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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Date published:
January 22, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Maxime Bouet to swap Tour de France for Giro and Vuelta in 2014

    Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) took his first win since 2010 at the Giro del Trentino.
    Article published:
    January 21, 2014, 17:58 GMT
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Strong start for Frenchman at Santos Tour Down Under

    Maxime Bouet proved his management right as he scored Ag2r-La Mondiale’s first WorldTour point of the season by finishing fifth on stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under in Angaston. The 27-year-old Frenchman was designated as the captain for the Australian trip as more responsibilities await him at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España this season. Bouet will skip the Tour de France, in which he participated in the past five years.

    Last year, Bouet broke a radius bone in stage 5 of the Tour, and his summer was also marred by an appendix operation. “I got back into an acceptable shape for Il Lombardia and the Tour of Beijing,” Bouet said. “I wasn’t really keen for a normal off-season break, so I stayed very serious and focused during the winter period as if I was still racing. That’s why I’m pretty lean now, also because of training for two weeks under the Australian hot sun. I thought I’d resume racing with La Marseillaise as usual, but the team convinced me to come to Australia and prepare for it. I feel like taking my revenge after the bad luck I had at the Tour last year.”

    Bouet is adamant that he lacks confidence more than anything else. A stage winner at the Giro del Trentino, where he placed third overall behind Vincenzo Nibali and Mauro Santambrogio, he believes that his few top 10 finishes in hard stage races demonstrate his abilities. “I finished 10th at the Tour of Oman but look at the riders in front of me on the results sheet”, he said, referring to Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Joaquim Rodriguez, Rinaldo Nocentini, Johann Tschopp, Nibali, Kenny Elissonde and Domenico Pozzovivo.

    “Same thing at the Criterium International,” he said. “I was proud to finish seventh behind those...

  • Gallery: Madiot wants 35 victories from FDJ.fr in 2014

    The 2014 FDJ team was presented today
    Article published:
    January 21, 2014, 19:46 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Casar honoured at team presentation in Paris

    FDJ.fr manager Marc Madiot has set his team a target of 35 victories for the 2014 season. Although the French squad finished a lowly 17th in the 2013 WorldTour rankings and failed to win a stage at the Tour de France, it also recorded 33 total wins from eleven different riders, and Madiot is hopeful of adding greater quality to that quantity this season.

    “I’m proud of this team,” Madiot said at the FDJ.fr presentation in Paris on Tuesday, according to AFP. “The idea is to be present throughout the calendar. We want to try to improve in the classics and be competitive in the grand tours, with the Tour de France as the high point. We want to take some revenge there.”

    FDJ.fr entered the 2013 Tour with high aspirations for Thibaut Pinot after his stage victory and top 10 finish of the previous year. The Frenchman’s overall challenge fell apart when he was dropped on the descent of the Porte de Pailhères on the first day in the Pyrenees, and he later abandoned the race through illness. Tour debutant Nacer Bouhanni also abandoned the race before he could make a real impact in the sprints, and the team ended the race without a stage win.

    “We have the means, and we’ve gained in maturity and cohesion,” Madiot said of the team’s tilt at improved fortunes in the Tour de France next July.

    Madiot is confident that Pinot’s morale has been restored after his 7th place finish at the Vuelta a España, and the Franche-Compté native will ride the Tour of Oman, Volta a Catalunya, Tour of the Basque Country, Bayern Rundfahrt and Tour de Suisse as part of his build-up to the Tour, and he is also set to return to the Vuelta in...

  • Di Luca: 90 per cent of riders in Giro d'Italia were doping

    Danilo Di Luca was a late addition to the Vini Fantini team
    Article published:
    January 21, 2014, 21:15 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian gives revealing interview

    Six weeks on from being banned for life from sport, Italian Danilo Di Luca has given a revealing interview, to be aired Wednesday on Italia 1 television.

    In the interview, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Di Luca states that 90 per cent of the 200 riders in the Giro d'Italia were doping, and that if 10 per cent are not, "that 10 percent don't care about the Giro d'Italia, they are preparing for other races and therefore not doping."

    "It's impossible to finish in the top 10 in the Giro d'Italia and not dope."

    The 38-year-old has twice served suspensions for doping: first as the result of the "Oil for Drugs" investigation, for which he received a three-month ban in 2007. Shortly after returning, Di Luca's urine samples at the 2007 Giro d'Italia turned up suspiciously absent of any hormones, leading to suspicions that he was using a substance to break down any traces of drugs in his urine.

