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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 9, 2013

Date published:
September 09, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Vuelta pays homage to its first ever summit finish

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) at the finish of stage 15 at Peyragudes
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 12:10 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Forty years on, Spanish race revisits Formigal

    Yesterday (Sunday) the Vuelta paid homage to the Tour de France’s centenary with its first summit finish in France in nearly a decade and today the ‘nostalgia wave’ continues with the Vuelta’s return to Formigal.

    Way back in 1972, Formigal was the scene of the Vuelta’s first ever summit finish - 37 years after the race had actually been created.

    Ranked first category, Formigal is a hefty 15.8 kilometres long but has four per cent average gradients, acceptable road surfaces, sections of downhill and lack of any ramps steeper than nine per cent. With today’s weather warm again and barely a cloud in the sky this morning, it looks very unlikely to present any huge challenges to the overall contenders.

    Forty years ago though it was another story altogether. Formigal - subsequently visited a further two times by the Vuelta - hosted the stage summit finish where Spanish climbing legend Jose Manuel Fuente aka 'El Tarangu', already a double stage winner in the Tour de France and King of the Mountains in the Giro, first shone in his home Grand Tour.

    Earlier on the Formigal stage, Tarangu went on a joint attack with Spain’s Jose Grande and then dropped Grande on the Monrepos climb. As he opened a huge gap on the field, Vuelta boss Luis Bergareche drove behind Fuente and pleaded with Tarangu’s sports director, Anton Barrutia, to tell him to stop because in Bergareche’s opinion Fuente was not famous enough to warrant such a prestigious role as leading the Vuelta. To his credit, Barrutia ignored him, even though he had four riders in the top four places overall - Txomin Perurena, Mikel Mari Lasa, Jesus Manzaneque and Jose Antonio Gonzalez Llinares.

    With 5:45 at the summit, Tarangu then reached the foot of Formigal with a massive seven minute advantage and by the top of...

  • Roche will battle for podium in Vuelta

    Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) went out on the attack some distance from the stage 15 finish line, but his efforts yielded only a handful of seconds gain on his GC rivals.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 13:12 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Irishman sixth before final Pyrenean stage

    Ireland’s Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) lost time on the Collado de la Gallina stage after suffering badly with the cold, but says he plans to bounce back in the Vuelta a Espana’s final six stages.

    Sixth overall, Roche attacked on the Porte de Bales on stage 15 and with strong support from teammate Oliver Zaugg managed to claw back 17 seconds but it was not enough to dislodge Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) from fifth.

    “Oliver did a great job for me, just like the rest of my teammates have throughout the race,” he told the Spanish newspaper AS. “I’m going well and if it hadn’t been for the cold [on stage14] I wouldn’t have lost my podium place.”

    “The race doesn't finish until Madrid though and I hope I will get onto the podium. I’ve never seen myself battling so well for the overall, and in the team we can see there are enough opportunities in what’s left of the race to try to do that.”

    Roche may well have another opportunity to chance his arm on the long, grinding ascent to Formigal today, a climb that should suit his talents well.



  • Tony Martin abandons Vuelta to prepare for Worlds

    Time trial world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) would finish the stage 17 mountain time trial in 27th place, more than three minutes behind Chris Froome
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 14:53 BST
    Cycling News

    German looks for third successive time trial crown

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) opted to abandon the Vuelta a España on stage 15 in order to prepare for the defence of his individual time trial title at the world championships in Florence later this month.

    Saturday’s stage 14 to Andorra had been run off in plummeting temperatures that forced Ivan Basso out with hypothermia. Martin did not want to risk compromising his Worlds preparation by suffering a similar fate on Sunday, and like 2012 world road race champion Philippe Gilbert, he abandoned the Vuelta on the road to Peyragudes.

    “After the extremely cold temperatures yesterday [Saturday] and with rain again in the first hour today [Sunday], I have decided in consultation with my team to abandon the Vuelta,” Martin said on his personal website. “The stage on Saturday had a drop in temperature from about 30 degrees to around 4 degrees and it was one of the most unusual I have ever ridden.”

