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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Date published:
March 6, 2013, 10:00
  • Paris-Nice leader Bouhanni crashes out

    Race leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) crashed during stage 2 and abandoned the race.
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 18:55
    By:
    Cycling News

    French champion slides out in turn, sustains cuts to face

    Monday was the best day of Nacer Bouhanni's life - the French champion timed his sprint perfectly and came around notable fast men Alessandro Petacchi and Elia Viviani to win the opening stage of Paris-Nice and the honour to wear the race's yellow leader's jersey.

    Today, however, the 22-year-old sprinter would not have a chance to battle to keep his race lead: he crashed out of the race with over 50km to go. Luckily, at first examination, it appears that his injuries were limited to facial lacerations and a broken tooth.

    Bouhanni was taking a left turn on the outside line near the head of the peloton and lost traction on his front tire, falling chest-first and hitting his face on the pavement.

    It spelled the end to his race, and the French champion was taken away in an ambulance. 

    "For fifteen kilometers he was nervous," said his FDJ teammate Yoann Offredo. "There was a little sand in the turn, he probably turned too quickly and slipped. The shock was violent!"

    Bouhanni received stitches to his lip, but was otherwise unbroken.

    Italy's Eli Viviani (Cannondale), who picked up an intermediate sprint time bonus as well as a bonus for finishing second on today's stage, moved into the overall lead in Bouhanni's absence.

  • "Best ever" field for Tirreno-Adriatico

    Cavendish, Cancellara, Froome, Nibali, Contador, Evans, Rodriguez headline Tirreno Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 22:36
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Froome, Evans, Contador, Nibali, Rodriguez to square off in Italy

    The Tirreno-Adriatico start list is packed with some of the sports biggest names but they stayed tipped lipped about their race strategy and their form in the pre-race press conference.

    Overall contenders Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) all attended the press conference, with Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard), Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team), completing the parterre de roi of the Italian stage race.

    Chris Froome wants to get the max out of the race

    Froome appeared to have the best form at the Tour of Oman but refused to be swayed off the Team Sky message.

    "Hopefully I haven't lost any form this early in the season," he said.

    "Every race I do now is important for the process of going to the races, focusing on the result, to get the max out it. This is the way to continue up to the Tour de France; going to each race, testing my strengths and weaknesses, being in this position as a leader to gain some experience and taking the most I can from each race. There's a strong field here, a tough parcour and so it's going to be a really testing week of racing."

    Evans looking to turn around poor 2012

    Evans won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2011 and hopes to rediscover that rich vein of form after a difficult 2012.

    "Nothing went right in 2012 and so I hope to be back to my level in 2013. I want to do well like 2011," he said.

    "It's tough route and the weather forecast isn’t great, so that will make it harder this year too. I'm not sure how many Grand Tour winners we've got here but its probably the best ever field for the race. It should be good."

    Rodriguez a true GC contender

    Not many people expected Joaquim Rodriguez to still be racing in Katusha colours after the Russian teams ethical and UCI licence problems/. However the little Spaniard made his name on the steep finishes in Tirreno and now rightly considers himself a true overall contender.

    "I think it's a good moment for me. I've worked hard for Tirreno-Adriatico. It's a tough course and the final TT isn't that long for the specialists, so I'd like to do well."

    "Can I win? I don't know. There are some good riders here, like in every big race. It'll be difficult but I've got good form, so we'll see."

    Contador: the rider to beat

    Contador sat in the middle of the press conference table and is rightly considered the rider to beat because his climbing and time trial skills. However, it is his first ever assault at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    "Italy is my second home and it feels special for me to ride Tirreno-Adriatico because it's not like any other race. I think it'll be the most hard fought race after the three Grand Tours."

    "I've studied the route, I study up before every big race, especially for a new race as this one is for me. I've got experienced teammates and I'm sure they'll help me. I want to win, I hope to be up there, but I hope it's a good race for everyone too."

    Nibali building toward Giro

    Nibali admitted that is form was better when he won last year. Then the Italian race was an early season goal before taking a break and preparing for the Tour de France. This year the race comes during his build-up to the Giro d'Italia.

    "I think my form was better last year because my season was focused on doing well in the first part. My team is good and so I'll try to do a good race. The quality of the riders is very high with Froome, Alberto, Cadel and Joaquim. It'll be an exciting, hilly and hard fought race."

    Cancellara, Cavendish and Sagan to vie for stages

    Cancellara, Cavendish and Sagan watched and listened in amusement as the overall contenders avoided showing their cards. Tirreno-Adriatico will be important for all three as they chase stage victory but is also a vital week of racing so they can perfect their form for Milano-Sanremo and the Belgian Classics.

    "We've got Chris (Horner) for the overall, while l'll see what I can do day by day," Cancellara said.

