- Article published:
- January 14, 19:40
- Stephen Farrand
Tinkoff-Saxo leader backs Riis, Rogers and Tinkov
Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff-Saxo team are convinced they can take on Chris Froome at this year's Tour de France after learning from the mistakes of 2013. Contador struggled in July and finished a distant fourth overall off the Champs Elysees podium.
Contador will be the absolute team leader at the new look Tinkoff-Saxo team, now owned by Russian business mogul Oleg Tinkov, with Bjarne Riis focusing on the technical and performance aspects of the team.
Contador appeared as jovial and relaxed as ever at the Tinkoff-Saxo training camp in Gran Canaria, be it when leading the training ride, talking about his hopes for the season, defending Riis and Michael Rogers and dismissing suggestions he does not get on with Tinkov.
"We've got a new jersey, a new owner but at the end of the day, nothing's really changed. On the contrary, I think there's more stability in the team. We're focused and ready to have a good season," he told Cyclingnews.
"I know that people were talking about my body language at the press conference to announce that Tinkov had bought the team but at the moment my relationship with him is perfect. We're working in the same direction and things are good."
"Oleg buying the team is great news and good for everyone. The financial stability of the team is very important in this difficult moment for cycling, where backers are scarce. It will help the motivation and unity in the team and so help me perform even better. We know the sponsor is backing us and believes in us."
Turning consistency into victories
Contador was consistent in 2013 but only won one race: a stage at the Tour de San Luis. He knows that's not enough for a rider of his calibre and palmares.
"I think I was consistent in 2013, I was often in the top five in races that mattered but that's not good enough for Alberto Contador. Everyone expects me to win. I know this and understand it," he conceded.
"That's why I'm working hard this winter. Last winter wasn't so good and I think racing so early at the Tour de San Luis affected things. This year I'm going to take things more tranquillo and program well my season. I'll have a complete season, starting off quite intensely with some good races in the spring, then I'll back off and recover before riding the Dauphine so that I can start the Tour de France in the best possible condition."
Contador confirmed he will begin his season at the Volta ao Algarve in early February and then target Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country before focusing on preparing for the Tour de France and then the Vuelta a Espana.
"I'll be targeting the Tour de France and the Vuelta and that won't be easy, in fact the Vuelta will be a bit of an incognito. But I think I can be at a good level," he said, edging his bets.
"We've decided to go for Tirreno-Adriatico because the Paris-Nice course doesn't seem logical for me. Tirreno is hard and complete with a team time trial, a individual time trial and a mountain finish. That's better for me. After Tirreno I'll do Catalunya and the Volta Pais Vasco. Then I'll focus on the Tour."
Support for Riis and Rogers
Contador believes he will benefit from better support from Bjarne Riis in 2014 after the Dane sold the team to Tinkov and accepted the role of team manager.
Riis was in Gran Canaria carefully scrutinizing his riders and talking to Contador. He faces scrutiny of his own in Denmark due to the on-going investigation into allegations of doping in his teams. However, Contador offered him unequivocal support.
"With the arrival of Oleg, Bjarne no longer has to worry about finding sponsors for the future and so is more relaxed and can focus better on working with us all. That includes me because we live near each other in Lugano. That's important for me to have a good season," Contador told Cyclingnews.
"I don’t have all the information to understand what's happening in Denmark. I can only say that Bjarne has never talked about doping with me from the moment we first met. He's always been against it. I think he's got more moral values than all the team directeurs I've ever worked with in my career. He's the best team manager I could have."
Contador was equally supportive of teammate Michele Rogers, who failed a doping test for Clenbuterol at the tour of Beijing in October. Contador also tested positive for the banned steroid at the 2010 Tour de France. He always said his positive was caused by contaminated food and believes that Rogers' positive was caused by the same reason.
"For me there's nothing strange about his case. In fact it's very simple," Contador told Cyclingnews.
