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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 15, 2013

Date published:
February 15, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Martens outfoxes the sprinters at Algarve

    Stage 1 winner Paul Martens (Blanco Pro Cycling Team) earned the leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 2:46 GMT
    Cycling News

    Blanco teammate Bos powers over Cavendish to take bunch sprint

    Blanco Pro Cycling has continued to deliver results in the early part of the season with Paul Martens taking a crafty victory on the opening day at Volta ao Algarve. Martens' detailed knowledge of the technical finale gave him options and he choose wisely, outfoxing the sprinters, including his teammate Theo Bos by jumping clear with RadioShack Leopard's Tiago Machado inside the final kilometre.

    Martens and Machado just held off the charging peloton with Martens taking the win, Machado second and Bos winning the bunch sprint for third - with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) taking sixth in the hectic dash to the line. The 29-year-old Martens was unsurprisingly enjoying his first official outing of the year as he pulled on the race leader's jersey heading into tomorrow's 195km stage - which should end in another bunch sprint.

    "Despite being my first race of the year, I was well aware of the arrival of other years and knew I could win both as sprinter and as an attacker," said Martens to Biciciclismo.

    The team will no doubt enter the coming days with an extra level of confidence after notching up win number four with Tom-Jelte Slagter's stage and overall victory at Tour Down Under followed by Lars Boom's dominant time trial win at last week's Tour Méditerranéen.

    The Dutch squad continues to look for a sponsor to replace "Blanco" and the team has proved hungry to impress in the early months of the professional season.

    "I am not a guy who wins a...

  • Schleck on the comeback again at Tour du Haut Var-matin

    Andy Schleck struggles up Willunga Hill
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 4:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    RadioShack Leopard leader seeking end to early season woes

    Andy Schleck will once again make his return to the peloton when he lines-up this weekend at the two-day Tour du Haut Var-matin. The RadioShack Leopard rider has struggled to finish a race so far this year, recording DNF's at the Tour Down Under and barely starting the Tour Méditerranéen. This weekend will mark Schleck's third race of the year with the assumption he has recovered from his "breathing problems" experienced in France.

    Schleck appeared to be on the right track at the opening round of the WorldTour in Australia, putting himself in a domestique role and supporting his team throughout the race. He achieved little in terms of results but Schleck was excited to be in Adelaide. "To come here, mentally it was easy, really easy. I was counting the days to come here," he told Cyclingnews.

    The final stage should have been a walk in the park for Schleck after battling the tough week of racing but after experiencing a mechanical issue on the fast Adelaide City circuit and getting a bike change, Schleck never regained contact. His first DNF for the year.

    A few weeks later and the Tour Méditerranéen should have been the next stepping stone for the official winner of the 2010 Tour de France but he was forced to pull out on what was a relatively standard day.

    "This morning I already had breathing problems. Instead of getting better, it just got worse during the race because of the cold and the wind," he had explained on withdrawing after 104km of the opening stage.

    The weekend's race will be the next big test for Schleck who is still building up after breaking his sacrum at last year's...

  • Brailsford: I don't have two egos, they are two talents

    Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome will lead Sky's attack on the Grand Tours
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 5:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    New season, new objectives for Sky in 2013

    Sky Procycling's team principal Dave Brailsford says results in 2013 have little to do with the achievements of 2012. The biggest triumph is undoubtedly the Tour de France in what was a historic moment for Great Britain and its winner Bradley Wiggins. This time around however, it will be Chris Froome who is slated as the number-one rider at the Tour and it's a decision made by management, not the riders.

    "I don't have two egos [with Wiggins and Froome], they are two talents," Brailsford told Reuters.

    "With them, you have to be honest, to tell them how it's going to work, you have to have a form of authority and treat everyone as a rider," he added.

    The two proven grand tour leaders are currently competing at the Tour of Oman, where Froome took the race leader's jersey in yesterday's stage to Green Mountain. His former Tour leader Wiggins lays in 63rd-place, more than 10 minutes behind the lead of his teammate but the rider who also took Olympic gold in the time trial has his eyes on other goals this year, like winning the Giro d'Italia.

    "We have to consider that last season is just part of the past. We are now focused on a new season, new objectives. We start again from scratch with the same motivation, the same energy," said Brailsford.

    "Brad will ride the Giro and Chris focuses on the Tour. If everything goes well, Chris will be in good form on the Tour but we also hope that the five-week rest between the Giro and the Tour will...

  • BMC back Hushovd and Van Avermaet over Gilbert for Het Nieuwsblad

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) resplendent in the rainbow jersey at the Tour of Oman.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 8:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    World champion to ride GP di Lugano, Paris-Nice

    Philippe Gilbert will not start next weekend's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, with his BMC team instead deciding to give Thor Hushovd and Greg Van Avermaet the opportunity to lead at the spring opener in Belgium. Gibert is a two-time winner of the semi-classic (2006,2008), however, the reigning world champion's start to the year has been anything but quiet and he "can't ride everything", according to team director John Lelangue.

    The decision to leave Gilbert at home is only for a day as he is now scheduled to ride the GP di Lugano in Switzerland - which comes the day following Het Nieuwsblad. Meanwhile, the Belgian squad may be able to rely on another former winner to take the reins with Hushovd, who won the title in 2009. Leadership from Hushovd appears uncertain at this time as he continues to build his condition after struggling with illness for most of last season.

    "Our priorities will be Greg Van Avermaet and Thor Hushovd," said Lelangue to

    "Philippe cannot ride everything. We have adjusted his program this season compared to last year. He launched [the year] in Australia and now Oman. Through the GP Lugano he will go to Paris-Nice in preparation for Milan-San Remo," he explained.

