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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Date published:
December 17, 2013, 01:00
  • Hogan confirms Bigla Cycling Team signing for 2014

    Jo Hogan climbing during the 2013 Tour of Bright
    Article published:
    December 16, 2013, 11:30
    Aaron S. Lee

    Australian joins compatriot Taryn Heather on Swiss-based women’s pro squad

    After nearly four months of uncertainty, Jo Hogan, one of Australia's most consistent women's pro cyclists over the past three years can rest easy now that she has found a home on the Swiss-based Bigla Cycling Team.

    Hogan, who finished second to Gracie Elvin (Orica-AIS) at the 2013 Australian Road Nationals, joins compatriot Taryn Heather and 10 European riders who have committed to Bigla for the 2014 season.

    "I chose to bring Jo to the team, because I think she fits in well with our concept," Bigla team manager, Emil Zimmermann told Cyclingnews. "She is an all-rounder and can therefore be used in classic and stage races. I look forward to a successful year with her."

    In July, Hogan was abruptly released from her team of a year-and-a-half, Spanish squad Bizkaia-Durango, following its mid-season financial woes.

    Hogan spoke of her sudden departure and utter disappointment in great detail with Cyclingnews in August before failing to secure a slot on the Australian World Championship team. The 31-year old then returned home to Melbourne to resume her nursing career to make ends meet.

    "It was a difficult time. Bizkaia had commitments and I believe they should have followed up on them," Hogan explained to Cyclingnews.

    "I was left in the lurch and without team financial support I had to go back to work. It's been challenging juggling 30 hours of nursing duties with 20 hours of training, but I was left with no other options."

    In another blow, the 2010 Australian National Road Series champion was informed she no longer met the criteria for her Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) scholarship, and thus found herself without a domestic squad or a bike leading into the final two months of preparation for nationals.

    Luckily for Hogan, a recipient of the 2011 Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship, Boss Racing Team picked her up for the Tour of Bright in late November. Hogan joined Sophie Mackay, Rachel Ward, Lisa Anthill and Megan Bagworth in the Victorian Alps to help Boss finish second in overall team standings, while individually Hogan took fourth in general classification.

    Fully recovered from the mental scars of Bizkaia and the physical scars from crashes at Omloop van Borsele and the Tour of Flanders, Hogan is looking forward to the new year and returning to the form that helped her podium at the nationals in two of the last three editions and capture the 2013 Victorian Road Championship.

    "It is very exciting to be joining Bigla, and a welcome relief for sure," said Hogan. "But at the moment my primary focus is on winning the national jersey in January. I came so close last year and I have had to watch Gracie [Elvin] on the start line wearing the green and gold stripes for a year and it's been hard to swallow. I have unfinished business in Ballarat, and then it's off to Switzerland."


  • Zaugg and Tosatto extend contracts with Tinkoff-Saxo

    Oliver Zaugg (Leopard Trek) powers away
    Article published:
    December 16, 2013, 13:09
    Cycling News

    Italian rider to start 17th season in the pro ranks

    Oliver Zaugg and Matteo Tosatto have extended their contracts with Tinkoff-Saxo. Zaugg, a former Il Lombardia winner, and Tosatto will stay with the Danish team for another two seasons. General manager Bjarne Riis is happy with the contract extensions of the two domestiques.

    In 2011 when riding with Leopard-Trek, Zaugg surprisingly crowned himself Il Lombardia winner: his biggest and only individual victory to date. After a career which started in 2004 with Saunier Duval, and also included teams like Gerolsteiner, Liquigas and Radioshack, Zaugg signed with Riis in 2013. His season was marred by injuries so he is happy to get the opportunity to sign a new contract. 

    “Naturally, I'm happy about getting another season with one of the top teams in the world. I had my ups and downs in the 2013 season, so I hope for a 2014 season with fewer crashes, so I'll be able to support the team captains. Of course, I'm also ready to create a result of my own, when the right opportunity occurs,” he said.

    For Tosatto 2014 will be his 17th season in the pro ranks. He started his career in 1997 with MG Maglificio - Technogym. He also rode for Fassa Bortolo and Quick Step before signing with Saxo Bank in 2011. Tosatto will be 41 when his contract ends but the Italian still feels very motivated. 

