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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Date published:
January 07, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Hepburn to test his talent in the Classics with Orica-GreenEdge

    Michael Hepburn (Orica - GreenEDGE)
    Article published:
    January 06, 2014, 23:03 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    No track world title defence in 2014

    Australia's Michael Hepburn won't compete at the track world championship in Cali, Colombia between February 26 to March 2, preferring to get precious experience in the Classics with Orica-GreenEdge than further rainbow stripes and medals.

    The 22-year-old Australian has won at least one rainbow jersey a year since he won the individual pursuit as a Junior in Moscow in 2009. But he won't defend his 2013 individual and team pursuit titles.

    "The track is all about the Olympics," Hepburn told Cyclingnews at the Mitchelton Bay Classic Series.

    "I'll focus 100% on the road this year. I've been a pro for two years but the track has taken a lot of time from my road racing. I've had successful World's but February is an important month for building a road season and I've been lacking consistency in the past two years."

    Hepburn appeared fit and motivated ahead of the Australian championship where he will target a medal in the time trial event in Ballarat on Wednesday.

    "I'm in a good condition but not at 100% yet," the powerful Queenslander said. He won the road title on the same course in his first race as an U23 four years ago at the age of just 18.

    Tour of Qatar season debut

    Rather than track duties for his country, Hepburn has the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman on his agenda after a team training camp with Orica-GreenEdge.

    "I've always started my road seasons in March or April. This year I'll be doing the Classics in Belgium. I'm still young and these races take a lot of time to be good at but that’s an area I want to explore," he explained.

    "I also intend to improve in time trials and we've got a lot of great sprinters in the team, so with Caleb [Ewan] coming as well [after the 2014 U23 road world...

  • Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS launch 2014 team kit

    The 2014 Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS team kits
    Article published:
    January 07, 2014, 0:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    First outfit from Craft for Australian squad

    Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS unveiled their 2014 race kits at The Prince in St. Kilda on Tuesday. The men's and women's teams will debut the clothing, made in collaboration with Craft, the team's official race and casual wear partner, at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships from Wednesday.

    "We're really pleased with the new kit and look forward to putting it into action at the Nationals this week and when we kick start our third season in the WorldTour at the Santos Tour Down Under," said Orica-GreenEdge General Manager Shayne Bannan. "We're excited to start a new season with a brand new look."

    This will be first season that team kit and casual clothing will be provided by Craft as Santini was the initial clothing manufacturer for the team.

    Simon Clarke was one of the GreenEdge riders to model the jersey and told Cyclingnews about the new kit. “Craft is definitely a step up for us. They have a great mentality of innovation and marginal gains and at the level we race at, marginal gains are so important. If we can get a little extra out of our performance in clothing and equipment it all goes toward the results we are trying to achieve," Clarke said.

    "It's been a great collaboration with Craft to date," Bannan said. "We've already been able to benefit from their experience in developing state of the art technical clothing. This type of partnership is crucial for a team at this level. We're also pleased to have Craft as a casual clothing partner. This is great for both the riders and staff who work and ride in all sorts of weather conditions during the season."

    2012 Australian national champion told Cyclingnews that the new kit would make the team stand out from their rival teams. "As a first impression I really like it. I think...

  • African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team applying for Continental Licence

    The 2014 African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team kit
    Article published:
    January 07, 2014, 1:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    New riders and sponsors for the team in search of more success

    In just two years African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team (AWSCT) has grown from a concept to one of the best equipped and performing cycling teams in Australia’s domestic competition. 2014 is looking to be the biggest season yet for AWSCT who are set to take on the full National Road Series (NRS) calendar and potentially more as the team is awaiting confirmation of its application to register as a UCI Continental Team.

    Success would allow the team to compete in the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour and other UCI 2.1 events this year. Driven by a charter to develop young riders and to contribute to society beyond racing, a longer racing calendar, strengthened roster and new committed industry partners is hoped to provide the opportunities for achieving these aims.

    "It's with committed and passionate backers like African Wildlife Safaris CEO Stephen Cameron and progressive cycling industry heavyweights that cycling in Australia can thrive and strive to produce the next generation of professional racers," team manager and co-founder Steven Waite said.

    The 13-man 2014 AWSCT roster includes eight riders from 2013, Jeremy Cameron, Rhys Gillett, Jarryd Jones, Daniel Nelson, Zachary Quinn, James Rendall, Tyler Spurrell and Darcy Woolley. The five new signings for the team, Trevor Spencer, Jason Spencer, Nathan Elliot, Shaun O'Callaghan and Kyle Thompson, all join with the aim to build on the family-like bond and efficiency amongst the team which culminated in success in 2013.

