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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 1, 2013

Date published:
March 01, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Gilbert pleased with his form as the classics loom

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) at the start
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 12:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian on the importance of early-season condition

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) has said that his form is much better than it was at the same point last year, confident that he is on course to perform at the spring classics this time around.

    The Belgian struggled in the opening half of 2012 before recovering in the closing weeks of the season to win the world championships road race, but feels he is on track for an intense month of classics. 

    “The Tour of Oman was a good test for me, I felt a good progression compared to the Tour Down Under,” Gilbert told La Dernière Heure of his early-season racing. “I’m happy with my current level. It’s nothing like the form I had last year at the same time.”

    Gilbert continues his preparation for the spring classics by lining up at Paris-Nice, which gets underway on Sunday. Gilbert will support Tejay van Garderen’s challenge for overall honours but will also be looking for a stage win – his first in the rainbow jersey – along the way.

    “I couldn’t tell you which stage [suits me] even if I looked at the route,” Gilbert said. “First, I want to do a good prologue – it’s short but very technical, which I like. Beyond that, Paris-Nice is often a race of opportunities. A stage that should finish in a sprint can turn into a battle if there’s wind, and 30 guys can go away. It’s always a very unpredictable race.”

    Although, by his own admission, Gilbert still has a couple of kilogrammes to lose before the Ardennes classics, he reiterated that he is pleased with...

  • Report: BSkyB considering joining the World Series Cycling

    The Tour peloton awaits the start of stage 10 in Mâcon
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 12:20 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky owner and broadcaster adds weight to overhaul of professional cycling

    As team managers gather in Paris for a key AIGCP meeting, it has emerged that British-based television company BSkyB - the owners of Team Sky - could become a key player in plans to revolutionise professional cycling.

    According to the Bloomberg news agency, BSkyB is in talks to becoming a partner in the so-called World Series Cycling project created by businessmen Jonathan Price and Thomas Kurth, with backing and support from Omega Pharma-Quick Step team owner Zdenek Bakala.

    The World Series Cycling threatened to create a breakaway structure that would not have been under the control of the UCI. However UCI President Pat McQuaid recently told Velonews that those plans have been shelved. It now seems any changes will include most of the sport's important races, with several brand new races added to a new calendar and WorldTour structure.

    The new structure will probably see major changes in the balance of power in professional cycling, with teams obtaining a share of TV rights and developing other commercial opportunities.The UCI would have less direct control of the sport.

    Bloomberg suggested that BSkyB wants to increase its direct involvement in the sport and is interested in broadcasting cycling globally in the future. A BSkyB executive and attorney reportedly met with a dozen teams on February 13 in Geneva and another meeting about the project is scheduled for today in Paris.

    Bloomberg claim that the number of teams that have agreed to race in the series has risen from eight to 12 in recent months, with three other squads holding talks with Price’s Gifted Group Ltd. 15 has been touted a key number in the success of the project.

    Team Sky has so far opted to sit on the fence and let other teams...

  • CAS confirms Riccò's 12-year ban

    Riccardo Ricco
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 13:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian banned from racing until 2024

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed Riccardo Riccò's appeal against his ban for doping, confirming that the Italian rider is suspended until April 2024.

    Riccò had claimed that the Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal was not impartial when it banned him in 2012, that proceedings were flawed and affected by procedural issues. However, sole arbitrator Professor Ulrich Haas of Germany threw out his arguments and confirmed the ban.

    Riccò responded to the news and comments on the CAS verdict with a succinct message on Twitter: "Ma drogatevi un po' che vi fa bene" – "Go and take drugs, it'll do you good," he wrote.

    The Italian climber has been one of the most controversial riders of recent years.

    Riccò's career ended when he was rushed to hospital in February 2011 after apparently transfusing his own blood, which he had kept in his fridge at home. Doctors saved his life, reportedly saying they "pulled him back from the brink of death."

