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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 30, 2013

Date published:
December 30, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Cassani favourite to become new Italian national coach

    Paolo Bettini and Davide Cassani
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 12:20 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Former domestique to decide in the New Year

    Following Paolo Bettini's resignation as Italian national coach, former professional rider turned television commentator Davide Cassani is in pole position for the prestigious role, with confirmation expected in the new year.

    Bettini is set to play a key role in Fernando Alonso's new team and resigned from the role of Italian national coach on Sunday. Cassani has emerged as the favourite for the position of 'Commissario Tecnico' ahead of fellow former professionals Stefano Zanini, Maurizio Fondriest and Gianni Bugno.

    In a vote on the Gazzetta dello Sport website, Cassani secured 38% of the votes ahead of Bugno (15%), Silvio Martinello (9%), Michele Bartoli (9%) and current Trek team manager Luca Guercilena (7%).

    Cassani may not have a world champion's palmares but was a valued domestique and a vital road captain for the Italian team in his final years a professional rider. He was selected for the Italian team nine times during his 15-year career He raced from 1982 to 1996, developing from a humble domestique with the Termolan team to become a respected road captain. He raced for Santini, Carrera, Gewiss, Ariostea, MG, and Saeco and won two stages at the Giro d'Italia. He was part of the Carrera team when Stephen Roche won the 1987 Giro d'Italia and won the Tour Méditerranéen in 1994 while at GB-MG.  

    "There's no point in hiding that Cassani is the number one candidate," Italian Cycling Federation president Renato di Rocco told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "But we've both still got some things to evaluate. We're going to meet in the New Year but I think we both want this to happen."

    A new challenge

    Cassani recently spent a month in London studying English and the success of cycling in Britain. He is currently on holiday in the British capital...

  • Gallery 2013: Through the lens of Sonoko Tanaka

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) and some riders tried 'sumo wrestling' before the Saitama Criterium
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 14:53 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Japanese photographer shares her memories of the season

    Our retrospective look at the 2013 campaign continues with a fine gallery of pictures from Japanese photographer Sonoko Tanaka. Sonoko clocks up more air miles than most as she covers a wide range of races all across Asia and Europe.

    This gallery includes some breathtaking shots from the Tro-Bro Léon, where Francis Mourey (FDJ) emerged victorious over the dirt roads of Brittany in April. The Tour de France and Tour of Flanders also feature prominently, as well as some stunning images from the Tour of Korea and the Tour de Singkarak in June.

    The Saitama Criterium in October provided a particularly fitting stage for Sonoko’s photography, as some of the biggest stars of the Tour de France, including maillot jaune Chris Froome, arrived in Japan to bring the curtain down on the 2013 season.

    Click here for the full gallery of Sonoko’s images.

     

  • Luis León Sánchez takes on role of leader at Caja Rural-Seguros RGA

    Luis Leon Sanchez was presented by Caja Rural - Seguros RGA in Pamplona.
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 16:42 GMT
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard reveals race programme for 2014

    Caja Rural-RGA’s last and most important signing for 2014, Luis León Sánchez, gave his first official press conference as a new rider for Spain’s only Pro-Continental team on Monday.

    With multiple stage wins in the Tour de France as well as two victories in the Clásica San Sebastian and overall triumphs in the Tour Down Under, Tour of the Mediterranean and Paris-Nice already in his palmares, a level of success that no other rider in Caja Rural-RGA has yet come close to achieving, the 30-year-old will almost automatically be the leader of the Pamplona-based squad in 2014.

    The last-minute signing of Sánchez, widely rumoured but only confirmed just before Christmas, represents a major step up for the team both in terms of potential results and expectations.

    During a press conference in Pamplona on Monday, Sánchez argued that “if I stay healthy and I don’t crash, then the wins should, hopefully, come along. But the main reason for being satisfied right now is being able to represent this team.”

    Sánchez aims to hit the ground running in January, taking part in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon and following that up with a solid diet of Spanish races from February onwards, including the Mallorca Challenge, Vuelta a Andalusia, Vuelta a Murcia – his home race, and in 2014, for the second year running, a one-day event – and the Clásica de Almeria.

