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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 24, 2014

Date published:
January 24, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Wiggins aiming to return to Tour de France team

    Bradley Wiggins at sign-in
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 14:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sky rider disappointed witheld prize money story was revealed

    Bradley Wiggins [Sky] says that his big aim for this season is to make it back into Sky’s Tour de France squad.

    “I’d love to be back at the Tour de France,” Wiggins told Sky Sports News. “I missed it last year and I was watching it on the TV. When you see it from the outside, you see just how great the Tour de France is.”

    Wiggins, the winner of the 2012 edition, didn’t ride the last Tour de France due to a knee injury that he exacerbated during the Giro d'Italia. If he does regain a spot in Sky's Tour squad, it will more than likely be as a support rider for defending champion Chris Froome.

    This year’s race will be a big one for the British squad, with the race starting in Yorkshire. “The opportunity, with it starting in the UK, to be back there as an ex-winner will be fantastic,” Wiggins explained.

    “Having two British winners at the Tour de France, with it starting in the UK will be quite an experience for us all.”

    There are still questions over whether the two riders will be able to work together. Former Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates revealed in his book It’s all about the bike that Wiggins felt betrayed by Froome’s apparent attack during the 2012 Tour de France and had to be convinced not to leave.

    Wiggins reportedly withheld Froome’s share of the winnings until just before the World Championships last season. The Briton looked to avoid the subject when questioned by Sky Sports...

  • Phinney laying foundation for Tour de France debut

    Taylor Phinney (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 15:00 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    Tour de San Luis time trial first goal of 2014

    After a 2013 season in which Taylor Phinney (BMC) didn't quite perform to his expectations, the 23-year-old American is primed for a stellar year, hopefully capped off by his Tour de France debut.

    The path to the Tour start line in Leeds, England has begun in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis where Phinney hopes to earn his first victory of the season in Friday's 19.2km time trial.

    "I haven't started my season in January yet, I've always started with Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, but I've wanted to start in January," Phinney said prior to the start of stage 4 in San Luis. "I kind of find my best legs, at least in the second half of the season, toward the end of the season, so I figured I'd try to start racing as early as possible.

    "Coming down here it's so hot you get the heat acclimatization as well as a bit of everything. You have wind, some climbs, some relaxed riding and some sprints. As long as you can stay healthy and get through it, it's a really good way to start."

    His sojourn to Argentina was disrupted by a stomach bug prior to Monday's opening stage, but Phinney was confident he'd bounced back and is excited about his first time trial effort of the season.

    "If you just look on paper I think [Movistar's Adriano] Malori is my biggest rival, but you never really know in a race like this. I'm not riding around looking at other guys thinking 'he looks good'. I'm quite strong right now and I've done a lot of work especially for this time trial. It's been a goal for a while and I'd like to knock it out."

    Phinney outlined his race schedule following the conclusion of the Tour de San Luis.

    "I'm going from here to the Tour of...

  • Dehaes punched during Tour de San Luis stage

    Kenny Dehaes and the rest of the Lotto-Belisol team at the team presentation
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 16:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team won't submit official complaint

    Kenny Dehaes [Lotto-Belisol] hadn’t come off his bike, but finished stage 3 of the Tour de San Luis with an unexplained black eye.

    It later transpired that the Belgian had been on the receiving end of a punch. "I was with Tosh Van der Sande in the wheel of the men of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, then number 101 suddenly wanted to take my place," Dehaes told Belgian paper Het Laatste Nieuws.

    “We were only half way through, so there was no reason for it. I would not budge and when the guy came and bumped into me Tosh and I almost fell. So I pushed him away. Next thing I know, he hit me full in the face.”

    The rider in question turned out to be Walter Pérez, who is riding for the Buenos Aries Provincial team. He is a former track rider and won gold in the Madison with Juan Curuchet. They are still the reigning champions, as the event was removed for the 2012 Games in London.

    Despite his initial impulse to give as good as he got, Dehaes chose not to retaliate for fear of taking any other riders out. Dehaes wasn’t overly affected by the incident, aside from the black eye, and didn’t lose any time on the stage. Perez, however, finished some 11 minutes behind the stage winner Giacomo Nizzolo.

