- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 12:39
- Cycling News
Will still seek third consecutive Lombardia title
The long season is finally catching up with Philippe Gilbert. At the Giro del Piemonte, he noticed that many other riders are fresher than he is now. The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider even abandoned the race, which is the first time all season that he has done that.
A large group got away early in the race and achieved a substantial advantage. "It was a lost cause. We were immediately seven minutes down. It was ridiculous to continue to race,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
Gilbert decided to save his legs for Saturday's Giro di Lombardia which he hopes to win for the third consecutive year. But the Belgian knows it won't be easy.
His participation in the Tour de France “is taking revenge. I have mostly done one-day races since then and I start to notice that. I also see a difference in the guys who came from the Vuelta. Nibali, Van Avermaet, Moreno - they all have extra freshness in their legs.
"Still, everyone is tired after a long season,” he added. “I think I have a chance and I will set myself to it. Friday I will explore the new course, and then we'll see. "
Gilbert, 29, currently leads the World ranking and can boast a total of 18 victories this season. His first was the first stage of the Volt ao Algarve in mid-February, and his most recent was the GP de Wallonie in mid-September.
In between, his wins run the gamut from the “Ardennes triple” of Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège to the first stage of the Tour de France. Gilbert wil ride for BMC Racing Team in 2012.
- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 14:02
- Jane Aubrey
“flaik” tracker shows every rider
A new device was tested for the first time en masse at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour on Friday, a rider GPS tracking device which has the potential to change the way that teams, media and fans look at a race.
While GPS technology is not new, the management of the data in this case makes this product unique. Adapted from a real-time tracking device used in North American and European ski schools, flaik, the company which owns the device, is now looking at further developing the product specifically for road cycling with a signal beamed off a satellite every four seconds painting an extremely accurate picture of what can't be seen in the convoy or on television.
Specific levels of data can then be accessed by the user, with the fans having the ability to look at positioning within the race, with more options available to teams.
At the Sun Tour's third stage, all but one team agreed to have the device, which is about the same size as your average mobile phone but around three centimetres in thickness, worn in either the back pocket or radio pocket of their riders with radio communication not used in the UCI 2.1 event. With timing gates placed intermittently on the 172.6km stage, the rider's individual positions within the race could then be shown on the company's website where both teams and fans not at the race were invited to log into.
Watching the devices live feed, each rider's progress is shown on a map in minute detail so gaps are displayed by the metre, or more.
Cyclingnews understands that several ProTour teams, including 2012 hopefuls GreenEdge were investigating the potential of the product earlier this year when it was unclear if radio communication would be banned. Australian domestic outfit Jayco-2XU was the first team to trial the product at the Tour of Toowoomba, part of the National Road Series.
Pat Jonker, sports director with Jayco-2XU and also the Australian National Team which is competing at the Sun Tour, is impressed by what he's seen.
"If you're in an eight-hour stage in the Giro, a lot of the time the DS has got no idea where his riders are in the stage because you don't have communication all the time," he explained. "With this I can tell if a rider's going to struggle to make time limits or not. In that case I could ring in to a soigneur to get to a particular point and warn the rider."
Jonker also believes that the device, which is currently going by the working title of ‘Velotracker' has the potential of filling some of the gaps in information that occurs within communication from the convoy itself.
"With race radio you only get information for the first riders really," he said. The product allows the user to select specific riders to watch their performance.
One example where the product could have been quite useful, not only to teams but also to the fan watching at home, or even media commentators, was the 2010 Road World Championships where the group containing eventual winner Thor Hushovd seemingly appeared from nowhere to swallow the lead group just ahead of the finish line.
"What this technology does is allow the media to have a better perspective on the races, certainly in mountain stages where you've got riders everywhere," explained Victor Popov, who is acting as a consultant for flaik at the event. "You watch the Tour de France and the moto picks up a group and you see who's in it. This will allow anyone who's got access to the technology to see where everyone is at any given time so you don't have the mystery of who's in what group."
Also, the data is then compiled and stored so teams, media or fans can watch the race in complete replay after it's been run and won.
