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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 4, 2013

Date published:
February 4, 2013, 22:00
  • Qatar crash leaves Modolo with likely scaphoid fracture

    One day after finishing runner-up to Cavendish, Sacha Modolo (Bardiani-CSF Inox) goes one better to win stage 2 at the Tour de San Luis.
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 05:33
    Cycling News

    X-rays to confirm damage to hand of Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox sprinter

    Crossing the line nursing his left wrist and a possible fracture to his scaphoid, Sacha Modolo's Tour of Qatar ambitions appear to be over. The Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox sprinter crossed the Stage 1 finish line more than 16 minutes behind the day's winner Brent Brookwater, clearly in pain before having his injuries assessed.

    His Italian team will likely start without its main sprinter if today's x-rays conclude his wrist is in fact broken. Diagnosis after the stage was inconclusive according to the rider who tweeted shortly after the stage.

    "Fall from "stupid" and 60 km events taking only the handlebar with your left hand. Now visits hoping there is nothing broken," he tweeted.

    "The symptoms are broken scaphoid but without x-ray you can not understand. Tomorrow we're going to do is x-ray and see .... Mah .."

    It's a disappointing blow for the 25-year-old who was clearly in good forming following his performances at Tour de San Luis. Modolo finished second to Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) on the opening stage in Argentina before getting one back on the Manxman in Stage 2.

    The month of February has not treated the Italian well over the past two years. It was around this time in 2012 when Modolo and his teammate Marco Coledan were shot at whilst on a training ride near Scomigo di Conegliano, Italy.

    The full extent of Modolo's injuries is expected with the coming days.


  • Nys the greatest ever, says Stybar

    Czech rider Zdenek Stybar has already won 'cross races this year
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 08:28
    Barry Ryan

    Czech rider watches Worlds from Qatar

    Zdenek Stybar has hailed Sven Nys as the greatest cyclo-cross rider of all-time in the wake of the Belgian's victory in the world championships in Louisville on Saturday.

    Although 13,000km and eight time zones away, the former double world champion Stybar was happy to forgo an early night ahead of stage 1 of the Tour of Qatar to watch his former rivals do battle in Kentucky.

    "I think now he has confirmed that he is the best cyclo-cross rider ever because he has survived all the generations," Stybar said of the veteran Nys, who claimed his first world title in 2005 but had endured a string of rainbow disappointments thereafter.

    "He is now 36, so it was funny to see [third-placed] Lars van der Haar on the podium beside him yesterday, because he is 20 and almost young enough to be his son."

    Nys has hinted that he is considering retirement in 12 months' time and Stybar told reporters at Dukhan Beach on Sunday that it was only fitting that he would spend what might be his final season in the rainbow jersey of world champion.

    "I am happy for him that he has a second title near the end of his career and now he can really enjoy his year in the rainbow jersey," said Stybar, who felt that Nys had appeared unsure of himself in the early laps. "Sven didn't look that good and I actually think he was not confident. He was just waiting, waiting, waiting, which was strange for him. But once he got in the front, I started to think he was going to make it."

    Stybar was speaking at the end of stage one of the Tour of Qatar, where he put in a long shift of work in the wind in support of Mark Cavendish. The Czech has opted to step back from cyclo-cross in order to make an impression on the road, and 2013 marks the first year that he will ride a complete road season.

    Although Stybar is aiming to play a part in Omega Pharma-Quick Step's classics squad, he confessed that it was hard not to think of what could have been as he watched the cyclo-cross Worlds.

    "You know, in the beginning, I wasn't thinking about that too much, but once the race started, and I saw the circumstances and the course, I started to think that maybe it could have suited me," he said. "But look, I had decided already. Everyone has to make some choices, and I've decided to go on the road and I have to be confident that it's the right choice."

    It seems unlikely that Stybar will be tempted to return to cyclo-cross full-time in the foreseeable future, particular given the impact he made in a limited road campaign in 2012. He refused to be drawn, too, on whether he might at least line up for the world championships in his home country in Tabor in 2015, although he mused that it would be easier to reconcile with his road commitments than a Worlds on the other side of the Atlantic.

    "In two years, it's in Tabor, but it's difficult to say if I'll be there," he said. "Maybe it's easier to ride it in Europe, but for the US, I would have just lost too much time in my preparation for the classics. But also, it's not possible be 100% [at the Worlds] with six hours [of cyclo-cross racing] in the legs."


