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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Date published:
February 11, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Gilbert hails change of management at BMC

    Philippe Gilbert hopes to return to form in the Classics this season
    Article published:
    February 10, 2014, 11:32 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Peiper replaced Lelangue ahead of 2014 season

    The transfer spree that brought Philippe Gilbert to BMC and altered the complexion of the team in 2012 may have garnered more headlines, but the Belgian believes that the appointment of Allan Peiper as manager has marked a very significant change in the philosophy of the team.

    The experienced Peiper joined BMC as performance director at the beginning of last season, and was promoted to the role of sporting manager in the wake of John Lelangue's departure immediately after last year's Tour de France.

    Gilbert, who signed a contract extension just two weeks before BMC parted company with Lelangue, hailed the appointment of Peiper and pointed to the squad's early wins in Australia and Dubai as indications of a collective change in mindset.

    "For everybody it's like a new team. It's a completely different mentality. We can feel it, we can see it in the results, even if it's only the first two or three races, we can see we are there with another approach to cycling and racing," Gilbert told reporters in Doha at the Tour of Qatar, his first race of the new season. "Everybody has a goal now, everybody has motivation. We can feel that everybody is very motivated."

    Gilbert's own approach to the campaign is set to alter slightly under Peiper's stewardship. Whereas in years past, the Belgian has chased classics success both on the cobbles and in the Ardennes, this time around he will forgo the Tour of Flanders in order to focus exclusively on the races that suit him best.

    "[The idea] came first from me, but [Peiper] was happy because he was thinking the same," Gilbert said. "I think this team already has a lot of riders...

  • Wiggins could ride the Vuelta a España

    Bradley Wiggins makes his season debut
    Article published:
    February 10, 2014, 12:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team Sky riders wants more race days ahead of Worlds

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) says that he may ride the Vuelta a España this season, as he builds up to the World Championships.

    "I felt last year that I was short of racing when it came down to the worlds," Wiggins told the Guardian newspaper.

    Wiggins has only competed at the Vuelta once previously, in 2011. The Brit chose to ride the Spanish grand tour after he was forced out of the Tour de France with a broken collarbone. Wiggins went on to finish third, but he was beaten by his domestique at the time Chris Froome, who finished second.

    According to the newspaper, Wiggins believes that the best possible preparation for the World Championships will be to emulate three-time champion Tony Martin.

    The British rider will be aiming for his first gold medal in the individual time trial, in Ponferrada, and to beat Martin for only the second time. Wiggins hoped that it would be last year, deliberately putting on weight to increase his chances against his more specialised rivals.

    Compared with previous years, Wiggins’ 2013 racing schedule was pretty light. Injury prevented him from taking part in the Tour de France and he only began his build-up at the Tour of Poland. He won the final day time trial and went on to win the overall classification at the Tour of Britain, a month later.

    Wiggins looked to be in the ascendancy, however, he was beaten, for the second time, by Martin. He said that the effort involved in taking the silver medal "left him with sore legs for a week.”

    This season, he will attempt...

  • Luis León Sanchez: This isn’t a transition year

    Luis Leon Sanchez was presented by Caja Rural - Seguros RGA in Pamplona.
    Article published:
    February 10, 2014, 14:05 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Caja Rural-Seguros RGA pro only Spaniard with victory in 2014 so far

    Luís León Sánchez (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA) only for sure knew he had a team for 2014 in late December - but he was the first Spaniard (and as of day one of the Mallorca Challenge, the only one) to take a victory in the new season, with a stage win in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo.

    Tanned and fit-looking as he stood in the gusting winds outside the Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team bus on day two of the Mallorca Challenge, Sánchez said “I’ve started well this year, but I’m sure that other Spanish riders will be doing as well as me in the near future. There’s a lot of talented guys out there.”

    Being able to hit the ground running in 2014, he says, is more due to “going back to the gym this winter and doing a lot of workouts” than wanting to create a good impression in his new team. “I needed to do that gym work because I had lost a lot of muscle mass through not racing enough in 2013. I didn’t know where I was going to ride so it seemed like a good idea.”

    The 30-year-old will race one more day in Mallorca - Tuesday - before heading to the Tour Méditerranéen, which he won in 2009 with Caisse d’Epargne prior to going on to win Paris-Nice that spring as well as a stage of the Tour du Haut Var. Haut Var starts this year on February 13th.