    Lotto-Belisol directeur sportif, Mario Aerts explained that the team would not submit any complaint. “By submitting an official complaint we would not make ourselves popular. I would not want to turn half of the peloton against us.

    The duo were the last riders to cross the line during stage 4 on...

  • Exclusive: Teams create Project Avignon to revolutionise professional cycling

    The Tour Down Under peloton on the road to Angaston.
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 17:12 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    13 major teams plotting a commercial transformation of the sport

    Cyclingnews has discovered that 13 of professional cycling's leading WorldTour teams are working together to redesign and revolutionise the structure of the sport, with the aim of introducing a more commercial management structure and so boost revenue.

    The project has remained a secret until now but has been dubbed 'Project Avignon' after the first meeting was held in the French city on the second rest day of the 2013 Tour de France.

    Several sources, who did not want to be identified because they are part of or linked to Project Avignon told Cyclingnews that other meetings have been held, including on the day of the Tour de France route presentation last October in Paris.

    Three working groups have been formed to look at the sporting, commercial and organizational aspects of a new structure for professional cycling. It seems that ethics, credibility and the fight against doping are also considered important parts of the project.

    Project Avignon replaces plans for the so-called World Series Cycling breakaway league that were proposed to teams by businessman Jonathan Price. It seems the leading teams have terminated that project and are keen to directly control of any shake-up of professional cycling.

    Other sports have undergone similar, commercial transformations in the past, creating commercially driven franchises: the English Premier football league is one example, as is ATP in men's professional tennis, Formula 1 motor racing and the NBA Basketball league in the USA.

    Cyclingnews understands that the 13 teams who are involved in the project are: Belkin, BMC, Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, Lotto Belisol, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Orica-GreenEdge, Giant-Shimano,

  • Gaimon ready to fight for overall success at the Tour de San Luis

    Phil Gaimon remained in the lead after today's stage
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 18:20 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    Only four second GC differential entering Friday's time trial

    While there was talk that Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) perhaps had the Tour de San Luis general classification lead firmly under control after conceding so few seconds on Tuesday's first mountain finish, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) obliterated all but four seconds of the American's 4:19 lead over the Colombian during his stage victory on the Alto El Amago mountain finish.

    Gaimon had turned the race upside down with a remarkable victory from the day's early break on the opening stage, his first day of racing for Garmin-Sharp, which left the big-name GC favourites facing a 4:35 deficit. But what was gained during an escape lasting nearly 164km on Monday was wiped out in a span of a brutal 9.4km ascent to the finish on Thursday where Quintana crushed the climb like only he can.

    Next up for Gaimon and Quintana is Friday's 19.2km individual time trial in the city of San Luis where another battle will be fought for general classification supremacy.

    Regarding Gaimon's time trialing ability, Garmin-Sharp team director Chann McRae told Cyclingnews earlier in the race that, "He worked on his time trialing this winter and before we signed him we told him it was going to be really important for him this year."

    Can Gaimon hold on to the leader's jersey versus the rider who finished second in the 2013 Tour de France?

    "Four minutes and four seconds are very different," said Gaimon. "I time trial very well, but I've never time trialed at this level or done a time trial in a race this size. I'll do my best and I think I've got one more day [in the leader's jersey]. The last climb [on Saturday] I'm more worried about."

    Saturday's stage features the third and final mountain finish on the 7km-long Mirador del Sol. The climb averages nearly 9 percent in gradient with its steepest sector of 15.5 percent between three and two kilometres to go.

  • 16 local groups join USA Cycling's RaceClean program

    The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 19:53 GMT
    Ted Burns

    Grassroots anti-doping effort expands

    On January 21st USA Cycling publicly announced that 16 local associations, which comprise 70% of its membership, have joined the RaceClean program. The program, which is entering its second year, is aimed at local associations and offers matching funds - up to $3500 - to pay for anti-doping controls at local events.

    RaceClean participants include some of USA Cycling's largest districts: New York, California, Colorado, Illinois, and New England. The testing portion of RaceClean is composed of three different initiatives: local association testing, and the in-competition testing and out-of-competition/no advance notice list that are primarily aimed at regulating the professional ranks and national championships. The cost of these two programs is funded through several sources including participating events, professional teams, donations, and USA Cycling.

