- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 02:37
- Cycling News
Russian billionaire to create a "completely different team"
Rumours have been circulating recently about Oleg Tinkov providing a last minute reprieve for Euskaltel Euskadi, the financially struggling Spanish team. As reported by Spanish newspaper Deia, these rumours may have an element of truth to them as both parties have recently held talks over the future of the team. It has been stated rather succinctly by the Spanish paper that Tinkov presents the team's "only chance of survival".
Euskaltel is a struggling Basque telecommunications company that is blaming the financial crisis within the company for failing to provide the requisite money for the team's continuation. The company has provided the two to three million Euros required of them for this season, but the agreed seven to nine million for the coming three years is now out of the question.
Tinkov's lawyer, Stefano Feltrin, remarked on Sunday that Tinkov is currently assessing several different business options, one of which is a possible bankrolling of the Euskaltel team. Tinkov is reserving judgment as to his possible involvement until he visits the team during the first week of the upcoming Vuelta a España.
If Tinkov goes ahead with purchasing the team's license he will undergo a complete gutting of the team's roster and its infrastructure. It's been reported that his intentions are to create a "completely different team" that has "nothing to do with the current one".
He would go about this by uprooting the team from its Basque base and moving all operations to Tuscany, Italy. He then plans to retain some of the current staff and only a few of the current "interesting" riders. Thus it appears that riders who have recently been told that they need to look for new homes may need to do so anyhow, whether the new sponsorship arrangement comes through or not.
- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 03:50
- Pat Malach
Defending champion Vande Velde doubts he is as strong as in 2012
The 2012 edition of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado witnessed a virtual blitzkrieg from Garmin Sharp, which sent riders up the road from kilometre zero of the opening stage and never really let up until Christian Vande Velde took the final yellow jersey on the last day in Denver.
It was an impressive display of aggressive riding that led to the overall win, but neither Vande Velde nor recent Tour of Utah winner Tom Danielson would tip their hats Sunday as to what would be the team's strategy this year.
Vande Velde crashed hard during the Tour de France in July and admitted Sunday that he is not in the same form in Colorado as he was last year. But Danielson, who took a stage win in Aspen in 2012, is obviously flying, and Andrew Talansky, the 24-year-old rising star who finished 10th overall at the Tour de France less than a month ago, will also be in the Garmin mix.
"I'm definitely behind," Vande Velde said of his current fitness. "There's no doubt about that compared with last year. I had to leave early from the Tour de France, but I've kind of put the pieces together in the last couple of weeks before Utah… But I hold this event near and dear to my heart, and I'm going to give it my all. It really doesn't matter how I am, though, just as long as one of us from Garmin is on the top step. That's all that really matters."
Team director Charly Wegelius was credited for last year's audacious attacking strategy, and the retired former WorldTour domestique is back behind the wheel of the team car again this year. But Danielson said on Sunday that Wegelius' presence doesn't guarantee the team will come out firing again when the race starts Monday.
"The course is different this year," Danielson said. "We have a different team this year, with a different scenario and different competitors. So it's not the same. Last year it was almost like two teams racing against each other. This year there are more strong teams so that tactic maybe doesn't work. So you have to be smart. You can't just say we're going to go nuts, because it really only works when certain guys are in certain form over certain mountains."
Danielson emphasized the key to success this year is a strong team, and Garmin obviously has multiple cards to play this week. But Danielson also said the 2013 field is much deeper, and repeating last year's long-bomb strategy could backfire.
"It's a very strong field this year with Sky and the Tour de France Champion," the Utah winner said. "You have to be careful, you can't do crazy stuff, 'cause they'll just smack you in the face right afterward. We'll be as strong as we can be, and we'll try to be as smart as possible."
Being smart, opportunistic and aggressive can take a team a long way, and having multiple riders who can win the overall puts Garmin in a strong position to repeat. But could Garmin find itself in the position of having too many cooks in the kitchen this year.
"Absolutely not," Danielson said emphatically. "That's why our team is so successful, because we're all good friends. We all buy into the plan. We all train together and we hang out together. We did Utah together and between Utah together. We're all on the same wavelength.
"I think our team is very good at coming together as one and doing our best, especially in Colorado where our roots are from and where a lot of us have houses," Danielson said. "We're quite a force in Colorado, for sure."
Garmin Sharp USA Pro Challenge roster: Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson, Thomas Dekker, Rohan Dennis, David Millar, Lachlan Morton, Andrew Talansky, David Zabriske.
- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 05:01
- Cycling News
A thirteenth pro season for lead-out specialist
Graeme Brown has re-signed with Belkin for another season, the Australian an essential element of the success of sprinter Theo Bos.
