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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Date published:
September 25, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • McQuaid says he will walk away if defeated in UCI presidential election

    UCI President Pat McQuaid speaks to the press
    Article published:
    September 24, 2013, 20:25 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Irishman hoping for a third term to complete a "cultural change"

    Incumbent UCI president Pat McQuaid has promised to accept defeat and walk away if he loses the presidential election to British rival Brian Cookson during the UCI Congress on Friday in Florence.

    The election is decided by the votes of 42 delegates who represent the multitude of national federations and the continental confederations.

    The Irishman has been locked in a tense election campaign, fighting to ensure he has a valid candidacy and enough votes to secure a third term in office.

    “I would hope that the vote would bring an end to all that. I know if I lose I certainly won’t be looking to make a legal challenge. I’d walk away. I would hope my opponent would do the same,” McQuaid told the British Press Association news agency.

    Despite failing to secure the backing of the European Cycling Union and its precious 14 votes, McQuaid remains confident he can defeat Cookson. He is believed to have support in Asia, Africa and parts of South America after years of courting their support.

    Makarov's €1million donation to the European Cycling Union

    McQuaid insisted that the loss of the European votes at a recent special assembly of the European Cycling Union was not a blow to his hopes of re-election, and he accused the president of the Russian Cycling Federation, Igor Makarov, of using his financial wealth and influence to sway the vote. Makarov has publicly backed Cookson and employed special investigators to amass evidence and compile a secret dossier of damning accusations of corruption against McQuaid.

    “It wasn’t a big surprise to...

  • Bakelants still searching for team after Alonso project collapses

    Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) wins stage 2 of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    September 24, 2013, 21:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian had agreement with planned replacement for Euskaltel-Euskadi

    Jan Bakelants has revealed that he had reached a verbal agreement to join Fernando Alonso’s proposed new team in 2014, only to learn on Monday that the Formula 1 driver’s negotiations to take control of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team have collapsed.

    Bakelants’ contract with RadioShack-Leopard expires at the end of this season, but a fine Tour de France, in which he claimed victory on stage 2 and enjoyed a spell in the yellow jersey, appeared to put him in a strong position to find an improved deal for 2014.

    “The sky has fallen on my head,” Bakelants wrote in a column carried by both the Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg on Tuesday. “As of Monday, my future as a professional cyclist is uncertain. I had an agreement with Fernando Alonso’s team, formerly Euskaltel.

    “I spoke with Kiko Garcia, the manager, and he really wanted me. The contracts were ready and should even have been signed here in Tuscany [at the world championships].”

    The 27-year-old Bakelants had expected to announce his destination for 2014 before Sunday’s world championships road race. He confirmed his Worlds condition with victory in the GP de Wallonie last week, where he rode in the colours of the Belgian national team as RadioShack-Leopard has withdrawn from non-WorldTour races in the closing weeks of Flavio Becca’s backing of the team.

    Trek will take up sponsorship of the RadioShack team next season. Manager Luca Guercilena confirmed that talks with Bakelants had stalled earlier in the summer following his Tour success.

    “We made him a proposition before and after his victory at Ajaccio during the Tour,” Guercilena told Het Laatste Nieuws....

  • Fifth Worlds podium for Villumsen with silver in time trial

    Perennial time trial powerhouse Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) rides to a silver medal at the world championships
    Article published:
    September 24, 2013, 23:16 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Gillow on an off day in Florence

    Oceania had a mixed bag in the elite women's individual time trial at the UCI road world championships on Tuesday: while naturalized New Zealander Linda Villumsen claimed the silver medal in the 22km test, Australian champion Shara Gillow was on an off day, and her 12th place finish belied her potential in the discipline.

    For Villumsen, formerly a Danish national champion who switched to the nationality of her residence in 2010, it was her fifth straight podium at the world championships. She took her first bronze in 2009 with Denmark, two more in 2010 and 2012, with her highest finish coming in her former home country in Copenhagen in 2011.

    Despite not being able to match the pace of Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk, who won by 24 seconds, Villumsen was happy with the result.

    "Ellen van Dijk has been riding very well all throughout the year, she has won all kinds of time trials, short ones, long ones. She really deserved to win," Villumsen told Cyclingnews.

    While van Dijk revealed in the press conference that she had gotten out before the crack of dawn to preview the course free from the majority of Florence's traffic, Villumsen did not have many opportunities to see the course, and felt it may have harmed her chances.

    "I prefer to be able to see the course a few more times before doing a world championships. We did parts of it for the team time trial, but I did it as well as I could.

