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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, November 21, 2013

Date published:
November 21, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Verbruggen concedes possible '99 conversation with Armstrong

    Hein Verbruggen
    Article published:
    November 20, 2013, 15:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Backdated prescription not against the rules?

    One day after calling Lance Armstrong's allegations that he helped cover up doping "illogical", former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has conceded that he may have had a conversation with Armstrong in 1999 about a doping control that showed evidence of cortisone.

    "I might have told him that the UCI needs a prescription but I am sure that was handled by our anti-doping department, not me," Verbruggen told the Associated Press.

    On Monday, Armstrong said in an interview with the Daily Mail that after he received the results of his doping control, he spoke with Verbruggen, who was concerned that the news would further damage the reputation of the sport left reeling from the prior year's Festina scandal, and suggested that something needed to be done to diffuse the situation.

    As witnessed by soigneur Emma O'Reilly, the US Postal Service team doctors wrote a back-dated prescription for a topical cream which Armstrong then stated was responsible for the test results.

    Verbruggen still maintains that the UCI's acceptance of this back-dated prescription was permitted under the rules at the time.

    "According to our rules, it (the prescription) could be done afterwards," he stated.

    However, the current rules for Therapeutic Use Exemptions state that substances must be declared before testing. Riders have been suspended for positive tests for substances for which they have legitimate but lapsed TUEs.

    The question surrounding the 1999 exception for Armstrong is one of several subjects currently being looked into by a UCI commission under new president Brian Cookson, but Verbruggen is not concerned.

    "I have never been...

  • No finishing circuit for 2014 Tour of Flanders

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) time trials to his second Tour of Flanders title.
    Article published:
    November 20, 2013, 15:40 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Organisers respond to widespread criticism by tweaking the Ronde’s finale

    The organisers of the Tour of Flanders have responded to criticism of the Ronde’s parcours by announcing a number of changes to the route of next year’s race. The circuit that was introduced in 2012 when the Ronde received a considerable makeover has been dropped, while a couple of lengthy flat sections in the latter part of the race have also been removed.

    In a statement, race organising company Flanders Classics said: "We received many positive comments, but we also took the criticisms to heart. When designing the new course, we have endeavoured to maintain the strong points and refine where necessary."

    The finishing circuit had been heavily criticised for changing the whole dynamic of the Ronde, as well as for the fact that including it meant excluding the iconic Muur and Bosberg climbs. Those two hills remain absent from the 2014 race, but the circuit has been substantially revamped.

    The Oude Kwaremont still features three times – which is not surprising given the success of the huge VIP tent that is now erected alongside it – but the Paterberg now only features twice. These two hills remain the final pair on the route, which ensures the relatively lengthy run-in to the finish to Oudenaarde is unchanged.

    Flanders Classics have responded to criticism of there being too many lengthy flat sections late in the race by re-ordering the climbs in the second half of the race. "Over the past two years riders’ attacking instincts have been tempered by the fear of some long, flat stretches in the last 100km. The decision to insert several short, flat sections should make the race more difficult to control. Attacking riders can now envisage staying away from the peloton’s grip. Over the last 150km, there is a maximum of 12 km between the cobbled sections and the...

  • Armstrong reaches settlement with insurance company

    Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team
    Article published:
    November 20, 2013, 20:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Avoids providing testimony under oath

    Just one day prior to a scheduled deposition, Lance Armstrong has reached a settlement with an insurance company that sued the former Tour de France champion regarding bonuses paid out in 1999, 2000 and 2001 for his now-disqualified victories.

    Acceptance Insurance Holdings sought to recover US$3 million in bonus money, but Armstrong's attorney Tim Herman told USA Today that the case was "resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties."

    Having reached a settlement, Armstrong has avoided providing testimony under oath regarding his doping practices as part of the US Postal Service team.