"After my experience with the same Clenbuterol problem it's simple: I've got 100 per cent trust in Michael and I expect everything will turn out right. I'm sure it's a case of food contamination, not a doping case. I hope everything will be cleared up because as well as being a good friend, Michael is a great rider that is fundamental for the team."
- Article published:
- January 14, 22:06
- Cycling News
Evans, Porte and Kittel in training
Cadel Evans will make his first appearance at the Tour Down Under since 2010, as the peloton continues to prepare for the first WorldTour race of the season.
Evans has chosen to take part in his home race, as he prepares for an attack on the Giro d'Italia title. The 36-year-old has had a good start to the season, with second place at the national championships. Evans will be hoping that the form he has already shown will be enough to unseat his compatriots Richie Porte and Simon Gerrans, who is the new national champion, in the race for overall success.
There were plenty of new jersey designs on show at the second day of training. After the four-year sponsorship deal with Giant was announced on Monday, the newly named Giant-Shimano were given the go-ahead to wear their new kit for the first time. Marcel Kittel could be seen wearing a sleeveless version of the jersey, to try and cope with the heat of the Australian summer.
Frank Schleck and Jens Voigt also made their first appearances in the new Trek Factory Racing Kit. The Tour Down Under will be Schleck's first race since he was handed a one-year ban for Xipamide, while Voigt is embarking on his final season as a professional cyclist.
The Tour Down Under begins next week.
- Article published:
- January 14, 22:13
- Cycling News
Caleb Ewan named as expected with strong representation by Avanti
Cycling Australia has selected a seven man UniSA-Australia team for the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under with its riders looking in top form after racing at last weekend's Australian National Road.
Headlining the team is Caleb Ewan, who won his second U23 national criterium crown last week as well as his first U23 road race. Ewan had a breakthrough year in 2013 with the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy team, picking up seven wins in Europe and placing fourth in the under 23 road race at the UCI World Championship in Florence.
"I'm going there to race and I'll do the best that I can to get a result," Ewan said after his U23 road race win on Saturday. While Ewan has been labelled the next big thing, he said that until he competes against the top sprinters can such lofty terms be attributed to him.
"It's going to be hard for me being a UniSA rider not getting as much respect as [André] Greipel or [Marcel] Kittel will get. For the moment, it's all just for experience and hopefully in a few years or even next year, I'll be with GreenEdge there and have a proper team helping me," Ewan said.
Joining Caleb will be fellow Jayco-AIS WTA alumni Campbell Flakemore and Bradley Linfield. Completing the roster are Avanti Pro Cycling Team riders Jack Haig, Mark O'Brien, Anthony Giacoppo and Neil Van Der Ploeg. Haig was the overall winner of the 2013 National Road Series.
Cycling Australia, National Performance Director, Kevin Tabotta, says this is a fantastic opportunity for seven emerging young Australian riders to showcase their talents on the WorldTour stage.
"We've selected a mix of riders to target general classification (GC) and stage results and expect each of them to acquit themselves well against the world class field," he said. "We'll certainly be looking for Caleb Ewan to take the strong form he showed at the National Road Championships into the TDU and beyond this season."
University of South Australia Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd says the University is proud to support this group of young riders. "We know that getting a ride with Team UniSA-Australia is a dream come true for many young riders and in the past 13 years many of the team's riders have gone onto success at the highest level," said Lloyd.
"Our TDU sponsorship is a great fit for UniSA – it brings the best of international talent to our community while showcasing our local environment to the world."
The UniSA-Australia team for the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under to be led by manager Dave Saunders includes: Caleb Ewan (Jayco AIS WorldTour Academy), Jack Haig (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Mark O'Brien (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Neil Van Der Ploeg (Avanti Pro Cycling Team), Campbell Flakemore (Avanti Pro Cycling Team/ Jayco AIS WorldTour Academy) and Bradley Lindfield (Jayco AIS WorldTour Academy).
