- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 00:06
- Pat Malach
Andreu looking forward to season with Mancebo in lead
The 5-hour Energy/Kenda team has officially fired up its 2013 season with a week-long training camp in Dahlonega, Georgia, about 65 miles north of Atlanta on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachian Range.
The team is a combination of the former Kenda/5-hour Energy squad run by Inferno Racing and the Competitive Cyclist team run by On the Rivet Management, which absorbed Inferno Racing during the off-season and will run the newly branded 5-hour Energy/Kenda outfit. Former 12-year professional rider and television commentator Frankie Andreu will direct the 10-rider 2013 roster.
“We're hanging around at the dinner tables and sharing stories, and there's a lot of laughing, which is good,” said Andreu, who led the 2012 Kenda/5-hour Energy team to 47 victories last season, the most wins for any men’s team on the National Race Calendar. “It's a loose-knit group and I like to keep it that way and then flip that switch when they get on the bike. So it's relax and then high performance.”
The 2013 team brings together four riders from last year's Competitive Cyclist team and five riders from the 2012 Kenda/5-hour Energy squad. Coming to the team from Competitive Cyclist are Francisco Mancebo, Max Jenkins, Taylor Shelden and David Williams. Nate English, Shawn Milne, Bobby Sweeting, Jim Stemper and Greg Brandt represent the Kenda contribution to the team. The addition of 22-year-old Christian Parrett, a former US U23 national team rider who in 2010 was on Team Sprocket, Magnus Backstedt's Swedish Continental squad, rounds out the current roster.
“It's a consolidation of the two teams,” Andreu said. “So we looked at the budget that we had, which was a factor, the race schedule, which was a factor, and which types of riders were on each of the squads that we could kind of consolidate together to have a good squad for what we are trying to go after – and we're trying to go after the NRC.”
Focus on stage racing, Mancebo
With two-time and current NRC individual champ Mancebo now leading the 5-hour Energy charge, Andreu's squad appears to be in a good position to go after USA Cycling's domestic stage racing prize. The 36-year-old former Spanish national champion took GC wins at the Cascade Cycling Classic and the Joe Martin Stage Race on his way to topping the NRC individual rankings last year. He also scored a victory at the one-day Tour of the Battenkill, which is no longer on the NRC schedule.
“Mancebo is going to be our guy,” Andreu said. “But at the same time I think we have a couple guys behind him, who if they get in the right move or something doesn't go right, they can definitely step up and get into that winning position. We have Mancebo, but we also have Nate English, and there's Max Jenkins. I mean my list goes on when I talk about the climbers and time trialists I have. I have a lot of them.”
The 5-hour Energy/Kenda team, which was built entirely around stage-racing success, will have multiple options going into races, Andreu said, but having a leader the caliber of Mancebo helps focus the squad's efforts and goals.
“The benefit of having someone like Mancebo is that the whole team is very focused,” Andreu said. “Everyone is on the same page; they know exactly what is expected of them and who they're working for. And that can pay off with huge benefits in everybody lining up the right way, and the teamwork and communication all going toward trying to help Mancebo win.”
But not every race and effort will be aimed at winning the general classification. In sprinters Milne and Williams, Andreu said, he hopes to have to options for the fast finishing bunch sprints in individual stages and for competing at select criteriums in markets that may be important to the team's sponsors.
“So we have opportunities there, too,” Andreu said. “It's not only about the finish or the overall.”
And although it's a high priority, the team's stage racing goals are not just limited to the NRC.
“Obviously we want to win the NRC again with somebody from the 5-hour Energy/Kenda team,” Andreu said. “And, like everybody – I mean everybody says this – but obviously a large goal is to try and get into [The Amgen Tour of] California, [The Larry H. Miller Tour of] Utah and [USA Pro Challenge in] Colorado and be competitive there.”
Andreu looking forward to season with Mancebo
Like Andreu, Mancebo honed his racing intelligence and skills on the world's biggest cycling stages. Mancebo finished in the top five of the Tour de France multiple times and was the Tour's Best Young Rider in 2000. He won a stage of the 2005 Vuelta a España and finished third in the general classification, making the podium there for the second consecutive year.
But he was implicated in Operación Puerto while riding for the French AG2R Prévoyance team and was pulled from the 2006 Tour de France on the eve of the race – although he has never been sanctioned by any governing body. He disappeared from racing for a short time and returned with Relax-GAM, Rock Racing and Heraklion Kastro-Murcia. He signed with On the Rivet's UCI Continental team under the title sponsor ship of first RealCyclist.com in 2011 and then Competitive Cyclist last year.
