- Article published:
- December 3, 2013, 12:05
- Barry Ryan
Former CEO Giamomo Catano also fired
Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone has reportedly been fired by RCS Sport following an internal investigation into the possible misappropriation of around €13 million from the company’s accounts.
Acquarone was suspended from his position as Chief Operating Officer of RCS Sport in early October, when news of the missing funds first emerged. According to the Italian news agency lapresse.it, Acquarone and former CEO Giacomo Catano were sacked by RCS Sport on Tuesday.
It is not known whether Acquarone was directly involved in the misappropriation of funds, but as Managing Director, he was responsible for the management and finances of the company. In mid-November, it was reported that magistrates in Milan had formally opened an investigation into the misappropriation of funds at RCS.
In a statement issued on October 11, Acquarone insisted he was not involved in the alleged misappropriation.
"I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days," he said. "Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified."
Last weekend, Acquarone told Cyclingnews that he had not had any contact from RCS since his suspension began almost two months ago, and announced that he would tell his side of the story in full at a press conference in Milan on Thursday. Acquarone declined to comment when contacted by Cyclingnews after news of his sacking emerged, saying that he would hold his counsel until his press conference later in the week.
An employee of RCS since 1999, Acquarone took over the reins of the Giro d’Italia from Angelo Zomegnan in the summer of 2011 and immediately began to modernize the race and raise its international profile.
Race director Mauro Vegni is expected to assume the role of director of the Giro d’Italia, while Paolo Bellino is rumoured to take on the position of CEO of RCS Sport. Bellino is a former 400m runner and current general secretary of the Italian Athletics Federation. He has experience in organising major athletic events.
- Article published:
- December 3, 2013, 14:02
- José Been
Belgian accept less pay for an extra year with the team
Jelle Vanendert has broken his current contract and is on the verge of signing a new deal with Lotto-Belisol for 2014 and 2015, Gazet van Antwerpen reports. The 28-year old climber is happy to accept a smaller pay check in return for an extra year on the team after a difficlut 2013 season.
"That I will earn less, doesn't bother me. For me it's far more important to know I have a team for 2015. That weighs in heavier because it's not evident nowadays," he said.
Vanendert's career started with what is now Topsport Vlaanderen in 2006. He then joined the highest tiers of global cycling with Francaise des Jeux in 2008 and signed with Silence-Lotto in 2009. Vanendert's only professional victory came in 2011 when he finished solo in the Tour de France stage to Plateau de Beille.
In 2012 Vanendert finished second in the Amstel Gold Race but his 2013 season has been one without any notable results. He targeted the Ardennes Classics but couldn't repeat his podium finish of 2012. An intestinal parasite subsequently kept him out of the Tour de France team where he was supposed to be helping captain Jurgen van den Broeck in the mountains. In his only Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España, he abandoned during the freezing cold 14th stage to Coll de la Gallina.
"2013 wasn't a good year due to medical reasons," Lotto-Belisol team manager Marc Sergeant told Gazet van Antwerpen. "The public expected a lot of Jelle. He was also paid accordingly but he is not a winning type of rider. Riders like Greipel can deal with the pressure but Jelle struggled. We still have full confidence in him and know what he is capable of. He was not happy with the situation [this season] and seeks revenge."
Sergeant adds that Vanendert has agreed to the new contract but he hasn't formally signed the deal for 2014 and 2015.
"One terrible season like this and my career could have ended," Vanendert said. "In offering me this new contract, the team shows they still believe in me. They know why I didn't have a good season. Lotto-Belisol offer me the chance to do what I do. I like being with this team," he concluded.
- Article published:
- December 3, 2013, 17:40
- Barry Ryan
Irishman and Majka to lead Giro challenge
Nicolas Roche has welcomed the more active role Bjarne Riis is set to play in the sporting side of the Tinkoff-Saxo team following his sale of the team to Oleg Tinkov, which was confirmed in London on Monday.
In spite of a pending investigation by the Danish Anti-Doping Agency, reportedly centred around Riis' time as a team manager, the Dane claimed that he will continue as general manager of the revamped Tinkoff-Saxo squad "for at least three years" and is set to play a more active role at races throughout the calendar.