    The total budget for RaceClean varies, but it runs approximately $270k, depending on the number of races, teams, and local associations that participate in a given year. According to Shawn Farrell, USA Cycling's Technical Director, most of the budget is focused on in-competition testing, which is carried out by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) at major events such at national championships, UCI cyclo-cross races, and the National Criterium Calendar and National Racing Calendar events.

    The most unique aspect of RaceClean is the grassroots leg of the program. If a local association decides to join, USA Cycling will provide matching funds for one or two days of testing at events within that racing district. A local association can choose between two price points, $1750 for one day of testing, or $3500 for two days of testing. USA Cycling then provides matching funds, through RaceClean, to cover the full cost of testing. In an agreement negotiated with USADA, RaceClean matches the local associations' payment in order to pay the full $3500 for a single day event, or $7000 for two days.

  • Phinney misses mark in first season goal

    Taylor Phinney (BMC)
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 20:35 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    BMC rider bested by Malori in Tour de San Luis

    The stage 5 time trial at the Tour de San Luis was Taylor Phinney's first big season goal, but the BMC rider fell a few seconds short of achieving that, finishing three seconds behind Movistar's Adriano Malori in the 19km test.

    "I personally am quite disappointed. I definitely wanted to win today," Phinney told Cyclingnews. "I made a tactical error on my part by not asking the mechanics to a 55 or 56 tooth chainring on my front set."

    "In the time trial my power was there and my pacing strategy was good. Just not having those extra gears on the way down cost me a couple of seconds but if that cost me the win we'll never know."

    The searing temperatures of the first four days evaporated overnight, leaving cooler conditions but howling winds for the time trial, leading to such difficulties in gearing choices.

    "When I rode it this morning I thought it wouldn't be necessary, but 75, 78k an hour going down on that tailwind section I just had to stop pedalling a couple of times," Phinney said, but was quick to give due compliments to the Italian stage winner.

    "I knew that Malori would be quite strong. I'm quite disappointed, but it's a good victory for him. I knew with him going to Movistar he'd be on his TT bike a bit more and he's been a great time trialist for a couple of years now. Hats off to him, supposing that he ends up winning."

    Phinney was quick to say he didn't want to make excuses for not winning. He suffered from some stomach issues earlier in the week, as have many riders, but was getting back on track.

    "It's funny that this is probably going to be our hottest race of the year and it's in January. It's a bit of a a shock to the system."

  • Tour Down Under: Jack Haig takes control of young riders classification

    The new leader of the young rider classification, Jack Haig (UniSA)
    Article published:
    January 24, 2014, 20:45 GMT
    Zeb Woodpower

    UniSA rider impressive in WorldTour Debut

    Jack Haig (UniSA), the 2013 Australian National Road Series Champion, entered the Tour Down Under as an unknown quality to the majority of the peloton. Teammate Caleb Ewan has been making headlines, having won the Australian national U23 road race and criterium and placed third in Sunday night's People Choice Classic, while Haig has quietly been going about his work. Benefitting from the fact that five of the UniSA team ride for Avanti, of which Haig is one, the 20-year-old has established a stranglehold over the white jersey at the Tour Down Under.

    Before today's stage on the start line, Haig stated that he was too far behind in overall to challenge for the win but would give it his best shot nevertheless. "It's next to impossible to regain 21 seconds on Simon Gerrans, but I'm looking for time bonus to move up to the ten overall," Haig said.

    While Ewan missed the split in the peloton, the attentive Haig made the selection and looks all but certain to win the young rider classification. After the race, a buoyant Haig spoke about the day's racing. "The first climb was really hard, then it was pretty mellow till the first sprint. With all the crosswinds, it was a question of staying out of the gutter. The bunch split and I was the only young rider up there I think," he said.

    "Anyway the kid from FDJ [Kenny Elissonde] wasn't, so I take the jersey over from him. I have a really good chance to win this jersey tomorrow because I'm a good climber. This is my first Santos Tour Down Under. It's amazing."

    Haig's closest rival for the win is Spaniard