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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Date published:
December 25, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • 2013 Report Card: Katusha Team

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) win the 2013 Giro di Lombardia
    Article published:
    December 23, 2013, 22:00 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Russian squad a force to be reckoned with on all fronts

    Katusha Team Report Card

    WorldTour Ranking: 3rd/19
    Win Count: 30
    Top riders: Joaquim Rodriguez (1st); Dani Moreno (12th); Simon Spilak (21st).
    Grade: A-

    Katusha is one of the very few UCI WorldTour squads that can honestly state they were a force to be reckoned with - and a winning one - on all fronts and through the entire season. And that’s not even totally thanks to Joaquim Rodriguez, even if he was crowned the UCI WorldTour’s number one rider for a third time in four years and won races from the Tour of Oman’s toughest mountain stage in February to the Il Lombardia Classic for a second year running in October. In between, of course, came one of Katusha’s high points of the season - Rodriguez clinching his and the Russian team’s first ever Tour de France podium, with third in Paris, and one of his most frustrating near-misses, silver in the world championships.

    When Rodriguez was either not racing, such as in the cobbled Classics, riders like Luca Paolini with his victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad kept Katusha in the headlines. And when Purito was injured, like in the Fleche Wallonne, teammate Dani Moreno stepped into the breach. Moreno repeated that feat in the first two thirds of the

  • Lampre-Merida chasing stage wins at Tour Down Under

    Roberto Ferrari (Lampre - Merida)
    Article published:
    December 23, 2013, 23:49 GMT
    Cycling News

    Roberto Ferrari to lead Italian team

    The Italian WorldTour team Lampre-Merida will begin 2014 at the Tour Down Under with the aim of returning home with a handful of stage wins and a good placing in the overall classification. The seven-man team is built around Roberto Ferrari who will go head-to-head in the sprints with the German powerhouses André Greipel and Marcel Kittel.

    In his previous appearance at the Australian race, Ferrari finished in the top ten of the sprint classification at the 2013 Tour Down Under and is looking for a good start to the 2014 season.

    Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said the team will have their sights set on particular stages of next year's race. "With the team focusing on stage wins for Ferrari, I expect Lampre-Merida will be targeting Stages 2 and 4 as the likelihood of a bunch sprint finish is high," he said.

    While Ferrari is targeting the flat stages, Lampre will also be looking for a high overall finish with Rafael Valls. The Spaniard will make his debut with Lampre having spent the last two seasons with the now defunct Vacansoleil - DCM team.

    Turtur believes that the team should have success considering its approach and that rider such as Valls have done well at the race in the past. "Lampre-Merida also has a good contender for the Ochre Jersey in Valls Ferri who finished only 53 seconds behind winner Tom-Jelte Slagter in 2013," said Tutur.

    Helping Ferrari out in the sprints will be Diego Ulissi who is looking forward to his first appearance at the Santos Tour Down Under. Ulissi had a successful 2013 which he capped off with victory at Milano-Torino and is hoping to use the race to build form for the upcoming season rather than expecting to add to his...

  • Sánchez: The last thing I want to do is retire like this

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) celebrates stage victory at the Dauphine.
    Article published:
    December 24, 2013, 9:22 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Former Olympic champion on last-minute hunt for squad

    The good news for 2008 Olympic road-race champion Samuel Sánchez this Christmas is that his contract with the soon-to-be-defunct Euskaltel-Euskadi, which technically had him racing for the Basque squad until 2015, has been formally declared null and void. The bad? He still doesn’t know where he’s racing next year.

    “A new contract would be the ideal Christmas present,” Sánchez, 35, told Cyclingnews on Monday, “but for now there’s nothing.”

    As leader of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Sánchez has been at the centre of the will-they-won’t-they soap opera over whether the team will continue all year. “One minute there was good news, the next there was really bad news. Ever since the Giro, there’s never been a quiet moment. But you have to learn to roll with the punches,” he said.

    “In a sense I’ve hit on a perfect storm: the sponsorship crisis in Spain, Euskaltel ending and then things not working out for a new team. It’s been a real emotional rollercoaster of a year.”

