- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 12:01
- Sadhbh O'Shea
BMC aim to defend lead through stage 2
Thor Hushovd’s (Team BMC) victory in stage 1 of the Tour of Beijing caps off a solid latter half of the season for the Norwegian.
Hushovd had looked out of contention in the run-in to the line but found an opening, from which he made his move. “It was a large road and really fast, with the downhill,” he said at the finish.
“I think I just had a perfect run. I was a bit behind and I got a bit of a slipstream and in a couple of metres I was able to pass someone, then I dived in front of him.”
The win gives Hushovd a three-second lead in the general classification, ahead of Wauter Willems (Vacansoleil-DCM), who took bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints, and Luca Mezgec (Argos-Shimano).
While he’s hoping to keep the red jersey as long as he can, Hushovd doesn’t think he can hold it to the finish. “With a mountain top finish, it’s too difficult. I’m not going that well. You can see the climbers that are here so that’s not possible. We’ll take it day by day and tomorrow we’ll do everything to defend it. Matthias (Frank) and Dominic Nerz will be our guys I think.”
Recovering from Illness
Hushovd spent almost the entirety of the 2012 season out with a virus, which forced him to abandon of the Giro d’Italia. It took him months to get going again. However since winning the Norwegian National Championship in June, the former World Champion has gone on to take six more victories.
“After last year, it wasn’t easy to come back at a stable level,” said Hushovd. “I had a few good times in the spring, but I wasn’t there all the time, it was just up and down. Now things have started to go back to normal and I’ve had a few wins.
“I’m still a bit surprised that I was strong enough to win the stage today. I think you know when the form is there. With all the kilometres I’ve got in my legs I know I can still be there when I’m not 100 per cent.”
Stage two has four categorised climbs, but should be another chance for the sprinters. After that the peloton head out of the city and into the mountains, before returning to the city for the final stage.
- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 12:39
- Cycling News
Suspended Giro d'Italia race director issues statement
Michele Acquarone has spoken for the first time since he was suspended by Giro d'Italia race organiser's RCS Sport from his role of Chief Operating Officer, insisting he is not involved in the suspected misappropriation of several million Euros.
Acquarone did not attend the presentation of the 2014 Giro d'Italia route in Milan on Monday and has been formally suspended by RCS Sport as an internal audit is carried by the Milan-based media company. Italian media has reported that up to 13 million Euros may have disappeared from accounts between 2005 and 2013. CEO Giacomo Catano, Matteo Pastore, the head of communications and external relations at RCS Sport and Laura Bertinotti, head of accounts and administration have also been suspended.
In a letter sent to the media Acquarone specified he is not involved in the suspected fraud.
"I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days," he writes.
"Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified."
New RCS Sport CEO Riccardo Taranto told Cyclingnews that Acquarone has been suspended for reasons of governance rather than as punishment. However Acquarone's profile has been removed from the RCS Sport management profile.
Acquarone confirmed he hopes to return to active duty as soon as possible so he can work on the organisation of the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
"I only dream about the day I can return to my team, and get back to working towards the 2014 Giro d’Italia, with even greater enthusiasm than that which has driven me over these years," he writes.
"Thank you for your support, and see you soon."
Michele Acquarone's full letter:
I have dedicated fourteen years of my life to the RCS Group, the last five of which I spent working tirelessly on strengthening and growing RCS Sport. As director of Giro d’Italia, I sought to develop the prestige of this event as part of Italy’s heritage and for cycling fans all over the world. Looking at the results, I would say that I have succeeded.
It was much to my frustration however that I could not participate in the presentation of that which I consider one of my most accomplished creations, the 2014 Giro d’Italia, and I apologise to all the friends I could not meet with.
Those who know me, are well aware that my professional style is based on three key concepts: fairness, respect and dialogue. Those who know me, also know that I hold the trust of fans and of people involved in the industry, at the centre of my heart, and if today I can benefit from such trust, it is because I have always worked with greatest transparency and honesty, as well as with total dedication and loyalty to the RCS Group.
For the ties linking me to Giro fans and to the people involved in the industry, I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days.
Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified.
I only dream about the day I can return to my team, and get back to working towards the 2014 Giro d’Italia, with even greater enthusiasm than that which has driven me over these years.
Thank you for your support, and see you soon.
- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 13:50
- José Been
New UCI president drops legal action against Paul Kimmage
New UCI president Brian Cookson has revealed he has contacted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to begin discussions about an independent investigation into the UCI's past and confirmed he has formally ended the legal action against Irish journalist Paul Kimmage.
