Edwin Avila makes returns after successful track world championships
With a wildcard place assured for May's Giro d'Italia, Team Colombia's preparation for the first grand tour of 2014 continues with two races this week. Claudio Corti’s team have had a run of solid performances over the last few weeks and continue their European odyssey at Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali and then the ASO's Critérium International.
Having recently won another world championships on the track, Edwin 'El Kalimeno' Avila will make his return to the road at the Italian race while fellow track specialist Juan Esteban Arango also returns. Avilla's last race for Colombia was at the Tour de San Luis.
Also in the line-up will be five riders who have shown their good form recently and will be looking to give their very best in the Italian stage race: Miguel Angel Rubiano, Jarlinson Pantano, Juan Pablo Valencia, Carlos Julian Quintero and Duber Quintero.
Tipped as next big thing by team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston
Avanti Racing Team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston has an eye for talent and clearly knows a good cyclist when he sees one. Since co-founding the Australian UCI Continental team in 2000 under the name Praties – and later Genesys Wealth Advisors – with fellow Tasmanian Steve Price, who still serves as the team's directeur sportif, Christie-Johnston has rostered not just some of the nation's best, but rather some of the world's very best cyclists.
The likes of Sky's Richie Porte and Nathan Earle, and Garmin-Sharp's Nathan Haas and Steele von Hoff have all climbed their way through the ranks of one of Avanti's previous incarnations en route to headlining the WorldTour stage. Now, according to Christie-Johnston, the world of professional cycling may just soon add New Zealand's Joe Cooper to that illustrious lineage.
"At 28-years-of-age, Joe is just starting to reach his prime," Christie-Johnston told Cyclingnews. "How he has slipped through the cracks is beyond me, but if a pro team signed him for just a two-year contract, it would be the best signing because there is no one in Australia or New Zealand any better – I've had no one better."
Top five in team classification season goal for Western Australian outfit
On the eve of the opening National Road Series (NRS) race of 2014, Tour de Perth, team manager of Satalyst Giant Racing Team, Wayne Evans, spoke to Cyclingnews about the upcoming season, team targets and riders to watch.
This is the first in what will be a regular series of articles on NRS teams to feature on Cyclingnews.
Cyclingnews: How has your preparation been for the start of 2014 NRS series? We've just had a training camp on over the weekend which was about bringing the boys together and the task at hand and just fine tuning their training but really, all the hard work has been done, so I think we’re in reasonable shape. A lot of the guys did the [Australian] nationals and some of them did the Bay Crits [both in January] and the local racing over here in Western Australia has been pretty active and the team itself is composed of guys from all over Australia so we've had a series of approaches to get ready for the Tour de Perth.
We'll miss Michael Fitzgerald out of our line up, he's out with a sickness, other than that we should be able to battle on and be a big part of the bike race and certainly have a say in it.
CN:How do you decide on your team roster? What processes do you go through in recruiting riders? The recruiting process for me starts throughout the year and by the end of September-October of last year, I'd pretty much nutted down most of my roster for this season and we're looking again for next year with up-and-coming juniors from Western Australia as well as guys on the eastern seaboard and keeping an eye on talent that's going to be available and keen to race as part of a NRS team.
In terms of how I select for the team itself, being the Tour de Perth, we have a WA sponsor and we are very mindful of trying to make our team heavily focused with WA riders...
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) will make his return to racing on Wednesday at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. The Belgian Classics specialist missed last weekend’s Milan-San Remo for personal reasons but his team believes that Wednesday’s race will be an ideal test for the rider ahead of the main objectives this spring.
"It will be the first race for Tom after Paris-Nice," sports director Wilfried Peeters said according to Sporza. "It will be a good test to see how far the state of his condition at this time is."
"But it's about more than just Tom Boonen in our selection. We bring a strong squad to the start."
Omega Pharma-QuickStep have won Doors Door Vlaanderen twice in the last few years with Kevin Van Impe winning in 2009 and Niki Terpstra soloing clear in 2012. The year’s edition will be Boonen’s first race since Paris-Nice, where he picked up two top-ten placings. He has already tasted victory this season with a win in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne last month.
Terpstra is also set to start the race on Wednesday along with Andrew Fenn, Iljo Keisse, Gert Steegmans, Stijn Vandenbergh, Nikolas Maes, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, and Stijn Vandenbergh. Boonen is a previous winner of the event, having won in 2007 and finishing third in 2009.
"The weather is good and we look forward to this tough event,” added Peeters.
“This opens up the cobbled classics in Belgium again and it is an important preparation for the upcoming races."
Spaniard has no doubt about British rival’s intentions in Catalunya
Tinkoff-Saxo's Alberto Contador has stated categorically that he believes that Chris Froome (Team Sky) is racing in the Volta a Catalunya with no other intention but winning.
