A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Gallery and reactions from the contenders in Milan
“A more human Giro” has been the refrain at RCS Sport since Angelo Zomegnan handed over the reins of the race in 2011, and the route of the 2014 Giro d’Italia was met with early approval on that score by the riders on hand at the presentation in Milan’s Palazzo del Ghiaccio on Monday afternoon.
As ever, the Giro’s grand denouement takes place in the high mountains of the final week, with summit finishes at Oropa, Montecampione – dedicated to the memory of Marco Pantani – Val Martello, Rifugio Panarotta and Monte Zoncolan, as well as a time trial to Monte Grappa.
However, transfers are significantly reduced throughout the race – even allowing for the long haul from Dublin back to Italy ahead of stage 4 – while there is less climbing in the opening ten days compared to the 2013 Giro.
“This race leaves the major climbs until the end, and it’s also a Giro with relatively few transfers, apart from the return from Ireland, which is balanced by the exceptional permission for a third rest day,” race director Mauro Vegni said.
“We’re heading back to something like the Giro of the 1970s in terms of transfers, which are much reduced on last year. We don’t want impossible things anymore. We’ve paid a lot of attention to more human things.”
Vegni’s words were echoed by Gazzetta dello Sport editor Andrea Monti, who served as master of ceremonies for the afternoon’s proceedings in the absence of suspended RCS Sport director Michele Acquarone.
“This is a human Giro. Yes, it’s the hardest race in the world’s most beautiful place, but it doesn’t ask too much,” Monti said. “The Giro and cycling don’t need a superhero. They need men...
Italian rules out a possible Giro-Tour double attempt
Vincenzo Nibali was one of the stars of the 2014 Giro d'Italia route presentation after dominating this year's race and winning the pink jersey. However, the Sicilian is unlikely to target a second consecutive victory in 2014. Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov has already announced that Nibali will focus on the Tour de France next season and he seemed against the idea of going for a risky Giro-Tour double.
"I can't say if I'll ride or not at the moment because we haven't decided my race programme for next season,” Nibali told the media after the official presentation with a fine display of cycling diplomacy equal to his racing skills on the bike.
"Things will be decided during the first team get together, so that I know the early season races I'll riding. After that we'll decide things for the Grand Tours."
Nibali ruled out the possibility of riding the Giro as preparation for the Tour de France.
"As an Italian it'd be difficult to consider riding like that. It's not right. If I decide to ride the Giro, I'd go for the general classification," he said.
"I've often done two Grand Tours in the same season and I did the Giro and Vuelta this year. This year I started the season strong, missed the Tour and then was strong in the Vuelta and end of the season. But that's easier to do because there's more time to recover. Riding the Giro and then the Tour will the goal of winning both is difficult."
Nibali liked the balanced route and the stages which could allow for surprise attacks and changes in race leadership. He is no doubt tempted by a possible second consecutive victory but also knows he is at the peak of his career and has a real chance to win the 2014 Tour de France.
"It's a good route and...
Zoncolan is 'cherry on the cake' of 2014 route, says Australian
The Australian will be 37 next February and is in the final year of his contract with BMC. He finished third overall in this year's Giro d'Italia but then struggled in the Tour de France, finishing 39th overall. He conceded that back-to-back Grand Tours were too much for him after also struggling with the illness that affected his 2012 season, leading to a logical decision to target the Giro.
Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011 but the USA's Tejay van Garderen is expected to lead BMC at the 2014 Tour de France. Evans has special memories of the Giro d'Italia. He wore the race leader's pink jersey for two days in his first Grand Tour back in 2002 but lost it after suffering in the mountains.
"I've always wanted to come back to the Giro after 2002 and even the team wants me to focus on the Giro in 2014," Evans told journalists after seeing the route presentation in Milan.
"The team wants to concentrate on the Tour with Tejay and a younger generation of riders. That's okay. I dedicated 10 years of my life to the Tour de France.
"I've had 18 months of inconsistency after I was sick at the start of 2012; it lasted until about August of this year. It wasn't just due to being unhealthy, it was down to racing not in good health but also in the recovery period and missing out on racing. Things have came back together in recent months and that was my first goal: race in good health at the end of the year.
Dutchwoman leaves Specialized-lululemon
World time trial champion Ellen van Dijk has left Specialized-lululemon to sign a three-year deal with the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team. "The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are a big goal for me so a three-year contract is great. This team gives me all the possibilities to prepare for that important event," she told Cyclingnews.
Winning at the Olympics has been a life-long goal for the 26-year-old rider. She didn't manage to qualify for the individual pursuit in Beijing in 2008 and saw the event cancelled from the London Olympics. She did, however, ride the team pursuit but finished sixth. In 2008 she won a gold medal in the scratch race at the world track championships.
This year Van Dijk took her first individual world time trial championship gold medal in Florence. "The Worlds remain a big goal, also in 2014, but the course in Spain is not favourable with that long climb. But we'll see that later."
Van Dijk won several stage races in her career, laying the foundation for overall victories in the team time trials. "That will change with my new team but I am also very excited to bring across my experience in the discipline to the other riders. It is an important goal for the team in the future so who knows how far we can go?"
Ellen van Dijk started her career with the Dutch team Vrienden van het Platteland before moving to Columbia-HTC, which later became Specialized-lululemon. Specialized as a brand played an important role in her team time trial victories.
"Specialized has state of the art time trial bikes but Boels-Dolmans is still negotiating with several equipment sponsors. It would be great if I can continue riding on Specialized but it’s not the most important thing."
For the first time in five years Van Dijk returns to a Dutch team. "That was one of the factors I took into account...
