- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 07:37
- Jane Aubrey
Barrister proud of policy reform
Klaus Mueller has stepped down from his role as president of Cycling Australia, with the decision announced at the organisation's two-day board meeting in Sydney.
Mueller has held the role since December 2009 having previously been vice president for six years prior. The barrister said the time was right to resign from his position given the increasing demands of what is a voluntary, un-paid role.
"It's been an honour to lead Cycling Australia through many highs and lows. In recent times the position has grown into almost a full time role, which I can simply no longer manage. Given the challenges the sport is currently facing the timing is right to hand the reigns over to a new leader with a different skill set to enable the sport to realise its enormous commercial potential."
A nominations committee has been appointed to oversee the candidates for the role, with Mueller to vacate his position at the end of September. Cycling Australia will work with the Australian Sports Commission during the process, with the governing body working through a governance overhaul as recommended by former New South Wales Supreme Court chief judge James Wood due by the end of this year under the threat of funding cuts.
Mueller said that policy reform over his tenure was something that he was particularly proud of.
"I have and will continue to push for change within the UCI to ensure that the tarnished international reputation of the sport is restored," he explained. "I've spent the past eight years lobbying for expanded powers for ASADA and I'm particularly proud of the fact that CA's High Performance program has continued to be run ethically and successfully."
Mueller came under fire in the wake of the USADA report into Lance Armstrong and his associates which claimed the scalp of Australian national elite men's sports director Matt White.
"We had a discussion with ASADA, and they indicated to us that they had no current issue which would embarrass us in continuing to employ Matt," Mueller said in an October press conference after White was sacked.
Mueller claimed that the relationship between Cycling Australia and the Australian Anti-Doping Authority had been an effective one despite never having asked White about his doping past until the USADA report was made public and the revelations of the on-going case of un-named rider ZXTT.
Cycling Australia is currently waiting on ASADA's report into the sport which was launched in response to the USADA report late last year.
- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 08:28
- Peter Hymas
BMC rider nears California/Colorado double
Tejay van Garderen is one step closer to an unprecedented American stage racing double after winning the Vail time trial on Friday at the USA Pro Challenge. With an overall Amgen Tour of California victory in the books in May, van Garderen is on the verge of adding the USA Pro Challenge title to his palmares - a sweep of the USA's two premier stage races, both ranked 2.HC, and heretofore never won by one rider in the same year.
Prior to 2013 van Garderen had never won a stage race as a professional, but the 25-year-old American has showed maturity, tactical acumen and confidence this season which culminated first with overall victory at the Amgen Tour of California.
Van Garderen made a critical split on the fifth stage to Avila Beach that earned the BMC rider the leader's jersey, and the following day a time trial victory further consolidated his hold on the general classification.
Three months later at Colorado's USA Pro Challenge, van Garderen withstood an assault by Garmin-Sharp up the Bachelor Gulch ascent in the finale of stage 4, then escaped with Janier Acevedo to both put time into his biggest rival, Tom Danielson, and remove the yellow leader's jersey from the back of Danielson's teammate Lachlan Morton.
The following day on a Vail time trial course which delivered heartbreak for van Garderen in 2011, the BMC American again scored a decisive victory against the clock, this time with an effort that set a new course record of 25:01.94. Van Garderen dished out his own heartbreak to Garmin-Sharp's Andrew Talansky, who was ignominiously booted from the hot seat after a scorching 25:05.70 time of his own, and added more than one minute to Danielson's GC deficit, third place finisher on the day but 1:02 in arrears.
Van Garderen had previously placed fifth, then fourth at the Amgen Tour of California preceding his victory there this season. In Colorado van Garderen has made similar forward progress with a third, then second place GC result in 2011 and 2012 respectively, with victory two days away in Denver.
"I've grown up a lot. I just have a lot more experience," said van Garderen. "I now have four Grand Tours in my legs. I think I'm a lot smarter, a lot calmer and I can stay more relaxed."
Van Garderen has learned from his mistakes, citing the example of losing the yellow jersey to Levi Leipheimer in Colorado in 2011 on the same Vail time trial route.
"I got a full night's sleep last night whereas in 2011, when I was in the jersey and I made that stupid balls comment in the media about Levi, I kind of lost a little sleep about that.
"I was texting him, trying to apologize to him and say 'No, no, no - I didn't really mean it that way.' I never heard back and I was kind of getting the cold shoulder from him that day. I think that kind of stressed me out.
"I can stay a bit more calm and be confident that I can just pull it out when I need to."
