- Article published:
- November 19, 2012, 20:03
- Cycling News
Estonian finally hangs up his racing wheels
At the age of 43, Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu has finally made the decision to end his competitive career and join the Astana Pro Team for 2013 as a director. Previously one of the world's top sprinters, Kirsipuu is not moving to the team as a sprint coach, but rather as a competitive director.
However he still expects to be in the team car for the races which focus on the sprinters.
"The sprint team will still feature in my calendar at the beginning of the season, with Qatar and Oman, and then likely Flanders and the Belgian Classics," he told Postimees.ee.
The four-time Tour de France stage winner previously retired from racing in 2006, but wasn't able to step away completely. After a lengthy stint with AG2R, he left in 2005 to ride his final seasons with Crédit Agricole.
Following his retirement he kept competing in Estonia, winning two national titles before he returned to the professional ranks with the Malaysian team LeTua in 2009.
He spent the past three seasons with the Champion System squad.
Kirsipuu has already attended a pre-season camp with Astana in Italy after signing a one-year contract, where he was able to meet with his compatriot Tanel Kangert.
"I sat down with him and we put together two versions of how to approach the season," Kirsipuu said to Postimees.ee. "Tanel made his decision on which was correct, and I went to the managers and presented it."
- Article published:
- November 19, 2012, 20:57
- Ben Delaney
New Pro Conti team to test prototype machines
The new Swiss Professional Continental team IAM Cycling will race next season on Scott bikes. Scott and IAM Cycling announced their partnership Monday morning.
IAM Cycling will be based in Geneva, Switzerland, about 140km away from Scott's European headquarters in Givisiez. The close proximity will allow for quick feedback on prototype bikes Scott plans to test with the team. IAM Cycling general manager Michel Thétaz said he hopes IAM Cycling will eventually join cycling's elite WorldTour division.
"We are more than excited to work with IAM Cycling," said Scott Sports vice president Pascal Ducrot. "We believe in fostering young talent and working closely with our teams on product development. With Orica-GreenEdge and this new Swiss team riding for us, we are able to achieve these goals and push ourselves further than ever before."
IAM Cycling will race Scott's Foil in road races and the Plasma 3 for time trials. Both bikes have been aerodynamically engineered to reduce drag.
"On the bike the elements are always against you, with the wind trying to slow you or a climb trying to break you," Ducrot said. "For many years, time trial bikes, such as the as Plasma 3, have reaped the benefits of aerodynamics to beat the wind and now our Scott Foil maximizes the use of that technology on a road bike to get an advantage against the elements and the competition. Our aero science engineers have gone to great lengths to get the aerodynamics of the Foil perfect."
IAM Cycling was created by the Geneva asset management company Independent Asset Management. The 2013 squad includes riders such as Thomas Löfkvist, Heinrich Haussler and Johan Tschopp.
- Article published:
- November 19, 2012, 22:06
- Alasdair Fotheringham
France's top young stage racer says suspicion comes automatically with leading the Tour
France's top young stage racer, 22-year-old-Thibaut Pinot has told the newspaper L'Equipe that whilst he knows he has been beaten by dopers in the past, he can no longer use that as an excuse for not winning races.
"I know that some guys have beaten me because they were doped, but I can't take that as a valid excuse any longer," the FDJ-Big Mat rider told the French newspaper.
"I've beaten doped riders, and if I can beat some then I can beat others. That's what I tell myself. I no longer make a difference."
Asked by L'Equipe if being beaten by somebody about whom he has suspicions made him more angry, Pinot responded, "yes, but that's how it is.
"When I'm on the bike, I don't think about it, nor when I'm in the team bus after racing. It's more afterwards, when I tell myself I could have won this or that if...but I'm not sad either. You know the risks. You have to accept them."
Already tenth overall and a stage winner in the Tour de France at just 22, Pinot said one of the toughest things to handle was that there had never been so much talk about doping in the media when in fact he believed so little was actually going on.
