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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Date published:
January 29, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Lance Armstrong is lying, claims Verbruggen

    Hein Verbruggen and Lance Armstrong
    Article published:
    January 28, 2014, 12:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former UCI president denies cover-up

    Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has denied that the sport’s governing body had made any attempt to cover up positive tests from Lance Armstrong at the 1999 Tour de France and 2001 Tour de Suisse, and said that the American “is lying.”

    Armstrong returned a positive test for cortisone at the 1999 Tour, but escaped sanction when he provided a backdated prescription for the substance. In an interview with the Daily Mail in November, Armstrong said that Verbruggen had been involved in covering up the affair. "Hein just said, 'This is a real problem for me, this is the knockout punch for our sport, the year after Festina so we've got to come up with something'. So we backdated the prescription," Armstrong said.

    Speaking in an interview on Dutch television station NOS on Monday evening, Verbruggen again denied the allegation that he had colluded with Armstrong by covering up a positive test.

    “I never tried to cover up positive tests. There was no agreement between Armstrong and me, or between Armstrong and the UCI. He’s lying,” Verbruggen said.

    “The positive test for cortisone at the 1999 Tour de France wasn’t even carried out by the UCI but by the French ministry. The cortisone came from an ointment that he had on prescription. So it didn’t pose any problem.”

    In November, Verbruggen had conceded that he "might" have had a conversation with Armstrong about the 1999 doping control. "I might have told him that the UCI needs a prescription but I am sure that was handled by our anti-doping department, not me," Verbruggen told the...

  • Movistar confirms Quintana for Giro and Valverde for Tour

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
    Article published:
    January 28, 2014, 14:38 GMT
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Colombian to lead team in Italy

    After weeks of speculation, rumours and counter-rumours, Movistar have confirmed that Nairo Quintana, runner-up in the Tour de France last year, will be giving the Grand Boucle a miss in 2014

    Instead, the young Colombian will focus on the Giro d’Italia, with Movistar co-leader Valverde targeting the Tour de France. The two are then provisionally due to race in the Vuelta a España, which Valverde won in 2009 and where he finished on the podium again in 2013.

    Quintana’s presence at the Giro d’Italia will be a big boost to the line-up of top contenders for the Italian race, and allows him ample time to recover prior to the Vuelta a España. Valverde, meanwhile, has proved himself capable of riding the Tour and Vuelta back to back and will repeat his 2013 program of Grand Tours.

    There can be no doubt that Valverde has ‘unfinished business’ with the Tour. He was on the provisional podium of the Tour after strong rides in the Pyrenees in 2013 and a solid time trial at Mont-Saint-Michel, but on stage 13 he dropped out of contention because of a mechanical that came just as the pack was splitting apart into echelons on the plains of central France.

    Quintana, on the other hand, raced more and more strongly throughout the Tour, finishing second overall in his debut race, as well as taking the king of the mountains and best young rider titles, and a stage win to boot. However, Movistar are opting to keep Quintana from the pressures of being the rider who – to judge from last year’s Tour – could have been Chris Froome’s closest challenger in 2014. Riding the Giro without Valverde to back him up also enables Quintana to gain valuable experience of riding as a single leader –...

  • Tech Gallery: Tour Down Under bikes and gear

    It was rumoured we may see a new aero road bike, called 'Aircode' from Lapierre, however we only saw FDJ riders on the Xelius
    Article published:
    January 28, 2014, 16:49 GMT
    David Rome

    Tricks of the trade - a look at the mechanics' tech

    This article originally appeared on

    As we saw with the Tour Down Under tech gallery I, racing in Australia holds many logistical restraints, and the mechanics tools and supplies are usually the first to suffer.

    The mechanics, the hardest working guys of the WorldTour, leave their custom-setup trailers behind, service courses and huge range of spares, and instead make-do with the bare minimum for a week’s worth of racing on often brand-new equipment.

    Our tech gallery II takes a look at what the mechanics brought, the little tricks they use and some of the jobs they do that go beyond ‘fixing bikes’.