    Armstrong's attorneys tried unsuccessfully earlier this year to have Acceptance Insurance Holdings' suit against the Texan thrown out on grounds that the statute of limitations expired in 2011, but a Travis County, Texas judge ruled sided with the insurance company's claim that the statute of limitations only started when Armstrong publicly admitted to doping in January of 2013.

    Armstrong is still the subject of multiple lawsuits, including a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by US Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis.

  • Tony Martin open to hour record attempt

    Reigning time trial world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) en route to victory in the German TT championship
    Article published:
    November 20, 2013, 23:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Worlds time trial and Rio 2016 priorities for German

    Following on from Fabian Cancellara’s declaration of interest in attacking the world hour record, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has suggested that he may also throw his hat into the ring.

    While Martin stated that his medium-term goal is to add to his three consecutive world time trial titles as he builds towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, he admitted that he is tempted by the prospect of tackling the world hour record.

    "My immediate focus is on the world championships time trial and then, further off, on the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where the flat course along the Copacabana should suit me," Martin told Thüringer Allgemeine. "My rivals Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins also intend to go in the direction of the hour record. I see this, and I also have this ambition in the back of my mind. To be the fastest man in the world would be a nice title."

    The hour record currently stands at 49.7km and was set by Ondrej Sosenka in Moscow in 2005. Sosenka’s career ended when he tested positive for methamphetamine at the Czech time trial championships three years later.

    Potential record attempts by Martin and Cancellara would place a new emphasis on an event that has lost much of its lustre since the UCI opted to ban tri-bars and re-set the record to Eddy Merckx’s 49.431km from 1972.

    The 1990s had seen a flurry of interest in the hour record, with...

  • Felt declines to re-new sponsorship of Argos-Shimano in 2014

    The Argos-Shimano riders celebrate another successful Tour de France stage
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 0:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Giant favoured to supply bikes for next season

    American bike manufacturer Felt have announced they will no longer sponsor Argos-Shimano with Giant expected as the replacement company to provide bikes in 2014. It was reported in August that Giant was likely to switch support from Belkin to Argos-Shimano for the upcoming season. Giant is yet to officially comment.

    This signals further change for the team who are set to announce a new major sponsor with Argos also declining to re-new its sponsorship for next season.

    Felt had provided bicycles to the Dutch WorldTour team for the past two seasons and the decision to stop its sponsorship was "toiled over" said company founder Jim Felt.

    "Felt has always been a company that raced and the last two years with Team Argos-Shimano have been tremendous," said Felt.

    "It is time for us to look to new opportunities. This is in no way to say we do not support road racing at the very highest level-we whole-heartedly do and we will continue to-it is just that we wanted to move some of the sponsorship pieces around."

    Argos-Shimano thanked Felt for their support and sponsorship over the last two seasons. "Felt was part of a very important period of the project and we experienced many great moments together. The bikes were fantastic, the partnership was warm and the cooperation was always good," said the team's general manager Iwan Spekenbrink.

    Felt will no longer have a presence in the WorldTour peloton but will continue to support bicycle racing across all disciplines. Felt will announce their full 2014 sponsorship details before the end of this year.

  • Stars to race Down Under in coming weeks

    Yellow jersey Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 3:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Busy summer of racing in Australia

    Over the next few weekends crowds in Sydney and Melbourne will get a taste of the racing to come over the Australian summer culminating with the Tour Down Under in January.

    The NSW Grand Prix criterium series continues again in 2013 with racing taking place in Cronulla and Wollongong over the weekend of November 30 and December 1. The Logie-Smith Lanyon Super Criterium takes place in Melbourne on December 15 with $20,000 of prize money on offer.

    Both races welcome several Australian and international stars for men's and women's events. The Logie-Smith Lanyon Super Criterium is offering equal prize money for the top three place getters in both elite races.

    The NSW Grand Prix series won't have the prize money on offer to match the Logie-Smith Lanyon Super Criterium but will be televised nationally.

    Being the only criterium series in Australia to receive live coverage for both the men and women makes the racing even more unique.