Van Garderen indeed pulled it out when he needed to today in Vail as he went through the intermediate time check 32 seconds faster than the previous mark set by Talansky, but overcame a painful finale to hang on for the win by four seconds.
"I was actually trying to be conservative on the way out but I think I still got the pacing wrong because I died a little bit in the last 2km," said van Garderen. "Luckily I had enough of a buffer to hold onto the win."
While van Garderen has felt the weight of expectations on his shoulders, such as his disappointing 2013 Tour de France, he has nonetheless learned how to better manage the pressure.
"There's always expectations. We're paid to do this job and if you're a leader of a team there are certain expectations that go with that. Sometimes I've been my own worst enemy in that regard but I've definitely done a lot to work on myself - just trying to stay relaxed. At the end of the day we have a fun job. We're riding bikes out there and it's not a bad gig."
With Sunday's closing stage expected to be a day for the sprinters, van Garderen enters tomorrow's stage from Loveland to Fort Collins knowing its his rivals' final chance to wrest yellow from his shoulders.
"I'm expecting an aggressive race from Garmin going up to Estes Park," said van Garderen. "Things could get out of hand and Tom [Danielson] could slip up the road with 20 guys and my team kind of falls apart then I can get in trouble. That being said I have full confidence in my team and I think we're strong enough to control anything.
"I think we're ready to take this to Denver."
- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 09:31
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Giro 2013 runner-up says will play the same role as with Wiggins in Italy
Rigoberto Urán says that he will not be taking part in the Vuelta a España in a pure support role for Sergio Henao - named by Team Sky as their leader for the race – but will be prepared to strike a blow for his own general classification options, too.
Urán took a breakthrough result in the 2013 Giro d'Italia, securing Colombia's first ever podium finish in the Italian Grand Tour and his best-ever GC result, as well as a mountain-top stage win. Together with Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez, he is the third rider already with a top three Grand Tour podium finish in 2013 present in La Vuelta 2013.
In Sky's press release for the Vuelta, Urán's mission goals are described as "riding in support of Henao this time around, but [he] is more than capable of challenging for top honours again, should the need arise."
Second only to Vincenzo Nibali in the Giro, Urán certainly doesn't seem prepared to see those potential opportunities pass him by, telling Cyclingnews, "I had a good rest after the Giro and now I'm here, in good shape. I'm no fan of doing the Tour and Vuelta, but this Giro-Vuelta double" - which he already did in 2012, when he finished as Best Young Rider in Italy then worked for Froome in the Vuelta - "is a combination I like."
"We've got Sergio Henao as race leader, but I think it's better to have two riders for the general classification, that way we've got more options when it comes to attacking and so on.
"The second stage [with the mountain top finish of Monte da Groba] will show clearly who the riders are who are in contention."
"I respect him and I will help and support him. But I'll be there, close to him, and it's one thing to talk here about what you will do in a race and another what happens when you're really there. So we'll see what happens." Asked if Henao could win the race, Urán believes it's possible: "He's got the talent, and strength, to do so and he's come here rested. I think he can."
Urán, due to move onto Omega Pharma-Quick Step next year, says his last Grand Tour with the British team "will be similar [at Sky] to the Giro, except this time we've got Sergio as leader" - rather than Wiggins.
While Vasil Kiryienka and Edvald Boasson Hagen both rode the Tour - though neither man made it to Paris - and are now also present in the Vuelta for Sky, two thirds of the team raced the Giro: Urán, Henao, Dario Cataldo - a stage winner in last year's Vuelta - the Giro's early race leader Salvatore Puccio, Xabier Zandio of Spain and Germany's Christian Knees. Briton Luke Rowe, riding his first Grand Tour, completes the nine-man squad.
After the Giro, Urán went to Colombia, saw his family and trained and rested at altitude, then on his return to Europe raced in the Tour of Poland - "which was very hard" - and finally checked out some of the Pyrenean stages of the Vuelta.
"I wanted to get a bit of a rest because I've been training and racing hard and I have been all over the place this year, so I didn't do the Vuelta a Burgos.
"It's also a very hard Vuelta, I've checked out quite a lot of it so I know, and particularly when you add in the 2,300 kilometres of transfers we've got to the racing itself, that's a whole lot of time spent travelling." He brushes off the idea of "easy stages" saying "those are often the most dangerous ones, where you risk losing a lot of time."
