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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Date published:
January 16, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Hushovd takes aim at the Spring Classics

    Thor Hushovd at the BMC team presentation
    Article published:
    January 15, 2013, 14:08 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    After an illness-hit season, Norwegian believes he is getting back to his best

    Going into the 2012 season there was widespread debate about how the BMC Racing Team would be able to accommodate the objectives of team leader Cadel Evans with those of new signings Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd. The conjecture assumed that all three riders would be fighting fit and on top form at the same key moments in the season, principally for the Tour de France. However, as it turned out, lack of form and illness meant none of the trio performed as consistently well as had been expected.

    Hushovd was the most severely affected. He went into the season with an energy-sapping virus and it took months to shake it off. In May, he lasted only a week at the Giro d’Italia before pulling out. Two months on, he returned at the Tour of Poland but quit the race after four days. That marked the end of his campaigning for the year, which totalled just 28 race days.

    Tests showed that the Norwegian needed rest. He spent the rest of the summer relaxing, before starting back into training in October. Speaking at the BMC team presentation in Belgium last Friday, Hushovd confirmed: “I had a long, long break last year. When I started riding again, I started slowly at the beginning of October while the peloton was still competing. I feel like I’ve reached a good level now and I’m trying to peak a bit so that I am ready to get back up to race speed. Because I’ve got that base from the last three months I feel that my level is better than it was one year back. I’m sure that I’ve recovered. I feel much better.”

    With his 35th birthday approaching this coming Friday, Hushovd hopes that the lay-off will benefit him in the long term, boosting his motivation and his chances of riding for a few more seasons. “When you look at...

  • Amstel Gold Race to finish two kilometres beyond the Cauberg

    The Cauberg was the main feature of today's stage
    Article published:
    January 15, 2013, 16:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Moving the finish said to open the race to more contenders

    The Amstel Gold Race will no longer finish atop the Cauberg but will continue some two kilometers further, with the finish line on the road between Felt and Berg en Terblijt. The new finish will "open the race up to more contenders", according to the Dutch media.

    The new finish will be identical to that of the third stage of the 2006 Tour de France, won by T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler. The finish on Cauberg most recently featured in the road world championships last September, with Philippe Gilbert and Marianne Vos claiming the honours.

    Amstel Gold has finished on the Cauberg only since 2003, with the first win going to Alexandre Vinokourov. From 1966 to 1990, the finish was in Meerssen, before moving to Maastricht, and then to the Cauberg.

    The closing climb reduced the number of candidates for the win, and the new finish line is expected to promise a more exciting and competitive finish, according to the Dutch newspaper De Limburger. It also has better logistical capabilities, with more room for media facilities and a VIP village.

    Race organisers would not confirm the newspaper's report, but are scheduled to hold a press conference on the race route.

  • Armstrong interview extended to two nights on Oprah Winfrey Network

    Lance Armstrong speaks with Oprah Winfrey in his first interview since he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life following the USADA investigation into doping by Armstrong and his US Postal Service team.
    Article published:
    January 15, 2013, 18:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Winfrey confirms Texan admits to doping

    Less than 24 hours after conducting a 2.5-hour interview in Austin, Texas with Lance Armstrong, Oprah Winfrey appeared on the CBS "This Morning" program today where she confirmed that the now-former Tour de France champion admitted to doping.

    The revelations were supposed to await until the airing of the interview at a 9pm EST broadcast on Thursday evening during the Oprah's Next Chapter program on her eponymous Oprah Winfrey Network, but the speed of leaks from her exclusive interview with Armstrong caught her off guard.

    "By the time I left Austin and landed in Chicago you all had already confirmed it," Winfrey said on This Morning. "So I'm like, 'how did you all do that?' We all agreed that we weren't going to say anything. So I'm sitting here now because it had already been confirmed."

    Winfrey related that she prepared meticulously for the Armstrong interview "like it was a college exam" and came armed with 112 questions, most of which were answered during the interview.

