Fundación Alberto Contador continues investment in Spanish cycling
Alberto Contador unveiled the two teams he supports, Specialized team and Flex-U23 via the Fundación Alberto Contador for the 2014 season. His commitment takes a further step forward this year in supporting the base of cycling which was initiated last year through the Fundación.
After launching the junior Specialized team in 2013, this year, the Alberto Contador Foundation is consolidating its work with the new team U23, which has increased the number of young riders enrolled in this project a to the maximum allowed, 28. The new Flex team provides a pathway for the junior riders to continue their cycling careers.
Responsible for the project is José Luis Santos who is supported by former pro riders also Félix García Casas and Rafa Diaz Justo.
Alberto's brother, Fran Contador, is the manager and head of the Fundación and the project has managed to attract new sponsors, Flex and Northgate in particular while Specialized continue their support.
Once again it was the town of Segovia that hosted the team launch with the mayor,Pedro Arahuetes, serving as a host of the team presentation which was also attended by the CEO of Specialized Spain, Miguel Rojo, the director of marketing for Flex, Gerardo Spain, the Commercial Director of Northgate Eduardo González de La Rocha, other sponsors and the presidents of the Spanish Federation and of Castile and Leon Cycling, Jose Luis Lopez and Roberto Coca Cerrón respectively.
Alberto Contador spoke of his commitment to cycling through his sponsorship of the team, as it is "the right thing to do, because that's how come the end results, but that's not what's important to us, otherwise train the kids and make who know cycling."
Will Walker has announced that following a recurrence of his heart problems during his first race of 2014 year and first for his new Synergy Baku Cycling Project at the Australian National Championships, that he is to end his professional cycling career.
The 28-year-old had skipped both the 2010 and 2011 seasons due to tachycardia and was looking to kick-start his career with the Azeri squad. His replacement on the team will be 23-year-old Irishman Philip Lavery. It is likely that Walker will stay associated with the Baku set-up, in a back room capacity as coaching staff with his official role yet to be determined.
Lavery has ridden for two other Continental ranked teams and serving as a stagiaire for the Cofidis Team last year but was not offered a contract. Assuming his career was over, he sold his bikes and took a full-time job. Lavery is now set to make his debut for Baku on February 23 at the GP Izola in Slovenia.
Team manager David McQuaid explained how Lavery was chosen on the team's website. "Initially when the place become vacant, we looked to the Azerbaijan Federation or riders from the regions" said McQuaid. "However, when putting our 2014 squad together we purposely listed three young Azeri riders as Baku Trainees in order to assist and nurture their development and then coming on board as stagiaires on August 1st.
"Given the nature of our early season races in both Asia and particularly Europe it was still felt that this was the correct approach."
While Walker's heat problems threw a spanner in the works for the team, McQuaid said that the Australian's place within the team set-up was never under question.
"In Will's case or scenario he was never under pressure from us regarding his immediate...
A feature documentary on Marco Pantani, the enigmatic Italian cyclist who died of a cocaine overdose on February 14, 2004, will be released in UK cinemas in late April.
Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist charts the extraordinary rise of the gifted climber who won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 1998, before being plagued by allegations of doping and succumbing to depression. In 1999, he was thrown off the Giro for irregular blood values linked to EPO use. He died in a hotel room in Rimini, 10 years ago and a day after his 34th birthday.
The film – which premiered in Italy last week – mixes archive race footage, reconstructions and interviews with riders including Bradley Wiggins, Greg LeMond and Evgeni Berzin.
The film is written, directed and co-produced by James Erskine. Victoria Gregory, whose credits include the BAFTA Award-winning film, Senna, a biopic about the charismatic Brazilian F1 driver and the Oscar winning Man on Wire.
Juan Manuel Garate had a verbal contract with Belkin to ride for another year, but reneged on it according to Dutch newspaper AD.
In September, it was reported that Garate had signed a deal with the Dutch team, but it was never formally signed. The Spaniard is currently without a contract for 2014.
"It is unclear to us what is going on," Merijn Zeeman, directeur sportif for Belkin, told AD. "We would have loved to keep Juanma onboard because of his qualities as a rider. He agreed upon a new deal but all of a sudden he refused to sign."
