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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Date published:
February 27, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Lefevere criticises the UCI over rules on team selections

    General manager Patrick Lefevere at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step Cycling Team press conference
    Article published:
    February 26, 2013, 14:54 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Teams with the same paying agent or sponsor not allowed to compete in same race

    Team manager Patrick Lefevere has hit out at the UCI after the sport's governing body has ruled that the Etixx-iHNed Continental team and the Omega Pharma-Quick Step WorldTour team cannot compete in the same races.

    Lefevere created the Etixx-IHNed Continental team after calls from the UCI for major teams to help develop young talent. He signed 12 riders from across Europe and invested a reported 500,000 Euro in the project. However the team was apparently stopped from riding Sunday's Classic Sud Ardèche race in France because of UCI rules aimed at stopping teams owned or funded by the same sponsor from possibly working together in races.

    A similar rule also stops the EFC-Omega Pharma-Quick Step Under 23 team from competing in races with the WorldTour team. Professional Continental and Continental teams with the same sponsor are also affected. Seven other WorldTour teams and their development teams area affected by the rule.

    Lefevere vented his anger via Twitter: "Only the #uci is able to destroy the hope of young riders No #OPQS with #etixxihned in the same races even worse," he wrote.

    "No #efc and #etixxihned in the same race. Why should we still invest ? 1 500 000 euro investment lost with 1 simple E mail. Great communication"

    Cyclingnews understands that the UCI has recently warned race organisers and race commissaries about inviting teams with the same paying agent or sponsor. A letter from new UCI Road Co-ordinator Matthew Knight shown to Cyclingnews by a race organiser lists the WorldTour teams, the Continental and the development teams they also back.

    Eight WorldTour teams support Continental teams but they are not permitted to race together.

    Astana Pro...

  • Fraser picking up pieces after Exergy team collapse

    Gord Fraser gives the morning ride itinerary.
    Article published:
    February 26, 2013, 16:38 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Canadian starts coaching business, returns to racing in Tucson

    After 12 years as a pro and four behind the wheel as a team director, Gord Fraser is starting the 2013 season without a job. His plan to work for Team Exergy fell through when the sustainable energy company abruptly pulled the plug on its UCI Continental team, and now one of North America's most prolific winners is gearing up to go into business for himself.

    “It all might work out for the best,” Fraser told Cyclingnews this week. “It kind of puts me at an interesting place in my career where I'm at a crossroads. I can go one of many different directions, so it's been a really interesting off-season, for sure.”

    Fraser first raced professionally for Motorola in 1995 and 1996. He moved to the French Mutuell de Seine et Marne team in 1997 and rode his first-and-only Tour de France that year. But Fraser is best known for the long string of wins he put together after returning stateside to race from 1998 through his retirement in 2006.

    The tenacious bunch sprinter, a three-time Olympian, compiled more than 200 career wins while riding for Mercury and HealthNet. He took the top prize in National Race Calendar individual standings twice, and he won the Canadian national road race championship in 2004.

    Fraser retired from racing in 2006 after four successful years with HealthNet and took a job as the Southwest regional coach for Carmichael Training Systems, but he couldn't stay away from the peloton for long. He found his way behind the wheel of Team Type 1's car as director in 2009 and moved to the same position at UnitedHealthcare in 2010.

    In 2011 Fraser took the reigns of On The Rivet Management's team and won the individual NRC standings with star rider Francisco Mancebo. Fraser's team repeated the feat with Mancebo in 2012 while riding under the Competitive Cyclist title sponsorship.

    But when

  • Katusha lifts Vicioso's suspension after Puerto testimony

    Katusha's Giampaolo Caruso and Angel Vicioso on the attack.
    Article published:
    February 26, 2013, 18:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard returns to racing Thursday in Italy

    Angel Vicioso will return to racing this week, as Team Katusha has lifted its internal suspension of the Spanish rider. Vicioso, who finally testified last week in the Operacion Puerto trial, will be part of the Russian team's line-up in Thursday's GP di Camaiore.

    Earlier last week the team suspended Vicioso after he did not make himself available to testify in the Fuentes trial. General manager Viatcheslav Ekimov said that he was suspended for “lying about the fact that he had been summoned.”

    "I asked if he had to go to court to testify, but he assured me that he had already arranged, he had spoken to the court and that they had provided all the documentation, but it is not true,” Ekimov said.