- Article published:
- January 15, 00:10
- Cycling News
Enjoy the race in style courtesy of Cyclingnews and RCS
Cyclingnews and RCS have teamed up to bring you a fantastic chance to go and watch the Dubai Tour next month. Travel to one of the world’s most eagerly anticipated races and watch the stars of the cycling world during the four-day event taking place February 5-8, 2014.
The contest winner and one guest will be flown to Dubai and put up at RCS’s expense for five nights (February 4-8) and be handed a VIP pass for the event, with Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan all set to star in the inaugural event.
To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize all you need to do is click through to our competition page and answer one easy question. One winner will be drawn at random from those who correctly answer the question.
What are you waiting for?
Entries for the Dubai Tour contest close midnight GMT, January 27, 2014.
- Article published:
- January 15, 01:43
- Cycling News
Australian integral to NSW cycling community
Charlie Bazzano, who passed away last week, will be remembered as the oldest surviving member of the 1948 Olympic team that travelled to London. Bazzano finished fourth in the 1000m sprint. In his career, Bazzano competed with and along side Sid Patterson and Russell Mockridge and was associated with the sport in Australia for the majority of his life.
The son of Jack Bazzano and born in Morano, east of Turin in Northern Italy, Bazzano arrived in Australia with his brother Leo at three-years-of-age. Jack started a firm named Velox Engineering Works and Charlie, along with Leo became tradesmen manufacturing cycling componentry including aluminium hubs, brakes, handlebars, stems, seat posts, pedals and chain sets. The VEW hubs were world renown and were part of the Malvern Star bikes for many decades.
Charlie Bazzano medalled in a NSW title for the first time as a 19-year-old finishing third in 1942 in the half-mile sprint title before finishing second in both the sprint and mile titles the following year. By 1944, at 21-years-old, Charlie Bazzano was the king of NSW sprinting winning seven sprint crowns including the 1km time trial over the next five years and won selection to compete in the London Olympics after winning back to back National Sprint titles in 1947 and 1948, defeating Sid Patterson who went on to win the World Sprint title in 1949.
Charlie built most of his own bikes and then raced with incredible success for the Marrickville Club before competing in the 1948 Olympic Games, racing through to the semi-finals before being eliminated by the great Reg Harris, regarded by many as the greatest sprinter of his era, but not before the English stooped to tactics in a bid to unsettle Charlie Bazzano.
Charlie also represented Australian at the 1950 Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games) as a sprint cyclist and finished fifth in the sprint title with fellow team-mates Russell Mockridge and Sid Patterson taking the gold and silver medals.
Charlie medalled in state championships for 12 seasons and did much to encourage up and coming future stars like Lionel Cox and assisted the great Joe Buckley with the development of St George in the mid fifties.
In 1971 Bazzano became the NSW Coach along with his good friend George Moore and was instrumental in assisting younger riders such as Garry Sutton, Greg Barnes, Kevin Nichols, Greg Williams develop their skills and ability as cyclists. In 1974, Charlie attended the Christchurch Commonwealth Games with his wife Heather, and was very influential in guiding Dick Paris to a historic win in the time trial as well as the medal performances of Gary Sutton and Kevin Nichols.
Charlie was delighted in the 1980’s with the emergence of his nephew, Matt Bazzano, who went on to win the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic, race internationally and qualified for the 1990 Commonwealth Games. He was also a big influence on the stellar career of Olympian Clayton Stevenson, just one of many international cycling stars that came into contact with a very charming man.
Charlie passed away at 90-years-of-age having lost his beautiful wife Heather several years earlier and had been wheelchair bound for the past few years.
Charlie will be well remembered for his contribution to our sport as a champion cyclist, to the bicycle industry and anyone that came into contact with him would have walked away a better person for the privilege.