    Van Avermaet could well prove to be the outright leader when the 198.6km Belgian semi-classic begins on 23 February. Van Avermaet was already part of the winning time trial team at the Tour of Qatar and he finished it off with sixth overall. He's currently at the Tour of Oman, where he finish second behind Peter...

  • CAS orders WorldTour licence for Katusha

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) after winning the Green Mountain stage in Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 10:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Licence Commission 's ethical grounds dismissed

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld Team Katusha's appeal of the UCI's decision not to issue the Russian team a WorldTour licence.

    “According to the CAS decision, the application of Katusha Management SA to be registered as a UCI ProTeam for the season 2013 of the UCI World Tour is granted.”

    The UCI's Licence Commission had denied the Katusha licence application in December on “ethical grounds”. The team appealed that decision to the CAS, asking that the UCI decision be reversed. The UCI awarded a Professional Continental licence to the team on January 14, allowing it to race.

    The CAS did not release its reasoning, but said that in its deliberations, it “did not reach the same conclusions as the UCI Licensing Commission.” Therefore, the CAS ruled that Katusha must be given the WorldTour licence for 2013.

    The grounds for the decision will be released “in a few weeks”, CAS stated.

    Igor Makarov, the head of the Russian Global Cycling Project and president of the Russian Cycling Federation, welcomed the news.

    "We can confidently say, that the whole world’s sports community followed the situation of Katusha Team during the last weeks. Katusha Team received a lot of sympathy and support out of different circles: sports officials and the trustees of the Russian Global Cycling Project as well as famous athletes, mass-media and fans. On behalf of both, Katusha Team and the whole Project I would like to express our deep gratefulness to all, who sincerely empathized, hoped and believed that the justice will be restored! This CAS decision is absolutely objective and justified. This proves once again the impartiality of the supreme juridical body of the world of sports."

    Earlier in the year CAS had rejected Katusha's application for an

  • Schleck to skip Haut Var and train in Mallorca

    A relaxed Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) before the start.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 11:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    RadioShack rider not ready to race

    Andy Schleck will not race this weekend’s Tour du Haut Var-Matin, with the RadioShack leader instead choosing to train in Mallorca. Schleck has raced once this season at the Tour Méditerranéen but abandoned on stage one, citing illness.

    It prompted Schleck's team management to defend him after l'Equipe suggested that his comeback from injury is being hit by a lack of motivation rather than a lack of fitness.

    He crashed out the Dauphine last June and missed the Tour de France. His brother Fränk was forced to quit the race after testing positive for Xipamide and subsequently received a one-year ban. Meanwhile, Andy has struggled for form and fitness and has failed to finish a race since the 2012 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

    "We were happy to see Andy doing well in training the last few days,” explained team manager Luca Guercilena. “There is however a big difference between training and race situations. We want to prevent a relapse because of the race. Andy’s main goals are situated later in the season. It’s better that we are cautious now instead of taking steps backward.”

    Schleck is expected to part in the Grand Premio Città di Camaiore, on February 28.

  • Contador goes down fighting in Oman

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 13:33 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard attacks Froome but loses the sprint for stage victory

    Alberto Contador shook his head after being beaten by Chris Froome at  the Tour of Oman, knowing that he had almost certainly lost any chance of victory in the six-day race, despite going on the attack yet again.

    The Team Saxo-Tinkoff leader is always hungry for success. He had hinted that 25 seconds were perhaps too much to pull back after stage four to Green mountain but then went on the attack on the three short, steep climbs that filled the final 50km of stage five.

    He knew that time bonuses of 3-2-1 seconds were available at the summit of the final climb, with 10-6-4 seconds available at the finish and was hoping to isolate Froome and gain enough time to perhaps snatch overall victory. It was an excellent if audacious plan but Team Saxo-Tinkoff placed Jesus Hernandez in the break of the day, forcing Team Sky to chase hard and then launched attacks on the last two climbs of the stage.

    A 16-rider group formed after the first attack and then Contador got a gap on the third and final climb. However Froome did not panic and had Richie Porte there to help him bring Contador under control on the climb.

    Contador seemed to forget that it is still only February and was slightly perplexed that his legs did not have his usual sustained rush of speed. On both stage four and five he jumped away several times but was unable to sustain his speed and was caught.

    "It's been a real battle today," Contador said.

    "Coming to a race and treating it as if it was a training ride is not something that I can do. I couldn't just sit in the bunch and do nothing. Attacking, is my style but you've got to have the legs to do it."

    "I attacked on the second climb to whittle down the front group, then I attacked on the third...

  • Eijssen sees Oman results as confirmation of good form

    Yannick Eijssen (BMC).
    Article published:
    February 15, 2013, 17:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC Belgian ready to move on from domestique duties

    No one was more surprised at Yannick Eijssen's tenth place finish in the Tour of Oman queen stage Thursday than the BMC rider himself. “I did not know I could do this,” he said.

    "I trained this winter, from November on,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “It was good, but this was the first real chance to prove myself. I am very happy that I now have confirmation.”

    Normally a domestique, he was given a free hand on Thursday to ride for himself. “Today we told him to just climb," said team leader John Lelangue. "He only had to look out for himself, without getting drinking bottles.”

    His teammates congratulated him and also pointed out the rider's weaknesses. Michael Schär told him, “'You see.If only you believe in yourself,” and Philippe Gilbert pointed out that “Yannick does not always have confidence in himself."

    One problem is that he feels he is overweight. At 174 cm he weighs only 61 kg, “but I would like to drop two pounds. But I already weigh less than last season. In the Vuelta I was 62.”

    The 23-year-old took on his first grand tour last year, completing the Vuelta a Espana. Team leader John Lelangue called it “ a very big step. It was a very different experience for him. He is a complete rider.”