    "For sure Tirreno-Adriatico is an important race because I won it once and it gives me what I need for the upcoming classics. It's a race that I need."

    "As usual I'm not really thinking my rivals," Cavendish pointed out. "This guy (pointing to Sagan) he'll be waiting for us a lot this week than we waited for him to turn up at the press conference. I'm here to see what happens and have a go in the first couple of days, then I'll ride the race."

    Sagan has been on fire in the last two weeks, winning two stages at the Tour of Oman and then the GP di Camaiore. However he ruled out any chance of overall success at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    "I don't think I an win." He said. "My objectives are further down the road and I'm here to find my best form. The classifica is too hard for me, at least this year. But we'll see day by day."

  • Howard happy to make amends with third place at Paris - Nice

    Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) counts his wins in Mallorca
    Article published:
    March 6, 2013, 00:15
    By:
    Cycling News

    Crash rules Matthews out of lead-out

    After a frustrating first sprint stage, Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge) was able to make up for some of the disappointment by claiming third behind Marcel Kittel (Argos – Shimano) and Elia Viviani (Cannondale) in the stage to Cérilly at Paris - Nice.

    "The team did a fantastic job for me today as they did yesterday and I tried to make amends... third place isn't a bad result (certainly better than eighth) and I've got to concede that Marcel Kittel was a notch above," said Howard on his website.

    "He got held up a little in the finale and whilst I may have hit out a little early because I had yesterday on my mind – I tried to hold back as long as possible - he came flying past on the barriers with Elia Viviani taking the high-speed German express ride to second place."

    The Orica GreenEdge train was a man down after Michael Matthews crashed with 75km left to race but with Michael Albasini at the helm of the train, Howard was able to capitalise on the work of his teammates.

    "We had planned for him [Matthews] to be in the sprint and why he was often seen at the back of the bunch," explained sports director Lorenzo Lapage. "All is okay with him; he's only missing some skin."

    Lapage noted the contrast of the last two days.

    "Although we may have looked like we were less organised, I must say the team did a good job again," he said. "We definitely missed Michael there at the end, and Simon's puncture came at a bad moment.

    "Leigh was happy with the team's work. He said that in a sprint like this, the legs do the talking. We have to accept that today there are two riders that were better."

    Howard had aired his frustrations after Stage 1 via his twitter feed, taking full responsibility for not finish off the work of his lead-out.

    "No excuses today," he said. "Team done [sic] textbook leadout and I fumbled! #sorryguys"

    The 23-year-old sprinter was uncertain as to how Wednesday's stage would pan out, explaining that the 733m Côte de Mauvagnat (2.7 km at 6.7%) had the potential to rule him out of contention for a possible sprint finish.

    "It's nice to know that it may eliminate some of the other sprinters but I know for sure it's going to be hard to get over that berg in the front group," Howard said. "If it is really selective, we have Michael Matthews who can handle the climbing and a small group kick at the end."

    2013 has so far been a good year for Howard, with two victories to his name - at Trofeo Migjorn and Trofeo Platja de Muro - along with another podium at the Tour de San Luis.

     

  • Boogerd confesses to doping in television interview

    Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) in 2003
    Article published:
    March 6, 2013, 01:40
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    Dutchman lifts the lid on a dark decade

    In an interview set to air on Wednesday night in Holland, former Rabobank stalwart Michael Boogerd will admit to doping for a decade of his 14-year-career.

    Set to air on NOS Sport, Boogerd, who has been under pressure to explain his use of performance-enhancing drugs in recent times, explained that he was aided by EPO, blood transfusions and cortisone between 1997 and 2007, the year that he retired.

    Boogerd, regularly and easily spotted at the front of the peloton, laid claim to victory on two stages of the Tour de France, the 1999 Amstel Gold race, the 1999 Paris-Nice and was Dutch Road Champion in 1997, 1998 and 2006. Remarkably at the Classics, he fell agonisingly short,  twice runner-up in Lombardia, twice in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and four times in the Amstel Gold race.

    Boogerd, now 40, said that he didn't use doping products while he was racing the Tour de France, instead - "It was in periods, usually periods of training in preparation for competitions. I have always ridden the Tour clean."

    As for his victory on Stage 16 of the 2002 Tour de France, where tenaciously he stayed clear of Carlos Sastre and Lance Armstrong, Boogerd admitted that some of the gloss would not be diminished.

    "I realise that victory in the eyes of the public may now be infected."

    When he began using EPO in 1997, he soon realised that it was "too risky" and moved on to blood transfusions.

    "At some point it [EPO] was going to be easier to detect, so I went looking for something else," Boogerd explained.

