- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 00:02
- Jean-François Quénet
Lecuisinier a non-starter for Europcar at Tour de Vendée
French Pro Team FDJ.fr will have three road race junior world champions on its roster next year as Olivier Le Gac who won the title in Offida, Italy, in 2010, and Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier who followed him on the record books in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2011, will join Johan Le Bon, the winner of the rainbow jersey in the U19 category in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008. The latter extended his contract recently.
While the signature of Le Gac went smoothly as he's been part of the FDJ foundation that helps young athletes from different sports to pursue their study at the same time they embrace a career in sport, the arrival of Lecuisinier came as a surprise to many as he was announced by team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau as a neo-pro for Europcar in 2014 in August. Bernaudeau broke the news on the eve of the Tour de Vendée as he called local newspaper Ouest-France from Caribbean island Guadeloupe, saying: "It's a betrayal. There was a project with him for two years. The way it happened let me down."
Lecuisinier is yet to explain the reasons for his choice to contact FDJ rather than follow a natural path as he was a member of Europcar's feeder team Vendée U but as a consequence he was brutally sent home on Saturday evening instead of riding the Tour de Vendée as a trainee for Europcar whose line-up was reduced to seven starters in defense of Bryan Coquard's leadership in the French cup. Cyclingnews understands that his choice to join FDJ was no news to Bernaudeau who had been informed by Lecuisinier one week ago.
Usually, French teams don't court riders already linked to other French teams. "It was Lecuisinier expressing his wish to join us and we welcome such a talented rider with pleasure", FDJ.fr manager Marc Madiot told Cyclingnews. Both have known each other for a few years already as Lecuisinier won the Madiot Trophy for U17 riders in 2009.
Le Gac who rode the Tour de Vendée as a trainee with FDJ.fr will first complete his studies for being a sport's teacher. His contract as a pro cyclist will begin in July next year.
- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 01:25
- Daniel Simms
TDU race director launches Supreme Court action against Australian broadcaster
Mike Turtur, current Tour Down Under race director and former Oceania Cycling president, is seeking unspecified damages, interest and costs against SBS over claims that he covered up a positive drug test in the 2003 Tour Down Under.
Australian newspaper, the Advertiser.com.au, obtained court documents divulging that Turtur claims a story published on SBS's Cycling Central website, in addition to comments made by Cycling Central panellist Anthony Tan, during a broadcast, were defamatory.
Turtur is claiming that the online story ‘TDU officials cover up doping positive' published last October was defamatory because it implied that Turtur "practised, participated in or engaged in a cover-up of a positive drug test" returned by Italian cyclist Giampaolo Caruso after his stage victory in Wilunga. The title of the story in question was changed to a less inflammatory "TDU officials criticised as going easy on doping positive", but Turtur remains aggrieved.
Turtur has previously stated that he did not believe it was his duty to publicise Caruso's positive test for Nandralone.
Additionally, Turtur believes that comments posted on the online story were defamatory.
Court documents also revealed that SBS are standing by the publication of Mr Tan's and their online readers' comments stating that they were "not capable of being, and are not, defamatory".
When contacted by Cyclingnews SBS declined to comment as the matter is currently before the courts.
Mr Turtur is also currently unavailable for comment.
- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 03:16
- Cycling News
Tour of Beijing last race for Vacansoleil rider
Juan Antonio Flecha announced his retirement from professional cycling at the conclusion of Il Lombardia on Sunday. After finishing 13th in the final monument for the year, Flecha told El Pais that he will say goodbye to cycling forever at the upcoming Tour of Beijing.
"Recently, I suddenly saw everything clearly," he told El Pais. "I saw what I wanted to do with my life and what I had to do."
After finishing 0:55 behind winner Joaqium Rodriquez (Katusha), Flecha was happy with his performance in the last monument of his career.
"I finished 13th," said Flecha. "I didn't know my group was sprinting for a top 10 place, but 13th in the year 2013 is not bad in my last year as a professional cyclist, in my last monument.
"I say goodbye to cycling forever at the Tour of Beijing," he continued. "I cannot wait to finish that race in mid-October and go to Maui, Hawaii, with an open date on the return ticket.
"I’ll swap the asphalt for the foam of the waves, the bike for the surfboard, and walk barefoot all day, and be free."
Flecha stated in August that he planned to continue racing in 2014, but the demise of Vacansoleil appears to have forced his hand. He had been linked to numerous Spanish teams but nothing substantive ever arose.
Departing Vacansoleil manager -Hilaire Van der Schueren- also named Flecha as a possible recruit to his new team that will be an amalgamation of the Vacansoleil and Accent Jobs-Wanty squads, but that no longer appears to be an option that Flecha wants to pursue.