"That’s something I'm really looking forward to," Roche told Cyclingnews. "When Bjarne's around, the team is just that extra bit focused and that brings some extra excitement to the race. He comes with ideas that change the profile of the race. He takes the extra bit of risk in races, when maybe some sports directors mightn't be ready to take the risk, which is normal too."
In particular, Roche pointed to Riis' tactical influence in helping him take 5th place overall at the 2013 Vuelta a España and Saxo-Tinkoff's dramatic echelon attack on the road to Saint-Amand-Montrond during the Tour de France. "I think Bjarne's really strong when it comes to creating team spirit and putting together a team that’s really dedicated to its leader, and that makes a huge difference," Roche said.
Beyond Riis' more hands-on role, Roche acknowledged that the expected stability provided by the new ownership would allow the team to compete financially with the likes of Team Sky and BMC, particularly in the field of preparation.
"It's more finances to organise training camps and things like that. I can only see it being beneficial," Roche said. "I don't think racing makes you progress – training makes you progress. And training camps are a lot more costly than racing. For young riders, when you want to show them how to train and teach them about diet, you can only do it on training camps. So if we're going to have more training camps, that can only be beneficial for top riders but also for the young riders who learn a lot from that."
Alberto Contador's body language at Monday’s press conference did little to dispel the impression that he is still smarting from Oleg Tinkov’s very public criticism after the Tour de France, but Roche believes that any lingering creases in the relationship can be ironed out. "It was an event and things have moved on and for everyone it's better to close the page and not hold a grudge," he said.
Roche will again be among Contador's most important lieutenants at the Tour next year, but the opening part of his season will be radically different as he builds towards the Giro d'Italia, where he will line up alongside Rafal Majka (7th in 2013) as a protected rider: "I'll be doing all the Italian races. I'll start with Oman, Strade Bianche, San Remo, the Classics and then the Giro."
With the Giro getting underway in Belfast on May 9th and passing through Dundalk, where he claimed his first win as an under-14 rider, en route to Dublin, Roche has made no secret of his desire to ride the corsa rosa.
"I wouldn't want to go to the start in Ireland without being competitive. For the team to say that I can go, I want to be ready for it and give my best there," said Roche.
Moments later, and in keeping with the tenor of an atypical afternoon at Google's London HQ, a clumsily-delivered vote of confidence arrived from the new team owner, who stepped across the room and threw an arm around Roche's shoulders. "He will take the pink jersey, yes," Oleg Tinkov beamed. "Of course, in Ireland he should, and they will drink all of the whiskey and all of the Guinness."
- Article published:
- December 3, 2013, 18:50
- Cycling News
Final stage will again circle the Arc de Triomphe
The final stage of the 2014 Tour de France will again see the peloton circle the Arc de Triomphe and feature an evening finish, albeit at a slightly earlier time than this year. Stage 21 of the Tour is slated to finish on the Champs-Élysées at 8:30pm on Sunday, July 27.
At the 2014 Tour route presentation in October, it had appeared that the finishing circuit would revert to its previous format, in which the peloton turned just short of the Arc de Triomphe. Organisers ASO have since received permission from Paris police to circle the Arc.
"The police commissioner has given his agreement for a route identical to that of 2013," Tour de France assistant director Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP. "The success of the 2013 Tour convinced us to include the same route which allows us to best promote the race as well as the monuments."
The evening finale and longer finishing circuit were introduced for the 2013 Tour to mark the 100th edition of the race as part of festivities that also saw (almost) all living Tour finishers invited to attend a ceremony in Paris.
AFP reports that one additional alteration to the Parisian finale in 2014 will be the point at which the bunch crosses the Seine en route to the Champs-Élyées circuit. Rather than crossing the Pont du Caroussel near the Louvre, the race will now traverse Alexandre III bridge, opposite the Grand Palais.
- Article published:
- December 3, 2013, 21:45
- Cycling News
Vinokourov presents his biography in Almaty
The Astana team has unveiled its new jersey and shorts, adding a touch of yellow and a new second sponsor to the sky blue colours for 2014.
Team manager Alexandre Vinokourov unveiled the new clothing during a press conference in Almaty, where he announced the creation of a personal charity and presented his official biography called "My Golden Career - 1998-2012".
