World champion individual pursuiter applies his skills on the road
Michael Hepburn may have spent much of the afternoon sitting just 200 metres from the finish line of stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar, but his updates on events out on the road were coming from the other side of the world.
The Australian time trial champion was among the early starters for the time trial, and true to his pedigree, he posted the quickest time, average over 48.5kph as he covered the 10.9 kilometres in a time of 13:28.
After warming down by the Orica-AIS team car, Hepburn climbed into the passenger seat, and for the rest of the afternoon, most of his information would arrive courtesy of his father, who was keeping abreast of proceedings on television.
"I felt like I'd had a good ride but I wasn't too nervous because there were a lot of big names still to come and I expected a few of them to top me. It was only with one hour to go when I thought, 'maybe I can win now,'" Hepburn said in Lusail. "I was actually texting my dad, who was giving me live updates when each rider came in, but unfortunately, my phone battery went flat with about 10 minutes to go, so I didn't know."
By that time, pre-stage favourite Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) had already tried and failed to better Hepburn's time - he finished six seconds off in fourth place - but there were still two riders out on the course with realistic hopes of beating the 22-year-old, Lars Boom (Belkin) and gold jersey Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
Indeed, Boom had the best time through the intermediate time check after 5.9 kilometres, some 13 seconds quicker than Hepburn. Slowed by the headwind in the finale, however, he would fall just over half a second short of...
After issuing a statement asking for anyone with information to come forward, the CIRC laid down its modus operandi. They confirmed that the commission will run for a year, with the possibility of extending a further four months (upon UCI approval), with a budget of CHF3 million.
Former Australian military officer Peter Nicholson will be the commission’s full-time member and he will meet with the other two members on a regular basis. They will provide UCI president Brian Cookson with monthly updates on its progress.
Cookson stated that all funding will come from the sport’s governing body, as “nobody else will pay, so if we want to have this commission then the UCI must pay.”
Over the next year, the CIRC hope to hear various testimonies from individuals involved in cycling. The powers handed down to them from the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will allow the commission to hand out reduced bans, on an individual basis, depending on the information given.
“This means that we will be very flexible. We can give out decision according to the input,” said Marty, from a press conference in Switzerland.
“This is definitely an extraordinary tool, which has been set up because of an extraordinary period. The main goal of this is to get rid of the past.”
There are some restrictions to this power, however. If the commission wishes to give no sanction, then they must...
Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) remains on course for final overall victory at the Tour of Qatar after a solid showing in Tuesday’s stage 3 time trial at Lusail. The Dutchman finished the 10.9km test in fifth place, 8 seconds down on stage winner Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge) but extended his lead in the general classification to 21 seconds.
"Finishing in the top five in a time trial is always good, especially when you see who the riders in front were," said Terpstra, who was just two seconds slower than Fabian Cancellara (Trek) on the flat, windswept circuit.
After setting out into a crosswind, riders were pushed along by a stiff tailwind through the middle section of the course, before turning back into a headwind toward the finish. The early starter Hepburn gauged his effort well, and was comfortably the quickest over the back end of the course, but Terpstra was happy with his own display in the conditions.
"I feel good but a time trial is never easy," he said. "I was always fighting against the time, against the wind, but I felt I had some power on the pedals. But you only know in the end how you did when the time shows up. I'm really happy I still have the lead in the GC."
Terpstra’s advantage over Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) now stands at 21 seconds, while his fellow countryman Lars Boom (Belkin) moves up to third overall, 24 seconds off the gold jersey. Always well-placed when the peloton has split into echelons thus far, Boom’s strong time trial showing was a further indication of his form, and Terpstra is mindful of the dangers he faces in the days to come.
Chris Horner made his Lampre-Merida race debut on day two of the Mallorca Challenge and Cyclingnews spoke to the newest member of the Italian WorldTour squad prior to the stage, ultimately won by the American's teammate Sacha Modolo.
After spending his winter in the sunny climes of San Diego, the 42-year-old Vuelta a Espana champion was eager to race once again after only landing a new team for 2014 in a whirlwind of negotiations in the previous two weeks.
It's the first time in Horner's lengthy career that he's raced for an Italian team and the veteran professional tells Cyclingnews about the dynamics of his new squad, his off-season preparation as well as his race program for the opening months of the 2014 season.
Horner's biggest goal is the Giro d'Italia, but the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco is also a race figuring prominently this spring.
"It's always exciting to get back into the race," Horner told Cyclingnews regarding his first day of racing this season.
