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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Date published:
September 11, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Extra climb added to the finale of Milan-San Remo for 2014

    Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka) takes the biggest win of his career in Milan-San Remo
    Article published:
    September 10, 2013, 14:17 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    The five-kilometre long Pompeiana added between the Cipressa and Poggio

    RCS Sport, the organisers of the Milan-San Remo one day Classic, has announced that the 2014 edition of the race will have a new finale, with the removal of mid-race Le Manie climb and the addition of the Pompeiana climb between the Cipressa and Poggio intensifying the climbing in the final 40km of the first cycling Monuments of the year.

    The 105th edition of the race will be held on Sunday March 23 and as a result of the changes, the race will cover a total distance of 299km, with the finish again on the Lungomare Calvino on the Sanremo seafront.

    The Manie climb came after 200km of racing and often caused a split in the peloton. However, the insertion of the five-kilometre long Pompeiana climb will give aggressive riders, rather than the sprinters, a better chance of victory, tipping the balance of the first major Classic of the season.

    The Pompeiana climb begins 3.5km after the descent of the Cipressa. The climb has an average gradient of 5% and a maximum of 14%. The climb begins steadily at 6-7% before narrowing slightly. It then flattens and kicks with a very hard 500m section consisting of a pair left/right bends with a gradient between 10-14%. A gradual slope follows on with a narrow road up to top of the climb, 20.7km from the finish.

    The twisty technical descent begins in the village of Castellaro and takes the riders down to Arma di Taggia where the route re-joins the Aurelia and the historical race route. From here, there is just 4.4km of racing before the start of the Poggio climb.

    Germany's Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) won the 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo after surviving a snow storm in the early part of the race. Due to the terrible conditions, the race was stopped at the foot of the early Turchino climb and bused to the coast, where the race restarted in the...

  • Vinokourov: Nibali not yet at 100 percent in Vuelta

    Alexandre Vinokourov and key Astana recruit, Vincenzo Nibali
    Article published:
    September 10, 2013, 15:12 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Astana manager has confidence in Sicilian

    Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov has recognised that the 2013 Vuelta a España is not yet won and that it will be a tough fight for his leader Vincenzo Nibali in the six remaining race days between Calahorra and Madrid.

    Vinokourov knows what he is talking about from personal experience: in 2006, Alejandro Valverde looked to have the Vuelta sewn up but then on a stage to Sierra Nevada, Vinokourov attacked on an unlikely spot - a downhill section into Granada – and claimed the lead and then went on to take overall victory.

    Fast forward six years, and last year, again, Alberto Contador managed to upset Joaquim Rodriguez’s applecart just four days out from Madrid, with his memorable attack at Fuente Dé. This time round, with Chris Horner at less than 30 seconds, Nibali losing time on the last Pyrenean stage in what was his first real sign of weakness in the race and both Valverde and Rodriguez looking increasingly strong, the race is far from over.

    “The Vuelta is won when we reach Madrid and there are still a lot of difficult stages to come,” Vinokourov told Spanish newspaper MARCA on Tuesday. “The team is going well” – together with Euskaltel-Euskadi, Astana is one of two squads still at full strength in the Vuelta – “and we have full confidence in Vincenzo. But we still haven’t won yet.”

    Vinokourov insisted that despite yesterday’s ‘glitch’ for Nibali, he is the most consistent GC rider in the overall’s upper echelons. “Valverde and Rodriguez both did the Tour and some days they have had problems. On days like Andorra, in particular, when it was so cold and rainy, you could see that, although Horner is really strong.

  • McQuaid decries "gangster politics" in letter to cycling federations

    UCI President Pat McQuaid at the UCI headquarters in Aigle
    Article published:
    September 10, 2013, 15:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Irishman accuses opponents of lies after dossier summary leaked

    UCI president Pat McQuaid has written to the national cycling federation presidents of the world in response to the leak of a dossier purported to contain evidence of his wrongdoing, decrying what he called "gangster politics," and accusing his opponents of lies, bribery, attempted vote-buying, entrapment and more.

    McQuaid may face British Cycling's Brian Cookson in the election for president of the UCI, which will take place on September 27 in Florence, Italy, although even the very nomination of McQuaid to the post has met with objections.

