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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, December 20, 2013

Date published:
December 20, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Lotto-Belisol team launch

    The new Lotto-Belisol team kit on display
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 9:12 GMT
    José Been

    Belgian team strengthens its squad before ambitious 2014

    Lotto-Belisol launched its WorldTour, women's UCI team and U23 squad in the football stadium of AA Ghent on Thursday night. Team manager Marc Sergeant was very clear about his expectations for next season.

    "Things need to be better next year. In our perception, and that of our sponsors and fans, last year was not good compared to 2012 when we had three stage wins with André Greipel and a fourth place in the overall of the Tour de France. A win in a major Classic is a must in 2014." 

    That's why the Belgian team strengthened both its men's and women's teams considerably. It said goodbye to ten riders and welcomed nine new riders to the team: Sander Armée (Topsport Vlaanderen), Kris Boeckmans and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM), Tony Gallopin and Maxime Monfort (Radioshack-Leopard), Vegard Breen (Joker-Merida), Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Belisol U23), Boris Vallée (Color Code-Biowanze) and Sean de Bie (Leopard-Trek).

    The women's team only kept three of its 2013 team and welcomed former Flèche Wallonne winner Emma Pooley, former Belgian champion Liesbeth de Vocht from Rabobank and Australian rider Amy Cure among others. 

    The theme of the presentation and that of the three teams throughout 2014 is Live the dream. It's printed prominently on the new team kit. "My dream is to win a Classic," team manager Sergeant said. "But we saw that relying on one rider like Jürgen Roelandts who had flat tyres at crucial moments, or in the Tour de France on Jurgen van den Broeck makes us vulnerable. That's why we are happy with signing Tony Gallopin who already proved he can win a Classic in San Sebastian."

    Apart from the Tour de France, the Belgian team never had a contender for a...

  • Andy Schleck unfazed by Froome's 2013 performances

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard)
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 10:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    "He impresses me less than Quintana"

    Andy Schleck has said that he was not overawed by Chris Froome’s performances in the mountains at this year’s Tour de France, pointing out that he had ridden comparable times on the same climbs at the 2009 and 2010 editions of the race.

    After a troubled start to the season, Schleck finished the 2013 Tour in 20th place overall, over 41 minutes down on Froome, but he is determined to recapture his former level in the colours of Trek Factory Racing next season.

    “He [Froome] is very strong, but he was only seven seconds quicker up Ax-3 Domaines this year than I was in 2010,” Schleck told L’Équipe. “And the previous year, on the Ventoux, I went up as quickly as he did this year, after I had attacked at the bottom and then ridden stop-start at the finish.

    “Those are only indications but Froome doesn’t amaze me any more than that. His acceleration is very strong; after that, he goes up like it’s a time trial with a strange style… He impresses me less than [Nairo] Quintana.”

    The 28-year-old Schleck told L’Équipe that he has “five or six” Tours left in his career and that his ambition remains “to win the Tour again by finishing in yellow on the Champs-Élysées.” Asked if he counted the 2010 Tour, awarded to him following Alberto Contador’s positive test for clenbuterol, Schleck said that he had mixed feelings.

    “Yes and no… I should have beaten Contador, I was stronger than him. I was in yellow when he attacked me on Port de Bales when my chain slipped. Was that deliberate? I wasn’t sure. Contador was attacking everywhere, without warning.”

    Schleck also dismissed the rumours of a problem...

  • Rogers denies knowingly using Clenbuterol

    Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) celebrates his solo victory in the Japan Cup
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 10:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian proposes contaminated meat as explanation for positive test

    Michael Rogers has denied that he knowingly used Clenbuterol and has pointed to the possible consumption of contaminated meat during the Tour of Beijing as an explanation for his positive test.

    The UCI announced on Wednesday that Rogers had returned an adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol following his victory at the Japan Cup on October 20. The Saxo-Tinkoff rider had raced at the Tour of Beijing before travelling to Japan.

    “I would like to make it very clear, in the strongest terms possible that I have never knowingly or deliberately ingested Clenbuterol,” Rogers said in a statement released on Friday morning.

    “I can advise that during the period 8th-17th October, before arriving in Japan, I was present in China for the WorldTour race, Tour of Beijing. I understand that it has been acknowledged by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as well as other anti-doping bodies, that food contaminated with Clenbuterol is a serious problem in China.”

    The Australian’s case was one of two Clenbuterol positives announced by the UCI on Wednesday. Jonathan Breyne (Crelan-Euphony) returned an adverse analytical finding for the substance during another Chinese race, the Tour of Taihu Lake, on November 5.