Mancebo has been fairly quiet about his previous career in Europe and his quick departure, choosing instead to focus on his new achievements in the US. Andreu, on the other hand, has been an outspoken critic of cycling's bleak recent past, and along with his wife, Betsy, was an integral part of the USADA case against former US Postal service teammate Lance Armstrong. Despite their obvious differences, Andreu said, the director has no issues working with his new team leader.
“He's been with On the Rivet Management for two or three years,” Andreu said. “They've had plenty of discussions with him and he's had plenty of discussions. I've seen the team's handbook, and I personally led a session about anti-doping, racing clean and the future of our sport. On the Rivet Management did the same thing, and Mancebo is on board with that.
“So as we move forward this year and years beyond, this team stands for clean cycling,” Andreu said. “We want to do things that help the sport. Mancebo's on board with that, and all the riders are on board with that. So I look forward to working with him.”
Early season racing in Spain
The team will race together officially for the first time at the San Dimas Stage Race March 22-24 and then the NRC-opening Redlands Bicycle Classic east of Los Angeles April 4-7. But the big early season motivation will be a trip to Spain after Redlands.
“It's one of the key markets for 5-hour Energy, so we're trying to meet those expectations, and obviously, it's going to be a big step up for the riders,” Andreu said. “Many of them will be going to race in Europe for the very first time. So everybody's excited. After that we'll come back and, fingers crossed, we want to do well at the Amgen Tour of California. It's a huge market, and with our stage racing focus, obviously we'd like to go there.”
But for this week the team will focus on getting used to the new bikes, clothing and shoes, as well as the unseasonably cold weather at camp. Andreu said the area provides “tons and tons” of climbing, but he's only been able to get a brief glimpse of the new squad's potential power. Even so, riders are already standing out.
“Everything is so new you can't just go out and hammer,” Andreu said. “So we've only done one hard day, and Mancebo was strong, Nate English was strong, I mean my whole team looked pretty good. But Taylor Sheldon impressed me, plain and simple. Some of the other riders I expected; I kind of know what to expect from them, but Taylor impressed me.”
The 5-hour Energy/Kenda training camp will culminate Friday night with an official team presentation in Atlanta. Tickets are available to the public for $15 in advance,$20 at the door, and benefit the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 08:59
- Barry Ryan
Decries personal element in acrimony
Not since the halcyon era of the 1980s did Irish cycling enjoy a day comparable to Thursday. Shortly after the official confirmation that Belfast would host the start of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, Martyn Irvine claimed Ireland’s first gold medal at the track world championships in 117 years by winning the scratch race in Minsk, scarcely an hour after he had taken silver in the individual pursuit.
Of course, some of Irish cycling’s most notable figures have already claimed their share of column inches in the international press in recent months, albeit for quite different reasons. Pat McQuaid’s position as UCI president has been called into question in the wake of the Lance Armstrong affair and no small amount of the pressure has been applied by two of his fellow countrymen, Paul Kimmage and David Walsh.
The positions of McQuaid and Kimmage are particularly entrenched. Where McQuaid defiantly defends his record as UCI president, Kimmage forms a vocal part of a lobby demanding his removal. Where McQuaid launched libel proceedings – since suspended – against Kimmage for his journalistic output, Kimmage has lodged a criminal complaint against the UCI in a Swiss court.
Stephen Roche has known both men since the 1970s – the Roche, McQuaid and Kimmage families are steeped in Dublin cycling tradition – and the former Giro and Tour de France winner believes that there is a personal element to the acrimony between McQuaid and Kimmage.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s a bit personal and it’s unfortunate that it’s been aired in the press, the laundry’s been aired in public,” Roche told Cyclingnews in Belfast. “After a while, you have to say, ‘let’s get on with things, let’s find someone else to throw stones at.’ Maybe Paul feels Pat has hurt him, while Pat feels Paul and David have hurt him.”
Darach McQuaid – the younger brother of Pat – was instrumental in bringing the Giro start to Ireland, and he asked Roche to help the bid in an ambassadorial capacity. Roche acknowledged his own long-standing relationship with the McQuaid family, but he was adamant in his support of Pat McQuaid as UCI president.
“First of all, I would say: find someone better than Pat,” Roche said. “I don’t think you can find someone out there who has more passion than Pat. Maybe there were some mistakes made. The UCI is a federation but it’s also a business and what businessman hasn’t made mistakes to help the company work better?
