- Article published:
- November 19, 2013, 22:05
- Daniel Benson
Garmin-Sharp rider looks to Tour Down Under and California
A day in the leader’s jersey at the Dauphine, a first start in the Tour de France and the overall title at the Tour of Alberta: it’s fair to say that Rohan Dennis’ first season as a professional has been a success. However with 2014 on the horizon, the Australian is already looking ahead to the future with even grander ambitions.
The 23-year-old, who turned down a number of rival WorldTour teams to sign with Garmin-Sharp, is now back in Australia and is building for a strong showing at the Tour Down Under and a second crack at the Tour, but he will also be looking to develop his stage racing abilities with the dream of taking on the likes of Chris Froome in Grand Tours.
"I wasn’t meant to do a Grand Tour at all," he admitted to Cyclingnews.
"There were a few big races in my schedule, but they didn’t want to push me into anything too big. However Jonathan Vaughters said he believed I could handle the workload, and the team backed me."
Garmin’s decision to include Dennis in their Tour line-up came after he donned the leader’s jersey at the Dauphine. Second place in the individual time trial to Parc des Oiseaux netted him the lead as he held off both Froome and Richie Porte. Dennis lost the lead the follow day as Froome and Alberto Contador locked horns in the French mountains but he held on for a top-10 place overall.
It had been a very different situation at the start of the year though, when illness and a subsequent lack of form had led Dennis to question whether he was suited to the rigours of professional road racing.
"The start of the season was pretty rough," he told Cyclingnews.
"At first I was questioning whether or not the sport was for me. After Tour Down Under, with my sickness, I wasn’t able to get on top of my health, and I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel until around Romandie. It wasn’t until the Tour of California that I started to really find myself coming back into that confidence. Then obviously, it all started to fall into place at the Dauphine, and then at the Tour."
If the Dauphine was the confirmation of his talents and the Tour a chance for him to gain experience, then the Tour of Alberta was the confirmation of his choice to stick with road racing. Although the race comes at the end of the season and with a parcours not as demanding as the Dauphine or California, it is still one of Canada's most recognised stage races.
"Alberta was a surprise, as I was only going there for a possible win in the prologue. I didn’t get that, but I thought I’d try and defend second place and on stage 3 everything changed. Everything seemed to happen without too much planning this year and I think that’s the best way to go heading into 2014."
With a season of racing under his belt, attention turns to 2014. Garmin signed Tom Jelte Slagter from Belkin and as the defending champion at the Tour Down Under, the Dutchman may receive first refusal on whether he will lead the team come January but Dennis will be ready should his teammate falter or decide his aspirations sit elsewhere.
"At the moment it’s a little bit unknown. We’ll have Slagter in the team so it’s only fair that he has the chance to go back to back. I’m not sure what his opinions are on that, but the team will back him if he’s willing to go for it. However I’m not going to rule myself out form wise. I’m still preparing myself as I am going there to win. So if Tom isn’t up to it or doesn’t want to target the race, then I’ll happily put my hand up but that’s still not 100 per cent certain yet."
Another ride at the Tour de France remains another key objective. This year Dennis pulled out of the race early - as planned - after finishing last on the stage to Ax 3 Domaines.
"This year coming up the Tour is again a maybe. The team isn’t sometimes picked until a week to go so it’s up in the air but I’m one of around 14 guys down for a possible place. My name’s on that list."
The Tour of California and another strong showing at the Dauphine are also marked on Dennis’ list of ambitions for 2014.
"Next year I believe I can podium at the Tour of California. It’s a bit up in the air with the Dauphine though. This year an opportunity opened up because [Andrew] Talansky was sick. Next year that probably won’t happen again. I’ll target the race but my role in the team will depend on what Andrew is doing in the lead-up to the Tour. There’s also Ryder [Hesjedal] and Dan [Martin] to think of, too."
“Alberta, it would be great to go there again and try and win again. It will be leading into Worlds again and I’ll have that big block of altitude as well but basically I’ll try and mimic what I did this year and try and contribute to the team a bit more than this year.”
One the reasons Dennis opted for Garmin and turned down a number of WorldTour teams was because he felt that Garmin was the best option in terms of developing his talent. Without one single GC rider like a Froome or a Contador or Nibali, Dennis believed that he would have more options throughout the season. A single season in the professional ranks has provided an indicator rather than a blueprint for where his future may rest, but at 23 he believes that competing against the best in stage races is a possibility.