Cookson promised to restore trust in the UCI during his election campaign after the huge damage caused by a string of doping cases, especially concerning Lance Armstrong under the presidency of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.
“We have started the work of establishing a high level dialogue with WADA to plan how we will proceed with the independent investigation into the UCI's past."
“These early days of my presidency are very important to the UCI. And I believe we have made a good start,” Cookson said in China where he attended the opening stage of the Tour of Beijing. The former president of British Cycling has moved quickly to implement several promises from his UCI presidency manifesto.
“We have embarked on the process of implementing our manifesto commitments so that we can re-establish our international federation's reputation and make it the best and most respected in the world,” said Cookson.
“We have also made contact with other key stakeholders including USADA, the French sports ministry and several national anti-doping organizations.”
Cookson called Paul Kimmage before traveling to the Tour of Beijing to tell him of the decision to end the legal action. He has also confirmed that the age limit for women’s elite teams will be revoked.
“We will form a new Commission for women’s cycling to help facilitate the growth of women’s elite racing,” Cookson stated.
Staff changes and future meetings
Cookson also confirmed that the UCI Director General Christophe Hubschmid has left and a replacement for legal counsel Philippe Verbiest has been found. However it seems Hein Verbruggen will remain honoury president of the UCI.
"I can confirm that former Director General Christophe Hubschmid has left the UCI and that Antonio Rigozzi of Levy Kaufmann-Kohler is now assisting us as external legal counsel," he said.
“Over the coming weeks I am looking forward to meeting with my friends and colleagues in the Olympic movement, including the new IOC President, Thomas Bach, and Rio 2016 President, Carlos Nuzman."
“An extraordinary Management Committee meeting will take place on 29 October where we shall assess our progress in implementing my Manifesto pledges and plan for the important period ahead of us. This meeting will be held at the UCI’s headquarters in order that the staff can meet the new Management Committee."
"It’s been a busy time but very constructive and I am grateful to all the support I have received from the cycling family in setting out on this new path."
- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 16:10
- Daniel Benson
American hopes to regain sprint form in 2014
With his first win on European soil in over two years and a new contract with Garmin-Sharp in the bag for next season Tyler Farrar is understandably optimistic.
The American sprinter’s victory on stage 3 of Franco-Belge (Tour de l'Eurométropole) turned a page in what has been a difficult period in the rider’s career. It had been more than two years since his last European win - a stage in the 2011 Tour de France - with crashes and injuries an all too frequent set of fixtures in his racing calendar.
Even during the recent Vuelta a España Farrar was unsure over his future with Garmin stalling on a contract offer and a number of WorldTour teams folding. However, Garmin delivered and although a new contract offers Farrar a chance to reignite his career, he is well aware that he must repay Garmin’s faith in him and become a consistent winner in 2014.
“I’d come to an agreement about a week before the win. We’d worked out the contract and that was obviously a huge stress relief what with everything that’s going on in cycling. Having a good Franco-Belge was just a nice way to start wrapping up the season,” Farrar told Cyclingnews from his base in Belgium.
“A bit of healthy pressure is a good thing. We went back and forth on it but I do want to light a bit of a fire underneath myself and feel that pressure for next year.
“Okay, I won last week in Franco-Belge but before we start really worrying about a full lead-out I need to show that I’m consistently winning again back here in Europe. We have some quick guys on the team, though.”
Garmin have cleared the decks in the last few weeks. Dave Zabriskie, Robbie Hunter and Christian Vande Velde are among the retirees, while Alex Rasmussen, Martijn Maaskant and Sébastien Rosseler have all been asked to move on. Farrar has been with the team since its baby steps in the WorldTour and is, along with David Millar, their only rider (for 2014) to have won stages in all three Grand Tours. And although Farrar admits that other teams had provided options, he was primarily looking to remain with the American team.
“I spoke to a few people but I’ve been with Garmin for a long time and I’ve enjoyed being part of this programme and I’m looking forward to being a part of it for another year.
“Needless to say, this I team I’ve been with for a large chunk of my career and I like the culture and what Garmin has stood for over the last six years. I wasn’t really in a hurry to leave.”
It remains undecided as to how Garmin will use Farrar next season. The rider has always voiced his desire to race the Spring Classics while dovetailing those ambitions with another set of priorities in sprint finishes throughout the season. At times he has found success, with six Grand Tour stage wins and titles in Scheldeprijs and the Vattenfall Cyclassics. The last two seasons have been disappointing, with just one European win scratched up (he also won a stage at this year's Tour of California plus two at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge), but Farrar will be sitting down with the team’s management in the coming weeks to define a race programme for what could be the most important season of the 29-year-old’s career.