- Article published:
- January 15, 02:56
- Cycling News
Broken collarbone rules out TDU appearance
This story has changed from its original version following updates on Thomas Voeckler's crash
X-rays have revealed that French cyclist Thomas Voeckler has broken his right collarbone after crashing earlier today whilst on a training ride near the Adelaide beach-side suburb of Glenelg.
The 34-year-old arrived in Adelaide this morning with his Europcar team mates for the Tour Down Under and at midday they headed out for a short ride. During the ride Voeckler accidentally crashed into a stationary car and was taken to Sportsmed SA and as a result of the crash will fly home to France tomorrow.
"When we went out training this morning and a pedestrian crossed the road so a car braked very quickly and I didn't have time to brake so I bumped into the car," said Voeckler. "I immediately knew that my collarbone was broken as it's the third time I have broken it.
"After (the crash) thanks to the organisers we went immediately to the hospital and the x-ray showed it was broken so I have to go back to France and the hospital and see how much time it takes to get on the bike again."
Voeckler fractured the same collar bone for the first time in 2009 in a stage of Paris-Nice race and again in a race crash during the Amstel Gold Race in April last year. That crash ended his 2013 Spring Classics campaign and only underwent a minor operation earlier this month to remove the metal plate that was put in after the Amstel Gold crash.
"It's been 12 days since the other plate was removed and it was okay but I must not crash on it," said Vockler. "There was a small risk and it's the first time in my career, 14th year as a professional, first time in my career I hit a car in training....that's the way it is, it's a pity.
"When it's during a race you say to yourself it's your job there are risks but when it's stupid like this morning I crashed into a car, it's not the car's fault but it's a stupid crash, a really stupid crash but that happens sometimes - this time it happened to me."
Voeckler, the winner of four stages and the 2012 king of the mountains jersey at the Tour de France, was looking forward to his debut appearance in the Santos Tour Down Under.
"I was really happy to spend two weeks here even if my shape is not 100 percent," Voeckler said. "When I am racing somewhere I always try to attack or take a breakaway, that was my goal this time and to train for the season (but) now I have to take time to get better and we'll see step-by-step."
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director, Mike Turtur, says it's disappointing but wished Voeckler a speedy recovery.
"There were a lot of people looking forward to seeing Thomas in action as he has a strong fan base in Australia but our first concern is for his welfare and we wish him all the best for a speedy recovery so he can resume racing," said Turtur.
Team Europcar Manager, Andy Flickinger, says the team will not replace Vockler in the starting lineup and will start with the remaining six riders Yukiya Arashiro, Perrig Quemeneur, Bjorn Thurau, Kévin Reza, Jérome Cousin, Angélo Tulik.
"Today the whole team is very disappointed that Thomas has had to give up before the start of the race," said Flickinger. "It's terrible for us because we were happy to be here in Australia and to participate in the race and we feel terrible for the organiser.
"We are thankful to the organiser and to Mike Turtur for taking care of Thomas today and for their support," he said.French cyclist Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has been taken to Sportsmed-SA after crashing earlier today whilst on a training ride near the Adelaide beach-side suburb of Glenelg. It's understood Voeckler accidentally collided with a stationary vehicle during a ride with his team shorty after arriving in Adelaide and broke his right collarbone. Voeckler is expected to be flying back to France on Thursday.
- Article published:
- January 15, 10:10
- Cycling News
Eddy Merckx Velodrome in Gent hosts launch
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team, for the second year in a row, had a track-based team presentation at the Eddy Merckx Velodrome in Gent. The event on Tuesday was sold out, with 1,700 attendees able to watch a full evening of fun and interactive events surrounding the presentation of Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders and staff for the 2014 season.
"This was a really great and unique show and I'm super happy to be here," British Champion and sprint extraordinaire Mark Cavendish said of the team presentation. "It was fun for everyone, even my daughter Delilah had a great time. I couldn't believe how many fans we had cheering for us and it was fantastic to get on the track with the guys in front of them all."
Riders were introduced while riding around the velodrome, and they also raced against each other in various special track events.
