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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Date published:
March 18, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Betancur wants white jersey at the Tour de France

    Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) in the maillot jaune at Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 12:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Paris-Nice winner still ambitious in 2014

    Fresh from winning Paris-Nice, Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has his sights set on next month’s Ardennes classics and then on landing the white jersey of best young rider in his debut Tour de France in July.

    Last season, Betancur claimed the best young rider classification when he finished 5th overall at the Giro d’Italia, and the 24-year-old will aim to replicate that feat when he lines up at the Tour.

    "This is a real morale boost ahead of the classics," Betancur said. "The rest of my programme for the season culminates with the Tour de France, where I have real ambitions.

    "I think it's the biggest race in the world. When I was young, I always wanted to watch it, inspired by [Lance] Armstrong and [Santiago] Botero. I've done the Giro d'Italia twice; it's an important and hard race, but it's every rider’s wish to go to the Tour because that's where you graduate. The white jersey is a dream and I'm going to work very hard to get it."

    Betancur claimed Paris-Nice in impressive fashion, winning back-to-back stages at Rive-de-Gier and on the uphill finish at Fayence, and then defending his yellow jersey confidently over the weekend.

    Although he began the season some way short of his best condition and in excess of his ideal weight at the Tour de San Luis, Betancur was quickly up to speed once he arrived in Europe. Last month, he claimed a stage and the overall at the Tour du Haut-Var, and he now joins Simon Gerrans atop the WorldTour standings following his Paris-Nice triumph.

    "He's a winner, he's a killer," Betancur’s...

  • Paolo Bettini working hard to build Team Alonso

    Paolo Bettini chats with Fernando Alonso at the 2013 road cycling world championships in Italy
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 14:08 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Boasson Hagen among riders linked to new team

    Paolo Bettini was spotted talking to several riders at the start of stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico and confirmed he is working hard on building Fernando Alonso's team for a debut in the WorldTour in 2015.

    Before the peloton rolled out of Bucchianico, Bettini talk intensely to Peter Sagan for several minutes. He also crossed paths with Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and stage 2 winner Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling).

    "I'm working but I'm also saying hello to lots of friends," Bettini said with wry smile when confronted by journalists present at the race.

    The former two-time world champion is expected to be the technical manager of the new team, with Alonso's agent Luis Garcia Abad acting as the team manager and licence holder. Rumours have suggested that the team will have a sponsor from the Middle East and rapidly become one of the biggest teams in the peloton.

    "We're busy working because January 1st is getting close. We're working on what is a great project. I'm discovering more about it every day," Bettini said.

    "We're working to build a great team and we'll see the results at the end of 2015. We're convinced you can win big races with new riders.

    "I can't say much more. It'll be Fernando who'll do the talking. I've got to focus on getting the work done. He'll give more details when it’s the right moment."

    Bettini hinted that the right moment could come later this week.

    "I think there'll be an announcement soon. It's a matter of a few days," he said.

    "They've got to finalise a few details. But I think everything will be revealed before the big Classics."

    Big name riders under target

    Bettini is using...

  • Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid cancelled for 2014

    Final jersey holders of the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid.
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 15:57 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spanish one-day race folds due to sponsorship funds

    Spain’s dwindling stock of one-day races has taken another hit after the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid organisers announced on Monday that they will be cancelling the capital’s only top road racing event this year.

    A press release on the website of the Madrid Cycling Federation, which organised the race, blamed the Spanish recession - the worst in over 50 years and which has poleaxed numerous other cycling and sporting events - and pointed out that as a stage race, it had already gradually been reduced in length, from five days to one.

    Formerly an amateur stage race, the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid had run both as an under 23 event (although the future of that event also now hangs in the balance), and since 2006 as a professional race, currently classified 1.1. It effectively acted as a replacement for the better-known and much more longstanding Vuelta a los Puertos race, which ended in 2008. Rui Costa in 2010 is amongst Madrid’s best-known former winners, and last year the victory went to Javier Moreno of Movistar.