    In late November 2011 WADA issued a warning about concerns of contaminated meat and "re-emphasized the need for athletes to exercise extreme caution with regards to eating meat when traveling to competitions in China and Mexico."

    Rogers’ Saxo-Tinkoff team leader Alberto Contador proposed contaminated meat as a defence for his positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, but the claim was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in February...

  • Alonso meets Cookson to discuss plans for new team

    Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso was on hand at the start of the elite men's world championship race
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 11:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    WorldTour status "of secondary importance" to F1 driver

    Fernando Alonso has met with UCI president Brian Cookson and discussed his plans to start a team in 2015. The encounter came as Cookson presented the WorldTour winners’ trophies to Joaquim Rodríguez and Team Movistar at a ceremony in Madrid on Thursday.

    Also at the meeting were the director general of the Higher Council for Sports (CSD), Ana Muñoz, Spanish Federation president José Luis López Cerrón and Alonso’s manager Luis García Abad. After speaking with Cookson, Alonso acknowledged that WorldTour status would not be a necessity for his team in 2015.

    "It was a very positive meeting,” Alonso told Spanish newspaper AS. “It seems of secondary importance for this project to be in the WorldTour in 2015. With the great team that we’re going to have, we are going to be assured of being in the best races.”

    Alonso had hoped to have a team for 2014 when he planned on buying the WorldTour licence from Euskaltel-Euskadi, but negotiations collapsed in late September. Kiko García, who is set to head up the new Alonso team, is equally ambitious. However, if a proposed new reduction of the WorldTour to 16 teams comes into effect in 2015, it might prevent them from securing a WorldTour licence in their first year.

    With this in mind, Alonso is confident that he can secure wildcard entry into the Vuelta a España and AS reports that he has has also travelled to talk with Tour organisers ASO. He and García hope to build a team strong enough to gain entry into some of...

  • Gallery: Omega Pharma-QuickStep prepare for 2014

    Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish are the marquee names on Omega Pharma-QuickStep's roster.
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 12:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Cavendish, Boonen and Martin on road and track in Spain

    In summer, Costa Blanca is besieged by holidaymakers from northern Europe. In winter, it is the turn of professional cyclists. Omega Pharma-QuickStep is one of the many teams who have chosen Spain’s east coast for their winter training camp, choosing Oliva as its base.

    Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, Tony Martin and new signing Rigoberto Uran were among the riders who participated in the camp, which sport and development manager Rolf Aldag explained was a chance for the team to bond as well as to train.

    “Sure, there is hard work at this training camp, but it's not like we are in the final period before an important race. It's not super stressful. We wanted the riders to do some physical work, and then really spend time together,” said Aldag.

    Out on the road, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team trained in two three-day blocks split by a rest day. Aldag explained that the reasoning behind this schedule was both physiological and psychological.

    "We wanted to always give a workload to the body of each rider so it would get stronger and stronger," Aldag said. "But in order to do that we wanted to also give them a chance to recover in between. The first day it was a motivation thing. Everyone was really just looking forward to doing work on the bike. The second day the tiredness set in a little — a little muscle soreness — but they knew there was only one more day before they could stay in bed and their brain could shut off and relax.”

    The team also availed of Oliva’s proximity to Valencia to fit in a day of equipment testing on the Luis Puig Velodrome. For Mark Cavendish and Zdenek Stybar, this was a chance to refine the work they had carried out in the wind tunnel at Specialized’s Morgan Hill, California site last month.

    “With Specialized we had a structured plan for these guys in mid-November, and now we're back on the track to confirm what we had seen in the wind tunnel....

  • 2013 Reader Poll: Tour de France voted best stage race

    The winner of the 100th Tour de France, Sky's Chris Froome
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 13:51 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    Grand Tours clear favourites with Giro second, Vuelta third

    For the second year running and 11th year in total, Cyclingnews readers have voted the French grand tour the best stage race of the year. The 100th edition of the Grand Boucle was a clear winner in the poll while the other grand tours of 2013 rounded off the podium.

    After dominating the traditional pre-Tour stage races, Chris Froome became the first rider born in Africa to win the Tour de France. In a show of strength, Froome won three stages and became the first rider since Eddy Merckx to win atop Mont Ventoux wearing the maillot jaune.

    While the race also saw an exciting GC battle between Froome, Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriquez, there were several highlights scattered across the three-week race.

