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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Date published:
February 19, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Video: Top 5 riders to watch at the Volta ao Algarve

    World champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) during the team's camp on Mallorca
    Article published:
    February 18, 2014, 17:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Costa, Cavendish and Contador all in Portugal

    The 40th edition of the Volta ao Algarve begins this Wednesday, with Tony Martin returning to defend his title.

    Last year, the race suffered from the current economic climate and organisers were forced to axe a stage, in order to keep the race running. For 2014, however, the fifth day has returned.

    The number of stages isn’t the only changes to the parcours. The time trial remains, but it has been seriously shortened. At only 13.6km, it will make life a little tougher for Martin if he hopes to defend his title.

    With the chance for the TT specialists to stick to their rivals all but gone, the summit finish on the Alto do Malhão is likely to be the key factor in the general classification. Sergio Henao won there last year, ahead of Rui Costa, however Sky will not be taking part in the race this year.

    There are no flat days for the riders at the Volta ao Algarve, with at least on classified climb on each of the open road stages. There will be a couple of chances for the sprinters, on the first and final days. Both will be tricky, though, and they will have to keep their wits about them if they don’t want to get caught out.

    Mark Cavendish will be the headline name of the sprinters. His Omega Pharma-QuickStep team have brought a strong group of riders, including Martin and last year’s second placed Michal Kwiatkowski. With so few of the top sprinters present, it could be a good opportunity to prefect the lead-out train that has been misfiring this season.

    Alberto Contador finally gets his 2014 season under way in the Algarve. He delayed the...

  • Pinot pulls out of Oman

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) tumbled down the GC yesterday after losing touch on the descent of the Col de Pailhères yesterday
    Article published:
    February 18, 2014, 19:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    FDJ rider suffering with a fever

    Thibaut Pinot ( has had to delay the start to his season, after being forced out of the Tour of Oman with a fever.

    "Non-starter this morning for the Tour of Oman," the French rider tweeted. "Fever of 39 when I woke this morning. So much effort for nothing again. Now rest until the end of the week, start from scratch and begin a new preparation for a new objective."

    Pinot had been suffering for a few days, but chose to wait until the day of the first stage to see if he could recover in time. André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won the opening day’s sprint.

    The Frenchman has been pipped as one of France’s next big things, even more so after his stage win at the 2012 Tour de France. He had a mixed season last year, finishing seventh at the Vuelta a España, but pulling out of the Tour de France.

    The year was marked by his troubles on the descent and he is looking to conquer his fear before he makes his return to the Tour de France in July.

    The next race on Pinot’s calendar is the Classic Sud Ardèche on March 1.

  • Goddaert killed in training accident

    Kristof Goddaert (IAM Cycling) in action during the 2014 Tour of Qatar
    Article published:
    February 18, 2014, 20:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    IAM Cycling Belgian struck by bus after crashing

    Kristof Goddaert (IAM Cycling) was killed on Tuesday in Antwerp after suffering a crash during a training ride. According to, the 27-year-old Belgian crashed while training, apparently due to his front wheel being caught in train tracks, and then was fatally struck by a bus while still on the ground.

    "We think first of his family and loved ones to whom we offer our sincere condolences and assure of our support during this terrible ordeal," said a devastated IAM Cycling General Manager Michel Thétaz.

    "We lost Kristof Goddaert, an exemplary professional rider and a man of quality. He came to us in December of 2012 with the desire to meet us and to take on a new challenge. His constant good mood, everyday enthusiasm and willingness to fully engage in all endeavors were very much appreciated qualities.

    "He had used the Tour of Qatar to hone his shape ahead of the Spring Classics, but this tragic fate will prevent him from realizing his dreams. To honor his memory, IAM Cycling will continue to race with ten times as much desire to win given that he can no longer compete because he has moved on to eternal life."

    Goddaert most recently competed in the 2014 Tour of Qatar, where he finished 34th overall. He had been a professional for eight years, with stints at Davitamon-Win for Life, Topsport Vlaanderen and AG2R La Mondiale prior to his moving to IAM Cycling in 2013.

    Goddaert had one win in his professional palmares, stage 3 at the 2010 Tour de Wallonie, and other career highlights included second place to Tom Boonen in the 2012 Belgian road championships, 3rd in the 2009 Belgian road chamionships behind Boonen and Philippe Gilbert, 3rd in Paris-Bruxelles (2009), 5th in Le Samyn (2010), 8th place in Gent-Wevelgem (2011), 9th in Paris-Tours (2008) and 10th in...

