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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Date published:
February 05, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Dubai Tour kicks off with spectacular presentation

    World Champion Alberto Rui Costa and his Lampre-Merida team-mates.
    Article published:
    February 04, 2014, 20:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Start order for opening time trial

    The 127 riders that will form the peloton for the first ever edition of the Dubai Tour paraded before the Crown Prince of Dubai on Tuesday evening in the final act before the racing begins with a 9.9km time trial on Wednesday.

    The inaugural edition of the four-day race has used its financial muscle attracted some of sports biggest names, with Mark Cavendish, Vincenzo Nibali, Joaquim Rodríguez, Peter Sagan, Rui Costa, Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara, Alejandro Valverde, Taylor Phinney and Marcel Kittel all traveling to the gulf for the race.

    The big-name riders lead their teammates on stage in the centre overlooking the artificial lake at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world.

    With a show of national pride and perhaps a growing interest in cycling, the UAE team was the first on stage after a spectacular show of lights, dancers floating under balloons, loud music and the world's largest choreographed fountains, making for a presentation as spectacular as any ever seen at the Tour de France.

    The riders used their bikes to ride from the giant shopping mall to the stage, posed for a team photograph and then filled the stage. Many could not resist taking "selfies" or posing for photos under the towering Burj Khalifa.

    Costa showed off the new Lampre-Merida world champions' jersey in which he will race for the first time, while Cavendish looked on form in his white British national champion's jersey.

    After a day of official photographs, a chaotic press conference and the presentation, many of the riders could not wait to begin racing in the opening 9.9km individual time trial.

    Some riders have already competed at the Santos Tour Down Under or the Tour de San Luis but for many others the first...

  • Tour of Utah expands into Wyoming for 2014

    The peloton passes through the Grand Staircase Escalante National Park
    Article published:
    February 04, 2014, 20:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    First six of 16 invited teams announced

    The 2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will expand both in racing days and geographical footprint as the 10th anniversary edition increases from six to seven stages and will make its first foray into another state with a stage start in Wyoming.

    The route was unveiled today on the campus of the University of Utah, with the seven-day stage race taking place August 4-10 and retaining its UCI 2.1 rating. And living up to its "America's Toughest Stage Race" moniker, the 2014 edition features 38,000 feet of climbing over 600 miles of racing.

    "Each year the Tour of Utah has the opportunity to break new ground by showcasing the sport to different parts of the state, and our selection of host cities and venues in 2014 is no exception," said Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties which operates the Tour of Utah.

    "The addition of a seventh day of racing allows us to expand to new territories like Powder Mountain and Evanston, Wyoming, as well as build upon the tremendous racing we experienced in southern Utah last year and our traditional finish in Park City. We are genuinely excited to bring the Tour of Utah to these communities and thank them for supporting the race."

    Six of the sixteen teams to contest the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah were also announced, including five WorldTeams and one Continental team. All three of the US-registered WorldTeams have accepted invitations - BMC Racing Team, Garmin Sharp and Trek Factory Racing - as well as Belkin-Pro Cycling Team and Orica-GreenEdge. The US Continental team Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis, featuring reigning US road champion Fred Rodriguez, rounds out the initial list of invited teams.

    As was the case in the 2013 edition, this year's Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will be comprised of road stages only with no individual or team time trials.

    The opening stage returns to southern Utah with Cedar City hosting both the start and finish as well as the pre-race team...

  • Wiggins says aim is to return to levels of 2012

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) won the 10th Tour of Britain
    Article published:
    February 04, 2014, 23:09 GMT
    Cycling News

    First targets of 2014 are Paris-Roubaix, Tour of California

    Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins says he has come to terms with the success of 2012 and that after an uneven 2013 he is looking forward to racing in 2014.

    "I've come into this season wanting to race," Wiggins said on Tuesday during a team training camp in Mallorca, "and that's the main thing. It's a little bit like two years ago, in 2012, and it's always a good sign being happy like that."

    Realising that he had rocketed to the top of the cycling hierarchy in 2012 was hard for him to handle, Wiggins said, and he paid the price for it in 2013, when he did not perform as well as expected.

    "I started to come to terms with it all last summer, missing the Tour was a blessing in disguise. Before there was a big hangover from 2012 and it was like ‘God, I've got to start doing it all over again.' I've never struggled with training but once I got into racing [in 2013], I was going through the motions."