    “I'm very happy to be able to sign a new deal for two years, and I'm as motivated as if it were my very first contract. I'm continuing my role as the experienced rider on the team as well as targeting my own result during the Classics before preparing for the Grand Tours. In any case, I'd love to win a race,” he said. 

    In his long career Tosatto has taken the start in 28 Grand Tours finishing 23 of them: 9 times in the Tour de France, 10 times in the Giro d'Italia and 4 times in the Vuelta a España. He won a stage in the 2006 Tour de France and a stage in the Giro in 2001. Zaugg started nine Grand Tours and finished six of them. 

    "These two guys have both proved their importance to the team, especially in the Grand Tours, so I'm delighted to be able to keep them with us," general manager Bjarne Riis said.

    "Matteo showed during this year's Tour de France how strong he still is. He can ride pretty much all races and has a great sense of how a race is developing. And last but not least he can be both a support for a GC captain, but also help bring a sprinter in position in the final kilometers of a race." 


  • Q&A: Jens Voigt on his career, a final season, anti-doping and the 98 Tour samples

    Jens Voigt (Radioshack) goes on the attack.
    Article published:
    December 16, 2013, 14:50
    Daniel Benson

    Oldest rider in the World Tour still motivated to perform

    In the likelihood that 2014 will be his final year within the peloton, Cyclingnews sat down with Trek’s Jens Voigt at his team’s training camp in Benidorm, Spain.

    The 42-year-old has been a fixture in the peloton since the late 1990s and seen the sport of cycling go through a number of scandals and transformations during his time at teams such as Gan, CSC and RadioShack. Before one final year of racing, the ever-popular German discussed his plans for the year, Chris Horner, the 1998 Tour de France samples and his relationships with former bosses Bjarne Riis and Johan Bruyneel.

    Cyclingnews: So is this perhaps your final team camp of all time?

    Jens Voigt: Very probably, yes.

    CN: So is the year going to be case of saying ‘this will be the final time I do this race, the final time I do that race’ 

    JV: I’ve just talked to your French colleague about something similar. I still say it’s all probable because I don’t want to get myself too comfortable. If I say it’s my last year then I can say I don’t need to train anymore because I’m not looking for a contract. I don’t want that because I have too many expectations of myself and I don’t want to let myself down. That’s why I keep saying it’s probably my last season, to keep myself under a little bit of pressure. First of all I’m still a cyclist so I’m going to do my job but I will try and go with a more relaxed attitude. I will try and enjoy my first race at the Tour Down Under. Maybe next year I come back with another function in the team or as a tourist, who knows. It’s one last time to soak up the emotions from the fans and just enjoy the best from my job.

    CN: What are the factors that will determine if this is your last year? Talk to some pros and they say they just reach a day where something happens and that’s that. Are you waiting for that moment or are there more things to factor in?

    JV: There’s a bigger picture. I’m married with six children so I can’t leave it to coincidence. I have a responsibility with my family so I have to develop a plan on how my life after cycling will look like. Where I’m going to work or where my income will come from because contrary to popular belief I’m not a millionaire. I’m not complaining, I’m well off but I have six kids, I live in Germany and pay my taxes. I’m not swimming in money so I can’t live for five years without any work. So I do have to develop a plan for what comes next. Just imagine we go out training tomorrow and I crash on the first roundabout and I break my collarbone. I’m going to say fuck I hate this job, this is a shit job, I want to stop now. But imagine on the other hand I go to Down Under, and on the third or fourth stage I slip into the break and nobody pays attention to me and I win. I then say this is the best job ever and I sign for four more years. I’m not a head person, I’m more of a heart and guts guy. That’s how I race. I don’t have a genius plan and sometimes it just comes into my mind and I just do it. But around the Tour I should make up my mind in what direction my future goes in.

    CN: One guy that looks like he might be stopping as he doesn’t have a contract is Chris Horner. What do you make of his situation, in that a Vuelta winner, his age of course, still hasn’t found a deal for 2014?

