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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 13, 2013

Date published:
September 13, 2013, 21:00
  • Belkin looking for a Vuelta stage win atop Alto Naranco

    Bauke Mollema (Belkin)
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 07:48
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team targeting today's stage

    Belkin's four-man team laid low on Thursday's 18th stage in the Vuelta a Espana, preferring to hold their fire for today's easier mountain finish at Alto Naranco. The team plans to be part of the break of the day and so target their second stage win, with Bauke Mollema keen for another win.

    “We didn’t see a lot of opportunities today. Therefore, we were all able to save our energy for tomorrow,” said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman after Thursday's stage. “Bauke (Mollema) and David (Tanner) can win the stage. We’ll do everything to get them in the mix for the win. The final is quite explosive, which suits our men.”

    Mollema, who won the 17th stage with a last-minute attack, did have an eye out for a second consecutive stage win, but things did not work out.  “If the pack would have reeled in the break before the foot of the final climb, Bauke wanted to give it a go, but the peloton clicked into gear too late.” The victory went to Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) who was part of the day's original break group."

    Mollema would like to duplicate Kiryienka's feat. “An escape stands a good chance tomorrow. Of course, you never know if the other teams will want to, and can, close the gap, but we want to give it a go. It’s our best shot at another stage win,” he said.

    “Today, it became clear early on that the break was going to make it. At that point, none of us had much to gain. I saved energy so I can go all out again tomorrow.”

    Belkin's biggest problem could be the expected showdown between  race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard). The Italian leads the Vuelta by just three seconds, with Horner promising to attack on the finish to Alto Naranco. 

  • 2014 Giro d'Italia to end in Trieste

    A detailed profile of Monte Zoncolan
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 10:34
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    The Zoncolan climb to decide the final maglia rosa

    RCS Sport, the organiser of the Giro d'Italia has announced that the 2014 edition of the race will end in Trieste, in the extreme north-east of Italy, with a finish on Monte Zoncolan on the final Saturday expected to decide the final overall winner on the penultimate stage.

    RCS Sport announced the Trieste finish at a press conference in Trieste and coincides with the 60th anniversary of the city returning under Italian control after the second world war. The 2014 Giro d'Italia will start in Belfast, with three days in Northern Ireland and Ireland before transferring to Italy by plane.

    The full race route for the 2014 Giro d'Italia will be unveiled on Monday October 7, the day after Il Lombardia. The route of the race, once back in Italy, is expected to head north from Bari via Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, with a key time trial between Barbaresco to Barolo in the heat of the Piemonte wine region. A finish at the Santuario di Oropa near will remember Marco Pantani ten years after his death. Il Pirata won in Oropa in 1999 despite dropping his chain at the foot of the climb.

    The Zoncolan will be climbed on Saturday May 31 during the 167km 20th stage from Maniago. The stage includes the Passo del Pura and the Sella di Razzo before finishing atop the Zoncolan from Ovaro side. The 10.1km climb is considered one of the hardest in Europe, with an average gradient of 11.9% and sections at leg breaking 20%.

    Initial plans included a double ascent of the Zoncolan from two different sides of the climb but this idea was abandoned due to race logistical difficulties. It is the fifth time the Giro d'Italia climbs the Zoncolan. Gilberto Simoni was the first ever winner in 2003, climbing from the Sutrio side. He also won in 2007 climbing from Ovado, with Ivan Basso setting up his overall victory in 2010. Spain's Igor Anton was the last winner 2011.

    The Giro d'Italia will end in Trieste on Sunday June 1 with eight circuits of the city and an expected sprint finish after a 169km stage starting in Germona del Friuli.

    The north-eastern Friuli Venezia Giulia region has hosted a Grand Partenza of the Giro d'Italia in Trieste in 1981 and three finishes in 1966 (won by Gianni Motta) and 1973 (Eddy Merckx). In 1983, Giuseppe Saronni won the Giro d'Italia in Udine.

    Trieste has often hosted stages, with Alessandro Petacchi the last winner in 2009.

     

  • Vuelta returns to Naranco after 16 year absence

    The peloton en route from Lugones to Alto del Naranco during stage 3 of the Vuelta Asturias.
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 10:47
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Legendary Oviedo climb second last Vuelta 2013 summit finish

    Today the Vuelta a Espana reaches the Naranco climb outside Oviedo for the first time in 16 years and last seen in 1997 when Txente García Acosta, now a director with Movistar, rode through atmospherically swirling mist for a prestigious victory.

    Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Naranco was a regular Vuelta feature. It had its own hill climb, the Subida a Naranco, until a few years back, and it still features regularly in the Tour of Asturias. After the Basque Country, Asturias is one of Spanish cycling’s heartlands, and traditionally in the Vuelta thousands of fans would mass on the climb to cheer on the race.