"If Froome is here, it’s because he wants to win," Contador told Spanish newspaper MARCA on Tuesday. "Last year he already showed that he only went to races if he could win them."
"Ok, he couldn't do Tirreno-Adriatico" - because of a lower back injury - "but a little while back he said he’d been training hard and I'm sure he’s totally concentrated on getting the overall win. On top of that, he’s got a really good team with him for the mountain stages. I'm sure he’s come here thinking of winning."
Contador - together with Froome and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) are the top favourite for the Catalan race - was more conservative about his own chances. Speaking in the third person singular when asked if "Alberto Contador was here to win too?" he replied, "no, Alberto's come here to take things day by day, even if he'll fight to win, he's very aware the best riders in the international peloton are taking part, and they all want to win too. What I can guarantee is that this will be a very exciting race."
Contador himself has said he has eased back considerably in the last week after Tirreno-Adriatico, doing a minimum of training given he completed the Italian race -which he won with two spectacular stage wins - feeling more tired than he had expected.
"Every race is different," he insisted, when asked by MARCA if fans should expect a similar performance to his dominating rides in the mountains in the 'Race of Two Seas.' "You start from zero all over again. On paper, I've got good form, but I want to see how I've recovered from Tirreno first and there are many more...
Alessandro Ballan has lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the two-year suspension he was handed by the Italian Olympic Committee in January for a blood doping violation.
Ballan’s infraction dates from the spring of 2009 and was first revealed by phone taps carried out by police during the Mantova-based investigation into the activities of pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and his links with the Lampre team.
During a hearing in Rome in January, Ballan claimed that he had not had a performance-enhancing blood transfusion in 2009, but had undergone ozone therapy in order to treat cytomegalovirus. CONI’s anti-doping tribunal rejected his argument, however, and banned him from competition until January 2016.
“I underwent ozone therapy at the time, but I was ill and I had been withheld from racing for 45 days by my team doctor,” Ballan told Tuttobici on Tuesday, confirming his appeal to CAS. “I’ll only say that the penalty inflicted on me is an enormity. I know that right is on my side and above all, I still believe in sporting justice.”
Ballan was the reigning world champion in 2009 but missed the classics and Giro d’Italia, citing cytomegalovirus. He returned to action in time to win the Tour of Poland in the summer, and then signed for BMC for the 2010 season.
Ballan’s implication in the Mantova inquiry was first made public in April 2010, and he was briefly withheld from racing by BMC on that occasion and once again in May 2011, when it was first publicly alleged that he had undergone a blood transfusion.
BMC terminated Ballan’s contract in January of this year following CONI’s decision to sanction him for a doping offence.
The Italian will be 36 years old by the time his ban comes to an end in 2016, but he told...
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will get his first taste of the cobbles this season at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. With many of the Tour de France favourites riding the Volta a Catalunya this week, Valverde is the only one who will line up in these early cobbled classics.
The Belgian semi-classic will be the first time that Valverde has raced on the cobbles in his career, as he has favoured the tarmac of the Ardennes Classics. With the Tour de France taking on the formidable pavé this season the Spaniard is looking to get a taste of it before July.
With his inexperience on the pavé, Valverde will not be one of the big favourites in a line-up that includes the likes of Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and recent Milan-San Remo victor Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Valverde will be guided through the race by Francisco Ventoso, Alex Dowsett and Imanol Erviti, who all rode both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix last year.
Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut includes 15.4km of pavé and takes on part of the Paris-Roubaix route. The riders will have to tackle the five starred Carrefour de l’Arbe and Mons-en-Pévèle along with seven other sections of pavé. The cobbles are set to bring an element of uncertainty to the opening week of the race, and may cause some trouble for the favourites.
Cobbles last featured in the 2010 Tour de France and spelled the end of some contender’s chances. Frank Schleck crashed out while a puncture meant that Lance Armstrong was...
When the Specialized Shiv burst onto the scene it was widely regarded as one of the most revolutionary time trial bikes of the last decade. Since then revolution has been replaced by evolution with the American-based manufacturer working closely with a number of high profile riders to tweak and improve their bike’s design and performance.
Three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is one such athlete. The German, who helped steer his team to victory in the team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this month, took the time to talk to inCycle about the Specialized Shiv.
The bike remains similar to the 2013 model, with one notable change in that the German powerhouse has swapped 10-speed SRAM Red for the new 11-speed version, meaning he’s got some extra teeth to combine with his preference for massive chainrings.
Martin’s set-up remains identical to last year, though another departure from last year’s World Championship-winning bike is a reversion to Specialized Turbo tyres, not prototype TT clinchers.
In this exclusive video brought to you by inCycle TV, Martin talks about the Shiv and what, for him, makes it such a special machine.
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