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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Date published:
May 14, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Nibali awaits Sky's Colombian offensive

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) rides through stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    May 13, 2013, 16:15 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Astana rider tranquillo at rest day press conference

    After measuring his efforts well during the first week of the Giro d'Italia, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) measured his words carefully during his rest day press conference in Cimetta di Codogné on Monday. While Nibali said that he anticipates attacks from Sky's Colombian riders Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran, he refused to rule their leader Bradley Wiggins out of the running for final overall victory.

    Nibali, who took the maglia rosa after Saturday's time trial to Saltara, must now strike a careful balance over the remainder of the Giro, defending his 29-second overall lead where necessary and extending it where possible. Easier said than done, and the Sicilian anticipates the first major attacks on his overall lead to come on the climb of the Altopiano del Montasio when hostilities resume on Tuesday.

    "Certainly, the team that above all is going to go on the attack is Sky," Nibali said. "In Uran and Henao, they have two riders who I don't think are just going to sit there watching. [Michele] Scarponi and Cadel Evans are up there on GC too and they're going well. They're the most dangerous rivals along with Wiggins."

    The state of Wiggins' form, or more precisely, his morale, is one of the great conundrums of this Giro. The Englishman has looked uneasy on descents since crashing on the way down the San Silvestro on stage 7, and Nibali believes the problem is mental than rather than technical.

    "It's not that he's a debutant, I think his problem is that the hard descents have been wet," Nibali said. "There must certainly be a plausible explanation, maybe an old crash. I've had some problems myself with wet descents in the past."

    Nibali poured cold water on the possibility of eliminating Wiggins from contention on the treacherous...

  • Wiggins convinced he can still win the Giro d'Italia

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) escapes a fallen Movistar rider during the heavy rain
    Article published:
    May 13, 2013, 17:25 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton upbeat despite a difficult first week

    Despite a difficult first week of crashes, set backs and lost time, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is still convinced he can win the Giro d'Italia.

    Wiggins is currently 1:16 behind race leader and big rival Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He conceded that the rain-soaked descents have been a problem and revealed he has some minor injuries but believes that Nibali is beatable.

    "I think so, even if it's going to be a mammoth task now but not impossible," he said during a rest day press conference in Treviso.

    "During the last two Grand Tours I've done with Nibali, he's had some bad day in the mountains. I beat him by 6:19 in the Tour last year. The Giro is a lot different to the Tour, but we put time into him on the mountains."

    "He's the best I've ever seen him but the Giro is his to lose now. 1:15 is a lot in the Tour, but not so much in the Giro, as we've seen in the past. I think the only danger now, is that some of those bigger climbs, the Galibier the Gavia, won't be passable if the weather stays as it is. If we lose one or two of them, it'll play into other people's hands. One thing's for sure though, the gap won't stay at 1:15 in Brescia."

    Wiggins accepted he will have to change his race strategy and perhaps even go on the attack.

    "Yeah, but not be reckless," he said.

    "It's about biding your time, be calculating and being good every day. Maybe you take 20 seconds one day and 12 on another. You saw how Ryder won last year by limiting his loses to Rodriguez each time. It's not like that I can drop him (Nibali) tomorrow, but maybe if he's isolated in 10 days time and his team have been riding for 10 days, you might be able to distance him. We did that in the Tour last year going over the Télégraphe and then on the rise...

  • DCM will not renew with Vacansoleil beyond 2013

    The Vacansoleil - DCM team
    Article published:
    May 13, 2013, 18:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Secondary sponsor finishes contract this season

    WorldTour team Vacansoleil-DCM has announced that secondary sponsor DCM has decided not to extend their sponsorship beyond 2013. The Belgian fertilizer company signed a three-year deal in 2010 but informed the team’s management that this would be their final season.

    The team are currently searching for a main sponsor for next season with Vacansoleil’s current contract also set the expire.

