Horner injured his knee at Tirreno-Adriatico and aggravated it at the Volta a Catalunya, eventually missing both the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de France. Diagnosed with iliotibial band friction syndrome, Horner underwent surgery and missed most of his 2013 season. But the 41-year-old American is now focused on the Vuelta a España, and the Utah race will be his first big test.
"It's been five months since I last raced, and the knee seems to be healed up," Horner said on the eve of the six-day Utah race. "I got in three good weeks of training after the five months off, so I think I'll be good here. It looks like the course will be good for me, and if the knee holds up I hope to do something in the top 10 on GC and get ready for the Vuelta."
While Horner may not be targeting the overall win during his first race back, he said the team hopes to boost Busche onto the podium's top step this year.
"He finished second overall, and he's here again," Horner said. "I'm sure he's super motivated, so we have a lot of reasons to help out here and there during the race."
And the racing for the General Classification will start almost immediately, Horner said, on a course that features more than 43,000...
With less than 24 hours before the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah begins, the riders and teams of the 2013 event have been presented at Southern University in Cedar City, which will also host the departure of Stage 1.
For the first time in the race's history, the route will start in Southern Utah and head north toward Salt Lake City. But the biggest change this year for the riders will be the lack of a time trial. Last year's team time trial was a deciding factor in the race, basically knocking two-time champion Levi Leipheimer out of contention for the overall after his team finished last. One again, the queen stage on the penultimate day finishes at Snowbird Ski Area and Summer resort, but the final stage that climbs the brutal Empire Pass could also decide the overall.
At today's pre-race press conference, some of the big names of the peloton including Jens Voigt and Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) as well as overall contender Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) spoke about their chances for the week ahead. Meantime, at the Adams Shakespearean Theatre, all 16 teams took to the stage.
Federation's priority should be development, not politics
The Malaysian government Sports Minister has warned the national cycling body to steer clear of forays into the political sphere and instead concentrate on the betterment of the sport following their controversial backing of incumbent UCI President Pat McQuaid.
Last week it was announced that the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) not only joined with Morocco in their nomination of McQuaid for the up-coming UCI elections in September, but also that the south-east Asian nation is proposing a Constitutional amendment that would allow their backing for election. As it stands, all nominations must be made 90 days prior to the election and candidates require the backing of their own federation.
"I don't wish to interfere in the MNCF's choice of who it wants to support in the UCI elections," said Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in response according to the New Straits Timeslate last week.
"But I wish to remind them that the focus of their efforts and priorities should be towards the wellbeing and development of our national cyclists and the events under their care, like our premier event Le Tour de Langkawi."
The MNCF relies mostly on tax payer funding and earlier this year, head coach John Beasley called for the federal government to step in and ask questions as to why development projects have stalled considerably, particularly in road cycling.
"As it is, this is a highly controversial issue, so I would not want to interfere in the political choices of the MNCF, or whoever they wish to support in this elections [sic]. They must remember that whatever they do, it has to benefit the development of Malaysian cycling," said Khairy
The president of the Danish Cycling Union (DCU), Niels Sørensen, has come away from the recent Tour of Denmark with a lot to be happy about. In an interview with Danish news site Ekstra Bladet he did not hold back his praise for the local event.
"It's been absolutely fantastic. The event has been really good. There have been lots of fans and the event was well-run."
Aside from logistics, the abundance of Danish success also went a long way to keeping local sponsors happy and local fans interested. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Team Cult Energy) up staged many bigger name riders to claim two stages, whilst Matti Breschel (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) added two stages of his own to the Danish tally.
It's this success that Sørensen alluded to in stating that he would not allow the race as a whole to move from it's Danish home.
"I think the Tour of Denmark has become too large a race for Scandinavians for it to be moved. It's too important."
He did, however, hint at expanding into Sweden for at least one stage for the 2015 edition of the tour.
"We would like to take the race to Sweden at some stage. We have spoken with the City of Malmo, and if it can't be next year, maybe in 2015."
With the UCI pushing the globalisation of cycling through the addition of events in Asia and more recently Africa, the growth in Scandinavia has gone relatively unnoticed. But with the addition of the upcoming
Federation president rues bad luck with team of seven for world championships
With Belgium restricted to having just seven riders on the start line in Florence for this year’s UCI Road World Championships, federation President Tom Van Damme has voiced his disappointment, suggesting the causes are poor supervision and a lack of ambition amongst Belgian riders.
The team of the defending champion Philippe Gilbert, dropped to 11th in the UCI WorldTour nations ranking following the Tour of Poland, leaving Van Damme to say that the position should have been avoided in the first place. Only nations in the top ten of the ranking are offered the full quota of nine places for the men's Elite world road race championships.
