Valerio Piva and Allan Peiper have steered BMC to success during the spring campaign with the team wining Amstel Gold Race courtesy of a late attack from Philippe Gilbert.
Piva and Pieper worked together at HTC but are also ex-professionals who have ridden the Ardennes Classics. Piva of course helped Moreno Argentin in a number of impressive rides during his career, while Peiper was more of man for the cobbled classics, although he did have the odd foray into the Ardennes.
At the start of the week, a day before Amstel, both men talked to Cyclingnews about the Ardennes and what exactly makes them special.
During the spring campaign there’s a number of notable shifts as teams and riders change their focus from the cobbles to Ardennes. For the first time in week, teams change hotels, personnel are altered too with cobbled specialists slipping out and grand tour contenders and climbing specialists docking in for the week.
And each of the Ardennes races, despite their course modifications, their shifts in dates, remain at the heart of the sport. As Peieper explains in this exclusive video for Cyclingnews, each race has its own identity forged by their iconic climbs; whether it’s the Cauberg at Amstel, the Mur de Huy in Flèche Wallonne or the hills that litter the route of Liège-Bastogne-Lige.
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Lance Armstrong has said that he still feels himself to be a Tour de France winner and believes that it would be “disrespectful to the sport” to leave seven years of the race’s roll of honour empty.
Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour victories in October of 2012 following the publication of USADA’s Reasoned Decision at the end of its investigation into the doping programme in place at his US Postal team.
Speaking in a video interview with Outside magazine, Armstrong described the climate in cycling during his career as “basically an arms race,” adding that he felt all of his rivals had acted as he had done.
“If you’re asking me – yes, I feel like I won those races. I know that’s not a popular answer but the reality I think that we are learning is that it was just a messy time. It was basically an arms race and we all played ball that way,” Armstrong said.
“It’s not my place to say but I think it would be a mistake and it would be disrespectful to the sport to leave seven years empty. You have them empty for two world wars but you can’t have them empty from 99 to 05. If I didn’t win, then somebody needs to win. I’m not sure who we’d get to.”
Armstrong believes that, if polled, the riders who competed in the Tour from 1999 to 2005 would acknowledge him as the winner. “Of course I’m going to say I won but ask the guys who suffered with him, ‘Did he win?’ I think I know what they’d say,” he said.
Asked if he had won on a level playing field, or if he had simply pushed the limits of...
There was little fanfare when it was announced that Nélson Oliveira had signed from RadioShack to Lampre-Merida at the end of 2013. It was understandable. The Italian team's marquee signing was world champion Rui Costa and the fact that his compatriot Oliveira was linking up with the Italian squad flew under the radar.
Oliveira, though, was signed as Rui Costa's right-hand man. It's a role he carries on and off the bike. In races, he shepherds the world champion through the peloton, and off the bike he remains at his side too.
When journalists arrived at the Lampre hotel a few days after Amstel Gold Race to talk to Costa, Oliveira was there. Not in the forefront but he was present and taking coffee at the bar as his leader faced the questions.
"Each team is different but at the WorldTour level most things are roughly the same. The staff are great and the riders and the ambiance are good too," he told Cyclingnews, watching on as Rui Costa greeted the press.
"My manager helped me get here," he added. "Basically there was one Portuguese here with Rui and now there are two. So it means we can talk together in Portuguese, have a few jokes, and share some stories. But at the end of the day, I'm just happy here. I was happy at my last team too but this opportunity came up and I decided to take it."
Oliveira was a standout rider in the under-23 ranks, winning four national time trial championships at that level. He finished fourth in the under-23 Worlds time trial in 2010, behind a podium made up of Taylor Phinney, Luke Durbridge and Marcel Kittel, missing out on bronze by just four seconds.
His role for now, however – and both he and Rui Costa are on one year deals – is to protect and serve his...
Although Rogers has been stripped of his victory in that race, the UCI accepted his defence that clenbuterol had entered his system by consuming contaminated meat while competing at the Tour of Beijing – run by the UCI’s race organisation wing, Global Cycling Promotion – prior to racing in Japan.
The UCI's decision was taken after consultation with WADA and the governing body announced the news during Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Shortly afterwards, Tinkoff-Saxo issued a statement confirming that Rogers would return to the team’s line-up in the near future.
“We are especially pleased that he can now get back to racing,” the team said. “We will be sitting down with Michael to agree his race calendar and we look forward to seeing him at his best.”
Rogers lines up for Liège-Bastogne-Liège in a Tinkoff-Saxo team led by last year’s Amstel Gold Race winner Roman Kreuziger. The Czech finished in 8th place at Flèche Wallonne and will expect to be even more competitive in La Doyenne.
Ultimately, Tinkoff-Saxo will hope that Rogers can race his way into sufficient condition to play an important supporting role for Alberto Contador at the Tour de France.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, fellow Australian Robbie McEwen said that Rogers’ late start to the season might not necessarily be a hindrance. “Maybe there's a silver lining to the cloud, that it's given him the chance...