    After that, he is hoping that Caja Rural RGA will obtain a wild-card entry for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, before he goes on to the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Clásica San Sebastian, Vuelta a Burgos and Vuelta a España.

    “I like my race calendar,” Sánchez said,...

  • Hoste loses appeal against biological passport ban

    Belgium's Leif Hoste (Katusha) had a serious crash and was forced to withdraw.
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 17:57 GMT
    By:
    Sadhbh O'Shea

    Three-time Flanders runner-up has fine reduced

    Former rider Leif Hoste has been given a two-year ban for irregularities in his blood passport by the Belgian Cycling Federation (RLVB) according to reports in the Belgian media.

    Hoste has denied the use of banned substances since the case was opened in January. His legal team challenged the original ruling saying that this was not indicative of doping and that "errors were made in the controls." However a drawn-out process, the RLVB confirmed the ban.

    Along with the two-year ban, Hoste was given a €150,000 fine, reduced from a possible €300,000, according to Het Niewsblad. His ban was given on the basis that three blood samples, one from 2008 and two from 2010, that showed suspicious blood values.

    During his 15-year career Hoste took three second places at the Tour of Flanders and won three national time trial championships. The Belgian, who rode for teams such as Mapei and Discovery Channel, announced his retirement due to back problems at the end of 2012. He can still appeal the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

  • Intxausti to ride 2014 Tour de France

    Benat Intxausti (Movistar) celebrates his victory on the podium
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 19:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    27-year-old will support teammate Valverde

    After two seasons away from the Tour de France, Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) will switch his season's focus back to the Tour for 2014. The Movistar rider will be there for experience and to ride in assistance of Alejandro Valverde, who is looking for his first Tour podium, according to Biciciclismo.

    Intxausti's main goal has been the Giro d'Italia for the last two years. This season, the Basque rider finished in a career-best eighth position, wore the pink jersey for a day and claimed victory in stage 16. Later on in the season, he took the overall victory at the Tour of Beijing, ahead of Dan Martin, after winning the queen stage.

    Next season's Giro will be the domain of Nairo Quintana, who is going for overall victory in the Italian Grand Tour. The Colombian may ride the Tour, but the team will still be one man short due to the departure of Rui Costa to Lampre-Merida at the end of this season. Intxausti has ridden the Tour de France once before, but he abandoned it in the first week and has since avoided it.

    Movistar are well aware that things can go wrong very quickly after Valverde punctured and lost almost 10 minutes on stage 13 of the 2013 Giro d'Italia. Quintana was the only rider to keep himself in the top 10, and after that stage, and was able to move himself into second place behind Chris Froome. In 2014, Intxausti may have a protected role as a back-up for Valverde, but that is unclear yet, and he's unlikely to reach the same giddy heights as his younger teammate.

    Intxausti will...

  • Report: Head of RCS Sport accounting under police investigation

    RCS Sport
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 20:45 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Corriere della Sera claims suspicions of fraud go back to 2012

    The Italian police investigation into the alleged misappropriation of up to 11 million Euro from the accounts of Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport has apparently taken a significant step forward, with Laura Bertinotti, the director of administration and accounting, now formally under investigation by police, according to a recent report in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

    Corriere della Sera, like RCS Sport, is owned by the RCS Media Group and the expert legal journalist Luigi Ferrarella suggested in his story that the alleged fraudulent activity was carried out included mysterious bank transfers, false payments and the approval of payments using faking signatures of senior management. His story suggests more than one person within RCS Media Group had to be involved to overcome internal accounting policy and checks.

    The report also claims that two police witnesses have revealed that senior accountants at RCS were first told of suspicions of fraud as far back as April 2012 when alerted by the company's bank.

    RCS Media Group refused to comment on the report when contacted by Cyclingnews.

    Laura Bertinotti worked for RCS Sport since 2006 but has since been fired by the company. She has denied any wrongdoing to a local newspaper in her home town of Arona.