    Another Spanish one-day race, the GP Miguel Indurain, was recently on the point of folding because of a lack of funds but finally was saved by a last-minute sponsorship agreement, and Fernández Alba is hopeful that they will be able to do the same with the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid as and when Spain’s economy finally recovers.

    "We hope that once this infamous recession is over or its effects lessen we will be able to turn things around and re-organize the race once more," he said. "This isn't a 'goodbye,' it’s a 'see you later.'"

  • Cavendish savours Omega Pharma-Quick Step's success at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) on the podium after winning stage 6 at Tirreno-Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 17:26 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Manxman motivated for a possible last shot at Milan-San Remo

    Mark Cavendish enjoyed one of his easiest ever sprint victories at Tirreno-Adriatico but considered his success as something special because of the perfect lead-out produced by his Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates.

    While Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) struggled on the late climb and Andre Greipel's Lotto Belisol lead-out derailed on the slick final corner, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step steamrolled to victory, with no one able to hold onto or challenge the five OPQS riders after the late spill. Cavendish jumped away in the final metres to win ahead of Alessandro Petacchi. Omega Pharma-Quick Step arguably deserved to fill the first positions.

    "I'm super, super happy," Cavendish said in the winner's press conference. "We'll celebrate tonight and hopefully get another win with our two massive engines Tony Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski tomorrow."

    "All the team was fabulous in the finale. We didn’t go too early; Tony went at the front with four kilometres to go, then Kwiatkowski took us into the last corner, then it was Matteo Trentin, Renshaw, Petacchi and then myself."

    Cavendish explained how the evolution and specialization of some teams in recent years has made it harder for Omega Pharma-Quick Step to win sprints and target the overall classification in races like Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de France. He claimed they are still successful due to the special team spirit in the Belgian squad.

    "Omega Pharma-Quick Step is a super strong team but not only in the legs. We're a super group of friends at dinner and on the bus. We just say 'Lets go out and race our bikes'. There's no pressure. We just want to do well. I...

  • Degenkolb backed for Milan-San Remo by Giant-Shimano

    John Degenkolb
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 18:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    German sprinter in form after Paris-Nice

    John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) heads into Milan-San Remo with the full backing of his team after he secured a stage win and the points jersey at Paris-Nice.

    "These long races really suit me," said Degenkolb. "I had a good week's preparation in Paris - Nice and am happy with my form. Winning a stage and taking the green jersey there was good for the confidence, and I am really looking forward to Sunday."

    Degenkolb was fifth in Milan-San Remo in 2012 and backed that up with a top 15 place last year. The much publicised route change with the exclusion of the Pompeiana and return to a more familiar parcours that includes the Poggio and Cipressa suit the German sprinter. As well as his strong sprint the 25-year-old has the ability to remain in contention over the longest one day races, a shown with his fourth place finish in the 2012 Worlds.

    "We have a really strong line-up for this race and the guys have shown in both Paris - Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico that they are riding well," said the team’s coach, Marc Reef.

    "John will be the absolute leader for us and we have the guys to support him. The goal is to get the best possible result, and after a fifth place two years ago we have to try for more."

    Giant-Shimano will race without Marcel Kittel after he confirmed that he would skip Milan-San Remo despite the course change favouring the sprinters.

    Degenkolb will be supported by a powerful squad including Simon Geschke who finished second to Alberto Contador on stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico,

    Full Giant-Shimano team for Milan-San Remo: Roy Curvers, John Degenkolb, Dries Devenyns, Simon Geschke, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg,...

  • Cannondale downplays rumours regarding Sagan's future

    Peter Sagan celebrates his stage win
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 20:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Title sponsor affirms long-term commitment to pro cycling

    As the rumour mill regarding the fate of Peter Sagan and the Cannondale team for 2015 and beyond has been a hot topic in recent weeks, with the Slovakian champion linked to Tinkoff-Saxo as well as the burgeoning Fernando Alonso project, the global general manager of Cannondale, Bob Burbank, addressed the issue of the bicycle manufacturer's place in professional cycling, insisting the Italy-based WorldTour squad "is solid and our future in pro cycling as well."

