Former WorldTour sprinter mentors younger teammates
As he prepares to start his second year back in the program where his pro career began in 2003, Juan Jose "J.J." Haedo is embracing his new role as road captain and mentor for the younger riders on the US-based Jamis-Hagens Berman Continental team.
The accomplished sprinter, who won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana in 2011, returned to the team last year after spending six seasons on the WorldTour and riding in seven Grand Tours, including the Tour de France in 2012. Haedo, 33, told Cyclingnews this week at the start of the team's training camp in Tucson that this latest role is part of a natural progression.
"With the years that is what it takes," he said. "You start changing your role. It's something you have to do, teach the kids by showing them how you do things, how you race, give them little tips and then they have to figure things out for themselves, too. If they can take it, if they think I can be a mentor for them, it's even more rewarding."
The ban on radios in races outside the WorldTour means teams rely on good communication to get things done. And in Haedo, team director Sebastian Alexandre has a rider he can trust to relay his messages and make quick decisions on the road.
Haedo and Alexandre, both from Argentina, came to the United States together to race in 2002 and signed with Colavita - the predecessor of today's team - the next year. The close friends raced on the team until 2007, when Haedo went to Europe with CSC and then Saxo Bank, and Alexandre eventually became the Colavita director.
Aside from his Grand Tour starts, Haedo competed in most of the major European races and won stages in Tirreno-Adriatico, Critérium du Dauphiné, Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Wallonie and others - 21 in all - before finally coming back to the States last year and signing with Jamis at the urging of his old friend Alexandre.
"He's the boss now, so it's different," Haedo joked. "But no, it's...
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) enters Tirreno Adriatico, where he finished third overall last year and won the points classification, with one win to his name in 2014 and will hope to end the 'race of the two seas' having fired off a few more 'pistol' celebrations.
Contador told Cyclingnews in February that he wants more wins this year having only won a single stage last season. While the five-time grand tour winner was second overall at the Volta ao Algarve, a race he won overall in 2009 and 2010, it is the Italian stage race that Contador was the hungrier for, stating that "If you asked me which one I preferred to win, I would have to say Tirreno-Adriatico, because it's not in my palmarès yet."
Having announced that 16-women's team will partake in the debut Women’s Tour in May, Emma Trott (Boels Dolmans) has targeted the race as a season objective as the 24-year-old will race through her home county of Hertfordshire in front of family and friends.. Emma, who is the elder of the two Trott sisters – Laura being an Olympic gold medallist on the track – was in Clacton to help launch stages 3 and 5 of the Women's Tour.
The finishing town of Stage 3 is Clacton while Stage 5 starts from Harwich. "The event is what all the girls are talking about, and have been for some time. Getting a race like this in Britain is just huge," Trott said.
"Every single team wants to compete here in the Women's Tour. It is on a par with the men's race, we are being treated the same and the prize money is the same – and that is the first time that has happened.
"The crowds for the Olympic cycle races in 2012 were awesome and we are all hoping that there is another fantastic turnout. It is going to be one of the major highlights of the whole season in women's cycling."
Trott was keen to state that while the race will traverse her local roads she is keen to suss out every single section of the race for herself and her teammates including British national champion Lizzie Armistead.
"Obviously I want to do well myself but if Boels Dolmans are successful that's the main thing and if another member of our team wins that's just great. There are fantastic riders in every team and it will be tough. I am really looking forward to the tour and this is an opportunity to put women's cycling on the map."
We spotted the brand new Campagnolo Super Record RS groupset at the Taipei Cycle Show, and now the Italian marque has released some photos of the new gruppo.
Campagnolo says it's an evolutionary development of Super Record, created collaboration with pro-riders who prefer mechanical shifting – Pierre Rolland of Europcar among them – and is "one step closer towards the ultimate goal of mechanical shifting perfection".
Officially, Campy says it aimed to improve reliability in extreme conditions – in other words, the aesthetics haven't altered much from standard Super Record.
Chainrings, their tooth profile and slightly redesigned front derailleur are where Campy said its engineers lavished the most attention. The result is better performance in tough conditions, so we can expect the brand's sponsored teams to roll it out in the upcoming muddy and dusty cobbled classics.
Interestingly, the crank on the new Super Record RS is Campagnolo's Ultra-Torque two-piece spindle model, not the newer, lighter, Over-Torque design it released last year.
Still, the new tricolore decal work looks the business and hardcore Campagnolo lovers will snap units in the limited production run that's available in 53/39, 52/36 and 50/34 configurations.
Giant-Shimano ready to take on OPQS and Lotto Belisol
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) seemed amused to rub shoulders with sprint rivals Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) at the Tirreno-Adriatico press conference on Tuesday. All of the hype and pre-race talk is still relatively new to him but he seems to be enjoying his place in the spotlight and the tag as the new king of the sprints.