Tour of Beijing, starting October 11th, will now be the last WorldTour race for Vacansoleil and Flecha as they say their respective goodbyes. Having ridden for Ibanesto.com, Fassa Bortolo, Rabobank, Sky and now Vacansoleil, Flecha has become a fan favourite world-wide.
As a Spanish rider seemingly cast of a different mold to his grand tour focused compatriots, Flecha was one for the spring classics with a number of podium finishes at Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders and Ghent Wevelgem proving his class.
- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 04:42
- Cycling News
Another box ticked for Australian team
Drapac Professional Cycling recently confirmed that they remain on track to securing a UCI Pro Continental license for the 2014 season. The announcement comes on the back of team manager Jonathan Breekveldt's delivery of the requisite bank guarantee and rider contracts to the UCI in Aigle, Switzerland.
"It is great to have this official confirmation from the UCI that the application has been accepted and all the necessary documentation has been presented," said Breekveldt. "I was always confident in our submission but it is nice to have it formally recognised."
Documents and payments approved by the UCI so far include: payment of the licence fee, registration form, rider, staff and sponsorship contracts as well as financial documentation including the 2014 bank guarantee and budget.
"The application is a very comprehensive and arduous process and being sometime since 2007 when we last applied there was plenty to learn hence we made sure we were overly thorough in compiling the necessary documentation," continued Breekveldt. "With advice and assistance from several people experienced in the application and having secured the necessary financial support in April I knew we would not have any problems submitting the application to the UCI and Ernst & Young."
Breekveldt hinted again at the team's plan to tackle the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California next year, with the long term goal of racing a grand tour by 2016.
"This is a critical step in a long term growth plan for the team as we look forward to being on the start line of the Tour Down Under in January and seek invitation to both the Tour of California and Tour of Bejing.
"Being in our 10th year as a team we have proven that we have a sustainable model and one that we hope will take us to a grand tour in 2016."
Drapac concluded their statement with support for recently appointed UCI vice-president Tracey Gaudry.
"There is a current climate of uncertainty in world cycling, with teams disbanding and sponsors looking elsewhere to invest but at Drapac Professional Cycling, we're encouraged by what's ahead.
"Our representative at the UCI, Tracey Gaudry has had less than 12 months in her role as Oceania President and yet, we're seeing an expansion of the local race calendar and she also played a key role in assisting us to gain an invite to Australia's only UCI WorldTour event, the Tour Down Under."
Drapac believe that their pro continental registration will be complete by November 1.
- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 09:32
- Cycling News
Tiralongo also brought down ahead of Sormano
Vincenzo Nibali has reported no serious injury from the crash that ended his Tour of Lombardy prematurely on Sunday and brought the curtain down on his 2013 season. The Italian fell on the approach to the Colma di Sormano with Astana teammate Paolo Tiralongo and immediately realised that both his race and his season were over.
“This crash is due to a narrowing in the road that wasn’t signalled,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Everybody was moving in from the right-hand side without braking. I thought I’d managed to get through it but instead they collided with me.”
While Nibali had managed to remount and finish in 4th place after a crash at last week’s rain-soaked world championships road race in Florence, this time around it was quickly clear that he would be unable to continue. After climbing gingerly to his feet, a limping Nibali took the decision to abandon.
“I had to go from 40kph to zero in one second. I fell on the same left leg that I hurt in Florence and I wasn’t able to bend it. I immediately understood that my Tour of Lombardy was finished,” Nibali said.
Nibali travelled directly to Manzoni Hospital in Lecco for a check-up, and reported nothing more than cuts to his left hip, knee and ankle. For his part, Tiralongo sustained abdominal trauma and multiple abrasions. “At least the season is over, because I’m fed up of getting injured,” said Tiralongo, who already suffered crashes at Strade Bianche, the Giro d’Italia and on the eve of the Vuelta a España.
“Vincenzo fell on his hip and needed to be examined, but he is fine,” said Astana team doctor Andrea Andreazzoli. “Paolo Tiralongo suffered more serious abrasions and a bruise to his abdomen. Later in the race Francesco Gavazzi came down on a wet descent, so in total we had three crashes today.”
Nibali ends his season to date with victories at the Giro d’Italia, Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro del Trentino, as well as second place overall at the Vuelta and fourth at the Worlds.
“I really regret that I didn’t end the season with any more victories,” Nibali told Gazzetta. “Above all, because here – like in Florence – I was feeling very good. But you can’t do anything against bad luck.”
- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 10:20
- Cycling News
"We'll leave the speculation to the press"
Bjarne Riis has dismissed reports that he is struggling to find a second sponsor to cover his budget and cutting riders' salaries for the 2014 season after losing the support of Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov.