“We have a team camp coming up where I can talk to the team on what their hopes are and what I can focus on. The Classics are always my favourite races and I think I can ride well there and be helpful for others, even if they’re not my number one objective. I can help the other guys in a race like Roubaix.
“2012 was pretty dismal with the sheer number of crashes and injuries. That was really frustrating for me and the team as well. They would have hoped for more, just like I did. This year it’s been a bit of a re-building year and staying healthy. I’ve not won as much as I would have liked but I have been pretty consistent and I’ve started to move in the right direction. I hope that in 2014 I can be riding the way I was back in 2009, 10 and 11.”
- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 17:55
- Stephen Farrand
Armstrong's former doctor photographed in a US Postal Service jersey
Dr Michele Ferrari may be banned for life after the damning verdict of the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong but the Italian sports doctor continues to train riders and comments on the major professional races and riders' performances on his website.
Italian journalist Marco Bonarrigo and photographer Mjrka Boensch Bees were recently given a tip-off about one of Dr. Ferrari's invitation-only training days called 'Vertical Climb'. They have captured some rare video footage and photographs of Ferrari riding a bike on the Monzuno climb near Bologna in central Italy.
Some of the images were published on the front page of the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper and further details will be published on Monday in the Italian Cycling Pro magazine that is also available as a digital magazine.
Dr. Ferrari was wearing a vintage US Postal jersey during his ride, with rainbow bands on the sleeves indicating the jersey could have belonged to Lance Armstrong. He also wore a Livestrong Giro helmet and pink and blue Lampre shorts.
The Monzuno climb has been Dr. Ferrari's preferred Italian testing ground for many years just like the Col de la Madone in the South of France.
Tom Danielson revealed in his USADA affidavit that he underwent a test with Dr. Ferrari on the Monzuno climb back in 2004 while riding for Fassa Bortolo. He subsequently started doping and moved to Armstrong's Discovery Channel team for the 2005 season. He worked with Ferrari until 2006 before moving to Jonathan Vaughters's Slipstream team.
"Dr. Ferrari had me go through several 1 kilometer climbs on the Monzuno, the opening climb in the Giro dell’Emilia, an annual cycling race near Bologna, and he took various measurements, including my lactate, body fat and hematocrit and hemoglobin levels, Danielson said in his USADA affidavit.
"Dr. Ferrari seemed very surprised and impressed with my numbers. He asked how I was so good and had done so poorly in races. He told me that I had outperformed Lance Armstrong and the great Italian climber Francesco Casagrande on the climb."
489 mentions in the USADA report
Dr. Ferrari has vehemently denied the accusations of his former clients despite his name appearing 489 times in the 202-page Reasoned Decision document published by USADA. He is still at the centre of an investigation in Padua, with Italian investigators gathering evidence that was vital in USADA banning Dr. Ferrari. However the Italian legal system is notoriously slow and a preliminary judge has yet to decide if he and the others involved will ever go on trial.
In the meantime, Dr. Ferrari rides on defiantly and continues to coach riders. Professional riders and anyone with a licence, even to ride Grand Fondo events, are forbidden from working with him. Last year Filippo Pozzato, Michele Scarponi and Giovanni Visconti were all banned for three months for undergoing tests in recent years. Roman Kreuziger, who is with Bjarne Riis's Saxo-Tinkoff team, also admitted working with Dr. Ferrari.
During his latest appearance on the Monzuno, the five veteran Gran Fondo riders who took up Dr. Ferrari's invitation for the coaching session on the day of the world road race championships reportedly quickly disappeared when they spotted the photographer.
Dr. Ferrari proudly rode on before disappearing into the mist and low cloud on the Monzuno climb.
- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 19:00
- Sadhbh O'Shea
Italian looking to inspire younger generation
Marco Pinotti (BMC) hopes to show the younger generation that natural talent isn't everything when it comes to winning bike races as he begins his new role as a coach next season.
Pinotti will be hanging up his wheels after riding the Chrono des Nations next week. The 37-year-old Italian, who has raced the past two seasons for BMC, will remain with the squad in 2014 as a part-time coach. As part of his new role he hopes to bring on the younger generation using the experiences he gained in his 15 seasons as a professional.
"I think I was able to do a lot more than people who were more talented than me," he told Cyclingnews. "I wasn't the most talented rider of my generation, but I did good work and kept my discipline. I made the small steps that were necessary to be at a better level. All that experience, I can pass onto people."
That experience includes six Italian National Time Trial Championships and four stage wins at the Giro d'Italia. He also won the general classification at the Tour of Ireland in 2008 and a number of stages at other stage races.
