Bjarne Riis of Team Saxo Bank-SunGard has taken part of the credit for Nick Nuyens' win Sunday in the Tour of Flanders, explaining how he worked with the Belgian, particularly to motivate him. He admitted, though, that there was more to it, saying, “we've been a little lucky that it all just clicked.”
Nuyens, 30, transferred to the Danish team this season to lead the team in the Classics. Although a Classics specialist with several wins, he lacked a win in a Monument.
"He has been a strong rider for a long time but he has not gotten the most out of his potential," Riis told spn.dk. He has worked with Nuyens on his riding position, changed his training and worked to motivate him.
"I think all riders have their chance, wherever they ride. But they should certainly take it. There are some riders who are not ready to take the chance, but must be helped along. We have motivated him. Building a team around him and supported him."
Last year Riis had a winner in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Fabian Cancellara, who now rides for the newly-formed Leopard Trek. He was not the only big name to leave the team at the end of the season, which required Riis to rebuild his team.
"I think the team has become more cohesive. Everyone shows a willingness and motivation, which is exceptional. It's cool. That's how you can sometimes do a little more."
Not that he expects to win Paris-Roubaix, though. "I think we have a good team, although we are not top favourites. We'll be ready. We would like to have two-three men with a lot in the race and...
Cofidis rider aiming to be the first Colombian to reach the velodrome
Colombian riders are more famous for their climbing skills than racing on the cobbles but on Sunday, Leonardo Duque hopes to be the first Colombian to ever get a result in Paris-Roubaix even though he is riding the “Hell of the North” for the first time in his career.
“The most important thing is to finish the race, and hopefully I can even be in the top 20,” the Cofidis rider told Cyclingnews.
A good performance would be the perfect birthday present for Duque as he celebrates his 32nd birthday on Sunday and his recent results indicate he could do well. He finished 12th in Gent-Wevelgem and 19th at the Tour of Flanders. However he also went down in the high-speed crash at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday and is trying to recover from a back injury.
Several Colombian riders have tried to target Paris-Roubaix in the last 30 years but have often been dogged by bad luck. No Colombian has managed to leave their mark in the official race results, with all those who have so far tried, pulling out of the race before reaching the Roubaix velodrome.
The result archive reveals the stories of just four audacious Colombians who have started Paris-Roubaix: Martin “Cochise” Rodriguez who rode in 1973 with Team Bianchi, Néstor Mora in 1994, Julio Cesar Ortegón in 1995 and Víctor Hugo Peña in 2003 and 2004 (with Discovery Channel) and 2005 (with Phonak).
The pavé also wrecked Colombian hopes in the Tour de France, in 1983 and especially 1985, when GC outsider Luis Herrera lost 2:03 time to Bernard Hinault.
Contrary to most of his famous predecessors, Duque is more of a sprinter-puncheur than a true climber and even enjoys riding the Classics.
The International Cycling Union has announced that rider agents who wish to operate in cycling after January 1, 2012, will have to pass a three-hour written examination on the rules of the sport which be held in September.
The UCI Management Committee approved new rules last October regulating the role of rider agent with the aim to professionalise, standardise and better monitor their activity.
From 1st January 2012, anyone wishing to represent a rider from a team in a ProTeam or Professional Continental Team will have to have obtained a rider agent Licence from their National Federation. This request will only be accepted for agents who are already certified by the UCI, hence the need for agents to pass the written exam. The only people exempt from the new rule are riders’ lawyers and relatives.
The UCI has announced the exam will be held at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. The UCI will then publish a list of registered rider agents on its website.
The agents can chose to sit the exam in either English or French. The exam will test their understanding of UCI rules on a wide range of subjects including racing, betting and sponsorship. There will also be a section on new regulations concerning agents that the UCI will publish shortly.
Defending champion aims to bounce back after Flanders
As defending champion and race favourite, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) knows that all eyes will be on him at Paris-Roubaix and that limelight began at an eagerly anticipated press conference in Kortrijk, Belgium.
In these videos Cancellara talks about both last weekend’s Tour of Flanders where he missed out on defending his title and Paris-Roubaix, where he will be looking for his third win.
“For sure Paris-Roubaix is different,” he said, comparing Flanders and Roubaix.
“You’re riding over the cobblestones, riding the Hell of the North and that’s already a big difference from the Tour of Flanders, where you have climbs, so tactics-wise it makes things a bit different.
“I’m just looking forward to Roubaix, with all my experiences and passion for this race. I just want to enjoy it and get the best out of it. I’m ready and the team’s ready to show what we can do. It’s going to be a nice Sunday.”
At this stage last year Cancellara held a similar press...
The early part of the 2011 season hasn't gone as planned for Team NetApp, but Steven Cozza is looking forward to the team's WorldTour debut Sunday in Paris-Roubaix. It will be the American's third appearance in the “Hell of the North.”
“It's awesome. I love it. I love Roubaix,” he told Cyclingnews.