For the team time trial - which Sky won at the Giro - Urán rates their chances, but not highly. "We've got good time triallists, but we're lacking Wiggins, who's really strong for that sort of event. We've seen the route and it's not overly technical and in the last part [is so fast] you're going to get fed up with pedalling. I think if we get a top three result and don't lose time, we'll be pleased."
Urán's options in the Vuelta may be limited by Henao, but he is confident that he will have a better chance of going for the big stage races in Omega Pharma-Quick Step. "We were close to an agreement with Sky and it didn't happen, but while they've already got loads of GC riders at Sky, I'll be filling a bit of a gap there at Omega." In the Vuelta, though, Urán could help the British team take their third Grand Tour podium finish of 2013 before he heads to Belgium in 2014.
- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 10:28
- Cycling News
Portuguese leaves Movistar for one-year deal with new team
Rui Costa will ride for Lampre-Merida in 2014 after agreeing to join the Italian squad from Movistar. The 26-year-old Portuguese rider arrives at the team with the stated aim of making an impact on the general classification in the Grand Tours.
Winner of the past two editions of the Tour de Suisse and three Tour de France stages in the last three years, Rui Costa adds considerable firepower to the Lampre line-up and brings a considerable haul of WorldTour points with him.
“In the last few years, I have been constantly improving and that has carried me to some top-level successes,” Rui Costa said. “I think that I have reached a point in my career where I can aim at an important result in the general classification of a big stage race like the Tour de France.”
Rui Costa’s best overall finish in a grand tour to date is 18th at the 2012 Tour de France, but with Nairo Quintana and Alejando Valverde ahead of him in the pecking order at Movistar, his opportunities to improve on that display appeared restricted.
He was forced to sacrifice his own overall ambitions at this year’s Tour when he waited for Valverde when he suffered mechanical problems on the road to Saint-Amand Montrond on stage 13. In spite of that disappointment, Rui Costa bounced back to solo to stage victories at Gap and Le Grand-Bornand in the final week.
“I see Lampre-Merida as the ideal environment and the place with the right conditions for laying the foundations of my ambitious plans. I’m convinced that I’ve made the best choice,” Rui Costa said.
Interestingly, Rui Costa has opted to sign only a one-year contract with Lampre-Merida, and he explained the rationale behind his thinking on his personal website.
“The easiest thing is just to sign for three years because you’re guaranteed a good contract and it takes pressure off you, but I don’t agree with that mentality,” he said. “The easiest way isn’t always the best way to go. I think the most correct and fair thing to both parties is to sign for a year so we get to know ourselves better and adapt to each other.”
A professional since 2007, Rui Costa spent the past five seasons in the Movistar set-up, a spell that included a five-month suspension for a positive test for the stimulant Methylhexanamine. The ban was shortened when he was able to demonstrate that the positive was triggered by a contaminated food supplement.
As well as his success at the Tour de France and Tour de Suisse in recent seasons, Rui Costa also claimed a fine victory at the 2011 GP de Montréal, as well as two consecutive third place finishes at the Tour de Romandie.
Lampre-Merida manager Giuseppe Saronni hailed the arrival of Rui Costa as proof of the team’s ambitions at WorldTour level in 2014. Earlier in the month, it was reported that Astana had also been seeking to sign Rui Costa for 2014.
“We’re welcoming a great rider to our team, an athlete who enthused thousands of fans with his recent exploits at the Tour de France,” Saronni said. “This highlights the fact that the team has the potential to be a destination for the best athletes on the international cycling stage.”
- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 11:31
- Alasdair Fotheringham
First section of course highly technical, second part straightforward
For the fourth year running, the Vuelta a España will kick off with a team time trial. And while the 2010 team time trial in Seville was challenging for its ultra-late night-time schedule, 2011‘s in Benidorm had a long climb and some tricky corners (which wreaked havoc amongst Team Sky and cost both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome significant amounts of time), and 2012 was remarkable for the temperatures of nearly 40 degrees, the Vuelta 2013 opening test’s most memorable feature – at least initially – is that it starts not on land, but on water.
Galicia’s bateas – giant rafts with underwater cages used for growing seafood, particularly mussels – are dotted across the water in the region’s numerous sea inlets like giant black insects, and are one of this region’s best-known features. And in a nod towards the importance of the seafood industry and how closely it is identified with Galicia, the Vuelta organisers have decided to use a batea for their start.
Fortunately, this isn’t some wobbly little craft that will see the riders get seasick or their bikes topple into the brine at the first gust of wind. Normally bateas are around 20 metres long, ample space for nine riders to line up for the Vuelta’s first day of racing. An unusual start, and the first ever for a Grand Tour on water.