    So far Wiggins says he is in good shape. Coming off a good season end in 2013, with the Tour of Britain win and a silver medal in the world championship time trial "set me up going into the winter. I wasn't chasing my tail."

    Sky also held a series of day-long meetings over the off-season with all the team to re-assess and remember their overall goals, which Wiggins said had helped enormously, "and that bodes well for 2013."

    Rather than specific goals, Wiggins says over the winter he had aimed to get to his physical level of the start of 2012 and then take it from there. "For me it's about hitting the ground running like in 2012. I went to Oman last year and I was struggling."

    A number of major Classics feature on the...

  • Scandolara finds Orica-AIS on another level to Italian teams

    Back in action after the crash last Thursday, Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini Giambenini)
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 0:16 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian on life at Australian squad

    Historically, Italian cyclists, much like the country's footballers, have tended to ply their trade almost exclusively in their homeland. Times change, however, and in recent seasons, more and more Italians have explored their options on the other side of the Alps, including double world champion Giorgia Bronzini, now in her second year at Wiggle-Honda.

    Few have made as dramatic a change as Valentina Scandolara, however, who swapped MCipollini for Australian outfit Orica-AIS during the off-season. Hailing from Tregnago, near Verona, the 23-year-old has a fine pedigree, with European titles from her junior and under 23 days on both road and track, and a clutch of impressive performances at elite level.

    Yet the very fact that Scandolara raced for five different title sponsors in her first five years as a professional is perhaps indicative of the hand-to-mouth existence of many Italian squads, a fact papered over somewhat by the national team's continued success at world championships. Orica-AIS, she admitted, simply operates on a higher plane than any of her teams to date.

    "There are completely different means at our disposal here," Scandolara told Cyclingnews in Doha at the Ladies Tour of Qatar. "For instance, we've already been given SRMs for training, it's much more professional. Unfortunately in Italy, the sponsors are lacking. It's not completely the fault of the teams, but it means we're not at this level yet, even if there are a lot of very talented riders in Italy."

    Scandolara points to the close ties between Orica-AIS and the Orica-GreenEdge WorldTour team as another important factor in amplifying the level of support enjoyed by the team. Giant-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol also share sponsors with WorldTour teams, while the French Cycling Federation has plans to put together both men's and women's professional teams perhaps as soon as next year,...

  • Costa ready to show his rainbow jersey in Dubai

    World Champion Alberto Rui Costa and his Lampre-Merida team-mates.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 2:25 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    World champion makes his racing debut with Lampre-Merida

    World road race champion Rui Costa rightly showed off his rainbow jersey before the start of the Dubai Tour and wears race number one in the new four-day race.

    The Portuguese rider was one of the stars that posed on the Dubai beach on Tuesday morning and then paraded under the looming Burj Khalifa skyscraper at the team presentation.

    He will start Wednesday's time trial next to last place, ahead of favourite and world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). Of course the German rider and not Costa, will wear the rainbow jersey in the time trial stage, with the Portuguese rider wearing his Lampre-Merida rainbow stripes in action for the first time for Thursday's road stage.

    Costa still seems amazed that he became world champion and is savouring every moment of his year in the rainbow jersey.

    "It's always an emotional moment to pull on the world champion's rainbow jersey and I think the Dubai Tour will be an historic moment for me and the team," he told Cyclingnews.

    "We've had a good start to the season with wins by Modolo in San Luis and Ulissi in Australia, so it seems that everything is going good so far this year. Now it's my turn to race."

    "This is my first race with Lampre-Merida and it’s the first time I've been to Dubai. I'm happy to be part of this team and happy to be here. Today I was able to really appreciate life here. There's no cycling tradition, but I'm sure that, if there's the will, Dubai will for sure achieve important goals in our sport."

    Costa is not expected to challenge for victory in the sprint stages but could show his hand if a selection is made on the hillier third stage to...

  • Ben Day on his return to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

    Ben Day is back for another year with the team and ready to go after the wins
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 6:49 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    Former stage winner back racing down under with UnitedHealthcare

    On the cusp of starting his 14th year as a professional, Ben Day is still enjoying racing as much as ever. It may take him a few flat whites in the morning but the Colorado based Australian is looking forward to racing back in Australia at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with his UnitedHealthcare team.

