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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Date published:
May 02, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Kreuziger tests Cervinia stage of Giro d'Italia

    Roman Kreuziger (Astana)
    Article published:
    May 01, 2012, 15:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Astana rider wary of Basso in final week

    Roman Kreuziger (Astana) took to the Alps on Monday to reconnoitre the finale of stage 14 to Cervinia, as he completes his fine-tuning for the Giro d’Italia. He rode the final 70 kilometres of the stage, including the climbs of the Col de Joux and the haul to the finish at Cervinia.

    While much of the pre-race focus is on the troika of stages in the Dolomites in the final week, culminating in the summit finish atop the mighty Stelvio on the penultimate day, Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli warned that the stage to Cervinia could provide the first major shake-up of the general classification.

    “The elevation profile does not do justice to the difficulties of the final kilometres, particularly the incredibly tough climb to the finish in Cervinia,” Martinelli said. “This stage could have a major impact on the general classification, since if a rider is not quite at 100% he could fall significantly behind.”

    Cervinia last featured in the Giro in 1997, as eventual overall winner Ivan Gotti soloed to victory to divest Pavel Tonkov of the pink jersey with one week still to race. On that occasion, the final climb was preceded by the Col Saint Pantaleon, the site of Gotti’s initial acceleration.

    The Astana squad has enjoyed a strong run of results in recent weeks, including surprise victories at Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while Kreuziger himself has been hugely consistent in his approach to the Giro, with top 6 finishes in Tirreno-Adriatico, the Giro del Trentino and the Tour de Romandie.

    “We have a very strong and confident team for the Giro d’Italia,” Martinelli said. “Roman showed some good signs [in Romandie], with his sixth place in the general...

  • Scarponi wants to win Giro d'Italia on the road

    Michele Scarponi at the 2012 Giro d'Italia presentation
    Article published:
    May 01, 2012, 17:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Lampre rider to receive 2011 maglia rosa on Thursday

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) will be formally recognised as the winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia when he is presented with the maglia rosa by race director Michele Acquarone in Herning on Thursday, but the Italian said that the fact that the ceremony is so belated will do nothing to dampen his motivation for this year’s race.

    Scarponi stood on the second step of the podium in Milan last June, but he inherits the pink jersey and Trofeo Senza Fine after Alberto Contador was stripped of his title by a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling in February of this year. The Spaniard raced last year’s Giro while waiting to hear if he would face sanction for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.

    “It will be a welcome recognition, a reward for the fine Giro d’Italia I rode last year, but I would like to feel the emotion of conquering the maglia rosa on the road. This will be the real motivation of the 2012 Giro for me,” Scarponi said.

    Twelve months ago, Scarponi approached the Giro on a high after a string of notable displays throughout the spring, including at Milan-San Remo, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino. This time around, however, his build-up to May has been rather more low-key.

    Scarponi is still without a win in 2012, and he coughed up over twelve minutes on each of the mountain stages at the Giro del Trentino, over the Punta Veleno to Brenzone and on the Passo Pordoi. 8th place at the following Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège allayed lingering concerns about his condition, however, and he is upbeat about his chances at the Giro.

  • Stephen Roche: "We're trying to upgrade the image of cycling"

    Former Tour and Giro winner Stephen Roche is looking to implement changes in cycling
    Article published:
    May 01, 2012, 18:02 BST

    Tour winner and CCP board member ready to implement unpopular changes

    It's almost 25 years since Ireland's Stephen Roche raced to glory in the 1987 Tour de France, part of a memorable Triple Crown year that also took in the Giro d'Italia and the UCI Road World Championships. Retirement came six years later and after initially filling his time with various projects, he is now helping to shape professional cycling's future as one of several UCI backed representatives on the board of the Professional Cycling Council (CCP).

    Instigating change is a difficult process according to Roche, and it's a constant battle to keep everyone - sponsors, teams, riders, fans and media - happy. But it's the riders themselves that seem to be the main focus of Roche's revolutionary ambitions.

    "There were never any rules before, so there weren't any arguments," he said in an interview with BikeRadar. "Now the UCI is putting rules in place, it's upsetting people, but it's only upsetting them because they're not used to being told what to do. Every new rule will always upset someone.

    "Looking back, I was totally against helmets. I was the guy back in the early '90s saying to [former UCI president] Hein Verbruggen, 'It's lovely you making these golden rules when you’re sat in your air conditioned office in Geneva'. Riders do rear up against certain rules but in 10 years time, they might understand why they were made. Punish a kid the first time and they’ll despise you for it, but at the same time it's for their own good.

