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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Date published:
September 17, 2013, 10:00
  • Gilbert looks to repeat Worlds title

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) experiences his first victory as world champion
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 14:20
    Cycling News

    Reigning champion with strong Belgian squad

    Philippe Gilbert will be supported by a strong team as he attempts to defend his title at the world championships later this month in Florence. Belgian national Coach Carlo Bomans named his seven-man squad Monday afternoon.

    Gilbert, Jan Bakelants, Gianni Meersman, Greg Van Avermaet, and Bjorn Leukemans were considered set for the squad. The remaining two place went to Dries Devenyns and Johan Vansummeren.

    Gilbert (BMC), who won the title last September in Valkenberg, had struggled during his season in the rainbow jersey, not getting his first win until recently. After coming close several times, he finally took his first win as world champion in stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana.

    Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard) can also boast of a Grand Tour stage win this year, having won the second stage of the Tour de France, which gave him the leader's jersey for two stages. Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won two stages each a the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie, as well as the prologue of the Tour de l'Ain and the points jersey at the Criterium du Dauphine.

    Van Avermaet can also look back to a successful season, having won the overall title at the Tour de Wallonie, along with two stage wins and the points ranking. He also won a stage at the Tour of Utah and was third in Gent-Wevelgem and the GP Quebec, as well as fourth in Paris-Roubaix and fifth in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM), won the Druivenkoers Overijse and had top five finishes in the Brabantse Pil and Amstel Gold Race.

    Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) are expected to serve as domestiques during the race.

    The reserve riders are Ben Hermans, Serge Pauwels, Jürgen Roelandts and Maxime Montfort.  It was announced last week that Thomas De Gendt and Kristof Vandewalle would ride the time trial.

  • Sagan on form ahead of world championships

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) pulls his wheelie for the fans
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 15:50
    Peter Hymas

    Versatile displays in North America bode well for Florence

    Peter Sagan's pre-Worlds North American racing programme came to a resounding conclusion on Sunday with a stunning solo victory at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, the 22nd win of the 2013 season for the 23-year-old Slovakian champion. Amazingly, amongst the now 58 wins in his four-year professional career, the victory in Montréal was only his second in a one-day WorldTour race after claiming Gent-Wevelgem in March of this year and interestingly, for someone who typically uses his finishing speed to cross the finish line first, both one-day victories came as a result of a well-timed solo attack from a small group in the closing kilometres.

    Sagan's versatility seems to know no bounds, and in two weeks' time we'll see if his preparation for the elite road world championships in Florence, Italy will garner the Slovakian his first elite rainbow jersey to add to the one he claimed for winning the junior mountain bike world title in 2008, also earned on Italian soil.

    Sagan arrived in Aspen, Colorado in early August for a period of altitude acclimatization and then faced a block of racing consisting of Colorado's USA Pro Challenge (August 19-25), the Tour of Alberta (September 3-8), followed by the pair of Canadian one-day WorldTour races on September 13 and 15 in Quebec and Montréal respectively.

    "I'm young and I worked hard at the Tour de France to win the green jersey and doing the Vuelta is very hard now," he said of his decision to prepare for the world championships in North America.

    In those 15 days of racing Sagan won on eight occasions taking four sprint victories in Colorado, a prologue time trial win and two sprint wins in Alberta, culminating in the solo victory in Montreal - a remarkable 53.3% victory rate.

    "I wanted to win in Quebec and also Montréal, but I won only one," Sagan said with a laugh at the post-Montreal press conference. "My objective was these two [WorldTour] races here and now I go for the Worlds."

    Sagan was reminded that Eddy Merckx won a world championship 39 years ago on the same Montréal circuit and it may take a Merckxian display of strength for the Slovakian to prevail in Florence on what's considered one of the most taxing world championship courses in decades.

    Winning convincingly on a one-day course with approximately 12,000 feet of climbing is certainly a good harbinger, but Sagan wasn't so sure.

    "Today we only did 200 kilometres and there it's 280, but we will see," said Sagan. "I want to do well there. I don't have a very good team, Slovakia only has six riders, so maybe I have to ride behind another team like Switzerland, Spain, or Belgium.

    "The world championship is a strange race and you have to have luck to win a world championship."