    Nonetheless, that did not stop him taking the squad’s biggest victory of 2013, the toughest mountain stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné, as well as a frustrating near miss in the uphill time trial of the Giro d’Italia at Polsa, where he was only beaten by Vincenzo Nibali. Despite the extra pressure brought about by the uncertainty over his professional future, Sánchez also secured eighth place overall in the Vuelta a España, and twelfth in the Giro.

    A Vuelta and Tour podium finisher who won the King of the Mountains prize in 2011 as well as a mountain stage to Luz Ardiden, Sánchez was 22 when he joined Euskaltel-Euskadi and will be 36 next February, making him the longest-standing pro with the Basque team – one season more, even, than...

  • Cancellara working towards 2014 hour record attempt

    Fabian Cancellara might need to ask for a leader's jersey in a slightly bigger size
    Article published:
    December 24, 2013, 10:33 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Guercilena on tailoring road form to the track

    Renewed success in the cobbled classics may be foremost in Fabian Cancellara’s mind as the year draws to a close, but the Swiss rider has also tested material for a possible tilt at the world hour record in recent weeks. Speaking to Cyclingnews during the revamped Trek Factory Racing team's recent training camp in Calpe, manager Luca Guercilena said that he was hopeful that Cancellara would be able to make a record attempt during the 2014 season.

    “When you make an attempt on the record, it also means removing the athlete from another objective, and obviously that’s not so easy in the first season that you put a team together, especially with a rider as important as Fabian. That said, we are going ahead with tests on material and we’re looking into what might be a good period of the calendar to do it relatively soon,” Guercilena told Cyclingnews.

    While riders such as Chris Boardman (1996) and Miguel Indurain (1994) used an extended window of post-Tour de France form to break the old hour record, Cancellara’s attempt would seem most likely to take place in late April, after his classics campaign comes to an end.

    Unlike Boardman and Indurain, who broke the record between five and six weeks after the end of the Tour, Cancellara’s transition time from road to track could be significantly shorter. As Guercilena pointed out, the important thing is to strike a balance between adapting to the track and utilising Cancellara’s spring classics form.

    “You’d need a minimum of fifteen days to adapt to the track before a record attempt: it’s unthinkable that you could do it immediately afterwards because the pedal stroke you use on the road is very different to the one you use on the...

  • Staying with Androni-Venezuela is "a big Christmas present," says Pellizotti

    Franco Pellizotti (Androni-Venezuela) in Modena before the Giro dell'Emilia.
    Article published:
    December 24, 2013, 12:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian re-signs after collapse of Astana deal

    Franco Pellizotti has described re-signing with Androni-Venezuela for 2014 following the collapse of his proposed move to Astana as a “Christmas present.” Manager Gianni Savio confirmed Pellizotti’s place on the team’s roster on Monday.

    Pellizotti, who served a two-year ban from May 2010 to May 2012 after anomalies were detected in his biological passport, had agreed to join Astana for 2014 but the transfer hit a snag due to the Kazakh team’s membership of the Movement for Credible Cycling.

    Under MPCC regulations, member teams cannot field riders who have served doping bans for a further two years after the end of their suspensions. Thus, Pellizotti would have been sidelined until 2 May, 2014, just before the start of the Giro d’Italia.

    “The Astana management even asked me to ride with them from August 1 this year so that I could support [Vincenzo] Nibali at the Vuelta, but Gianni Savio rightly asked me to finish out the year with Androni because we had the chance of winning the Coppa Italia and thus being invited to the next Giro d’Italia,” Pellizotti told Elleradio.

    “In the meantime, this problem with the MPCC emerged, Astana cooled a bit towards me and they officially signed [Michele] Scarponi. In the end, thanks to Gianni and the sponsors, we managed to reach this agreement that allows me to stay with him.

    “For me this is a big Christmas present. It all arose at the last minute.”

    Savio’s Androni-Venezuela team has also joined the MPCC in the intervening period, but and the Italian was careful to point out that Pellizotti’s status is not affected,...

  • Craddock and Haga ready for life at Argos-Shimano

    Lawson Craddock (Bontrager-Livestrong) bridges up to the front
    Article published:
    December 24, 2013, 15:55 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Americans move up to WorldTour in 2014

    Americans Lawson Craddock and Chad Haga will head across the Atlantic in the first week of January to turn their debut WorldTour seasons with Argos-Shimano up to full boil.