    Riccò has always denied he transfused his own blood, claiming his problems were caused by taking iron supplements, but he was banned by the Italian Olympic Committee's Anti-doping Tribunal in 2012. He was given a 12-year ban because it was his second doping offence. In 2008, he tested positive for the banned blood booster CERA after winning two stages at the Tour de France. He was arrested by French police during the race and given a 20-month ban.

    He made a comeback in 2010 with the Flaminia team and then joined Vacansoleil in August of that year. He was sacked by the team in February 2011, a few days after being rushed to hospital.

  • Sørensen happy to miss the cut for Saxo-Tinkoff's Tour de France squad

    Most combative rider of stage 15 Nicki Sörensen (Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank).
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 14:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    Veteran says age has been a factor in the last two years

    Nicki Sørensen appears to have ridden his last Tour de France with the 37-year-old saying that he's been told by Saxo-Tinkoff boss Bjarne Riis that he will not be required for this year's 100th edition of the grand tour.

    A veteran of 10 Tour de France, Sorensen has raced in all but two (2006, 2007) since joining Riis when the team was known as CSC in 2001.

    "It is not in the cards that I race in this year's Tour de France, and that alone, that I should focus on the Giro," he told Ekstra Bladet.

    "It's Bjarne's decision, because I would never say no to riding the Tour de France if I had the chance," he admitted. "But in the past two years, I'd been thinking that the Tour was almost too hard, so I'm really okay with missing out this season. But let's see what time brings."

    Sørensen has previously indicated that the Giro d'Italia would be his focus in 2013 saying "where besides helping Rafa [Majka] in the GC, I will try to go for a stage win. I believe that Rafa can make a good result in the overall standings if he continues his progress and takes another step up," he said.

    "But I'm looking forward to getting my own chance too. It would be great to take a Giro victory when I have wins in both the Tour and the Vuelta."


  • Armstrong facing two further lawsuits

    Lance Armstrong (US Postal) at the start of the 1999 Amstel Gold
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 16:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Insurance company looks to recoup early Tour bonuses

    Lance Armstrong faces two further lawsuits in the wake of his belated admission to doping, according to reports on Friday.

    ABC News reports that Acceptance Insurance, which covered the bonuses for Armstrong’s first three Tour de France wins, has filed suit against Armstrong seeking $3 million plus damages, while Bloomberg reports that a false advertising class-action suit has been filed against Armstrong and FRS, a nutritional products company.

    Acceptance Insurance filed its case against Armstrong in Austin, Texas on Thursday evening and follows a similar case launched by SCA Promotions to recoup the $12 million in bonuses that it had paid out to Armstrong for his later Tour de France wins.

    Tailwind Sports, the management company behind the US Postal Service team, took out premiums with the insurance companies to cover the bonuses it paid out to Armstrong for his Tour victories, which have since been stripped by USADA following their doping investigation.

    According to ABC News, Armstrong’s confession of doping in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in January has prompted the Nebraska-based Acceptance Insurance to pursue the case, and it is reported that the insurance company plans to depose Armstrong.

    Meanwhile, the class-action false advertising lawsuit against Armstrong and FRS Co. has been launched by Robert Martin in Los Angeles, Bloomberg reports. In a television advertisement, FRS energy supplements were lauded as Armstrong’s “secret weapon” and Bloomberg reports that the complaint says that “consumers wouldn’t have bought FRS products, or would have paid less for them, if it...

  • Brailsford: Cycling is close to a tipping point

    Dave Brailsford and Richie Porte
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 18:40 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky manager calls for a new long-term strategy for professional cycling

    Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has suggested that professional cycling is nearing a tipping point which could see the sport, and the business it supports, soon change radically, with a new structure, calendar and business model to replace the current WorldTour structure.

    Speaking before a report by Bloomberg suggested that BSkyB - the owners of Team Sky - is in talks to become a partner in the so-called World Series Cycling project created by businessmen Jonathan Price, Brailsford said professional cycling has to change if it wants to survive.

    "In most industries there becomes a tipping point where it changes its structure. When you look at all the elements in the sport of cycling at the moment, they're all there. It's getting very close and I can’t see how it can't happen if the sport wants to survive, so it will happen," Brailsford told Cyclingnews.