  • Danish Worlds team named

    Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) at the stage 15 start in Andorra
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 17:35
    Cycling News

    Three men for the road race

    Chris Anker Sorensen, Matti Breschel and Jakob Fuglsang will represent Denmark in the road race at the World Championships in Florence later this month. Alex Rasmussen and Rasmus Quaade will do the honours in the time trial.

    Sorensen has just finished the Vuelta a Espana, where he finished 18th overall and was second on the 18th stage. His Saxo-Tinkoff teammate Breschel was recently eighth in the GP Quebec and 13th in the GP Montreal. Last month he won two stages at the Post Danmark Rundt. Fuglsang (Astana) finished seventh in the Tour de France and rode in support of Vincenzo Nibali at the Vuelta a Espana, finishing 29th overall.

    Rasmussen's nomination was a surprise as he only returned to racing with Garmin-Sharp in April after serving a whereabouts-related suspension. He won a stage at the Bayern Rundfahrt in May. Quaade, who was second in the national time trials, rides for the Continental-ranked Team Tre-For.

    For the women, Annika Langvad (ABC Ladies) will ride the time trial and Julie Leth (Team Hitech Project) the road race.

  • Van Avermaet happy with Worlds preparation

    Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) wins and teammate Daniel Oss celebrates in Bastogne
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 18:20
    Peter Hymas

    Belgian always close to victory in North America

    If there was an omnium for the pair of one-day WorldTour races contested this past Friday and Sunday in Quebec City and Montreal, respectively, then the clear winner would have been Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

    The 28-year-old Belgian earned a podium result in Quebec with a third-place finish behind Robert Gesink (Belkin) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ) from a 10-rider group sprinting for victory. Two days later in Montreal, Van Avermaet was again in the mix in the closing kilometres but had to settle with taking an 8-man sprint for fourth place. Winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale) soloed away with 5.5km to go and the remaining podium spots were claimed by Simone Ponzi (Astana) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) who jumped away from Van Avermaet's group at the flamme rouge.

    While outright victory, if not at least a podium position, was on his mind both days, Friday's third-place finish was the result which proved most frustrating.

    "I"m happy with my sprint, finally I won a sprint but it's a pity it was for fourth," Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews following the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal. "But I'm not so disappointed like in Quebec. There I think I could have won the race and here it was not so easy to beat Sagan."

    Van Avermaet marked Sagan in the finale in Friday, but Sagan proved to be spent from multiple attacks inside the final six kilometres and sat up once the finishing sprint commenced. Van Avermaet had to do some quick maneuvering and was closing fast on Gesink and Vichot but ran out of road.

    Sagan employed similar tactics on Sunday, but this time he had the strength to ride away from his rivals leaving Van Avermaet in a 10-man group vying for the final two podium spots.

    "I tried to be in the front but Sagan was away and we knew in the last kilometres it was for second place. We tried to work a little bit together but we didn't get closer. He did a good race and for him it's a nice victory.

    "I was in the back of the group when Hesjedal [and Ponzi] went and nobody was reacting - there's always a bit of guessing, it's cycling.

    "I'm happy with my condition, but it's hard to win. Sagan's there or there's somebody else, but it's good be in there and get some points for the team."

    Van Avermaet was named to Belgium's seven-man world championship squad today, led by defending champion and BMC teammate Philippe Gilbert, and is pleased with his pre-Worlds preparation which largely took place in North American races.

    "I think if you have the head mentally to prepare yourself well you can do a lot of good stuff with training and a few races. You can be ready and fresh for Worlds, whereas the Vuelta every year is a little bit harder. It's better to be here [in North America].

    "We did a lot of good work and altitude training, I'm happy to go to Worlds with the form I'd like to have and maybe I can win there."

  • USADA not counting Horner's anti-doping control as missed

    Chris Horner (RadioShack) has time to laugh
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 18:33
    Cycling News

    Spanish testers not updated with latest whereabouts

    The US Anti-Doping Agency today confirmed that it would not consider the incident which led recent Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner to not be located by anti-doping controllers as a "missed test".

    Spokesperson Annie Skinner stated today that Horner had updated his whereabouts properly, but the updated information was not relayed to the Spanish doping control officer.