    Leading Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans is a confirmed starter in Melbourne, as are other pro riders Koen de Kort (Argos-Shimano), Matthew Hayman (Team Sky), 2011 Australian criterium champion Johnathan Cantwell (Saxo-Tinkoff), and young gun Caleb Ewan (Jayco-AIS).

    "The race format is fast, exciting and tough. The action will be non-stop and brilliant for spectators because it is on a short circuit in the heart of Melbourne," said Gerrans.

    "It is also a great opportunity test my legs in the lead up to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Nationals and the Santos Tour Down Under."

    On the start line in NSW will be a previous winner of the criterium series, Chris 'CJ'...

  • New Flanders course welcomed by Cancellara, Nuyens and Museeuw

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) time trials to his second Tour of Flanders title.
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 10:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Parcours more in line with tradition, says Cancellara

    The route of the 2014 Tour of Flanders has been welcomed by a number of past winners, including Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp). While the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg remain the final climbs of the race, the finishing circuit introduced in 2012 has been dispensed with and some of the longer flat sections in the finale have been removed.

    Cancellara has the distinction of having triumphed on both the old and new Ronde courses, having powered away on the Muur van Geraardsbergen to win in Meerbeke in 2010, and repeated the feat in Oudenaarde last spring by dropping Peter Sagan on the Paterberg. While the Kwaremont will still be climbed three times in 2014, Cancellara believes the removal of the finishing circuit sees the race return to something like its pre-2012 self.

    "This is a beautiful, attractive course. It’s a parcours that’s more in line with tradition," Cancellara told Het Nieuwsblad. "The fans will be satisfied with it. It will provide a good race."

    Nuyens, who claimed the thrilling 2011 edition of the race, pointed to the new placement of the Koppenberg as one of the most intriguing elements of the new course. The fearsome climb is now just 45 kilometres from the finish, and should play a more decisive part in the race than ever before. "In the past, it was too far out to play a role, but now it can force a selection," Nuyens said. "Some riders might get back on afterwards, but far fewer than before."

    Nuyens thoughts are echoed by triple winner Johan Museeuw, who expects the Koppenberg to be a particularly crucial juncture in the race, which takes place on April 6 next...

  • 12 WorldTour teams set for Tour de San Luis

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) resplendent in the Tour de San Luis leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 11:22 GMT
    Cycling News

    Astana, BMC and Garmin headline

    Twelve WorldTour teams have been confirmed for the 2014 edition of the Tour de San Luis. The race will take place in January once again with the seven-stage event running through terrain in the Argentine province from January 20-26.

    In recent years the race has enjoyed a boost in profile with a number of WorldTour riders using it as their season opening event. The warm conditions, coupled with the mountain stages and individual time trial have seen the likes of Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, Joaquim Rodriguez and Tejay van Garderen all compete in 2013.

    The 2014 route will once again contain an individual time trial while the sprinters will also have their chances of success. This year Mark Cavendish, Sacha Modolo and Mattia Gavazzi all tasted success on the flat stages.

    Although Contador will skip the event next year, early indications are that Cavendish and Peter Sagan will return. Nibali's Astana team will also return with AG2R La Mondiale, BMC Racing Team , Cannondale Pro Cycling , Garmin -Sharp, Katusha, Lampre -Merida, Lotto- Belisol, Movistar Team, Omega Pharma -Quick Step, Orica - Greenedge and Trek Factory Racing, all competing according to biciciclismo.

    The race will also take in five additional teams from the ProContinental ranks with Gianni Savio’s Giocattoli Androni - Venezuela team joined by Bretagne- Seche Environnement, Team Colombia, Team Novo Nordisk, Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling Team, as well as several Continental teams.

    2014 Tour de San Luis stages -

    1 San Luis - Villa Mercedes: 164km (flat stage)
    2 La Punta - Mirador Potrero de los Funes: 170.6 km (mountain-top finish)
    3 Tilisarao - Juana Koslay (Ave Fenix): 175.8 km (flat stage)
    4 Potrero...