    One of the defining images of the 100th Tour was the Orica-GreenEdge bus wedged underneath the gantry of the stage one finish line. With a flat stage opening the race, sprinters such as Mark Cavendish and André Greipel were chasing the yellow jersey and a stage win. The race was thrown into chaos with the finish line moved then moved back to its original place, causing a mass pile-up and derailing the favourites.

    Marcel Kittel won the depleted sprint for the first of four stage wins as he mounted a serious challenge to Mark Cavendish's title as the world's fastest man. The sprint classification was an exciting affair with Kittel, Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan all taking stage wins. Sagan lacked the top end speed of Kittel but rode a tactical race to win his second consecutive green jersey.

    While many would have looked at Stage 13 and thought an afternoon nap was more exciting, it proved to be one of the most decisive days of racing in a grand tour in recent memory. Saxo-Tinkoff, Belkin and Omega Pharma-Quick Step all put the hammer down in the crosswinds to form a break. Alejandro Valverde was the biggest loser on the day as Belkin capitalised on the Spaniard's ill-judged wheel change.

  • Jürgen Roelandts dreams about Tour of Flanders victory

    Jurgen Roelandts leads the Lotto Belisol squad down the Arenberg trench
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 15:41 GMT
    José Been

    Belgian rider starts seventh season with Lotto-Belisol

    Jurgen Roelandts is one of Lotto-Belisol’s aces for the Spring Classics' campaign. The 28-year-old Belgian finished third in this year’s Tour of Flanders but knew there was nothing more to be gained there.

    “I did everything right that day, but [Fabian] Cancellara and [Peter] Sagan were stronger. I went to sleep that night without any regrets," he said.

    The Tour of Flanders remains the dream of many racers in the world, especially if they are from Flanders. “I used to train a lot near Meerbeke, on the old course,” Roelandts told Cyclingnews at the Lotto-Belisol team launch in Gent. “It remains my life-long dream to win it one day.”

    Roelandts finds some formidable foes on the Flemish roads. “Cancellara, Sagan and Boonen are in a league of their own, but I am not beaten before the race starts. If you look at 2011, when Nick Nuyens won the Tour of Flanders and Johan Vansummeren triumphed in Roubaix, you see that these things are also possible. And if I arrive at the finish with Sagan and Cancellara, I can beat them in a direct sprint.”

    The soft spoken Belgian has been riding since he was 12 years old but he keeps learning every year. “The times that I did endless training hours just to accumulate the kilometres are over. I changed my training methods which are now more directed towards quality rather than mere quantity.”

    Roelandts is getting older and more experienced as a bike rider, but in his case his crash in the 2012 Tour Down Under is also a determining factor in his career. He broke a vertebra in his neck in the first stage and...

  • 2013 Report Card: Team Belkin

    Moreno Hofland wins the uphill sprint ahead of Belkin teammate Lars Boom
    Article published:
    December 20, 2013, 17:08 GMT
    José Been

    New sponsor and best Grand Tour result in years for Dutch team

    Team Belkin 2013
    WorldTour Ranking: 11th of 19
    Win Count: 38
    Top riders: Bauke Mollema (17th), Robert Gesink (35th), Wilco Kelderman (38th), Tom Jelte Slagter (39th), Sep Vanmarcke (63rd)
    Grade: C

    It was a turbulent year for Team Belkin. With Rabobank leaving the sport [for elite men's racing] after 16 years of sponsorship, team management was left with no sponsor and no name to put on the jerseys before the start of the season. In January, the team was branded Blanco and remained funded by Rabobank who didn’t forsake their financial obligations. It rode under the Blanco banner until American electronics company Belkin stepped in to sponsor the Dutch team just before the Tour de France.

    With 38 wins, Belkin had a very successful season though over 25 percent of these victories were obtained in the Tour of Hainan, where Theo Bos and Moreno Hofland had a clean sweep by winning all nine stages and the overall classification. Belkin finished the season as number 11 on the UCI WorldTour ranking. 

    There were victories for 15 out of the 29 riders with some for hard working domestiques like Maarten Tjallingii in the World Ports Classic, Jos van Emden in the Münsterland Giro and Tom Leezer in the Tour of Langkawi.

    Paul Martens won his first short stage race in the Tour of Luxembourg while Tom Jelte Slagter, Lars Boom, Wilco Kelderman and Moreno Hofland all won overall classifications in the Tour Down Under, Ster ZLM Tour, the Tour of Denmark and the Tour of Hainan respectively.

    Slagter’s win Down Under was the first under the new Blanco banner and one of five WorldTour victories this season. Mark Renshaw took a solid victory in the Eneco Tour while Robert Gesink showed again that he is very strong on Canadian soil. After his 2010 victory in...