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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Date published:
July 16, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • McQuaid says he started Menchov doping proceedings

    Former UCI president Pat McQuaid and current UCI president Brian Cookson
    Article published:
    July 15, 2014, 18:55 BST
    Stephen Farrand & Laura Weislo

    Former UCI president calls Armstrong "a victim"

    People might expect that former UCI president Pat McQuaid would shy away from cycling - after a heated and unsuccessful campaign battle with Brian Cookson, after being attacked over his handling of the Lance Armstrong doping case, after being accused of covering up doping and after being called any manner of names - but the Irishman is not one to be ashamed. On the contrary, he was at the Tour de France on the first rest day in Bensaçon, shaking hands and addressing some of the media's questions about the recently uncovered biological passport ban of Russian Denis Menchov.

    The initiation of the anti-doping violation proceedings against Menchov actually began under McQuaid's watch, when, in early 2013, he says, the committee approached him stating that they had suspicions about Menchov.

    "I can only give the information that I know," McQuaid said of the case. "In April of last year I was approached by anti-doping to tell me they had suspicions of the parameters of Menchov and they were going to open a process. ... I said go ahead and do it. And so they did. It then started a process with lawyers and all that. It now comes to an end in the last week or two."

    McQuaid said he was not surprised with the way the current UCI administration handled the announcement, or lack thereof, of the suspension of the Russian, but refused to comment on whether he agreed the hush-hush nature had anything to do with the fact that the Katusha team owner, Igor Makarov, backed Cookson in the election for UCI president.

    "It's within the rules to do it like that," he said of the lack of a public announcement of Menchov's ban by the UCI. "What we would do is put out a press release at the end of the...

  • Gallery: A brutal first ten days of the Tour de France

    Seen it all before: Chris Horner takes a time out after stage 5
    Article published:
    July 15, 2014, 21:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Crashes, cobbles, and conquests

    Just take me to the gallery.

    The opening ten days of the 2014 Tour de France provided a full bounty of talking points and highlights. From the scale of the crowds in the United Kingdom, the 'selfies', the crashes and the cobbles to the abandonments of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Mark Cavendish.

    We’ve seen Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali arrive at the race with his 2013 Giro d’Italia form and win two impressive stage wins and solidify his place at the top of the overall, as well as Peter Sagan, Tony Martin and Marcel Kittel thrive on centre stage.

    The French have enjoyed their share of the spotlight too with Blel Kardi winning at Gérardmer and Tony Gallopin capturing the malliot jaune for a day.

    And yet we’ve seen the cruel side of bike racing too, with crash after crash and professional athletes leaving the race with broken bones and shattered spirits. The stage to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut will live long in Tour de France’s memory as it encapsulated everything about the sport, from the bravery and brilliance to the fine lines between success and failure.

    Yet out of the despair and anguish new reputations can be forged as four French entrench themselves in the higher echelons of the overall and Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen vie with old hands Alejandro Valverde and Vinenzo Nibali.

    Tim de Waele has been at every stage, photographing every key moment from this year’s race and we’ve compiled the best of the images so far.

  • Wild fires force changes to Cascade Classic route

    The peloton passes by crystal clear waters along todays route of the Cascade Cycling Classic.
    Article published:
    July 15, 2014, 22:11 BST
    Pat Malach

    Tvetcov returns to defend 2013 title

    Wildfires in Central Oregon have forced organizers of the Cascade Cycling Classic to scrap plans for a brand-new stage 1 course and come up with an alternate route for Wednesday's race.

    Instead of riding over the plateaus and rolling hills of the Warm Springs Reservation north of Bend as originally planned, riders will loop around Mt. Bachelor on a course similar to the Cascade Lakes stage that has been an annual part of the race.

    Race director Chad Sperry told Cyclingnews Monday that proximity of the Warm Springs fires to Wednesday's original course made competing on the new route untenable.

    "It's pretty close to the road," Sperry said of the wild fires. "But more importantly, there's only one road that goes up by the fire, and it's going to be completely choked with fire trucks and emergency response vehicles. You can imagine trying to run a bike race and weeding in between all of those. And that's if the fire doesn't spread all the way to the road."

    The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs reported Monday that multiple lightning-caused fires were burning on the reservation, with the two biggest consuming hundreds of acres and continuing to be spurred on by strong winds. Several roads had been closed as of Monday evening, including one that crossed the planned race route.