It was reported that the deal included a significant pay cut, but Garate said that this was not the reason for refusing the verbal offer. He was coy on the real motivation for backing out. “My reasons are private,” he explained.
"If Belkin needs me, I am ready to come back. But at the moment I am not welcome with Belkin. It's a personal thing and has nothing to do with money. And no, it’s not to do with doping either."
Garate has been a professional since 2000 and has taken a stage victory in all three of the grand tours. Most famously, he won atop Mont Ventoux at the 2009 Tour de France. He has ridden a total of 26 of the three-week races, only failing to finish two, with his best result being fourth at the 2002 Giro d'Italia.
The Spaniard joined Belkin back in 2009, when it was Rabobank, and has ridden for its many leaders, including Robert Gesink with whom he is a good friend. The 37-year old was at the Belkin team training camp in November, but has since made no appearances with the team and is not named for any races.
The season is well under way with the professional peloton spread across Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Oman this week for a series of races.
That factor hasn’t stopped Garmin-Sharp from taking the relatively unusual step of organising their team training camp for mid-February. The American team rode last week’s Mallorca Challenge, with the team then using the Spanish island to fine tune their form ahead of further goals for the spring.
The team held a shorter camp in Boulder at the tail end of 2013 but the mini-camp was only attended by a small group, with Mallorca the location for the squad’s main training camp of the year.
It’s a much changed team for 2014 with a number of established faces either leaving for pastures new or, in the cases of Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie, retiring.
The new – but already experienced guard – of Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin, Tom Slagter and Rohan Dennis will be expected to produce results this year, while the team have maintained an element of their core with David Millar, Tom Danielson, Tyler Farrar and Ryder Hesjedal all racing for the team.
Bradley Wiggins has "no plans to leave" Team Sky, according to his management company.
Spanish newspaper Diario Mallorca on Tuesday reported that Wiggins had been approached by the Fernando Alonso team while out in Mallorca. The report stated that the 2012 Tour de France champion was proposed a two-year contract with the new team.
Cyclingnews spoke to Julian Henry, a spokesperson for the rider's management company, who said that Wiggins has no interest in ending things with Sky. "Bradley is under contract to Team Sky. He's very happy with the set up there and is totally focused on his 2014 training and racing schedule. He feels part of the fabric of the team and has no plans to leave the team."
Wiggins current contract with Sky runs out at the end of this year, which would leave him free to sign with other teams for 2015. However, Henry stated that Sky had given him an offer, but Wiggins is waiting until his major targets are out of the way before he puts pen to paper.
Cyclingnews also contacted Team Sky, who said they were unaware of any negotiations between Wiggins and Alonso.
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For 2014, Millar's final year in the professional peloton, the 37-year-old Scotsman will be aboard Cervélo's new S3, described by Garmin-Sharp's mechanic as "a combination of the R5 and S5, taking the best of both worlds - being aerodynamic as well as being a little more supple."
While Millar's S3 is "off the shelf, it's something you can go to your local shop and purchase as of 2014", find out the little details about Millar's specific set-up and personal preferences.
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Omega Pharma-Quick Step had been hoping to continue their run of success after dominating at the Tour of Qatar but someone in Boonen's lead-out train moved to the centre of the long finishing straight overlooking the Naseem Garden, leaving the door wide open along the barriers. Lotto-Belisol lead-out men Marcel Sieberg and Jurgen Roelandts did not hesitate, accelerating through the gap, protected from the side wind, to give Greipel a perfect lead-out. The German Gorilla did the rest and comfortably won his fourth sprint of the season.
Boonen took defeat on the chin as he emerged from the tent used by riders to get changed after a day of racing in the sun. He has won and lost far bigger races and stayed philosophical about defeat, even if he was not happy.
"It's not that I'm mad because I lost but that we missed a chance. It's stupid when you do a perfect lead-out and then f**k it up a little bit. The Lotto guys deserved the win today, they did a great job," he explained.
Boonen thought he had finished fourth behind Greipel, Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) and young Italian Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF). Official results placed him fifth, with Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) also edging past him before the line.
"Fourth, fifth or 15th it doesn't matter, eh?," he said in an English laced with his Flemish twang.