"I'm really happy to start my season off with this kind of event following my struggles of last year," OPQS team leader Tom Boonen said. "I'm as in shape as I have been previous years and am doing great. I had a smile on my face the entire time during this presentation for the public. I even won an event, which was a nice touch for me. This does not feel like an obligatory show for the sponsors and fans. I really enjoyed doing this in front of such an impressive crowd. Sometimes team presentations can be boring, but this has been far from it. For us, the fans, the media, the VIPS, and everyone else here it was super fun."
"The team is looking brilliant across all aspects of cycling," Cavendish said. "The grand tours, for example the Tour de France, we're going to go and win stages. Rigoberto Uran is here and he will be the guy at the Giro for the hilly stages and maybe even the hilly Classics. Then, of course, Tom's back and in incredible condition for the northern Classics this year. We've also got world champion Tony Martin in superb form. Then finally we're the two-time defending world team time trial champions. It's an incredible, formidable line-up this year and I'm so excited to be starting as part of this team in my second year."
After today's outstanding team presentation, OPQS looks next to the first races of the season, the Tour de San Luis and the Tour Down Under.
- Article published:
- January 15, 13:42
- Stephen Farrand
Dane says he has the right to stay in cycling despite doping allegations
Bjarne Riis has told Cyclingnews that he is happier after selling his team to Oleg Tinkov for a reported €6 million and that he has every right to remain within the sport despite an ongoing doping investigation in his native Denmark.
The Dane admitted that he suffered with depression in 2013 after accusations in his team of doping remerged and Anti-Doping Denmark began a detailed investigation into his past.
The results of the investigation are still not known and Riis could be banned from working in cycling in the future, perhaps for life. For now, however, he is keen to enjoy working with his Tinkoff-Saxo riders as they target victory at the Tour de France with Alberto Contador.
"I'm very happy about having sold the team to Oleg. The more time that goes by, the happier I become and the more I realise it was the right decision," Riis told Cyclingnews at the Tinkoff-Saxo training camp in Gran Canaria.
"It wasn't an easy decision because I made this team, it's my baby. But after all that has happened, it's important what I feel. At the end of the day I need to feel good about things. From the day I took the decision with my wife to sell the team, I felt a lot better. It was a long process and we talked a lot. She could see that I needed to do it, she could she it was the best thing for me."
Tinkov reportedly paid Riis €6 million for the team and is paying him €1 million a year to manage the sporting side. Riis said that he isn't driven by money but by personal ambition and determination.
"It had to be the right thing for me. We're not talking about money but about principle," he said.
"Oleg has been great. He's surprised me a lot during the process of buying the team. He was very professional and very serious. That was important for me. I know he will keep the team in the right way.
"It's important we have the same ambitions. It might mean we clash a little bit but that's okay. We have different characters but that doesn't mean we can't work well together. We've got a lot of respect for each other.
"I've also got the responsibility of keeping him happy as a team owner. It's his team now but I made it. If I didn’t care and had made the wrong decision, I wouldn't be here. But I want to make this team one of the best teams in the world."
Riis defended his right to stay at the helm of Tinkoff-Saxo team despite the ongoing investigation by Anti-Doping Denmark stemming, which is believed to have gained momentum thanks to evidence provided by Riis’ former rider, Michael Rasmussen.
The accusations from former riders are serious and come after Riis has already confessed to doping during his own racing career. He tries to avoid the subject and only talks to Danish media about cycling, but the risk of a life-time ban remains.
"My answer is the same as ever: there's an investigation going on and I've nothing else to add to it," he said bluntly.
Riis was willing to respond to several other direct questions, making it clear he has no plans to quit the sport or run away from the accusations and criticism.
"It's not something I'm thinking about. Of course they write about it all the time in the Danish media but I'm not obsessed about it," Riis said, believing he has the right to stay in cycling and be part of its future.
