- Article published:
- August 14, 2012, 14:20
- Peter Hymas
Garmin-Sharp rider comments on Vaughters' NYT op-ed
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) achieved two career milestones at the recently concluded Tour de l'Ain stage race in France which augurs well for the Vuelta a España, beginning on Saturday, August 18. The 23-year-old American earned his first pro win on last Friday's penultimate stage of the Tour de l'Ain, a victory which put Talansky in the leader's jersey, and on Saturday's fifth and final stage the Garmin rider defended his general classification lead to notch his first stage race win.
"I went to l'Ain with the goal of preparing for the Vuelta and sometimes when you don't have a ton of pressure bigger things just happen, and that was the case there," Talansky told Cyclingnews. "It's a 2.1 race and you get all the big French guys like Pierre Rolland, Thibaut Pinot and Jerome Coppel - there's a lot of national pride in the race and a lot of French guys really want to win, but weird stuff happens."
Talansky was referring to what happened on stage three where a 23-rider group finished more than 22 minutes ahead of the peloton. "In a ProTour race, like say the Tour, Romandie or the Dauphine, you have Sky controlling it and the tactics are pretty simple. You can bank on a team controlling it. But there you have groups of 20 or 30 guys rolling off and that's what happened on Thursday. I hopped across to one group that kind of split off the front and there was one or two guys from almost every team and that was it. That narrowed down the GC to the guys who made the front that day."
Talansky finished third on the stage and found himself fourth overall on general classification, 23 seconds behind stage three winner Daniel Navarro (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank). Thursday's 156km stage from Nantua to Septmoncel provided a mountain finish for Talansky to put his fitness to the test.
"The plan on Thursday was to just stay relaxed and calm and make the split but Friday was the day I really wanted to see how I was climbing," said Talansky. "I kind of took control and really made it hard into the final climb. When their (Movistar) last guys pulled off and there was just one guy, [Sergio] Pardilla, left there was just three of us. I knew from the day before if I just get to the finish with those two guys that I'd be able to win the stage so that's kind of how I played it. I felt really good on the climb."
Talansky arrived at the finish in a three-man break with Sergio Pardilla (Movistar) and Rafal Majka (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and outsprinted them for his first professional victory. With the time bonus plus gap to his rivals Talansky now led the Tour de l'Ain by 12 seconds over Pardilla and 38 seconds over Navarro. Just one stage remained.
"Going into Saturday, it was really simple - it's a nice thing when you have the jersey and a strong team because all I had to do was follow wheels," said Talansky. "The team rode great all day and defended the lead. Christophe Le Mevel pretty much took control for the last 20km by himself and rode on the front so hard that nobody could attack so it made my life pretty easy."
In just one week's time from overall victory in the Tour de l'Ain, Talansky will line-up for the opening stage at the Vuelta a España. Talansky made his Grand Tour debut in last year's Vuelta, finishing 79th overall, but this time around it's a much different scenario for the Garmin American.
"This year, having won Tour de l'Ain and my first pro win, I'm going into the Vuelta in a much, much better place mentally and physically than I did last year" said Talansky. "You have another year of experience and that's what this sport is about. Each year you do a Grand Tour you really reach another level. I saw that this season and I'm still seeing it. Doing the Vuelta last year is what made winning Tour de l'Ain possible, it's what made what I did at [Tour de] Romandie possible (second overall behind Bradley Wiggins). It helps you step up another level and it's just something that no training could ever replicate.
"I had a few issues earlier in the year but things kind of work out. If I had made the Tour team then maybe I wouldn't have won Tour de l'Ain. It all works out and I'll go into the Vuelta with a strong team. I feel good, I think most of the guys feel good and I think we're going to do some exciting stuff there."
Jonathan Vaughters New York Times op-ed
Just one day after Talansky wrapped up the general classification victory at the Tour de l'Ain, the New York Times published a candid opinion piece written by Garmin manager Jonathan Vaughters in which he came clean about doping in his career and how it spurred him on to create a professional cycling team in which doping is never part of the equation.
"I did read it and I've also read David Millar's book," said Talansky. "It seems that they both came through the sport in a similar time and they were racing their bikes when I didn't even know what bike racing was. What I'm really, really happy about, whatever happened in Jonathan's past, the fact that it led him to creating the Slipstream organisation, creating this clean team and living by that ethos of making sure that riders like myself or Alex Howes or Pete Stetina or any young guy who comes into this sport and joins this team, that that's (doping) never put into the equation. It's never something that we're ever going to have to deal with. We're never going to have to make that choice between following our dreams or cheating to follow our dreams. We just get to follow our dreams and just become the most successful cyclist we can in an extremely positive, extremely clean environment.
