent dominance of the sprint stages. The Cannondale rider picked up five stage victories in last year’s race.
- Article published:
- May 9, 2013, 11:15
- Cycling News
Blanco Team had suspended Spaniard for alleged links to Dr. Fuentes
Luis Leon Sanchez will return to racing for Team Blanco at the Tour of Belgium later this month. The team had removed the rider from racing in February, in light of his apparent links to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, and he appealed to the UCI to allow him to ride.
Sanchez was mentioned in the USADA's Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case, issued last October, as being in St. Moritz in 2007 at the same time as Dr Michele Ferrari. The then-Team Rabobank said it saw no need to investigate the relationship.
In January, however, Rabobank had left as sponsor and Team Blanco said it would investigate Sanchez's ties to Fuentes, after a Dutch newspaper said that he was the client who used the name of “Huerto”. Shortly thereafter, the team suspended him and he has not raced.
In mid-April, Sanchez appealed to the UCI about the matter, saying that the team was denying him his right to work and asking for arbitration. While that matter is apparently still unresolved, the team has decided to allow him to ride again.
Blanco stated simply on its Twitter, “Newsupdate: Luis Léon Sanchez will race the Baloise Belgium Tour.”