    He then tested positive for EPO CERA in 2009, after which he served a reduced 15-month suspension after cooperating with authorities.

    Upon testing positive for EPO again ahead of the 2013 Giro d'Italia, he was sacked by Vini Fantini, and then in December given a lifetime expulsion from the sport for his offences.

    Not surprisingly, Di Luca said, "The best thing would be to legalize drugs so the entire peloton is on a level playing field."

    Di Luca, showing little remorse or regret for his actions, revealed that he first learned about doping when he was an amateur. "I was always a champion, and won often. Then, when I left the amateur ranks, riders who had raced with me a month before were a month later stronger than me."

    He said that riders used to discuss doping openly, but due to recent scandals, there is much more secrecy. Riders are given advice from doctors, but must source their own doping products, unlike the days of team-sanctioned doping such as that at Festina or the US Postal Service team...

  • Wurf inspiring Cannondale at the Tour Down Under

    Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) at the Tour Down Under team presentation
    Article published:
    January 21, 2014, 22:36 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Australian domestique working hard to step up in 2014

    Cameron Wurf opted not to return home to Australia after the Cannondale Tuscany training camp in December, preferring to spend the holidays training in California so he will be ready for this week's Santos Tour Down Under. He will then continue to work hard during an intense block of training in Australia with an unusual, but carefully thought out early-season race programme that includes the Herald Sun Tour (February 5-9) and the Tour of Taiwan (March 9-13).

    The friendly Tasmanian and former Olympic rower worked to help new teammate George Bennett and sprinter Elia Viviani on stage one of the Tour Down Under, finishing in the first chase group at 15 seconds, as ever, sacrificing his personal ambitions for the good of the team.

    "I learnt last year that its important you can focus on races that suit you and you can do something in. So I'm not bothered about personal glory at the Tour Down Under but it's a great place to start the season," Wurf told Cyclingnews in an exclusive interview.

    "What's more important is that the team will allow me to train in Australia for six weeks after Down Under so that I can do some real quality work before getting into the big, big races. We'll ride the Herald Sun Tour too and some guys will stay with me in Tasmania until they go to Paris-Nice and I ride the Tour of Taiwan with Basso. It's a great way to start the season."

    New coach Sebastian Weber has listened to Wurf's request to race less and train better.

    "When I train at home, the team knows I always train and do the work, I'm very structured and always turn up at races ready. We looked at why I got sick at the Giro and everyone accepted I need more time to train instead of using races to train," he said.

    "That's a change for the Italian way of doing things. The team...

  • Adam Yates makes pro debut at Tour de San Luis

    The 2014 Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS team kits
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 0:04 GMT
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    Orica-GreenEdge rookie begins career in Argentina

    Several members of the Tour de San Luis peloton are making their WorldTour team debuts in Argentina, but only one, Orica-GreenEdge's Adam Yates, is also making his first start in the pro ranks.

    Yates, best known for his second place overall finish in the 2013 Tour de l'Avenir, rolled in with the peloton yesterday 4:35 down on winner Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) and the 21-year-old Briton took it all in stride.

    "It was pretty strange, really," Yates told Cyclingnews of the opening stage, where the early break went the distance. "It was a bit of a strange race because everyone was freewheeling for 100km and no one wanted to commit.

    "I think that now somebody's in the leader's jersey it will be a bit more controlled and hopefully it will be a bit of bike racing."

    The first year in the pro ranks is generally an opportunity to acclimate to a major step up in both competition and distance, and Yates is at the Tour de San Luis to kick off the learning process. Yates' twin brother Simon, too, will make his pro and WorldTour debut for Orica-GreenEdge, but Simon is not in Argentina and has yet to turn a pedal in anger thus far in 2014.

    "We're here to support [sprinter] Aidis [Kruopis]. Today on the climbing stage we've got some good guys there who could do well so I'm just here to support them."

    Like many members of the WorldTour teams this is Yates' first trip to Argentina, with its summer heat a shock to the system.

    "Bloody hot, bloody hot," was Yates' blunt assessment of the weather. "We've been here a week just to get used to the weather. It's a good thing we did, really, otherwise I wouldn't be able to cope."

    The young neo-pro's schedule is still a work in progress, but Yates...

  • Greipel still confident after two straight sprint losses at Tour Down Under

    2013 winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol)
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 1:31 GMT
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Victory still eludes Tour Down Under’s most successful stage rider

    What a difference a day makes as Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) visibly showed signs of disappointment as he read the newspaper headlines posted on the Tour Down Under media centre wall just hours after his second straight sprint loss to start the 2014 season.