    JV: It’s not a funny story. It’s hard to understand. Just before the camp I sent him a message asking how he was and if he had plans for next year, that we miss him at training camp but I’ve not had an answer yet. It is hard to understand. People have rolled out the red carpet for the Vuelta winners in any other team but he’s my age. Last year he only raced three times, Tirreno, then he was off for five months, came back with Colorado and then won the Vuelta. It’s the greatest comeback story probably in the last decade but I guess people are afraid that he’s getting one year older. If you win a Grand Tour you’re entitled to earn a million bucks. You only have three of them per year so they should be awarded with a nice big contract. Maybe people think at 42 he’s caught in a bad situation. He’s gone from having the worst year in his career to turning it around in the last moment to the best of his career. Then all teams had their budgets done, most places were gone and teams disappeared. That just lowered the price for everyone.

    CN: Trek and Luca [Guercilena] did offer him a contract but it wasn’t what Horner was expecting financially.

    JV: I don’t think it’s a huge secret that our budget is smaller than other years. I believe they offered him what they thought was fair and right and it was then up to Chris to accept it or not. I think at the time he was in contact with the Alonso team so I believe and can only speculate that he could have got a good contract there. Maybe he closed a few doors. When that didn’t come true he didn’t have that many options left.

    CN: Do you think he’s paying for the problems that US cycling has had with the focus from USADA to some degree?

    JV: I see this as a possibility but it shouldn’t be like that. That would be like nowadays all Germans are Nazis, all French are like Napoleon, or all Brits are former pirates. That would be stupid, to make him pay. As far as I know he wasn’t involved in any of USADA’s investigations so fair and square I don’t see why he should suffer from it. 

    CN: What do you make of the era the sport is in? You’ve seen it transform from when you came through the ranks with Gan, Crédit Agricole and CSC. You’ve seen the sport go through so much in the last two decades so where are we now in terms of the fight against doping? 

    JV: Well we did a lot of testing, more than other sports and we get punished for it. I remember in 2008 the test came in for CERA. Then it was the Olympics and only after public pressure was there a retesting for CERA. The test was there, we used it a month before at the Tour de France. The IOC took the decision to say they didn’t need it but only after public pressure did they come up with that. As I said, in other interviews, if someone is caught it’s not a pleasant event but it makes our sport better and cleaner. The headline could be that cycling is getting cleaner, what are the others doing? But no, it was always like punching us. But as I’ve also said many times we did mistakes and a lot of the ammo you guys shot at us, we delivered. But to close the circle, now it’s the election of Cookson and I also hope that the press gives us the chance to reset and restart at zero, to open a new chapter and we start in a more clean, transparent and truthful future.

    CN: We spoke to [Laurens] Ten Dam yesterday and he was saying that he gets frustrated that, for example, during the Tour the focus was on doping in the 1980s or the Armstrong years. So do you think it’s incorrect for us to go back and look at those times? 

    JV: No, it’s not. You’re just doing investigations and you’re just doing your job. Your job isn’t just about asking about the nice weather here in Spain, it’s also about asking about the whole picture but I would think at one moment it would just be enough. Everyone has asked about 1998 and Lance and at one point everyone is tired about answering the same questions. It’s done now, what are we going to change now?

    CN: Do you think riders say that because they don’t want to talk about the past or they feel like they’re in a position where they can’t talk about it?

    JV: What do you mean because they were involved in something in the past or because they’re just tired of it? 

    CN: Both but the first one, primarily.

    JV: Then you should make it really clear where you’re pointing with your question there because it’s a difficult question.

    CN: Fair enough. It’s a loaded question.

    JV: I don’t want to go wrong or be misunderstood. I don’t know. If they think it’s good they can open my samples from 1999 and 2000, 2001, if they think it’s important, feel free. It’s just always the same, what happens ten years, 8 years, ago. Everything that happened after 2006, with Fuentes, that’s bad. If people kept going after that, then that’s bad. And before, I don’t know.

    CN: Do you think doping was endemic? 

    JV: Depends on what you think is endemic. Twenty per cent of the peloton, is it 80 per cent?

    CN: If you lined up everyone from the 96 Tour it would be very hard to find someone there who was clean perhaps.

    JV: I don’t know. Maybe it was just really crazy times back then and no one followed any rules. No one was going to be caught and everyone thought everyone was doing the same. It was maybe a really bad moment and period. When you come in there as a young guy and you have ten teammates telling you that if you want to ever win anything you have to do this and this. What do you do? You’re maybe twenty years old and ten guys tell you that… it’s just a bad moment but to come back to the present, I think we’ve reached a place or time when things are a lot better.

