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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Date published:
May 08, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Sciandri turns down Italian national coach job

    Fabio Baldato and Max Sciandri are part of BMC's management.
    Article published:
    May 07, 2013, 9:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Ex-pro regretful but wants to stay with BMC Racing Team

    Max Sciandri has turned down the “opportunity of a lifetime” as the head coach for the Italian national team, deciding to continue on in his job as sport director for BMC Racing Team. The American-based team announced Sciandri's decision in a press release, saying he wanted to complete the projects with the team which he had already started.

    Current coach Paolo Bettini recommended Sciandri, who holds both British and Italian citizenship, for the job. Sciandri originally said that he would take up the role after the Giro d'Italia, where he is one of two BMC sports directors hoping to guide Cadel Evans to the overall win. As commisario technico, Sciandri would  have selected the riders for events such as the World Championships and Olympics.

    "This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make because it was so important to me and it's such an important role for my home country," Sciandri said. "I reached out and touched something that was pretty untouchable for me. But I didn't grab it. I let it go. And that's difficult. But it is only because I am working with a great team that has a tremendous program with a terrific bunch of riders, staff and managers. I am particularly grateful to Jim Ochowicz for allowing me to weigh my options."

    Sciandri said that he met personally with Italian Cycling Federation president Renato Di Rocco before the Giro to decline the offer. "It was a tremendous honor to be considered for the job but I told him my passion at the moment is to continue with the development of some of the young guys I am nurturing at the BMC Racing Team," Sciandri said. "I think there's a right time...

  • Boonen to skip Tour of California

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma QuickStep) crashes out of the Tour of Flanders
    Article published:
    May 07, 2013, 11:18 BST
    Cycling News

    QuickStep rider still recovering from Tour of Flanders injuries

    Tom Boonen is still recovering from injuries suffered in a crash at the the Tour of Flanders and will not ride the Tour of California, which starts next week. Omega Pharma-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed the non-participation.

    "We find that he has not recovered enough. He is still suffering from the knee which he had surgery on and also his thigh and his back hurt,” Lefevere told “This should be dealt with first, the rest will follow it.

    "Tom trains already, but not yet fully. The Tour of California this year is also very difficult.”

    The former World Champion is expected to return to the Tour of Belgium, May 22-26. Lefevere and Boonen will meet on Wednesday to discuss the further season.

    Boonen had gone into the Tour of Flanders as one of the favourites, but crashed out after only 19 km,when he hit a road sign, injuring his left knee, hip and elbow and also breaking a rib.

  • Video: Kangert fighting the Giro heat in aid of Nibali

    Estonian champion Tanel Kangert (Astana) sets a strong pace on the final climb
    Article published:
    May 07, 2013, 12:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Tuesday's fourth stage “can be even harder”

    Tanel Kangert did his duty for Team Astana on the third stage of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday, despite suffering from the heat. The Estonian was one of those who held the tempo high on the final climb in a successful effort to drop as much of the field as possible.

    His captain Vincenzo Nibali was unable to catch the break from the stage winner, Luca Paolini but was in the chase group of favourites which finished only 16 seconds down. Nibali is now in fifth place overall, 31 seconds down.

    “It was difficult to stay quick and the race was nearly six hours long,” Kangert told Cyclingnews afterwards, “but the main thing for me was I suffered too much from the heat. I think I overdressed also, and in the end I had very bad cramps.”

    That took him out of things,  as “I couldn't follow them any more, but the other guys were in there and my job was done.” He  finished 3:05 down.

    He said that the fourth stage “can be even harder (....) I don't know the tactics yet, but I hope we do fight more.”

  • Wegelius: We’ve gained a lot of morale

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) checks to see who's still with him on the technical descent to the finish.
    Article published:
    May 07, 2013, 12:51 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Garmin-Sharp director analyses Hesjedal’s stage three attacks

    Garmin-Sharp sports director Charly Wegelius has said that Ryder Hesjedal’s aggressive performance on both sides of Monday’s final climb, which ended with a third place and bonus seconds gained, was both a way of ensuring that there were no unpleasant late surprises and a way of gaining time on his rivals.