    Greipel, who finished the People's Choice Classic on Sunday just behind Giant-Shimano sensation Marcel Kittel in what is certain to be the first of many head-to-head shootouts in the years to come was out-gunned by two-time race winner and Australian national road race champion Simon Gerrans. 

    "I was surprised, not so much that Gerrans was able to take the win, but rather how good Andre was able to climb the hill. Andre is a very solid rider and is improving is overall ability. We will see him at the finish again," Kittel said after the race yesterday.

    But on the start line of Stage 2, the 14-time Tout Down Under stage winner – most of any other cyclist – looked confident and welcoming as he posed for photos and signed autographs for throngs of adoring fans eager to meet the German national champion nicknamed the "Gorilla" for his tenacity and uber-powerful sprint kick.

    "The first loss was the criterium and Marcel beat me to the line," Greipel told Cyclingnews of his rival who won four sprint stages at the 2013 Tour de France and ended Mark Cavendish's four-year stranglehold over the Champs-Élysées. "Yesterday we were not expecting to be up for the sprint and were kind of surprised to be there with six guys."

    Normally Menglers Hill creates problems for the heavier-built sprinters, but on Tuesday, a headwind gave Greipel and his Lotto-Belisol teammates the opportunity to get over...

  • Brian Cookson makes first visit to the Tour Down Under

    UCI President Brian Cookson was at the race today
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 2:30 GMT
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Newly elected UCI president arrives in Adelaide

    South Australia is the hub of the cycling world at the moment with the start of the 2014 WorldTour season at the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide this week, so it is no wonder to find newly elected UCI president Brian Cookson right in the thick of the action at stage two on Wednesday.

    "It's the first time I've been to the Tour Down Under," said the former British Cycling head who was elected UCI president in late September. "I’ve been to Australia several times. It's the first time I've spent time in this part of Australia and it's great to be here."

    Cookson is one of a few new faces seen across the UCI landscape, including current Amy Gillett Foundation CEO Tracey Gaudry.

    "We have three new vice-presidents, including Tracey – and ex-pro rider herself," he said. "That's really helped us to take women's cycling more seriously and to develop a women's commission."

    Commissions have been high on the agenda of Cookson during his first 100 days, with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission receiving the highest priority. The commission will be expected to report by the end of the year, and consists of three members, including Swiss international lawyer Dick Marty, German anti-doping specialist Ulrich Haas and Australian Peter Nicholson.

    "Things are going really well I think," said Cookson. "Most of the things we've put in place seem to have been well received and it's always a challenge. We're doing the right thing, we've got a really good group of people together now for the independent commission that is going to review the history, the problems of doping in cycling and the allegations against the UCI.

    "It's really important we get that up and running," he added.

    Cookson says that the UCI is still agreeing on the terms with on which...

  • Hunter now a directeur sportif at Garmin-Sharp

    Robbie Hunter is now a DS for Garmin-Sharp
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 6:18 GMT
    By:
    Jeff Quénet

    Daryl Impey and Chris Froome’s mentor wants more from Africa

    There has been no transition in Robert Hunter’s life as he moved from the saddle of his Cervélo bike to the seat of the team car as a directeur sportif for Garmin-Sharp after retiring at the end of fifteen year long pro career. He’s now at the helm of the American-registered squad learning his job alongside Geert van Bondt at the Santos Tour Down Under.

    "I wanted to do one more year as a rider", the straight forward 36-year-old South African told Cyclingnews in Adelaide. "But [team manager] Jonathan [Vaughters] wanted to go with younger riders. It worked out fine. It was time to stop. I didn’t go into depression or anything because of not racing or training."

    Hunter announced his retirement after riding his last race at the Tour of Britain in mid September. He took the last win of his career on home soil with the overall classification of the inaugural Mzanzi Tour prior to embarking for the Giro d’Italia, a race he’ll work as a directeur sportif as well this year.

    "Now I’m filling a void in the team management", he said. "I’m here to make sure there’s no missing link between the riders and the direction of the squad. I get on well with most of the riders. I’ve always thought of my after career. I’ve always wanted to remain in cycling, a sport that I’m really passionate about. But a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to stay involved."

    Hunter got involved in management even during his time on the bike, having played an instrumental role in promoting the likes of Daryl Impey and Chris Froome when they were looking for a team to start their career way before they wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France last year. He didn’t only pave the way for them when he became the first South African...