    Both Ireland and Switzerland have withdrawn their nominations, McQuaid's backing by Thailand and Morocco has come under fire and now strong allegations of corruption found their way into the media. McQuaid said he believes that Igor Marakov, who compiled the dossier, and/or Mike Plant, who presented it to the UCI Management Committee, leaked the details to the press.

    The dossier alleged that McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen tried to extract a 250,000 Euro payment from a team in return for elevating its status, that he tried to cover up the doping positive of Alberto Contador, and that they allowed Lance Armstrong's attorneys to edit a supposedly independent report created to investigate a 2005 L'Equipe story that linked Armstrong's 1999 Tour de France anti-doping control codes to EPO-positive samples uncovered in a French research study, among other allegations.

    McQuaid's response read as follows:

    Dear Federation...

  • WADA to introduce a steroid passport this year

    Newly elected WADA president Australian John Fahey (left) shakes hands with outgoing president Dick Pound
    Article published:
    September 10, 2013, 17:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Four year bans also expected at November congress

    The outgoing World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey has said that a steroid passport will be introduced by the end of 2013 as the latest weapon in the fight against performance enhancing drugs.

    The initiative will complement the biological passport, which was first introduced by the UCI and professional cycling. It measures changes in blood profile and can be used to detect differences from an athlete’s established levels that might indicate doping. A steroid passport would work in a similar way.

    “The biological passport is a key component against doping and has been recognized by the courts as evidence,” Fahey said while speaking at the International Olympic Committee’s annual meeting in Buenos Aires at the weekend.

    Four-year bans

    Fahey is coming to the end of his four-year term as WADA president. He also said that WADA is likely to double the ban for first-time doping offenders from two to four years at its congress in Johannesburg in November.

    “The athletes have demanded a tougher approach to cheats and instead of the current two-year ban, the penalty will be doubled for first offenders,” Fahey said.

    Officials at the Johannesburg meeting also will consider tighter regulation for coaches, trainers and sports scientists associated with athletes, Fahey added.


  • Valverde reduces Vuelta a España GC fight to four riders

    Alejandro Valverde checks to see where the rest of the contenders are.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2013, 19:06 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Prefers second overall in Madrid to victory on Angliru

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), currently third overall in the Vuelta a España, met the press on Tuesday’s second rest day looking even thinner than usual but as determined as ever to fight Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) all the way to Madrid.

    “I was already a bit more motivated after I saw that Nibali was not looking so good on the stage to Peyragudes,” Valverde said, “and now after what happened yesterday [ when Nibali lost more time – ed.], I’m feeling even more confident.

    “Nibali is one big rival, and Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) is another. I would even say that in the mountains, Horner is a little bit stronger than Nibali. At the start, we didn’t really count on Horner very much, but that changed a lot after Hazallanas [the mountain on stage 10 where Horner took the lead for a second time.] And if he hadn’t had such a poor time trial, he’d even be ahead now.”

    Valverde reduced the battle for the Madrid podium to the four frontrunners on the overall standings, saying that “[Domenico] Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is still up there, but he’s always losing a little bit of time each day.

    “In any case, Nibali is surely most worried about Horner, given he’s at 28 seconds, and I’m at 1:16.”

    It’s not often remembered that Valverde finished second on the Angliru in the 2008 Vuelta behind Alberto Contador, but the Spaniard says he would prefer a second place overall in Madrid to going one better than 2008 and winning on Spain’s most daunting mountain climb. “It’s good to have in your palmares, but it’s one stage and that’s it. In any case, if I win there, I’m bound to be doing...

  • Horner convinced of chances of overall victory in Vuelta's final week

    Chris Horner on the attack on the final Pyrenean stage
    Article published:
    September 10, 2013, 20:15 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Morale sky-high after reducing Nibali's lead to 28 seconds

    Relaxed and smiling on the Vuelta a España's second rest day, Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) is poised for what could be the most important week of his very lengthy career, with his first ever podium finish or perhaps even a Grand Tour win in Madrid potentially to celebrate. But if his morale needed any boosting, Horner got that "lift" on Monday's stage.

