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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Date published:
April 17, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Fuglsang in tune for Flèche Wallonne

    A focused Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)
    Article published:
    April 16, 2013, 20:23 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Tour de France the main focus for Dane's season

    Singularly focused, Jakob Fuglsang showed promising signs on Sunday at Amstel Gold Race that his best may not be too far away. The Astana recruit was one of five men in the distinctive aqua kit in contention on the final lap leading to the finish, with the 28-year-old eventually finishing 17th at 25 seconds, having been dedicated to the defending champion Enrico Gasparotto.

    "We didn't get enough out of it in the end compared to how strong we actually were as a team," Fuglsang told Cyclingnews.

    A season that has so far been stop-start is finally starting to come together for the Danish rider who is targeting a top-10 GC performance at this year's Tour de France. Sixth overall at Ruta Del Sol, Fuglsang couldn't carry that momentum through to Paris-Nice, crashed, and then like much of the peloton, got sick. Catalunya and then Pais Vasco proved a bit of a battle and he never really felt as if his form was heading in the right direction. At Valkenburg, that changed.

    "Sunday was nice and there was a different feeling in the body that now I can, the body works."

    At La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, following his support role for Gasparotto and before he's likely to be at the services of Vincenzo Nibali or defending champion Maxim Iglinskiy on Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Fuglsang is ready to leave it all out on the road.

    "I will for sure try if the legs are there," he confirmed, but with a caveat. "I will go from the distance instead if I get the green light," not wanting the 205km race to be decided only on 1300 metres of racing on the Mur de Huy.

    "We're one of the stronger teams and we have...

  • Report: Sanchez appeal to UCI about Blanco

    Stage nine winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) on the podium.
    Article published:
    April 16, 2013, 21:18 BST
    Cycling News

    Blanco say they have “no idea” about alleged appeal

    A member of Team Blanco’s management says the team has “no idea” about reports in Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday concerning an alleged appeal by their rider Luis León Sanchez to the UCI apparently claiming that the team have impeded his right to work.

    Sánchez was placed on non-active status in February when the news over his alleged links to Operación Puerto – which Sánchez denies – broke. One of Rabobank’s most successful riders, his last race was last September.

    Asked if the Spaniard was suspended, Blanco sports director Frans Maassen told Cyclingnews on Tuesday that was not the case. “No... just that the team say that maybe [there is] something not good.”

    “I think in any other team he would be out. But I cannot make any decisions, it’s difficult. He is a really good rider.”

    Maassen agreed that the situation was unusual, that it was hard to see what the outcome would be and that the case has dragged on for longer than usual. “It has already been a long time now. And nothing is happening, so I don’t know.”

    Asked if something might happen once a verdict concerning Operacion Puerto – to which Sánchez has allegedly been linked – came out, Maassen said: “I don’t know anything about this, I cannot make a decision, you have to talk to another director about this.”

    Blanco announced Sanchez’s suspension on February 2, saying that “until there is clarity about the outcome of the investigation is Luis Leon Sanchez is not included in a selection of Blanco."

    Speaking to

  • Follow Flèche Wallonne start-to-finish live on Cyclingnews Wednesday

    Kisses to the crowd as Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) wins the Fleche Wallonne
    Article published:
    April 16, 2013, 22:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Also full live coverage Sunday for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Follow the final two Ardennes Classics live from the start shot until the exciting finish. Cyclingnews will again provide live start-to-finish coverage of Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, April 17, and Liège - Bastogne - Liège on Sunday, April 21.

    In addition, Cyclingnews' staff is on the scene to interview riders both before and after the races, and get photos of the teams preparing for the race.

    Flèche Wallonne kicks off at 11:50 am CET on Wednesday, with our live coverage starting a little earlier. The race then wends 205 kilometers from Binche to Huy, taking in 12 climbs. The fame and feared Mur de Huy, with a gradient up to 9.3% will be tackled three times, including for the finish.