"I'm happy to be in Italy. It's my first time at Tirreno-Adriatico. I'm expecting some nice sprints against Mark and Andre. We'll see what happens,” he said with a smile; his politeness and good manners hiding the aggression and power that emerges in a sprint finish.
Kittel hasn't raced since February 20th, when he retired from the Vuelta a Andalucía in Spain. Before that he had racked up 12 days of racing at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Dubai, where he won three consecutive stages.
"After Dubai I was tired," he admitted when speaking to Cyclingnews.
"With all the travelling, I'd never had a chance to do some normal good training at home. That's important for me and so that's what I did since quitting the Vuelta a Andalucía. I'm feeling good now and so I'm confident we can have a very good Tirreno."
A good Tirreno-Adriatico would mean winning one of the three expected sprint finishes on stage two to Cascina on Thursday, in Arezzo on Friday or in Porto Sant'Elpidio on Monday. But with so many sprinters on the Tirreno-Adriatico start list, Kittel knows that lead out trains will be vital for victory.
The Giant-Shimano squad in Italy includes Kittel's key lead out man Tom Veelers, road captain Roy Curvers, plus rouleurs Simon Geschke, Tobias Ludvigsson and Tom Stamsnijder.
"There's going to be some great sprinting but they'll be very close and big battles," Kittel told...
Australian predicts success will come for former teammate in 2014
Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) has struggled for victories since he landed a stage at last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico – his only win in the past twelve months came at the Bay Crits series in January – but he showed significant signs of life in finishing second on stage 3 of Paris-Nice on Tuesday.
The 2011 Milan-San Remo winner has continued to place consistently in sprints over the past year and his former GreenEdge teammate Stuart O'Grady believes that he simply needs a win to open the floodgates.
"Gossy is a confidence rider," O'Grady told Cyclingnews last month. "Every winner is a confidence rider. A rider needs to be confident to win. Once you get a few runs on the board then everything just flows - ask [Tom] Boonen or [Mark] Cavendish."
O'Grady, retired from professional cycling following the 2013 Tour de France and then confessed to using EPO ahead of the 1998 Tour, believes Goss still has all the talent and drive, but is perhaps a victim of unlucky timing.
"Gossy has come up against a guy like [Peter] Sagan that has just come out of nowhere," said O'Grady of the two-time Tour de France green jersey winner. "Gossy's big strength is being able to get over the climbs in the long races when the sprinters are being dropped. But now you have Sagan who is getting over the climbs in the first 10 to 15 places. Gossy is coming up against a freak."
According to O'Grady, Sagan's versatile athleticism is not the only challenge Goss faces, but also the sheer strength of his German adversaries from Giant-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol, Marcel Kittel and André Greipel.
"If you haven't got Sagan there, you have Marcel Kittel or Andre Greipel putting out 1,800 watts in the sprint finishes," he continued....
The teams set off at three-minute intervals in Tuscany, with MTN-Qhubeka getting the action underway at 14:40 local time. Orica-GreenEdge, who won the equivalent stage two years, set out at 15:04, while Team Sky – with late addition Richie Porte – set out at 15:16.
Fabian Cancellara’s Trek outfit are in action at 15:19, while the favourites for stage victory, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, are the penultimate squad to tackle the course, at 15:40. The QuickStep line-up features Mark Cavendish, Rigoberto Uran, Alessandro Petacchi, Mark Renshaw and the on-form Michal Kwiatkowski, the impressive winner of Saturday's Strade Bianche.
With little or no wind and temperatures a pleasant 18 degrees Celsius, a fast time is expected on a course that features just one technical section – a narrow stretch between kilometres 2.2 and 3 – and one short climb at Castagneto Carudcci. After the intermediate time check at 11.3km, there is a long, straight run-in towards the finish in San Vincenzo.
The MPCC and Giant-Shimano have both told Cyclingnews that they would welcome action from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ban Xenon gas.
The substance, currently not even on WADA's watchlist, made headlines during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, when Russian athletes were alleged to have inhaled the drug in order to replicate the same benefits as provided by blood boosting drug Erythropoietin (EPO).
Anko Boelens, the team physician at Giant-Shimano, a member of the MPCC, told Cyclingnews that, "Team Giant-Shimano will never use Xenon gas to artificially boost the aerobic capacity of its riders. Not only because of the fact that there have been no studies on short or long term effects in humans, but because in my opinion this procedure is in direct violation of our team mission to help create a clean and honest cycling environment."
"We fully support the WADA and the MPCC in their attempts to make sure the use of Xenon gas will be banned in the future," he added.
The current WADA code prohibits "Artificially enhancing the uptake, transport or delivery of oxygen, including, but not limited to, perfluorochemicals, efaproxiral (RSR13) and modified haemoglobin products (eg haemoglobin-based blood substitutes, microencapsulated haemoglobin products), excluding supplemental oxygen."
Boelens would not speculate as to whether he believed Xenon gas was being used within the current peloton but added...