“Now I’m not saying that Pat has made mistakes, but maybe some of the decisions could be debated today. But at the same time, let’s not forget the good Pat has done for cycling in the past number of years since he’s been in power. You can’t throw away all the good things he’s done, like the biological passport, and just look at the bad things.”
While Roche maintains cordial ties with the McQuaids, his friendship with Kimmage was ruptured following the publication of Rough Ride in 1990. Kimmage’s seminal autobiography outlined the doping culture in cycling in the 1980s and Roche admits now that it was a message ought to have been heeded far sooner.
“Looking back, you could say Paul and David have done a lot of ‘harm’ to cycling but they harmed it to make it better, if you know what I mean,” Roche said. “Initially, they were voicing a lot of negative stories about cycling, but maybe if people had looked to what they were saying years ago – myself included – then maybe this whole thing could have been a five year saga rather than a fifteen year saga.”
When Rough Ride first hit the shelves 23 years ago, however, Roche poured scorn on the book’s claims regarding doping in a column in the Irish Times, to the chagrin of Kimmage. Asked if he now regretted that reaction, Roche said: “I’ve said it on numerous occasions and I’ve said it in public: yes, my reaction to Rough Ride was as a young kid hot off the block and I didn’t really know what was going on.”
“If what has come out in the last few months hadn’t come out, I’d still have thought Paul had exaggerated a bit in his book,” Roche continued. “But now I see with what’s come out that I definitely had my head in the sand. And I regret that we didn’t give Paul more space at the time, that we didn’t listen to him and react. But I took it that this was a little guy with a chip on his shoulder who didn’t make it and was kind of relieving himself of all this crap.
“The only thing I won’t take back is that these guys got a lot out of cycling: it wasn’t all negative. I cannot comprehend someone who got so much from cycling going out and being so harsh with something that’s given him everything he has. That was my main issue with it then, and it is today even now.”
There is some divergence, too, in Roche and Kimmage’s views on cycling’s next steps in the wake of the Armstrong affair. While Kimmage is among the faction in favour of the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Roche is more circumspect on the prospect.
“The in thing today is coming out. Many guys just feel they have to go and tell the world they took stuff during their career. I think it’s a bit unfortunate. Is this system the solution? Getting everything out there and moving on? I don’t know. I don’t know what the solution is.”
- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 09:31
- Cycling News
Says RadioShack-Leopard rider didn't work enough in off-season
The head of the Luxembourg Cycling Federation has doubts about Andy Schleck's chances of making a successful comeback frtom injury in 2013, saying “right now it doesn't look good. All the evidence indicates that Andy this winter simply didn't work and train enough.”
Jean Regenwetter told Wort.lu: “Andy let things get away from him in training the last two years. He must pull himself together, otherwise he can just write off the 2013 season right now.”
The younger Schleck brother's talent is not enough, Regenwetter said. “Andy has a good engine but such a engine wants to be used and tested to its limits. When a top athlete's muscles are not used, they go to sleep.”
Schleck has had limited racing so far this season. He began the year at the Tour Down Under but abandoned on the sixth stage. His only other race was the Tour de Med, which he abandoned on the first stage due to a breathing problem.
It is not too late for the RadioShack-Leopard captain to save his season, Regenwetter said. “There is enough time before the Tour de France for him to find his old strength. And Andy is someone who can quickly throw the switch when his season highlight nears.”
He must not wait too long, though. “Contador, Froome or Rodriguez have already shown that they are in good shape. Andy is running behind and that is never a good sign.”
Regenwetter said Fränk's doping problem has not helped, but should not be an excuse. “His brother's suspension surely didn't help Andy. But to be honest, Andy should already have trained before the decision was announced.
“As is often said, there's always hope. Andy can still change things around.”
After deciding to miss the Tour du Haut Var-Matin, Schleck headed to Mallorca to train. He is expected to part in the Grand Premio Città di Camaiore, in Tuscany on February 28.
- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 10:51
- Stephen Farrand
Former rider wants a velvet revolution at the European Cycling Union
Andrei Tchmil has told Cyclingnews that he has no plans to challenge Pat McQuaid for the role of UCI President in September, insisting his only short-term goal is to become the next president of the European Cycling Union (UEC).
The former classics winner and Katusha team manager published a detailed manifesto in January, promising to defend the interests of European cycling and help develop the sport on every level, especially in Eastern Europe.
