After three weeks of racing at the Giro d’Italia, Stephen Cummings (BMC) talked to Cyclingnews about his race. The British domestique spent the race riding in the services of Cadel Evans, who eventually finished third overall in Brescia.
Cumming’s role was to protect his leader out on the road but there was little he and his team could do to help stave off the effects of the weather. This Giro was marked by thrilling racing and a dominant Vincenzo Nibali but the conditions of rain, cold and heavy snow were prominent factors.
Recorded on the eve of the final two stages, in this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Cummings talks about this ‘epic Giro’ as well the success seen by the British riders, a result he bases on their fundamental strength on the track and within the U23 racing programme.
Betancur and Dumoulin deliver in Italy and Brittany
Due to self-suspension following the positive dope test of Sylvain Georges for heptaminol, Ag2r-La Mondiale won't take the start of the Dauphiné on home soil next weekend but the French team based in the Alps has showed some character with Samuel Dumoulin winning the GP Plumelec and Carlos Betancur climbing the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in his successful search of the white jersey of best young rider at the Giro d'Italia.
At the age of 32, Dumoulin cried and was taken by emotion on Saturday in Brittany even though he's not new to winning. The GP Plumelec is the 31st victory of his pro career. Hugs with his teammates, particularly with former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer Rinaldo Nocentini who also has a lot of experience, weren't just a show. They came as compensation for the hard time the team went through the week before. Following the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), Ag2r-La Mondiale had no choice but suspend itself from the next WorldTour race, as Georges was their second positive rider in 12 months after Steve Houanard for EPO in September last year. It's compulsory for every Pro Team to take part in WorldTour events but the UCI decided on Saturday to validate Ag2r-La Mondiale's decision without any financial penalty.
"This win comes at the right time for our team," Dumoulin reacted in Plumelec. "It's a relief after the difficult days we've just been through. We didn't talk much about it but we all know how much what happened is painful. We're all wounded, that's why this victory is...
No stage wins or podiums but encouraging signs, sport director says
Team Blanco missed out on its primary goal at the Giro d'Italia, as team captain Robert Gesink faltered and eventually had to leave the race due to illness, but sport director Jan Boven saw “some very positive things and some elements to build on.”
The race started out well. “The first ten days were really super. I am very proud of that,” he said on the team's website. “We were constantly riding up front and well grouped. We got a setback in Robert’s time loss at the Jafferau but we overcame that. We continued to be visible with our attacks.
“The stage whereby Robert’s chain problems cost him the win was a second setback. You could certainly say it was a Giro with a lot of emotions.”
One of the highlights was Wilco Kelderman. In his first grand tour, the 22-year-old finished third in the young rider ranking and was 17th overall. “Wilco rode a very good Giro. He really proved himself but also put in a lot of work for the team,” Boven said. “I believe he learned a lot from the guys and that he has a very bright future.”
Kelderman himself had mixed feelings. He regretted that the team did not bring a top result, but said “I am happy that I managed to ride well. I surprised myself in this Giro. I’ve proven that I can handle a grand tour and I’m looking forward to riding one for my own classification someday.”
Both Maarten Tjallingii and Steven Kruijswijk agreed with Boven that the team had come closer together during the race. “I think that we really grew as a team. Naturally, we’re left with a bitter after taste as Robert had to make an early departure but we remained very visible. We were competitive in the finales and rode very...
Lookout Mountain could be key to race win, says Rabobank rider
Like her male counterpart Timmy Duggan, Megan Guarnier will be defending her 2012 National Championship without the aid of her European team. Guarnier moved to the Netherlands to race for Rabo-LivGiant alongside Marianne Vos and has found her own way to the podium in addition to helping Vos set up several victories. Despite a cold and wet spring racing season Guarnier is excited about the experience so far.
Guarnier, one of two riders on the team that isn't from the Netherlands, has been impressed with her teammates welcoming attitude and professionalism.
"I love the team and everything about it. There are so many good things about it, it's hard to say one thing. All the women are excellent," said Guarnier. "They have a good attitude, and they are hard workers, and everybody is there to do their job and everybody is there to be a teammate."
Rabobank team leader Marianne Vos excels at many facets of the sport, and has provided a good role model for Guarnier who has progressed year after year through the ranks of the peloton.
"I hope I'm contributing, sometimes I wonder if she should just do all this on her own!" laughed Guarnier when asked how she liked working for the top-ranked rider in the world. "This year I've seen even the best need teammates. I came onto the team knowing I wanted to be the best teammate I could possibly be. Riding for, arguably, the best team in the world, I need to be the best teammate in the world. It makes me take my domestique game up another level."
Guarnier will be lacking in teammates as she lines up against squads like Exergy-Twenty16, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, and NOW-Novartis for MS who are fielding teams of six to eight riders. Given that Guarnier will have to be selective in her attacks she's betting that the steep climb up Lookout Mountain will be where the race is made.