  • Andy Schleck looking for a top ten result in Oman

    Road map to success? Andy Schleck weighs up his options in the woods of the Luxembourg Ardennes.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2014, 21:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Luxembourg rider makes his racing debut with Trek Factory Racing

    Andy Schleck made a low-key season debut at the Tour of Oman, finishing 83rd in the peloton behind stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), but explained to Cyclingnews that he is confident that his career is back on track after a solid winter of training.

    "The first race of the season is always kind of special but I think I'm going to be okay. I'm not nervous about the racing because I've been training good all winter. The early stages are for the sprinters and then it'll be more important to see where I stand," he told Cyclingnews.

    Schleck looked lean as he rode in his black Trek Factory Racing kit. He also appears quietly confident that his physical problems and alleged psychological problems of the last two seasons are behind him. Other riders have revealed that Schleck was always motivated during training, convincing his teammates to clock up extra kilometres and miss coffee stops during training rides.

    "The weather was pretty good in Luxembourg and so I was able to do more and better training than before," he said.

    "We also did some training camps in Spain in December and then in Mallorca in January. We went back to Mallorca for a week before coming here too. We've been training good and I hope we can see the benefits of the work we've done."

    Staying with the best 10

    Schleck is looking for a performance and result that will further boost his moral and confidence for the rest of the 2104 season. He is curious to test himself against the likes of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), especially on the mountain finish at Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain) on Saturday's fifth stage.

    "I think it's too early to say now who is going to have a good season and who not. This race is about finding the racing rhythm," he said.

    "There are some hard mountain stages coming up but I think the...

  • Howard happy with second place in Oman sprint

    Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) leads the young rider classification after stage 1 in Oman
    Article published:
    February 19, 2014, 0:41 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Young Australia shows his form four years after his first ever professional win

    Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) took his first ever professional victory at the 2010 Tour of Oman and showed his 2014 sprinting form with an impressive second place behind Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) in Naseem Garden.

    Howard beat Daniele Bennati, Tom Boonen and Tyler Farrar back in 2010 and got the better of Boonen and Bennati again four years later.

    "I'm pretty happy with that because it's my first sprint of the season," Howard told Cyclingnews before heading to the podium to collect the best young rider's white jersey.

    "I did the Tour of Qatar but it was my first race of the season and we did the majority of the work for Aidis Kruopis, because he was going really well. Now I'm the only sprinter here, the boys looked after me all day and did a good job keeping me up in the finale."

    Howard was looking forward to seeing his sprint on video, convinced he had the speed to take on and perhaps beat Greipel.

    "I did everything I could but it's always hard when you're trying to take on André," he conceded.

    "Unfortunately I was third wheel, which is normally a good position. But this time I would have preferred to lay off him and take a run at it because I felt really good. I'm sure the video of the sprint will show that I was on a par with him on speed."

    "I love this race"

    This year's Tour of Oman includes two more stages that suit Howard's talents. His past as a world champion on the track in the Omnium and the Madison have given him the natural speed and bike handling skills need to be well placed in the sprints. He can also climb better than many of his sprinting rivals, allowing him to contest stage finishes that include hilly finale.

    Wednesday's second stage from Al Bustan to Quriyat is expected to finish in a sprint thanks to...

  • Costa downplays his prospects in Algarve

    World champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) during the team's camp on Mallorca
    Article published:
    February 19, 2014, 3:02 GMT
    Pete Cossins

    World champion picks out Contador, Martin and Kwiatkowski as favourites

    Portugal's world champion Rui Costa described himself as living a dream when he faced the press on the eve of the Volta ao Algarve, which will be his first competitive appearance on home soil in the rainbow jersey.

    However, the Lampre-Merida leader admitted that he doesn't believe that the dream that began when he claimed the world crown will stretch as far as him winning this five-day stage race. Although picked out by Algarve race director Candido Barbosa as the favourite the for title, Costa suggested defending champion Tony Martin, the German's Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammate Michal Kwiatkowski and past Algarve winner Alberto Contador were much more likely contenders.