Now 34, Brown originally signed on with the Rabobank outfit in 2006 making him the longest-serving member of the current line-up and in all that time has been bound by just one two-year deal.
"I've been in this team for quite a while now, and I feel at home here," Brown said. "The relationship with Theo has evolved in a good way in these last years. I see that my experience is important to him. He trusts me, and that's our key to success. We hope to do some nice sprints in the Vuelta again."
Since joining the Dutch squad, Brown has evolved from sprinter to lead-out man and earlier this season, told Cyclingnews that the switch in role was a "no-brainer."
"He's quicker than me so it's about making sure he wins the race," he explained. "It's not rocket science. There's no use him leading me out - I'm not quicker than him."
According to sports director Nico Verhoeven, Brown plays a major role in getting Bos, who has won six times this season, to the line in the right position.
"The last couple of years Graeme has been a crucial element for Theo Bos. They've done almost every race together and Graeme was key in Theo's wins," said Verhoeven. "He knows what's expected in the final of a race and you really need someone like that in your team. Graeme is a pillar for Theo, so it's only logical we wanted to extend his contract."
Brown lines up for his ninth grand tour at the Vuelta a España later this month.
- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 05:57
- Peter Hymas
Hopes stint at altitude augers well for remainder of season
Rory Sutherland soloed to the biggest victory of his career at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge (USAPC), with a stage win atop Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, Colorado, where the 31-year-old Australian has called home since 2007. Sutherland has had solid results at each of his two previous USAPC starts, with a 10th place overall finish in the inaugural 2011 edition followed by his memorable stage victory last year, each achieved while competing for the US-based Pro Continental UnitedHealthcare squad.
Sutherland returns to this year's third USAPC edition, however, as a key member of the WorldTour Team Saxo-Tinkoff squad, and when he rolls off the start line in Aspen, Colorado for the opening stage on Monday it will be his first, and only, race in the US this season. Speaking to the assembled media in today's pre-event press conference, Sutherland touched on his stage victory last year and was cautiously optimistic about his build-up for this year's USAPC edition.
"I don't think we can ever re-do, or want to re-do, what happened last year," said Sutherland. "Obviously it was a fantastic day and I think the whole peloton and all the fans appreciated it. Everybody saw how big racing and cycling is in Colorado.
"This year is a new team, new opportunities, different teammates, a different kind of preparation coming into it than kind of doing the local US thing."
Sutherland moved to his European base in Girona, Spain in November of 2012 and has resided in Europe and ridden a full European program for the first half of the season as part of Team Saxo-Tinkoff. The Australian has contested four WorldTour events thus far this season - Paris-Nice, Giro d'Italia, Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne - and has had solid results at races such as the Spanish one-day Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta race, where he finished sixth behind winner Rui Costa, as well as a 10th place general classification result at the Tour of Turkey.
Sutherland last raced at the Tour of Austria, ending in early July, and returned to Boulder, Colorado in mid-July. He's spent five weeks at home and is eager to kick off the latter part of his 2013 season. Sutherland spoke to Cyclingnews about this different approach to USAPC preparation.
"That's the question mark we're not sure about and that's kind of the beauty of it at the same time," Sutherland told Cyclingnews. "I'm not tired so I can't go the other direction, but I might just be the same which is absolutely fine. I've obviously done well here in different areas in the last few years.
"Everything in training indicates I'm going better, but it's training and training numbers and that's not what you can go off of. Day-by-day we're going to see where I'm at. Confidence and recovery is pretty much what the key's going to be anyway."
Sutherland is joined in Colorado by fellow Australian Michael Rogers, and the team is heading into the race with a wait-and-see approach to tactics and strategy.
"I think we'll have to see how it goes the first few days," said Rogers. "I'm a lot heavier than some of these little guys up here so I've got to choose when to use my bullets.
"We're going to see how Mick [Michael Rogers] is going as well. He's a phenomenally classy bike rider and very intelligent on the bike as well. As long as someone from our team is in a good position than that's the goal for the team. If Mick's riding better that's great, if I'm riding better that's great or someone else."
2012 US pro champion Timmy Duggan also made the move to Saxo-Tinkoff and the Nederland, Colorado resident is looking for a good result this week as well.
"We didn't bring as strong a team as some of the others so we can watch a little bit and choose what to do when we want to do things," said Sutherland.
Sutherland also has an eye on the remainder of his 2013 program following the USAPC and is hoping his stint in Colorado will kick start the remainder of his year. Sutherland is slated to contest both of the WorldTour one-day races in Canada, then returns to Europe where he hopes to be selected for Australia's world championship squad. Il Lombardia closes out his European campaign, with the Tour of Beijing to conclude his first season with Team Saxo-Tinkoff.