"Hopefully you can find some kind of good legs because there's a lot of places to steal UCI points and make a good run at the early part of the season."
Swiss rider unconcerned by Omega Pharma-QuickStep success in Qatar
Reading the runes at the Tour of Qatar in search of solid indications for the spring Classics is never a straightforward task. The language of peaking for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix is not a universal one, and everyone, it seems, has his own dialect.
Tom Boonen and Omega Pharma-QuickStep have daubed a statement of intent across the desert by winning two of the first three stages and holding the gold jersey in Qatar. Fabian Cancellara and his Trek teammates, meanwhile, have been less conspicuous, as if quietly jotting down preliminary notes on their plans for the Classics.
Cancellara came home over seven minutes down on stage 2 after missing the crucial split in the final hour of racing, and though his showing in Tuesday's time trial was an improvement on his display in a similar test in Dubai last week, he was still six seconds off the time of winner Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge).
Pausing to speak to a group of reporters before pedalling the 20 or so kilometres back to his quarters for the week, the Ritz Carlton in Doha, Cancellara was unconcerned by his result in the Lusail time trial, explaining that he is in the Middle East simply to accumulate racing miles.
"I'm not surprised with that," Cancellara said. "It's not my goal to win the race. I have other ambitions, other goals. I just do what I have to do, which is just making race kilometres and coming out of this race without crashes."
Heinrich Haussler’s idiosyncrasies, like his decision to eschew gloves regardless of the conditions or his devotion to what he terms old school, East German training, have long made him a man apart in an era of power meters and marginal gains.
It’s a philosophy that has served Haussler well in the past, most notably in 2009, when he finished second at both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders. This time around, however, the IAM Cycling rider has refined his training, marrying contemporary innovations to his traditional base preparation.
Haussler’s own, distinctive approach remains in place – how many other professionals kick off their winter training with two solid months of cross-country skiing? – but since getting out on the road, there has been a discernible shift in his routine, with top-end work prioritised over the steady accumulation of base miles.
"With the old East German style of long hard training with big gears, you can only get to a certain level," Haussler told Cyclingnews in Qatar. "Now I’m working on my VO2 max, my lactate threshold and stuff like that."
Remarkably, at the age of 29, this winter marked the first time that Haussler has trained diligently with a power meter. "With Garmin, we had to use it as part of the team, but this is the first time I’ve actually worked with someone and done interval training, motor pacing, sprints and proper weight training," he said. "All this kind of stuff is new and it’s something I’m getting a big advantage from."
Haussler’s Damascene conversion to the merits of the modern approach, as it were, came last spring. Finally rid of the injury problems that had blighted him since 2010, the Australian enjoyed a seamless build-up to the classics, and while the verdict of the...
Vuelta a España director Javier Guillén could follow the Tour de France’s lead and create a women’s race in 2015.
Earlier this month, Tour organisers the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced that they would host a single-day women’s race on the last day of the Tour de France, which would finish along the Champs-Élysées ahead of the men’s race. With the television set-up already in place, the race will also be broadcast on Eurosport. The idea has been widely lauded by the women’s peloton, with former world time trial champion Emma Pooley calling it “a great platform” for women’s cycling.
It seems that Vuelta a España organisers Unipublic (who is part owned by ASO) has noted the positive reception the race has received. “Like the Tour will host a women’s race on the final day in Paris, the Vuelta wants to do so next year,” Guillén told Spanish paper AS.
The time trial finish in Santiago de Compostela prevents the organisers from implementing it this season. However this will allow them to have more than a year learn from their French counterparts. The hope is that the one-day races can be a stepping stone to a much stronger women’s calendar, with Grand Tours that match the quality of the men’s events.
Currently there is only one Grand Rour on the women's calendar: the Giro Rosa, in Italy. However, that has struggled from chronic lack of funding and could only continue last year when a new organiser stepped in.
The final day of the Mallorca Challenge, Trofeo Muro, began just a few kilometres from where the peloton have been residing over the last few days. Unlike yesterday’s blustery and cold conditions the peloton were greeted with sun, and relative warmth for this time of year, as they stepped of their respective team buses.
The last three days of racing have seen two bunch sprints – both taken by Lampre Merida’s Sacha Modolo – and a medium mountain stage, claimed by the Polish national road champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma QuickStep).
Wednesday’s race would again provide a stern testing of the peloton’s climbing legs with several categorised climbs on route to the finish and with four Omega Pharma QuickStep riders finishing in the top six on Tuesday’s race, the Belgian team were set to figure once again.