"That's what is hard at the moment, but from the moment you have the yellow jersey in a Tour, whoever you are, there will be suspicion."
"If I have the yellow jersey, that suspicion will be there also. But for the moment I'm a long way from that. I have problems imagining myself in that situation, I've never asked myself that question:"
Looking at Lance Armstrong himself, Pinot was only nine when the American won his first Tour de France, back in 1999.
"I thought he was a machine," he said to L'Equipe. "I remember him overtaking [Sylvain] Chavanel and patting him on the shoulder" - in a mountain stage of the 2003 Tour de France. "[When you saw that] you told yourself they were worlds apart."
Pinot says he has never been offered a doping product. However, he accepts that even though he had nothing to do with that era, the heritage of that generation - the suspicion, the sweeping questions and generalisations about doping - continues to form part of the current landscape of professional cycling.
"We have to live with it, the history is there. The old guys haven't given us a present [with that], it's unfortunate for us. We will always have this image of the doped rider and to break away from that will be very hard."
Pinot found that out for himself when at the 2013 Tour presentation, when he was besieged by journalists asking questions about doping and he had no idea what to say. "We didn't talk about the bike, we talked about Armstrong [and] the rest was on a second level. I hope we are going to move onto a new chapter as soon as possible."
However, he believes that compared to other generations of clean riders, who had no choice but to race against those who were doped, he is luckier.
"I haven't the right to complain compared with the previous generation. They really lived through the time of the heavy-duty blood doping and with EPO, organised within the teams. Now I don't think that system really exists, nothing more than isolated cases. It's not the same doping. And above all I think there is ten, 20, thirty times less than ten years ago. That's why we can't complain. For racing at a high level, now, the conditions are really good."
- Article published:
- November 19, 2012, 23:05
- Cycling News
Euser, Irvine, Bazzana, Ilesic, Keough, Summerhill, Reijnen and Murphy join the blue train
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has confirmed eight new signings 2013, with the new roster set to include 21 riders from the USA and Europe.
The new signings include American Lucas Euser, Kiel Reijnen (Team Type 1), Danny Summerhill, Luke Keough (Smart Stop/Mtn. Khakis) and John Murphy (Kenda/5 Hour Energy) from the USA, Italy's Alessandro Bazzana, Aldo Ilesic (both Team Type 1) of Slovenia and Ireland's Martin Irvine (RTS).
The remaining 13 riders will be announced later this week.
“We are thrilled with the latest additions to our 2013 roster. These eight guys have tremendous talent and all bring something special to the table. In addition to being elite professional athletes, they are all high character guys who will represent our sponsors and our sport well both on and off the bike,” general manager and team director Mike Tamayo said in a press release.
“It is no secret we have high expectations for our Team and we are pleased to have a total of 21 riders who fit the bill and we believe can help us reach our goals.”
Euser joins UnitedHealthcare after two-year stint with Team SpiderTech, while Bazzana, Ilesic and Reijnan join from Team Type 1. Irvine represented Ireland in the 2012 London Olympics, competing in the Omnium event on the track. He will add further speed and power to the UnitedHealthCare sprint train.
- Article published:
- November 20, 2012, 00:10
- Pat Malach
UCI Athletes' Commission member details proposals from recent meeting
London Olympics bronze medalist Georgia Gould said after returning from last week's UCI Athletes' Commission that the state of women's cycling is good and getting better.
Although there is much work to be done, Gould said, women's cycling is currently riding a wave of momentum that has seen great strides over the last several seasons. The UCI's decision to offer equal prize money at the world championships, and USA Cycling's professionalization of the women's national championships, which next season will run in conjunction with the men's, are just two examples.
"Things are moving in the right direction," said Gould, who races in both mountain bike and cyclo-cross disciplines for the Luna Pro Team. "And it doesn't seem like, from everyone I've talked to, that there is much standing in the way of some pretty simple changes."
