Classics gone, GreenEdge rider set to return in Norway
Injured GreenEdge recruit Mitch Docker has revealed the extent of his injuries suffered in a training camp crash in late January, which put an abrupt end to his major goal of the 2012 season – a tilt at the classics.
"I had lofty goals for this part of my season, and it took me a little while to get over the idea of missing these races," Docker explained in a blog posted on the GreenEdge website. "I had been really looking forward to doing them with GreenEdge. Enough time has passed now, and I've accepted this."
On January 19, Docker was with several teammates at Falls Creek, Victoria and while descending with an oncoming car approaching on the correct side of the road, the 25-year-old altered his line to move away from the vehicle.
"In doing that, I hit a rough patch and lost it – going over the handlebars," Docker said. Given my injuries, it's fairly clear that I landed straight on my wrist and then on my face."
Docker was then airlifted to hospital in Melbourne with a fractured cheekbone and wrist, along with "a pretty serious concussion." His wrist required a screw to stabilise the joint however the ongoing issue for Docker is the head injury and he's been told to rest for six weeks.
"This means training is out," he explained. "It also means other changes to my daily life. I've been told to avoid television and computer time as much as possible. It's important that I'm in a stress-free environment. I need to pay special attention to sleep. There's no direct treatment required. I just need to let the body recovery [sic] on its own – and I can't push it. I'll do damage if I try to come back into things too...
Per diems and fee increases to compensate for 'increased professionalism'
USA Cycling will be increasing officials' fees and per diems, effective immediately. These increases acknowledge the significant level of effort and professionalism required of and shown by cycling officials. Officials' per diem has not risen in 10 years, so this increase is a much needed update reflecting the higher cost of living.
"In the last two years we have tasked our officials with an increased level of responsibility both in terms of work they have to accomplish and dedication to a high level of professionalism," said USA Cycling Technical Director Shawn Farrell.
"USA Cycling officials now adhere to expanded requirements for upgrading, continuing education, increased evaluations and increased license fees. The officials of this country have risen to the challenge, and these fee increases reflect their increased level of professionalism."
Officials base fees are increasing for UCI races to match the fees established last year for National Championships and NRC/NCC (National Racing Calendar/National Criterium Calendar) races.
In effort to attract and retain top talent, not only are the official's fees for the highest level officials working UCI level events increasing, but official's fees for C-E category races will also be increasing. These officials often work long hours at local-level events where the majority of bike racing takes place each weekend and the increase recognizes this hard work and dedication to the sport of cycling.
For most races, including UCI races, all officials' fees are paid by race directors and occasionally supplemented by local associations.
A summary of the new per diem rates can be seen below:
Dotted as it is with stiff summit finishes, the 2012 Vuelta a España appears tailor-made for the talents of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and the Catalan was duly installed as the outright favourite as soon as the route was officially unveiled in Pamplona last month.
The landscape of the cycling season has shifted rather dramatically in the intervening period, however, as Alberto Contador's suspension means that he will miss the Tour de France but return to action just in time for his home tour this August. The Spaniard was finally handed a ban for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France following the announcement of the CAS verdict on the matter last week.
Speaking to Cyclingnews in Muscat, Rodriguez insisted that he welcomes Contador's presence at the race, noting that that it will allow him to fly under the radar in the build-up to the Vuelta and that he and Contador may even be allies of circumstance in the early part of the race.
"It's always better that the strongest riders are at the biggest races," Rodriguez said. "If Contador is there, or even Evans, that's better than me being the only favourite. It's better because the racing is more controlled and also because when you win it's more deserved too."
While the Vuelta dominates Rodriguez's thinking in the latter part of the season, the opening half of his campaign sees him juggling one-day and stage-racing objectives. The arrival of Denis Menchov and Oscar Freire has done little to change Rodriguez's position in the team, and as was the case in 2011, he will go toe to toe with Philippe Gilbert at the Ardennes classics and then aim to carry that form through to May to mount an overall challenge at the Giro d'Italia.
Traditional time trial conclusion moved to opening day
The 81st edition of the Critérium International takes on much of the same roads as the 2011 race, but will undergo a stage shuffle to finish, rather than the start with the queen stage to the Col de l'Ospedale.
The move is hoped by race organiser ASO to have the race conclude on the most climactic day, with the traditional closing time trial moved to the opening day and leaving no recourse for the chrono specialists to make up potential time losses after the l'Ospedale.