    That said, the climb itself is not exceptionally hard or long – particularly compared with the Angliru. Naranco measures six kilometres, has an average gradient of four percent and some ‘ramps’ of 10 percent at the worst.

    Yet it has been witness to some key moments in Spanish cycling. In 1974, Jose Manuel Fuente, Asturias 'greatest ever rider and one of Spain’s top climbers, sealed his second victory in the Vuelta  on its first ever ascent of the climb in front of thousands of his supporters. With typical eccentricity,  as the rain teemed down, Fuente soloed across the line waggling his left leg in the air - a way he said, of thanking the doctor who had helped him, he said “sort out my varicose veins.”.

    22 years later, when Daniele Nardello won there for Mapei, the climb showed that the writing was on the wall for Miguel Indurain in the 1996 Vuelta. Whilst Alex Zulle, Laurent Jalabert and Tony Rominger all completed the Naranco within a few seconds of each - Zulle was the fastest, 2:26 down on Nardello in fifth place - Indurain crossed the line a good minute further down. The next day, on the road to the Covadonga Lakes where Zulle sealed his grip on the Vuelta, Indurain retired, never to return to competitive racing, barring one criterium.

    The local favourite today is none other than Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), gunning for a win a few miles from his home in Oviedo and with - possibly - new team owner Fernando Alonso coming along for a grandstand view from the Euskaltel-Euskadi team car.

    “I’ve known this climb since I was a kid,” Sanchez said prior to the stage. “And of course I would love to win here. It would be a huge boost for Euskaltel,” which has yet to net a stage in a Grand Tour this season, and with their GC options in the Vuelta long gone up in smoke.

  • Gazzetta dello Sport scrutinizes Horner's power data at the Vuelta

    Chris Horner (RadioShack) is a man on a mission
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 11:44
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian newspaper claims the American produced 6.83w/kg on the Peña Cabarga climb

    Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has scrutinized Chris Horner's performance during Thursday's stage at the Vuelta a Espana, calculating that the 41-year-old American produced a record breaking VAM of 2034 and a power-to-weight ratio of 6.83 watts/kg on the climb to the finish at Peña Cabarga.

    Gazzetta reporter Claudio Ghisalberti said that Horner covered the 4.9km climb In a time of 16:40 at an average speed of 21.240km/h, producing an average of 437 watts. That was 20 seconds faster than Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and 25 seconds faster than Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Horner failed to take the race leader's jersey by just three seconds but could go on to triumph in the final two mountain stages at the Vuelta.

    According to Gazzetta Horner's estimated VAM of 2034 apparently beats those set by Contador (1926) and Rodriguez (1903) on the Cuitu Negru climb on stage 14 of last year's Vuelta. Roberto Heras set a figure of 1900 in 2002. A reported tailwind helped the riders on the climb of Peña Cabarga and could be a factor in the high numbers.

    VAM stands for 'Velocità Ascensionale Media' or Average Ascent Speed, with the infamous Dr. Michele Ferrari one of the first to use the calculation to compare riders' performances on climbs. Ferrari has coached Lance Armstrong and many other riders over the years and has been widely accused of doping by witnesses who gave evidence in the USADA investigation into Armstrong and the US Postal Service team. He was given a lifetime ban after opting not to fight the charges, although he has always denied any wrongdoing.

    Gazzetta dello Sport claim that physiological experts agree that a 6.2 w/kg is natural limit of performance, with age often reducing an athlete's ability. Horner will be 42 on October 23 and is one of the oldest riders in the professional peloton.

    Pseudo science?

    Indirect performance data calculations have sparked much debate and argument in recent times. Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford dismissed similar calculations during the Tour de France as pseudo science. However French sports physiologist Antoine Vayer is convinced power data and VAM can be used to indicate unnatural performances.

    According to Dr. Ferrari the road surface, drafting from teammates and other riders, hairpins and the wind can greatly affect performance, power data and VAM. He claims on his 53x12 blog that road surfaces can cause a variation of 6-10%, while wind can have a similar affect.

    Horner races with an SRM power metre and the SRM website has published data from stage 10 of the Vuelta, when Horner won alone on the Hazallanas climb. The data shows he produced 390 watts in the final 4.5km of the climb, significantly lower than the calculations by Gazzetta for the Peña Cabarga climb.
     

  • Dennis a candidate for racing three World Championship events

    Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) gets his final podium kisses for taking the overall win.
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 13:47
    By:
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Sharp rider has hopes for team time trial, time trial and road race

    Rohan Dennis is hoping to pull the triple at the upcoming UCI road world championships: riding all three elite men's events. While his main focus is on the individual time trial, he thinks he has a good chance to make the Garmin-Sharp team time trial squad and that he can help the Australian team's captain in the road race.