    Whilst Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the race leader, Horner and all the other overall rivals managed to dent a hole in the Italian's advantage on the final stage of the Pyrenean leg of the Vuelta, and the 41-year-old American, previously at 50 seconds and now at 28 seconds overall, has benefited the most from Nibali's moment of weakness, the first he has had in this year's race.

    "I think everybody's morale is higher than it was," Horner told Cyclingnews. "Nobody expected that, but we knew that coming down after the climb [Formigal] it was hard, but we knew that with the wind and so on it would be hard to get away.

    "We were all surprised at the result, and how Nibali performed. Whether his legs just had a bad moment or if he's really weakening - we'll find out on Thursday," on the ascent to Peña Cabarga, "what's really going on."

    His own condition, he says with a chuckle, "is good! I'm at 28 seconds. Clearly I'm climbing good, nobody's outclimbed me in this Tour yet and certainly Nibali and [Alejandro] Valverde (Movistar, third overall) and [Joaquim] Rodriguez (Katusha, fourth overall) are the four strongest riders in the race.

    "So it's just going to take one bad moment [on Nibali's part] to make the difference. But...

  • Squads coming together for worlds team time trial

    Team Belkin in formation
    Article published:
    September 10, 2013, 21:23 BST
    Cycling News

    MTN Qhubeka, Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin finalising line ups

    MTN Qhubeka has announced that four South African riders will take to the start house for the team time trial at the UCI Road World Championships on September 22.

    South African national ITT champion Jay Thomson will lead the team, along with Bradley Potgieter , Martin Wesemann and Johann van Zyl. Lithuanian Four-time Lithuanian ITT champion Ignatas Konovalovas and German Martin Reimer round out the team.

    MTN Qhubeka was the first team away in last year's championships, finishing 23rd, over three-and-a-half minutes down on the winning time of Omega Pharma – QuickStep.

    The Saxo-Tinkoff team is likely to change with the squad of Daniele Bennati, Manuele Boaro, Matteo Tossato, Michel Mørkøv and Nicolas Roche needing to find a replacement for the injured Michael Rogers.

    The Australian crashed during the Brussels Cycling Classic at the weekend and has been unable to ride on the road since, restricted to the home trainer. Rogers, also listed in the Australian long list, said he will make a decision on competing in coming days.

    Meantime, Lars Boom will miss riding for the Belkin in the team time trial due to the impending birth of his second child.

    Boom rode for the Rabobank squad at last year's championships in Valkenburg.

    According to De Telegraaf, the team's current line-up of Tom Leezer, Jos van Emden, Maarten Tjallingii, Wilco Kelderman, Rick Flens, Stef Clement and Robert Wagner will be reduced to six.

  • De Weert recovering well from Vuelta team time trial crash

    Kevin De Weert (Omega Pharma Quick Step) on the move
    Article published:
    September 11, 2013, 1:49 BST
    Cycling News

    Multiple fractures on the mend for Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider

    Kevin de Weert (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) is back in Belgium and recovering well from his horrific crash in the opening stage team time trial of the Vuelta. In the crash de Weert fractured his tibia, his collarbone and a cervical vertebrae, but at least recent scans have ruled out what was initially thought to be a ruptured patella tendon in his left knee.

    After the crash de Weert was transferred to Miguel Servet Hospital in Zaragoza, Spain, where he remained until Saturday. De Weert was then transferred to the Hospital of Herentals in Belgium where hospital staff and team medical staff are going about treating and rehabilitating de Weert's injuries.

    "I am super happy to be in Belgium now," de Weert said. "My situation is improving day by day and here in Herentals I am in really good hands.

    "I want to really thank the first responders who brought me to Belgium — from the guys of the ambulance that took me from the road on the crash to the hospital staff. I also want to show my appreciation for the support of the team, my family, friends, and everyone at home. Now I am here.

    "It will be a long process but I am ready. I am okay, and it is now only important to recover. I want to thank also the people, all the supporters who sent me nice messages. It was really a nice moment to see how many people are following me and worried about me. I am more relaxed now and hope all my supporters can also relax. Thanks to everybody."