Elections will be held on March 3 in Paris at the UEC annual general meeting. Tchmil's only rival is David Lappartient – the president of the French Cycling Federation. The ambitious Frenchman reportedly has the tacit support of the UCI but Tchmil has tried to undermine his rival's campaign by questioning his impartiality and dedication to the role.
Speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews, Tchmil insisted he no longer has a working relation with Russian Oligarch Igor Makarov, who has bankrolled the Katusha team and the Global Cycling Project designed to develop Russian cycling.
"I want to make it clear once and for all, that I've no plans to run for the position of UCI president in September because my objective is to become president of the European Cycling Union," Tchmil told Cyclingnews.
"My programme is a serious proposal about what I want to do for cycling in Europe and how I want to strengthen the role of the UEC. Europe is the birthplace of cycling and deserves more respect. 85% of professional races are held in Europe and more has to be done to protect and develop them."
Tchmil is wealthy after his long and successful career that spanned between 1989 and 2002. He was the minister for Sport in his home country of Moldova for a while but has always preferred to live near Lake Garda in Italy.
"I've made choices in life that have always linked to cycling. I was the first Soviet rider to turn professional, I was able to get some good results, I was able to direct the Global Cycling Project to help develop Russian cycling. I don’t see why I can’t do something to help cycling now. I'm ready to work hard and give something back," he said.
A European Tour
To protect European races, Tchmil has proposed a European Tour, grouping together all the major European races that aren't on the UCI WorldTour calendar. He appears willing to share the TV and sponsor revenue and combine resources between the organisers and teams.
"At the moment if a race isn’t part of the WorldTour it's risking extinction. I think we need to create a European circuit, with different rules, where the organisers, teams and riders have a totally new and different kind of agreement," he explained.
Any new race series would threaten the UCI's control of the sport. Tchmil treads carefully when talking about the UCI but is ready to stand up to McQuaid in the interests of European cycling.
"There's no conflict with the UCI. The races already exist and so we've only got to reevaluate them," he claimed.
"The UCI is the global governing body and so can't represent the interests of a single continent. I think the UCI understands the importance of European cycling. I believe the UCI should have protected the European races more as the sport has developed in the last 20 years. Not every race should be on the same level."
"I'm not a threat to the UCI, I want to work with the UCI, but I'm not afraid to stand up to them either. I learnt in life that if you don’t ask for things, you don’t get them."
Despite the UCI's failings, Tchmil is happy to defend McQuaid, preferring to lead a velvet revolution in European cycling, rather than spark an aggressive confrontation.
"McQuaid has done a lot for cycling and given it a lot more credibility thanks to the biological passport, out of competition controls and medical rules," Tchmil said.
"Everyone talks all the time and gives their point of view now. But the question is, where were all these people four years ago? The UCI is a democratic organisation. If they weren't happy with him as a candidate, they could have voted a different person before the Armstrong case exploded. But they didn't."
Tchmil's own position and his own ethics could be called into doubt and raise questions about his suitability for an important role in sports politics. He was the team manager at Katusha for three years, building the team from scratch. He claims the team's current ethical problems and the refusal of the UCI licence Commission to give the team WorldTour licence have nothing to do with him.
"I'm haven’t been part of the Katusha team since November 2011. I'm not in contact with (team owner) Igor Makarov, even if people try to link me to him and his plans. I'm doing my own thing, my own election strategy and I don’t want to be linked to the mercenary way that he finances a candidate," Tchmil said.
"When I was the manager, Katusha was the first team to introduce fines of five times a rider's salary if they tested positive. I left the team in November 2011 and the internal rule was abandoned…."
"I've got my opinion on what's happened at Katusha but I'm not going share it with anyone at the moment. It could be seen as a vendetta but it's not. What happened is strange. We'll see how it all works out but it's a pity because it also affects the development of Russian cycling. The structure was in place, now it's falling apart."
- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 11:10
- Cycling News
Cyclingnews complete live coverage of Nieuwsblad and Kuurne
Snow is predicted on Sunday for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and it could have an effect on the race, with climbs possibly being taken out of route, the organisers have said.
No matter what the weather, Cyclingnews will be there to bring you every minute of the action. Our live coverage will start at 11:30 Saturday for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and at 12:15 Sunday for Kuurne-Brüssels-Kurrne.
Race organisers will make a decision on Kuurne on Saturday afternoon, said Geert Penez to Het Nieuwsblad. “If there is snow expected on Sunday, we will have an alternative route. The 'hellingen' will be taken out and we will just go over major roads. It deals with La Houppe (Vloesberg), Kanarieberg (Ronse), Kwaremont and the Côte du Trieu.”