“Anything is possible. People talk about how it’s unnatural that some guys are riding so fast uphill but when I look at it, I’m a neo pro and on the last stage of the Dauphine, Froome and Porte put 30 seconds into me on a 10-kilometre climb. I know it wasn’t an overly steep climb but it was still around six per cent. It’s not out of the question that in two to four years that I can climb with them and be in contention with them.”
- Article published:
- November 19, 2013, 23:14
- Cycling News
Mapei boss alleges UCI president made threat after comment about doping
Giorgio Squinzi, the former boss of the powerhouse Mapei cycling team, today told Italian media that in 1999 then UCI president Hein Verbruggen threatened to disqualify the Italian's Mapei team following Squinzi's assertion that a top overall finish in Grand Tours was impossible without doping.
Following Lance Armstrong's recent statement that Verbruggen was instrumental in the cover-up of the American's positive test for cortisone at the 1999 Tour de France, Squinzi, while at a conference in Pescara, Italy, today spoke of his own dealings with Verbruggen and his knowledge that the UCI president was protecting Armstrong.
"Sure it happened," Squinzi told Tuttobici. "I told him in 1999 when I said that you could not get in the top five at the Grand Tours without the use of doping.
"When I said those things Verbruggen threatened to disqualify my team forever."
During Mapei's 10-year run, from 1993 to 2002, the team was a dominant force in professional cycling with 653 victories in the squad's palmares. With riders such as Franco Ballerini, Michele Bartoli, Paolo Bettini, Johan Museeuw, Tony Rominger and Andrea Tafi in the team's ranks, Mapei was a force to be reckoned with, particularly in the Spring Classics.
- Article published:
- November 20, 2013, 00:05
- Cycling News
Tour de France winner applauds cycling for leading the way in anti-doping
During a visit to Kenya Chris Froome backed the adoption of a tougher doping code by WADA. The world anti-doping agency will offer first time offenders a four year ban opposed to the current two year deal following a WADA conference last week.
The 2013 Tour de France champion believes the change will further clean up the sport.
"It is great that WADA plans to extend the ban from two to four years, and that cycling is being taken as leading the way in the fight in anti-doping," said Froome.
"You can only be a professional for 15 years. It is a harsh penalty and that's what we need to see in cycling."
Froome faced a barrage of accusations throughout July that he was doping. Froome was not as forthright as teammate Bradley Wiggins in 2012 when refuting questions over the validity of his win, understanding such questions were inevitable throughout the first Tour since Lance Armstong's confession in January.
"It was a very difficult time in the Tour De France. Everybody was asking me ... and people were saying to me you could be doping," said Froome.
"That hit me quite hard, but it was something I expected, because post-Lance Armstrong everyone was asking questions about it and I came to accept it, because I knew it came from the past and everyone putting on the yellow jersey could be asked about doping."
Froome added that for cycling to move on from the Armstrong era there needs to be full disclosure on what doping practices occurred.
While in Kenya Froome also spoke of his desire to help African cyclists reach the highest levels of the sport by creating his own foundation within the next 18 months.
"What I would like to do is to see a project in Kenya and actually go places within Kenyan cycling," said Froome.
- Article published:
- November 20, 2013, 00:50
- Cycling News
New bikes and components for Australian team
Having secured a UCI Professional Continental license earlier this month and a wildcard invitation to the Tour Down Under, there is more good news for Drapac in announcing that they will be riding SRAM equipped bikes in 2014.
With a race schedule across the continents of Australia, Asia and America, the partnership with SRAM will help Drapac with the increased demands placed on the team by riding at a higher level.
General Manager of SRAM Australasia Rob Eva believes that Drapac will be well-equipped for the season ahead.
"SRAM is greatly looking forward to partnering with the Drapac Professional Cycling Team in 2014 and see their move to the Pro Conti level as a great step that matches well with their rider roster and their ambitions for further growth in coming years" said Eva.
"SRAM has long had associations with the best cycling teams and this is no exception with Drapac being the only Pro Conti team in Australia for 2014. We wish the team every success for the upcoming year and know that we will be there with equipment that helps them reach their lofty goals."
Drapac will be riding SRAM partner SwiftCarbon bikes in 2014 which will be kitted out with RED 22, the lightest available groupset on the market. The team bikes will be finished off with ZIPP bars, stems and seat posts and will roll on ZIPP Firecrest race wheels.
The SRAM RED 22 groupset is proven at the highest level of competition having won the very best races in the world including Paris Roubaix, the Cyclocross worlds, the Tour de France and the Ironman world championships.