    Liège - Bastogne - Liège gets off to an earlier start, at 10:15 am CET on Sunday.  After starting in downtown Liège, the course runs 261.5km through the Belgian countryside, with 11 climbs, before finishing in Ans at about 5 pm, CET.

    See also: start list for Flèche Wallonne men and women.

  • Stevens will not defend Flèche Wallonne title

    On the podium - winner, Evelyn Stevens (Specialized - lululemon)
    Article published:
    April 16, 2013, 22:53 BST
    Laura Weislo

    American still recovering from March crash

    The women's peloton will toe the start line for the Flèche Wallonne World Cup round without the number 1 dossard amongst its ranks. Defending champion Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) last year stunned the world's top rider, Marianne Vos, by out-sprinting her to the line at the top of the Mur de Huy, but will not take part this year as she is still recovering from injuries sustained in a crash last month.

    Stevens crashed on a high-speed descent during the Classica Citta di Padova on March 16 and suffered lacerations to her face and broken teeth.

    Specialized-lululemon team manager Kristy Scrymgeour explained that Stevens needs a bit more time before she resumes racing. "Evie's doing pretty well and almost ready to get back to racing but we thought she needed a little bit more time," Scrymgeour told Cyclingnews on Tuesday.

    "She's disappointed not to be able to start Flèche Wallonne but there is a lot of racing still to come this season and I'm pretty sure she'll be back stronger when she starts racing over the next couple of weeks."

    Vos will start the third World Cup round with a 39-point lead in the series over Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon), while Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) is in third.

  • Vos under less pressure for Flèche Wallonne

    A smiling Marianne Vos (Rabo Women), winner of the first World Cup of 2013
    Article published:
    April 17, 2013, 0:05 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Four-time winner taking different approach this year

    A different build up to La Flèche Wallonne has four-time winner Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) unsure of her form heading into the World Cup race on Wednesday.

    Vos has not raced on the road since winning the Tour of Flanders, instead concentrating on her mountain bike with an eye to getting the balance right given her planned dual focus for the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games. It's not about being bored with the road, it's about adding to her motivation, she says. It's a thrill.

    "Normally I should have done last week's Energiewacht Tour ... so that's going to be a different feeling," the reigning World Champion told Cyclingnews on Tuesday at the team presentation in Huy. "I don't think it affects me that much but on Thursday I leave to the Sea Otter Classic so with the travelling and the different schedule it's something different but I want to try it for the coming years also."

    Vos admits that she arrives for the battle up the Mur de Huy with "less pressure" following her much-longed-for victory at the Tour of Flanders earlier this month. More than anything, Vos explained, adding The Ronde to her palmares was a relief.

    "Of course it's good for your confidence but it was more the main goal for this month," she said. "In the classics that was my main focus because after winning Flèche four times I really wanted to add that one badly."

    In 2012, Vos was on the verge of a third-consecutive win at La Flèche Wallonne when Evelyn Stevens (Specialized - lululemon) outsprinted the Dutchwoman on the last rise heading to the finish line.

    It's not a loss that is driving the 25-year-old upon her return however.

    "Getting second is not too bad of course but for me,...

  • Neylan psyched for aggressive La Flèche Wallonne

    Australian Rachel Neylan (Hitec Products) took a silver medal at the 2012 Road World's
    Article published:
    April 17, 2013, 0:47 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Hitec Products UCK bring depth and talented squad to Ardennes classic

    World Championship silver medallist Rachel Neylan (Hitec Products UCK) is steadily working her way into the season after a disrupted start to what she had hoped to have been one of the biggest years of her career.

    La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday however, is cause for a smile to return to the Australian's face.

    "I'm excited," Neylan told Cyclingnews at the team presentation in Huy on Tuesday buoyed by the memory of her 2010 debut when she was riding for the national team. "On a good day I've got the capacity to be up there - I like steep climbs. I love this race and I think it's going to be really aggressive and really hard."