    "I actually had no idea we were going to do it. In November or December, I was told by my directors that I'd be kicking off at the Sun Tour. At first I was like, 'ah ok, what does that involve?' And it then it was 'cool, that'll be fun' to get back to Australia again and see friends I haven't seen for a while," Day told Cyclingnews.

    Day has tasted success before at the race when he won a stage at the 2004 edition and then finished third overall in 2008 behind Stuart O'Grady and is happy to be back. "It was a shame that for the last couple of the years the race had some issues with trying to secure the correct dates and now its moved to February, the race is going to grow in stature to even what it was before."

    The team enters the race with potential and proven stage winners although Day was quick to explain the temperature are going to test himself and his teammates. "The one thing that worries me this week is the weekend coming up when it'll be over 40 degrees Celsius. We have intentions, we're here to race but some of my guys are coming out of temperatures that no-one has ever seen down here or even heard of.

    "A lot of people are asking me 'are you going to crush it this week?' I'm definitely not going to talk negatively but I don't know. Everyone if fit, we've had some great training camps already in Arizona so we're fit and ready to go but we haven't started racing for the year yet."

  • Brailsford: Wiggins' Paris-Roubaix target a goal in itself

    Bradley Wiggins at sign-in
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 9:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tension between Wiggins and Froome "no longer a story"

    Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford says that Bradley Wiggins will take part in Paris-Roubaix "as part of a Bradley strategy, not a Tour de France strategy" - meaning that the Hell of the North would be a goal in itself, rather than a way of practicing for the Tour de France's tough first week stage over the cobbles.

    Brailsford recognised that since Sky began in 2010, they have failed to shine yet in the cobbled Classics, and Wiggins may be one to resolve what he called "a gaping hole in our palmares that we'd like to try and sort out."

    "Paris-Roubaix is a race which Wiggins has always liked since he was a youngster, he feels he's got the physical attributes to do well there."

    "I'd love to be up there," Wiggins said. "Once the fighting is done in the early sectors, it's about spending long periods of time on your own which I'm good at. The demands of the events are the same as what we've been doing climbing mountains, lots of sustained threshold work."

    As for the Froome/Wiggins leadership issues that have surfaced on several occasions since the 2011 Vuelta, Brailsford said "it's no longer a story, that one has been wrung dry."

    "Brad is in a good place, he's got his goals and he's working towards them. He's come to terms with his 2012 performances and he's now able to see his way forward."

  • Armitstead looks to Tour of Britain and Commonwealth Games in 2014

    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 10:10 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    British champion prepares for classics in Qatar

    The open expanses of desert at the Ladies Tour of Qatar are an ideal testing ground ahead of the spring classics, and in that regard, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) can be pleased with how she navigated the crosswinds on stage 1 to Mesaieed.

    The British champion was alert to the danger when the race split up with 55 kilometres to go and she was a prominent member of a leading group that featured many of her likely adversaries at the Tour of Flanders on April 6. Armitstead lies in 4th place overall ahead of stage 2 in Qatar, but admitted that any success at this early point in the season would be something of a bonus.

    "We have six weeks of Classics and I want to be on top form all the way through, so that's why I'm here really. I haven't done Qatar in a few years, so it's good to get a head start and get back racing a bit sooner," Armitstead told Cyclingnews in Doha before the stage began.

    "It's just good to be here and see where you are ahead of the next few weeks of training really. I'm not an out and out sprinter, so it's going to be very difficult for me to win this race but it's a race environment and race speed, and you can't replicate that in training. If you don't do this race, you're already starting behind some of the girls who are here."

    Indeed, Armitstead spent much of her 2013 campaign dealing with another kind of disadvantage, as she suffered a season plagued by recurring illness, and it was October before she was able to pinpoint the problem. Although the year yielded another British championship and a string of placings at the Route de France, the Otley native admitted that it was almost a relief to be diagnosed with a hiatus hernia at the end of the season.

    "I knew I had a problem but I didn't have time to fix it really because I was going from race to race," Armitstead said. "I decided after the season to really find out what was wrong and, now it's better: I've had a good winter and it's been...