    Quintana second in the Tour, Froome is younger, the world champion too. They were probably twelve years old when this all happened. They were playing on their Gameboy, playing Pokémon. What can they know about it and why should they suffer and face questions? It’s unfair towards them. I’m an older guy, I’ve seen those periods so I understand why you guys ask me as I was an eye witness and I was there. I can understand why you ask and that’s why I try and not to complain too much because I understand your point of view. But for the young kids… Peter Sagan was eight 15 years ago. He could probably hardly read back then.

    CN: So what did you make of the fact that the 1998 Tour samples were re-tested? What went through your mind then?

    JV: I thought ‘what’s the point?’ because it just makes noise for nothing. It’s well beyond the legal time where it could have consequences. It just makes peoples’ lives difficult. You also have to ask how legal it is. I never knew they kept samples for that long. Where do they keep them, in a garage, in a safe cool area? Who opened them? Why didn’t they notify the riders that the B samples were being opened? I think it was almost pointless. Did you see any changes after that?

    CN: Well, I wouldn’t say it was directly linked but an ex-teammate of yours, Stuart O’Grady, retired pretty much off the back of that.

    JV: Okay, that’s true. That’s true but I didn’t see and I still don’t see any point in it. 

    CN: I don’t want to dwell on O’Grady as he’s not here and I know you have a personal relationship with him and have known him for a long time, but you are here, so when you heard they were going to reopen the samples did you have anything to worry about? 

    JV: No I didn’t even know if I was tested then or not. Fuck it was 15 years ago. I don’t know if was tested or not.

    CN: Okay. Regardless of that test (race) did you have anything from that time, from any of those Tours that would come back to concern you?

    JV: No. No. I’m in a happy position.

    CN: If that’s the case and that’s the truth does it anger you that you were up against so many guys, and so many guys on your team who were doping?

    JV: Well I still hope that not everyone was doping. I only managed to win one single race. I guess it was hard then to compete with the others but you only find out about these things now. If you take a short cut in your tax declaration fuck of course you don’t tell anyone because you know you’re doing something wrong. The less people know the safer your secret. 

    CN: But if you’re in the same club doing the same thing with your taxes then it becomes easier to talk about.

    JV: Do you think? That people would do that?

    CN: Well I think we know about it. You have doping on the Postal bus, the Festina bus, nearly any bus from then.

    JV: Yes, but I could never understand how they would do that. How they could do something dangerous for your health and breaking the rules.

    CN: I remember talking to you two years ago, just as the USADA case was coming out with Bruyneel and you gave the impression that you couldn’t answer some questions because he was your boss and you can’t go around saying this or that. Have you been in positions where there are questions you can’t answer in the way that you’d like because of the reality of the sport you work in?

    JV: I hope that in most of my career I said what I think but of course in any environment there are certain words or things you shouldn’t say. Look at things now. If my boss is sitting over there do you think I should say he’s a bad manager? I just couldn’t. Or imagine if you think your boss is a terrible writer. Can you say it? No you can’t because you still want to be paid by the end of the month. There are always situations where you have to find a compromise on how much you want to give and what you want to keep to yourself. You’ve got to find the balance there in trying to say what you want to say but at the same time not totally exposing yourself and getting shot in the back a day after. Does that make sense?

    CN: Yes. You’re essentially in a position where you’re looking after number one to certain a degree. There’s only a certain shelf life an athlete has in their career and if look at some examples, for example someone like Bassons or Simeoni, they rode in the same era as you. Bassons rode clean and you’ve implied the same but he spoke in a different way.

    JV: I guess. You look at those examples and as I said you have to look for your balance. Okay if I say whatever I want without looking at the consequences but I risk being on the outside or I say a milder version of what I think and then I stay inside. Looking out for number one sounds easy and selfish but I have a family and children so I can’t act like a renegade or a rebel all the time. I’m having a life, I have to pay taxes, my insurance, my phone bill, school, the kids. I just can’t do whatever I want. It’s the same with training. There are times when I don’t want to train all week but I have that responsibility for my family.

    CN: With all due respect if you had gone down the path of Bassons it would perhaps be fair to say that you wouldn’t have ridden for some of the team managers that you have ridden for.

    JV: Be more precise with that.

    CN: Okay so you may have ridden for Roger Legay but maybe not for Riis, maybe not for Johan Bruyneel.