    Click here for the full gallery.

  • Tour de France 2014 wildcards selected

    Sylvain Chavanel lines up for IAM Cycling in 2014.
    Article published:
    January 28, 2014, 17:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Bretagne – Séché Environnement, Cofidis, IAM Cycling and NetApp

    Cofidis, IAM Cycling, Bretagne-Séché Environnement and NetApp-Endura have been handed wildcard invitations to the 2014 Tour de France, race organisers ASO announced on Tuesday. The four Pro Continental teams join the 18 WorldTour squads in the race, which gets underway in Leeds on July 5.

    ASO also unveiled its wildcard invitations to Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné. IAM Cycling and Cofidis have been invited to both races, while Bretagne-Séché will partake in Paris-Nice only and NetApp-Endura will take part only in the Dauphiné.

    Cofidis has been an ever-present at the Tour de France since its foundation in 1997, but IAM Cycling, Bretagne-Séché and NetApp-Endura are all first-time participants in the Tour.

    IAM Cycling was disappointed to miss out on a wildcard berth in their inaugural season in 2013 but the acquisition of Sylvain Chavanel from Omega Pharma-QuickStep during the off-season meant that an invitation for this year was all but a formality.

    Given ASO’s implicit policy of promoting French teams, Europcar’s elevation to WorldTour level this year cleared a path for Bretagne-Séché’s first Tour invitation. The Breton-based squad, which features Brice and Romain Feillu, had already featured in a number of ASO races in recent years.

    NetApp-Endura has featured at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in the past two seasons, but 2014 will mark the German outfits Tour de France debut. Their chances of selection were helped greatly by the strong showing of Leopold Koenig at last year’s Vuelta, as the Czech won a stage and finished 9th overall.

    There was disappointment for MTN-Qhubeka, however, as the team missed out in its bid for...

  • Cassani faces Italian job with optimism

    Paolo Bettini and Davide Cassani
    Article published:
    January 28, 2014, 19:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    New coach wants to restore old standing

    Newly-appointed national coach Davide Cassani has admitted that Italy has fallen behind many other cycling nations in recent years but said that he was heartened by performances from young Italian riders in the opening races of the season.

    Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won a stage at the Tour Down Under, while Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo and Adriano Malori all claimed victories at the Tour de San Luis, and Cassani said he was hopeful it is a sign of things to come.

    “The other nations have grown a lot and we’ve lost something in recent years, but I think that our strong young riders are maturing well and the victories so far this year from Ulissi, Nizzolo, Modolo and Malori are comforting, so I’m optimistic,” Cassani said, according to La Repubblica.

    Cassani takes over as national coach from former world champion Paolo Bettini, who stepped down last month after a little over three years at the helm. Bettini is set to take up a position in the management of the new team being established by Formula 1 Driver Fernando Alonso for 2015.

    “I went to see him and he was very open to helping me during this first phase. He’s putting together a team, but he’s still free for this year, so there’s this collaboration,” Cassani said of Bettini. “He’s a great person. He’s opted for another position but he hasn’t disappeared.”

    Cassani will travel to Ponferrada next month to scout the route for this year’s world championships road race, and he plans to continue with his predecessor Bettini’s practice of holding informal training camps for the Italian team at various points during the season.

    “If two weeks, I’ll go to look at the route of the Worlds in Spain to see how it is, and we’re looking to have a first training camp at the end of February or beginning of March to start this new adventure,” Cassani...

  • NetApp-Endura: Tour de France invite a dream come true

    Leopold König (NetApp-Endura) on the podium after winning stage 8 at the Vuelta a Espana, the Czech's first career Grand Tour stage victory
    Article published:
    January 28, 2014, 20:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    German team "euphoric" with wild card bid

    The NetApp-Endura team was announced as one of four wild card teams invited by the Amaury Sport Organisation to race in this year's Tour de France today, and the team called the news "a dream come true".

    The German team will be the first from that country in the sport's biggest stage race since 2010, when Milram was in its final year as a team.