"The blue and gold national colors of Kazakhstan are unique in pro cycling, and they make our riders very distinct in the peloton. We are fortunate to remain with our main sponsor, the national welfare fund Samruk-Kazyna,” Vinokourov said via the team’s website.
"On the chest we change to the national airline Air Astana, though we retain the Expo 2017 logos on team vehicles and printed materials. For 2014 our first non-governmental sponsor Astana Motors is joined by Raimbek Group, a diverse holding company with more than 20 years of active and successful business ventures in Kazakhstan and around the world.”
Several photos published on Twitter by the team show a pink aura around the sponsor logos but these areas are actually white. The pink is caused by poor light when the photographs were taken.
Vino’s golden career
Vinokourov raced between 1998 and 2012, ending on a high by winning the gold medal in the London 2012 road race ahead of Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran.
His palmares includes victories at the 2006 Vuelta a España, Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2005 and the Criterium du Dauphine Libere in 1999 ahead of Jonathan Vaughters. It also includes a positive test for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France for which he served a two-year ban. He was a long-term client of Dr. Michele Ferrari.
He made a comeback in 2009 and won the Giro del Trentino and Liege-Bastogne-Liege again in 2010 thanks to help from then teammate Alberto Contador. Vinokourov crashed and broke his right femur in 2011 but came back to ride the 2012 Tour de France and miraculously win gold at the Olympics.
"I sold my Olympic Specialized bicycle to pay for critical surgical operations that some very sick kids needed. So far four have gone to specialist hospitals in the former Soviet Union to get treatments, and the others are still waiting for donors. It's very specific aid to specific families who live in under-privileged circumstances," Vinokourov said of his charity.
"This summer I sold another one of my bikes after charity bike ride here in Kazakhstan and raised even more money for neonatal operations. With the opening of a charity fund we can expand our ambitions to include getting more kids to ride bikes, putting on more charity bike rides and eventually growing to work with international and governmental organizations to create more professional racing opportunities in Kazakhstan."
His biography is described as a coffee-table photo keepsake and includes many rare and unseen pictures from his years of racing. "A lot of the pictures in here are from races, but many more are from the small village of Bishkul where I grew up and from my first experiences as a cyclist in Kazakhstan,” he explained proudly.
"Those who know me know that bike racing is my life, and that the other side of the gold medal is the long road to a professional career. After so many difficult seasons of washing in a bucket outside a school dormitory, or rebuilding my form and fitness after injuries that seemed career-ending, just getting to the start line in London is a lesson I hope to share with young athletes in Kazakhstan who read this book.”
- Article published:
- December 4, 2013, 01:11
- Zeb Woodpower
Orica-AIS team also honoured as number one women's team in 2013
Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS have been honoured with a reception at Australian Parliament House in Canberra by Federal Sport and Health Minister Peter Dutton who congratulated both teams on their achievements during the 2013 racing season. Orica-AIS finished the season ranked number one in the world and were represented by Gracie Elvin and Amanda Spratt.
At the 2013 Tour de France Orica-GreenEdge held the yellow jersey over four consecutive days, won the Team Time Trial and also recorded a stage victory by Australia's Simon Gerrans who attended the function along with Daryl Impey, Cameron Meyer, Simon Clarke and several other teammates.
Team owner and Cycling Australia President Gerry Ryan was on hand to deliver a short speech, thanking the government for its support and recognition of the two teams' accomplishments in 2013. In his address, Gerry Ryan said "we're proud to be acknowledged in this context and the achievements of both our teams this year is a strong statement of the great progress and direction of professional cycling right now. We have a really integrated partnership with Orica with whom we share some of the values most important to the team."
"We've had some 100 victories in 18 different tours around the world racing on over six continents in 60 countries … we couldn't be here today without Orica's funding, we couldn't have the number of riders, we couldn't have the assistance with sport science, we wouldn't have the people that keeps the team on the bikes," added Ryan
"Three and a half years ago I wouldn't have thought I'd be standing here in Parliament but as you look around and see the number of politicians riding and providing support and future support," Gerry told Cyclingnews.
"It certainly exceeded our expectations  with the girls being the number one team, two stages a the Tour de France, four days in yellow plus 30 wins from the men and 20 wins from the women is very special."