Once the riders hit solid ground in the tiny town of Vilanova de Arousa, though, the first segment of the 27.4 kilometre team time trial is anything but straightforward. For the next ten kilometres, as far as the village of Cambados (where fans may recall last year’s very technical individual team time trial of the Vuelta started) the race dives and ducks along backroads where there is barely a single section of straightaway.
As the route dips and curves past fields of tall maize plants (another typical feature of Galicia), small-holdings, solid-looking bungalows, tiny bars with chalked up signs outside for fresh seafood (no surprise there) and high stone walls, the road surface is broad and well-tarmacked. There is nothing like a classified climb, with a grand total of 285 metres of vertical climbing not likely to cause too many problems for any ‘flat-earthers’ in the Vuelta peloton.
But should anybody puncture, on such a tricky course he is going to find it extremely difficult to regain contact – both because it is so technical and with so many bends, it may be hard, in any case, for teams to keep a single solid line going steady throughout the course.
There are other factors, too, like the wind – which in this part of Galicia and on a course mainly run just a few kilometres inland from the Atlantic, is pretty much a constant, and could catch teams out with so many changes of road direction. The weather fortunately, is warm and dry, with the day’s maximum temperature forecast to be 27 degrees, nowhere near the scalding temperatures the Vuelta experienced in Pamplona and indeed in for the entire first week of racing last year.
The second half of the course, after Cambados and all the way through to the finish at Sanxenso, changes radically. As soon as the riders swing left onto a main road, the course is far straighter, with only a few roundabouts, gentle climbs and fast, sweeping descents as the main challenges.
After one marginally more difficult section on the small hill and chunks of woodland above the tourist resort of Sanxenxo, the course drops fast into the seaside town for a final run-in over a small climb and via a couple of tricky corners along the seafront. Rather than a finale on another batea though, the route will finish on a seafront road jammed between a beach full of holidaymakers and the usual mixture of bucket-and-spade shops, ice-cream stands and cafes that go with any resort.
Assuming teams come through the first technical section unscathed, the most important element of this TTT is its length: at 27.4 kilometres, it is much longer than the opening tests of the Vuelta in 2012 (16.5 kilometres), 2011 (13.5 kilometres) or 2010 (13 kilometres).
In a race with eleven summit finishes there will be plenty of opportunities for climbers to get time back: but if a team has a bad day or loses riders early on to punctures or technical problems, at least one overall contender could be on the back foot from the word go.
- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 12:47
- Cycling News
Frenchman lines up for Vuelta a España debut
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is looking to put his Tour de France disappointment behind him when he lines up at the Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Galicia with a team time trial on Saturday evening.
After a sparkling Tour debut in 2012 that saw him claim a stage victory and finish 10th overall, Pinot’s second tilt at La Grande Boucle unraveled on the descent of the Porte de Pailhères on the opening stage in the Pyrenees, and he abandoned through illness in the final week of the race.
Pinot returned to action with a solid showing at the Tour de l’Ain, finishing 6th overall, and after his difficult July, the Frenchman believes that he will enjoy racing away from the spotlight in Spain on a parcours well-suited to his climbing abilities.
“One thing is certain, I don’t want to live another day with my disappointment from the Tour,” Pinot told L’Équipe. “In the Vuelta, I want to rediscover the pleasure of racing and finding myself among the best climbers on terrain that suits me well.”
Pinot is making his Vuelta debut, although he was initially slated to take part in last year's race only to be fast-tracked into the Tour de France team on the back of a series of fine displays at the Tour de Suisse. He was keen to downplay expectations ahead of this Vuelta, however, pointing out that the level of opposition in Spain would be much higher than it was at the recent Tour de l’Ain.
“If that had been a WorldTour race, I wouldn’t have been at the level required,” said Pinot, who finished 4th overall at the Tour de Suisse and impressed at the Volta a Catalunya earlier in the season.
“That’s why I’m not coming to the Vuelta with my ambitions set too high. This year, I would have ridden it anyway but originally the intention was to prepare for the world championships, which I really want to take part in this year.
“My abandon at the Tour de France has altered the situation. I’d be happy with a stage win or, at worst, with finishing up there with the best climbers on the hard stages. I know that I’ll really enjoy this race is I’m in good form. It’s what I need.”
FDJ directeur sportif Franck Pineau reiterated that Pinot was under no pressure in Spain, and suggested that he might not be at his best until the tail end of the race. “Why not wait until the final week to see where he is and if he is able to do what he would like to do?” Pineau said. “He is among friends here and he wants to enjoy his racing.”
- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 13:45
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Belkin sends Dutchman home in keeping with MPCC rules
Theo Bos (Belkin) took part in the Vuelta a España team presentation on Friday evening but the Dutch sprinter and former track star will not be present in the race after a UCI test revealed what his team called “sub-optimal health conditions.”
Standard health checks by the UCI prior to the Vuelta, Belkin said, had shown up low cortisol levels in the 30-year-old sprinter, who was informed about it in an email this morning. The UCI allow riders with such low levels to start WorldTour races, Belkin said in a press release, but Belkin is part of the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible), whose rules state that riders cannot take part in races until cortisol levels have “returned to normal.”
Cortisol hit the headlines in June when it emerged that Europcar, also an MPCC member, had allowed Pierre Rolland to take part in a stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné (from which he later withdrew) despite low levels of the hormone in his body, which is usually boosted by racing and training.
Bos, though, will not even take part in the Vuelta, Belkin said “because of low cortisol levels that appeared in a regular pre-race UCI test, which is an indication of sub-optimal health conditions.” In a joint decision, Bos has now been sent home.
This year Bos, who switched being a top track racer to a sprinter in 2009, has won six races, including stages of the Criterium International and Tour of the Algarve.
- Article published:
- August 24, 2013, 14:59
- Cycling News
Start times as Martin, Nibali and Valverde offer their thoughts on the stage
Reigning World Champions Omega Pharma-Quick-Step head into Saturday's opening stage of the Vuelta a España as favourites for the 27km Team Time Trial.
The Belgian-based outfit, which includes individual World Champion Tony Martin, did a recon of the flat, but testing course on Friday in the build up to the final grand tour of the year with the German powerhouse warning that the profile could offer a false sense of security given the three hilly weeks ahead.
"First of all, I'm happy that it's a little bit longer than normal," Martin said of the course between Vilanova de Arousa and Sanxenxo. "Usually they are shorter than individual time trials, but this year it's 27 kilometers. So, not long but it is a nice distance. However, it is not an easy course. There are not really any climbs, but it's always up and down. It's really hard to find a good rhythm. It's not easy anyway to do that in a team time trial, but with small hills it is even harder. So, I think that is a challenge; to find a really nice rhythm and a nice speed where everybody can survive and still be fast.
"I think we will see a lot of destroyed teams. One strong guy can put the power on in the hills, and some guys in the end will be unable to follow. For sure, it will be a challenge for everyone. The wind is one direction from A to B, so a team that starts early and has less wind than those that start later has a big, big advantage. I hope for everyone it will be the same circumstances and the wind won't change throughout the day."
First out of the start house at 6:48pm local time will be NetApp-Endura while last-up winners in the discipline in a Grand Tour, Orica GreenEdge follow four minutes later. Orica GreenEdge got the better of Omega Pharma-Quick-Step in Nice in July by a mere second and while admittedly not at the Vuelta with their best team against the clock, sports director Matt Wilson was non-committal about the team's chances this time around earlier this week saying, “Who knows? Maybe we'll shock them like we did at the Tour."
Astana, nearly a minute behind Orica GreenEdge at the Tour, will surely be looking to gain an early advantage on their rivals with the team focussed on delivering Vincenzo Nibali to the podium. They're just as likely to finish in the top-three on Saturday and will be the last team out of the start house.
"The Vuelta has a tough start with a team time trial which should benefit Astana as we have some strong specialists like Jakob Fuglsang and Jani Brajkovic, and we'll be aiming to gain a few seconds advantage," Nibali said.
Also keen to get an early jump on his rivals, is Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) but it's a cautious approach that will be taken by the Spanish team. Movistar took out the corresponding opener in Pamplona in 2012, 10 seconds ahead of Rabobank on a comparatively technical course.
"The goal is to win in Madrid, but it is clear that tomorrow is an important day for us," explained Valverde. “Perhaps the time trial last year suited us better, but this is not an issue and we will fight to repeat what happened last year. If things go well, it is true that you can take the red jersey soon, but it's not an obsession. The last week is very demanding and fresher the better and have the team, the better."
Start times - Team Time Trial
||Team Netapp - Endura
||BMC Racing Team
||Caja Rural - Seguros RGA
||Cofidis, Solutions Credits
||Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team
||Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
||AG2R La Mondiale
||Cannondale Pro Cycling
||Belkin Pro Cycling Team
||Astana Pro Team