  • Sojasun's Hivert off to winning start at Etoile de Bessèges

    Jonathan Hivert (Sojasun) did enough in his time trial to sntach the overall title
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 09:30
    Cycling News

    First stage race title for 27-year-old

    An all-French battle in the final time trial decided the winner of the Etoile de Bessèges, with Jonathan Hivert overhauling Team Europcar's Jérôme Cousin to claim his first stage race title since turning professional in late 2005.

    The win brings early-year satisfaction for the rider who's most recent victory was on stage two at last year's Tour de Romandie - before the 27-year-old went on to achieve a number of strong results in the latter half of the year.

    The weekend's victory marks the Frenchman's first overall stage race title and Sojasun's first scalp of the year. The Professional Continental squad has performed strongly against the top-tier ProTeams over the past season with wins at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Tour de Luxumbourg, Route du Sud and GP de Wallonie highlighting the 2012 season.

    For Hivert however, it marks another step in his career which has been dedicated to the services of Sojasun for the past three seasons. Hivert's ninth-place ride in the final 9.7km time trial was enough to secure the win by a mere four seconds over Cousin with third-place overall Anthony Roux (FDJ) a further one-second behind.

    "I have lived two almost identical days yesterday and this morning, where the objective was to not get trapped and lose time," said Hivert on the team's website. "Fortunately, I had very strong guys around me, real strong riders, who like the wind and they did the job really well."

    "I went over my limits to win. It is a great satisfaction because a victory as early in the season, it's good for everyone. It unlocks the meter and it really puts everyone on their way. Again a huge thank you to my teammates for their help, it is their job that allowed this victory!"


  • Modolo quits the Tour of Qatar

    Sacha Modolo will look to win stages for Bardiani CSF Inox
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 10:32
    Cycling News

    X-ray confirms scaphoid fracture

    Italian sprinter Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox) has been forced to quit the Tour of Qatar after x-rays confirmed he fractured his scaphoid in his wrist. Initial reports said Modolo had fractured his left scaphoid. The team has today reported it his right wrist.

    Modolo went to hospital in Doha before the start of the stage two team time trial. On his return, his teammates headed out for the 14km test against the lock while Modolo prepared to return to Italy.

    “Due to a distraction, I fell down trying to rider over a step," Modolo said in a statement from the team.

    "I’m sorry for the team, I arrived here with a good shape and the aim to achieve some good results in Qatar and then in Oman. Now I have to recover as quickly as possible and reschedule the first part of season from scratch."

    Sacha Modolo travel Italy today and hopes to quickly begin training on an indoor-trainer. He had shown his early-season form by beating Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) to win stage two of the Tour de San Luis.

  • Van Avermaet looking for a Classic win in 2013

    Greg van Avermaet
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 11:46
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian critical of new Flanders route

    Greg Van Avermaet and his BMC Racing Team teammates signaled their intentions for stage one of the Tour of Qatar by showing up at the start in Al Katara Cultural Village in skinsuits, and the team duly placed five riders in the lead group after the bunch shattered into several echelons on the exposed 145km leg across the peninsula.

    “It’s getting more usual to have skinsuits but for sure Qatar is a fast race with a lot of wind and it’s also a good chance to test material and new clothing,” Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews before the start. “It’s a good test for everything.”

    Above all, the Tour of Qatar is the test site of choice for those with designs on success at the cobbled classics and, particularly, Van Avermaet’s beloved Tour of Flanders. During a 2012 campaign of consistent form and frustrating near-misses, one of Van Avermaet’s stand-out results was a fourth-place finish at De Ronde, which finished in Oudenaarde for the first time.

    A child of the 1980s, Van Avermaet was weaned on the familiar cadences of the old finale over the Muur and Bosberg to Meerbeke, and he found that the long, exposed run-in to Oudenaarde jarred somewhat with the rhythm of the three laps over the Paterberg.

    “I don’t like the parcours that much, I preferred the older version with the Muur and the Bosberg, because it suited me better and I knew it better as well,” Van Avermaet said. “Now it’s a bit different, as those three laps make it seem more like a circuit race. It’s always the strongest guys who win but last year a big group grew behind the guys in front in the final. I don’t like that big, open road to Oudenaarde for the finish. Still, it’s always the riders who make the race, and the weather conditions affect it too. I mean, if it rains on the Paterberg, then it’s going to be crazy. We’ll see.”