    Dennis, 23, is only in his first pro year but can already boast of his first stage race victory. Last week he won the inaugural Tour of Alberta, winning the second stage and holding on for the overall victory.

    He proved himself earlier in the season, too, finishing third in the Tour of California time trial and second in the Criterium du Dauphine time trial, where he also wore the leader's yellow jersey for one stage. Dennis was also up for the Garmin Tour de France squad, only to be eliminated by an injury.

    The first of the events at the world championships is the team time trial, where he thinks he is “in he running” for the Garmin squad, he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

    ''I've said to a lot of people that the goal this year was to make the individual time trial at worlds and the road race is always up in the air,'' Dennis said. ''There are a lot of factors - [such as] … someone maybe more experienced to help out, and they won't have to be directed as much. So I never really expected the road race to be a major option for me this year.

    ''The time trial comes down to whoever can really put down the power for that distance and the time it will take … There are not as many tactics in it.''

    In the road race, he is ready and willing to work for the team leader, which will probably be Cadel Evans or Richie Porte. That is a role he is happy to accept in the 272km race.

    ''I know I am not in the running to be the leader … I have never raced over 230km. But I hope I am there for the experience and to help whoever is [team leader], which would be huge.''

  • Makarov: Full McQuaid dossier will go to an independent panel for review

    UCI President Pat McQuaid was  on hand to see the riders off
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 17:13
    By:
    Cycling News

    Cites a lack of independence by UCI ethics commission

    Igor Makarov has not yet turned over his full dossier concerning corruption allegations against UCI President Pat McQuaid and said that he would only do so if it would be reviewed by “an external and independent panel of experts.”  A summary of the dossier was leaked to the press earlier this week.

    That summary is now being examined by the UCI's ethics commission. However, in a letter leaked to the British newspaper The Telegraph and addressed to the ethics commission president Pieter Zevenbergen, Makarov, the head of the Russian cycling federation, noted that the secretary of that committee is also the UCI's legal services manager.

    He characterized this as “a basic demonstration of the absence of independency of your commission vis-à-vis the UCI management and of your clear incapacity to maintain any confidentiality of the investigation.”

    Makarov noted that he has sent the full dossier to the US Anti-Doping Agency, which gave Lance Armstrong a lifetime ban.

    He added, “I reiterate my strong wish to fully collaborate with the UCI ethics commission at the non-negotiable condition that an external panel of experts be appointed to carry out the investigation in total independency and impartiality.

    McQuaid has denied all charges in the dossier summary, calling them “a complete fabrication” and “not supported by a scintilla of evidence”.

  • McQuaid goes on the offensive before Zurich showdown

    UCI President Pat McQuaid speaks to the press
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 18:09
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Incumbent UCI President criticises Cookson and appeals to UEC members

    UCI President Pat McQuaid has gone on a media offensive before a vital meeting and presentation with members of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) in Zurich on Sunday, as the days count down to the presidential election in Tuscany on Friday September 27 during the UCI road world championships.

    Both McQuaid and rival candidate Brian Cookson will speak to the members of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme before they vote on their favoured candidate. The meeting could be a turning point in McQuaid's election campaign after serious doubts about his nomination and the success of his two terms as UCI president.

    McQuaid has often tempted the global expansion of professional cycling but has now backed ideas to bolster European racing as he tries to sway the UEC vote in his favour.

    “The UCI has a duty of care to realise cycling’s global potential but we must respect the traditions and heritage that have made our sport what it is today,” said McQuaid in a press release from his personal press office.

    “The greatest races on the global stage have been fought out in Europe for generations. Europe is cycling’s heartland – or to be more precise – Europe is the beating heart of world cycling."

    He also came out firmly against plans for a new Cycling Super League, using the subject to attack rival Brian Cookson.

    “Creating 10 new cookie-cutter four-day races to sit alongside the one-day classics and three Grand Tours is the death-knell for cycling,” he said.

    “Unlike my opponent in the UCI Presidential election I have no association with those who support such a strategy and I am very clear on where I stand on this threat to undermine the European race calendar,” he added.

    The real architect of British Cycling?

    On Thursday McQuaid tried to weaken Cookson's campaign by suggesting that the retired architect hopes to live in Britain if he becomes UCI president.

    “It is already very clear that Brian is seeking a coronation instead of an election. Now he wants to become a ceremonial President,” said McQuaid in a press release from his personal press office.

    “I appreciate that Brian has retired but the UCI can not reform its governance and management to accommodate his retirement plans or to facilitate being remunerated while keeping his feet up at home in Lancashire."

