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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, October 25, 2013

Date published:
October 25, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Shinichi Fukushima calls it a career at 42

    A happy Shinichi Fukushima following his stage victory
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 4:00 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Japan's cycling legend to coach La Pomme Marseille and build a Tour de France team

    Shinichi Fukushima, the only Japanese rider to have won the Tour of Japan to date (in 2004), has put an end to a 17-year long pro cycling career riding the Japan Cup for Nippo-De Rosa on Sunday.

    Born in September 1971, he was often introduced as the Asian version of Jens Voigt for his longevity and his combative riding style. "At age of 42, it is a little difficult to find time to study but I still want to learn new things from cycling while applying what I've learned," said Fukushima in an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews. "I guess this is my excuse to stop racing now."

    Fukushima became a household name in France as well as in Japan for being a leader for most of his younger compatriots who have pursued their dream of becoming a pro cyclist in the past fifteen years. His pre-season training camps in Thailand, where his wife and mother of four is from, have become famous in the Asian cycling community.

    "I started my professional career after winning a big amateur race [Circuit des deux provinces] in France at age 24," he recalled. "I had 17 tremendous years racing mostly in Europe and Asia. I was also very fortunate to have my brother Koji joining me later in my cycling career. I have some great memories racing together with him."

    The Fukushima brothers were famous for entertaining the crowds at starting areas and attacking from the gun. Each of them was among the first Asians to win a stage at Le Tour de Langkawi (Koji in 2005, Shinichi in 2007).

    "They are our most memorable victories," Shinichi said. "From my first participation to this race in 2001 to the last one this year as a member of the team winning the overall classification with Julian Arredondo, Malaysia has a special place in my heart. I've had Malaysian teammates [in the Terengganu team in 2011 and 2012] telling me they got their inspiration to cycling by watching us on TV racing Le Tour de Langkawi."

    The comment includes Yukiya Arashiro...

  • Riis: "Froome is the main favourite"

    Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad.
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 4:48 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Saxo-Tinkoff director comments on 2014 Tour de France parcours

    Team Saxo-Tinkoff director Bjarne Riis has played down the chances of his main charger Alberto Contador for next year's Tour de France and instead handed the tag of favourite to defending champion Chris Froome (Sky). Following the unveiling of the parcours for the La Grande Boucle Riis backed Froome to win his second Tour, but pointed to the five mountain stages stating, or hoping, that the good climbers in the peloton could put Froome under pressure before the time trial on the penultimate stage.

    "All in all, I'm content with the route as it has a good dynamic. Froome is the main favourite but there are quite a few mountains along the way where climbers get a chance to take time and put him under pressure before the crucial time trial," said Riis.

    In this year's Tour de France Froome was left isolated for the majority of the ninth stage after Team Sky were attacked left, right and centre by their opposition. Although it had minimal impact on the final GC the possibility was there to put Froome into great difficulty, and it is perhaps a similar level of aggression against Froome and Team Sky that Riis may be hoping to drum up for next year.

    Riis also shared the concerns already expressed by Froome and Contador over the inclusion of cobbles in the 2014 Tour where riders will face a tough 15.4km of pavé over nine sections during the 156km fifth stage.

    "Stage five with the cobblestones is definitely worth watching. As we know from the past, there are risks associated with the treacherous surface but it's a...

  • IAM Cycling, NetApp-Endura, Colombia and MTN in contention for Tour de France places

    The 2013 NetApp-Endura team jersey
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 8:26 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Three wild card invitations up for grabs in 2014

    With the route of the 2014 Tour de France now confirmed, the battle for a place at the Grand Depart in Yorkshire is underway.

    An agreement between organisers ASO and the UCI means the expected 18 WorldTour teams of 2014 will automatically be given a place in the Tour de France, while several Professional Continental teams will be hoping to secure one of the expected four wild card invitations -the golden tickets to cycling biggest race.

    Team Europcar will likely step up from Professional Continental ranks to the WorldTour and the demise of the French Sojasun team means only Cofidis and possibly Bretagne- Séché Environnement remain as a likely home nation candidates for two of the wild cards. That means two other places are up for grab for Professional Continental teams outside of France.

    I AM Cycling, NetApp-Endura, Colombia and MTN Qhubeka are all legitimate candidates for wild card invitations, with the UnitedHealthCare team of the USA also an outsider.

    All the teams had representatives at the Tour de France route presentation in Paris to begin lobbying for a place.