    While Van Avermaet will ride “almost every classic, just not Roubaix and Flèche Wallonne,” he will place greater emphasis on the first two monuments of the season, Milano-Sanremo and Flanders, while world champion Philippe Gilbert takes centre-stage in the Ardennes.

    That said, Gilbert and Thor Hushovd will be on hand at Milano-Sanremo and De Ronde as part of BMC’s expensively-assembled classics line-up, and Van Avermaet is perhaps mindful of his place in the hierarchy. Yet, when the two marquee signings misfired last spring, it was Van Avermaet and Alessandro Ballan who salvaged something from the team’s cobbled campaign.

    “Phil had won everything the year before and Thor is a good classics rider too, so it was normal that I had a lower profile with them in the team,” Van Avermaet said. “But I just prepared my year like every year, to be there for them, and in the end, I had to ride for myself.

    “In one way, that was good because I could prove myself and show that I had the level to be at those races. I had some problems with my heel and I hurt my ribs in a crash at Sanremo, but I had good form, so it was still a good classics campaign.”

    Ultimately, however, Van Avermaet’s season would prove to be as frustrating as it was consistent. He had a steady string of placings throughout the campaign, from Het Nieuwsblad all the way to the Grand Prix de Québec, but the big win, like Paris-Tours in 2011, never materialised.

    “It was a bit frustrating because I was often in a position to win,” he said. “To make it a successful year, you need some wins. So it was a good year but not a really good one.”

  • Dumoulin uses technology to win Bessèges sprint

    Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r La Mondiale) gets his new team off to a great start in France
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 16:55
    Stephen Farrand

    Frenchman jumps early after studying the finish on Google

    Samuel Dumoulin gave Ag2r-La Mondiale its first victory of the 2013 season thanks to combining his finishing speed with digital intelligence at the Etoile de Bessèges on Sunday.

    The pocket-rocket Frenchman struggled to match the finishing speed of Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) during earlier stages and so took to the internet to find a vital advantage for 69km split stage.

    Dumoulin and his team studied the finish of the stage on Google maps and decided to sprint early, coming out of the last roundabout with 500 metres to go, in the hope of anticipating the sprinters and their lead out men. The plan worked, with Dumoulin winning the stage by several bike lengths ahead of Coquard and Mathieu Drujon (Big Mat - Auber 93).

    It is not the first time that cycling teams used Google maps, and even Google Street view to study race finishes. They are used a lot at the Tour de France, with former sprinters such as Robbie McEwen advising Orica-GreenEdge at last year's Tour de France. Erik Zabel worked with Mark Cavendish at the Highroad teams, advising the team on the wind direction and which parts of the road to ride on the finale of stages. Team Sky recorded video footage of each sprint stage for Mark Cavendish so that he and his teammates could see the finish on the team bus before the start of the day's racing.

    Ag2r-La Mondiale finally seems to be catching up on their global rivals after a disastrous 2102 season, when they on just five races.

    "I've got to thank Google and their maps," Dumoulin told Equipe after his win. "We studied the final part of the stage very carefully and especially the last roundabout, with 500 metres to go."

    "I decided to anticipate the peloton at that point and it worked, otherwise in a classic sprint situation, I wouldn't have beaten Coquard. Studying Google maps, I realised that I had to go for it two parts. I went for it, took advantage of this knowledge and I won!"

  • Phinney's relaxed leadership on show in team time trial

    Taylor Phinney leads his BMC teammates
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 19:45
    Barry Ryan

    American on form in Qatar

    As BMC wheeled to the start line of Monday's stage 2 team time trial at the Tour of Qatar, Taylor Phinney appeared a picture of distraction; smiling, joking and even singing, he was seemingly oblivious to the 14km test that lay ahead of him.

    Yet by the time the clock counted down to BMC's start time, Phinney had swapped the mask of whimsical young American abroad for the role of experienced team leader, calling out to remind his teammates to check that they were in the right gear for the start of their effort.

    Phinney continued in the same manner once the team time trial began. He was mindful to temper his own enthusiasm in the block headwind in the first half of the course so as to save his teammates' legs, but then recognised that he needed to open his wings on the rapid run-in to the finish and help turn an 11-second midway deficit into a five-second victory over Team Sky.