    He also rejected the notion that Cookson had been behind the transformation and success of British Cycling.

    “It can hardly be a mistake that the Queen chose to knight Sir Dave Brailsford as the architect of British Cycling’s success. It is certainly reassuring that I am not alone in distinguishing one architect from the other,” he said.

    “Sir Dave Brailsford, National Lottery Funding and Sky’s five-year multi-million Euro agreement to become British Cycling’s principal sponsor are what has transformed British Cycling."

    Cookson has so far not replied to McQuaid's provocation or proposals. The two will go head to head in Zurich on Sunday.

  • Horner back on top and eying overall Vuelta a España victory

    Chris Horner (RadioShack) reclaimed the race lead on stage 19
    Article published:
    September 13, 2013, 19:15
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    41-year-old rejects idea that current form is a new highpoint

    Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) says he is surprised to be back in the top spot overall but if the American had any objections to regaining the overall lead of the Vuelta a España for a third time, he certainly didn't show them in his leader's press conference.

    The 41-year-old is - once again - the oldest rider ever to lead a Grand Tour by far, given the previous record was held by Andrea Noe when the Italian was a comparatively baby-faced 38 in the 2007 Giro. However, Horner criticized unspecified media outlets who had allegedly said that his 2013 Vuelta form was exceptional, and he argued instead that this was a return to the same kind of condition he has had in other top races.

    Now leading by three seconds after making up six on Nibali on the Naranco climb at the finish of stage 19, Horner said, "It's always nice to have the red [leader's jersey], I didn't think it was coming today. It's a big surprise because that last climb was hard, not really hard."

    He explained that when Rodriguez attacked he had let the Spaniard go without trying to follow him because "today it was a game of tactics. I was never in the red in the last climb. I didn't want to go for the time bonus because of [Alejandro] Valverde being likely to win."

    "It was better for me to let [Joaquim] Rodriguez go, watch Valverde and drop [Vincenzo] Nibali off. I was disappointed to lose the red jersey and I can imagine how disappointed Nibali is now."

    His racing legs, he said after briefly switching into Spanish, are "fantastico. If I have the same kind of legs tomorrow, I should have the jersey in Madrid."

    Not knowing the Angliru may be seen as a disadvantage by some riders, but not Horner. "If I turn left, it's steep, if I turn right, it's steep. I'll watch it tonight on TV and see what it's like."

    At his age, he admitted, he preferred warm weather to dry, but if it does rain - as has been forecast, although late Friday evening the forecast had to switched to being for a dry day Saturday - "It doesn't change much. If it rains, I'll wear more clothes."

    Staying optimistic seems to be Horner's default position and he is looking very positively at tomorrow's last ascent. "Honestly, my legs feel fantastic, I'm looking forward to the Angliru, I have been since three or four months ago."

    "Would I like to win the stage? Absolutely. Do I need to? No. It would be better for me is somebody else did rather than wait for a sprint and then maybe lose time to Valverde or Nibali who are faster than me. Would I like it though? Sure."

    Other race leaders might feel nervous with such a tenuous advantage when it comes to leading a Grand Tour and with only two days left to go, but Horner refuses to be intimidated by it. Having experienced triumphs and defeats on many occasions before, he is willing to take his chance.

    "I didn't lose any sleep last night about being three seconds behind, so I'm not gonna lose any sleep tonight about being three seconds ahead," he reasoned. "At my age, I'm used to winning and used to losing. To be in the lead of the Vuelta with two days to go, it's not the first surprise of my life, but it's a very good one."

    But Horner appears to be anything but complacent, saying "Nibali and Valverde are a big threat still. They're just seconds behind me. If I keep only three seconds lead, I'll still possible lose the jersey in Madrid and I don't want to worry about that on Sunday."

    Another concern is the way his performance is being viewed outside the race, with Horner firmly rejecting suggestions that his racing in the Vuelta is unusual for him.

    "The press has said this is ‘the best form of my life', but it's not." Horner insisted before saying "When I won Pais Vasco [in 2010] I had this form, in California I had this form."

    In a long answer, Horner then cited several other occasions - the 2011 Tour de France, the 2010 Tour, the 2009 Giro and Vuelta - when he had had "amazing form" but either crashes and injuries or team responsibilities had curbed his chances of shining as well as he would have liked.

    "The press has been irresponsible even to print that this is my best form, it's not my best form, this is just one moment when my best form has arrived at a fantastic moment," Horner argued.

    "I've always been under-rated or not quite given the leadership when I think I should have had it for different reasons," he said in another answer. "Maybe [because of] my age, or maybe I'm not brass enough. But there's always something in my career that made people think I'm not as good as I am."

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