Tinkov seemed close to becoming the first-name sponsor of Riis's team during the Tour de France but his often capricious tweets affected their relationship and they failed to seal a deal for 2014. Tinkov is now reported to be close to reaching a deal with the Cannondale team, while Riis is trying to find a new sponsor to help him cover Alberto Contador's estimated four million Euro contract.
On Friday the Danish media claimed that Contador has accepted to take a 15% pay cut for 2014 after his disappointing season and to help Riis balance the books.
"A lot of media has said things but that's not a surprise. You can easily interpretate things as you want and that's what the media does," Riis told Cyclingnews at Il Lombardia.
He said his relationship with Tinkov fell apart due to 'different opinions' but refused to give any details.
He insisted the reports about Contador's pay cut were also made up by the media.
"That's speculation too. I never said anything bout that," he said between long silences, moments of reflection and a rare smile.
"We're going announce something when we have something to announce. When we find it's the right moment. Until that we'll leave the speculation to the press," he said, adding: "I'm confident."
He also denied that Contador had complained about the string of sponsor obligations and trips across Europe he faces this week.
"I think that's also a press thing that was made up. I don 't think he said it that way. It's part of his job. He knows that and it's not a problem for him."
Not a vintage season
Il Lombardia still symbolically marks the end of the European season and Riis will no doubt raise a glass of fine wine after Lombardia. But 2013 has not been a vintage year for Riis. His team has performed well as a unit, especially at the Tour de France, but Contador underperformed and often failed to finish off the good work done by his teammates. He was fourth at the tour, with Roman Kreuziger fifth
but Saxo-Tinkoff was riding to win yellow.
Nicolas Roche and Rafal Majka impressed in the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d'Italia but the team has just seven wins to its name after eight months of racing.
"The first part of the season wasn't really what we expected, what we hope for," Riis admitted.
"After that we did a good Tour of Switzerland and a good Dauphine. The Tour was good. Okay, Alberto didn't do what he expected and what we expected but the team performed very well. I think two guys in the top five I think that's still good. Of course when you have Alberto, you aim to win, but that's cycling."
"We've got as strong team," Riis insisted, perhaps trying to convince himself as much as his critics and former sponsors.
- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 11:03
- José Been
Frenchman caught on final climb
Thomas Voeckler audaciously attacked with 63 kilometres to go in Sunday’s Il Lombardia, but saw his move reeled in on the final climb of Villa Vergano. “I can’t say I am satisfied with my day, but I am not that unhappy either,” he told Cyclism’Actu after the finish.
Just as Vincenzo Nibali did in 2011, when the Tour of Lombardy’s new Lecco finale had its debut, the 34-year old Frenchman tried for a long attack in the last big Classic of the season. He quickly gained 3 minutes on the peloton on the flat roads after the Ghisallo.
“I had very good legs for the end of the season. I could have waited and spared the legs a bit more but I am a rider who doesn’t like to follow. I am the one who likes to take a risk,” Voeckler said.
Voeckler’s risk ultimately did not pay off. “There was not really an organized chase behind me. The teams were not structured on the flatter sections. I went well. It’s not in my philosophy to follow. I preferred to have a go, knowing that I didn’t have the legs to beat those guys [including winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)] in the finale,” Voeckler added to L’Equipe.
This year the multiple Tour de France stage winner only netted five victories, including his very first win against the clock. “I felt short of condition at the start of the season. And when I felt better for my favourite races in the Ardennes I crashed and broke my collar bone in the Amstel Gold Race.”
Voeckler recovered in time for the Tour de France and showed his form by winning the sixth stage in the Critérium du Dauphiné. ‘The Tour didn’t work out well,” the Frenchman said. He finished 65th in the overall classification, whereas he had won the polka dot jersey and two stages in 2012, and finished fourth in the overall in 2011.
“My season could have been better,” Voeckler concluded. “But it’s not all so bad that I just discard this entire year.”
With Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours still on his calendar, Voeckler has two more chances for a big victory this year.
- Article published:
- October 7, 2013, 13:59
- Stephen Farrand
Oropa, Montecampione and Zoncolan feature in balanced route
The route of the 2014 Giro d'Italia was officially presented in Milan on Monday afternoon, with organiser RCS Sport revealing a finely balanced route that includes three time trials, eight finishes for sprinters and nine hilly or mountain stages that will decide the winner of the iconic maglia rosa in Trieste on Sunday, June 1.
2013 Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the star of the presentation even if he may not ride in 2014 as he focuses on the Tour de France.
The route was presented by the editor of La Gazzetta dello Sport Andrea Monti. Race director and general manager of RCS Sport Michele Acquarone was not present after being suspended from his role while RCS Sport completes an internal investigation into the possible misappropriation of several million Euro.
The 97th edition of the Giro d'Italia will remember the late Marco Pantani, ten years after his tragic death from a cocaine overdose. A stage will cover his training roads, while mountain finishes in Oropa and Montecampione will recall two of his best victories at the Giro d'Italia.
