2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins will look to use the Vuelta a Espana as preparation for this year's World Championships in Spain.
The Olympic time trial champion claimed a silver in last year’s Worlds in Florence, Italy, after being beating by three time champion Tony Martin. The German used the Vuelta as training for the Worlds, whereas Wiggins took part in – and won – the Tour of Britain.
With the biggest race in the United Kingdom added to his palmares, Wiggins told Cyclingnews that he would “love to ride the Vuelta” this year. It’s a race he has tasted success in before, with a podium place sealed in 2011.
This year Wiggins plans to alter his racing programme from previous seasons, with a roll of the dice attempt in the Classics and a tilt at the Tour of California in May. The Tour de France remains part of the schedule but Wiggins will also look to win his first medal at the Commonwealth Games before starting the Vuelta in August.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Wiggins talks about the Vuelta, the Commonwealth Games and the first three stages of the Tour de France which take place on British soil.
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Sep Vanmarcke returns to the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, a race he won in 2012. The Belkin rider aims for another good performance in the first race of the Belgian Spring campaign, with the 198km race taking place this coming Saturday, March 1. "I am really looking forward to the weekend," he said. "I want to be good there. My winter was fine and my form is good."
Belkin's other ace for the Omloop is Lars Boom, whose best performance was a tenth place finish in 2011. "From what I saw and heard, both Sep as Lars are doing well. They are our main riders and will be supported by a dedicated group of teammates," sports director Frans Maassen said.
"The course hasn't changed much [since 2011]," Vanmarcke continued. "The race will play out as it usually does. On the Taaienberg the race will really start and from there it will be full on."
Vanmarcke and Boom will be joined by Maarten Wynants, Jos van Emden, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner. For Sunday's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Team Belkin adds a bit more sprint power by adding Jetse Bol, Barry Markus and Ruta del Sol stage winner Moreno Hofland to the line-up instead of Boom, Van Emden and Leezer.
Team Giant-Shimano's Belgian weekend line-ups
Team Giant-Shimano's John Degenkolb will miss Omloop het Nieuwsblad for the first time in his professional career, opting for a different early season race program. The Dutch WorldTour team lines up Dutchmen Koen de Kort, Roy Curvers, Ramon Sinkeldam, Tom Stamsnijder and Albert Timmer. Bert de Backer, while new signing Dries Devenyns and Reinardt Janse...
TDF champ has “passed the first test without any problem” says Sky boss
Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford has told L'Equipe that he's very happy with Chris Froome's performance that led to the successful defence of his Tour of Oman title.
"I think that Chris was a bit nervous at the start as he didn't know exactly where his form was, but he's a natural competitor and as soon as he sees an opportunity he tries to take it," said Brailsford.
Asked for his first impressions of Froome's form in 2014, Brailsford said they were "very good". He continued: "I think that he has dealt with his winter commitments well, which is normally quite a difficult thing to do after a first Tour de France victory, because there are always so many demands from all sides – from sponsors, invites to events…
"But he's worked very seriously in South Africa and you can see here that he's passed the first test without any problem. There's less pressure on him than last year and as a result we've been able to work on tactical things."
Pressed on how he felt Froome has responded to last July's Tour victory, Brailsford said: "Everyone is different, we've seen the same things with Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton [on the track]… After a big victory it's always difficult to go back to your everyday life, but Chris is a serious person and for him the goal is not to win the Tour de France once, but to do it several times.
"He is really focused on that and has got a lot of ambition. If you just focus on getting a result and you manage it to achieve it, things become difficult because there is nothing more to achieve. But if your goal is to win again and again, then the work continues after that first victory."
When asked how the decision on whether to select 2012 Tour champion Bradley Wiggins for the Tour will be made, Brailsford stated selection will be based on just...
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the appeal filed by the German Anti-doping Agency on Monday, and as a result, Patrik Sinkewitz is banned for competition for eight years.
The German Anti-doping Agency had filed an appeal at the CAS to challenge the decision rendered on June 19 by the German Arbitration Tribunal for sports-related disputes, which had acquitted Sinkewitz of any anti-doping rule violation.
Sinkewitz underwent a doping control on February 27, 2011 at the end of the Grand Prix of Lugano in Switzerland. The analyses of the A and the B samples revealed the presence of recombinant growth hormone (recGH).
In its appeal, the German Anti-doping Agency requested that a period of ineligibility of no less than eight years be imposed on the athlete, considering that he already served a one-year suspension in 2007 for an anti-doping rule violation.
Sinkewitz had disputed the reliability of the hgH test and claimed that several departures from the International Standards for Laboratories (ISL) had occurred during the process.
The CAS Panel making the decision - including Prof. Christoph Vedder, President (Germany), Dr. Dirk-Reiner Martens, Germany, and Prof. Dr. Martin Schimke, (Germany) - found that the German Anti-doping Agency had clearly established that the athlete's blood samples revealed the presence of recGH. On that basis, the panel decided that Sinkewitz had in fact committed a violation.
One year, three months and four days - already served as a voluntary suspension - have been applied to the eight-year total suspension.