Flaik is currently in discussions with the UCI in regards to the device's further use while feedback will be taken from teams and riders alike. The next generation is likely to be a smaller product, so that it's more suitable.
- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 15:24
- Cycling News
Spanish team won't sign veteran sprinter, no news on Valverde
Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue has discarded rumours that Oscar Freire was close to signing with the Spanish team. On Friday, he indicated to Marca that "the option with Freire has been put aside", without explaining further. The three-times world champion is currently looking for a squad to continue racing in 2012.
On the other hand, Unzue's long-term prodigy Alejandro Valverde could come back to the squad once his doping suspension is lifted. Valverde will have the right to race again as of January 1, 2012, but his team choice has not been revealed yet. "There will be press releases on his signing come the right moment," an enigmatic Unzue added.
Valverde has close ties to Unzue, for whom he raced since 2005. Still, the Belgian super team Omega Pharma-Quick Step has been rumoured to also have made the Spaniard offers, as well as RadioShack and Katusha, which is home to Valverde's former Caisse d'Epargne teammate Joaquím Rodríguez.
But even without Valverde, the Movistar team has had a very satisfying season, scoring a total of 21 victories. "We can say that we have done a very very good season in which we have been able to set the basis of this new sponsorship," said the team manager who can look back on a career covering two decades since he started directing Banesto in 1990. Last year, his long-time sponsor Caisse d'Epargne bailed out and mobile telephone company Movistar took over the financial reigns in 2011.
For next season, Movistar has already signed five new riders. "Visconti will reinforce the team in one-day races. With Castroviejo, Moreno and Herrada we are patching up the weaknesses we had. The signing of Nairo Quintana is an addition for the future as part of a strategy that we've had in the last few years."
- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 16:25
- Cycling News
Movistar rider to stay in Spain for rehabilitation
Juan Mauricio Soler was released from hospital Friday, four months after a crash in the Tour de Suisse left him with severe head injuries. The Movistar rider is expected to remain in Spain for rehabilitation for a month before finally returning to his home in Colombia.
“We are very happy because today there is a further step in Mauricio's recovery,” his wife, Patricia Flores, told the Colombian website revistamundociclistico.com. “This is a very important day for which all his friends, supporters and families have anxiously awaited. Mauricio is getting better and this fills us with joy after so much uncertainty during this time.”
Soler was in second place overall when he crashed on the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse in mid-June. He hit a curb and flew into a fence, suffering a severe head trauma and cerebral edema plus multiple fractures and bruising. He was placed in an induced coma to aid recovery. In July he was moved to the hospital in Pamplona, Spain.
He must stay in Spain for at least a month for rehabilitation at the hospital. “It seems a long time but really it is little after having endured so much in the last few tough months,” Flores said.
As to his physical condition, she noted that “the accident left many injuries.” Soler has ankle problems, and cannot walk alone because of dizziness, although he can walk for up to 25 minutes at a time.
Emotionally he is coping well, with Flores saying he is “so full of joy and motivation. He has a lot of mixed feelings, but he knows that every day is better. He had done everything possible and will to recover one hundred percent. Today for example he was discharged after a few hours in the morning but chose to stay at the clinic until the afternoon to complete his therapy session.”
- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 17:37
- Cycling News
Two more Leopard Trek riders find a new team
Martin Mortensen and Stefan Denifl will join Vacansoleil-DCM for the 2012 season, giving the Dutch team a total of 27 riders. It is a homecoming for both riders, as Mortensen rode for Vacansoleil in 2009 and 2010, and Denifl rode for team operations manager Jean-Paul van Poppel in 2010.
“At first we looked at keeping our strong core and young Dutch and Belgium riders for 2012 but also for 2013. After securing the future with them we looked to make our 2012 team stronger for the hard WorldTour programme. We looked at relatively young riders with WorldTour experience and found them with Denifl and Mortensen”, said van Poppel.
Mortensen, 26, was happy to return. “There is a lot of confidence from the team management which I appreciate a lot. The core of this growing team has been the same for many years and I am happy to return to the family. I look forward to work hard in the spring for riders like Leukemans and Marcato. One of my own goals is to do a Grand Tour in 2012. Preferably the Giro which starts in Herning, being the town I grew up in.”