After several years of long transfers and scant regard for the riders' recovery time, RCS Sport has worked hard to limit transfers in the 2014 race, with many stages starting close to the previous day’s finish. The average stage distance is 183km, but in the final week that average falls to a more humane 169km.
Teams and riders insisted on a rest day following the transfer from Ireland to Italy and RCS Sport has obtained permission from the UCI for the extra rest day and an unusual Friday start on May 9.
As already announced, the 2014 Giro d'Italia will start in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, with two stages around the city and then a stage south to Dublin before the plane transfer to Italy. It will be the 11th time the Giro d'Italia starts outside of Italy.
The racing will begin with a spectacular 22km team time trial that starts in the Titanic Belfast museum, visits Stormont and finishes in the city centre.
The 218km second stage visits the Northern Ireland coastline via Bushmills, the Giant's Causeway, Carrickfergus and back to Belfast. The third day starts in Armagh and ends in Dublin.
Following the transfer and the early rest day, the racing resumes in the heel of the Italian peninsula, with a 121km stage from Giovinazzo to Bari before the long haul north via Viggiano, the hilltop village of Montecassino, Foligno, Montecopiolo and Sestola, where the riders will enjoy the second rest day. Several stages suit the sprinters and Mark Cavendish is again expected to ride the Giro d'Italia after winning the red points jersey and five stages.
The route heads east to Piemonte via Savona in the second week, with the 46.4km individual time through the vineyards from Barbaresco to Barolo expected to play an important role in reshaping the general classification. The 'cronometro' is largely flat but ends with a climb up to the finish.
Into the mountains
The major mountain finishes begin two days later, with the third weekend of racing remembering two of Pantani's most spectacular attacks at the Giro d'Italia. Stage 14 finishes the Oropa sanctuary, where in 1999, before he was disqualified due to a high haematocrit, Pantani chased back on after dropping his chain, passed 49 riders and won the stage.
Sunday's 15th stage ends in Plan di Montecampione, where Pantani threw away his nose piercing and managed to drop rival Pavel Tonkov to set up victory in the 1998 Giro.
The riders will spend the third rest day in Ponte di Legno in the Lombardy mountains on Monday, May 26 before the start of the final week in the Dolomites and the Friuli mountains.
Snow forced the cancellation the mountain stage over the Gavia and the Stelvio and up to the finish in Val Martello this year, but the same short stage packed with three long and difficult climbs will be back in 2014, causing the sprinters nightmares about finishing inside the time limit.
Fortunately the finish in Vittorio Veneto offers some respite from the climbing and a likely sprint finish. The mountains return for the finish at the Rifugio Panarotta at Pergine Valsugana and the 26.8km mountain time trial from the Bassano del Grappa to Crespana del Grappa. There is a total of 95km of time trialling in the 2014 Giro and this difficult mountain time trial could shake up the general classification more than any mountain stage.
The northeastern Friuli region hosts the grand finale of the 2014 Giro d'Italia with the final mountain finish on the leg breaking slopes of Monte Zoncolan on Saturday, May 31 before the road stage and circuit finish in Trieste, to celebrate the anniversary of the return of the city under Italian control.
2014 Giro d'Italia
May 9, stage 1: Belfast - Belfast, team time trial, 21.7km
May 10, stage 2: Belfast - Belfast, 218km
May 11, stage 3: Armagh - Dublin, 187km
May 12: Rest day and transfer
May 13, stage 4: Giovinazzo - Bari, 121km
May 14, stage 5: Taranto - Viggiano, 200km
May 15, stage 6: Sassano - Montecassino, 247km
May 16, stage 7: Frosinone - Foligno, 214km
May 17, stage 8: Foligno - Montecopiolo, 174km
May 18, stage 9: Lugo - Sestola, 174km
May 19: Rest day
May 20, stage 10: Modena - Salsomaggiore, 184km
May 21, stage 11: Collecchio - Savona, 249km
May 22, stage 12: Barbaresco - Barolo, individual time trial, 46.4km
May 23, stage 13: Fossano - Rivarolo Canavese, 158km
May 24, stage 14: Agliè - Oropa, 162km
May 25, stage 15: Valdengo - Montecampione, 217km
May 26: Rest day
May 27, stage 16: Ponte di Legno - Val Martello/Martelltal, 139km
May 28, stage 17: Sarnonico - Vittorio Veneto, 204km
May 29, stage 18: Belluno - Rif. Panarotta (Valsugana), 171km
May 30, stage 19: Bassano del Grappa – Cima Grappa (Crespano del Grappa) individual time trial, 26.8km
May 31, stage 20: Maniago - Monte Zoncolan, 167km.
June 1, stage 21: Gemona – Trieste, 169km.