The event was organised by Orica who sponsor both the men's and women's teams and since their inception just two years ago the two teams have claimed more than 100 victories. Orica's Executive Global Head Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility Gavin Jackman said the strategic partnership with the teams is closely aligned to Orica's global business operations.
"Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS provide a platform to relate with customers around the world and with the communities that host Orica's operations. We also share common values, including a drive to succeed through collaboration wherever we compete," said Jackman in his address on the night.
Simon Gerrans who is one of only six Australians to have worn the coveted maillot jaune expressed his gratitude and delight for the growing support of cycling and interest in the sport as a whole. "I think it's great just how many people in Parliament are into their cycling. Everyone I've spoken to tonight has said how they ride and their families ride and how much interest this is here at the Australian government [in cycling]," Gerrans explained to Cyclingnews.
"It's great that Orica have been able to put this evening together and it's really shown how supportive they are of the team."
- Article published:
- December 4, 2013, 09:22
- José Been
Belgian team goes retro for the new season
The Lotto-Belisol team has presented its 2014 team kit, with the Belgian WorldTour team opting for a retro look and a simple red jersey.
"Our goal was to create a retro look to refer to the 30-year old presence of Lotto in the peloton", the team states on its website. The Belgian national lottery organization, started sponsoring a cycling team in 1985, making 2014 its 30th year in the pro peloton.
The new jersey, as modeled by rider Tosh van der Sande, is mostly red with the two title sponsors in neutral black letters on the front. The back of the jersey is red without any large sponsor logo's, making it clearly visible in the peloton.
Ijsboerke, a sponsor that was also active in cycling sponsorship from 1973 to 1980 with riders like Didi Thurau, Theo de Rooy and Rudy Pevenage returns to cycling with the team in 2014. Soudal will have a permanent position on the team kit after a short appearance on the Tour de France jersey and bibs this year.
To emphasize its Belgian character, bands with the Belgian flag have been added to both the jersey as the bib shorts.
Lotto-Belisol was one of the most active teams on the transfer market for the 2014 season. It said goodbye to ten riders and welcomed nine new riders to the team: Sander Armée (Topsport Vlaanderen), Kris Boeckmans and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM), Tony Gallopin and Maxime Monfort (Radioshack-Leopard), Vegard Breen (Joker-Merida), Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Belisol U23), Boris Vallée (Color Code-Biowanze) and Sean de Bie (Leopard-Trek).
Bart de Clerq, Lars Bak, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Gert Dockx, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Olivier Kaisen, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel, Sieberg, Jurgen van den Broeck, Tosh van der Sande, Jelle and Dennis Vanendert, Jonas Vangenechten, Tim Wellens and Frederik Willems continue with the 27-rider strong team in 2014.
Greipel recently confirmed that he will lead the Lotto-Belisol team and makes his racing debut in the new kit at the Tour Down Under in Australia in Janaury.
- Article published:
- December 4, 2013, 11:03
- Pat Malach
Rathe joins Rodriguez for team’s fifteenth season
The Jelly Belly Cycling Team will return for a fifteenth season in the US domestic peloton next year with a core group of six returning riders and a handful of new additions.
The UCI Continental squad recently secured a two-year deal with its long-time title sponsor that will take the team through the end of 2015, while Maxxis will step in next season as the presenting sponsor.
“On paper I think our team is very strong,” said Jelly Belly team director Danny Van Haute. “And looking at the other Continental teams that are coming on board in the US, I think it's going to be a real exciting season for all the teams. Looking at the rosters, I don't think there is going to be one dominant team. Everybody is going to win their share of races.”
Leading the returning riders at Jelly Belly will be four-time and current US pro road race champion Freddie Rodriguez. The 40-year-old recently announced a new two-year deal that will take him through to the end of the 2015 season and possibly the world road race championships in Richmond, Virginia.
He'll join Cascade Cycling Classic overall winner Serghei Tvetcov, Nature Valley Grand Prix stage winner Sean Mazich, two-time Mexican road champion Luis Lemus, “super domestique” Ian Burnett and Nic Hamilton, who are all returning from the 2013 team.
Former Garmin-Sharp rider Jacob Rathe heads a group of five new signings that includes Kirk Carlsen, who rode for Bissell in 2013, and a trio of 2013 domestic elite riders: Devan Dunn from CashCall Mortgage, Steve Fisher from Hagens Berman and Johnathan Freter from Fire Fighters Cycling.