"That's what's incredible to me is what he's created with this team is I think one of the most special things in cycling. I think the sport as a whole, I'd venture to say, is the cleanest it's ever been in the last 20 years. The point is now what Jonathan started with this team is really carrying over to a lot of teams, it's not just us anymore. You look at any team and they're all for the most part on the blood passport program and we've made leaps and bounds in the sport. I'm really thankful that I'm coming into it now, especially on a team like this where I never have to make decisions that Jonathan or any other rider [before] may have been faced with."
- Article published:
- August 14, 2012, 16:05
- Alasdair Fotheringham
2008 Olympic champion to round out career with Basque squad
2008 Olympic road-race champion and 2011 Tour de France King of the Mountains winner Samuel Sanchez will race for three more seasons with his current team, Euskaltel, who have - according to the Basque media - also signed three more of their top riders, Igor Anton, Mikel Landa and Jon Izaguirre for another two seasons.
Sánchez, 34, has raced for Euskaltel-Euskadi ever since he turned pro in 2000, during which time he has developed into one of cycling’s leading professionals. Amongst his top wins are the Tour of the Basque Country (2012), the stage to Luz Ardiden of the 2011 Tour, the 2008 Olympic road-race and the now defunct Championship of Zurich classic (2006).
After crashing out injured in the Tour de France, Sanchez has returned to racing today on what is home soil for his team, [Tuesday] in the Clásica San Sebastian. His program will not, as had been previously announced, include the Vuelta a España, although he is expected to race in the world championships, Il Lombardia (The Tour of Lombardy) and the two Chinese ProTour stage races.
Giro and Vuelta stage winner Igor Anton - who took one of Euskaltel-Euskadi’s most important victories ever, a stage win in Bilbao on the Vuelta’s return to the Basque Country after a three-decade absence - has also signed for Euskaltel, who are set to expand their team from 24 to 28 for 2013.
Sánchez’s renewal with his current team makes it very likely that he will pull down the curtain on his career with Euskaltel-Euskadi, with the end of 2015 the most likely date.
Another key figure in Basque cycling who is quitting rather sooner is Jaime Ugarte, the organiser of the Clásica San Sebastian and Vuelta al País Vasco for the last 32 years and who is standing down after today’s race.
- Article published:
- August 14, 2012, 18:45
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Spaniard takes Second Clásica victory in three years
The last time most cycling fans, not to mention most of Spain, saw Luis León Sánchez prior to this Tuesday's win in the Clásica San Sebastian was when his chain broke at the very start of the Olympic time trial, effectively wiping out any chance of success. But today, the 28-year-old Rabobank rider was back on their TV screens for the right reasons, as Sánchez put an Olympic nightmare behind him with his second victory in three years in Spain's top one-day Classic.
Unlike in 2010, where he outsprinted Alexandre Vinokourov and Carlos Sastre from a three-man break to win on the Boulevard Donostiarra in central San Sebastian, this time Sánchez went for it alone, just like he did in his stage win in the 2012 Tour de France, with a late, lone attack.
For Sanchez, today's win represented a return to his best form after an Olympic Games where the Spaniard and compatriot Alejandro Valverde were never on top of their game in the road race despite making it into the mini-peloton that sheered off the front of the pack the last time over Box Hill. As for the Olympic time trial five days later, that broken chain and a series of other incidents wrecked any chance of setting the score straight.
The Clásica, though, was a different story altogether, as Sanchez said. "I can't forget what happened in the Games that easily, they only come round once every four years. It was going round and round in my head all the time for a quite few days afterwards."
"Neither me nor Alejandro were up there at the right moment in London, we tried to make the race and get on the attack in the closing kilometres, but Alexandre [Vinokourov, road-race winner] was stronger and cleverer. And as for that time trial, well saying that wasn't a good day is putting it mildly."
"I'm really very happy to win here, pleased to win in front of the Basque fans because I raced a lot here when I was a U23 rider, and on top of that, they're really big cycling fans. It was also really important to do something after all that bad luck I had in the Olympic Games."
As Sanchez also pointed out, his and the team's other victories in the last week have also been important given Rabobank's very difficult Tour, where the team finished with just four riders.
"[Lars] Boom won in Eneco, [Michael] Matthews won a stage of the Tour of Utah and now we've got this victory too. We've shown we're a great team."
As for the Clásica itself, Sanchez said that the Arkale climb, less than 20 kilometres from the finish, had been a key moment, "After Purito [Joaquim Rodríguez - Katusha] attacked about 10 or 12 riders went with him, but I wasn't up there. Then as the race was regrouping I took advantage of the confusion and then I went for it."
"Luis had great form for months and the wins keep on coming," Rabobank sports director Adri Van Houwelingen told Cyclingnews. "He never had over 12 seconds in that last break but even over nine kilometres, it was enough - that shows he was really strong."