    Former CEO Giacomo Catano and Managing Director Michele Acquarone have been fired by RCS Sport for failing to prevent the fraud but neither have been placed under investigation. The head of External Relations and Media Rights Matteo Pastore remains suspended but his involvement in the internal and police investigation has not been revealed.

    Acquarone has publicly denied being involved in the alleged misappropriation and has begun legal action against RCS Sport to defend his name.

    Before the holidays,

  • 2013 Report Card: FDJ.fr

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 21:40 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Pinot and co. compensate for Tour with strong Vuelta showing

    FDJ.fr 2013
    WorldTour ranking: 17th
    Win count: 33
    Top riders: Thibaut Pinot (33rd), Matthieu Ladagnous (67th), Arthur Vichot (76th)
    Grade: C+.  The team had a fine Vuelta a España, which almost lifted the squad to a B grade, but that was countered by a disappointing Tour de France.

    Report card: The Tour de France has traditionally been the gauge of the success or otherwise of FDJ.fr’s seasons, and by that measure, 2013 was not a vintage year. A glimpse at the wider picture, however, shows that by season’s end, the glass was at least half-full thanks to its young roster’s achievements outside of July, the lowly WorldTour ranking of 17th notwithstanding.

    After winning a stage, finishing in 10th place overall and installing himself on the front page of L’Équipe at the 2012 Tour, Thibaut Pinot lined up in 2013 with the hopes of an expectant nation on his shoulders, but the 23-year-old’s challenge was unravelled by the re-emergence of an old phobia of descending. Distanced on the way down the Pailhères on the opening mountain stage, Pinot lost over six minutes to Chris Froome and all hopes of a high overall finish, before abandoning the race through illness in the third week.

    It would have been understandable had Pinot opted to knock his season on the head there and then, but instead the Frenchman returned to action for the Vuelta a España, where he held his nerve and his condition for three weeks to ride to an impressive seventh place overall. Pinot had earlier climbed with the best to finish eighth overall at the Volta a Catalunya and fourth at the Tour de Suisse in a season that – the Tour apart – had seen him show further signs...

  • Rachel Neylan hoping to get back to her best

    Rachel Neylan (Australia) on the podium to receive her silver medal.
    Article published:
    December 30, 2013, 22:20 GMT
    By:
    Zeb Woodpower

    New team following a year of mishap

    For Rachel Neylan, 2013 was a disappointing year plagued by injury without the opportunity to improve upon her silver medal at the 2012 world championships. After reflecting on where she wanted to be to challenge for an Olympic berth in Rio in 2016, Neylan will spend 2014 with the Australian national women's Jayco AIS team. Her decision came after "a lot of reflecting, talking to people and aligning goals".

    Neylan may be moving on from Hitec-Products, but she thanked the team and Karl Lima for support during year verging on an annus horribilis. "The support by Hitec throughout a frustrating season was amazing. I've got the utmost respect for Karl Lima (team manager) and the way he has organically grown and managed the Hitec team to number four in the world," Neylan told Cyclingnews.

    "It was a learning experience even though I wasn't ever racing at one hundred percent. It was a brilliant year and being able to race as a domestique for Elisa Longo Borghini, Chloe Hosking and Rossella Ratto. It's an experience that I'm really grateful for."

    In 2012, Neylan capped off her season with silver at the Worlds but in the space of 12 months, the Australian found herself in the UCI commentary box. It was a reminder that the highs in professional sport can end quickly and it's hard fall from the dais when it's injury not skill that's letting you down.

    It was in September that Neylan met with Brad McGee, her now coach, and Kevin Tabotta in Tuscany post-Worlds to talk about where she was and what she wanted to achieve on the bike. "We reflected and assessed my goals, my options and my development thus far and ideally where I'd like to be in 2014, 2015, 2016," she said.

    "We came to the decision that Jayco-AIS would probably be the best place, being a positive learning environment, having a good structure, organisation and race program. It'll give me a framework where I can have the best opportunity to do what I love and...