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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Date published:
April 09, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Giro d'Italia tweaks time bonuses and points

    The 2014 Giro d'Italia points leader's jersey was unveiled in Florence
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 16:10 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Sprinters and pure climbers favoured by new rules

    RCS Sport, the organiser of the Giro d'Italia, has announced that time bonuses on offer during stages of this year's race have been cut, while points for the points and mountains jersey have been increased on key stages to help sprinters and pure climbers emerge in the fight for the special classification jerseys.

    In a press release, RCS Sport said it was making the changes to make the Giro d'Italia "more exciting from a technical, racing and entertainment point of view" and so in line with "time gaps in modern cycling".

    No time bonuses were awarded during the 2012 Giro d'Italia won by Canada's Ryder Hesjedal but they returned in 2013, with 20, 12 and 8 seconds awarded to the first three riders on each road race stage. Two Intermediate sprints per stage also awarded 5, 3 and 2 seconds. Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won overall.

    In this year's race, the time bonuses have been cut in half, with 10, 6 and 4 seconds awarded at stage finishes and 3, 2 and 1 second awarded at intermediate sprints.

    Points and mountains competition changes

    RCS Sport has also tweaked the points scales for the red points jersey and the blue mountains jersey.

    The points awarded at stage finishes will vary, with three levels of points on offer depending on the stages. RCS Sport has not yet specified which stages will be in which level but the idea is to favour the sprinters.

    The first level, presumably the flat stages, will award points to 20 riders on a scale from 50 to 1 point. Level two stages will award points to the top 15 riders on a scale of 25 to 1 and level three stages will award points to the top 10 riders on a scale of 15 to 1 point. Points at intermediate sprints will follow a similar scale.

    The points awarded in the mountains will also change, with...

  • Mountainous look to 2014 Tour de l’Avenir

    The final Avenir podium (l-r): Andrew Talansky, Alexander Quintana and Jarlinson Pantano Gomez.
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 16:53 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Under 23 race concludes with four summit finishes

    The Tour de l'Avenir organiser ASO seems determined to unearth the next Nairo Quintana at this race in August, with the route featuring summit finishes on each of the final four days.

    Taking place Between August 23-30, the eight-day race for under-23 riders will conclude with a finish at La Toussuire, where Europcar’s Pierre Rolland claimed victory in the 2012 Tour de France.

    The race kicks off with a four-kilometre time trial in the Cantal town of Saint-Flour. From there it moves on to Ag2r-La Mondiale climber Romain Bardet’s home town of Brioude, then continues west towards four consecutive stages in the Alps.

    The first of them comes at the end of the longest stage of the race and finishes at Plateau de Solaison, which sits at the top of a 13km ascent averaging 8%. The next day’s stage is, at 82km, only half the distance of the run up to Plateau de Solaison, but includes the Col du Feu and Col des Gets before the final ascent to the ski station of Carroz d’Arâches.

    The penultimate stage is another short one at 108km, but also features three substantial climbs. First up is the Col des Saisies, followed by the Cormet de Roselend and then the ascent to the resort of La Rosière.

    The race billed a mini-Tour de France for young riders ends with another severe test. The Col du Mollard and Col de la Croix de Fer are on the agenda before the final ascent to La Toussuire, where the successor to 2013 champion Rubén Fernández will be crowned.

    Quintana won the Tour de l'Avenitr in 2010.  Ruben Fernandez Andujar of Spain won last year, ahead of Britain's Adam Yates.

    The 2014 Tour de l'Avenir route:

    23 August, Prologue: Saint-Flour, 4km
    24 August, Stage 1: Saint-Flour...

  • Tony Martin celebrates Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco victory with help from Bakelants

    Stage 2 winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quick Step)
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 20:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Twentieth win for Omega Pharma Quick Step in 2014

    Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Team's Tony Martin picked the right moment to go for the solo victory at 156km Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco's stage 2 on Tuesday. Martin's triumph gave his team its 20th win of the 2014 season, and it was also his first non-time trial win since 2012.

    "The last time I won a race that wasn't a TT was at Tour of Beijing in 2012 when I attacked on the descent. Normally when I win on the road the races are at smaller stage races," said Martin. "But I have to say a win like today is also special. I think I was strong in my head also and in the final of the stage I thought of the stage of La Vuelta last year. I said to myself 'this time, it won't happen again.'"

    Martin was part of an original seven-man break during stage 2. With about 17km to go, Martin, his teammate Jan Bakelants and Movistar's Gorka Izaguirre - also both in the same break - went on the attack together.

    Bakelants and Martin then worked together to wear down Izaguirre. First, Bakelandts accelerated with a little more than 12km remaining. Just as Izaguirre pulled back Bakelants, Martin countered and immediately gained a decisive gap.

    Izaguirre was unable to chase Martin, and the case was the same for the peloton behind. Despite some attacks from GC contenders such as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and even an attempt to bridge by Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), Martin used the time trial prowess of a three-time time trial world champion and powered away to a solo victory. Michal Kwiatkowski also contested the podium out of the chase group behind. He placed third behind Ben Swift (Team Sky).

    "I came here to try and do something good in the GC," Martin said. "But yesterday the final was too hard for a...

  • Popovych and Devolder to miss Scheldeprijs

    Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    April 08, 2014, 22:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Two riders sidelined by injuries

    Trek Factory Racing withdrew Stijn Devolder and Yaroslav Popovych from the lineup for Scheldeprijs on Wednesday due to injuries sustained from crashes in the Tour of Flanders this past Sunday.