    Boogerd has previously been named as being among the athletes associated with the HumanPlasma blood doping programme, as well as the general Rabobank team doping which has been uncovered. In a recent interview, while he admitted to meeting with HumanPlasma enabler, former agent Stefan Matschiner, Boogerd said it was only "for vitamins". Shedding light on his involvement however, the Dutchman confirmed that he had been dealing with Matschiner but would not mention who else had assisted him to dope, while denying that he had ever been in contact with Francesco Conconi, Michele Ferrari and Eufemiano Fuentes.

    "I mention no names," Boogerd said. "I looked into it and then I searched myself. It was my responsibility, my choice."

    Boogerd is the eighth former Rabobank staffer to confess to doping, following in the footsteps of Danny Nelissen, Marc Lotz, Thomas Dekker, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Grischa Niermann, and former manager Theo de Rooij.

     

  • Iranians granted visas for Asian Cycling Championships

    Mehdi Sohrabi returns to the Iranian-registered TPT squad for the 2013 season
    Article published:
    March 6, 2013, 03:23
    By:
    Cycling News

    Claims team will be underprepared due to delays

    The team for Iran has been granted visas for the Asian Cycling Championships, which begin today in New Delhi, India.

    The 11th hour decision by the Indian Home Ministry on Tuesday evening comes after UCI President, Pat McQuaid and the Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) put pressure on the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) to expedite a resolution. Iranian officials had submitted their documents for the championships a month ago. McQuaid wrote to the Indian Minister of Home Affairs on February 28 urging the government to issue visas allowing Iranian athletes to travel to the championships.

    According to the Times of India, the Iranian team was planning a non-attendance at the championships had they not been granted visas yesterday.

    "The first group of cyclists and officials will be taking the 4am flight tomorrow [Wednesday] but we are really disappointed," Navid, Cycling Federation of Iran's manager of International Relations, told the Times of India.

    "Our plan was to hold a 10-day camp in New Delhi because our cyclists are not used to the wooden track. We cannot expect a good performance because the team is underprepared."

    Navid's claims are disputed by Onkar Singh, secretary general of the Cycling Federation of India (CFI).

    "Most of their cyclists are road racers and the races are scheduled from March 13 so I don't think they will have a problem," he said.

    The Cycling Federation of Iran may yet make an official complaint to the UCI over the delay.

    "Let's see how things pan out," said Navid. "We will all reflect after the event and see if such a step is necessary."

    The team from Pakistan is yet to receive their visas due to on-going political tensions between the two nations.

     

  • Viviani targeting another day in yellow at Paris - Nice

    Elia Viviani (Cannondale) picked up enough bonus seconds to take over the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice after overnight leader Nacer Bouhanni crashed out.
    Article published:
    March 6, 2013, 04:32
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian aiming to wear points jersey into Nice

    Donning the race leader’s jersey and retaining the lead in the points competition at the end of Stage 2 at Paris - Nice did not deliver Elia Viviani the level of satisfaction he desired.

    The team Cannondale sprinter was aiming for the win en route to yellow but instead played bridesmaid to a dominant Marcel Kittel - who won the stage. Viviani holds the race lead by a mere seven seconds over a seemingly hungry Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and while the ultimate goal is the points jersey, he’s not willing to give up yellow just yet.

    "This morning I started with the ambition to take the stage and jersey [but could not]," Viviani told tuttobiciweb.it.

    "I can just blame myself. I am happy with my performance so far. The sensations are good, I feel good and growing. Tomorrow I'll hold on to try to make a good sprint in the final.

    This year’s race has already seen a marked improvement twelve months on from his last participation. In 2012, the best he could manage was fourth on Stage 6 while Viviani has already notched up results in the first few days. The 24-year-old begun seven-stage race with 11th in the prologue, third on Stage 2 before moving up into second in the third stage.

    Viviani is yet to win a race this year but the Italian sprinter is reliable when it comes to securing victories throughout the season. The next stop following Paris-Nice will be the classics and while his finishing speed is amongst the best in the business, the stock of talent at Cannondale means the ‘Race to the Sun’ is a real chance for him to secure a protected role ahead of the one-day races.

    "In view of the classics they are encouraging signs but now I want to focus only on the Paris-Nice. I will live for the day, aiming to bring the green jersey to Nice. I will run to score as much points as possible, both in the intermediate and final goal," he said.

  • Start times for Tirreno - Adriatico TTT

    GreenEdge powered to the team time trial win in Tirreno-Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 6, 2013, 06:17
    By:
    Cycling News

    Lotto Belisol first down the start ramp

    The opening stage of the 2013 Tirreno - Adriatico gets underway on Wednesday afternoon with a 16.9km team time trial between San Vincenzo and Donoratico.

    The course near the Mediterranean coast is flat and fast, and will pass through the Bolgheri vineyards.

    Defending champion of the 'Race of the Two Seas', Vincenzo Nibali has earned his new Astana outfit the last slot down the start ramp at 15:48 local time, however there will plenty of teams setting markers for just over an hour beforehand.