    JV: Well my friend now you’re making me mad and angry. You’re a journalist right? 

    CN: Yes. 

    JV: Do you know anyone called Murdoch? Was he your friend? Have you ever worked with him? Do you feel dirty working in the same business as Murdorch and all this illegal tapping of phone lines? How do you feel about that? Answer the question please.

    CN: Well there’s difference. 

    JV: Is there?

    CN: Yes.

    JV: Well not for me. I’m asking you a straight and fair question. Answer the question. Are you a colleague of Murdoch? What do you think about that?

    CN: No. I’m not a colleague of Murdoch or an employee of his or work for any publication associated with him.

    JV: Okay. See it’s easy to throw out any accusations. Bjarne and me, I would fucking put a lie detector right here and say that for not a split second did he ever mention something like ‘Jens do you need some help?’ Not for a split second did we talk about it. I’m not an idiot and now I know, but why should I not ride for him or sign for him. There was nothing against him to say that back in 2003. There was nothing to say against him. I try to judge people by my own and try to have my own opinion about people. I had seven fantastic years with Bjarne and I wouldn’t say a bad word about Bjarne. I would sign again with him. The way I was concerned he was always correct. My salary always came every month. We had arguments about races, that’s normal, but when I finally told him about this Luxembourg project we hugged each other and wished each other luck. 

    CN: And I wasn’t casting anything over the relationship you had with him on a personal level, it’s just that the reality is that we now know how people were seen in 2001 is different to how they’re seen now.

    JV: I don’t know. You’re from Great Britain, right?

    CN: I live there.

    JV: So you know the News of The World. Do you read it? Do you feel guilty about it? 

    CN: It’s not the same thing.

    JV: That’s an easy excuse. I would write in my column tomorrow that you refused to answer my question. How do you feel about that?

    CN: Okay. What’s the question? 

    JV: I’m just trying to point to out that it’s easy that we know everything now and why didn’t you do this and that.

    CN: You’re right if what you’re saying is that nothing is black and white. I agree on that. I’m not evading the question.

    JV: You’re trying to dodge the question.

    CN: No. I gave you a straight answer earlier that I don’t work with Murdoch.

    JV: As I said I had a good relationship with Bjarne. He respected me and I had a good attitude. I respected him for his point of view in life, how he challenged me to be a better rider and we both worked in a way that made us better. I remember when I had my bad crash in the Tour I needed another surgery and the day before the operation was the day before his wedding. He called me and said don’t worry, have the operation, do you rehab and we’ll have a contract for you next year. You have my word you have a contract. He was good to me. 

    CN: You’re not the first rider to have good word for Bjarne. A lot of riders would say the same thing, that they have respect for him and that he got the best out of him. 

    JV: The merger when Johan came. Do you think that someone came and asked me? Do you think someone would come and ask you if you were going to be sold to The Times? 

    CN: Then I would be working for Murdoch. 

    JV: [Laughter] Exactly. I’m just a rider and I was 41 at the time. There’s not many teams that would take a rider at 41 so there we are again with the whether you should open your mouth question. If you just firing off then you might be out of the job. The merger became known to the public during Colorado so you have a month and half to find a contract at my age. I didn’t have an ongoing contract with the team. I was also curious. I thought maybe Johan would bring something different to the team. He had a different way of running things which in the end didn’t work out the way we wanted to, but I was curious. He does have some experience in cycling and I thought maybe he can make the Schlecks win the Tour. 

    CN: Finally, as we’ve been asked to wrap things up, let's assume this is your final year as a rider how do you want people to sum up your career once it's finished?

    JV: I think the way I want to be remembered is that people say I was a loyal, hard working rider, who always had a smile and if I’m really asking for a lot then I hope one or two people say that I inspired them. To get up after a crash, to get up after a bad result, or to get up after a mishap in life and to bounce back from it. Hopefully people thought that if Jens can do it maybe I can do it as well. Something like that.

  • Incycle-Predator hopes to challenge in 2014

    Andres Diaz (Team Exergy) drove the late race break, enabling  teammate Fred Rodriguez to sit tight in the field and wait for the sprint.
    Article published:
    December 16, 2013, 17:00
    Cycling News

    New Continental team counting on Diaz, Hernandez

    The Incycle-Predator team may be new to the UCI ranks in 2014, but the Southern California team, which was formed from a merger of two elite teams, Predator Carbon Repair and MRI-Monster Media, is hoping to challenge the top American team, UnitedHealthcare, in the domestic races.