    Wednesday's stage 1, which follows Tuesday's prologue time trial, had originally been scheduled to start near the tiny town of Maupin about 90 miles North of Bend. The 155.2km route would have taken riders through the mostly-treeless high desert, eventually tracing a narrow winding road along the Deschutes River on the way to the finish in Madras.

    Instead, riders will circle Mt. Bachelor southwest of Bend in a clockwise direction and finish at West Bachelor Village. After starting at Wanoga Sno-park, the men will complete two laps for a total of 160km, and the...

  • Valverde: Nibali is not unbeatable

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    July 15, 2014, 22:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniards has sights firmly set on Tour podium

    Alejandro Valverde is keeping his eyes firmly set on the Tour de France podium and feels Vincenzo Nibali is not unbeatable. “There's still all the Alps, all the Pyrenees left. All the big mountains. Any stage could be good to gain time or lose it,” the Spanish Movistar captain said.

    Valverde currently sits third in the overall, 2:47 down on Nibali. In 2013 the now 34-year old finished eighth in Paris after losing nearly ten minutes in the echelon stage to St Amand-Montrond. He improved considerable in the last week of racing.

    With eleven stages to go in this year’s event, there is still everything to play for, especially since all the riders between the second and tenth position are within 1:45 of each other. Though Nibali has almost three minutes on Valverde, the 2009 Vuelta-winner sees opportunities.

    "Nibali? He's not unbeatable, of course, but he's proving to be really strong at the moment. The weather conditions suited him perfectly. He’s the one who suffers least in the rain. I was feeling well in these last days, but I don’t like those conditions at all. However, my legs are doing really well. “

    Valverde hopes for some sunshine in the next weeks. “If the forecasts are correct, good weather is coming. Theoretically I should be stronger with sun and good temperatures. We got through very important and difficult days so far. Our moment to feel more comfortable and profit from that should come now. Let’s hope it happens.

    With everyone still close together Valverde is keeping a close eye on his rivals. “Porte, Pinot, Bardet are dangerous and worry us. If you leave out Wednesday and Thursday which should be more suited to a breakaway, there will be stages where anybody can...

  • Cadel Evans likely to end career with BMC, says agent

    Maglia rosa Cadel Evans (BMC Racing)
    Article published:
    July 15, 2014, 23:10 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Rider still to decide on whether to race next year

    Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) is set to decide on his future within the sport before the end of this season with his current contract set to end in December. According to the former Tour de France winner’s agent, Evans has not entered negotiations with other teams, with the rider’s agent Jason Bakker telling Cyclingnews, “I think when he finishes at BMC that will be the end of his career.”

    Evans finished inside the top 10 in the Giro d’Italia this year and showed strong form in a number of early season races but at the age of 37 is heading into the twilight of his racing days. BMC confirmed earlier this month that they would sit down with the rider later in the season while he remains focused on a string of races leading up the Worlds in Spain.

    “At the moment it’s a bit early and we’ll see how the rest of the year goes,” Bakker told Cyclingnews.

    “He started well at Tour Down Under, had a good nationals as well and then won Trentino before a top 10 in the Giro. It wasn’t as high in GC as he would have liked, but he still had a strong recent period and he’s riding well.”

    Evans moved to BMC at the start of the 2010 season, linking up with the team after several years at Lotto. He has enjoyed several major wins with BMC and won Australia’s first ever Tour de France in 2011. Since then he has struggled with the odd health issue but has remained competitive. Bakker believes that BMC will be his final team and that Evans’ future will rest on a number of factors, including motivation.

    “Personally I can’t see him riding for another team. I think BMC is his final team. That’s my honest opinion. He has great respect for Andy Rihs and...

  • Fuglsang still hopeful of top 10 finish at Tour de France

    Jakob Fuglsang on rest day #1 at the Tour de France
    Article published:
    July 16, 2014, 8:11 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Dane on Nibali, the yellow jersey and Vinokourov's email

    Jakob Fulgsang has piloted Vincenzo Nibali over the cobblestones and helped shepherd him through the mountains in the first 10 days of the Tour de France, but his supporting duties didn't cease when the race paused in Besancon on Tuesday.

    As journalists huddled around a table in a Kyriad hotel car park for Astana's rest day press conference, Fuglsang was briefly pressed into action as an impromptu interpreter, quietly translating a pair of questions into Italian for Nibali.

    As ever, Nibali affected the air of a man utterly unperturbed by the burden of wearing the maillot jaune during the press conference, and Fulgsang told Cyclingnews afterwards that the Sicilian's calm was no front. Behind closed doors, too, Nibali remains unfazed.