    Over 50 global candidates applied for a 2014 berth, a sign of the progression of the NRS and the developing status of the AWSCT.

    Sports Director Joel Pearson welcomed the new signings as complementing the existing roster while adding depth and quality. "Jason and Trevor Spencer are proven race winners and both have an attacking style of racing and GC potential. Nathan Elliot is a...

  • Tinkoff-Saxo announce Tour Down Under team

    Most combative rider of stage 15 Nicki Sörensen (Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank).
    Article published:
    January 07, 2014, 1:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    FDJ and Astana also confirm riders for season opener

    Three more rosters have been confirmed for the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under with Tinkoff-Saxo, and Astana announcing their teams for the first WorldTour race of the year. Danish dual Grand Tour stage winner Nicki Sorensen will headline the seven-man Tinkoff-Saxo roster in his fourth appearance at the race. The Tour Down Under will be the debut for Tinkoff-Saxo who were previously known as Saxo-Tinkoff.

    Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said cycling fans can expect a strong performance from the Danish team."Tinkoff-Saxo is bringing an exciting roster to the Tour Down Under and Australia will be well represented with Jay McCarthy and Rory Sutherland," Turtur said.

    "Aussie cyclists are always the crowd favourites here in Adelaide so it is fantastic to see McCarthy and Sutherland returning to the race."

    The Tinkoff-Saxo team competing at the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under, led by manager Guidi Fabrizio, includes: Nicki Sorensen, Jay McCarthy, Michael Andersen, Nicolay Trusov, Christopher Juul Jensen, Michael Kolar and Rory Sutherland. pinning hopes on Veikkanen
    Finnish national road race champion, Jussi Veikkanen, returns to Adelaide with hoping to improve upon his tenth place overall in 2013. Veikkanen will be a strong contender for the Ochre Jersey and Turtur believes he will have good support from his experienced French teammates. 

    " always bring a competitive team to the Tour Down Under and this the year their focus will be on supporting Veikkanen in his bid for the Ochre Jersey," Turtur said. will make their ninth appearance at the Tour Down Under in 2014. Yvon Madiot will lead the team from the car throughout the race which includes the following riders: William Bonnet, Arnaud Corteille, Kenny Elissonde, Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier, Anthony Roux, Geoffrey Soupe and Jussi Veikkanen.

  • Spain sees WorldTour representation drop in 2014

    Alejandro Valverde had to settle for second
    Article published:
    January 07, 2014, 10:43 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Valverde: “There’s talk of a crisis, but other riders will come through"

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has played down fears that Spain’s big drop in representation in the 2014 UCI WorldTour will lead to one of cycling’s top nations suffering a large scale decrease in its relevance in the sport.

    Compared with 2013, Spain has dropped from 55 to 33 riders in the WorldTour, the most significant decrease for any nation, while the average age of Spanish WorldTour pros is 30.5, the highest of any country. Valverde, Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez are all in their thirties, as is Samuel Sanchez, the former Olympic road-race winner who is yet to find a team for 2014.

    Speaking to sports daily AS, Valverde pointed out that the “disappearance of Euskaltel-Euskadi has left a lot of riders out of the WorldTour,” but predicted a new wave of Spanish riders would soon begin to make their mark.

    “There’s talk of a crisis, but we should expect more new riders to come through. I’ve been lucky enough to belong to a generation of Spanish riders that will be very hard to see again [in terms of their success].

    “But there are new riders, coming through. Like Rubén Fernández, winner of the [2013] Tour de L’Avenir. I hope Movistar sign him.”

    While Euskaltel-Euskadi’s disappearance has hit Spanish cycling hard, leaving Movistar as the only WorldTour team, the delay in the arrival of the new Fernando Alonso-backed squad from 2014 to 2015 has also had an impact.

    However, it remains to be seen whether the Formula 1 star’s new cycling squad, which presumably will have a large percentage of Spanish riders, actually starts life in the WorldTour or as a ProContinental...

  • Tour Méditerranéen announce 20 teams and route

    Thomas Lövkvist (IAM Cycling) wins the Tour Med
    Article published:
    January 07, 2014, 12:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    One day removed from race schedule

    The Tour Méditerranéen organisers have announced the 20 teams that will take part in this year’s race.

    Defending champions IAM cycling will return to the race. Thomas Löfkvist finished on the same time as AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Peraud, but was awarded victory after he finished ahead of the Frenchman on the final stage.