Pinotti believes the move is a perfect one for him as he already has coaching experience. The BMC rider has been coaching New Zealand's Linda Villumsen since they were both part of the HTC-High Road team between 2007-2010.
Villumsen has since become one of the most consistent female time trialists. She has finished on the podium at the world championships for the last four years, something Pinotti missed out on in his own career. "One of my big regrets is crashing at the world championships last year," said Pinotti.
Pinotti looked set for third place in the time trial in Valkenburg, the Netherlands, when he crashed out on a wet corner and broke his collarbone. "That was my one chance at getting a medal. In 10 years' time, nobody remembers who finished third in the world championships. So maybe in 10 years the regret will go away," he said with a wry smile.
The Italian doesn't seem sad to be leaving behind his career as a rider, on the contrary he is excited about the next step in his life. He said that he's looking forward to "working with people who have a clear goal in their life." He continued by saying, "When I see Olympians, they have a clear goal in their head and I want to work with them. It's something that motivates you every day."
For now, though, Pinotti is focused on getting through the Tour of Beijing and doing his job for the BMC team. "I'm feeling like every other race now," he said. "I will work as professionally as I can in the next days. After Lombardy, I went out early so I didn't suffer from jetlag later. I'm trying to do my job as best I can."
He's been doing just that; it was a Pinotti and Steven Cummings-led peloton that reeled back in the final escapee, which set the stage for their teammate Thor Hushovd to win the Tour of Beijing's opening stage. Hushovd holds a lead of three seconds over Wauter Willems (Vacansoleil-DCM) going into the second stage.
- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 20:10
- Pat Malach
Effort made to ensure quality, make it easier for teams to manage in 2014
USA Cycling's National Criterium Calendar (NCC) continues to evolve going into its third year on the domestic schedule. USAC trimmed the NCC from 24 events to just 16 next season as part of an effort to ensure the quality of the series and make it easier for teams to manage, according to Micah Rice, USAC vice president of national events.
"I think a lot of the race directors and teams really looked at that huge calendar in 2013 and just said, 'Hey, it's too big. No one can really follow it. No team can really afford to send a team everywhere,'" Rice said. "And so we kind of heard that loud and clear. People were asking for a smaller calendar, and so we definitely raised the bar a little bit."
The series ballooned to 40 racing days in 2013, more than originally intended, Rice said. But a couple of changes for next year – combined with several races that decided not to be included on the calendar – have whittled the series down. Increased calendar fees and raising minimums for prize money caused several races not to re-apply, Rice said, while some applicants did not meet basic requirements for inclusion.
"Some of the teams said there are some loopholes on the omniums and they're not paying out very much," Rice said. "So we kind of closed that loophole, and we also raised the price of the calendar fee a little bit."
Gone from the NCC next season are many of the USA Crits series races, including the "Speed Weeks" in Georgia and South Carolina. The Old Pueblo Grand Prix, the Tour de Grove and the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium will also not be on the NCC line-up next year.
"A number of the USA Crits dropped off the schedule, we definitely saw that," Rice said. "Some of them are still on there, but [USA Crits promoter] Gene Dixon removed a number of his events. That's fine. We think there is plenty of space in the criterium arena to have both the NCC and USA Crits.
"A lot of these events that aren't on the calendar are still great events without the calendar," Rice continued. "We expect a lot of pro teams will attend them. And really, the only pro teams that can't attend those races that dropped off the calendar are UnitedHealthcare and any [WorldTour] or other Pro Continental teams."
UnitedHealthcare dominated the men's USA Crits Series in 2013, winning all but one of the races and putting four riders in the top five of the overall standings. UnitedHealthcare also dominated the NCC races, sweeping the top four overall spots. The team's Hilton Clarke won both criterium series, while Care4Cycling-Solomon's Erica Allar matched his feat in the pair of women's series, winning both the NCC and USA Crits titles.
Although the 2014 USA Crits schedule has not yet been released, the two criterium calendars could still share about a half a dozen races next year.
Not all of the news surrounding the 2014 NCC schedule is about downsizing. Despite losing 11 events and nearly 20 race days from last year's schedule, next season's calendar will see the addition of three first-time NCC events.
The Winston-Salem Classic Criterium will run on April 18, the day after the Winston-Salem Classic Road Race, a UCI-sanctioned one-day race that will also be on National Racing Calendar (NRC) for the first time.