"The original aim was to reach the foot of the Jaizkebel [for a second time] with as many riders as possible in the front group and we had five [Robert Gesink, Sanchez, Bauke Mollema, Laurens Ten Dam, Paul Martens] there and we hadn't made a move, we were still ready to go for it."
"Then we had three riders left, and then after the Jaizkebel Luis went for it at exactly the right moment. But although we knew that the [second category climb of] Arkale would be more important than the Jaizkebel, that was Luis' decision to attack there."
"We had a lot of bad luck in the Tour although we had one great stage win too with Luis. But now thanks to this and the other wins we'll go for the Vuelta feeling really motivated."
- Article published:
- August 14, 2012, 20:48
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Garmin-Sharp rider tries to pull back Sánchez in final kilometers
A late attack by Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was the most serious challenge that Luis León Sanchez faced on his nine-kilometre mad dash to victory in the Clasica San Sebastian. Timed at just six seconds behind with three kilometres to go, the Irishman could not quite bridge the gap and was reeled in by the pack, but it was a brave effort nonetheless.
"If I'd had another 50-metre margin, maybe they'd have hesitated a bit more behind and it might have made the difference," Martin told Cyclingnews as he stood outside his team bus in warm early evening sunshine.
"I was a bit disappointed in the bunch sprint [where he took 18th]. I had what I thought was perfect position. I was on [Greg] Van Avermaet's wheel in third position coming out of the little 'S' bend [at around 500 metres to go], but we got swamped from behind and there was nowhere to go, I ended up not even sprinting, but this race is always a bit of a lottery."
"At the same time, Luis León [Sanchez] was super strong to be able to hold us all off, and that was impressive."
As for his final last ditch dig across, Martin said, "I had been following and following, but everybody was on the limit on that last climb [of the Arkale] and I still felt pretty good so I went for it. If I'd had just a little bit more margin, I think people might have hesitated, but at least I had a go."
Martin said that he had been feeling a bit "ring-rusty" with a longish gap not racing after the Olympics, as well as feeling tired after the Tour de France, but that his San Sebastian performance made him feel optimistic about the series of one-day races he'll now be tackling in August.
"I'm quite excited, I really like the one-day races, I'll be doing Hamburg, Plouay and the Canadian ones."
"Today was really about blowing the cobwebs away, so hopefully I'll be able to build some form now."
Two other strong racers in the finale were Sky's Sergio Henao, second in the Tour of Burgos and in the last break again prior to Luis Leon Sanchez's final move, and Henao's teammate Richie Porte, who attacked late on and finally took 24th. "We were a little bit out of position when Sanchez went," Porte said, "The Colombians did really well, and it shows well for what's coming up for the team."
"This is a tough race, we did nearly 2,700 metres of climbing today and the heat was having an impact on a lot of the guys.
"But I didn't come out of the Tour too badly, and my conditions been pretty good all season. It looks really good for the Vuelta [a Espana]."
- Article published:
- August 14, 2012, 21:58
- Cycling News
Pro cycling gear on auction to help wildfire victims
Colorado resident and cyclist for the Optum Pro Cycling team Mike Creed is close to meeting his goal of raising $20,000 for the Red Cross of Pikes Peak in an auction of cycling gear and memorabilia donated from around the world.
An eBay auction in conjunction with The Pro's Closet has 93 items listed for sale, with the total bids nearing the target goal. All proceeds will benefit those affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire, which burned 29 square miles near the cycling hot bed of Colorado Springs in June and July. The fire left over $350 million in damage, destroyed 346 homes and left two people dead.
The items include a 2009 Tour de France route map and race number signed by Lance Armstrong, a BMC white jersey signed by Tejay van Garderen, George Hincapie's 2005 Discovery Channel Trek time trial frame, jerseys signed by Peter Sagan and more.
All sales will end Wednesday night.
- Article published:
- August 14, 2012, 23:50
- Cycling News
Direction switch could be in the works
The Amgen Tour of California could reverse its traditional North-South route in 2013, as this year's start city of Santa Rosa has put in a bid to host the overall finish, while the Southern Californian city of Escondido has pitched organiser AEG with hosting the overall start.
According to the Press Democrat, Santa Rosa enjoyed an economic benefit of $6.8 million this year as it hosted the teams and fans in the days leading up to the first stage, and it is looking to host the race for the seventh time.
"We're kind of old pros at it," said local organiser Raissa de la Rosa, the city's economic development specialist.
Escondido hosted the final stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour, using the famous Palomar Mountain climb in the stage won by Frank Schleck. According to the North Coast Times, the race organization approached them, urging them to bid for the start. NBC San Diego reported last week that the city council had approved funds to submit the bid.
According to the Modesto Bee, Modesto and nearby Turlock are applying for stage starts and finishes, while Sonora hopes to host another stage start. Solvang is also reported to be considering a bid to host a mid-week stage.
The deadline for bids is Friday, August 17. The host city selection will not be announced until November.