"The climbers, the strong riders, the contenders of the race will be able to separate themselves...
Nibali, Cavendish, Di Luca and the Colombian collectif
Nibali the figurehead of Italian cycling At his post-race press conference in Brescia, almost all of the questions put to Vincenzo Nibali centred around his status as the new figurehead of Italian cycling. The succession of doping scandals since the 1990s means that the sport has been dragged through the mire over the past decade and cycling’s impact on the public consciousness in Italy has diminished dramatically since Marco Pantani’s heyday.
The shy, softly-spoken Nibali is a very different personality to Pantani or Cipollini, but he has been promoted by the Italian media as the leader of a new, more human generation, marking a clean break from the sins of the past. His victory at Tre Cime di Lavaredo certainly inspired the tifosi and boosted television ratings, and the hope now is that his triumph will also boost the number of young riders entering the sport in Italy. For Nibali, great responsibility comes with his new power.
Evans has earned BMC leadership for Tour de France
It’s not as high-profile as Sky’s ongoing Bradley Wiggins/Chris Froome melodrama but the question of Tour de France leadership at BMC has been one of the subplots of the opening months of the season. When Cadel Evans was asked to line up at the Giro at short notice, it seemed as though the Australian was being gently nudged out of the status of team leader for the Tour in favour of the younger Tejay van Garderen, who, after all, finished two places ahead of him last July.
The scheduling change raises the profile of women's cycling and places it right next to professional men's cycling, which has grown dramatically since Greg LeMond won his first Tour de France in 1986. In addition to the increased media exposure, the women are also competing for equal prize money, $5000 for the Time Trial and $10,000 for the Road Race. The new parity struck a positive chord for both the men and women who landed on the podium at Saturday's Time Trial Championship.
Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis for MS) has been one of the top US women cyclists for over five years and her experience in Chattanooga was filled with firsts. "I feel honored," said the former National Champion, and third place finisher Powers "I've never done a press conference before and we get prize money. It's like 'Finally.'"
For men's TT runner-up, Brent Brookwalter (BMC), whose wife Jamie Brookwalter (Colavita) was also racing in yesterday's time trial, it was a special moment and a logical step in the progression of the sport. "It gives even more legitimacy to the event," said Brookwalter. "People keep asking women, 'Aren't you proud and excited to be racing with the men?' But the same goes for us, I think we're proud and excited to be racing with the women. What's a national championship if it's a half National Championship?"
Men's winner Tom Zirbel (Optum) is familiar with the ups and downs of being a professional athlete, and was no less supportive. When asked his thought on the change Zirbel's...
Cancellara likely to stay, Becca looking to sell the WorldTour licence
Cyclingnews understands that US bike manufacturer Trek is set to take over the title sponsorship of the Radioshack-Leopard team in 2014, with Fabian Cancellara likely to stay with the team and Luca Guercilena continuing as team manager.
RadioShack confirmed it would ends its sponsorship of the team in March and the team's future has been in doubt after the effects of the Lance Armstrong scandal and Andy Schleck's injury-hit 2012 and difficult start to the 2013 season.
With rival bike brands such as Cannondale and Merida taking title sponsor positions with teams and Specialized working closely with Mark Cavendish, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador and their respective Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Astana and Saxo-Tinkoff teams, Trek have apparently decided to increase their direct sponsorship of professional cycling. It has a contract as bike sponsor and third name sponsor with the Luxembourg-registered team for this season, but is ready to invest several million dollars more to ensure control of the team.
The Wisconsin-based company obtained rapid growth and huge sales by sponsoring Lance Armstrong during the height of his career, but now needs the visibility offered by a WorldTour team and the success of Fabian Cancellara in the Classics to re-launch its sales.
Guercilena replaced Johan Bruyneel as team manager during the winter and has been working hard to rebuild the team. He also coaches Fabian Cancellara and the two are close. Long term sponsorship from Trek would help Guercilena secure Cancellara's services, perhaps until the end of the Swiss rider's career, and ends the hopes of the Swiss-funded IAM Cycling and BMC teams of enticing him away. Andy Schleck is also expected to stay with the team.
OPQS rider highly satisfied with his Tour of Belgium
Tom Boonen didn't win anything at the Tour of Belgium, finishing second and third in two mass sprints, but he considered his performance in his homeland race a total success. Not only did Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammate Tony Martin take the overall victory, Boonen now at least feels that he is again healthy and on the way back to top form.
"I look back with satisfaction on my Tour of Belgium," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "It was a good week. Although I have only now the feeling that the antibiotics that I got for the bacteria in my elbow are out of my body. "
Boonen was impressed with Luis Leon Sanchez' performance in the final stage of the race, saying “he was incredibly strong. We got up to within ten seconds of him, but then he got away again.”
However, he criticized the lack of race radios in the race. “You really know nothing without the earphones,” he said. “We did not know when Sanchez first got away. We only heard it when he had a minute. It was a disaster.”