    "I think what the sport needs is a genuine and proper long term strategy. What will the sport look like in ten years' time? What will it look like in five years' time? And how do we go from where we are now to get there?"

    Brailsford and Team Sky have been hesitant about signing up to plans to any breakaway project, letting the likes of Garmin-Sharp, Saxo-Tinkoff and Zdenek Bakala's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team drive the project and take any heat from the UCI and the media.

    That could change very soon, as plans for the new-look WorldTour or World Series of Cycling become clearer and with the UCI likely to be involved in any final project or management structure. If BSkyB invests in cycling and activates a strategy to drive its pay for view subscriptions thanks to professional cycling, then Team Sky will surely be a part of the new-look structure.

  • Alzate joins UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team

    Carlos Alzate (Team Exergy) celebrates victory in the St. Paul Downtown Criterium
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 21:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Exergy rider finds a home at US-based Pro Conti squad

    The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team announced today that Colombian sprinter and former Team Exergy member, Carlos Eduardo Alzate Escobar, has joined the U.S. based Pro Continental squad.

    Alzate finished 4th in the USA Cycling's 2012 National Criterium Calendar (NCC) standings and with his arrival to the 2013 edition of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train, he now joins the three men who finished ahead of him in last year's standings, Hilton Clarke plus brothers Luke and Jake Keough.

    "It is an honor to ride with the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team," said Alzate. "I've raced against these guys for a while and I respect them. I know this a class act and I am proud to be a part of such a good organization. I am looking forward to racing with them as their teammate and can't wait to get going!"

    Alzate, who will turn 30 later this month, is a decorated track and road cyclist. In 2012, he notched 16 top five finishes including 13 podium finishes and six wins while racing with Team Exergy, matching his 16 top five finishes in 2011. Throughout his career he has been a podium mainstay both in the US as well as internationally, winning a silver medal for his native country at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of Colombia's team pursuit squad. Alzate also competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

    Alzate rode for the US-based Continental squad Team Exergy in 2011-2012. Prior to that he competed for the Colombia es Pasion Team in 2007 and Toshiba-Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife in 2008.

    "We are excited about Carlos coming on board," said UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team general manager Mike Tamayo. "He is the perfect fit for what we are trying to do and should slot right into the program well. Carlos brings even more power to our sprint, giving us yet another option at the finish.

    "He is a top...

  • Sagan and Moser to lead Cannondale at Strade Bianche

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) can't stop winning.
    Article published:
    March 01, 2013, 22:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian team's young stars ready for Tuscan gravel roads

    Having won Thursday's G.P. Camaiore from a 12-man lead group, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) seems to be fully recovered from the bout of bronchitis which forced him to drop out of the Tour of Oman after four stages. The 23-year-old Slovakian, who's already won three races this season with two stage wins in Oman prior to victory in Italy at the G.P. Camaiore, now sets his sites on Saturday's Strade Bianche and its 188km of Tuscan hills and iconic white gravel roads.

    Sagan made his Strade Bianche debut in 2012 and finished an unassuming 26th place amongst the gruppetto which crossed the line 7:50 in arrears of Fabian Cancellara, winner for the second time in his career. The Slovakian road champion, however, is keen to add the Italian one-day classic to his ever growing palmares.

    "The Strade Bianche has attracted me since the first time I raced," said Sagan. "The win in Camaiore now gives me a big boost of confidence to go after an important result this weekend. But I also know that a lot of champions target this race and there will be some tough competition.

    "My approach is to not think too much and to see what will happen during the race."

    The Cannondale team can look to another young star for Strade Bianche in 22-year-old Moreno Moser, who finished in the lead group at Camaiore and played a role in Sagan's victory. Moser, too, made his Strade Bianche debut in 2012 and finished in the same time as Sagan in 52nd place. The young Italian made quite a mark in 2012, his debut season at the WorldTour level in which he won two stages and the overall...