    "Sometimes you almost have the feeling that he doesn't even realise what is happening around him," Fulgsang said. "He's relaxed, he's laid back, he takes everything easy. There's no stress, not even with the yellow jersey.

    "He's not the kind of guy who says 'I want this or I want that.' He doesn't always want to have to follow someone around in the peloton. Sometimes he prefers to cruise around on his own."

    In Nibali's absence at last year's Tour, Fuglsang himself enjoyed the liberty to cruise, and his solo voyage carried him into seventh place overall in Paris. Sacrificing his ambitions in the biggest race of all - and just as he approaches his prime - could be source of frustration, but Fuglsang insists he is happy with his status.

    "I think it would be different if he was riding to secure fourth place and I believed I could come fifth or sixth myself. But it's a lot easier when your captain is so strong and has a serious possibility of winning the Tour," Fuglsang said. "I knew from the...

  • Report: Bauke Mollema to Trek Factory Racing

    Bauke Mollema battles illness and his rivals in the first ten days
    Article published:
    July 16, 2014, 9:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Belkin still looking for a new sponsor

    Bauke Mollema has reached an agreement with Trek Factory Racing, according to a report in De Telegraaf. The Dutch rider who currently sits tenth in the overall at the Tour de France, is said to have signed a two-year deal. 

    According to the De Telegraaf Trek manager Luca Guercilena was looking for a new GC-rider. Both Andy and Fränk Schleck are at the end of their contracts this season, as is the 37-year-old Haimar Zubeldia. Guercilena reportedly looked at Dauphiné-winner Andrew Talansky and at the 27-year-old Mollema. Talansky signed a new deal with Garmin-Sharp for 2015 and 2016 leaving Mollema. The Dutchman's management would not comment on the story in the Telegraaf today.

    Mollema turned pro with Rabobank in 2008. He has won stages in the Vuelta, Tour de Suisse and Tour de Pologne, In 2011 he finished fourth in the Vuelta and last year he was sixth in the overall at the Tour de France. 

    Trek already has the Dutch brothers Danny and Boy van Poppel in the team and recently extended the contract with Giacomo Nizzolo. Jens Voigt and Danilo Hondo are both retiring at the end of the year. 

    Belkin is still looking for a new sponsor after the American company used a clause in the contract not to sponsor the team in 2015 as was agreed initially. General manager Richard Plugge is talking to several companies at the moment but has no deal.

    Out of the 30 riders that currently ride with Belkin, 23 riders have a contract that ends this year. All of these contracts were signed when Rabobank was the sponsor of the team. The Dutch bank still pays for the salaries of these riders...

  • Feltrin aims to clarify Contador crash controversy

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) crashed and broke his leg on stage 10
    Article published:
    July 16, 2014, 11:20 BST
    Daniel Benson

    "There was only one crash," says team manager

    Tinkoff Saxo general manager Stefano Feltrin has looked to put the Alberto Contador crash controversy to bed by stating that the Spaniard crashed once and that the Specialized bike that broke in two was the result of a car crash rather than the Spaniard’s fall.

    Almost as soon as Contador hit the deck on stage 10 race commentators and social media were whipped into a hedonistic frenzy with speculation that Contador’s frame had snapped, causing him to crash. The Spaniard attempted to carry on racing but a broken tibia saw him climb off.

    “It’s very simple. Alberto was towards the front with his teammates. He was trying to get something from his pocket and had one hand on the bars. He hit a bump and it caused his hand to slip and he went over the front of the bike. There was only one crash,” Feltrin told Cyclingnews.

    “Nico [Roche] stopped and gave him his bike and Alberto rode his bike for around a kilometre. Alberto then had to stop because he had blood pouring from the wound and he had a broken shoe. He waited for a car and we saw the doctor dress his wound. At that point we had two cars and he took a spare bike from one car and he changed his shoe.”

    Part of the frenzy came about after pictures were taken of a snapped Tinkoff Saxo bike appeared on line. A bike did snap, however this was caused by a Belkin and Tinkoff car colliding during the stage.

    “On the second car, the one that Steven de Jongh was driving, there was another spare bike. There’s one per rider on each team car. Now the car that Steven de Jongh was driving became tangled with the Belkin team car. The bike that was destroyed was that third bike. So Alberto crashed once and it had nothing to do with his bike.”

    Asked by there has been such a storm...