    Although Martin was defeated by a flying Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) in the Vuelta’s sole individual time trial, a hilly test at Tarazona, he can take heart from his showing on the road to Caceres on stage 6, when he spent 174 kilometres alone off the front before the peloton caught him inside the final 200 metres.

    “Looking ahead to the world championships, I don’t want to take any risks and I don’t want to compromise my form. It was not easy to abandon, but my focus is now entirely on the world time trial championship,” Martin said.

    Martin came to the Vuelta with the primary intention of preparing for the Worlds time trial as he bids for a third consecutive crown, although he will face...

  • IOC awaits return of Armstrong's Olympic medal

    2000 Sydney Olympic time trial podium: Jan Ulrich, Viatcheslav Ekimov and Lance Armstrong
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 15:28 BST
    Cycling News

    Nine months have passed since decision to strip him of the result and medal

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is still waiting to receive the returned Olympic medal of Lance Armstrong. The American rider, who admitted to doping during his career, was stripped of his Sydney 2000 Olympic bronze individual time trial medal nine months ago.

    "We still do not have the medal back," IOC Vice President Thomas Bach said during meetings in Buenos Aires, according to Reuters. "We will continue to work with the United States Olympic Committee to get this medal back as requested in our decision."

    Armstrong did not contest the decision, which the IOC made in January and then communicated to both Armstrong and the US Olympic Committee, but he also has not yet returned the medal.

    The American was banned for life and stripped of all results from August 1, 1998 onwards in the wake of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into doping at his former US Postal Service team.

    The IOC previously said that there will be no bronze medal winner in the 2000 Olympics time trial because it would not reallocate the medal to the fourth place finisher, Abraham Olano of Spain.

    After the Armstrong scandal, there was worry that the IOC would drop cycling from its Summer Olympic Games programme as it looked to trim events for the 2020 event in Tokyo, but cycling was confirmed as a 'core sport' by the IOC during the meetings.

  • Fearless Sagan's skills key to success

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) pops a wheelie upon winning Gent-Wevelgem
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 17:12 BST
    Pat Malach

    Cannondale rider puts on a show in Tour of Alberta

    At just 23 years old, Peter Sagan's bike-handling skills and ability to win are already legendary. YouTube videos of the Cannondale sprinter riding a no-handed wheelie downhill or wrangling his bike up to the roof of a team car have gone viral.

    But the Slovakian national champion's skills are for more than just show. He's twice won the green sprinter's jersey in the Tour de France, and he's piled up 21 wins so far this season, the latest coming Sunday at the Tour of Alberta when he slung himself through the final corner past UnitedHealthcare's Robert Förster to take his third win of the week.

    "I started riding on the bike when I was six years old," he said in response to a question about where he developed his handling skills. "And with the races I started the mountain bike when I was nine years old. But I think this stuff you can't learn. You're born with this, and when you have fear you can't do this."

    Aside from just not showing fear and having beyond-category skills, Sagan seems to simply enjoy riding his bike and competing on the road against the best riders in the world.

    "You see what he does on the bike," said Ted King, who has been Sagan's teammate for the past three years. "You see what he does on the podium. You see how he handles himself. I mean, he's 23 years old. He's a kid who's tremendously talented, and he has a lot of fun.

    "The bike is an extension of his body," King continued. "So when you see what he's capable of on two wheels, or one wheel, it's absolutely phenomenal. He's a good, humble, friendly, generous kid."

    Brian Vandborg, who joined Cannondale this...

  • Horner dents Nibali's lead in last Pyrenean Vuelta a España stage

    Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) now leads the combination classification at the Vuelta
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 18:35 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    American back to within 22 seconds of Italian as Vuelta reaches third week

    Up until three kilometres to go of the final Pyrenean stage, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) looked all but invulnerable in the 2013 Vuelta a España. But a blizzard of attacks by his rivals left the Italian first isolated and then on the back foot as first Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), then Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and finally Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) left the 2013 Giro d'Italia winner up against the ropes.