    "A dream comes true," team manager Ralph Denkn said of the invitation for NetApp. "We have worked towards this news since the first day of the team's founding. That our wish has now become reality is overwhelming, and will put the whole team into a euphoric mood. We could not have hoped for better news shortly before our season opening."

    NetApp had a successful Vuelta a España in 2013, winning a mountain stage with Leopold König, who also placed ninth overall. König also won a stage of Tour of California. The team made its Grand Tour debut in the Giro d'Italia in 2012, and has a history of aggressive racing in these major events.

    "My thanks go to the ASO. We will certainly reciprocate the great trust that is being put in us with this invitation with a very committed appearance," Denk said. "It is a great advantage for us that we have already been informed about the decision now. We can thus gear the entire first half of the season towards this big event and start in Leeds in top form with the best riders.

    "I would also like to thank our sponsors and partners who have supported us on this path. The Tour de France is one of the largest sports events in the World and I am pleased to be able to offer them this opportunity," Denk concluded.

    The team was also invited four...

  • Second edition of Arctic Race of Norway to visit North Cape

    Thor Hushovd (BMC) draws a crowd at the Arctic Race of Norway
    Article published:
    January 29, 2014, 2:21 GMT
    Cycling News

    ASO international portfolio expands

    The second edition of the Arctic Race of Norway next August will see the race visit one of Europe’s northernmost points with a stage finish near the steep cliffs of the North Cape.

    The full route of the four-day race, which takes place from August 14-17, will not be unveiled until May, but on Tuesday, organisers ASO announced that the race will go further into the Arctic Circle in 2014, with the first stage set to finish at the North Cape. As was the case last year, the race will finish in Tromsø.

    Home favourite Thor Hushovd (BMC) was the inaugural winner of the event last August, and he said that he was looking forward to returning and racing at the North Cape in August.

    "I'm thrilled by this adventure in such a remarkable place as North Cape," Hushovd said. "It's so far north that, even for a Norwegian like me, it seems crazy to think that a cycling race can be held here. I could've never imagined it."

    Norway’s first Tour de France stage winner Dag-Otto Lauritzen was part of a delegation that travelled to the North Cape on Tuesday to plant an Arctic Race of Norway flag, along with representatives from ASO and from the regional governments of the three Northern Norway regions.

    “We are proud to use cycling to display the stunning beauty of the landscapes in Norway’s far north. Professional cyclists see this one-of-a-kind race as something of an adventure,” said ASO president Jean-Étienne Amaury.

    The Tour de France organiser has been steadily building its portfolio of international races in recent years, which already included the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman. Last year saw the inaugural editions of the Arctic Race of Norway and the season-ending Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, in Japan.

    Earlier this month, The Guardian reported that ASO is planning to launch...

  • 16 teams confirmed for inaugural Dubai Tour

    The logo for the Tour of Dubai which will be run in 2014
    Article published:
    January 29, 2014, 8:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Costa, Cancellara, Cavendish, Sagan and Phinney in action

    16 teams will line up for the first edition of RCS Sport's Dubai Tour on February 5, including the world champion Rui Costa and his Lampre-Merida team.

    The other WorldTour teams racing are Astana, BMC, Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Giant-Shimano, Katusha, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing. There will also be four Continental teams: Banco Bic-Carmim from Portugal, Vini Fantini-Nippo De Rosa from Japan, RTS-Santic Racing Team from Taipei, Skydive Dubai and the United Arab Emirates national team.

    The opening 10km time trial will be the first test of the year between the specialists: reigning world time trial Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), former world champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), ambitious American Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Briton Alex Dowsett (Movistar). The remaining three stages should favor the sprinters: Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Thor Hushvod (BMC), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

    There is but one opportunity for the climbers to stretch their legs on stage three: a 162km trek from Dubai into the desert to Hatta, which includes two small ascents, but it may not be enough for the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) or Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) to gain time.

    The Dubai Tour will be shown live on Eurosport, RAI Sport 2 and as highlights on Australia Fox TV.