- Article published:
- April 9, 2013, 10:55
- Stephen Farrand
Gazzetta dello Sport speak to former Roubaix winners
Following a disastrous spring Classics campaign, Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has tried to understand why riders from the Bel Paese failed to live up to expectations.
Italian riders have not won a major Classic- one of the five monuments- since Damiano Cunego won the 2008 Tour of Lombardy.
36 year-old Luca Paolini (Katusha) was the best Italian at Paris-Roubaix. He was in the decisive attack but punctured and finished 21st. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) had a disappointing spring and was rarely competitive when it mattered. He finished 22nd at Paris-Roubaix and was outside the top ten placing in all the Classics this spring.
Gazzetta dello Sport spoke to two former Paris-Roubaix winner: Francesco Moser (1978, 1979, 1980); and Andrea Tafi (1999) to try and understand why Italy has lost its love for the Classics. Both suggested that Italian riders need to get a taste of the cobbles at a young age, in the hope they learn how to take on the best Belgian, French and Dutch riders in Northern Europe.
"I think it's a question of conviction and having the right mentality. Some riders probably think they're always going to be beaten by riders from the north, who have more experience of the cobbles and racing in Belgium. But that's the wrong way of thinking," Moser said.
"I'll tell you an anecdote. My son Ignazio was close to quitting cycling as a junior. Guess how he rediscovered his enthusiasm? We went to watch Paris-Roubaix together."
Ignazio Moser seems to be following his father's advice. He has quit Italian cycling to race for the BMC development team. He rode the Under 23 Tour of Flanders at the weekend and went on the attack, being caught just a kilometre from the finish.
"Riders have to get a taste of the cobbles when they're still young, as juniors or even younger. Belgium is a long way to go for a race but that can't be used as an excuse," Moser concluded.
I discovered the world by riding Paris-Roubaix
Tafi's nephew Umberto Orsini won the Italian Junior national road race title in 2012, He's more suited to the Ardennes Classics but Tafi will take a team of local junior riders to compete in Belgium in the summer.
"We can't keep hoping the same riders will do well or expect the young riders to suddenly start winning. But we've got to reignite a culture and love for the pave and the Muur," he said.
"We've got to start with the teenagers and then they've got to keep fighting, even if they struggle in the early years. It won’t be easy but I'm sure we'll bounce back."
"The riders have to realise that the atmosphere at the spring Classics is unique and it helps you give your very best and even a bit more. I discovered the world by riding Paris-Roubaix. It's a special race, where every domestique is cheered as if he's a champion."
- Article published:
- April 9, 2013, 12:57
- Cycling News
All the action from Dwars Door Vlaanderen to Paris-Roubaix
This year’s spring classics had it all: Fabian Cancellara’s classics comeback, Peter Sagan’s ability to shock, both on the bike and on the podium, a fallen favourite in Tom Boonen, and enough thrills and spills that will relive in the memory for many years to come.
Cyclingnews looks back at the Spring cobbles, starting at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Oscar Gatto reeling in a desperate Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) before the line.
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack) announced he was ready for Belgium with a sumptuous performance in E3 Harelebeke, giving his rivals a taste of things to come.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) rallied at Gent-Wevelgem a few days later, as Omega Pharma QuickStep saw Tom Boonen crash out and Mark Cavendish miss out on a sprint finish.
At the Tour of Flanders Cancellara took over where he’d left off at E3 and after Boonen crashed out and headed to hospital, his RadioShack rival turned the screw to devastating effect on the Kwaremont and the Paterberg.
Omega Pharma QuickStep finally saw their hard work pay off with Sylvain Chavanel retaining his Three Days of De Panne title, with Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, and Peter Sagan picking up stage wins, while the sprinters and in particular Marcel Kittel had their day to shine at the Scheldeprijs.
Then came Paris-Roubaix. After a tame race at Flanders, mainly due to the course, the cobbles of France’s grandest one day race delivered the most exciting edition of the race in years.