    “DCM never had the intention to be on WorldTour level for a really long period. They were looking for an ambitious Pro Continental team which was able to go into the WorldTour after two years,” team manager Daan Luijkx.

    “After that, their final goal was to be at the highest level for three years. In those three years, they did some great things to activate the sponsorship and they gained brand awareness in several important countries for their business. In a way you can say we succeeded too fast.”

    In March, Luijkx told Cyclingnews that "We are busy with the investigation and we'll wait for all the results and then we'll make a statement. I don't know how long it will take but it could take weeks," but the team have yet to secure a title sponsor for next season. It hasn't helped that they've had to defend Juan Antonio Flecha over allegations in the Dutch press that the Spaniard was part a client of Dr. Fuentes, or that the team launched their own investigation into José Rujano.

    Koen Feyaerts, who was responsible for the cycling sponsorship within DCM, believes the future of the team is bright. “The steps the team made since it was founded in 2009 are impressive. The first three years in the WorldTour were an amazing teaching class for them. I believe that at the moment the team organisation is ready for the next step forward. With a dedicated budget this team has it all to be among the sub-top in...

  • Saiz: The best thing to do is forget

    Saiz (r) and former Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc clashed at times about the approach against doping.
    Article published:
    May 13, 2013, 19:30 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Former ONCE boss says he might return to cycling after being cleared in Puerto trial

    In his first interview since being cleared of a crime against public health at the conclusion of the Operation Puerto trial two weeks ago, former ONCE and Liberty Seguros team boss Manolo Saiz has described himself as much sadder man than he was before the Puerto investigation started in 2006. Asked about his next move, he said “the best thing I can do is forget and move on”.

    Speaking on Spanish national radio, Saiz declared, “Nobody can return what has been taken from me”, explaining that he has sometimes struggled to deal with his situation over the past seven years. “You know you are doing something very well but you voluntarily step away from it until the truth comes out and as that ends up taking such a long time you end up alone… and you’re not even the same person. In this case, you’re not the same Manolo that you were before.”

    He went on to describe himself “more subdued, thoughtful, much more insecure and affected in many other ways”. He admitted the extensive media coverage had impacted on him, saying the Puerto case created more headlines than terrorist activities and political corruption. “But you just have to accept it and turn the page,” he said.

    Now 53, Saiz believes he still has time to return to some kind of role within sport and, “if something suitable turns up”, perhaps even cycling. In his opinion, he added, the world of cycling “is in exactly the same position as every other sport”, explaining “there are many more good people in it than bad.”

  • Savoldelli: Wiggins' problem on descents is fear, not material

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) lost contact with the front group in the stage 4 finale
    Article published:
    May 13, 2013, 21:12 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian on difference between Giro and Tour descents

    Nicknamed "Il Falco" (the Falcon) for the descending skills that carried him to the maglia rosa in both 2002 and 2005, few have better credentials than Paolo Savoldelli to analyse Bradley Wiggins' tentative performances on the Giro d'Italia's descents to date.

    When Wiggins crashed on the descent of San Silvestro on stage 7, everything from poor biomechanics to over-inflated tyres were cited as possible explanations, and after another stilted downhill showing on stage 9, Eddy Merckx went so far as to say that the Sky man had descended "like a novice" and questioned his choice of equipment.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews near Pordenone on the Giro's rest day, Savoldelli was careful to prefix his comments by stressing that it was difficult to assess the situation definitively without speaking to Wiggins personally, but said that he felt the Englishman had simply lost his nerve.

    "It seems that he got a scare because he fell at a point where they weren't even descending quickly," Savoldelli said. "Even on the straights you could see that he was going very slowly, he wasn't pedalling and you could see that he was really afraid.

    "On top of that, being tall is certainly no advantage on descents and even tall riders who are good descenders can struggle from having a higher centre of gravity. That said, you can tell from looking at him that he was really afraid on those descents."