    The first team in action will be Lotto Belisol which heads into the event not only carrying the general classification hopes of Jelle Vanendert, but also individual stage ambitions for Andre Greipel. Next, will be Orica GreenEdge, who took out the stage in 2012, putting a considerable dint in the early marker set by Garmin - Barracuda. They would eventually finish in third with RadioShack in second place.

    BMC, the 17th team down the start ramp, will be among the favourites for the stage, with the inclusion of World Championship silver medallist Taylor Phinney.

    Favouritism however, falls on the shoulders of reigning World Champions in the discipline, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step with individual world champion Tony Martin, Michal Kwiatkowski and Niki Terpstra all strong against the clock.

     

    # Team Time
    1 Lotto Belisol 14:45:00  
    2 Orica GreenEdge 14:48:00  
    3 Katusha 14:51:00  
    4 Movistar Team 14:54:00  
    5 Cannondale Pro Cycling 14:57:00  
    6 Vacansoleil - DCM 15:00:00  
    7 Omega Pharma - Quick-Step 15:03:00  
    8 Sky Procycling 15:06:00  
    9 RadioShack - Leopard 15:09:00  
    10 Team NetApp - Endura 15:12:00  
    11 Ag2r - La Mondiale 15:15:00  
    12 FDJ 15:18:00  
    13 Lampre - Merida 15:21:00  
    14 Garmin Sharp 15:24:00  
    15 Saxo - Tinkoff 15:27:00  
    16 Blanco 15:30:00  
    17 MTN - Qhubeka 15:33:00  
    18 Vini Fantini 15:36:00  
    19 BMC Racing Team 15:39:00  
    20 Euskaltel Euskadi 15:42:00  
    21 Argos - Shimano 15:45:00  
    22 Astana 15:48:00  

     

  • Uran prepared to support Froome and Wiggins at Sky

    Rigoberto Uran (Sky) en route to fourth place on the Alto do Malhao summit finish.
    Article published:
    March 6, 2013, 09:30
    By:
    Cycling News

    Colombian to aim for personal result at Ardennes classics

    Having enjoyed his most successful seasons since moving to Sky Procycling at the beginning of 2011, Rigoberto Uran will set aside his personal ambitions for most of 2013 as the team embarks on an ambitious project to win the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome respectively.

    It means the best young rider from the Giro in 2012 will not be given the opportunity to improve on his seventh-place overall but it’s a decision the Colombian accepts as part of his job - as do the rest of his teammates, according to the 26-year-old.

    "Sky is a true team where we all know what our role is," Uran told Biciclismo. "The domestiques are important and our work is highly regarded - even at other teams. I have long been in this circus and I more than understand my role."

    The third-year Sky rider is for the moment focused on Tirreno-Adriatico, where the team is hoping to place Froome is a position to challenge for the overall classification. Last year Uran was alongside Wiggins at Paris-Nice, where he finished 12th while supporting Wiggins’ victory but this year he will balance his time between the two leaders.

    "Motivation is high to help Froome, both for me and Sergio (Henao). Tirreno-Adriatico is a race full of surprises. Italian racing can be is complicated, there can be technical arrivals, narrow streets and you can find slopes of 20%! We must be attentive and keep out eyes open," said Uran.

    "Volta a Catalunya with Bradley (Wiggins) will be my next assignment and may be followed by Pais Vasco then I will do the three Ardennes Classics; Amstel, Flèche and Liège before the Giro d'Italia."

    Uran will get his own chances during a few races this year with the Ardennes classics the first opportunity for a protected role. The Colombian has shown his ability in the longer one-day races over the last couple of seasons, most recently winning the Gran Piemonte in 2012 before taking 3rd at Giro di Lombardia during torrential conditions. Uran best result at the Ardennes is fifth at Liège - Bastogne - Liège in 2011 and is hoping to improve on that result this year.

    "I'm looking forward to all the races but mainly Liège. They are endurance races where I have a solid background to endure the distance. I think I can be in front.

    "We are taking a very strong group with the idea of seeking the podium. With me? I always try, but it's complicated," he said.

    Asked whether he believed Wiggins had the potential to win the Giro and Tour in the same year Uran said it would be difficult but added that Sky's successful 2012 year places them in a position to believe. Wiggins won Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour and finally an Olympic gold medal in the time trial all in a single year. If anyone can do it’s Wiggins and his Sky team, according to Uran.

    "The truth is that Wiggins will have little time between Giro and Tour, but it is also true that this year Wiggins will race less. For example, last year we were winning with him [Wiggins] and Paris-Nice but this year is different. He also has good people around him. We have showed what can be done, and went from winning medals on the track to the Tour and the Olympic time trial. Why not."