    "In response to public statements from Team RadioShack today concerning Chris Horner, USADA can confirm that we were coordinating an out-of-competition test with the Agencia Española de Protección de la Salud en el Deporte (AEA) while Mr. Horner was in Spain. Mr. Horner properly updated his whereabouts information in advance of the test attempt, but given that the information was received in the U.S., the AEA doping control officer on the ground in Spain did not receive the updated information prior to arriving at the hotel.

    "This is not considered a missed test and neither anti-doping organization provided information to the media regarding this situation. USADA has a strong collaborative relationship with AEA and thanks them for our on-going partnership in protecting the integrity of sport and the rights of clean athletes."

    The American came under scrutiny as he closed in on becoming the oldest rider to win a Grand Tour by several years, with many questioning how a rider of that age could best champions a decade or more younger.

    Less than 24 hours after Horner emerged victorious from the Spanish tour, the media in that country published reports of Horner missing a doping control.

    The RadioShack team was quick to respond that the fault was that of the testers, and not Horner, going so far as to issue a screen grab of the rider's whereabouts update to USADA.

    Horner is set to compete with the US national team at the UCI road world championships in Florence, Italy next.

  • AG2R-La Mondiale re-signs Riblon through 2016

    Kisses for stage 2 winner Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale)
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 20:00
    Daniel Simms

    Alpe d'Huez stage winner, Houle extend contracts

    Tour de France stage winner Christophe Riblon has extended his contract with the AG2R-La Mondiale team until 2016, the French squad has announced.

    Riblon won alone at Alpe d'Huez at the Tour de France after dramatically catching and dropping Tejay van Garderen (BMC) after the double ascent of the Alpine climb.

    Riblon also won the stage to the Passo Pordoi at the Tour of Poland and finished third overall, assuring AG2R-La Mondiale further precious UCI WorldTour points.

    The 32 year-old Frenchman joined Canadian rider Hugo Houle in extending his contract. The 23-year-old from Quebec joined Ag2r-La Mondiale this year after the demise of the Spidertech team.

    “I’m very proud to wear during three additional years the colours of the Ag2r-La Mondiale team," Riblon said in the official announcement from the French team.

    "I want to thank Vincent Lavenu and our sponsors who trust me for nine years and who are still present at my side. I want to build on the great results I obtained this summer and to pay the team back for the trust they have shown. I know I’m able to obtain excellent results on World Tour one-week races. I also think to one day races as Milano-San Remo.”

    Team manager Lavenu described Riblon as and essential part of the Ag2r-La Mondiale team.

    “I’m pleased to have reached an agreement with Christophe. He not only accomplished an amazing feat this year but he is also an essential and an important rider in our team. He has a long story with us. He always defended the colors of the Ag2r-La Mondiale team with enthusiasm and honor and this agreement is natural.”

    Ag2r-La Mondiale has also signed Damien Gaudin and Sebastien Turgot from Team Europcar and Patrick Gretsch from Argos-Shimano for 2014.

  • Martin to head up Omega Pharma-Quickstep TTT squad

    Gert Steegmans leads his Omega Pharma - Quickstep team through a corner
    Article published:
    September 16, 2013, 20:50
    Cycling News

    Belgian team to defend title in Florence

    Omega Pharma-Quickstep announced its selection for the UCI Road World Championships team time trial, which will be held Sunday, September 22 in Florence, Italy. The defending champions will be led by Tony Martin, with Sylvain Chavanel, Michal Kwiatkowski, Niki Terpstra, Peter Velits and Kristof Vandewalle.

    "The team will be perfectly captained by Tony Martin, [the] current world champion in this specialty, and we will also be able to count on the same structure that made up the winning team in the 2012 World Championships: Sylvain Chavanel, Niki Terpstra, Peter Velits and Kristof Vandewalle," directeur sportif Tom Steels said. "Michal Kwiatkowski is the team's new entry. The two backup riders will be Julien Vermote and Zdenek Stybar."

    In preparation for the event, the team will take part in the GP de Wallonie on Wednesday to help riders like Chavanel, Terpstra, Velits and Kwiatkowski get over their jet lag after they raced the WorldTour events in Canada, while Tony Martin will sit out the race.