Cozza and his teammates were on the course Thursday, which he says is “always important.” He noted that, “they've changed it a bit this year after the Arenberg Forest. There are a couple more cobble sections. It will be a different race and I look forward to the change.”
He has ridden the race the last two years for his previous team, Garmin. “I learned that Roubaix is only good if you are feeling good. In 2009 I had really good legs and was in the break all day.
“In 2010 I didn't have good legs, and couldn't do anything. If you are not doing well, it is truly hell.”
Both Cozza and teammate Eric Baumann have ridden the elite race before, but it will be the Paris-Roubaix elite debut for the remaining riders of the young German team. “It's going to be a good learning experience. It will be an educational experience. Michael Baer won the junior version in 2005 and Baumann won the U23 version in 2000, but the pro race is much different,” Cozza told Cyclingnews.
“The distance is different, the pace is different, the way it is raced is different. It is a really good opportunity for some of the younger riders on the team.”
The key spot on the race is not Arenberg Forest, but the section just before it. “It is a...
The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) today suspended Mebane, North Carolina's Peter Cannell for doping.
37 year-old Cannell tested positive for the anabolic agent drostanolone in an out-of-competition test taken on April 16, 2010.
After being confronted by a USADA investigation, Cannell also admitted to previously using anabolics and forfeited all of his competitive results, prizes and points from February 6, 2007 onward.
The decision disqualifies Cannell from his 2009 national masters time trial championship, which should pass down to Ian Stanford of Winona, Minnesota. The 2008 masters title will now go to Eric Bean of Madison, Wisconsin and the 2007 masters road race title to Matthew Johnson of New Haven, Connecticut.
Cunego, Ballan, Rasmussen and Saronni among those named
The Mantova-based investigation into doping practices centred around Italian pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and the Lampre squad has concluded, and a judge will now decided whether to charge the 32 people named in the final report made by public prosecutor Antonino Condorelli.
The Gazzetta di Mantova and Tuttobiciweb.it list Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan, Michael Rasmussen and Lampre-ISD team manager Giuseppe Saronni as being among those who could face charges after being named in the inquiry. The suspected crimes are not specified in the reports but doping is illegal under Italian law.
The investigation centred around the sale and use of prohibited substances including EPO, ephedrine, testosterone and corticoids. Many of the Lamnpre riders used to travel from across Italy to see Nigrelli in Mantova.
According to Tuttobici, also among the 32 people risking trial include directeurs sportif Fabrizio Bontempi and Maurizio Piovani, and soigneur Fabio Della Torre. 13 Lampre past and present riders have also been named by Tuttobici: Cunego, Ballan, Marco Bandiera, Emanuele Bindi, Marzio Bruseghin, Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Gavazzi, Mirko Lorenzetto, Manuele Mori, Simone Ponzi, Mauro Santambrogio, Francesco Tomei and Daniele Pietropolli.
Ballan and Santambrogio, who now ride for BMC, were pulled from the squad’s roster ahead of the 2010 Paris-Rouabaix when news of the investigation first broke twelve months ago, although the pair were allowed to return to racing little over a month later. Ballan has been named as joint team leader for BMC at this year's Paris-Roubaix and has always denied any wrong doing, but the team has yet to comment on the news from Italy.
Everyone linked to the Lampre team has also denied the accusations in the past, with Nigrelli telling Gazzetta dello Sport last year that people from the team only purchased legal medicines from him.
Four-time winner criticises the current generation of ‘spoilt’ riders
Tom Boonen could win Paris-Roubaix for a fourth time on Sunday, equalling the record of Belgian classics legend Roger De Vlaeminck. But that is where the similarities between the two Flemish riders go, according to De Vlaeminck in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, who predicts that Fabian Cancellara, rather than Boonen, could be the first to match his record.
Just like during his career in the 1970s, De Vlaeminck is not afraid to speak his mind about the current generation of ‘spoilt’ riders. He described Filippo Pozzato as ‘too good looking to be a rider’ and revealed he prefers French-speaking Philippe Gilbert to fellow Flandrian Boonen.
“It’s about time, considering the record has lasted for 34 years,” De Vlaeminck said bluntly about Boonen’s chances of winning a fourth Paris-Roubaix.
“But I think Cancellara will beat the record before Boonen does. He can win on Sunday by dropping Boonen. I like Cancellara, he attacks and races with panache. Everyone rode against him at Flanders, even the mechanics of the other teams who wouldn’t give him a bottle. That was scandalous. But he was the strongest. Boonen is a good rider but he’s not as strong as he once was.”
De Vlaeminck refutes the idea that he and Boonen are very similar as riders.
“How can you say that? He can’t climb and can’t time trial. Cancellara is good at time trials but can’t climb, so neither of them are like me. I was more like Merckx…
“I was a bandit. If Boonen is the God of Belgian cycling, then I’m the devil.
“Our generation was classier, too. Look at Saronni? He won the Giro at...