    "We're trying to upgrade the image of cycling," he said. "Cycling's not just about men in Lycra turning pedals, it's about the performance, public, television, newspapers, sponsors, everybody. Cyclists today believe it's only about themselves when in...

  • Mountain Khakis-SmartStop buoyed by victories

    Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop) congratulated by Thomas Brown (R) & Jamie Bennett
    Article published:
    May 01, 2012, 20:00 BST
    Neil Browne

    Continental team hopes to translate success into sponsorship

    Just hours prior to the start of the Terrapin Twilight criterium in Athens, Georgia, Cyclingnews casually asked the Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop rider/manager Adam Myerson how he was feeling. He replied that he was feeling quite amorous – a good indicator according to him that his form, as well as the team's, was good.

    With two back to back victories in the USA CRITS series, Athens Terrapin Twilight and Historic Roswell Criterium, Myerson's squad is starting to click.

    In previous years the team's budget had forced it to limit their racing campaign to mostly the East coast. But this year team owners Pat Raines and Jaime Bennett were able to step the team up.

    "We hope that our return to professional status will allow us to be taken as seriously as we think we should, and be able to secure more sponsorship," said Myerson last November to Cyclingnews.

    And due to the team's limited resources Myerson was the first to admit that in the past their race strategy reflected that. "We observe, participate, but make sure it doesn't get away from us. We look for opportunities." But those who were at this past weekend's USA CRITS series noticed a whole different approach.

    "The first month of the season I had hoped the team would have picked up where they left off last year and they wouldn't need me out there with them at all," explained Myerson just after Luke Keough's victory in Athens. "With the reduced roster of only six riders (new rule stipulating that each team can only enter up to six riders in a National Criterium Calendar event) it was an opportunity for me to take a little bit of time after the cyclo-cross season to get into shape and give some of the other guys a chance."

    And in the beginning of the season the...

  • RCS Sport and major teams on cusp of TV revenue partnership

    The television helicopter gets up close to the peloton
    Article published:
    May 01, 2012, 22:56 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Giro d’Italia race organisers look set to sign historic deal

    Sharing television rights between race organisers and cycling’s elite teams could be within touching distance. Cyclingnews understands that a deal between Italy’s RCS and the sport’s major teams is close to agreement.

    RCS Sport organises a portfolio of Italy’s grandest races, including the Giro d’Italia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the Giro di Lombardia. A deal would be a historic moment in cycling, as traditionally race organisers pocket all television rights, selling their broadcast rights on potentially global scales.

    Last year a number of team managers openly discussed revenue sharing opportunities with organisers in a bid to stabilise their sponsor’s investments and the teams in general. The possible deal would see teams earn a percentage of RCS Sport’s television revenue, a move that contrasts to ASO, the organisers of the Tour de France, who retain all rights.

    Such a move from RCS Sport would enable them attract teams’ most high profile riders in the knowledge that teams would be only too happy to supply their stars in order to gain financial rewards. The higher the profile of the riders, the higher the potential would be for advertising rates and television revenues.

    Cyclingnews contacted Jonathan Vaughters from Slipstream Sports, the president of the AIGCP. Vaughters has been a keen advocate for sharing television revenues in the past and has been a key stakeholder in the potential partnership with RC Sport. While keen to stress that a deal was not signed, Vaughters did disclose that RCS Sport had been positive and forward thinking in their desire to create a stronger platform for teams and race organisers.

  • Torckler takes out Tour of Borneo for BikeNZ - PureBlack

    Michael Torkler (BikeNZ - PureBlack), winner of the 2012 Tour of Borneo
    Article published:
    May 02, 2012, 1:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Genesys' Earle held at bay by just four seconds

    BikeNZ - PureBlack Racing's Michael Torckler won the Tour of Borneo, holding out Genesys Wealth Adviser's Nathan Earle by just four seconds to retain the yellow jersey on Tuesday's final stage.

    Torckler, 25, delivered a mammoth five-day performance, assisted by a determined and committed display from his teammates who ensured the yellow jersey, and orange points jersey, remained under lock and key for the entire tour.

    The tour started with an unprecedented 'blackwash' of the podium after a 1,2,3 finish (Torckler, Louis Crosby, Roman van Uden) by BikeNZ - PureBlack Racing.

