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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Date published:
June 26, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Rodríguez aiming to match grand tour success at Tour de France

    A front view of Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) in the wind tunnel
    Article published:
    June 25, 2013, 16:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha leader aware of challenges surrounding Grand Boucle

    All going to plan, Joaquim Rodríguez intends to arrive on the island of Corsica for the start of the 100th edition of the Tour de France at the same level he displayed at the 2012 Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. Team Katusha's leader makes his return to France after his most recent appearance in 2010 but this time he's more concerned with what he can control - his form.

    To match his performances at the Giro - where he finished second overall and won two stages - and the Vuelta - where he won three stages and finished third overall - is no simple task but last year's number-one ranked rider in the UCI standings says if he performs at an equal level to 2012 and fails to finish on the podium in Paris, he will remain satisfied knowing that he gave everything possible.

    "At the 2012 Giro d'Italia, I was at hundred percent and I hope to match it at the Tour. If cannot win or make the podium with that level, I will have to be content with the position I get," said Rodríguez to Europapress.

    The reduced amount of individual time trial kilometres in this year's race will no doubt fall more in the favour of the explosive climber who lost the Giro lead in the final TT of 2012 but there are still 65 solo kilometres to contest along with a 25km-long team time trial which will undoubtedly put pressure on his position. Having spent time in the wind tunnel already this year, the 34-year-old remains optimistic about his chances.

    "It is not at all unreasonable to...

  • McQuaid attacks "half-baked" Cookson manifesto

    UCI President Pat McQuaid takes the oath before speaking at the French Senate hearing into anti-doping
    Article published:
    June 25, 2013, 18:15 BST
    Barry Ryan

    UCI presidential campaign begins in earnest

    A day after Brian Cookson formally launched his campaign to become president of the UCI in a press conference in Paris, current incumbent Pat McQuaid went on the offensive with a press release that focused on attacking his rival’s manifesto rather than making specific arguments in favour of his own credentials to be re-elected for a third term.

    In a strongly-worded statement released on Monday afternoon, McQuaid dismissed Cookson’s manifesto as “half baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical.” McQuaid took issue with the Cookson’s stance on independent drug testing and a possible Truth and Reconciliation commission, as well as the costs of his proposals.

    Cookson’s manifesto proposed the establishment of a “completely independent anti-doping unit in cooperation with WADA, managed and governed outside of the UCI,” pointing out that the existing Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation is “independent in name only” and located “down the corridor from the President’s office.”

    However, McQuaid maintained that Cookson’s manifesto was proposing “nothing new on independent anti-doping, because the WADA Code simply does not permit the UCI, or indeed any other international federation, to create an independent anti-doping body.”

    “What Brian is proposing, when you examine the detail, is simply to relocate the existing Cycling Anti Doping Foundation (CADF) unit, which is as fully independent as the WADA Code permits, outside of the UCI building in Aigle,” McQuaid continued. “My own position, and that of the UCI, as we have said many times, is that we are in favour of independent anti-doping if WADA changes its Code to facilitate that for all...

  • Roche expects big things for Dan Martin in Tour de France

    Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    June 25, 2013, 21:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Irishman's son Nicolas faces "learning curve"

    1987 Tour de France champion Stephen Roche has two different opinions of his two close relations who will be racing in the 100th edition of the Grand Boucle: nephew Dan Martin "is capable of anything", but his own son Nicolas Roche, who will be a super-domestique for a Tour contender for the first time faces "a very good learning curve".

    Speaking to SkySports, Roche said that Martin is "capable of winning the Tour, more than capable of winning one, two, three stages, maybe."

    Martin is expected to be named as a co-leader to Ryder Hesjedal and Andrew Talansky in only his second Tour de France since joining the Slipstream programme, now Garmin-Sharp, in 2008.  Now 26, he has shown strong, steady progress over the past five years. Second in the Volta a Catalunya in his second WorldTour season, Martin impressed with a Tour of Poland overall victory a year later in 2010. In 2011, he finished on the podium of his first Monument in the Il Lombardia.