Riders without passports after applying for entry for Giro d'Italia start in Belfast
Team Colombia has withdrawn from the Tour of Turkey as eight of its riders are still without their passports after submitting them to the British embassy in Rome earlier this month. The riders handed over their passports when applying for the UK visas they require to travel to Belfast for the start of the Giro d’Italia on May 9.
The team was due to fly to Turkey on Friday but has since confirmed that it has been forced to pull out of the race as its riders are without the necessary documentation to travel.
“We accompanied eight riders to Rome on April 10th and 14th and paid a significant extra charge for the urgent procedure that should have guaranteed our passports would be returned within five days,” manager Claudio Corti said on Thursday. “Instead, the UK Embassy still holds the documents, without giving us any reasons.
“Right now, we do not know where our riders’ passports are – whether in the Embassy’s offices in the UK or travelling somewhere – nor we can predict when they might be returned. It is an absurd situation that might even jeopardize our Giro d’Italia participation.”
The problems Colombian riders have faced in obtaining UK visas were reported by las2orillas.co, which noted that Carlos Quintero, Jarlinson Pantano and Miguel Rubiano applied for visas at the British Embassy in Bogota on April 16, but had their requests declined, seemingly on a technicality.
“We asked for transit [visas] and we should have asked for tourist [ones],” Pantano told las2orillas.co last weekend. Pantano and Quintero since travelled to Europe to compete at the Giro del Trentino, and Colombia press officer David Evangelista explained that they since lodged another...
Nairo Quintana's preparation for upcoming Giro d'Italia at stake
The 58th edition of the Vuelta a Asturias, which was scheduled on the following weekend from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 of May, will not take place because of sudden economic problems which overcame the race organization, Club Ciclista Aramo, this week.
The race's official presentation was set to happen yesterday evening, but it was cancelled by the Club Ciclista Aramo with a laconic press release that stated it was "not possible to announce the full details of the race due to unexpected problems arisen lately".
Today La Nueva España, the Vuelta a Asturias' official newspaper, was more specific and asserted the problems are "economic". According to its information, the Asturian institutions "had committed to hand a sum of money, but haven't confirmed it yet", putting the race at risk. Other Asturian local newspaper, El Comercio, published today that Club Ciclista Aramo are short of 40,000 euro to make the race happen, and those were to be provided by sponsors which pulled out this week.
Nairo Quintana was set to be Vuelta a Asturias' main star. Although the Colombian's public statements contained doubts on whether he would take part in Asturias or the concurrent WorldTour stage race Tour de Romandie, he featured on the Spanish event's official poster. Also, the general manager of Movistar Team, Eusebio Unzué, was reported to have confirmed Quintana's attendance to Club Ciclista Aramo last week.
The cancellation of Vuelta a Asturias could mean Nairo Quintana would start the upcoming Giro d'Italia, the main target of his season, without having competed a single day since March, when he finished 5th at Volta a Catalunya. This would emulate the build-up of his breakout Tour...
“We were happy to win as a team in Amstel and that takes a lot of pressure off me and the team,” said Gilbert, who won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2011.
“We can approach Liège a little differently. I showed some limits in Flèche [Wallonne] but it’s not so bad. I’m not the only favourite for Liège but that might be a good position for us. It means we can gamble a little bit more and it puts pressure on other teams and other favourites.”
There’s a clear distinction between being relaxed and confident and being cocky, and Gilbert is certainly in the former camp. He’s remained focused since Amstel and although the triple has eluded him he is aware that a win in Liège would turn his season from the successful into the spectacular. Nothing will perhaps eclipse that run of form he had in 2011 where almost anything seemed possible but Liège remains a cut above Amstel.
Win there, in the 100th edition of the race, with the King of Belgium present and you will be immortalised forever by the cycling fans of Belgium. Relaxed or not, come Sunday morning when race numbers are pinned on and the teams are called to the signing on podium, Gilbert will feel the buzz of the crowd and the sense of occasion.
“It’s always stress but it’s more motivation than stress. I’m still taking care of all the details like making sure that I’m not getting sick, eating the right food and being...
La Redoute a popular proving ground for pro peloton
The 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège is set to get underway on Sunday, and all of the race favourites took advantage of a beautiful Friday afternoon to preview the course for La Doyenne.
La Redoute was the most popular scouting climb, with Movistar's Alejandro Valverde looking relaxed as he chatted with his teammates while riding up.
Defending champion Dan Martin put in a mock attack for the cameras while heading up with his Garmin-Sharp team, while a bearded Ryder Hesjedal chose to go it alone.
Philippe Gilbert followed his own name, painted numerous times on the climb, as he ascended with his BMC teammates.
Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale), Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) have realistic chances of victory in Ans on Sunday, and all were out training on La Redoute in preparation.
Enjoy this gallery of images from the reconnaissance.
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