Rathe returns to the same team where he started his pro career in 2010 at the age of 19. He competed mostly in Europe with Garmin the past two seasons after riding with Slipstream's Chipotle Development Team in 2011.
Currently 22, Rathe came up through the USA Cycling development program and finished third in the U23 Paris-Roubaix when he was 20. He also won stages at the Rutas de America and the Volta a Portugal in 2011. He has WorldTour experience in the Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, Ghent-Wevelgem, Paris-Nice, Criterium du Dauphine and the Tours of Poland and Beijing, among others.
“He brings lots of experience, and that's good,” Van Haute said. “A guy with that experience from a WorldTour team coming to us? He would be a good person for a leadout for Freddie on the flatter stages, and we're going to give him some opportunities to win some stages on his own.”
Tvetcov opts to stay Stateside, Powers takes a break from the road
Tvetcov hopes to continue securing the eye-catching results he accumulated in 2013. Aside from his convincing overall win at Cascade, Tvetcov finished second on stage two at the Tour of Alberta after making a two-rider breakaway, and he was the most aggressive rider during stage three at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado after spending the day in another breakaway.
The 24-year-old Moldovan excels in the time trial, finishing eighth at the USA Pro Challenge time trial in Vail and bringing home TT wins at Cascade, Nature Valley, Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race and Tour de Murrieta. Van Haute said Tvetcov is a smart rider both on the bike and off the bike, choosing another year of development with Jelly Belly over other offers that might have taken him to Europe next year.
“After he won Cascade and got eighth at the Vail time trial at the USA Pro Challenge, there were a few teams that were after him. And he said, 'No.' He liked our organization, but the most important thing was that he needed another year in the US to develop before he goes to Europe,” Van Haute said.
“That's pretty ballsy, to turn down a contract with a Pro Continental team, and it was pretty smart. So he's going to stay another year with us to develop, and then he'll be gone. I guarantee that in 2015 he'll be in Europe.”
Fisher signed his first Continental contract with Jelly Belly for next season. Van Haute said the Seattle rider captured his attention when he won the Tour de Delta, a one-day race in Canada.
“We kept our eye on him,” Van Haute said. “Then I talked to him at Cascade and told him if the results kept going the same way we should talk at the end of the season. Then he got fourth at Bucks County, another UCI race that's on the NRC calendar, so we knew it wasn't a fluke.”
New 2014 signing Johnathan Freter will also move to the first year at the Continental level next season. He was the first finisher among riders without a team at the U23 national championship road race this year.
“And he was 12th overall at Cascade, which is not bad,” Van Haute said. “All the good teams are at Cascade, so to get 12th overall by yourself, there's something there to look at. So we're going to give him a chance.”
One name noticeably absent from the roster is long-time Jelly Belly rider Jeremy Powers. The 10-year veteran of the team and two-time US cyclo-cross national champion will be taking a break from road racing next season to focus on his cyclo-cross career and related ventures, Van Haute said. The Jelly Belly director said he had always tried to work with Powers to give the cyclo-cross rider plenty of rest after the season and to tailor his road racing toward sending him into 'cross season with top fitness. Brad Huff, another long-time Jelly Belly rider, signed with Optum Pro Cycling for next year.
“But it's just too much for him now,” Van Haute said of Powers' double road and cyclo-cross seasons. “He wants to concentrate fully on cyclo-cross and not do the road. He's got a lot on his plate, and it seems like a lot of US cyclo-cross racers aren't doing the road racing anymore. But I think it's a must. I think they're making the wrong choice.”
The Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 2014 roster:
Returning: Ian Burnett, Nic Hamilton, Luis Lemus, Sean Mazich, Freddie Rodriguez, Serghei Tvetcov,
New signings: Kirk Carlsen (from Bissell), Devon Dunn (from CashCall), Steve Fisher (from Hagens Berman), Johnathan Freter (from Fire Fighters Cycling), Jacob Rathe (from Garmin-Sharp).
Not returning: Alex Hagman, Brad Huff (to Optum), Christian Kriek, Emerson Oronte, Jeremy Powers, Morgan Schmitt, Ricardo van der Velde, Ben Wolfe (to Cal Giant-Specialized)