    "I know that Ellen is very good technically, and I'm not too bad myself, but if I'm not confident and I don't know the course maybe I was holding back a little bit more than I should have."

    Villumsen experimented with a different kind of season, doing her national championships in January then backing off until June, when she started racing again in Europe at...

  • Raleigh's Mark O'Brien returns to NRS with Euride Racing

    Mark O'Brien (Raleigh) went alone with two to go at another failed attempt by the main group to reach the leaders
    Article published:
    September 25, 2013, 5:43 BST
    Jono Lovelock

    Hoping for a stage win at Tour of Tasmania

    After a mixed European campaign, 2013 Team Raleigh signee Mark O'Brien is back down under and ready to race with South Australian based team Euride Racing. The team run by O'Brien's long-time coach and current Australian head of track endurance, Tim Decker, is a perfect fit for the Australian climber who will be racing alongside London Olympian Alex Edmondson amongst other regular Euride members.

    O'Brien was the premier climber of the 2012 Subaru National Road Series (NRS) with three hill top victories, three overall tour victories and a second overall in last year's Tour of Tasmania for Budget Forklifts.

    He started the year with a top 15 at the Australian nationals and a third place behind Nathan Earle (Huon-Genesys) on Arthurs seat in the Herald Sun Tour. The next step for O'Brien was a wintery welcome to Europe as he settled in England with compatriots -and teammates- Richard Lang, Lachlan Norris and Sam Witmitz.

    "My racing schedule at the start of the year was excellent, having some great races like Haut Var, Sud Ardeche, Circuit des Ardennes, and Tour de Bretagne, which finished May 1st," O'Brien told Cyclingnews. "Unfortunately since then I haven't returned to European racing, and until the weekend [where O'Brien resumed his Australian racing campaign] I'd had 5 race days within the UK."

    As O'Brien explained, the criterium focus and lack of invites to other races from the middle of the year onwards for Team Raleigh meant that he was left with little racing to do. 

    "The crit series are of huge importance to the teams in the UK, and with crits not my strength, there wasn't really much for me to do," said O'Brien. "As I had a big period without much racing, I decided to take my off season back in August. I got to do some fantastic traveling, but it wasn't so...

  • World time trial gold medal would mean the most to Wiggins

    Bradley Wiggins at sign-in
    Article published:
    September 25, 2013, 9:00 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    British favourite recovered after Tour of Britain

    "What does this mean?" Bradley Wiggins said rhetorically when asked on Tuesday evening how important taking gold in the elite men's time trial world championships would be for him if he succeeds in beating Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin, and the rest of his rivals in Wednesday's race.

    "It'll probably mean the most of all the medals I've won," he said. "A lot of people wrote me off in May" - after abandoning due to illness in the Giro - "so this one event will mean a lot. Through July there was a lot of anger that acted as real motivation for this one."

    "The Tour [de France] win was different, there was a different road to that. This is coming back from other places."

    A silver medallist in the time trial world championship in Denmark in 2011, Wiggins said that following his victory in the Tour of Britain on Sunday, "my legs have recovered well. Sunday was not so difficult, it was a short stage, I'm feeling how I expected to feel."

    Which is? "Well, tomorrow is the race of truth, it's going to be an hour and five minutes of effort, a good 15 minutes longer" [at 57 kilometres] than most. "Not many people often sustain power at that sort of level."

    However, the objective since the summer has been all focussed on this effort. "I've done three stage races in the last three months, it's all been down towards doing this. It's not something put together at the last minute. Tomorrow's the one." There will be no time checks, the Londoner said, "just riding to power. It's a beautiful course, there's no hiding on it, you have to concentrate on effort and that's all, and the mundaneness of it will crack people."

    He doesn't know if he is the favourite to become the first Briton to win the title since Chris Boardman back in 1994.

    "I know what I'm capable of doing, and if that ends up being enough to win the...

  • 2014 Giro d'Italia will begin on a Friday

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) with the Giro d'Italia winner's trophy
    Article published:
    September 25, 2013, 10:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Future calendar reforms outlined at PCC meeting in Florence

    The 2014 Giro d’Italia will begin on a Friday and will include a third rest day in order to facilitate the race’s transfer back to Italy after the start in Ireland. The alteration was confirmed at a meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) in Florence on Tuesday.

    The Giro will thus start in Belfast on Friday, May 9, possibly with a team time trial. A road stage starting and finishing in Belfast will follow, while stage 3 is set to be from Armagh to Dublin.