"It's a pretty cool program and I'm really excited about it because having a good break and spending time at altitude I usually ride very well at the later part of the year," said Sutherland.
- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 08:26
- Cycling News
Kemna: "Stybar was just better."
Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) started the final stage of the Eneco Tour with a slim nine second lead to defend over eventual winner Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma–QuickStep). Although Dumoulin was unable to rein in Stybar in the hectic finale, he still put in a respectable ride to finish in second on the general classification.
"Even if I am happy with second place, of course I feel some disappointment," said Dumoulin after he caught his breath. "Yesterday we fought hard for the lead and then to give it away on the last stage is quite hard. When Chavanel came back everything looked pretty good, we did what we had to do and everything was going to plan. But I could really feel my legs so an attack was difficult to cover, and when it came I just couldn’t follow."
"I am really happy about with my progression though, to be at this level now is the result of hard work and of course the work of the team," continued Dumoulin. "I hope to grow into a rider for these kind of races and I will certainly be back to battle again for the victory."
Argos-Shimano coach Rudi Kemna was proud of Dumoulin’s efforts and had no qualms in admitting defeat to a stronger Omega Pharma-QuickStep team on the day.
"We are proud of Tom today, Stybar was just better we can say," explained Kemna. "It was a good break for us from the beginning, so we controlled where necessary and knew Tom had to stay close to Stybar. When Stybar attacked in the final kilometers he just could not follow and that is racing."
"We are proud of this second place, we proved that we have the ability, and also when it comes to the general classification in WorldTour races, especially in these kind of races with time trials and small mountains," added Kemna.
It’s the overall development of young talents that Argos pride themselves on, and the progression of Dumoulin since he transferred from Rabobank in 2012 exemplifies that, Kemna explained.
"We are working on a dedicated training plan to bring our young talents to the next level and it is good to see that they are now proving that they can perform at this level and that there is still space for growth."
- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 09:31
- Cycling News
BMC rider to be in Spain next weekend despite knee stitches
Philippe Gilbert's crash at the Eneco Tour put an end to his hopes of winning not only Saturday's stage near his home in the Ardennes hills but also the race. However, his injuries are not serous enough to keep him off the bike for long, and the BMC Racing Team has confirmed that the World Champion will be at the start of the team time trial which opens the Vuelta a Espana in Vilanova de Arousa on Saturday.
Gilbert, along with teammate Taylor Phinney, crashed with about 60km to go on Saturday's Eneco stage. The Belgian finished the stage after some help by several teammates, crossing the finish line in 22nd place before heading to the hospital. Examinations showed no serious injuries, but the injury required eight stitches.
He has returned to his home in Monaco, and the doctors have ordered him several days of rest.
"I'm not the least worried that Phil will be at the start of the Vuelta," said team manager Yvon Ledanois. "It was impossible that he would start in the last stage of the Eneco Tour, but there's nothing broken or fundamentally injured. Phil will have three or four days rest, but with the form he is in, I do not expect a decline."
“He will be there fully for the Vuelta. We have two, three stages picked out, but he especially wants to lay the foundation for the World Championships.”
- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 10:34
- Cycling News
German veteran looks to help youngsters but also to ride for himself in final year
The new Team Trek has confirmed that Jens Voigt will ride for the team in 2014. It will be his eighteenth season in the peloton.
Voigt, who turns 42 in less than a month, had announced on Twitter earlier that he would ride again in 2014, and now the team has confirmed his signing.
“I'm glad Trek and I got to an agreement for 2014. It's been three crazy years for me on Trek, with a lot of highlights, and I'm happy that we can go on for another year," said Voigt.
"Looking at the young kids: I see the future. They are ready to spread their wings. But maybe I can close one more gap for them, or teach them something from my years of experience. I feel I still have some gas left in the tank, so I can't wait for what's coming!"
Trek Vice President Joe Vadeboncoeur was thrilled with the signing, praising Voigt.
"There has seldom been a foot soldier like Jens Voigt, he is the ultimate hardman. He attacks, he works like a dog, he crashes – and he gets up and does it all again the next day. Trek is honored to have Jens finish his career here."
Voigt has been in the peloton since 1997, when he turned pro with ZVVZ-Gian-AIS, and has ridden for Credit Agricole, CSC/Saxo Bank, and Leopard-Trek/RadioShack over the years. He has taken part in the Tour de France 16 times, every year since 1998, and has won two stages, in 2001 and 2006.
But, as the Trek press release pointed out, “the affable German has showed little signs of slowing down, as witnessed in stage 5 of the Tour of California and stage 20 of this year's Tour de France.”