    Following her top-10 performance at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships, Neylan embraced the European winter and a tough training camp having signed on with the Norwegian-based Hitec outfit. Perhaps it was too much too soon, but a knee injury eventuated and it's meant that Neylan has raced just a handful of times this season.

    "I probably bit off a little bit more than I could chew and I didn't really understand the limitations of training in winter in Europe," she explained.

    "Pulsed with a huge amount of motivation after worlds last year, I just wanted to come into a new season and new team and really hit it with a lot of force. I have a tendency to overdo things," she admitted.

    The racing Neylan's done in recent weeks has probably come a bit earlier than she'd anticipated but while supporting teammates Elisa Longo Borghini and Chloe Hosking, the 31-year-old is using the spring for conditioning while maintaining a team focus.


  • Gang Xu flies the flag for Champion System in Trentino

    Gang Xu (Champion System) crosses the line in 8th place after spending the day in the breakaway at Trentino
    Article published:
    April 17, 2013, 1:48 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Chinese national champion goes on the attack

    Chinese national road race champion Gang Xu ensured the Champion System team was in the breakaway during the first stage of the Giro del Trentino and then swapped his red national champion's jersey for the cream coloured most aggressive rider's jersey.

    Xu finished last of the eight breakaway riders but earned his 15 minutes of fame by being the first to attack at the start of the 128.5km stage. He suffered on the late climb and could not stay with eventual winner Maxime Bouet but was happy to be in the action.

    "I arrived in Austria yesterday after some races in Belgium and so my form's pretty good. In the team meeting my manager told me to go in the break and I said: 'Ok, no problem', I was happy to go for it. As soon as the race started, I went!" Xu told Cyclingnews.

    Gang Xu has been a professional rider for two years with Champion System. He won the Chinese national title last October, his fourth national title after also winning titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009. He rode the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman in February and has raced in Belgium and France since then, often suffering on the cobbles and in the echelons and failing to finish.

    "The level is very high in Europe, the races are very fast," he said. "In northern Europe it's very wind and very cold. But fortunately last week there was no wind and so I did better."

    The Giro del Trentino marks the end of Xu's spring campaign. Next on his race calendar is the Tour of California.

    "I'm going home to Shanghai after this race to get a Visa so that I can ride the Tour of California. That's a big race for us, I can't wait. It'll be nice to race in the USA."

  • Team Sky celebrate their Trentino team time trial victory

    Bradley Wiggins and Sky celebrate on the Giro del Trentino podium.
    Article published:
    April 17, 2013, 2:48 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Wiggins well placed as the mountain stages loom

    Team Sky celebrated victory in the Giro del Trentino team time trial with a champagne fight on the podium that left most of them soaked to the skin but happy to have won yet another race.

    The celebrations were a rare moment of emotion, a glimpse of the riders with their guard down, after a near perfect ride in the 14.1km team time trial around Lienz. Team Sky stopped the clock in a time of 15:20, a super fast average speed of 55.174km/h.

    Bradley Wiggins was happy to let his teammates cross the line ahead of him but he did some huge turns on the front, especially in the final part of the course, keeping the pace high for long spells but without breaking up the team.

    Wiggins admitted that he was not happy with how he felt on the bike but was pleased with the result.

    "I was dreadful today. I almost climbed off this morning so it's nice to finish the race with a win," he said, perhaps indicating his form is very good but that the antibiotics for his saddle sore have affected him. The truth may be revealed during Wednesday's first mountain stage and on the 14km climb to the finish in Vetriolo Terme.

    "It was a good test for us for the team time trial at the Giro d'Italia," Wiggins said.

    "It's important we don’t lose time there, that's the big goal. We wanted to limit our losses, so to win is great. I wouldn't say it's a surprise but there is so much that can go wrong and to get it right like that and win is a bonus."

    Cataldo ready for the mountains

    Dario Cataldo is Italian national champion and showed his tricolore stripes on his Team Sky skin suit during the team time trial.

    He will play a...