    "My dream is to enjoy this world champion's jersey, and especially here in Portugal," Costa said. "It gives me real joy, especially because so many of my supporters are here in Portugal. I am always keen to come to the Tour of the Algarve."

    After Barbosa, who was sitting next to him, had expressed his wish for Costa to swap his rainbow jersey for the yellow of the Algarve winner, the world champion smiled broadly and said, "Having done some other races, I can say that there are some riders who are a step above me. One is Kwiatkowski, who won a stage in Majorca. Others are looking very strong, too, like Tony Martin and Contador, who despite it being his first race of the season will certainly want to win."

    Costa acknowledged the fact the stage 3 time trial is much shorter than last year at just 13.6km, which should suit him, but insisted that his form is still building as he looks ahead two weeks to Paris-Nice, which will be his first major goal of the season. "But it is very important for us to be in good shape here in the Algarve with a view to what lies...

  • Greg Henderson set for 2014 racing debut at Ruta del Sol

    Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol)
    Article published:
    February 19, 2014, 4:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    Lotto Belisol's Kiwi recovered from knee surgery

    Having undergone knee surgery which saw him miss his usual season opener, the Tour Down Under, Greg Henderson will ride his first race of the season in Spain at the Vuelta a Andalucía Ruta Ciclista Del Sol. Jelle Vanendert is also taking his place on the start line for Lotto Belisol after his crash at the Tour de San Luis which forced him to abandon the race.

    Joining Henderson and Vanendert will be climbers Bart De Clercq, who also underwent surgery in the off-season, Maxime Monfort and Tim Wellens along with the fast men, Jens Debusschere and Frederik Willems.

    Lotto Belisol sports director Jean-Pierre Heynderickx explained on the team website what the approach the previously injured duo will take. "Of course Greg has no optimal condition yet, because he hasn't ridden any races so far this year. We have to wait and see if he will be able to fully play the part as lead-out man for Jens Debusschere. For Greg and Jelle the Ruta del Sol is important to get competition rhythm. "

    For Heynderickx the results from the opening prologue will decide the tactics in the mountains. "Lots will be clear after tomorrow's prologue about the role of our other three climbers: De Clercq, Monfort and Wellens. The course is quite technical, with many roundabouts. We'll do a thorough recon of it," he said.

    "Maxime Monfort is of course a good time trialist, but also Tim Wellens has the capacities to maintain a good position for GC after the prologue. Tomorrow will be a first important day for the overall classification."

    The team will be chasing a good overall result as Andre Greipel has already accumulated several stage wins already in 2014

  • No decisions made on Cancellara hour attempt

    Done and dusted: a tired Fabian Cancellara after his Paris-Roubaix win
    Article published:
    February 19, 2014, 10:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Decision likely to happen after the classics

    Despite reports to the contrary, Trek Factory Racing say that no decisions have been made on the date and location of Fabian Cancellara's hour record attempt.

    Gazzetta dello Sport reported today that the Swiss time triallist would be making his bid on August 3, in Aguascalientes, Mexico. However, Trek say that they are still talking with a number of tracks around the world, of which Aguascalientes is one, including Mallorca and Manchester.

    No date has been set either, with the team saying a decision will not happen until after the Classics at the earliest. "We are still going full gas on trying to repeat the success of last year," team spokesman Tim Vanderjeugd told Cyclingnews.

    In 2013, Cancellara won both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, for the second time in his career. Currently, Cancellara is racing at the Tour of Oman as he builds up towards his classics campaign.

    Hour Record

    The hour record has stood since 2005, when it was set by little known Acqua e Sapone rider Ondrej Sosenka. His distance of 49.7 kilometres is what Cancellara is aiming to beat.

    In the past, the hour record was seen as one of the ultimate achievements, with riders such as Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser, Jacques Anquetil and Fausto Coppi all laying down records.

    These days, riders are not allowed to use time trial helmets, disc or tri-spoke wheels, aerodynamic bars or monocoque frames. Aggressive riding positions, such as Graeme Obree’s superman position, are banned too.

    The hour record has suffered it’s fair share of scandal. Moser admitted to using a blood transfusion to assist him in his attempt, although it was not banned at the time. Anquetil’s second record was stripped from the books after he refused to take a post-attempt anti-doping test. The most recent holder was later banned for doping infractions too.

    Since Sosenka’s attempt, it has fallen...