"A route for climbers"
Team Colombia were amongst those in attendance for the 2014 Giro d'Italia route presentation in Milan on Monday afternoon, and for the most part, they liked what they saw. Manager Claudio Corti, Director Valerio Tebaldi and twice second place stage finisher at the Giro, Fabio Duarte, welcomed the course that looks to provide ample opportunity for the climbers in their ranks.
"It will be a demanding race, similar to 2013 to some extent, and we hope the weather will give us the chance to enjoy the show such great mountains are able to provide," said Corti. "Personally, I am glad the Val Martello stage [stage 16] will be back, after being cancelled in 2013 due to snow: it's a high-altitude stage, featuring both Gavia and Stelvio, and definitely one suited to the Colombian athletes' qualities."
Corti also welcomed the stage 19 hill climb time trial, believing it will be a much tougher test than the equivalent stage this year.
"The Plan di Montecampione [stage 15] was decisive several times at the Giro, and I think it might prove key this time too," added Corti. "In addition, the uphill time trial to Monte Grappa [stage 19] will be another important test, way more demanding than the one we faced in 2013, and suited to pure climbers."
Although the opening 21.7km team time trial and the 46km -mostly flat- stage 12 time trial are not suited to the Colombian team's strengths, Corti believes that whoever is going to win the Giro needs good climbing legs first and foremost.
"A 46 km time trial at stage 12 could mislead, but anyone who wants to win the Giro will need great climbing legs, in the first place. And I hope we will see...
Sky remains top team, Spain leads nation rankings
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has moved ahead of Chris Froome (Sky) in the WorldTour standings following victory at Il Lombardia on Sunday. With the Briton set to miss the final WorldTour event, Tour of Beijing, due to injury, Rodriguez has all but sealed his third overall win in the WorldTour rankings in four seasons.
Rodriguez now holds a lead of 20 points over Froome and 67 over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and both men have ruled themselves out of the five-day Tour of Beijing which gets underway on Friday, October 11.
Valverde confirmed that his season was over immediately after finishing second at Il Lombardia, while Froome took to Twitter on Monday morning to declare that he will not participate in the Tour of Beijing.
“Not the way I wanted to end the season but my body had other ideas! Looking forward to some R&R and a gelati [sic] or two... :)” wrote Froome, who will, however, line up at the Saitama Criterium in Japan on October 26.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) finished a strong 4th at Il Lombardia on Sunday and jumped from 11th to 8th on the individual standings. The 27-year-old Irishman has the chance to gain a couple more places in the final standings with a strong showing at the Tour of Beijing, where he performed well last year.
Sky maintains its lead in the team standings, ahead of Movistar and Katusha, while Vacansoleil-DCM – which will disband at the end of the season – lies rooted to the bottom of the table with a meagre 125 points, which would be good enough only for 38th in the individual standings, level with Robert Gesink (Belkin)....
Reduced teams, races, race days proposed
The UCI have released a prospective document outlining a streamlined WorldTour to be enacted by 2020. The regular update to its Sport and Technical bulletin released on Sunday featured a ground-breaking outline for reform of international cycling that was quietly nestled between pages on sustainability and the Tour de l'Avenir.
Titled ‘A decisive stage in the reform of professional cycling' the third page of the bulletin goes on to identify a number of key changes that "should lead to a profound and decisive change in the organisation
of professional cycling." The reforms are set to be submitted to the UCI Management committee and Professional Cycling Council for approval in January 2014. If approved the changes will be enacted by 2015 and fully in place by 2020.
A new WorldTour
Instead of the WorldTour, Professional Continental and Continental system employed at current, the UCI is proposing a system with the WorldTour split over two divisions that will still sit above the third division comprised of Professional Continental and Continental teams. Although there remain a number of issues in order to make this work properly, the broad arrangement is outlined as follows:
• 16 Division 1 teams with 120 days of racing [down from 19 teams and 154 days of racing in 2013].
• 8 Division 2 teams with 50 days of racing.
• Division 3 to feature the Europe Tour, America Tour, Asia Tour, Africa Tour and Oceania Tour.
• All results across three divisions to be compiled into a single ranking system to serve as the basis for the nations' ranking.
A new calendar
Common complaints about the current WorldTour system centre around a number of issues with the length of the season, the...
Van Avermaet to use race as tune-up before Paris-Tours
The Binche-Chimay-Binche one day race, also known as the Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke, will get underway in the Walloon region of Belgium today. The race serves as a traditional mid-week race where riders will be recovering from weekend races such as Il Lombardia and Circuit Franco Belge/Tour de l'Eurometropole and finding their legs before Paris-Tours on Sunday.
Greg Van Avermaet will headline the BMC squad alongside Tour of Alberta stage winner Silvan Dillier and Swiss national road champion Michael Schär. Van Avermaet will be one of the favourites for the race should he chose to go the distance with the Belgian saying that his form is where he would like it to be as he continues his build toward Paris-Tours, a race we won in 2011.
"I will use Binche as a good training race for my last goal to the season," said Van Avermaet. "We will see how recovered I am from Il Lombardia, because it was pretty hard. But I think I will be fine and ready."
The course has been slightly altered with riders racing 120km from Binche to Chimay and back before tackling five local laps of 16km including a cobbled section and an uphill run to the line. In previous years riders have taken an altered course from Binche to Tournai and back but for Van Avermaet the change is of little concern.
"The final laps are the same, so it is still a hard uphill sprint," he said. "I hope to have a team with great motivation for this Belgian semi-classic.
"It is also a perfect tune-up before Paris-Tours."
Joining Van Avermaet, Diller and Schär will be Yannick Eijssen, Klaas Lodewyck and Jakub Novak.