- Article published:
- April 9, 2013, 15:25
- Brecht Decaluwé
Substances found at the Tour were vitamins
Rémy di Gregorio has been cleared to race by the Court of Appeal in Aix en Provence, France. During the first rest day of the 2012 Tour de France, the French rider was arrested by the police after a raid in the team’s hotel in Bourg-en-Bresse. However L'Equipe have reported that although the French rider may race again, his investigation has not been formally closed yet.
The French authorities found suspicious products in a car which they linked to the rider. The then 26-year-old rider was provisionally suspended and eventually released by his Cofidis team. As it turns out the suspicious products ended up being nothing but vitamins. After learning about the verdict, Di Gregorio broke the silence for the first time since he was arrested in July.
“I never doped,” Di Gregorio stated. “I’m still at the same weight of an active rider. I could even ride the Tour de France.”
The Marseille citizen emphasized his innocence and expressed his hope to return to competition in an interview with newspaper La Provence. The highlight of Di Gregorio’s career so far came in 2011 when he won stage 7 of Paris-Nice.
“It still hurts that I’ve been punished for so long although I’m relieved that it’s finally over. I was very upset by all the accusations in the media which described me as a villain. It damaged my reputation in the sport. It was a shock wave. That’s why I must say: I never doped! Ever since I was arrested we held our stance.
“Today, I’m relieved that I’m recognized again as a sportsman and that I can continue my career since the discovered products were analyzed by several experts and determined not to be doping but vitamins,” Di Gregorio told La Provence. “The contents were banal really, like Paracetamol, vitamin C... it was a terrible confusion. Now I can finally get back to work, continue with my passion.”
When asked how he could explain the raid from the French police which obviously was instructed based on something, Di Gregorio repeated his innocence. “I’ve never doped. I rode for teams like FDJ and Cofidis which use the biological passport to attract riders. There were never any abnormalities in these documents. I was tested several times and I’ve never tested positive. Apparently some wanted to show that Di Gregorio doped himself, they found no evidence whatsoever.”
The 27-year-old Frenchman explains that the vox populi didn’t favour him. The police linked some information to the possibility that cyclists might dope. They tapped phones and interpreted the content of those as possibly related to doping. Soon after that Di Gregorio found himself in the middle of a storm. “Imagine the impact of such an arrest during the Tour de France. I was besmirched. Out on the streets people turned their heads and said, there’s Di Gregorio, the trafficker of the Tour. It’s hard.”
Di Gregorio emphasized that nothing suspicious happened at Astana and that he felt let down by his Cofidis team. “For them I was guilty. Case closed. I will sue them because I suffered enormously, both financially and morally. It was a nightmare and I went through all states of mind. Luckily I had the support of my family. I always kept training and I want to ride the Tour again. I’ve been forced out through the back door. There’s nothing worse than that. I’ll come back one day and with ambitions. I’ll do it for my family,” Di Gregorio said, not fearing to start again from scratch. “I’m not afraid of it. Physically, I have confidence in myself. I’ve always believed in myself.”
- Article published:
- April 9, 2013, 16:49
- Cycling News
Targets of Armstrong to discuss emotional, financial costs of doping
Both Greg and Kathy LeMond, plus Betsy Andreu, will speak at a panel discussion entitled "The Real Price of Winning at all Costs: A Discussion about Elite Cycling" on April 22, 2013 at the University of Texas at Austin, part of the university's Texas Program in Sports and Media's annual McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society.
The purpose of the discussion, taking place in Lance Armstrong's home town, is to relay "their personal experiences and perspectives regarding the physical, emotional, relational, ethical and financial costs they've experienced and witnessed throughout their engagement with the world-wide, elite cycling community", according to a statement from the Texas Program in Sports in Media.
Joining the LeMonds and Betsy Andreu are Bill Bock, US Anti-Doping Agency general counsel and principal author of USADA's Reasoned Decision which detailed the evidence of Lance Armstrong's doping regimen, and Reed Albergotti, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who has written extensively about the investigation into doping carried out by Armstrong and the US Postal Service team.