    Martin made his debut in the Tour de France last year, and was the team's highest finisher in 35th place, and this year has the potential to progress further - especially considering his overall victory in Catalunya and a stunning win in Liège - Bastogne - Liège.

    Roche sees Martin as playing a support role for Hesjedal, the 2012 Giro d'Italia winner and a rider who is superior to him in the individual time trials, but said Martin could be a factor if he slips into the right breakaway.

    "Dan is one of those riders who you don't want to give too much time to," Roche said. "He's the kind of rider on his day who can rise to the occasion. If he gets in a lucky break and gets five, 10 minutes up, it would be very hard to get them back.

    "They will underestimate him a...

  • Team Sky picks up new multi-year sponsor

    The 21st Century Fox name is being added to the Team Sky kit as the team has the newly formed company as a new sponsor.
    Article published:
    June 25, 2013, 22:14 BST
    Cycling News

    21st Century Fox backs team in time for the Tour de France

    Team Sky announced a long-term commitment from News Corporation, which will put the 21st Century Fox brand prominently on riders' kit and team vehicles in time for the start of this year's Tour de France.

    21st Century Fox is the proposed media and entertainment company that will be formed following News Corporation's separation into two distinct publicly-traded companies.

    News Corporation and its subsidiary Sky Italia have been partners with Team Sky since the team first raced in 2010. The partnership announced today will extend and increase this support for the team, which will continue to be known as Team Sky and operate as Sky Procycling.

    "We're excited to have this long-term commitment and to welcome 21st Century Fox on board," said Dave Brailsford of Team Sky.

    "It feels like great recognition of the strength and value of the partnerships we've developed. 21st Century Fox is a perfect fit and is an appealing global brand that will be great to work with. We're looking forward to racing on their home soil, at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, this summer."

    Confirming the move, James Murdoch, News Corporation's Deputy Chief Operating Officer, said, "It's a great time to increase our commitment to Team Sky and to add the support of an exciting new entertainment brand. We're proud of the team's success so far, its professionalism and its approach to attracting new fans to the sport and increasing grassroots participation in cycling."

    The team is hoping to continue the success it has experienced during the past four years. During that time, Team Sky has risen to number one in the world rankings, taken 129 victories. Its star rider Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France, in 2012.

    According to a study commissioned by Cyclingnews and performed...

  • UCI deny Riccò's claims of more positive tests during 2008 Tour de France

    Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) was exhausted after taking second place.
    Article published:
    June 25, 2013, 23:28 BST
    Cycling News

    Banned Italian maintains he is telling the truth

    The UCI has responded to Riccardo Riccò’s twitter claims that more riders tested positive to EPO at the 2008 Tour de France than has previously been released, with the governing body denying any cover up.

    "Riccò, Stefan Schumacher, Leonardo Piepoli and Bernhard Kohl all returned positive tests at the 2008 Tour," said the UCI press statement. "But Riccò claimed on his Twitter account that more riders had tested positive.

    "This unsubstantiated claim is totally untrue. In the 2008 Tour de France, the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) was solely responsible for carrying out all anti-doping testing. The UCI was not involved in the testing as the 2008 Tour de France was not on the UCI calendar but was organized as a national event.

    "However, any adverse analytical finding from a test that was carried out during the 2008 Tour de France was reported by the lab directly to AFLD with a copy to UCI and WADA and was seen and reviewed by AFLD, UCI and WADA. It is simply not possible for a positive test to be covered up."

    Riccò, currently serving out a 12 year ban, continued to assert that he was telling the truth via social media on Tuesday evening, claiming that the list of 48 positive tests "arrived at his home by mistake" and that it was "easy to refute my statements…"


  • Clarke takes confidence from Vuelta success into Tour de France debut

    Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) wins in the 2012 Vuelta a Espana
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 0:57 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Mental strength at a new level in 2013, says Orica GreenEdge opportunist

    Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) is set to make his Tour de France debut this weekend, the first grand tour the Australian has ridden since his mountains classification victory at the Vuelta a España in 2012.