One of the major changes Gould and the Athletes' Commission endorsed is a UCI rule mandating that prize lists for all women's events should be equivalent to those for men's races. Gould sees that as a crucial step in improving the opportunities for women who want to have a professional career in cycling, and she believes the example set by promoters in the US cyclo-cross scene has gotten the UCI's attention.
"The US promoters have just blown me away in stepping up and offering equal prize money even when they didn't have to," Gould said. "I think you really see it paying off, too. You see how North American cyclo-cross races have just gotten more and more competitive internationally. And you're seeing more and more – particularly this year – a lot of European women racing 'cross in the US. They're like, 'Hey, these people appreciate us and they pay out equal prize money. The crowds come out to watch the women.' And I think the UCI see that it's really growing in the US. So those are all [promoters] who really didn't have to do it, but it really helped to turn the tide."
The Athletes' Commission also called on UCI WorldTour teams to invest in women's squads and for the organizers of men's events to also offer races for women. Gould likened the call for mandatory gender equality in cycling to Title IX, the 1972 US law that requires federally funded schools to offer women the same athletic opportunities offered to men.
"Before Title IX, people would say, 'Oh, women don't play sports, women don't do sports in school. Why should we spend money on this?' But you make it a law and people are forced to spend money on it," Gould said. "And then all of the sudden you have the London 2012 Olympics, where the US women won more medals than the men."
Gould also suggested that the UCI, which she says often gets a bad rap because of its own missteps in communication, should take a larger role in promoting women's cycling by communicating more about it. And she suggested the media do a better job of telling the stories of women's cycling.
"Often times in the media when they cover a race there are seven paragraphs about the men's race – blow by blow – and for the women's race it just says 'So and so beat so and so.' Well, that sounds awesome," Gould said wryly. "So I think there's room for improvement with that kid of stuff, too."
Exposure breeds familiarity and interest, Gould said, and better coverage of women's World Cup events is key. She pointed to Red Bull's mountain bike World Cup coverage as an example that should be emulated for women's road racing.
"Once people know the story, then they can be interested in it," Gould said. "But when you don't know the players and you don't know the past, if you don't know what the battles have been, then it's not as interesting. When you know the history and know a little bit about the people who are racing, then you can pick who your favorite is and cheer for them."
The Athletes' Commission, which was inaugurated in 2011, is comprised of 15 members representing road, track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross and para-cycling. The commission meets once a year and makes recommendations to the UCI, although it has no executive power. Gould said one of the recommendations coming from this year's meeting is that athletes should have representation on every UCI commission.
"I don't think that's been a requirement, and I think that needs to change," Gould said, reflecting the consensus of the other members. "There needs to be at least one athlete on every commission to be the voice of the athletes."
UCI president Pat McQuaid has said there will be a seat on the management commission of the UCI for a representative from the Athletes' Commission once the group gets more established. In the meantime, Gould will concentrate on doing what she can do to keep the momentum she sees for women's cycling moving along.
"The state of women's racing right now is definitely getting better for us, so hopefully that will continue," said Gould, who added that although she enjoys being a role model for young girls, she really gets a kick out of inspiring her young male fans. "It's been really cool for me, being able to be a role model for little boys. When there are little boys who send me an email or send me a picture they drew, to me that is so awesome because that's just one more step in changing that gender equity in general."
- Article published:
- November 20, 2012, 01:50
- Cycling News
Former Olympic silver medallist admits to complex doping schedule
Former Australian track cyclist Martin Vinnicombe has alleged a current senior member of the Australian cycling community assisted him to inject an illegal substance ahead of a major international race. That name was redacted in his interview with the ABC.
"It was known that you'd have a sudden drop in blood pressure, therefore you needed someone there to assist you," Vinnicombe told the ABC's 7.30 Report. "And at that case - at that time, (name redacted) was a person that I trusted and thought that he would assist me and he did so, he did that."
"He was present in the room and...Yes, he was there with me and made sure that I had done [the injection]."