    Devolder, the victim of two big crashes in Flanders, sustained a hematoma in the synovial bursa of the elbow. Popovych strained the adductor muscles of his hip after he entangled his handlebars with a fan, an unfortunate incident not so uncommon due to the numerous fans lining the narrow, cobbled roads.

    The Trek Factory Racing team will start with six riders in Scheldeprijs and will allow both Devolder and Popovych more time to heal prior to Paris-Roubaix this coming Sunday. Popovych is scheduled for a scan later today to be sure the hip joint was not affected and he remains questionable for Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, while the team hopes Devolder, with the added rest, will be ready to take the start in Compiègne.

    The Trek Factory Racing lineup for Scheldeprijs will be Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent, Gregory Rast, Markel Irizar and Danny van Poppel.

  • Kittel looking for Scheldeprijs hatrick

    Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
    Article published:
    April 09, 2014, 0:45 BST
    Cycling News

    A personal highlight of the classics for German sprinter

    As the winner of the past editions of the sprinter's classic, Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) enters Scheldeprijs as a favourite to claim his third title at the 200km  Belgium Classic.

    A mid-week race between the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris–Roubaix, Scheldeprijs is a rare opportunity for the sprinters to shine and Kittel has shown in the last two years that it is a race he is highly motivated to win. 

    "Scheldeprijs is my personal classics highlight as it is the only one I do, so I am really looking forward to it," Kittel explained on his team's website.

    "Even if I didn't win a stage in De Panne, I am feeling confident as I feel good and the team are riding well together.

    "We will go all out for the win and even if some of the big names aren't there it doesn't change the way we will race – there are still a lot of fast riders in the race."

    The race will be another opportunity to fine tune the team's sprint train which has been delivering Kittel and John Degenkolb to numerous victorious already this season.

    "Marcel is in good shape and our goal is to ride for a bunch sprint and to support him before getting the lead-out train up to speed," said Team Giant-Shimano coach Aike Visbeek.

    While Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step) won't be racing in 2014, Giant Shimano will be up against the likes of Theo Bos (Belkin), Arnaud Démare (FDJ),

  • Sagan led Cannondale ready for Scheldeprijs

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was left out of the fireworks on the Patersberg
    Article published:
    April 09, 2014, 2:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Elia Viviani to boost sprint opportunity

    Cannondale enter the final race of its Belgium campaign before Sunday's Paris-Roubaix ready with two options for the sprint friendly 200km Scheldeprijs

    Peter Sagan and Elia Viviani will give the men in green a two pronged attack but face a fast Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) who is looking to make it three successive wins in a row

    "We're motivated to give a bold performance at Scheldeprijs," said team director Stefano Zanatta, who will be in the team car on Wednesday.

    "The team has ridden well in Belgium and we must not change our expectations. We have two strong captains, and we'll work hard to put them in the best condition in the finale. Sagan has the Paris-Roubaix in his plan, and the Scheldeprijs is the right chance for him to start fresh after the Ronde. While at Settimana Internazionale, Viviani broke the ice and showed significant improvement of condition.

    "Either rider could play a key role in a Cannondale win."

    Riding in support for the duo will be the riders who have made up the Classics team for the past two weeks. The riders for Scheldeprijs will be: Maciej Bodnar, Kristijan Koren, Alan Marangoni, Ted King, Paolo Longo Borghini, and Fabio Sabatini.

  • Cunego consistent in Pais Vasco

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was pleased with his performance
    Article published:
    April 09, 2014, 4:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian thankful for help from World Champion

    Lampre Merida's Damiano Cunego demonstrated on stage two of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco that he going to be competitive throughout the Spanish race. Cunego was fourth behind Tony Martin's (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) solo victory and was fifth on stage one.

    The former Giro d'Italia winner is now fourth on GC behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and was thankful for the support of his team to keep him at within distance of the race leader.

    "I'm satisfied today too, especially because I was in the head positions when the pace in the group was raised by the attack of [Alejandro] Valverde and Contador," Cunego explained on the Lampre Merida website.

    "When the two Spanish riders attacked, I preferred to manage the energies, then I tested my legs chasing an attack by [Cadel] Evans.

    "In view of the final kilometres, Rui Costa gave me an impressive support: it's so good to race behind Rui, he's skilful in moving in the group and in saving energies. I really want to thank him for the help."

    The next stage of the race is a 194.5km dash from Urdazubi to Gasteiz which has two Cat 2 climbs within the first 50km of the stage.

  • Nizzolo's sprint to second place in Sarthe sign of recovery

    Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    April 09, 2014, 6:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Trek rider on the comeback from broken collarbone

    The first stage of the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire was bound for a sprint finish and it was Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) who almost caused an upset on the line. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) continued his winning ways to claim victory but for Nizzolo, it was a sign that he is no longer limited by the collarbone he broke on a training ride in February.

    "I am happy because I am back with the sprint feeling - with the adrenaline at the end - but on the other hand when you are second you are always thinking you were so close and you could win," said Giacomo Nizzolo who won Stage 3 of this year's Tour de San Luis.

    "The problem was there was a backwind and it was a little bit downhill so the speed was high and for me I needed a bigger gear. Like this, it is hard to overtake the guy who’s in the lead.

    "In this case when you start the sprint you have more chance to hold it to the finish, and maybe with a little more headwind, I could overtake him and then win. But it’s okay - when I see back where I was one week ago I can say that I am happy now."

    For sport director Alain Gallopin, the day's racing was made less stressful by having rival teams take up the chasing of the day's break.

    "FDJ and Europcar controlled the whole day - a breakaway of three guys - we did not have to do anything," said Gallopin. "Then at the end Giacomo had great help from Boy van Poppel. Giacomo was very strong, and it’s nice to see he’s back; there are a lot of sprinters here, the...