"Bad luck is a major cause," Van Damme told Sporza. "We lost a lot of points by the fall of Tom Boonen in the spring and the fall of Jurgen Van den Broeck in the Tour. They could have steered us to the sixth or seventh."
Gilbert is again seen as Belgium’s best chance for a result at the championships. Van Damme also suggested that better structures needed to be in place to ensure that Belgium was not again faced with limited prospects at the world championships.
"Everything starts with good performance," he said. "At the youth level we do it right, but it often falters in the pros. This is due to poor supervision and lack of ambition."
National coach Carlo Bomans however said the team was not going to be hamstrung by not having the full compliment of riders.
"Well, even with nine riders it's not easy to become world champion," he told the Gazette Van Antwerpen. "But with seven we can also do it, for sure."
Anthony Charteau (Europcar) has announced that he will retire at the end of the end of the current season. The 34-year-old Frenchman will hang up his wheels after the Tour de Vendée on October 6.
“Frankly, the idea of retiring has been in my head since last winter,” Charteau told Ouest France, explaining that his reasons for retiring are both personal and professional.
“I love my sport but being away from home is hard. I have the impression of not seeing my children grow up and the style of racing, generally, is leaving less and less space for riders like me, the baroudeurs. Finally, I’m not able to re-find my level of 2010.”
Charteau was a surprise winner of the king of the mountains title at the 2010 Tour de France, a title he won primarily by picking up points early on in stages after a series of aggressive rides in the second and third weeks of the race.
The Nantes native has been a professional for thirteen years and has spent nine of those riding for Jean-René Bernaudeau’s teams. He turned professional with Bonjour in 2001 and had spells with Crédit Agricole (2006-2007) and Caisse d’Épargne (2008-2009). Charteau returned to the Bernaudeau stable with Bouygues Telecom (now Europcar) in 2010.
As well as taking the polka dot jersey in 2010, Charteau also claimed a stage at the 2005 Volta a Catalunya, overall victory at the Tour de Langkawi in 2007 and a stage win over the Col du Tourmalet at the 2011 Route du Sud. Charteau has not been included in Europcar's line-up for the past two editions of the Tour de France.
Italian on form after overcoming a long-standing virus
Eros Capecchi (Movistar) is hoping to finally live up to expectations and target the overall classification at the Vuelta a España after resolving a virus problem that has affected his performance in recent years.
The Umbria-born rider was Italian junior national champion in 2004 and turned professional with Liquigas in 2005 directly from the junior ranks. He won a stage of the 2011 Giro d'Italia and seemed to have the talent to do well in stage races but never lived up to expectations.
He had a terrible Giro d'Italia in May but is now convinced he has resolved his problems and showed signs of his true ability by finishing sixth overall at the Tour of Poland and earning the praise of former teammate Ivan Basso. The veteran Cannondale rider suggested that the three Italians to watch at the upcoming Vuelta are himself, Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali and Capecchi.
"Ivan is right and I've got to thank him for the praise. People have said I've got talent but I've rarely shown it in races. The Tour of Poland was the first time I've been competitive in a tough races against some serious rivals," Capecchi told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I wanted to do a good Giro but I wasn't at my best, then I went to the Dauphiné and I also suffered. I'd worked hard and so I knew there must be something wrong. I suffered with an allergy problem at the Giro and always seemed to above my race weight even if I did some long rides and didn’t eat. I discovered that my body was full of toxins. As well as having had a subdued form of mononucleosis, I also discovered I had the remains of a childhood Streptococcus virus that flared up because my diet was based on white meat and eggs."
Slovak looks ahead to Colorado, Alberta, Quebec and Montreal
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) may not have finished the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday, but the British race marked the beginning of his build-up to the world championships road race in Florence.
Last year, Sagan spent much of August on the criterium circuit and found himself some way short of his best by the time he reached the Worlds in Valkenburg. This time around, the Slovak has had a far more sparing programme of post-Tour de France criteriums and his schedule is aimed at peaking for September 29.
As Sagan explains in this video interview with Cyclingnews, he will spend much of August and September racing in North America as he prepares for the Worlds, with the USA Procycling Challenge (August 19-25), Tour of Alberta (September 3-8), GP de Québec (September 13) and GP de Montréal (September 15) all on the agenda.
“I go to Colorado next for two weeks just for training at altitude,” Sagan told Cyclingnews. “After I go to Canada for Alberta, Quebec and Montreal, and I want to do well maybe at the world championships and that’s my objective for the rest of the season.”
Sagan also discusses his second successive victory in the points classification of the Tour de France, pointing out that he claimed the green jersey in spite of the after-effects of a heavy crash on the opening day of the race.
“In the first days I had a little bit of bad luck, but it was also good. I won one stage,” he said.