There is a slight difference for training as Drapac has decided to utilise SRAM Force 22 with the high performance ZIPP 30 alloy wheels. Both race and training bikes will be using Quarq Red22 Power Metres.
Drapac Team Manager Jonathan Breekveldt said that having SRAM as a component partner enables the team great technical support with equipment.
"The variety of ZIPP wheels across the Firecrest range gives the athletes the ability to choose the perfect wheels for any condition. It will be highly beneficial to have the entire team using Quarq for 2014 and will give our Director of Performance, Keith Flory, as great tool in help with the training and wellbeing of our riders."
- Article published:
- November 20, 2013, 09:21
- José Been
Dutchmen secures contract
Kenny van Hummel has signed a one-year contract with Androni-Venezuela after prolonged negotiations. "Obviously I am very happy with the chance Androni offered me and I am looking forward to the sporting challenges that lie ahead," Van Hummel told Cyclingnews.
After two years with Vacansoleil-DCM, the Dutch sprinter had a verbal agreement to ride for Fernando Alonso's team next year. When the Formula 1 driver didn't proceed with his plans to take over Euskaltel-Euskadi's license, Van Hummel was left without a team for 2014.
"I can say that was a bit of disaster. That's why I am so happy that I managed to find a great team in these difficult times. Androni offers me a great chance to ride with them for one year."
With several Dutch riders still left without a team after Vacansoleil-DCM, Champion System and Sojasun, Van Hummel experienced stressful times.
"I was not ready to retire yet but I had to think about several scenarios for next year. When time went on, I kind of accepted that I would go back to college next year and keep riding my bike to train young riders. But obviously remaining a pro cyclist had always been the first goal," van Hummel added.
Van Hummel won a stage in the Arctic Race of Norway this year and accumulated several podium finishes in Handzame Classic, Tour of Picardie, Dutch Food Valley Classic and the Ronde van Zeeland Seaports.
"It was a good season and I still can win races, although it was only one race this year. I still have a lot of points that I take with me for next year but also the year after that. That means it's important to stay visible and score some good results. I have my own ways as a cyclist, a clean way of riding I must add, and I just wasn't ready to stop."
Van Hummel turned pro in 2006 with Skil-Shimano, a team he stayed with until he signed for Vacansoleil-DCM in 2012. Androni-Venezuela will be his first foreign team. He joins compatriot and current teammate Johnny Hoogerland at the team, which has secured a wild card for the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
"It's an Italian team so the Giro d'Italia is definitely a goal next season. Another goal is to learn Italian as soon as I can," said van Hummel.
"I never experienced this before, that while already on holiday after a long season, you still get the news of a new team. It's very special and I am really happy about the chance Gianni Savio is giving me."
- Article published:
- November 20, 2013, 10:35
- Cycling News
Team insist De Martelaere hired as chemist and not as doctor
The Vacansoleil-DCM team employed a false doctor during the 2011 season, according to Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard. The Belgian newspapers report that Daniël De Martelaere, who spent six months on the team’s medical staff, was hired under false pretences and was not a qualified doctor.
De Martelaere reportedly presented himself as a doctor who had studied in the United States and said that he specialized in the coaching of endurance athletes. He was hired by the Dutch Vacansoleil squad at the beginning of the 2011 season and was licensed as a team doctor by the Belgian Cycling Federation.
“We committed an administrative error. We should have verified if this man really was a doctor,” Belgian federation spokesman Tom Van Damme told De Standaard. “I deeply regret that Vacansoleil didn’t report anything in 2011. We would have expected more honesty and responsibility from a WorldTour team.”
Vacansoleil-DCM team manager Hilaire Van der Schueren confirmed that De Martelaere was not a qualified doctor, but insisted that he had never been hired as such by the team.
“We didn’t extend his contract beyond 2011. De Martelaere wasn’t with us as a doctor, but as a chemist. He was the man who arranged internal doping controls,” Van der Schueren told Het Nieuwsblad.
When Vacansoleil’s Riccardo Riccò was hospitalised with kidney blockage following a home blood transfusion in February 2011, it was De Martelaere who travelled to Italy to compile a medical report on behalf of the team. Riccò was fired by the team shortly afterwards.
Het Nieuwsblad reports that riders and staff began to have concerns about De Martelaere’s credentials as the season progressed and the matter came to a head in June 2011. When De Martelaere signed off on blood tests performed at the Tour de Suisse, the laboratory highlighted the fact that they had not been certified by a qualified doctor.