    At the trial, Vicioso said that he consulted Fuentes, who trained as a gynaecologist, about a knee injury. He said Fuentes was “a good doctor" and he thought he would get "a solution." He denied having blood extracted or even paying Fuentes for consultations in 2004-2005, saying he “did it for free.”

    Now that he has testified, he will be allowed to race again. Katusha confirmed to Cyclingnews on Tuesday that the ban has been lifted.

    The team announced Tuesday morning that he would ride in the GP Città di Camaiore on Thursday, February 28. The Katusha line-up for the one-day Italian race is Maxim Belkov, Pavel Brutt, Giampaolo Caruso, Sergey Chernetckii, Dmitry Kozontchuk, Denis Menchov, Yuriy Trofimov, and  Angel Vicioso.

  • Roma Maxima to debut in the heart of Rome

    The Roma Maxima logo
    Article published:
    February 26, 2013, 20:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Valverde, Cunego amongst top names in new race

    Alejandro Valverde and Damiano Cunego will be amongst the big names at the start of the Roma Maxima on Sunday, March 3, a new race which will take in all the glories of modern and ancient Rome, ending up with an “incredible finish on the Via del Fori Imperiali, in the shadow of the Coliseum.”

    Sixteen teams will be at the start in the centre of Rome, including nine WorldTour teams. Italian riders in the race will include Cunego (Lampre Merida), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini- Selle Italia) and former national champion Giovanni Visconti (Movistar).

    Many sprinters will look for their chance, but the course through the hilly city will prove a challenge. The win is expected to go to a sprinter “who can mix it up on the steep climbs of the Roman hills.”

    According to the race organiser's press release, “The start will be on the Via dei Fori Imperiali in the centre of  Rome, before joining the Appian Way. There will then be loops through the Roman Castels – Rocca Massima, Rocca Priora, Campi di Annibale, Albano Laziale and Cappuccini,” before finishing up in the shadow of the Coliseum.

    The Coliseum was also the site of the finish line of the time trial which closed the 2009 Giro d'Italia, with Iganatus Konovalovas of Cervelo TestTeam taking the stage and Denis Menchov of Rabobank the overall title, despite a crash in the closing kilometer of the time trial.

    The teams and some of the riders in the race are: AG2R (Carlos Betancur, Manuel Belletti); Androni Giocattoli (Mattia Gavazzi, Emanuele Sella); Astana (Enrico Gasparotto, Paolo Tiralongo) Bardiani Valvole - CSF...

  • Leezer nets first professional victory at Langkawi

    Tom Leezer (Blanco) wins the 6th stage of the Tour de Langkawi
    Article published:
    February 26, 2013, 22:20 GMT
    Alex Malone

    Blanco rider makes up for loss of teammate Bos

    Months of hard training during the winter has delivered Tom Leezer with his first professional victory at Tour de Langkawi. A "thrilled" Leezer captured the win in solo style, crossing the line with plenty of time to savour the moment of his first professional victory - something which has taken him five years to achieve.

    The loss of Theo Bos, who was also Leezer's roommate, prior to the start of stage six may have seemed like a disaster for the Blanco team, which was banking on the two-time stage winner cleaning-up the remaining sprints at this year's Tour de Langkawi, but the team has bounced back by taking a stage win with Leezer on the longest and wettest day of the tour.

    The dramatic end to the 217.5km stage, which seemed destined for a bunch sprint, was spoiled by one rider in a blue and white jersey who powered into the finishing straight at Kuantan on his own.

    Leezer had less than 30 seconds advantage over his nearest chaser after being on the attack for much of the day and broke clear of a final select group in the closing kilometres pounded by rain. The speeding peloton was also unable to catch Leezer.

    "I was first in the break after 70k but there was one rider from Farnese Vini [Jonathan Monsalve] from the GC, so it stopped after 120, 130 kilometres," he told Cyclingnews. "Then I went back to the car to get some drinks and told them I was tired.

    "After 30 or 40k I felt better and I thought, 'ah, why not, I'll give it a go'. All of a sudden I was in the right break. With 10k to go we rode away with five [riders] and then at 7k to go I rode off alone.

    "I kept hammering to the finish and I succeeded in the end."

    The 27-year-old has enjoyed a number of results since he turned...

  • Cavendish to race Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) made it three in a row at the Tour of Qatar
    Article published:
    February 27, 2013, 0:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step sprinter using race to prepare for Tirreno-Adriatico

    Mark Cavendish is set take part with his Omega Pharma – Quick Step team in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen this weekend. The race is a new addition to the Manx rider’s schedule following the cancellation of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and is being used to prepare him for Tirreno-Adriatico.