The alternate stage order will in theory keep the overall undecided until after the finish of stage 3, a positive change for fans and the race organisation, particulalry after last year's race more or less decided by Frank Schleck's solo win on the first stage.
As with previous years when the race has been run in Corsica the event will be organised out of Porto-Vecchio, with ASO continuing to test the roads the Tour de France will ride over in 2013. The first stage will see riders take on a 89.5 km flat stage, before a 6.5 km time trial to be run immediately after. The Col de l'Ospedale stage is shorter at 179 km than last year, but arguably harder with a hillier finale.
Teams for the 81st Criterium International
WorldTour Euskaltel-Euskadi BMC Racing Team Garmin-Barracuda AG2R La Mondiale FDJ - BigMat Sky Procycling RadioShack-Nissan
Professional Continental Colombia-Coldeportes Team Type 1 - Sanofi Bretagne-Schuller Cofidis, Le crédit en ligne Saur-Sojasun Team Europcar ...
Brian Vandborg has gone from riding the Tour de France three years consecutively to not having a team. “It is hard to undertand that there is no room for me on a team at the highest level,” he said. He has also rejected the idea of riding for Christina Watches-Onfone, at a lower level.
“Sometimes it's hard to maintain patience, but I try to keep my spirits up,” he told Ekstrabladet.dk. “It doesn't help to just sit at home and sulk, so I train diligently and I am also in good shape."
The Dane has had an up and down career, riding with top-ranked teams CSC and Discovery Channel from 2004 to 2007. He then dropped to the Continental level with Team GLS – Pakke Shop for one year, before signing with Liquigas for two years. In 2011 he rejoined Saxo Bank but was not offered a new contract.
“I still believe that there are possibilities. I have some openings all around, but it's bad times for the sport where the money is not what it was,“ he said.
For 2012 he has been linked to Christina Watches-Onfone, the Continental-ranked team based around Michael Rasmussen. “I have enormous respect for the great work the Danish Continental teams are doing, and I don't mind running at a slightly lower level than the World Tour,” he said.
But his problem was with the great difference between “the Tour de France one year and riding on a continental team in Denmark the next year,” and he didn't think he could bridge that gap.
“If it is my only option, then I think I'd rather find something else to do. There are a lot of nice people in Denmark who want to help me, but I am now again - with all due respect - accustomed to a much higher level and it is the level that I will...
Sixteen teams will take on the two-day race the end of March, with only seven of them being WorldTour teams.
Saxo Bank spokesman Anders Damgaard did not see anything suspicious in the news. “It's not a race we have ridden the past few years, and if there is room for seven of 18 WorldTour teams in the race, then there are 11 WorldTour teams who can't participate,” he told the Ritzau news agency.
Race spokesman Fabrice Tiano said: “I cannot say how we have selected the teams.”
The sixteen teams chosen are Euskaltel-Euskadi, Garmin-Barracuda, Ag2r, BMC Racing Team, FDJ-BigMat, RadioShack-Nissan, Sky, Colombia-Coldeportes, Team Type 1, Bretagne-Schuller, Cofidis, Saur-Sojasun, Europcar, Project 1t41, Auber 93 and La Pomme Marseille.
Spain's Minister for Sport, Jose Ignacio Wert, has used a public forum on Spanish society to speak out on what he sees as a problem with the doping issues that are permeating Spanish sport. Alberto Contador's two-year sanction by CAS for his positive clenbuterol test, which was announced last week, has heightened controversy levels surrounding sport in Spain and Wert has decided to talk publicly on the matter and how Spanish sport as a whole can start the healing process.
"We have a problem with doping and that's why we have every intention of making sure Spain's anti-doping law conforms with WADA's anti-doping code," he said.
The Contador case illustrated the gulf between WADA and the that of the Spanish Cycling Federation, which had decided not to suspend the three-time Tour de France winner following his positive test for clenbuterol in July 2010. WADA and the UCI appealed that decision to CAS and last week the court ruled against the cyclist and sanctioned him for two years.
Rumours that Spanish sport in general is unclean have been circulating for years and the latest controversy surrounded the general state of Spanish sport, fuelled by the Contador case, has seen a French television show ruthlessly satire Spanish athletes including Contador and star tennis player Rafael Nadal. The row between the two countries has escalated to the point where the Spanish cycling and tennis federations are suing the television channel responsible, according to the AP.
"I'm more motivated than ever to clean up Spain's image," Nadal said. "Spanish sport is characterized by sacrifice, humility and spirit of overcoming adversity that all athletes have.You can't accuse someone of something you have no...