The LeMonds and Andreus were prominent targets of Armstrong's campaign to bully and intimidate those who questioned the veracity of his Tour de France victories. Armstrong would ultimately be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from competition following USADA's investigation into Armstrong and the US Postal Service team.
Greg LeMond, who questioned Armstrong's involvement with Dr. Michele Ferrari in 2001, then faced a lengthy, costly legal battle with the Trek Bicycle Corporation which LeMond ultimately settled in 2010.
Betsy Andreu, wife of Armstrong's former USPS teammate Frankie Andreu, was present in Armstrong's hospital room in 1996 when he is said to have told doctors treating him for cancer that he had used doping products. While Armstrong later confessed to doping in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in January of this year, Armstrong refused to address the hospital room incident, providing no closure for the Andreus.
The panel discussion will take place Monday, April 22 from 7-9pm in the Belo Center for New Media auditorium and is open to the public.
- Article published:
- April 9, 2013, 19:53
- Cycling News
UCI provides exemption for 207 riders to start
Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport announced today that Team Katusha will take part in this year's edition of the Corsa Rosa, the 23rd team to receive an invitation.
Team Katusha was initially denied a WorldTour licence by the UCI for the 2013 season, but after appealing the UCI's decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the court ruled in Katusha's favour on February 15 and three days later the UCI granted the Russian team its WorldTour licence and subsequently re-wrote its own rules which had previously capped the number of WorldTour teams at 18.
The Giro d'Italia organisers, however, in the interim granted four wild card invitations on January 8 to Pro Continental Teams Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, Colombia and Vini Fantini-Selle Italia who would line-up with the 18 automatically invited WorldTour squads, of which Team Katusha was not a part.
Rather than un-invite a wild card selecton, on April 2 the UCI granted an exemption to the Giro d'Italia regarding the cap of 200 riders in road races, so that a total of 207 riders representing 19 WorldTour and four Pro Continental teams could compete.
2013 Giro d'Italia teams:
Ag2r La Mondiale (Fra)
Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
Blanco Pro Cycling Team (Ned)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel – Euskadi (Spa)
Garmin – Sharp (USA)
Lampre – Merida (Ita)
Lotto Belisol (Bel)
Movistar Team (Spa)
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team (Bel)
Orica - GreenEdge (Aus)
RadioShack Leopard (Lux)
Sky Procycling (GBr)
Team Argos – Shimano (Ned)
Team Saxo - Tinkoff (Den)
Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team (Ned)
Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela (Ita)
Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox (Ita)
Vini Fantini – Selle Italia (Ita)
- Article published:
- April 9, 2013, 20:45
- Cycling News
Belgian seeks third Amstel Gold victory on Sunday
World champion Philippe Gilbert will captain the BMC Racing Team for Wednesday's Brabantse Pijl, the final tune-up event for the 30-year-old Belgian before the Ardennes Classics commence on Sunday with the Amstel Gold Race.
Twice a podium finisher at the Tour of Flanders, Gilbert skipped his home country's cobbled Monument this year in order to compete at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, which the Belgian believed would be better preparation for the upcoming Ardennes events which are the primary target of his spring campaign.
"The first stages were very hard," Gilbert said of Pais Vasco, in which he abandoned during the fifth of six stages. "But I was always there and trying just to follow. I made some good efforts."
Gilbert has one Brabantse Pijl victory in his palmares, the 2011 edition, and has finished on the podium in 2008, where he placed second to Sylvain Chavanel.
"I like Brabantse Pijl because it's technical and I can do a lot of efforts," Gilbert said. "I can go deep in this race and still recover in time for Amstel on Sunday."
Gilbert has found much success in the Ardennes Classics in recent years, most notably with his hat trick of victories in 2011 at the Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Gilbert has also won the 2010 Amstel Gold Race plus finished third in both the 2012 La Flèche Wallonne and 2010 Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
BMC Racing Team roster for Brabantse Pijl:
Adam Blythe (GBr), Yannick Eijssen (Bel), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Martin Kohler (Swi), Klaas Lodewyck (Bel), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Danilo Wyss (Swi)
- Article published:
- April 9, 2013, 21:30
- Daniel Benson
Could the Australian return to lead-outs with Cavendish?