    For Clarke, riding the Tour always seemed to be on the cards but a short-term racing calendar has been his reality.

    "I know my program well enough in advance," Clarke told Cyclingnews during a lengthy interview in April. "To be prepared for a race you need six weeks and I get my program six weeks in advance. So it's not a help, benefit or discomfort knowing your program three months in advance because there's nothing you can do about it.

    "I've only done one grand tour so far so to do that again, that would be awesome," he grinned at the suggestion of riding the Tour de France. "I had a great time there [at the Vuelta]."

    In announcing Clarke's Tour de France berth, Orica GreenEdge sports director Matt White said that the 26 year-old had laid the foundations with his performance in Spain and would be charged with an opportunistic role in the nine-man squad from June 29.

    "In addition to capitalizing on personal opportunities in the medium mountain stages, Simon is a fantastic teammate who can do whatever sort of work we might need on days that are better suited to another rider on the team," White explained.

    Taking chances

    While climbing his way into the polka dot jersey at the Vuelta was very much a case of realising that an opportunity was there for the taking, off the back of his stage victory on Stage 4. A solid pre-race preparation meant that Clarke knew he would be in with a shot for a stage win, but he still never expected it. Sure, there was luck involved when it came to retaining the jersey but at the same time when the Vuelta reached the pointy end,...

  • Contador maintains the Tour de France will not be a one-man show

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) on the start line in Ambérieu-en-Bugey
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 3:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard ready to attack Sky and Froome

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) riding his first Tour de France since 2011 says he doesn't buy in to the theory that Sky's dominance over the 100th edition of the Grande Boucle is assured, warning that he's ready to light up the race.

    Contador and Chris Froome both name each other as the rider to beat at the Tour de France, which begins on Saturday on the island of Corsica, however the Spaniard said that anyone expecting a repeat of the type of performance Team Sky put in last season – where Bradley Wiggins rarely if ever looked under threat – will be disappointed.

    "I've no intention of being a conformist in this race. Not in the slightest," he told The Independent.

    Much has been made of the so-called predictability of Sky's racing style but Contador said that there was only so much that you could plan for and that the parcours of this year's Tour, without as much focus on time trials, would also have a considerable bearing on any race tactics.

    "Cycling is not all about mathematics," he said. "You have to see what your rivals are doing. Fortunately, we're not machines and circumstances inside a race can change so fast. This sport isn't one that you can control as easily as others. This Tour, in particular, could continue to be wide-open right up until the final mountain top finish at Annecy on the second last day."

    The last occasion that Contador and Froome...

  • Moncoutié alleges that most Tour de France winners during the 90s were using EPO

    The mercurial David Moncoutie (Cofidis).
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 5:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Retired Frenchman speaks out

    Recognised as a clean rider over his 16-year career, retired Frenchman David Moncoutié claims that almost every winner of the Tour de France during the 90s was probably using performance-enhancing drugs.

    It's a sentiment echoed by Lance Armstrong when he confessed to using drugs throughout his career in January this year, where the American said that it would not have been possible to win the Tour during his reign without the use of performance enhancers.

    "Almost every winner of the Tour de France was probably using this substance," Moncoutié told Euronews of the 1990s. "Maybe some cyclists in the peloton were clean, more so in recent years, but I think the majority of them were cheating."

    A test for EPO only became available for the Olympic Games in 2000. Earlier this week, L'Equipe reported that Laurent Jalabert tested positive for EPO from a sample taken at the 1998 Tour de France.

    Moncoutié retired at the age of 37 following the Vuelta a España last year, with two stage wins from the Tour de France highlighting his palmares.

    The former Cofidis rider said that despite previous eras that have been clouded by doping controversies, the increased efforts in anti-doping meant that it could not be said that "all cyclists are cheating" and that the number of riders using illegal substances has decreased.

    "In my opinion, it is possible to take part in the Tour de France without cheating just as I did and I don't think I am the only one. However to actually win the competition is a different matter. Some cyclists have special skills and we are all well trained but one rider usually stands out. We would all...