    Team owner Micah Cloteaux is counting on experienced riders like Andres Diaz, Sergio Hernandez and directeur sportif and rider Emile Abraham to mould the team into a cohesive unit, capable of being competitive in the USA Crits Series and other UCI races in South America, Central America, Asia and the Caribbean.

    "I really focused on putting together a team that could at least compete with UHC, because they're just so good," Cloteaux said. "Our problem last year was that we'd have a couple of guys flying, but we didn't have the depth to go side by side with them and bring our guys to the front."

    While the team will mainly focus on the US criterium scene, it will have opportunities in stage race classifications with the addition of Diaz, who was second overall in the Nature Valley Grand Prix last year.

    "I'd like to see Andres move one step up at Nature Valley," Cloteaux said. "I'd like to see him do that, and I think we have a good chance at races like Joe Martin."

    Sergio Hernandez, 28, is another rider the team can count on, especially for stage wins.

    "He was on another level last year, and I think this year he's going to be even better," Cloteaux said. "He's definitely a breakaway guy. In a bunch sprint he's maybe top 15, but he's an engine. He's like a 90-pound engine."

    In addition to the experienced riders, the team will focus on developing young talent. Seven out of the 16-rider team are under 23: Jacob Arnold, Orlando Garibay, Diego Sandoval, Christian Leandro Tamayo Saavedra, Tyler Schwartz and Jonah Tannos.

    The team is especially excited about Saavedra, a 21-year-old Colombian who is one of South America's fastest men on the track.

    "He's got some good track results back Colombia, and I've heard from guys who've raced in Europe on the ProTour that he's the real deal," Cloteaux said.

    In addition to the UCI squad, the organisation will also field a junior development and elite men's team.

    Incycle-Predator Components for 2014: Emile Abraham, Jacob Arnold, Calixto Manuel Bello, Andres Diaz, Samuel Hunter Grove, Franco Font, Orlando Garibay, Stephen Hall, Sergio Hernandez, Rudolph Napolitano, Michael Olheiser, Diego Sandoval, Christian Leandro Tamayo Saavedra, Tyler Schwartz, Jonah Tannos, Euris Vidal

  • Cookson: UCI independent commission set for early 2014

    UCI Presidential Candidate Brian Cookson
    Article published:
    December 16, 2013, 18:10
    Cycling News

    Three-member group to be announced soon

    UCI president Brian Cookson stated today that the independent commission that will examine cycling's doping era will not be called "truth and reconciliation", and will be set to begin work early in 2014.

    Speaking with VTM Nieuws, Cookson said, "We are very close to announcing the details of the commission. We're not going to call it 'truth and reconciliation' as it's not quite appropriate."

    The commission will examine what went on in cycling and at the UCI during the EPO-fuelled era of the 1990s-2000s, and dig into allegations that the UCI was negligent at stemming the use of doping at best, or complicit at worst.

    The three-member group is close to agreeing upon the terms and will start work "very early in the new year", according to Cookson. "It will be under terms and conditions that have the support of the World Anti-Doping Agency and others, and it will be inviting those who have something to say to come forward. We'll ask them to tell the truth, all of the truth, and from that we hope to learn lessons, make recommendations to put into place new processes and new procedures to stop cycling from going down those routes ... ever again."

    Cookson indicated that he would invite his predecessor Pat McQuaid and any others who were a part of cycling during that time to come forward and speak the truth and help the sport move forward.

    "During my predecessor's era a lot of good things were done, such as the biological passport. The problem still remains that the ... damage the allegations made from the Lance Armstrong era that the UCI was in collusion and involved in cover-ups were not properly addressed, and these have to be addressed in this commission. When we know the truth of that then we can move forward. We need absolutely to learn those lessons, and we need all of the people who were participants in that era, whether they did wrong or behaved correctly, to come forward and speak the truth."

    The arbitration hearing between the US Anti-Doping Agency and Johan Bruyneel, Pedro Celaya and Jose 'Pepe' Marti begins this week in London, and could clear some of the roadblocks to getting the truth out into the open.