Vinnicombe also suggests there are "people existing in cycling at the moment in powerful positions that at one point in their careers were exposed to doping and knew about doping methods." The silver medal winner at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games tested positive for steroids in 1991 and was handed a two-year ban before a court reversed the decision in light of the medical treatment he was receiving at the time.
In his account with the ABC, Vinnicombe admits to injecting substances when often being unaware to the exact contents. He says however, he didn’t "think it was water" but the pressure placed on him as a rider made it near impossible to reject.
The now 47-year-old kept a detailed account of his injecting schedule which was, according to the former cyclist, provided to him with instructions on when to take the substances.
"The things that were illegal, we don't even know what they were and we don't even know if they were illegal," he told the ABC.
"When you're in a team environment, you do as you're told, because you're constantly under pressure, the pressure is relentless and there are always other people who will take your place.
"Ya either get out of the kitchen or ya start cookin'. Yeah, that's it," he said.
- Article published:
- November 20, 2012, 03:38
- Alex Malone
WA-based squad to provide young riders with gateway to Europe
The Arbitrage Wormall Nicheliving team based in Western Australia has formed a partnership with one of Belgium's top u-23 teams, Bianchi-Lotto- Close2-NHT that will provide young WA cyclists the opportunity to spend part of their race season in Europe. Bianchi Australia has also come on board and will supply the Australian riders with the Sempre Pro equipped with Shimano groupsets.
The Australian contingent in the newly-formed Bianchi-Lotto-Arbitrage squad will race selected National Road Series events while retaining a heavy focus on the Belgian campaign.
"We didn't want to turn our backs on the Australian domestic scene but I did want the team to be focussed on giving these guys the opportunity to race in Europe," team owner Tony Anderson told Cyclingnews.
The newly formed arrangement with the Belgium u-23 team offers Australian riders a defined pathway into European racing, instead of having to do it on their own. Six riders will be selected from the Australian contingent to travel and race in Belgium for up to six months each year.
"We've agreed we will become a satellite team of their team in Belgium. The idea is that we will send up to six riders from Australia to race in their team. They get starts in most of the major espoirs tours and one-day races including Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," explained Anderson.
Team owner Anderson explained the programme would also provide another step for riders graduating from the Western Australia Institute of Sport (WAIS). He will also run a u-19 team, providing riders the opportunity to step up into the Bianchi-Lotto-Arbitrage when the time comes.
"At the moment if you come out of the high-performance program at WAIS there isn't a lot on offer. If you are lucky you might get picked up by Jayco but even those squads are shrinking.
"There are very limited opportunities for some of those high-performance athletes who come out of that program so they [WAIS] are very keen to work with us to identify different riders," Anderson told Cyclingnews.
The team will race a number of NRS races throughout the year which will give the less experienced riders, who do not head to Europe, plenty of race days and a chance to prove they are ready for the European scene.
"If we can continue to build this association we've got with Bianchi-Lotto over the next year or two I think it will put us in the position to attract further sponsors and then see where it can go from there," said Anderson.
- Article published:
- November 20, 2012, 04:38
- Cycling News
18-year-old Kudus take his first international victory
The youngest rider in the race, Merhawi Kudus has claimed the opening road stage at the Tour of Rwanda. The Eritrean rider who will turn 19 in January next year sprinted ahead of his breakaway companions in the final metres to claim the victory in the 148km stage. Fellow escapee Shaun Ward took the yellow jersey.
"I did not want to be in a group, and when you took the first flight went with five men, I tried. From there the team told me to do what I felt," Kudas told Gazzetta Dello Sport.
The race kicked off with a prologue and will test the compact 66-rider field over the eight-stage event. Current Orica-GreenEdge rider Daniel Teklehaymanot won the race overall in 2010 however, the neo-professional is not at this year’s edition.
Team Type 1 has made a return to the race which they won with Kiel Reijnen in 2011 however, the former winner is also absent from this year’s edition.
Tomorrow will offer a split day with two short but demanding stages which reach nearly 2,000m in altitude.