At 30 years of age and with the final year of his contract with Blanco underway this is the most important year of Mark Renshaw’s career so far.
The sprinter-come-lead-out man stepped out of Mark Cavendish’s shadow in 2012 in a bid to leave his old lead-out duties behind him and concentrate on his own successes in the sprints.
The move has had mixed results: two wins since but a congestion of top-five placings all over Europe. According to Renshaw one reason for the limited number of wins has been the fact he’s continued to provide lead-outs, mainly for Blanco’s other sprinter, Theo Bos.
“When I came to the team I hoped to have more help in the sprints but Theo gets my service services when we race together so I’ve done a lot of leading-out. The big decision is whether I keep going as a sprinter or go back to leading-out,” Renshaw told Cyclingnews.
The biggest question surrounding Renshaw’s future appears to be whether he will seek a home - and he’s certainly not ruling out re-signing with Blanco – that needs either his sprinting or lead-out legs.
“I’ve got options on both sides of the fence. To be honest I wanted to be more successful as a sprinter but I should have known how hard it is to be successful having been on a team with Cavendish, Goss and Greipel. I know exactly what it takes to win and how teams can help.
“The last race I had was Scheldeprijs and I set Theo [Bos] up for that. The team wanted me to ride for him there and he had really good position but he just didn’t have the legs to finish on the podium.”
“The team obviously likes Theo because he’s Dutch. They give him all the resources at a race like Scheldeprijs but they take all the sprinters and the lead-out riders there for him. The times when I get the chance to sprint are races likes Paris-Nice and down in Spain where I don’t have a lead-out train. When it’s his chance he gets myself, Brown, Wagner, quite a lot of resources.”
Renshaw acknowledges that Bos has proved himself as a sprinter, winning the world track championships in the discipline before concentrating on the road. However, he maintains that he can win races that provide more testing terrain, and admits that if he is to stake a claim to more support then he will need to produce better results.
“I always tend to do the bigger races which of course are harder to win because the bigger riders are there but in saying that I get my fair chance and this year I’ve had second and thirds and at the end of the day I need to put the runs on the board. But it’s quite hard when you don’t have three or four riders.
“I’m happy with how my season started at the Tour Down Under and then I went off to Spain and had a few races there. I won in Almeria which was a nice race to win. They don’t expect much from me in the Classics, though, and I can’t really handle the cold like some of the European guys.”
Blanco is currently in the midst of a sponsorship search after Rabobank pulled the plug on their seventeen-year investment last season. The Dutch bank agreed to finance the squad for 2013 but with their naming rights stripped. The current mood in the Blanco camp is positive, and that a new suitor will be recruited before the Tour.
“This is my last year of my current deal with Blanco and we’re in phase now when we have to see what direction the team goes and how finding a sponsor is shaping up. I know they’re talking to a lot of parties but there’s a lot of interest with what I’m going to do for the next few years.”
If Renshaw does decide to dedicate himself to lead-outs away from Blanco the obvious move would see him unite with Mark Cavendish at Omega Pharma-QuickStep. The pair forged a lethal partnership at Highroad and were virtually unstoppable as a double act. Whereas Highroad was a well-drilled unit from rider one to nine, Omega Pharma has lacked cohesion and organisation in this year’s sprints.
“There are a lot of options with a lot of big sprinters looking for good lead-out men. So it’s going to be a hard decision and on the other side of the coin I’d still like to chase my own success.”
Asked if he could consider riding with Cavendish again, Renshaw replied: “We get on quite well. We had a good past and I like his character. He’s a great teammate. You never know what can happen. Last year he kept mentioning to me ‘you’re a good lead-out man’ and a few tongue in cheek comments but we’ll speak I’m sure in the near future.
