Australian transitioning to family life following doping admission
With the impending release of his book, Battle Scars, former Australian cyclist Stuart O'Grady has embarked on a media tour and sat down with Cyclingnews for his first major interview since his retirement and shares exactly what the title means to him personally.
"Battle Scars is a name that is very appropriate to my career it has been one hell of a journey," O'Grady said. "There have been some fantastic moments, and there have been some horrible moments. It's a cycling career that spans over 20 years and I have plenty of scars and seems like an appropriate title considering what's come out."
Following his admission, O'Grady told the Australian newspaper, The Herald Sun, "I sourced it (EPO) myself. There was no one else involved. It didn't involve the team in any way," he said.
The French senate report indicated that O'Grady had recorded a ‘suspicious' doping test. O'Grady has reiterated that he only used the drug once, in the build up to the Tour, and following the discovery of numerous doping products in the car of Festina soigneur, Willy Voet, he explained to The Herald Sun that, "When the Festina Affair happened, I smashed it [EPO], got rid of it and that was the last I ever touched it."
O'Grady's admission of doping cast into doubt his subsequent results while racing, although
Decision on Pompeiana climb in Milan San Remo to made this week
With Italy in the midst of a wet winter, Italian race organisers RCS have been forced to content with adverse weather conditions to ensure that two of its flagship early-season races will go ahead as planned while also deliberating over the inclusion of the Pompeiana climb in this year's Milan San Remo. Landslides in Lazio and Tuscany are currently threatening roads that Strade Bianchi and Roma Maxima traverse and a decision on any changes is et to be made on Thursday.
Local authorities have refused permission for the climb due to safety concerns which has been compounded by mounting problems for Strade Bianche due to a landslide in Castelnuovo Beradenga, which will likely force the organisers to change the route.
The road causing headaches for RCS is currently closed as tuttobiciweb are suggesting that the likely scenario is for the affected stretch of road to be taken out and course lengthened by the inclusion of other roads.
There is a also a similar issue for Roma Maxima, which is held the day after Strade Bianchi, as another landslide has caused...
Australian on the parallel challenges of Orica-GreenEdge and Sky
The jersey has changed, the role has altered but the brief remains the same for Mathew Hayman. After four years trying to help Team Sky replicate its achievements elsewhere on the cobbles of Belgium and France, the Australian joins Orica-GreenEdge with the aim of filling a similar gap on its résumé.
In just two years of existence, GreenEdge has already won a monument (Milan-San Remo in 2012), stages in all three grand tours and held the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, but has failed to make a telling impact at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. You can't step into the same river twice, but Hayman is certainly wading back into familiar waters.
"If you're going to say that GreenEdge has done a lot but not been able to hit it at the cobbled classics, then look at Sky. What haven't they done in cycling in four years? But they still haven't been able to crack one of those monuments, so it's not easy," Hayman told Cyclingnews. "When you come up against the likes of Boonen, Cancellara and Sagan, and when those guys are on, they're hard to beat, even with strong teams. It's not easy, but that's why Flanders and Roubaix are the biggest races."
At Sky, Hayman was just one element of an ensemble classics cast that included Geraint Thomas, Bernhard Eisel, Ian Stannard and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Though the British outfit tended to carry multiple leaders at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Hayman's role was still largely a supporting one.
While part of the Hayman's task at Orica-GreenEdge is to guide the squad's younger riders on the pavé, the relative lack of experience in the roster – exacerbated by Sebastian Langeveld's departure to Garmin – means that he will combine road captaincy and team leadership duties in April.
O'Grady opened up about his career including his claimed one-time EPO offence prior to the 1998 Tour and the 2013 confession that has since changed both his personal life and his legacy within the sport.
"I had just turned pro in 1995 and only ridden my first Tour in 1997, and my next Tour I'm standing on top of the podium and then the Festina Affair happens," said O'Grady of the 1998 doping scandal that surrounded the Festina cycling team, and ultimately led to the team's expulsion and confessions of doping from all nine riders.
"I think most people have come to the realisation that it was different era and the testing wasn't up to scratch and maybe the governing body could have been a bit stronger, but you can't just blame it all on one little part of it as it was a whole wheel of problems."
Tour de Perth first men's event, Women's series begins with Adelaide Tour
The 2014 Australian Subaru National Road Series (NRS) will showcase 19 events including a new women's event as well as the return of Australia's marquee domestic events, the Tour of Tasmania and the nation’s longest one-day race, the Melbourne to Warrnambool.
This year there are 11 men's events and eight women's events in the series which will encompass every state and territory in Australia bar the Northern Territory.
All of the debut events from 2013 return including the men's Tour de Perth (WA) which opens the calendar, the women's Tour of the King Valley (VIC) along with the Adelaide Tour (SA) and the National Capital Tour (ACT).