    “It’s a race that suits me, there’s an 18 kilometre time trial which is good for me and I know the uphill finish on the Mont Faron well. But I won’t be the only one looking for another early win.”

    Sánchez has good memories of his 2009 victory:...

  • Boonen was too strong in sprint, says Roelandts

    Andre Greipel and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) celebrate the win.
    Article published:
    February 10, 2014, 16:06 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian in Qatar with an eye on spring classics

    Nothing to be done. Stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar began unfolding towards an ineluctable conclusion from the moment all eight Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders massed in the winning 23-man move, but Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) fought gamely to defy the odds all the same.

    Roelandts attempted to anticipate Tom Boonen by jumping early in the sprint finish on the seafront at Al Khor Corniche, but he was simply unable to match his fellow Belgian’s power into the headwind over the final 100 metres. After second place behind QuickStep’s Niki Terpstra on stage 1, he had to settle for third behind Boonen on Monday.

    "I was there with [Marcel] Sieberg and he kept me out of the wind," Roelandts told Cyclingnews as he sat in the boot of the Lotto-Belisol team car just past the finish line. "He did a perfect sprint for me: we passed Terpstra with 400 metres to go, then [Andy] Fenn and then Boonen. I started my own sprint then with 150 metres to go, but it was a full headwind and Boonen was too strong."

    Surpringly, Roelandts and Sieberg were the only Lotto-Belisol riders to make the split when Omega Pharma-QuickStep wound up the pace in the crosswind in the final hour of racing. A second echelon formed just behind, including Lotto’s sprinter André Greipel and teammate Lars Bak, and they fought to keep the leaders in sight. Having just clambered aboard himself, Roelandts was powerless to stop the QuickStep bus from pulling away, and Greipel was left on the platform, his ticket flapping in the wind.

    "We couldn’t wait," Roelandts said. "We weren’t riding on the front. If they came back, then they came back, and we were just...

  • Boonen starts with a bang at Tour of Qatar

    Tom Boonen wins stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar
    Article published:
    February 10, 2014, 18:00 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Victory a confirmation of early sensations, says Belgian

    When every season is built around the same two Sundays of the year, it’s only natural to have some fixed points of reference along the way. For Tom Boonen, two such test sites stand out – the Tour of Qatar, where he performs an early quality control on his winter training, and the climb of the Taaienberg at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he traditionally heralds the coming of spring by lining out the peloton.

    On the evidence supplied on the road to Al Khor Corniche on Monday, Boonen has every reason to be pleased with his off-season preparation as he builds towards the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. His Omega Pharma-QuickStep team used the crosswinds to merrily shred the peloton in the finale, and Boonen then unsheathed a rapier sprint to notch up his 21st stage victory in ten appearances at the Tour of Qatar.

    After contributing richly to QuickStep’s collective pace-setting in the final hour of racing, Boonen quite literally hit a bump in the road with five kilometres to go, but in spite of a displaced saddle and damaged wheels, he had the strength to overpower Michael Mørkøv, Jürgen Roelandts and headwind in the finishing straight.

    "It’s a good feeling, for sure, but I already knew after Argentina that my form was really good," Boonen said afterwards, pointing to his showing at the Tour de San Luis last month. "I already had good sensations in training, and you get proof of that when you race. I felt good in Argentina and this win is just a confirmation of those sensations."

    As in 2012, when he landed a startling sequence of victories at the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, Boonen’s gaunt face and early competitive outings suggest that...

  • Saronni: Costa has no faults as a cyclist

    The new world champion, Rui Costa (Portugal) was moved to tears on the podium of the worlds
    Article published:
    February 10, 2014, 20:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian admits Tour de France podium may be out of reach

    Former Lampre-Merida general manager, Giuseppe Saronni believes that new signing Rui Costa is capable of great things, beginning at the Tour de France this year.

    This year, Costa will assume the role as team leader for the first time at a grand tour, after spending several years as a domestique at Movistar. “Given his qualities, he can certainly finish in the top positions in the ranking,” Saronni told Portuguese sports daily O Jogo.