    The first rest day will be on Monday, May 12 and the Giro will resume in Italy the following day, most likely in Puglia. Tuttosport has reported that Bari and Barletta are both in the running to host the start of stage 4. The Giro will finish in Trieste on Sunday, June 1. The full route will be unveiled in Milan on October 7.

    According to rules implemented in 2011, Grand Tours were no longer permitted to have rest days during the opening week of racing, but the PCC said that it had “exceptionally granted a request from the Giro d’Italia organizers […] This was approved subject to the minimum needs of teams and riders being met.”

    Calendar reforms

    During Tuesday’s meeting, the PCC also agreed to bring stakeholder proposals for reforms of professional cycling before the UCI Management Committee. The proposals include those suggested during the Deloitte UCI Stakeholder Consultation, which took place earlier this year. If passed, the reforms will be rolled out between 2015 and 2020.

    The proposed reforms include the creation of a First and Second Division of racing, with fewer riders...

  • Cookson confident of a majority vote for UCI president

    UCI Presidential Candidate Brian Cookson
    Article published:
    September 25, 2013, 13:07 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Candidate backs widespread truth and reconciliation

    As the clock ticks down to the UCI Congress election for its next president, candidate Brian Cookson said he is confident that he will bring in the majority of the votes from the 42 delegates, regardless of whether sitting president Pat McQuaid is allowed to stand for re-election.

    "Elections can be won or lost in the last few days, I'm very conscious of that. I've been talking to a lot of people, a lot of voting delegates, and I know that there's a movement in my direction. I'm confident I'll have a majority, a clear majority but I don't want to put numbers on it at this stage," Cookson said in a press conference at the UCI road world championships in Florence, Italy on Wednesday.

    The Congress will have to first decide whether it will accept the nomination of McQuaid, which did not come from what would normally be interpreted as "the federation of the candidate". Rather than his home, Ireland, or his residence, Switzerland, McQuaid was nominated by Thailand and Morocco, federations to which he holds honorary membership.

    While McQuaid has insisted his nomination is valid, the issue has been challenged, with USA Cycling other federations opposing the bid, and McQuaid-friendly countries putting forth amendments to allow an incumbent president to automatically stand for re-election.

    Even if he runs unopposed, Cookson has vowed to ask for a vote, saying he does not want "a coronation" as McQuaid insinuated.

    "Even if Congress says he doesn't have a valid nomination, I will still ask for a positive vote in favor of me by the Congress. I will not take on the job by default. I don't want a coronation, I want a proper election and I want to take on the role of UCI president with the full support of the Congress."

    Truth and transparency for all

    Cookson comes to the presidential nomination at what most hope will be the end of an era rife with cheating, not just by individual athletes, but through...

  • Makarov: "It would be devastating if McQuaid was re-elected"

    UCI President Pat McQuaid at the UCI headquarters in Aigle
    Article published:
    September 25, 2013, 15:00 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Russian oligarch talks about the dossier and using his personal wealth to help cycling

    Russian oligarch Igor Makarov has told Cyclingnews that he believes it would be "devastating" for cycling if Pat McQuaid were re-elected as UCI president.

    Makarov is the president of the Russian cycling federation and is a strategically important supporter of Brian Cookson's presidential bid because of his sway of influence in Eastern Europe.

    He is a member on the UCI Management Committee but has been working hard behind the scenes to stop McQuaid from being re-elected. He has turned against McQuaid in recent times, with the final straw being when the Russian Katusha team was denied a UCI WorldTour licence for 2013. Katusha was forced to appeal to CAS to secure a place in the WorldTour.

    Makarov also instigated the private investigation into McQuaid, drawing up a controversial dossier which alleged that he took and solicited bribes, helped bend rules for Lance Armstrong in exchange of favours and tried to cover up Alberto Contador's positive doping test in the 2010 Tour de France in exchange for money. McQuaid has denied all the accusations and attacked Makarov, questioning his reasons for supporting Cookson.

    As the hours counted down to the presidential election vote on Friday, Makarov told Cyclingnews and two other media in Florence that it is time for change at the UCI, repeating his endorsement of Brian Cookson.

    "We're in the 21st century, and McQuaid and Verbruggen are part of the past. We've got look to the future,' he said in a rare interview.

    "We don't like the changes that have been going on at the UCI lately. That's why we need a new person. Brian Cookson has proved that he can be the head of international cycling by raising the level of British cycling very high. We've got to look to...