    With so little time left to go, the damage each inflicted was measured in seconds, not minutes. But if Rodriguez gained the biggest time gap, it was Horner, closest on time overall, who now looks the most threatening for Nibali.

    On what was theoretically the easiest of the three Pyrenean stages, Horner gained 22 seconds on the Italian and is now just 28 seconds back. With three summit finishes still to come of increasing difficulty, the Vuelta is far from over.

    "I've taken 22 seconds and the jersey [lead] is getting closer," Horner, already twice the leader and twice a stage winner, told reporters afterwards. "I really don't know what is going to happen in the next few days."

    "It's Nibali who has the key to the race. If he weakens just a little, then everything is possible. And we've seen today, too, that it isn't just me, but also Purito who can be a match for Nibali."

    Horner said on his rest day he would do little more than "eat, sleep, eat, sleep and go on the home trainer for 45 minutes and imagine what's to come. It's incredible - in four days' time [six - Ed.] we'll be in Madrid."

  • Nibali suffers but clings on to Vuelta a España lead

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 19:27 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Italian says holding the top spot "for so long" is getting fatiguing

    In less than two kilometres, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) saw his Vuelta a España lead crumble to a little more than half as his rivals launched one attack after another on the final segment of the Sallent de Gallego-Formigal climb during stage 16.

    Looking weary as he answered questions from Spanish TV, Nibali admitted that the duties involved when leading a race for so long were beginning to take its toll. He first took the jersey on stage 2, lost it on stage 3, regained it on stage 4 for a further four days and then returned to the top spot again on stage 11.  On top of that, Nibali complained about the lengthy transfers, although that is the same for all of the riders in the 2013 Vuelta.

    "It was a very tough finale, very windy and I thought I would handle it a bit better than I did," Nibali said after Monday's stage 16. His losses to the five riders immediately behind him on overall were 28 seconds to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), 25 seconds to Valverde (Movistar), 22 to Horner (RadioShack Leopard), six to Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) and five to Domenico Pozzovico (Ag2R).

    "In the last two Ks, I suddenly felt a lot weaker, but we can't forget this has all come at the end of three very hard stages. I've used up a lot of energy. Tomorrow's rest day is very timely!"

    Nibali said that the jersey "began to weigh heavily on my shoulders, there's so much time spent doing interviews after the stages. Then there are the transfers, too. But I'll look at things and take them on the day by day. I'm sure the climbs in the final part of the last week, which are steeper, will suit me better."

  • Barguil keeps French flag flying with second Vuelta a España win

    Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2013, 20:40 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Second win for Frenchman, second straight Vuelta stage win for France

    France's best Vuelta a España in years continues apace yesterday as Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) captured his second stage win in four days - and France's second, after the victory of Alexandre Geniez at Peyragudes, in 24 hours.

    The 21-year-old had already seriously impressed race followers with his victory at Castelldefels four days ago, and on Monday after getting in another breakaway (his third in four days) Barguil was once again the winner on stage 16.

    It was close, true, just a few millimetres ahead of Rigoberto Uran (Sky). But in making his move ten kilometres from the finish then managing to out-power the vastly more experienced Colombian, Barguil has shown yet again that if Thibaut Pinot ( and Nacer Bouhanni (, Arnaud Demare ( and Bryan Coquard (Europcar) are at the forefront of a new generation of French riders, then the 21-year-old, too, forms part of the French breakthrough.

    "It's all about working well together from a young age, having the right kind of team and not getting too much pressure put on our shoulders," Barguil said afterwards. "Bernard Bourreau [French national trainer] is very good at that, he's never pushing us to turn pro, for example."

    Even so, Barguil has a strong grip on race tactics. Discussing his win, Barguil said "I had felt a bit ill earlier in the day, but I opted to try to stay calm and recover. When Urán came across to me, I knew he would attack immediately and I would have to work hard to go get him and bring him back straightaway. Once I'd done that, I started thinking about the sprint."

    "I had one win, but I still wanted another. When I've got the legs, I'm always scared of doing...