    "I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered and certainly answered...I can only say I was satisfied by the answers," said Winfrey. "I would say that he did not come clean in the manner that I expected. It was surprising to me. I would say that myself, my team and all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers."

    Originally slated for a single 90-minute program to air Thursday evening, Winfrey announced that the broadcast of the interview would be extended to a second show the following evening, also beginning at 9pm EST.

    When asked why Armstrong decided this would be a good time to admit to doping, Winfrey couldn't provide a concrete answer. "I asked that question and I'm not sure I still have the answer, why do it now. I...

  • Cavendish, Boonen headline Omega Pharma-Quickstep launch

    Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen have complementary sprinting talents
    Article published:
    January 15, 2013, 21:01 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Boonen eyes return to Tour de France

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep unveiled their 2013 roster at the Eddy Merckx velodrome in Gent on Tuesday. Team boss Patrick Lefevere and money magnate Zdenek Bakala opened proceedings with both men outlining their plans to see the team become the world number one squad in 2013. Last season, the Belgian outfit claimed an astonishing 60 wins, with complete dominance in the cobbled Classics.

    Like a perfectly executed lead-out, marquee signing Mark Cavendish was kept in the wings until the end of the presentation. Alongside the team’s talisman, Tom Boonen, the pair were relaxed yet confident, talking up their chances of success for the year ahead, while keen to stress that they would work with and not against each other.

    Cavendish opened with one of his most rehearsed but always appreciated sound bites: praising the structure and team spirit he has walked into. In truth, Omega Pharma offer him the stability and backing he was lacking at Sky, where, after Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France success, his personal ambitions were always likely to suffer.

    “I’ve always got along with the riders and admired this team,” Cavendish said.

    “You ask a lot of young riders, especially the Classics riders who they’d want to join and they all say Omega Pharma-QuickStep. It’s a dominant team in cycling and it’s a team that’s steeped in the culture of cycling.

    “I’m more than happy. I was little bit nervous coming into it but I didn’t need to be nervous. They’ve been really, really great. It’s not like going away with work mates, you’re going away and enjoying yourself.”

    The Brit wasn’t the only star on show, along with Tom Boonen the team posses the world’s best time trialist in Tony Martin, who was asked to recount the team’s win in the world time trial championships last year.

    “It was a really special week for me because...

  • Anti-Doping agencies refuse to join UCI Independent Commission

    Article published:
    January 15, 2013, 22:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    WADA, USADA have “serious concerns” about impartiality, lack of amnesty

    The World and US Anti-Doping Agencies announced today that they would not be participating in the Independent Commission which as been set up to examine the anti-doping efforts of the UCI in the wake of the USADA’s reasoned decision on its lifetime ban of Lance Armstrong.

    The USADA investigation unearthed serious questions regarding the UCI’s anti-doping efforts during the widespread doping programme run at the US Postal Service Team during Armstrong’s career.

    The agency stated that “following communication with lawyers representing the Independent Commission … WADA has informed the UCI that it has decided not to partake in the inquiry.”

    There were “a number serious concerns” that led to the decision, namely that the inquiry focuses too much on Armstrong, whose case was closed with the lifetime ban after the American refused to contest the charges.

    WADA stated that it felt the inquiry will “not fully address such a widespread and ingrained problem”.

    Other objections included the short time frame, which it said was “wholly insufficient and will result in a lost opportunity to properly investigate the problem”. The commission is due to deliver its final report in June.

    It also felt that the UCI had too strong of a say in the “terms of reference”, which were signed off by the UCI and the commission “without consultation with the anti-doping authorities”.

    WADA also objected to the fact that the commission is required to deliver its final report to the UCI before any other party, a stipulation it called “unacceptable”.

    “Finally, because the Commission does not offer immunity there is no incentive for witnesses to come forward, or to even give witness statements. An approach that does not allow individuals to give evidence without the fear of retaliation...