- Article published:
- August 15, 2012, 00:27
- Pat Malach and Laura Weislo
CEO promises payment of outstanding invoices
One of the biggest supporters of cycling in North America, the Exergy Development Group, has confirmed rumors of unpaid sponsorship invoices, but promised that it would meet all of its obligations in the coming weeks, Cyclingnews has learned.
It's been nearly impossible to attend a cycling event over the past two seasons without seeing the Exergy Development Group's windmill logo splashed all over jerseys, race banners or title sponsorship. Among the Idaho-based sustainable energy company's most high-profile sponsorships are the men's Team Exergy UCI Continental Team and the Exergy-Twenty12 women's team, which featured 2012 Olympic time trial Gold medalist Kristin Armstrong and Olympic track bronze medalist Lauren Tamayo.
While both teams denied any issue with payment, multiple sources connected with some of the biggest races in the US confirmed to Cyclingnews on Tuesday that the Exergy Development Group has failed to meet some of its financial obligations for sponsorships dating back as far as last season.
Exergy Development Group was the title sponsor for last year's US Grand Prix of Cyclocross and this year's inaugural women's UCI stage race in Idaho. The company sponsored the 2012 Nature Valley Grand Prix sprinter's jersey and the most aggressive rider jerseys for Medalist Sports-run Tour of California and Tour of Utah. The company is listed as a Founding Partner, the highest level of sponsorship, for the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, also run by Medalist Sports. USA Cycling lists Exergy as one of its sponsors as well.
Exergy's CEO James Carkulis responded to the rumors candidly, saying he's "very embarrassed about this situation", but noted that roadblocks in their energy business have trickled down to some cycling sponsorships.
"This year has been a bit of a strange year for us when it's come to our normal business practices. We have tens of millions of dollars that are invested into our [energy] projects and we've had a number of delays in our financial closings," Carkulis said, adding that he expects the sponsorship invoices to be paid out in the next month.
Sustainable energy has been having a rough go as of late, with the majority of government subsidies set to expire over the next two years, and, specifically in Exergy's case, eroding support from the state of Idaho and regulated utilities. Just last week Idaho Power joined other utilities seeking to convince the state Public Utilities Commission to change the formula it uses to set the price they must pay renewables developers for their power, arguing the current price is too high.
Carkulis said the industry challenges have had "a profound impact on our business", and that the "unfortunate timing" has resulted in the delays to its projects.
- Article published:
- August 15, 2012, 01:22
- Cycling News
Team to pay tribute to Robbie Williams
Drapac Professional Cycling begin the Tour of the Great South Coast today with an eye firmly to the future while also paying tribute to their former teammate, Robbie Williams, who died tragically on Tuesday morning.
The team will sport black arm bands in memory of Williams.
"It is an incredibly sad day that is not only felt by his friends, family and Drapac Professional Cycling but also the wider cycling community as we have all lost a great friend," said team manager Jonathan Breekveldt. "Michael Drapac was particularly upset when told the news and we send our condolences and best regards to his family."
New signings Robbie Hucker, formerly of Team Torq / Bicycle Superstore and Johnnie Walker, formerly of RBS Morgans-ATS will both line up in Portland for Drapac on Wednesday. Gordon McCauley, five-time New Zealand road champion will compete for the team this week as a guest rider and should prove especially useful in the tough conditions expected during the five-day tour.
Hucker, current Australian under 23 Mountain Bike Champion is concentrating on the road in 2012.
"He is a rising talent in Australian cycling and for somebody so new to the road has a great understanding of racing and has already impressed in the early National Road Series [NRS] events this year," said Breekveldt.
Walker's move will also see him race alongside his brother, Will, current leader of the NRS.
"John is a world class rider and has competed at the highest level the sport has to offer," said Breekveldt. "He is a natural fit for the team and DPC fully support not only his cycling but his decision to enrol in a full-time university course."
Drapac's sport director, Agostino Giramondo explained that while the team would like to maintain Will Walker's series lead, the priority is to win the Tour of the Great South Coast and also stage victories.
"This tour is better suited to the likes of [Darren] Lapthorne and [Lachlan] Norris especially with Will holding the NRS leaders jersey making him a marked man" he said.
Will Walker said that while he has enjoyed rapid success so far, he is still in the "early stages" of building his condition.
"I didn't expect to start with such a great result, it really goes to show when there are good people behind you [Michael Drapac and Drapac Professional Cycling] it makes the world of difference. I hope to continue building so I can put in a great showing at the nationals in January," he said.
"I'm getting stronger and I know I'll become stronger than when I was in Rabobank. Mainly because I'm not suffering from health problems like in the past. I can't thank Drapac enough for supporting me and getting my general health back to 100 per cent. That is obviously the most important thing in life, now after being through many tough years I am at a great mental state which is certainly more powerful than strong legs.