    "All of those people - Johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong -  who were involved in those acts, they have a number of other issues floating about, other legal cases, that may well affect how they're able or whether they are able to come forward, and what they're able and willing to tell the commission.

    "All I can do is set up the commission, make sure it's genuinely independent, that it has a sufficient budget, that we at the UCI don't at all interfere and we let it do its work, let it change any terms and conditions once its appointed, and [allow it to] speak to whomever it wants to and looks at whatever evidence and historical background it wants to."

  • Tour de France samples to be tested for AICAR

    A visit to doping controls for stage 17 runner-up Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    December 16, 2013, 20:45
    Cycling News

    New test developed in Germany for 'fitness in a pill'

    Researchers in Cologne, Germany have developed a test for the 'fitness in a pill' drug called AICAR, reported today.

    The substance was linked to cycling in 2012 when a Colombian doctor, Alberto Beltrán Niño, who worked with teams including the former Xacobeo-Galicia squad, was arrested in Madrid with AICAR and another experimental drug TB-500 in his possession.

    AICAR is used to decrease body fat and was intended to reverse diseases such as type 2 diabetes, but a side-effect of the drug was increase endurance, at least in laboratory animals.

    The UCI has already sent samples from the Tour de France and other races to Cologne to be tested for the substance, a UCI spokesman confirmed to Cyclingnews.

    Mario Thevis, a professor from the Cologne Center for Preventive Doping Research, developed the analysis, which uses carbon isotope ratios to distinguish synthetic AICAR from substances found naturally in the body, much like the WADA-approved test for synthetic testosterone.

    "In nature there are two versions of the carbon. There is carbon 12 with a mass of 12, and carbon with a mass of 13, and the ratio reflects exactly that of the carbon we ingest in food," Thevis explained. "If you produce a synthetic product, this ratio, the signature of the carbon, is different and that can be distinguished with the help of modern analytical methods."

    Because there is already an existing test approved by WADA for testosterone, it stands to reason that the AICAR version of the test would be easily implemented in WADA-approved laboratories.

  • Jack Bauer targets second New Zealand road title

    Jack Bauer (Garmin Sharp) is presented to the crowd at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under
    Article published:
    December 16, 2013, 23:27
    Cycling News

    Will be challenged by Roulston’s attempt to win a fourth crown

    Trek Factory Racing’s Hayden Roulston will be hoping to celebrate his 33rd birthday by joining elite company in next month's Calder Stewart national road cycling championships and win a fourth road title. Victory would see the current champion join Nick Carter and Jack Swart on four wins behind only Gordon McCauley who has five victories.

    Garmin-Sharp’s Jack Bauer is hoping to take home his second national title having won the race in 2010 and is looking to start his season with a win. Bauer will face a competitive field as he will be joined on the start line by fellow WorldTour riders, new Cannondale signing George Bennett, and Roulston’s teammate Jesse Sergent.

    With the national titles decided early in the year, for Bauer the season is more or less a year-round proposition. "I started racing in January and did not finish until late October so it's a huge year," Bauer said.

    "I'd like to have a longer break but we have to be ready and in-form to race in the Tour Down Under the week after nationals. From there, it’s the (Jayco Herald) Sun Tour in Australia and on it goes into the Classics back in Europe."

    While Bauer admits he isn’t in top shape having enjoyed a break, he is keen to put in a good showing. Bauer triumphed in the year the course was moved to Christchurch and has made the city his training base as he prepares for the 2014 season.

    "It's crept up on me a little but I have four weeks until the race so I expect to be in reasonable fitness. I don't like to ride in any race unless I am in shape," Bauer said.

    As Bauer is the only Garmin rider at the championships, he will be challenged by the smaller teams who can gang up on him with superior numbers.

    "That was the case for the RadioShack trio last time. I've heard a couple of the trade teams have some team plans, so we will have to see how that pans out."

    Roulston’s defence of his crown will be helped by having Sergent by his side throughout the race. The duo will debut in the colours of the new Trek Factory Team and have been training in Spain this week in preperation. Bennett meanwhile has been in Italy training with his new Cannondale team.

    The 50-strong peloton will include 2012 champion James Williamson, two-time Under-23 winner Michael Vink, national criterium champion Michael Northey and London Olympic track riders Shane Archbold, Westley Gough and Marc Ryan.