This season, Mortensen finished second in the Danish national road race.
Denifl, 26, turned pro in 2006 and rode for Team Vorarlberg and Elk Haus in his native Austria before joining Cervelo TestTeam in 2010, where he worked with van Poppel. The climber finished fifth in the GP de Montreal.
- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 18:30
- Barry Ryan
Starting and then withdrawing would not honour race, says Piva
Mark Cavendish’s rainbow jersey will not be on show at the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday. He took the decision in conjunction not to start the season-ending classic with his HTC-Highroad team following his participation in Gran Piemonte on Thursday.
"We decided yesterday after Piemonte," directeur sportif Valerio Piva told Cyclingnews in Milan on Friday. "The idea in the beginning was to start Lombardy. Obviously, that’s not a race suited to Cavendish, so starting and then having to pull out after 50km wouldn’t a good situation, for him or for the race."
Cavendish was an early attacker at Gran Piemonte in a bid to show off his newly-earned rainbow bands, but after a high-speed opening to the race, he climbed off after 69km. "He wanted to honour the fact that he was starting Piemonte, but then when we got to the hillier part of the route, he was dropped there and he pulled out," Piva said. "Of course, it wasn’t his aim to start and then drop out."
Piva explained that Cavendish decided against starting Lombardy simply to show off his jersey, reasoning that the only place to honour a race is at the finish.
"He said it wasn’t a good thing for his image or for that of the organiser, so after the race, we decided together that it wouldn’t have brought anything to the race just to start and then pull out.
"When you take the start of the race, you have to wait until the end for doping control. You have to wait all day in the car or the bus, so we decided not to have him start. It doesn’t change anything for him or for us. Maybe having Cavendish at the start would have been nice for the organisers and for the public who would have seen him at the start, but from a sporting point of view, we decided against it."
In spite of his absence from the Race of the Falling Leaves, Cavendish is expected to be on hand for the official presentation of the 2012 Giro d’Italia route, which takes place in Milan on Sunday.
Bidding farewell to HTC-Highroad
In forgoing the Tour of Lombardy, Cavendish is also missing out on HTC-Highroad’s final WorldTour race, as the team failed to find a sponsor for next year. Piva admitted that it would be a strange sensation to wind down the season in the knowledge that the group would not be reassembling at the end of the winter.
"It hurts after having spent all these years in the team, it’s not a good feeling," he said. "It’s the end of the season, but we’ve done that plenty of times knowing that we would be back to start again the following year. You’d go on holiday, of course, but knowing that you would be back as part of that team.
"This moment is really the end of a beautiful period. We’ve had a lot of success but I think we’ve given a lot to cycling too. It’s a very sad moment for me."
Ironically, Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel were the last riders on HTC-Highroad’s 2011 roster to confirm their destination for next season, and Piva feels that it is testament to the depth of the squad that all of its members have secured contracts for next season, in spite of the competitive market.
"I think that all of the riders and even all of the staff are sorted for next year," he said. "It’s proof that we had a very good quality group, very professional, and I’m proud of that. I think they’ve all learned something from this team, everybody has received something.
"I’ve given something to the riders, but I’ve received so much in return, and that’s something that will stay with me and that I can take to other teams."
Piva himself will move on to Katusha in 2012, where he will be charged with attempting to replicate the kind of success he enjoyed at HTC-Highroad.
"I’m going to this team looking to bring my experience and maybe try to recreate the kind of team we had at HTC. That’s going to be a very hard task, I think, but I’m starting with enthusiasm. I’ll do my best to take the team to a high level, like it deserves."
- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 19:30
- Laura Weislo
Charlotte race avoids date overlap
One of the biggest changes to the USA's racing scene for 2012 is the creation of the National Criterium Calendar, and with it the change of date of one of the biggest races, the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium from August to April.
Cyclingnews spoke to the race's director Thad Fischer, who explained the shift was due to a date conflict with the UCI 2.1-ranked Tour of Elk Grove.
"We've always had a challenge avoiding conflict with other events, and part of our master plan was to find a spot on the calendar that didn't overlap with another race," Fischer said.