    The Swiss IAM Cycling team missed out on a place in a Grand Tour in 2013 but is in pole position for 2014 after signing Sylvain Chavanel, Jerome Pineau and Matthias Frank.

    "If we're invited, we'd have a lot to do to get ready. We don’t have the winner of the Tour in our team but our guys would do everything they can to be in the action throughout the race," IAM Cycling directeur sportif Serge Beucherie told French website Cyclism’Actu.

    Colombia team manager Claudio Corti was also in Paris. He is hoping to ride the wave of success by other Colombian riders in the peloton. Colombia was...

  • Hoogerland signs with Androni Giocattoli for 2014

    Johnny Hoogerland with Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 11:43 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Dutch champion to ride the Giro d'Italia

    Johnny Hoogerland will ride for Gianni Savio's Androni Giocattoli team in 2014 after reaching a late agreement to join the Italian team.

    The Dutchman rode for Vacansoleil-DCM this year but the WorldTour team has folded after being unable to find new sponsorship. Despite being known for his aggressive style of racing and being the current Dutch national road race champion, Hoogerland struggled to find a satisfactory offer from other WorldTour squads and so opted to join for the Italian-based Professional Continental team.

    Hoogerland hit the headlines during the 2011 Tour de France when he was involved in a dramatic crash caused by a car passing the breakaway. He had scored enough KOM points during the stage to earn the polka-dot mountains classification jersey but crashed into a barbed wire fence and needed 33 stitches for his injuries. Nonetheless, Hoogerland finished the stage and ultimately completed the entire Tour.

    This year he was hit by a car whilst training in Spain in February, suffering rib and spinal fractures, as well as liver damage. He returned to racing in late April and won the Dutch road title before riding the Tour de France. He was in talks with the Cannondale team but that option apparently ended when the team failed to reach a agreement with Tinkoff.  

    "Johnny is an important signing for us," Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio told Cyclingnews.

    "He's the current Dutch national champion and has real character. I'm sure he'll do well. His character suits our team because we like to be aggressive in races and so does Johnny. We always go on the attack, as our record of 1680km on the attack at the Giro d'Italia...

  • McQuaid fires back at laptop seizure story

    UCI President Pat McQuaid takes the oath before speaking at the French Senate hearing into anti-doping
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 13:10 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Kroll enlisted to help Cookson uncover alleged wrongdoing

    Pat McQuaid has fired back at a report in the Financial Times which claimed that his laptop computer was seized within minutes of Brian Cookson winning the UCI presidential election last month.

    In a message sent to Cyclingnews late Thursday evening, McQuaid wrote, “That story is bullshit - my laptop was with me in Florence and came back to Switzerland with me - a week later I gave it to the UCI to clear my UCI files and the laptop is now back with me!!”

    Within an hour of winning the UCI election Cookson and his campaign staff had sent an email to the UCI’s employees, in which he confirmed that Kroll, a private investigation firm would be collection data from the UCI staff’s computers.

    Kroll specialises in fraud, financial, bribery and other investigations with an expertise in computer forensics.

    The letter states that, “I asked Kroll, a data collections and investigations company to make a copy of our servers and some computers over the weekend. This data will be secured and the legal agreement we have with Kroll is that no-one will have access to it. The data will be transferred to the independent commission when it has been established and its terms of reference agreed. I want to reassure you that this is purely for the purpose of investigating serious allegations only, of the sort that appeared in the USADA Reasoned Decision. This preservation of data is for this specific purpose only. It will not be used for any other purpose.”

    Kroll was founded in the 1970s and has offices all over the world, including Switzerland, where the UCI is based. They have been previously described as the Wall Street’s “private eye.”

    Cookson had told the Financial Times that "Kroll had to secure the computers. They took all the back-up tapes and all the IT stuff. They were...

  • Gallery: Froome and Sagan step into sumo ring ahead of Saitama Criterium

    Marcel Kittel threw himself wholeheartedly into the sumo exhibition.
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 14:55 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    ASO launches new venture in Japan

    In spite of the impending arrival of Typhoon Francisco off the coast of Japan, the inaugural Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France takes place on Saturday, with Chris Froome (Sky), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and world champion Rui Costa (Movistar) among those lining up in the end of season showcase.

    The event takes place on a 2.6km circuit in Saitama City, 20 kilometres north of Tokyo, and consists of two points races – based loosely on the great Japanese tradition of the keirin – and a straightforward 20-lap scratch race.