“Of course staying at Blanco, that’s another good option. Within the team I have a good role and they may want me to be more of a leader.”
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 06:58
- Alex Malone
Lack of Asia Tour racing will not hold team back, says Watt
The team of Budget Forklifts is entering the opening round of the Australian National Road Series at the Woodside Tour de Perth without a definitive leader but that shouldn't fool rival teams into believing they arrive unprepared. A mix of training camps and smaller early season races was exactly how they prepared for the start of 2012 and they promptly went about taking out the first three tours at Mersey Valley, Toowoomba and North Western. The expectations for the first race of 2013 that begins on Rottnest Island are equally high, according to sports director Cameron Watt.
"We have pretty high expectations. We set the bar last year [at Mersey Valley Tour] and we are looking to match that again this year, for sure," Watt told Cyclingnews.
"It was a little bit the same at the first few rounds of the NRS last year where we were coming up against Genesys and Drapac who were coming off Asia Tour victories; stage wins and overall classifications. They came back for the start of the NRS but in the first [Mersey Valley] one we came 1-3-4 and at the next one [Toowoomba] we came 1-2 on GC and then [at North Western Tour] we took 1 and 4 on GC. So I don't see it as a negative that we haven't had the Asia tours to prepare for this," added Watt.
Last year it was the dominant and contrasting duo of Mark O'Brien and Luke Davison – who have moved to Team Raleigh and Drapac Professional Cycling respectively – who lifted the team into second spot in the NRS teams rankings but Watt is not dwelling on the loss to other teams.
"At the same point last year, although Mark O'Brien and Luke Davison were so dominant a lot of people forget that they had never had an overall NRS win before. We are sort of in the same boat where we might have another two like them pop out of our team," said Watt.
There's a squad more than capable of taking out the overall classification at Perth, according to the man who ensured that every rider on the squad competed in the time trial at the Australian Road Cycling Championships in January and the more recent Oceania Championships to ensure that none of his riders arrived in Perth without having at least completed one time trial in competition.
"We thought our best tactic for this race would be to have many options come Saturday's road race," Watt told Cyclingnews.
"That's why we had the entire team do the National's TT and Oceania's TT. We just wanted everyone coming to Perth having done at least one TT. So we could have six or seven of the eight doing a really good TT.
"Jack Anderson has come off second at Oceania Road Champs, Jake Kauffman who got fifth in the National's TT, Michael Cuppit who got second on GC at two tours [in 2012] and Grafton to Inverell, Marc Williams was third on GC at Mersey Valley last year so we have plenty of options."
The team complete reconnaissance of Saturday's third stage around the Perth Hills and while the 45-odd kilometre circuit is difficult the final ascent to the top of Zig Zag appears not to be decisive enough to enter the tour with one or two clear leaders, according to Watt. That decision will likely come after Friday's TT around Rottnest Island where the team has a number of strong contenders.
"The research I did on the Kalamunda stage, it's just not a true hill-top finish and it's not selective enough to go in with just one or two genuine leaders," Watt told Cyclingnews.
"It [Stage 3] finishes up the Zig Zag climb which isn't particularly steep but after they have completed three laps of the course, it might wear people down. It's very narrow, only one-lane wide and just switchback after switchback. It's about 4% so the bunch will be moving up it but the third time might provide a selection.
While teams like Huon Salmon-Genesys have already notched up some racing abroad, the way Watt has prepared the team means that he sees no downside to coming into Perth without a tour in his riders legs.
"We've had training camps for this along with Oceania's and smaller races in the lead-up. That's exactly how have prepared for the NRS last year. Not having done an Asia tour round before this is not going to hamper our chances."
Team Budget Forklifts for Tour de Perth: Jack Anderson (Qld), Michael Cupitt (ACT), Samuel Horgan (Nzl), Jacob Kauffmann (NSW), Shaun McCarthy (Vic), Marc Williams (ACT), Blair Windsor (NSW) and Alex Wohler (Qld).