Voigt won the stage in California in a solo effort, jumping from a small group with five kilometres to go. As he put it: “You have to catch them by surprise. You gotta make sure they're busy watching each other - Sagan looks for Hushovd, Hushovd watches Tyler Farrar, and they just say, 'It's just old Jensie, we'll catch him back, he's going to die out there.'”
In the penultimate Tour stage, Voigt was in the break group of the day, eventually leaving the others behind and going into the final climb in a solo. He was overtaken by the climbers and finished the stage seven minutes down, and was named most combative rider for the stage.
His race schedule for 2014 has not yet been planned, “but fans will want to pay close attention as it may be one of their last opportunities to watch a rider that has embodied the best of cycling,” Trek said.
- Article published:
- August 19, 2013, 11:49
- Stephen Farrand
Briton plans to target the track at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Bradley Wiggins has confirmed that he will ride with Team Sky for one more year before focusing on the track and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with Great Britain. He has conceded that he will never again target overall success at the Tour de France and knows he will have to play a 'super domestique' role in support of Chris Froome if he rides the Tour de France for a final time in 2014.
Wiggins finished 91st at the Eneco Tour, opting to finish in the peloton on most days. He targeted the 13.2km time trial stage but finished fifth on the twisting technical course. He has already put on several kilogrammes as he beefs up for the world championship time trial in Tuscany and admits he will never return to being the skinny stage race rider of recent years.
"I'm going to continue to the next Olympics and try for a fifth gold on the track. That's the plan," Wiggins told The Times newspaper in a major interview published in Monday.
"Having lost weight and muscle the last few years, I wouldn't be able to walk back into that team pursuit squad, so I'm not taking it for granted, but I am working towards that. It would be nice to finish the career with another Olympic gold."
Wiggins was not selected to ride this year's Tour de France due to the knee injury that forced him out of the Giro d'Italia. He admits it was not easy to miss riding the 100th edition of the Tour as defending champion but accepts that Chris Froome has now proven he is a Tour de France winner, who could dominate the race for the next few years.
"I don't mind admitting that Chris is probably a better Grand Tour rider than me. He is a much better climber, he can time-trial well. He has age on his side, he has no kids. That's fine."
"If Chris wants to, he could potentially win five Tours now. So if I want to win another Tour, I'd probably have to leave the team." Would he leave? "No," he said. "I love this team. This is my home. I'm not going to go, 'I want to be the leader still, so I'm off.'"
Wiggins said he would "love to go back to the Tour" next summer and "do a job as a super-domestique" and "maybe win a time-trial stage" but he also questions openly whether "there is a place for me on that team". He will be 34 next April and knows he will have to fight for his place in the Team Sky Tour de France squad. Even if Froome misses the Tour through injury, Wiggins would not be able to step in and go for overall victory.
"Because of the work I am doing. I am p****** on my chances for that," he said.
"I can't put all this weight on and then suddenly lose muscle and do GC again. Anyway, the next person in line, the natural successor, is Richie Porte. He really is the next one who could potentially win the Tour."
Bad blood with Froome
Chris Froome often describes the alleged tension between him as Wiggins as something stirred up by the media but Wiggins admitted their spat caused the spilling of a lot of bad blood. Things reached a low point before the Giro d'Italia when the two took swipes at each about Tour de France leadership in interviews. Wiggins has now had time to reflect on his career and his future while missing the Tour de France.
"I know that at the last press conference I gave before the Giro, saying that caused quite a stir from Chris's camp. I remember at the start of the Giro, there was a lot of s***, and, to be honest, it affected me," he said.
When Team Sky opted to back Froome as team leader and for the future, Wiggins was forced to do a lot of soul searching.
"At that point it was clear," he said. "We've got this 28-year-old guy [Froome] who looks like he can dominate for the next few years and they are going to back him. Then there's me: 32, knocking on a bit. In a sense I kind of accept that," he said.
Wiggins described himself as being "in an acceptance phase, tussling with events, his past, his ambitions, the reality of the present and his ego.
"There was a lot of reflection. A lot of it is just ego," he explained, suggesting he has now accepted how things are.
"I was thinking: 'You know what, I am quite happy with my lot. I've achieved everything I want to achieve. I am good at what I am good at; I am good at the odd time-trial. I've already won the Tour de France, no one can take that away from me.'"
He is now able to put his 2012 Tour de France and Froome replacing him as team leader at Team sky into perspective.
"You can look at it two ways. You can go: 'F****** hell, he's got my crown.' Or, you can think: 'You know what, this race is unbelievable. I did this last year. How did I do it?'
"A year ago, I took everything in my stride, but a year later, you are on the outside watching it and it is inspiring in some ways, watching the guys doing what they were doing. And in a way I was like: 'I'm glad I'm not there because it looks bloody hard.'"