    "I definitely came here knowing I was in excellent form, and with a drive to win the tour," said Michael, "I just didn't expect that it would happen from day one."

    BikeNZ - PureBlack Racing Director Sportif, John Harris said the result of the tour is an outstanding testament to the team of five's commitment to secure Torckler the win.

    "Everyone has played their roles perfectly, we could not have dreamed for a better result. With Shem [Rodger] withdrawing halfway due to sickness, and Jimmy [Williamson] picking up a puncture in the final stage, the team have stood up and delivered." said Harris.

    Torckler has continued his rich vein of form this season after being out of the sport for a year recovering from a broken kneecap. His Boreo victory followed comprehensive wins at both the Taupo Cycle Classic, and the K2 Cycle Classic for this fast rising young all-rounder.

    Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisers) finished second to Torckler in the final general classification, and he also emerged the winner of the mountains classification, having won the mountain stage from Sepilok to Kundasang on Monday. Genesys also emerged the overall teams classification winners, having registered victories in three out of the five stages, two through Earle in stage two and four, while stage three was won by Anthony Giacoppo.

    Ukranian Volodymyr Zagorodniy...

  • Meersman injury-free and chasing Giro d'Italia stage victories

    Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) wins in Rodez in Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    May 02, 2012, 3:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Sergeant pleased with Lotto Belisol line-up

    With Gianni Meersman having recovered from knee pain, which ruled him out of Fleche Wallonne or Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Lotto Belisol has confirmed its line-up for the 95th edition of the Giro d'Italia.

    There are no changed to the roster which was hinted at a fortnight ago and manager Marc Sergeant believes that his is a team with a "clearly defined purpose" for the Grand Tour which gets underway on Saturday in Herning, Denmark.

    "I personally went to the presentation and meeting and it was was immediately clear that a number of stages fit Gianni Meersman like a glove, with a steep finish," he said. "Gianni has been working up to the Giro and knows how to pick his races."

    Bart de Clercq takes on the Giro for the second year-running, having won stage 7 in 2011 as a neo pro, going on to finish 26th overall. De Clercq spent last week working on his time trialing.

    Sergeant said that while Francis De Greef and De Clearcq are important members of the Lotto Belisol team with a proven track record, it's important not to put the pair under too much pressure.

    "We can't make the mistake of pushing them towards the top 10, but a place in the top 20 is realistic," he admitted. "In this way it might be possible for one of them to slip away in an escape from the peloton, and lift their rankings."

    Adam Hansen has recovered from his crash on stage 6 at the Tour of Turkey where he was lucky to escape a serious shoulder injury.

    Neo pros Dennis Vanendert, Brian Bulgac and Gaetan Bille are all making their Grand Tour debut with Sergeant saying that the Giro will be a "journey of discovery" while for Lark Bak, the...

  • Vaughters to Roche: Cycling's image has bigger issues

    Jonathan Vaughters explains his plans for the 2012 season
    Article published:
    May 02, 2012, 6:25 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Jersey zips, drafting and radios not the most pressing problems

    Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche may be part of the guiding body which helps to set the sport's rules, but his recent suggestions for "upgrading the image of cycling" were met with firm disagreement from the boss of his nephew Dan Martin, Garmin-Barracuda manager Jonathan Vaughters.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews, Vaughters made it clear that personally, he is a big fan of Roche, winner of the 1987 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, pointing toward the Irishman's heroic performance in the Tour as one of his own inspirations for taking up the sport. Yet as the president of the teams association AIGCP and a man who has unflinchingly gone head-to-head with the UCI over its rule to ban race radios, Vaughters said "I will have to respectfully disagree with the points Roche makes."

    In an interview with BikeRadar, Roche said that he and his fellow members of the CCP (Pro Cycling Council), the advisory board that helps decide the UCI's rule making, were trying to help cycling's image, and named three things he would like to see eliminated: riders drafting on team cars to regain the peloton after a crash or mechanical, unzipped jerseys and race radios.

    "It seems like we have so many more important issues to focus on in pro cycling," Vaughters told Cyclingnews. "I'm concerned with the image of the sport too - the first and foremost is to make sure doping is finally eradicated. You can't keep harping on that, but when you're down to the level of unzipped jersey and sock height [another UCI regulation], maybe we have enough energy to focus on some larger scale projects.

    "We don't need to be overregulating things that don't affect the core outcome or safety of races. [On banning unzipped jerseys] If I had ever heard this...