"Winston-Salem ran a pretty good event last year, both a road race and a criterium," Rice said. "And now they've got both of them on the calendars. That's actually a back-to-back Thursday and Friday before Easter weekend with the UCI road race and the NCC criterium. Being on both of those calendars makes a really good double day in the middle of the week for the pro teams."
The five-day Staenberg Group Gateway Cup in St. Louis from August 28 to September 1 will be run by organizers of the former Tour de Grove.
"The Gateway Cup has been a successful race for many years," Rice said. "Mike Weiss has done a really good job with that event, and a lot of people go to that event. When Mike pulled the [Tour de Grove] off the calendar he said he'd love to put Gateway on. That was an easy one. I think all he had to do was raise his prize list a little bit and he fit all the check boxes."
The NCC's Presbyterian Hospital Criterium in Charlotte will combine with an ongoing criterium in nearby Belmont to form the Charlotte-Belmont Omnium on April 12-13.
"Presbyterian Hospital will be on Saturday night, and they're moving the Belmont Criterium to that Sunday after Charlotte," Rice said.
But even with the new additions, the final calendar that was released on Thursday is a little smaller than Rice had anticipated. Rice said he was OK with the final result, but he had ideally envisioned a calendar with about 20 events and more race days.
"We literally cut the number of racing days by close to half," he said. "It's definitely a little more than I thought I would be cutting off the calendar, but I'm fine with where it sits right now. I think it's a really strong group of the best criteriums in the United States."
Coast to coast crit calendar starts in Florida
The NCC will start in Florida on March 22 with the Delray Beach Twilight Festival. From there it heads north to Alabama and the Sunny King Criterium on April 5. The Charlotte-Belmont Omnium follows the next weekend in North Carolina, where the series closes out the month the following Friday at the Winstom-Salem Classic Criterium.
The NCC picks up again on May 4 for the Dana Point Grand Prix in California, followed two weeks later by the Wilmington Grand Prix in Delaware. New Jersey's Middle Earth Tour of Somerville follows nine days later on May 26, with the Glencoe Grand Prix in Illinois closing out the month on the 31st.
The St. Francis Tulsa Tough starts things off the first weekend of June with three days of racing in Oklahoma, while the Air Force Association Cycling Classic visits Arlington, Virginia the same weekend for two days of racing. The month closes with a pair of races at the Tour of America's Dairyland in Wisconsin on June 21-22.
The NCC heads west again for two races in July, the Anderson Banducci Twilight Criterium in Boise, Idaho, and the Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix in California. The series takes a break for nearly a month before starting up again on August 23-24 at the Chris Thater Memorial in New York and the Gateway Cup in St. Louis from August 28 through September 1. As in 2013, the calendar concludes with the TD Mayor's Cup in Boston on September 20.
- Article published:
- October 11, 2013, 21:15
- José Been
French health insurance company commits for two years
Team Europcar announced that it's secured Harmonie Mutuelle as a co-sponsor in a two-year agreement. The French health insurance company has committed to Jean-René Bernaudeau's Pro Continental team for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
"Harmonie Mutuelle is close to the general public. By sponsoring Europcar we advertise the importance of sports for health," the company stated in a press release today.
Europcar took over the sponsorship from Bouygues Telecom in 2010 but the team failed to secure a second title sponsor over the past three seasons. Team manager Bernaudeau announced during this year's Tour de France that the car rental company would support the team for an additional two seasons.
In its bid to move up to the WorldTour for next season the French team needed to increase its budget. By bringing Harmonie Mutuelle on board, the team can start extending contracts and hiring new riders.
Europcar's leaders Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland announced during the Tour de France that they would continue with Europcar while Tony Hurel, Christophe Kern, Jérôme Cousin and Bryan Cocquard have also extended their contracts with the team. Romain Guillemois and Bryan Nauleau signed on as neo-pros for next year.
Jimmy Engoulvent, a member of the soon to be defunct Sojasun team, announced today that he had signed a two-year agreement with Europcar. The 33-year-old Frenchman returns to his roots as he turned professional with the organisation in 2000, then known as Bonjour. After spending several seasons at Cofidis and Credit Agricole, Engoulvent moved to the Sojasun team in 2009 and had remained there through this season.
2011 junior world champion Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier, who was a trainee with Europcar in the latter portion of this season, had also been announced as a new signing for 2014 but he surprised many by signing with French WorldTour team FDJ.fr instead.
Five members of Team Europcar's 2013 roster have left the team. David Veilleux and Anthony Charteau both decided to retire, northern Classics specialist Sébastien Turgot and Paris-Nice prologue winner Damien Gaudin signed for Ag2r-La Mondiale while Sébastien Chavanel moved over to FDJ.fr.