    The team will be seeking to repeat the overall victory of Julien Vermote, who joins Cavendish for the Belgian three-day stage race.

    The Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen begins with a 7km prologue in Middelkerke, which last year was won by Quick Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski ahead of Vermote. It is followed by a 175.4km stage from Brugge to Harelbeke, which has a few hard climbs and a slightly uphill finish. The final stage is 181.8km from Nieuwpoort to Ichtegem, featuring many hills, including the Keiberg and the Ruidenberg, which are climbed three times in an 11km final circuit.

    "The race will be similar to last year's race, and last year we won with Vermote," said directeur sportif Tom Steels said. "The most important stage will be the one on Sunday with the climb of Monteberg and Kemmel. Last year this stage was really difficult because of terrible weather conditions.

    “We will count on a very strong group of riders for this race, including Niki Terpstra - who is in good condition - and Gert Steegmans, who will start working on setting up the sprint and his leadout with Mark. Our objectives are to try and win a stage and repeat the good GC results of 2012. We have the potential to do that."

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step for Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen: Dries Devenyns, Frantisek Rabon, Gert Steegmans, Iljo Keisse, Julien Vermote, Kristof Vandewalle, Mark Cavendish, Niki Terpstra

  • Argos Shimano train to risk everything for Kittel at Paris-Nice

    Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) gets his first win of 2013 at Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    February 27, 2013, 2:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    De Kort back to racing next week?

    It is set to be a busy week for the squads of Argos Shimano with the women kicking off proceedings at Le Samyn des Dames.

    Overall winner, along with three stages at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, Kirsten Wild is back for the team having represented the Netherlands at the UCI Track World Championships. The 30-year-old posted fifth placings in both the Scratch and Points Race.

    "With Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters back from track worlds, we will change our tactics from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad," said sports director Cees-Jan van der Zweep. The team found Omloop tough-going but there was reason enough to be hopeful for the rest of the season with Willeke Knol and Charlotte Becker the best-placed riders just over seven minutes down on winner, Tiffany Cromwell (Orica-AIS).

    "The riders have to work well together, aiming to keep Kirsten fresh so she can, just like in Qatar, show her blistering sprint," van der Zweep continued. "The course suits us as a team, with five laps including two short climbs."

    A men's squad will be riding Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen on Friday with the team's plan for the remainder of the race hanging on the results of the prologue.

    "With Patrick Gretsch, Tobias Ludvigsson and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg we have guys who can ride a strong prologue, but we also have Jonas Ahlstrand, a rider who can finish well in races like this. Our tactical plan will depend on the prologue results," said sports director Adriaan Helmantel.

    Another will take on the two Italian one-day races over the weekend with Strade Bianche on Saturday and then Roma Maxima on Sunday with Simon Geschke and François Parisien the focus of the team's efforts. Both riders have been steadily building their form over the past month...

  • Valverde: "It has been a very good month"

    The finish line location made celebrating a little difficult for Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    February 27, 2013, 4:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider builds for Tour de France

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will return to racing this weekend after "two days off" to take on the Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima.

    Depending on his results there, "if nothing happens" he will then ride the Volta a Catalunya which he won in 2009. Like 2012's winner of Paris-Nice, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) Valverde, third overall last start, will not be present for the 'Race to the Sun'.

    The 32-year-old told Demarraje Radio Liberty that with back-to-back wins at the Vuelta a Andalucia and victory at the Trofeo Deià his season is progressing better than he expected.

    "I had a quiet start but the truth is that at home I can have a good time and I can almost always train well. And when you're on a roll victories are a little easier to get," he said. "I have trained less on the bike and more at the gym. My condition was not bad. In Mallorca the first win was very important for motivation and I went to Andalusia thinking I could win."

    Valverde's tally over just eight days of racing was impressive with four wins - the Trofeo Deià, the Andalucia prologue as well as stage 3 culminating in the overall, plus runner-up in stage 1 of Andalucia and third at the Vuelta Ciclista Murcia. Slightly improved from the same time last year where he won a stage at the Tour Down Under before winning a stage and overall at Andalucia.

    "I think it has been a very good month," he said. "Now I try to continue working and think of the great objectives... and see if I can do very well in any of them."

    Valverde's major objectives in 2013 are the Tour de France, the Vuelta a...