    "Sometimes rumours become news without any foundation, and we're little surprised too to see so many links to our team," said Burbank. "We don't have, and we don't want, to comment. The strategy and the vision we have for the team is clear in our mind. All these voices don't afflict our work and our relation with the team.

    "Cannondale has been a sponsor of Pro Tour teams for 17 years, from 1997 with Saeco through today. We are committed to pro cycling for the long-term. Even if now we're focused on to take greatest results, everything we do we look at long term, and we're also looking at 2015 and beyond. These plans are inline with our long-term program and investment in the sport."

    Burbank spoke about Cannondale's recent role as sole title sponsor of a WorldTour squad.

    "In 2013, our first season as Cannondale Pro Cycling, we had incredible success. In 2014 we decided to take a bigger role in the team and acquired Brixia Sport because we strong believe in this project. Of course, we're always looking for like-minded partners that share the same values and goals for the team and the sport. The partnership with Sojasun is a great example. We will only partner with brands that will help to...

  • Irish eyes are smiling across the Tasman Sea

    Glenn O'Shea (Australia) is riding the Omnium.
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 22:40 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    An Post Chain Reaction serves as launch pad for Asia-Pacific cyclists

    There was no hoisting of a pint of Guinness on St Patrick's Day for team pursuit world track champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Glenn O'Shea today. The Australia-born 24-year-old may have Irish roots, but O'Shea is too busy training in Adelaide and preparing for his trip to Europe in April to rejoin his Belgium-based Irish Continental cycling team An Post Chain Reaction to celebrate.

    O'Shea, who won gold in the men's team pursuit with Luke Davison (23), Alex Edmondson (20), Mitchell Mulhern (23) and Miles Scotson (20) at the Track Worlds in Colombia last month, is not the only Australian lucky enough to find employment as a professional cyclist abroad, as he is joined by fellow countryman Robert-Jon McCarthy (19), as well as New Zealand's Shane Archbold (25) and former omnium world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Aaron Gate (23).

    "I have never been to Ireland," said O'Shea, who joined An Post Chain Reaction in 2013 following a brief stint with Garmin-Sharp at the World Port Classic and the Tour of Britain. "Last year when there were races in Ireland I was always away at races like the Tour of Belgium. This year, I will put my hands up and hopefully do a couple of races and have a look around."

    O'Shea told Cyclingnews that both he and Gate are fortunate to have An Post Chain Reaction on board with their ongoing track commitments that will see both of them race in Glasgow at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in July, and hopefully in Rio for a return to the Olympic Games in 2016.

    "An Post Chain Reaction were fantastic last year and this year with giving us the freedom of the track,"...

  • Yerlan Pernebekov dies after stroke in Ecuador

    Yerlan Pernebekov (Astana)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2014, 23:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Astana Continental rider had been at a team training camp

    Astana Pro Team have announced that 19-year-old Astana Continental Team rider Yerlan Pernebekov has died from a stroke after complaining of a severe headache while at a training camp. Pernebekov had finished his daily routine of training with the team and was immediately hospitalized after alerting staff to his heachaches at the dinner table.

    Astana medical staff explained that Yerlan suffered a burst blood vessel, which led to a stroke. Pernebekov was placed into an artificial coma and team trainer Vladimir Remyga never left his side. In spite of the best efforts by doctors and medical staff, Pernebekov never regained consciousness.

    Astana team management along with representatives from Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry are currently working to bring Pernebekov to Kazakhstan.

    Astana announced the death on their website expressing the condolences and sadness at the loss of the young rider.  

    "Astana Professional Cycling Team wishes to express its sincere grief to the family and loved ones of Yerlan Pernebekov – His death is an enormous loss not only to the team, but for all of Kazakh Cycling." 

    Pernebekov won the 2013 Asian Junior Road Race Championships and participated at last year's road world championships.

    "Yerlan will forever be remembered as a kind, sweet and hard-working young man who smiled through every challenge – He dreamed of great victories – Yerlan was the pride and joy of his family and friends," Astana posted on their website.

    His memory will forever remain in our hearts. Love – Remember – Mourn"