    On the podium, Phinney was back to his pre-race self, joking with teammate and golden jersey Brent Bookwalter, and hamming it up playfully for the small crowd that had gathered when he was presented with the pearl jersey of best young rider.

    After the finish, Phinney explained his particular brand of leadership. "Team time trialling is kind of my thing and I like stepping into more of a leadership role," he said. "Brent's the one in the leader's jersey right now, but I maybe have a little bit more team time trialling experience, so I can be upbeat and keep everyone relaxed and happy, and at the same time motivate them. It was great, it went perfectly."

    Phinney's relaxed exuberance before the start is perhaps also indicative of how much preparation for the team time trial had been done before his BMC team had even stepped on the plane for Qatar. With BMC fielding teams at the Tour Down Under and Tour de San Luis in January, there was a depleted attendance at the squad's January training camp in Denia, and new performance director Allan Peiper decided to avail of the opportunity to simulate the Tour of Qatar's exposed Al Rufaa Street course.

    "We had a January training camp where we spent a couple of days exclusively working on team time trial work with this group and it just so happened that where we were in Spain it was even windier than how it was today," Phinney said. "A lot of teams come here with a new combination of riders and they work on their team team time trialling skills on the day of the race, but we've been working on it for weeks and really pinpointing it."

    Phinney et al even went so far as to practice team time trialling on their road bikes, so as to replicate the peculiarities of the Qatar stage. "We just basically looked at this race as a goal for us and spent a fair amount of time trying to improve our skills as a group. Just being able to rotate smoothly as a unit makes a pretty big difference."


    After a mixed debut season as a professional in 2011, Phinney made a marked leap in quality last season, and he credits his successful outing at the Giro d'Italia as the catalyst for the upturn in his fortunes that saw him take fourth in both road race and time trial at the Olympics and silver in the time trial at the world championships.

    "I changed a lot as a bike rider after finishing the Giro: I lost a couple of kilogrammes throughout that race that I never gained back. Losing that extra bit of weight makes a pretty big difference," he said. "It's also been a question of confidence, and that came from working really specifically on my time trialling before the Olympics and world championships. So I ended the season at a pretty high level and I made sure to stay on top of things throughout the winter."

    After finishing a promising 15th at his debut Paris-Roubaix last season, the expectation is that Phinney - a double winner of the under-23 version of the race - will make an even bigger impact at the Hell of the North this time around. Wisely, Phinney was keen not to make a song and a dance of his Classics prospects when quizzed by reporters, steering the conversation back to the task in hand in Qatar, where he lies second overall behind his teammate Bookwalter.

    "This race is always a test, it's always good to see where you are in relation to everyone else because a lot of Classics riders are here," he said. "So far I could say that I am proud of where I'm at right now, and I'm looking forward to keeping it going. But hopefully the overall of this race is plausible."

  • UCI: Budget shortfall did not compromise blood passport testing in 2010

    The riders' blood samples are taken
    Article published:
    February 4, 2013, 21:58
    Cycling News

    "More than enough tests were conducted" it says in repsonse to leaked document

    The UCI has denied that funding constraints had a direct impact on the validity of the blood passport in 2010.

    The governing body's statement has come in response to a Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) report from 2010 leaked last week by lobby group Change Cycling Now. The meeting minutes revealed that a budget shortfall in 2009 of 640,000 Swiss Francs would result in less testing the following year.

    "Following budget cuts, the testing program for 2010 has been reduced, especially for the 'older' riders with also a reduction in the number of tests until later this year," said CADF director Dr. Francesca Rossi in the minutes.

    The UCI claims that the number of tests taken in 2010, did not compromise the program due to the fact that in the two years prior, a "high number of tests" were conducted when the passport was introduced.

    The definition of the term 'older riders' has been taken out of context," explained the UCI. "It is not based on age. It refers to riders that have been in the passport programme and therefore have been tested for a longer period of time as opposed to riders who are newly introduced to the programme.

    "A sufficiently high number of tests were conducted on riders who were new to the programme in 2010 in order to establish their profile. The UCI is entirely satisfied that more than enough tests were conducted in 2010 in order to maintain a robust blood passport programme. No decision was ever taken to suspend testing. The financial constraints that existed in 2010 had no detrimental effect on the blood passport."