"People always have different opinions on things. But I honestly think I've done good things for the sport over the years. And I still want to continue to do that. I've made a lot of mistakes but I don’t see why I can't continue if I'm willing to do things in a good way," he said.
"I still have a lot of ambition to create a good and healthy cycling. I'm still in cycling, good or bad, knowing I'll get a lot of shit for staying. But that's my choice. I think I have a lot of good to give to cycling and this team. I want to appreciate that with people who will let me do it in peace."
Riis refused to reveal what he and the Tinkoff-Saxo team are doing to create "a good and healthy team". There doesn’t seem to be a zero-tolerance policy like at Team Sky but instead a philosophy of giving people a second chance as long as they are open and honest in the future.
"I know I do the right stuff and so I don’t think I need to respond to you about that. It’s up to people to decide if they want to trust me or not,” he said.
"I don’t set the rules and people have the right to their opinions. I can't change their minds. I also have the right to do what I want to do and decide how I want to do it. I don’t need to be dictated to on how to live my life."
With Tinkov assuming control of the business, Riis can now concentrate on running the sporting aspects of the team. He undoubtedly has a talented pool of riders at his disposal with Contador, Nicolas Roche and Roman Kreuziger all able to lead in grand tours. Despite no major rider signings in the off-season – not to mention the possible loss of Michael Rogers through suspension – Riis believes he has the squad to once again challenge for major honours.
"Every year is different, with new riders coming in and others going out. That's how it is and the team has adapted well. I think we have a good core group again and it’s also the group that leads the philosophy of the team,” he said.
“To have a good team you need a leader, to show the way. I'm not the owner anymore but I'm still a leader. It's still my job to put the plans together and get the riders to perform.”
Question marks remain over Alberto Contador, however, as the Spaniard failed to win a stage race last year for the first time in several seasons. His only win came in a stage of the Tour de San Luis in January and he was a distant fourth at the Tour de France, despite attempting to animate the race on several occasions. Riis believes that Contador, the only rider in the current peloton to have won all three grand tours, can regain his top form in 2014.
"I hope so and I think so. I like what I see. I can see that he's very concentrated and focused, that he's working hard and doing the right things. We've improved some things and we have a good set up around him," Riis said.
“It's very important that he wants to be back and he has a chance to get back to his best. Time will time. But I'm confident. If he's as strong as I think he will be, he's one of a few riders who has a great chance to take on Chris Froome, who is now the rider to beat.
“We're working on being strong. Let’s hope it works. I think it'd be good for the sport if Alberto gets back to a good level.”
If Contador is to return to his former levels and regain the yellow jersey at the Tour, he must defeat Chris Froome in July. The Sky leader’s star has risen dramatically since his Tour debut in 2008 and he thoroughly outclassed his rivals – Contador included – last year.
“We don’t know how Froome will be this year. We'll see how we get to the Tour,” Riis said. “We have to focus on ourselves, on being as strong as possible. I believe in Alberto. I can see the potential is still there and that he can fight for victory.”
Strengthening the team
Although confident that Rafal Majka and Nicolas Roche can build on the strides they made in 2013 at this year’s Giro d’Italia, Riis is aware of the need to continue to strengthen the team around Contador.
“I'd like make the team stronger but that will happen in the coming years,” he said. “I still think we still have one of the strongest teams in the peloton: we will be good in the spring, we will have a good team in the Giro with Rafal Majka and Nico Roche. We'll be strong for the Tour, obviously, and for the Vuelta.
“Hopefully we win a little bit more than last year and then build it up the year after that. It's important to win. We need to win and be strong. I'm convinced the mentality of the team will remain even if I'm no longer the team owner.”
Ultimately, however, Riis knows that much of the responsibility at Tinkoff-Saxo rests on the shoulders of Alberto Contador, who will have to carry the fight to Froome and Sky in July. “If Alberto is back to his best, then he'll win races,” Riis said.