    Hesjedal has shown, too, that he is in excellent shape for the 2013 Giro.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews on Tuesday morning, Wegelius said “it was important, it was really more of a safety exercise to be honest. By doing the descent in front, he could choose his own line, of course you spend energy but you spend energy gaining something rather than chasing people down.”

    On top of that, “You can see from [Michele] Scarponi’s crash”- which cost the Lampre leader around 40 seconds “that if a guy is going to crash on the more narrow part of the road, it can block the way.”

    “So that was the main idea, it worked out well, and gave the team a lot of morale.”

    Third at the finish, too, behind Luca Paolini (Katusha) was an added benefit. “Ok, it’s just some seconds, but the race won by 16 last year, it’s not like they don’t count,” he said.

    As for today’s final second category climb, Wegelius said “I’ve looked at it on the Garmin Connect and the main feature of the climb is the downhill afterwards. It’s not a climb that’s going to decide the Giro, but it will show up anybody who hasn’t got their papers in order.” Or as the time-honoured cliche puts it, the climb is not one where you can win the Giro, but it is one where you can lose it.

    “The fact that the climb comes after so much racing and so many kilometres will make it do some more damage....

  • Battaglin takes breakthrough Giro d'Italia stage win

    Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) claims the biggest win of his life
    Article published:
    May 07, 2013, 18:55 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Italian young gun fires off biggest shot of career to date

    A breakthrough victory for Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) in the teeming rain at Serra San Bruno has seen one of Italy's most promising young pros achieve the biggest win of his career.

    Battaglin is a name to be reckoned with in Italian cycling, something which is both a blessing and a curse for the 23-year-old Enrico when it comes to the ever expectant tifosi: Giovanni Battaglin won the Giro and the Vuelta in 1981 and comes from the same area of Marostica - although they are not related.

    Widely rated as an upcoming Italian star together with Cannondale's Moreno Moser - Francesco Moser's nephew, who has won the Tour of Poland and the Strade Bianche in the last 12 months - Battaglin, now in his third year as a pro, recognised that after 2011, when he took the Coppa Sabatini, he had slept on his laurels - until today.

    "As an amateur I had won a lot, but then I didn't do so brilliantly, I eased back a bit too much and got over-confident," said Battaglin, who finished 74th in last year's Giro, his first Grand Tour. "But last year I did a lot of training over the winter and now I'm in the top league."

    Pulling no punches, one Italian journalist asked him directly: who is the strongest, you or Moser? "At the moment, Moser is doing better on results. But we know and appreciate each other very well, and last year he did brilliantly. This year, though, is going to be my year. In 2012 I probably underestimated everything, I thought I was going to win so easily.

    "Yesterday (stage three) I felt good and I did try, but it was more like a GP Motorbike race. Today I knew that the climb was good for me, and it was a very long sprint and I was lucky enough that Di Luca had some problems in the closing metres."

    Battaglin was asked about whether Italian cycling is back on the...

  • Wiggins loses ground at Serra San Bruno

    Stage 4 did not go to plan for Bradley Wiggins (Sky) as he lost 17 seconds to his GC rivals.
    Article published:
    May 07, 2013, 20:10 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Sky rider already distanced before being caught behind crash

    Serra San Bruno, scene of the finish of stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia, is built up around its Certosa, a cloistered Carthusian monastery completely closed to outsiders. Shortly beyond the finish line, Bradley Wiggins retired immediately to the more temporary but no less forbidding cloister of the Team Sky bus after he lost 17 seconds to his pink jersey rivals when he was caught behind a crash in the finale.