Feature men's events such as the Tour of Tasmania (TAS), Tour of the Great South Coast (VIC), and the iconic one day races, the Melbourne to Warrnambool (VIC) and the Grafton to Inverell (NSW), will all shape the calendar for the coming year and are sure to be decisive in deciding the overall NRS champion.
2013 Subaru NRS champion Jack Haig (Avanti Pro Cycling) will return to the domestic scene briefly before switching to the dirt in time for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Cairns, while his Tasmanian based team will look to secure the 2014 NRS teams classification for the fifth year in a row.
Drapac Professional Cycling will continue to show their support to the NRS following their ascension to Pro-Continental ranks in 2014 which will see them also race in America, Asia and Europe.
As the only Australian team to provide the pathway to the WorldTour ranks in the form of a Pro-Conti licence, Drapac's continued presence in the NRS is a critical, not only for the team's athletes, but also for the domestic calendar.
Drapac Directeur Sportif Henk Vogels said that the...
Exclusive interview on the Classics and his track hopes
He was one of just a handful of riders to compete in the Dubai Tour and Tours of Qatar and Oman but now Fabian Cancellara’s full attention turns towards the Spring Classics.
The Trek Factory Racing leader and talisman heads into the spring as defending champion at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and after a few days off the bike with his family this week, the 32-year-old will begin his build-up for an assault on the one day Classics.
With Tom Boonen already in fine form and Peter Sagan picking up his first win of the season last week, Cancellara is well aware of the challenges ahead but his ‘day-by-day' approach to both racing and training means that he is not looking too far ahead.
While the Classics remain the bread and butter objectives for the Swiss rider, the Hour Record is another aim. Speculation has been rife that an assault on the record would take place this season, with Gazzetta dello Sport reporting that a bid would take place on August 3, in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Trek and Cancellara played down any such notion but in this exclusive video interview for Cyclingnews Cancellara talks about his preparation for the Classics and how he would ‘love to do’ the Hour Record.
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here.
Belgian looking to bounce back after two difficult years
After two injury-plagued seasons, Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) is hopeful that Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad can mark the beginning of an upturn in his fortunes. Winner of the Tour of Flanders in 2011, Nuyens fractured his hip in a crash at the following year's Paris-Nice and has struggled with the injury ever since.
Last year, his first at Garmin, Nuyens was forced to cut his spring campaign short after he abandoned E3 Harelbeke and race sparingly thereafter. He ended his year by starting the Vuelta a España and riding the Tour of Beijing, however, and is confident that he approaches 2014 with a solid foundation.
"I hope I'm ready for the spring. For the first time in a long time, I felt that I could build on an equal basis with my colleagues," Nuyens said, according to Sporza.
The Belgian spoke of his frustration at being unable to recapture the condition that carried him to the Tour of Flanders and Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2011 and admitted that there have been times over the past two years when he has considered retirement.
"That sometimes flashed through my mind. Perfectly normal, I think," he said. "When you've won a monument like the Tour of Flanders and then a year later you're at the back hanging between the cars…
"But I like to do my job and I wanted to come back. I only want to stop when I'm tired of it.”
While many of the contenders for the cobbled classics have raced in Dubai, Qatar and Oman in recent weeks, Nuyens limited himself to just four race days in February, at the Challenge Mallorca. He said that he will be satisfied if he manages to do his job at the weekend. Whether it's helping a teammate or going into the finale myself, I want to enjoy myself...
Greg Van Avermaet, Thor Hushovd and Taylor Phinney have been named in the BMC team for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, while Rick Zabel is among the younger riders who will line up at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the following day.
The team is without the services of 2008 winner Philippe Gilbert for Belgium’s Opening Weekend, as the former world champion focuses his attention on the Ardennes classics and will not ride any cobbled races this spring.
In the absence of Gilbert and the sacked Alessandro Ballan, Van Avermaet will be BMC’s outright leader at the Tour of Flanders. After beginning his season at the Tours of Qatar and Oman, this weekend’s races are an important early gauge of Van Avermaet’s form as he builds towards April.
"You have the speed in Qatar, a little bit of climbing in Oman and good weather in both," said Van Avermaet, who finished 5th at Het Nieuwsblad last year. "For me, it is the best preparation for the classics. We will see how it goes, but I feel I am in pretty good shape and happy with my form."
Van Avermaet has a redoubtable foil at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the shape of Thor Hushovd, who unleashed a ferocious sprint to win in Ghent in 2009. Hampered by illness when he joined BMC two years ago, Hushovd finished last season strongly and said that he is buoyed by a solid beginning to the current campaign at the Tour of the Mediterranean and Tour du Haut-Var, where he was a solo attacker on the second stage.
"With that in mind, I go to Belgium to race for the win," Hushovd said. "We have a strong team, which should be present from start to end....