    “Rui has never had the opportunity to ride the Tour with the objective of the general (classification) and having a team at his disposal. A result in top three is an ambitious, elusive target, but we'll see what Rui can do. The team has great confidence in him.”

    Despite having to work for others in the past, Costa’s talent has shone through with three stage wins at the Tour de France and the GC at the 2012 & ‘13 Tours de Suisse.

    If the Portuguese rider hadn’t already proved himself as a rider to be reckoned with, he went on to outsmart his more decorated rivals to become World Champion.

    Costa was yet to earn his rainbow stripes when he signed with Lampre-Merida. However, Saronni was still convinced of the 27-year-old’s capabilities, when he approached him in the summer of 2013. “Rui is a big athlete with amazing talent for cycling, so we had no doubt about his recruitment. So far, I see no fault in him as a cyclist. He is a very complete rider and a very intelligent person,” he explains.

    “In Italy, we say that he is a person with his head on his shoulders. He is a very smart lad, polite and knows how to behave and what to do to achieve the objectives. The relationship we have established is...

  • Stannard believes Sky should have fewer leaders at Classics

    Sky's Ian Stannard looked to have come in to contact with a chain ring, and had some abrasions on his right leg in a crash with 12km to go
    Article published:
    February 10, 2014, 21:22 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Briton on challenge of taking on Boonen and Cancellara

    Ian Stannard (Team Sky) showed the fruits of his pre-season labours on the second day of the Tour of Qatar, as he matched Tom Boonen and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammates pedal stroke for pedal stroke during a frenetic stage that saw the leading group cover in excess of 53 kilometres in the final hour of racing.

    Keeping pace with QuickStep in Qatar is no mean feat, but it is an even more daunting proposition in April at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. In a bid to outflank Boonen et al last year, Sky opted to send its Classics unit to a training camp rather than race Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. Following decidedly mixed results, that approach has been shelved for 2014.

    Stannard admitted that he will be glad to have the extra racing of Tirreno-Adriatico in his legs ahead of the Classics – "I think the best way to race well is to go to races," he said – but suggested another important tweak for Sky’s approach to the monuments, namely, defining team leadership beforehand.

    While Sky lacks a leader of the stature of Boonen or Fabian Cancellara, Stannard believes that the team would be well-served by establishing a set hierarchy before each individual Classic, rather than designating free roles to three or four different riders, as happened last year.

    "We’ve got a lot of good riders but no-one on their level I guess either, so it’s about using that to the right advantage," Stannard told Cyclingnews. "We go into those races with a lot of leaders, if you like, but without one designated guy and that’s our downfall a bit sometimes as well.

    "You look at QuickStep and Trek, they’ve got one leader and everybody rides for him. That’s the way it is, and I think we should...

  • Mancebo: I could have won the Vuelta

    Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) pushes the pace in the breakaway
    Article published:
    February 11, 2014, 1:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard believes cycling is cleaner now

    Francisco Mancebo believes he could have won the Vuelta a España, had it not been for the intervention of Operación Puerto in 2006.

    “In 2006 it cut my career,” Mancebo told Biciciclismo. “I do not know where I would have finished. Maybe I could have won a Vuelta a España or maybe not, but it is certain that I would have contested it.”

    While at the peak of his talents, Mancebo’s career suffered irreparable damage when he was implicated in the Spanish investigation. 2006 was a year that held much potential for him. He’d finished fourth at the Tour de France and had taken his second podium finish at the Vuelta a España the year before.

    The Spaniard switched to the AG2R-Prévoyance team, after 11 years with Banesto, but was immediately suspended when his name appeared on the list of riders produced during the investigation.

    Mancebo returned to racing in 2007 with the Pro Continental Relax-Gam team, but has never managed to make it back to the highest level. He currently rides for the Skydive Dubai team, after years on the American circuit.

    Despite never formally being sanctioned, Mancebo has been a self confessed outcast for the best part of a decade. He went so far as to say that a ban would have been a lesser punishment. “I've paid and am paying a penalty. I have spent eight years a pariah and I think that is much more than a penalty.”

    Mancebo believed that cycling has turned over a new leaf since his days on the WorldTour. “Currently, cycling is much cleaner. As I said before I have noticed that the mentality has changed. I saw it in the U.S. and certainly here will be similar.”

    The madrileño made a brief return into the limelight