  • Pound says IOC may drop cycling from Olympics on Armstrong confession

    Richard Pound has been a controversial WADA chairman
    Article published:
    January 15, 2013, 23:24 GMT
    Cycling News

    All of cycling could lose if UCI is proven complicit in covering up doping

    Amid speculation that Lance Armstrong may implicate the International Cycling Union in helping to cover up his years of doping, International Olympic Committee member Richard "Dick" Pound has speculated that cycling's position in the Olympic programme could be at risk if this is shown to be the case.

    "The IOC would have to deal with it, the [UCI] is not known for its strong actions to anti-doping," Pound said to Reuters.

    The former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency has had a long history of conflict with the UCI's former president Hein Verbruggen and the Dutchman's replacement, Pat McQuaid. Pound was highly critical of the UCI's anti-doping efforts in light of the massive doping scandals that rocked the sport, from Festina to Operacion Puerto and more recently in relation to the USADA case against Armstrong.

    The pair filed a defamation suit against Pound in 2008 after the Canadian's tenure as head of WADA ended, but the suit was settled a year later.

    Since then, McQuaid has joined Pound as an IOC member on equal footing. When asked by Cyclingnews in London last year if the Armstrong case could jeopardize cycling's place...

  • Tour Down Under spot confirms Kerby's talent

    Jordan Kerby (Christina Watches-Onfone) goes on the attack in the Australian U23 road race
    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 0:13 GMT
    Alex Malone

    UniSA National Team ride caps off "best month of my career"

    Less than two months ago Jordan Kerby had started his build up for what promised to be a huge year. He had signed for the Danish-registered Christina Watches-Onfone off the back of some solid results on the Asia Tour circuit in late 2012 and with the New Year having just begun Kerby was crowned Australian Under-23 Road Champion. Just days after his biggest victory to date the 20-year-old can lay claim to another achievement - receiving a spot in the the UniSA National Team for the Santos Tour Down Under.

    Kerby joins the final three riders named for the UniSA team who performed solidly throughout the opening weeks of the year. Calvin Watson (Team Hopplà Wega Truck) who won the overall at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac Professional Cycling) and Kerby all earned their spots with standout rides in January. The first three; Anthony Giacoppo (Huon-Genesys Wealth Advisers), Zakkari Dempster (NetApp-Endura), Damien Howson (SASI) and Adam Phelan (Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy) had already been pre-selected prior to the start of the season.

    Kerby's path to Down Under has been far from easy. The last couple of years have been filled with ups and downs but a win in the Prologue...

  • Lefevere shied away from Tour de France contenders for Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    Article published:
    January 16, 2013, 1:41 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Doping cases shifted focus to stage wins

    Patrick Lefevere, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step manager, has hinted that cycling's recent doping headlines may have put him off signing a Grand Tour contender. The Belgian team boss spoke at the launch of his 2013 team, and against a backdrop of news dominated not only by the Lance Armstrong saga but decades of institutionalised doping.

    Lefevere is certainly not immune to signing controversial figures. Although he won a lawsuit against Het Laatste Nieuws in 2007 after allegations of doping were laid at his feet, the Belgian has worked with the likes of Richard Virenque and Johan Musseuw in the past.

    At the team's presentation in Gent, Lefevere talked about the firepower his team now posses, especially in the one day ranks. "We're one of the best teams in the world and our ambition is to become the best team in the world," he told Cyclingnews.

    However, the team lacks a genuine three-week leader. In 2012 they rode with Levi Leipheimer in that capacity, and although he faltered in the Tour de France, he was still planning on leading the team in 2013. That situation changed when he was fired by the team for his involvement and testimony in USADA's investigation into doping at US Postal. Leipheimer was instantly dismissed and his vacancy was not replaced by a like-for-like rider. Lefevere has already made no secret of the fact that he has no regrets over firing the American but today he stressed that the...