    Craddock, 22, and Haga, 25, will take part in their first training camp with the team in Altea, Spain, followed by the team presentation and then back to Spain for another training camp.

    Both riders already met with management, staff and their new teammates during a gathering in mid-October, and both said they were duly impressed with the Dutch squad's organization.

    “Everything is kind of dialed in,” Craddock said this week from Houston, Texas, where he was celebrating the holidays with family. “Everything is there for us, and it really seemed like it's going to make it a lot easier to focus on being the best bike racer that I can be and not having to worry about all the little stuff.”

    Craddock was also relieved that the first team gathering didn't involve any hazing of new riders.

    “I didn't have to strip down in front of everyone,” he said. “So it was a lot of fun. I felt like I was already a part of the team.”

    Haga only met about half his new teammates because he had to leave the October meeting early to be the best man in a friend's wedding, but he also said his first impression with the organization was very favorable.

    Although many young Americans flock to American-based teams when they move up to the WorldTour, the two young Texans said Argos-Shimano's commitment to developing young riders is what drew them abroad.

    “It was their enthusiasm for development,” Haga said of his reasons for signing a two year neo-pro contract with Argos. “It's pretty cool to have someone be...

  • 2013 Report Card: Team Saxo-Tinkoff

    Oleg Tinkov was overjoyed with the team's victory
    Article published:
    December 24, 2013, 19:05 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Contador struggles for wins throughout the season

    WorldTour Ranking: 6/19
    Win Count: 8
    Top riders: Roman Kreuziger (11th), Alberto Contador (15th), Rafal Majka (20th), Nicolas Roche (36th).

    Grade: D

    Although they finished sixth in the WorldTour rankings, 2013 constituted a disappointing season for Bjarne Riis and his men. Alberto Contador only managed one win all season – a stage in the Tour de San Luis – and the team’s grand haul of eight victories was overshadowed by off-the-bike headlines that reverberated around anti-doping investigations, Oleg Tinkoff’s will he-won’t he purchase of the team, and Michael Rogers’ A sample positive for clenbuterol.

    There were flashes of brilliance on the road, such Nicolas Roche’s stage win and overall performance at the Vuelta, Rafal Majka’s solid ride in the Giro d’Italia, and Roman Kreuzinger’s Amstel win - although this, too, was tainted by the rider’s admission of previously working with Dr Ferrari - but the wins were few and far between for what is a essentially a team with too many riders living off former glories and past achievements.

    At the head of that queue is Contador. His failure to win an overall stage race – a first in almost a decade –...

  • Inside: McLaren and its partnership with Specialized

    The chassis tools can do complete bikes and not just frames
    Article published:
    December 25, 2013, 10:01 GMT
    Warren Rossiter/Future Publishing

    Research methods used in bike design at McLaren Technology Centre

    This article originally published on BikeRadar

    Specialized has recently been working with Formula 1 giant McLaren, and for 2014 the duo have expanded their research into how to make better bikes and gear. BikeRadar recently took at tour of the McLaren Technology Centre headquarters with Specialized to learn about what's to come.

    Proactive research

    Up until now, the successful meeting of minds between Specialized's R&D division and McLaren's applied technologies experts has been reactive on McLaren's part. The key bike, the S-Works/McLaren Venge, as ridden by Mark Cavendish, was an existing design. Indeed, it was an existing frameset from Specialized that was given (in its S-Works form) to the McLaren AT team headed by keen rider Duncan Bradley.

    The Woking-based boffins at McLaren then analysed the carbon layup and structure at the core of the bike, optimised it, and introduced new materials. That led to a significant weight loss for the aero frame, as well as increases in key points of stiffness and the general dynamics of the frameset.

    The next phase of the partnership is all about acquiring and developing key information at the conception of Specialized's products.

    Duncan Bradley explained: "Historically, development within McLaren was always based on the subjective. Our drivers took the car out, drove it hard and then came back and explained what they liked, what they didn't like about the car. As the company and technology has progressed we've gone from ‘engineering interrogation' of the drivers to recording and analysing what is happening mechanically and dynamically."

    Since those early days, McLaren has been creating...