    ASO president Jean-Etienne Amaury has described his organisation’s new venture as a “union between Japanese and French culture.” To that end, an exposition of French produce has been arranged in Saitama to coincide with the race, but above all, the criterium is a very visible effort to export France’s grandest sporting tradition, the Tour, to a large and increasingly attentive audience in the Far East.

    “This is the first event outside of the Tour de France to bear the name of the Tour de France,” Amaury pointed out. “We want to try and recreate in Saitama the ambience of sporting competition and popular fete that we see at the Tour.”

    Thanks primarily to the achievements of Fumiyuki Beppu and Yukiya Arashiro, who in 2009 became the first Japanese riders to finish the Tour, the race’s profile and the amount of live television coverage have already increased considerably in Japan in recent years, and Saturday’s criterium is an attempt to buttress that growth still further.

    “It’s important to explain what the Tour de France is to the public, because in Japan, cycling usually means keirin,” said Beppu, who lines up for Orica-GreenEdge on Saturday.

    Just like at a post-Tour criterium in France or the Netherlands, Froome will line up in the yellow jersey and Sagan will ride in green, while the Tour’s super...

  • Exclusive interview: Tinkov talks about Twitter, doping and his dislike of team managers

    Tinkoff team owner Oleg Tinkov at the race.
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 17:30 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Russian businessman ready to create his own team for 2015

    Oleg Tinkov has revealed he is likely to create his own team for 2015 after negotiations with Cannondale about team ownership ended without an agreement.

    The Russian businessman has successfully floated his Tinkoff Credit Systems credit card business on the London Stock market, boosting his personal wealth by several hundred million pounds.

    He confirmed to Cyclingnews in this exclusive interview that he is ready to invest up to 15 million Euro a year of that money into cycling but wants direct control of his investment.

    "Right now we're not talking to anyone. I imagine after this interview some people will call me because a lot of teams are really desperate for cash, but right now I don't want to sponsor a team, I want to own 100 per cent of a team," Tinkov told Cyclingnews from Thailand where is on vacation with his family.

    "If someone out there wants to sell their team, they should call us and call my Italian lawyer Stefano Feltrin, but I don't want 55 or 75 per cent, I want 100 per cent of the structure. Tinkoff Credit Systems is ready to fund a long term project, I'm talking about a three- to five-year project. We're ready to spend up to 15 million Euro, that's the budget of the bank right now."

    After deciding to end his support of Bjarne Riis' team, Tinkov makes it clear he is not ready to pay any price to stay in cycling in 2014. He knows that the sport will undergo major changes for the 2015 season and is ready to sit out for a season and even create his own team from scratch.

    "Some of the team owners are maybe ready to sell and we could buy them out, but I know they'll want money even if they don't have any value or assets, except for some old buses…" he...

  • Brailsford names Nibali as Froome's biggest rival for the 2014 Tour de France

    Sky's team principal Dave Brailsford speaks to the press at the 2014 Tour de France presentation
    Article published:
    October 25, 2013, 18:01 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sky manager hopes Wiggins will be part of the Tour team

    Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has named Vincenzo Nibali as Chris Froome's biggest rival for victory at the 2014 Tour de France, describing the Sicilian as "a real racer".

    Nibali was close to joining Team Sky back in 2010 but ultimately decided to stay with Liquigas. He joined Astana this year and went on to win the Giro d'Italia and finish second behind Chris Horner at the Vuelta a Espana. In 2012 Nibali was Team Sky's biggest rival at the Tour de France, finishing third overall behind Bradley Wiggins and Froome.

    Nibali has confirmed he will target the Tour de France in 2014 and Astana is building a team to take on Team Sky, setting up a duel between two of the sports biggest teams next July.

    "Nibali is our main rival. I've no doubts about that after seeing the route of next year's Tour de France," Brailsford told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "The thing I like about Vincenzo is that he's a real racer. He's a fighter, he's aggressive and never gives up. He can transform a stage into a trap, he's creative and courageous."

    "He always gives 100%. You can see his talented and has a modern way of racing. Just think what he can do on the difficult stages and there are a lot of them. On the pave where he's definitely better than Froome. I've seen him ride on the dirt roads at the Giro and then look how good he is on the bike on the descents when it rains."

    Race strategy

    Brailsford and Team Sky intend to carefully analyse the Tour de France route before deciding on their race strategy and nine riders for the race.

    "Nibali is the most complete of Chris' rivals. He could take advantage of the position of the only time trial because it's on the...