There is also a worst case scenario. “If there is really a lot of snow then we would be forced to consider cancelling the race. We will meet Sunday at eleven for that. But that is really an extreme case.”
The race has twice been cancelled due to bad weather, in 1993 and 1986. In 2010 it was run in extreme weather conditions which saw only 26 riders finish.
- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 11:45
- Cycling News
Astana rider hits the track to work with the Specialized
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was back on the track in Brescia this week, as he continues to work with the Specialized S-Racing Performance Team specialists to improve his time trial position.
Nibali underwent a Body Geometry fit session and afternoon on the track in mid-January before the Tour of San Luis, developing a more aerodynamic position on the S-Works Shiv bike. He finished fourth in the 19.2km test, ahead of Tejay van Garderen and Alberto Contador but knows he can improve further, with the aim of limit his losses to main rival Bradley Wiggins at the Giro d'Italia in May.
Specialized has brought together a Performance Program team of experts to help riders from the Astana, Saxo-Tinkoff, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and women's Specialized-Lululemon teams. Simone Toccafondi, the Global Manager di S-Racing, has brought in former Formula 1 driver Jarno Trulli and telemetry expert Gianni Sala, plus Moto GP telemetry specialist Matteo Flamigni, who works with Valentino Rossi and is also a keen cyclist. Former professional rider Patxi Vila now works for Specialized and is also part of the Performance team.
Nibali was still recovering from efforts at the Tour of Oman but worked with the specialists on further adjustments and improvements to his position with blood lactate data also being recorded. The Italian is likely to adopt slightly different positions for different types of time trials in the future. More testing is planned later in the spring. However in the short term, the most important goal is for him to train in the new position as much as possible so he can adapt to it and so maximize any aerodynamic improvements.
- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 16:05
- Cycling News
BMC rider co-leader with Hushovd and Phinney
Greg Van Avermaet does not want to be anywhere but on the top step of the podium Saturday after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. “Everyone says that I can win. And I believe it myself. But now I want confirmation.”
He will share leadership for BMC Racing Team at the Omloop with Thor Hushovd and Taylor Phinney, with the decision as to who will go for the win to be made during the race. “How we play the cards will depend on how the race goes,” Van Avermaet told Het Nieuwsblad. “Last year the plan was that I would go in an escape group and that Thor would sprint. But Thor was in the escape and I sprinted at the end.
“There is little sense in planning it in advance. Let me put it this way: we have a very strong team. One of the strongest which will be at the start on Saturday.”
He finished fifth in the race last year, one of many “good” finishes in a season which saw no wins. Which just means that this year “A victory would be so much more valuable for me.”
As the first race of the season in his Belgian homeland, he said “I look forward to it every year.” It is also a benchmark as to how his year will go. “Your condition is maybe not 100 percent, but you can't put it off much longer. The intention is to have a little bit to grow and improve until the end of the Classics. Until Liege-Bastogne-Liege, in my case.”
- Article published:
- February 22, 2013, 17:25
- Cycling News
Tens of millions of dollars at stake in fraud case
The government of the United States is reportedly intending to join a whistleblower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong and others who ran the US Postal Service-sponsored cycling team.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the US Department of Justice is set to file papers today joining the 'qui tam' suit, reportedly initiated by Floyd Landis. The suit alleges that the team defrauded the government by engaging in doping while under sponsorship of the Postal Service, actions which were contrary to the terms of the sponsorship agreement.
Qui tam suits are kept under seal, but the details of the suit were leaked to the NY Daily News last month. Named in the suit are Armstrong, manager Johan Bruyneel, financier Thomas Weisel, Armstrong’s agent Bill Stapleton and former Tailwind Sports president Barton Knaggs.
Under the federal False Claims Act, citizens are able to file suit against those who defraud the government, and for their trouble can be awarded up to one-third of any money reclaimed by the government. Defendants can be fined up to three times the amount - which in the case of the US Postal Service sponsorship agreement was over $30 million.
The suit was filed in 2010, but was bolstered by Armstrong's recent confession to having doped during all seven of his Tour de France victories. The US Postal Service sponsored the team during his first six Tour wins - 1999-2004. The US Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of all seven titles and banned him for life after compiling thousands of pages of evidence against him.
Armstrong's attorneys argued that the marketing benefit received from the team by the US Postal Service far out-stripped the amount given in sponsorship dollars, but according to the Wall Street Journal, that argument would only serve to mitigate the overall award, not decide the outcome of the case.