    The women’s race, which is shorter at 120kms, includes several Pro Tour riders led by five-time world championship medallist Linda Villumsen, her Wiggle-Honda teammate Emily Collins, Be Pink young star Georgia Williams and the experienced TIBCO team riders Joanne Kiesanowski and Rushlee Buchanan.

    The time trials for all divisions is on Friday 10 January in Lincoln, the women's road race is on Saturday and men’s 184km race is held on Sunday.

  • Aru looking for further progress at 2014 Giro d’Italia

    Young rider classification leader Fabio Aru (Astana) awaits the start of stage 5
    Article published:
    December 17, 2013, 00:20
    Barry Ryan

    Sardinian looks ahead to second year at Astana

    Vincenzo Nibali's snowbound victory at Tre Cime di Lavaredo will endure as the defining image of the 2013 Giro d'Italia, but the performance of his Astana teammate Fabio Aru that day could yet prove to be a significant footnote.

    After laying the groundwork for Nibali at the base of the climb, Aru still summoned up the energy to finish 5th on the stage, almost catching the Rigoberto Uran-led chase group on the final approach to the summit. At the end of a Giro debut that had been blighted by a mid-race illness, the 23-year-old emerged from the blizzard with his lofty credentials enhanced still further.

    "I was ill halfway through the Giro with vomiting and dysentery, [Paolo] Tiralongo had the same problem. For three days I was feeling pretty bad but then I managed to recover and I finished the Giro strongly," Aru told Cyclingnews. "For me it was important to finish the Giro on a high note, mainly to help Vincenzo in the final stages, but it was nice to be up there myself on that stage too."

    Already touted as a future grand tour contender thanks to victory at the prestigious Giro della Valle d'Aosta as an amateur – traditionally a useful barometer of pedigree – Aru's status was such that he was selected for Astana's Giro team as a neo-professional. With Nibali focused on the Tour de France in 2014, Aru is set to return to the race with a slightly freer role next May.

    "[Michele] Scarponi will be the captain, and my job will be to stay close to him, but the team has put a lot of trust in me and I'll have some space
    myself so I'm tranquillo," Aru said. "The important thing now is to learn and to help others on the team, and then later on I might be able to play my own cards in races.

    "Right now, I just want to keep improving. Of course I'd like to go and win the biggest races in the future, but every rider wants to do that. I'm focused more on growing and improving."

    Cycling history is littered with tales of highly-touted amateurs who failed to replicate their early successes at the highest level, however, and though Aru impressed at the Giro del Trentino and Tre Cime di Lavaredo in 2013, he is aware that he has much to work on. A product of the Palazzago amateur set-up in Bergamo – a team managed by the much-discussed figure of Olivano Locatelli – Aru acknowledged that there is a considerable gulf between the under-23 and WorldTour ranks.

    "Everything changes because you go at higher speed and the races are longer. The rhythm is completely different too and you're racing against guys who are ten years older than you, guys with more experience and strength," he said. "But if you work hard and seriously, then you can at least manage to lessen the shock of that transition to [WorldTour.]"

    The high life
    Another difference between the amateur and professional ranks is the amount of time invested in preparing for races. During his years at Palazzago, Aru succeeded in dividing his time more or less equally between Bergamo and Sardinia. To date in 2013, he has spent just 11 days on the island, with the rest of the time split between races, his Bergamo apartment and lengthy stints at altitude.

    "I did a lot of training camps at altitude this year, almost two months this year in total – once in Tenerife, once in Etna, once in San Pellegrino, once at Livigno," he said. "Before the Giro in particular we tend to go to Teide, because the weather is better in Tenerife. You can't really go to Livigno in April."

    Indeed, Mount Teide in Tenerife has become a particularly popular place of pilgrimage among those looking to shine at the grand tours. Sky and Astana have designs on both the Giro – where Aru and Scarponi face Richie Porte – and the Tour – where Nibali pits himself against Froome – but the two teams will also run into one another regularly in the build-up.

    "We always see them [Sky] at Teide because there's only one hotel up there," said Aru. "So we often run into Sky, Belkin, Katusha with [Joaquim] Rodriguez. It's a good place to train because you've got the altitude but the weather is always quite warm too. And the roads are pretty varied there, so you can do specific work."