Last year Fischer moved his race up one week earlier when the Tour of Elk Grove became a UCI race and shifted to a date which conflicted with his Charlotte, North Carolina criterium.
For 2012, the late-summer weekends were busy with national-level races, with the July 28 Grand Cycling Classic, Tour of Elk Grove on August 3-5, and Tour of Utah on August 7-12.
"It was a challenge to find a slot that worked both in USA Cycling's calendar and the city of Charlotte's calendar, but we finally settled on April 14. The heat and humidity in North Carolina in August can be pretty atrocious, so the new date will help a lot on the ground. The spectators will be more comfortable and it will help the volunteers who are out there from dawn until after midnight, too."
While the race is still a bit of an island in the calendar with no adjacent events nearby, Fischer sees the race as the beginning of a Southeastern US swing for the criterium racers.
"The Sunny King Criterium is a week after us, and then you've got Athens Twilight and the USA Crits Speedweek," Fischer pointed out. "Nothing is perfect, but this date was the best option."
USA Cycling has broken out the criterium calendar from the stage-race-and-road-race-only National Racing Calendar, allowing ProTeams and Professional Continental riders to legally compete in the criteriums, but Fischer doesn't see the change having much impact on his event.
"We've always had the participation of the professional teams, and we strive to give value to our sponsors by holding a quality race with a quality venue and a quality prize list.
"It's important to be a part of the NCC, because some of the teams' sponsors use the rankings as a sort of 'report card'. We're also remaining part of the USA Crits series and we are fully supportive of that, too."
- Article published:
- October 14, 2011, 21:05
- Daniel Benson
Sky fails to renew Briton
Russell Downing has vowed to continue racing despite Team Sky not choosing to renew his contract for 2012. The 33-year-old faces a race against time as he tries to secure a WorldTour spot for next year, but confirmed to Cyclingnews that he would consider racing in the UK in order or sustain his professional career.
"I've not my contract renewed with Sky for next year and I've not got anything planned or worked out at the moment," Downing told Cyclingnews.
"It's pretty disappointing to be honest. I know the team is going bigger and better, but for two years I've done the job asked of me and this year I sacrificed my ride a lot of times. Last year I had a couple of chances in races and took them, which was brilliant. This year I've not had that many chances and had to work for others and that's what I've done. The team has gone bigger in some ways but it's gone smaller in terms of numbers and I've no longer got a contract," he said.
Sky formed at the start of 2010 with Downing a late signing after a superb win the Tour of Ireland, in which the then-domestic rider held off a number of ProTour teams - almost single-handedly - to take the win. His debut season with Sky was a success two: he took four wins including a stage in the Criterium International. He was retained for 2011 and raced the first Grand Tour of his career.
Downing has yet to record a win this season, but insisted to Cyclingnews that he has performed well, sacrificing himself whenever the team required it. Yet with Sky losing a number of riders, and having the likes of Richie Porte and Mark Cavendish enter the frame, Downing's position was under jeopardy.
"A lot of things have been going on with riders shuffling around and Cavendish coming and all of that. There's been a lot of concentration on that and I've been trying to get a decision. Now I have it. I don't think Cav coming meant there wasn't a place for me though."
"They were giving me a percentage chance of getting a contract and it's not really progressed since there, and to hear now that I don't have one is disappointing. The last two years for me have proved that I should have raced at the top level for the last few years and at the WorldTour level."
With a number of other riders also struggling to find spots for 2012 Downing might be forced to downgrade his ambitions and look beyond the WorldTour. The only certainty is that the Sky rider isn't ready to hang up his wheels just yet. Having fought tooth and nail in the UK and US domestic scenes for the majority of his career he has considered a return that familiarity.
"I've proved to people that I can do it at this level and I'd love to continue at this level. Racing is what I love doing and I want to keep racing at the highest level. I can't hold out forever though in the hope that a spot comes up so I'll have to make a hard decision in the next couple of weeks and see what cards are on the table. At the moment though, there aren't many."
"I'd definitely do that. I'm not going to stop racing and I love riding my bike. I've learnt a hell of a lot about myself in the last two years and take that to a lot of teams in terms of experience."