    It was left to manager Dave Brailsford to articulate the Sky camp's reaction to a day that saw Wiggins slip to sixth place overall on general classification, 34 seconds off the maglia rosa of Luca Paolini. At that point, the results were still provisional, and Brailsford was still optimistic that the race jury might revise the times given that the crash had taken place in the final three kilometres. "When there's an incident in the last 3km, they go through and look, and then they count it or they don't," he said hopefully.

    When the white smoke finally arrived at the press centre, however, it was simply to confirm that the race jury had opted not correct Wiggins's time, the reason being that the Englishman Wiggins had already been distanced from the leading group when he was caught behind the fallen Cristiano Salerno (Cannondale).

    Hervé Broecke, president of UCI commissaires on the Giro, explained the decision in detail to reporters. "Wiggins was already behind the bunch when the crash took place because there was a split in the peloton, which was very strung out," he said. "The crash took place with less than three kilometres to go, we watched to see who had been affected by this crash and they were given the time of the riders they were with."

    The end result is that Wiggins is now level on time with Ryder Hesjedal...

  • Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis earns Tour of Alberta invite

    Clay Murfet, left, and Shane Kline return to Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis for 2013.
    Article published:
    May 07, 2013, 21:37 BST
    Peter Hymas

    US Conti team to provide roster spot for local Alberta rider

    Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis has been confirmed as the second team, along with WorldTour squad Garmin-Sharp, invited to the inaugural Tour of Alberta, a UCI 2.1-ranked stage race taking place September 3-8, 2013 in the Canadian province.

    While Garmin-Sharp's inclusion was a natural, marquee choice for the race promoters, featuring champion Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, the 2012 Giro d'Italia winner, the North Carolina-based UCI Continental squad, too, has a Canadian connection both in the opportunity on offer for an Alberta-based espoir rider plus the team owner Jamie Bennett's multi-generational roots in the province of Alberta.

    Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis and the race organisers have collaborated to create the Making the Tour program, which will provide a roster spot on the US squad for the Tour of Alberta to the best-placed U23 Alberta rider at the Banff National Park Bike Fest, taking place June 13-16. In addition to contesting the Tour of Alberta, the U23 Canadian will join the US squad as a stagiaire for the latter portion of the season.

    Getting a Tour of Alberta invitation, a stage race expected to attract several WorldTour squads as a race opportunity between Colorado's USA Pro Challenge (August 19-25) and the one-day WorldTour events in Québec (September 13) and Montreal (September 15), is a landmark opportunity for Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis, a team seeking to grow its program from its criterium-based origins.

    "We've been wanting to evolve our program, we've always been a one foot in front of the other sort of program, and have been building up some great industry sponsors and some great financial sponsors," team...

  • Paolini keeps maglia rosa in Giro d'Italia

    Luca Paolini during stage 4
    Article published:
    May 08, 2013, 0:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha rider stays in pink after long, rainy day

    Luca Paolini (Katusha) held on to his pink overall leader's jersey throughout a long, rainy stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday. The 246km stage, the second longest of the Giro d'Italia, was characterized by cold weather, rain and two climbs with the last, the Croce Ferrata, at 7km to go.

    "Today, we knew it would be a difficult day, but the team was great, they believed me, they led the group from the start, so I am happy to have the pink jersey for one more day," said Paolini.

    Paolini's Katusha team played a role in reeling in the breakaway and while both Danilo Di Luca (Fini-Fantini) and Robinson Chalapud (Colombia) tried a late race move, both were reined in during the final kilometer.

    "It was a hard finish for my characteristics, but I was able to keep up in on both climbs today. I tried to stay in front of the group because of the bad weather, I was afraid of crashing. With yesterday's victory and one more day in pink, I think we are proving we deserved the WorldTour license."

    The maglia rosa wearer finished safely in the lead group, in 10th position, thereby keeping his jersey. Going into stage 5 on Wednesday, Paolini has a 17-second lead over Rigoberto Uran (Sky).

    Paolini also leads the points classification while his Katusha team tops the team classification.