    AG2R-La Mondiale will also be present on the start line, with six other WorldTour teams. French teams, FDJ and Europcar will line-up alongside BMC, Argos-Shimano, Trek Factory Racing and Katusha. The number of WorldTour teams has dropped from eleven last year and nine the year before that.

    In addition to IAM, there will be seven more Pro Continental teams. Cofidis, Bretagne-Séché Environment, CCC Polsat, Androni Giocattoli and Colombia make their return to the event. With Bardiani CSF and Caja Rural making their debut in the race.

    The drop in top-level teams means that there is more space for the Continental teams, of which there is five. Raleigh, Wallonie Bruxelles and Roubaix-Lille Metropole get the nod with La Pomme Marseille and Big-Mat Auber 93.

    This year’s race begins a week later and with one day less than last year on February 13, in Angles sur Mer and finishes on the 16th, in Toulon. There will still be five stages with a 63km open road stage and a time trial on the penultimate day. The finish on Mont Faron has been moved to the final day, leaving it all to play for in the general classification.

    Tour Méditerranéen 2014 stages:

    Stage 1 – Thursday 13 February: Argeles sur Mer – Montagnac, 196.3km
    Stage 2 – Friday 14 February: Cadolive – Rousset, 170.6km
    Stage 3 – Saturday 15 February: Lambesc – St...

  • Bettini ready for role with Fernando Alonso's team

    2007 Worlds: A none-too-subtle Paolo Bettini (Italy) takes aim at his critics as he wins his second straight road world championship in Stuttgart, Germany
    Article published:
    January 07, 2014, 13:17 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Former world champion explains why he resigned as Italian coach

    Paolo Bettini is in Madrid on Tuesday, ready to begin a new chapter of his career in professional cycling. After a successful racing career that included two world titles and a haul of major Classic victories, followed by four years as Italian national coach, Bettini is expected to be given a key role in the creation of Fernando Alonso's new team, which will debut in 2015.

    Bettini has refused to give away any details on the new project but is expected to become a team manager, responsible for the technical and performance aspects of the team. It seems Alonso was impressed with the way Bettini ran the Italian national team and offered the Tuscan an opportunity that was too good to turn down.

    "It all happened really quickly. We'd talked a little bit but it all happened and came to life between December and Christmas. It felt like a great train was passing by and so I decided to jump on it," Bettini tells Cyclingnews in an exclusive interview.

    Bettini will be 40 on April 1 and six years after retiring from racing, he feels ready to make a comeback to day-to-day life at the top level.

    "I've always made important decision about my career after speaking to my family," Bettini explained.

    "I'm going to be very busy and I’ll be back on the road but after plenty of time at home, my wife and I agreed it was time to do something new. I'll be 40 in the spring and the idea that I'm getting 'old' in some way made me want to get going again and take on a new challenge.

    "I feel like I'm making a comeback in the peloton in some kind of way or preparing for a new world championships. We'll be starting from scratch and building something special. It's an innovative, ambitious project. That's what convinced me to accept the role, to...

  • Scarponi: I don't want to talk about Ferrari anymore

    Michele Scarponi in his new Astana jersey
    Article published:
    January 07, 2014, 14:50 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian on Lampre impasse and landing on his feet at Astana

    A year ago, his reputation was so toxic that he was barred from participating in the Lampre-Merida team’s official photo shoot, but on Wednesday, Michele Scarponi will take centre stage in Brescia as the 2014 Astana team is presented to the world. It’s a funny old game, cycling.

    After serving a three-month ban in late 2012 for his links to Dr. Michele Ferrari, Lampre continued to withhold Scarponi from racing and training camps once the 2013 season began, at the apparent behest of new bike supplier Merida.

    Scarponi insisted that his relationship with Ferrari had been limited to just two days of testing in September 2010, although when handing down his sanction, the Italian Olympic Committee made a point of stressing that it would revisit the case if further details were to emerge from the ongoing Padova-based doping inquiry.

    In spite of that apparent sword of Damocles, however, an agreement was eventually brokered with Lampre that saw Scarponi return to action by late February. He would go on to finish the Giro d’Italia in 4th place overall, represent Italy at the world championships and, by year’s end, secure a deal with Astana that will see him lead their squad at the Giro and flank Vincenzo Nibali at the Tour de France.

    “Let’s say that it was quite a cold winter, but when I sat down and spoke with the management, we resolved everything,” Scarponi told Cyclingnews recently of the impasse at Lampre at the beginning of 2013.

    “It was one of those moments....