    "It will also be a good chance to put in a final intensive effort before flying off to Florence," Steels said.

    The team had a scare when Kwiatkowski crashed out of the GP de Québec, but Steels said his injuries were only minor, as were that of Vandewalle following a spill in the Vuelta a España.

    Following the GP de Wallonie, the riders will assemble in Montecatini and immediately set to work preparing for the team time trial on Thursday afternoon.

    "It will be important to memorize the route and the curves immediately. Until now the preparation has been going well. We carried out some tests in Zolder a few weeks ago and we collected some important information by doing a recon with our technical staff. Of course, the road will ultimately decide the race, but our goal will definitely be to defend the title we captured last year using all of our forces."


  • Sutherland excited to be chosen for Australian Worlds squad

    Rory Sutherland makes his return to the WorldTour for 2013 with Saxo-Tinkoff
    Article published:
    September 17, 2013, 09:14
    Peter Hymas

    Saxo-Tinkoff rider's first time since U23 days

    Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Tinkoff) arrived at the start of Sunday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal buoyed by the news that he'd been named to Australia's nine-man world championship squad, an honour and a benefit rooted in his return to competition at the WorldTour level, and a European base, for the first season in eight years.

    All in all, it's been some time since the 31-year-old contested a world championship event.

    "I haven't done it in ten years," Sutherland told Cyclingnews prior to the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal. "I did it as an under-23 and then the next year I broke my arm. The next year I was a reserve and then I raced here (North America) for a few years. When you're racing in the States I didn't want to go to Europe for a one-day race. You're jet-lagged and if you do it I think you've got to do it properly."

    As part of his move to Saxo-Tinkoff for 2013 Sutherland moved to Girona, Spain in November of last year and raced a European campaign through July. With his block of time training and racing in North America now concluded his stint on this side of the Atlantic is now over.

    "I go back to Europe this week and I've got a lot of racing still to come so I think it's a good year to do it."

    Sutherland is keen on Australia's chances in two weeks time in Florence, Italy.

    "I think it's a really good, rounded team. Obviously we've got Cadel [Evans], who's won before, and Richie [Porte], who's obviously had a really good last couple of years. There's other guys with a lot of experience and young guys, too, which I think is fantastic to see.

    "There's actually three of us, myself, Michael Matthews and Mathew Hayman, from the same town in Australia which is kind of rare because we don't have that many professionals. And if Michael Rogers was healthy and hadn't have crashed then there would have been four of us [from Canberra] which would have been pretty interesting.

    "I haven't done any recon, I figured we'll see it enough. And I figure that my job is probably different than the guys who are going for the finale. We'll kind of see what the plan is when we get there.

    The Canadian WorldTour races were Sutherland's first races in nearly three weeks after finishing ninth overall in Colorado's USA Pro Challenge and the Boulder, Colorado resident was pleased with his opening race Friday in Quebec. Sutherland finished in a group 2:08 behind winner Robert Gesink after riding for teammate Matti Breschel who placed 8th.

    "It was good, but it took me and Timmy [Duggan] a long time to get here: 24 hours. We had delays and cancelled flights and had to go through New York and [Washington,] DC to finally get up here, but it's a great race and a great circuit.

    "It's such a really good vibe in Canada for these races. It's my first time doing them and I'm really excited."

    Sutherland had even volunteered to represent Saxo-Tinkoff in Thursday afternoon's pre-WorldTour street sprints in Quebec, but his delayed flights forced the team to use Bruno Pires instead.

    "That would have been fun. They said 'who wants to do it?' and no one wanted to so I said I would, I don't mind. I'll have to open up anyway and it's not like it's a 200 meter full sprinter's sprint, but I got in that day at lunch time so I wasn't going to be doing the sprints."

    Sutherland has had his primary residence in Boulder, Colorado since 2007 and all of the recent flood devastation has hit home

    "Timmy and I left the same day it all started," said Sutherland. "I have two houses there and one of them's in the flood plain. I've talked to renters in one house and they said it's absolutely dry and then our current house we have people there as well and they said our basement's dry so I think we've come out very lucky.

    "I don't know how and why, but everyone else I know has their basements flooded and they're pumping stuff out and it's very serious."