In addition to the suspension, Sinkewitz was ordered to pay a fine of 38,500 euros.
Sinkewitz's decision came after CAS had ruled in favor of Estonian cross country skier Andrus Veerpalu one year ago. The skier had also been suspected of a violation with recGH. However, the CAS panel noted...
After Bessèges stage victory, focus switches to Paris-Nice
France's youngest post-war road race champion in 2012 and winner of 11 races in 2013, including three WorldTour successes, Nacer Bouhanni has already established himself as one of the peloton's top sprinters at the age of 23.
With a stage victory at the Etoile de Bessèges already to his credit this season, the FDJ.fr rider has said he's gone into 2014 with one goal: "To win races, some big races. I'm not looking towards any one in particular. I want to fight with the world's best sprinters. They are very strong, but not unbeatable. They have two legs, two arms, a head and a heart [just like me]," he told L'Equipe.
While his father was a cyclist first and turned to boxing when his bike broke, Bouhanni made the same trip in reverse, swapping the aggression and adrenalin highs of the ring for bunch sprints. A touch of madness is needed in both, says the Frenchman, who also acknowledges that the comparison between sprinters and football goalkeepers, who are often branded as unhinged, is a fair one.
"But it's not just a case of being mad. On the contrary, the sprint is all about making lots of tiny calculations," he said. "When I am in the final kilometre, I am only thinking of one thing and that's the finish line. I am obsessed by that and all I am thinking about is getting over it in first place."
Bouhanni reveals that his thirst for victory is the same in absolutely any race he takes part in. "When I'm training, that's all I think about. For me, there aren't any small races. I give absolutely everything all the time. I've been like that since I was small and I'm the same with any game I'm playing with friends, such as bowling. I always want to win, I love it," he said.
Accident happened on ride to hotel after final stage
Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) came through the Tour Oman unscathed but following a ride back to the team hotel after the final stage, a flying mattress brought down the Dane. Breschel escaped without suffering any serious injuries although has several abrasions post-crash.
"After the stage, we were riding back to our hotel and on a descent when I was going 70 kilometers an hour, a mattress flew into my front wheel and brought the bike to a standstill," Breschel said via a team press release.
"I hit the asphalt pretty hard and lost a lot of skin on my legs and face and the wound on my knee had to be stitched up. It’s still too early to say, but I trust it doesn't influence my preparations for the classic campaign and I'll stick to my regular training program. I'm not concerned at this moment."
Breschel's next race will be Paris-Nice as he builds his form for the cobbled classics and looks to improve upon his sixth place at the 2009 Tour of Flanders.
Dutch team on the cobbles ahead of Spring campaign
Ahead of this weekend’s curtain raiser for the cobbled season, Giant Shimano have taken the opportunity to ride reconissance over the final 100 kilometres of Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The Dutch outfit will take part in the weekend’s double bill too, with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne taking place on Sunday. The team also used a training session last week in order to ride sections of the new Tour of Flanders route.
"It was great seeing the last 100km of both Het Nieuwsblad and Flanders, and to get back on the cobbles again," said Koen de Kort.
"It's not long until the classics season starts and everyone is getting really motivated and it eager to put the testing to good use."
The team were using the exercise to test out their new Giant Defy Advanced SL bikes, having made the shift from Felt to Giant over the winter.
"Training on these Flemish roads is like a school trip to the playground for a pro-cyclis," said Roy Curvers in a team press release.
Both Koen de Kort and Roy Curvers are set to line up for Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday with Ramon Sinkeldam, Tom Stamsnijder, Albert Timmer, Bert de Backer, Dries Devenyns and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg completing the line-up.
Sprinters Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb are set to miss both Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne this weekend.
To see the gallery from Giant-Shimano’s recon, click here.
In Orica-GreenEdge’s second appearance at Tour de Langkawi, Pieter Weening will be the team hope in the general classification as he looks to improve upon second place last year with the help of new signing Esteban Chaves but stage wins will be the order of the day for team in Malaysia.
"The parcours is fairly typical of the Tour of Langkawi," said Sport Director Matt Wilson. "There are nine mostly flat stages, and one really tough mountain stage up to the Genting Highlands on day four. Given the length of the race, it's a good opportunity for the riders to get some decent race miles in their legs on the way to Europe."
GreenEdge will field a six-man team of all-rounders that is built around Weening and sprinter Aidis Kruopis who is the designated sprinter for the race. The Lithuanian sprinter goes into the race with early-season form after his stint racing in the Persian Gulf where he recorded a second place finish in Tour of Qatar
"Our main objective in Langkawi is stage wins," said Wilson. "We are bringing our in-form sprinter Aidis to try and fulfil that objective. With nine potential sprint stages, he will have plenty of opportunities. Pieter Weening's GC goals are always important. He will have our new climbing sensation, Esteban Chaves, there for support."
"This race fills a nice spot on the calendar and it's a good stepping stone between the off-season and the start of the season proper in Europe," Wilson said.
"It's a very well organised race, so we enjoy racing here. Last year, we raced in tough conditions, with extreme temperatures and monsoonal rains. It's a hard block of racing for the guys but they come out of it with great form."