Police in Ghent have reportedly opened an inquiry into the matter. The Vacansoleil team ceased operations at the end of the 2013 season following the withdrawal of its title sponsor.
- Article published:
- November 20, 2013, 12:36
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Tour a possibility, Classics and Commonwealth Games other targets
“I want to race well and finish being professional at my best,” is how David Millar sums up his feelings to Cyclingnews about 2014, and what will be his eighteenth and last season as a pro racer.
37 on January 4th, Millar turned professional in 1997 with French outfit Cofidis. The winner of the 2000 Tour de France prologue, he is the first Briton to lead all three Grand Tours (and only one of two, together with Bradley Wiggins, ever to achieve that to date) and has been a key member of the Garmin-Sharp squad since 2008. After his two-year drugs suspension in 2004, he has since become one of the sport's most articulate anti-doping campaigners.
Millar’s full training program for 2014 is yet to kick in after a domestic accident, in which he was concussed, put a brake on things earlier this month.
“I’ve had to be very careful [about training] since the accident happened... I went into an old house and walked through a very small doorway and knocked myself out. It was the uncoolest thing I’ve ever done. It was so annoying,” Millar recalls.
As for 2014, Millar says he will kick off the season at the Mallorca Challenge in early February, then go on to Tirreno-Adriatico, the Classics – “as many as I can” – then Bayern Rundfahrt and the Criterium du Dauphiné as his build up to, he hopes, one last Tour de France.
Running from July 5-27, the Tour de France overlaps with the first segment of the Commonwealth Games, another event circled round in red on Millar’s 2014 calendar, all the more given that it takes place in Glasgow. But neither the dates for the Games’ time trial on July 31st, nor the road race on August 2nd, both of which Millar may well wish to target, clash with the Tour.
And after – finally – finishing racing? That has yet to be decided, although Millar has already ruled out working as a sports director. But he does know that his family are set to stay in their current home in Catalonia for the foreseeable future.
In any case, Millar’s last season is yet to come and as the Scot puts it, “it feels like the end of an era. I want to leave the team with them feeling I did well and was a good rider.”
- Article published:
- November 20, 2013, 13:17
- Cycling News
Swiss rider on retirement, Worlds and hour record
Fabian Cancellara was the first rider confirmed with the revamped Trek team for the 2014 season, but the 32-year-old has acknowledged that the three-year contract he signed might prove to be the final one of his career.
"It might be, because it’s 14 years now," Cancellara said during an appearance on the "Reyers Laat" talk show on Belgian television station VRT. "It’s not that it’s enough because you can keep riding until you’ve had enough. Look at Jens Voigt and Chris Horner, winning the Vuelta at 42.
"I won’t say I could stop now because I’m still fresh, I’m still motivated and I have the fire you need, but the more you travel during the season, you say 'hey, maybe you’re getting older and older.' I’m not really super old but somehow I am old because I have so many years on my shoulders."
In particular, Cancellara pointed to the difficulty of spending so much time away from his family over the course of the season, noting that he typically spends up to 250 nights on the road each year.
"Cycling is not everything in life. It’s a passion, a job, something I love and something I’ve taken a lot from. I’ve learnt a lot and it’s a big life experience but what is tomorrow? When something happens, what is tomorrow? There is a new life."
That new life is at least three years away, of course, and Cancellara is already looking ahead to the 2014 campaign, where he headlines the Trek squad, which starts afresh following the departure of former sponsor RadioShack and erstwhile backer, Flavio Becca.
Although Cancellara’s race programme is yet to be decided – the team’s first meetings take place in Belgium this week – the classics and world championships will once again be his primary aims. After skipping the Tour de France in 2013, Cancellara was non-committal about the prospect of returning to La Grande Boucle next season.
"I don’t know," he said of the Tour. "The beginning and the end of the year will be the main focus."
The world championships road race in Ponferrada will be the focus of the second part of Cancellara’s season, and he admitted that the rainbow jersey is the honour he covets the most. "I have not so many chances properly left. On the road, I haven’t got what I want to achieve. But if you look at [Michele] Bartoli, he also never won the Worlds and he was everywhere else on the palmares," he said.
Cancellara has been heavily linked with an attempt on the world hour record in recent weeks, but he was unable to shed any further light on when he might take on the challenge. "I’d like to do it but it’s a big question mark, because it’s not something where you just go and do it," he said. "There’s a lot of tactics, technical questions, the track, so many things."
Cancellara also revealed that the new-look Trek team will be formally presented in Roubaix on January 10.