    Recovering one's confidence as a descender is a timely process at the best of times, and as far as Savoldelli is concerned, the damage has already been done: Wiggins' rivals at the Giro have detected a chink in his armour and will seek it to exploit it mercilessly.

    "Wiggins was a little bit better on Sunday because at least when he came out of the...

  • Degenkolb abandons the Giro d'Italia

     John Degenkolb (Argos - Shimano)
    Article published:
    May 13, 2013, 22:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Fatigue takes its toll on stage 5 winner

    Giro d'Italia stage 5 winner John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) abandoned the Italian Grand Tour on Monday, the race's first rest day.

    "Before the Giro I said that I always want to finish a race, especially the Giro d'Italia, but not at all costs," said Degenkolb.

    "It was the goal of my team and myself to start this race in top form, and we succeeded in doing so. After a very long and intensive block of racing from the beginning of February onward, I feel that it's getting really hard to recover. The first week in this Giro turned out to be very challenging and we also faced difficult weather conditions. This has had an impact on my body, and I am simply not fit anymore."

    Although disappointed to withdraw from this year's Giro, Degenkolb is optimistic about future editions.

    "I have to admit I am still very young, and I know that I will get stronger every year, so I have to swallow my pride and do what's best for my body. Together with the team we have decided that I will travel home to recover first and then start working toward the next goals. I'm proud to leave this beautiful race with a stage win. I will come back here."

    "Our tactic remains the same," said sports manager Addy Engels. "With Luka Mezgec, we have another strong finisher on board, and we will keep racing offensively - like we did yesterday, with young Tobias Ludvigsson riding a brilliant race and finishing fourth among the best riders, and also in the long and hard time trial, with Patrick Gretsch coming in 13th."

    "I hope the remaining seven riders - Cheng Ji left the race after an illness - are able to make it to the end and develop themselves during these three...

  • Vandenbergh drops out of Tour of California with knee injury

    Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) leads the way
    Article published:
    May 13, 2013, 23:08 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Aldag looking into spate of knee problems in team

    The Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team has had an unusual number of injuries this season, the latest causing Classics stand-out Stijn Vandenbergh to drop out of the Tour of California.

    The lanky Belgian threw in the towel on the first climb of Stage 1 on Mesa Grande Road after nursing a flare-up of an old knee injury in the week leading up to the event.

    Rolf Aldag, who is acting as a technical liaison between the riders and equipment sponsors, is making sure there is no link between the injuries of Vandenbergh, Zdenek Stybar and Tom Boonen - all of whom has had knee pain in the past month.

    Stybar underwent surgery at the beginning of May for his injury, and is off the bike for three weeks. Boonen's problems were caused by a series of crashes, the worst of which came in the Tour of Flanders, when he ran into a street sign.

    "Even though Boonen's problems were clearly caused by the crash, and Vandenbergh has had surgery on that same knee in the past, we are checking everything about their set-ups just to be sure," Aldag told Cyclingnews. "Even so we will check the insoles, the shoes, the cleats - everything about the set up."

    Vandenbergh's problems may have been exacerbated by the hundreds of kilometers he spent in breakaways during the Classics season. The 29-year-old scored the team's top results of the Classics, taking second in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He will now focus on getting his knee back to normal rather than jeopardize the remainder of the...

  • Former cyclist Philippe Gaumont dies

    Philippe Gaumont in 2004
    Article published:
    May 18, 2013, 8:51 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman loses battle

    Former French cyclist Philippe Gaumont has die.. The 40-year-old suffered a heart attack at his home in Lens, in the north of France last month and had been in a coma since.

    L'Equipe reported the news of his passing.

    Gaumont raced as a professional between 1994 and 2004 and also won a bronze medal in the team time trial event at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. After retirement, he opened a brasserie and has rarely been seen at races.

    Last month, Gaumont gave evidence to the French Senate commission investigating doping in sport.

    Cyclingnews would like to extend its deepest sympathies to Gaumont's family and friends.