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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, January 18, 2014

Date published:
January 18, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Thomas ready for Tour Down Under

    Geraint Thomas (Sky)
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 5:10 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Welshman looking to build towards classics

    Geraint Thomas was an impressive stage winner at the Tour Down Under twelve months ago, but the Sky rider says that getting a result in the race is not as crucial this time around.

    After forgoing much of the previous road season in order to prepare for the London Olympics, where he won gold on the track in the team pursuit, Thomas was keen to get back to winning ways on the road when he lined up in Adelaide last year.

    With Richie Porte leading Sky'’s general classification challenge in 2014, Thomas admitted that his priority at the Tour Down Under will be to build his form ahead of his major early-season objectives at the spring classics.

    "I'd love to go and maybe get a stage win, or be up there again on GC," Thomas said, according to the Team Sky website. "For me there isn't quite as much emphasis on it this year. Especially with Richie going, that gives us another string to our bow. I’m just looking to race hard and take an opportunity if it comes. Last year I was thinking about it a bit more, but this time I’ve got other goals on the horizon just after."

    Thomas has been in Australia since the turn of the year, and he has trained with Sky teammates Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Bernhard Eisel and new arrival Philip Deignan in recent days.

    "You've got the time difference which you can get over, you've got a good block of training and a good race," said Thomas, who stressed the importance of collective training.

    "It definitely brings you closer as a team and then when you’re out there racing you feel more of a unit – rather than just dropping in from wherever you’re coming from and racing together. I think that definitely helps."

    While Sky’s one-day unit went to a...

  • Javier Moreno looking forward to leadership opportunities at Tour Down Under

    The 2013 Tour Down Under podium: Thomas, Slagter and Moreno
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 5:54 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider a regular podium feature at Australian race

    In 2013 Javier Moreno left Australia with victory in the king of the mountains classification and was second overall at the Tour Down Under. He has returned once again to start his season down under. The Movistar rider has won races overall before, the Vuelta a Asturias in 2011 and the Vuelta a Castilla y León in 2013, but with the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana as teammates, Moreno is relishing his chance to lead the squad.

    "It's normally my job to help my leaders, Valverde and Quintana, so I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity to be the leader this week at the Tour Down Under but I don't quite expect to be as good as the Australians," Moreno told reporters via a translator.

    Moreno will be an outside chance of overall victory and wasn't giving away any secrets on how his form is prior to the race. "I've prepared like the last two years, I don't actually know quite what condition I'm in right now. The first race is always an unknown factor but I hope to go as well as possible and see what happens," he said.

    Talking up his rivals, Moreno highlighted that an Australian was a likely victor having acclimatised to the heat and also having already raced this year.

    "Australians are always at a high level this time of year, coming of their championships they'll be at a better level than the Europeans."
    The change in the race to include more vertical kilometres is likely to benefit Moreno. "The course appears to be more difficult than it has been in the past," he said.

    "There is an extra day of hard climbing and as a principle, the harder the race is, the better for me. The level of the field is also higher this year so, it will be a difficult race to win."

  • Wiggins looking forward to racing with Froome

    Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome will lead Sky's attack on the Grand Tours
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 10:08 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Pair to race together at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Bradley Wiggins has had a strained relationship with Chris Froome but the 2012 Tour de France champion believes that can change this season.

    “We're the two elder statesmen of the team, if you like, we're the two who've had most of the success for Team Sky. It seems strange that we didn't race together at all last year. I think the more we can communicate, the more we can race together and I think it's better for everybody in the team,” Wiggins said in an interview with Sky Sports News.

    Injuries aside, there could see a reversal to the 2012 Tour de France set up, with the 33-year-old acting as a super-domestique for Froome. The two are also due to ride together at Tirreno-Adriatico, in March. Wiggins has put aside his own grand tour ambitions and has hinted at the possibility he could have a tilt at the Paris-Roubaix title.

    The tension between the two stems from Wiggins' successful Tour de France campaign, when he felt Froome had attacked him on La Toussuire. According to Froome's partner, Michelle Cound, Wiggins withheld the share of the winnings until just before the 2013 World Championships in Florence.

    Wiggins was set to ride in aid of Froome in last year's edition of the race, after a war of words over who would take the leadership role, but a knee injury prevented that from happening. In fact Wiggins missed much of the season after he abandoned the Giro, resulting in the two only competing together at the Tour of Oman and the World Championships, where Wiggins abandoned before the peloton hit the circuits.

    Compared to the previous year, 2013 was a flop for Wiggins. He salvaged something with overall victory at the Tour of Britain and a...

  • Marianne Vos aims for three world titles in 2014

    Marianne Vos uses Rotor's oval Q Rings
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 11:18 GMT
    By:
    José Been

    World champion acknowledges combining road and MTB is her limit

    Marianne Vos is an omnivore when it comes to cycling. With three road race world titles, six rainbow jerseys in cyclocross, two track world titles, two Olympic titles and numerous UCI World Cup victories, the 26-year old Dutch rider seems unstoppable. However, in combining mountain biking with a road race career she found her limits.

    "I like challenges but combining these two disciplines last year was just too much. We stopped the mountain biking just in time, because otherwise I might have missed the world championships in Florence ," she told cyclingonline.nl.

    Vos being Vos means that she has high ambitions for the new season, but is willing to take a step back to let other riders in the Rabobank-Liv team shine. "I have no problems riding for a teammate in a big race. I've never had problems with it."

    With Anna van der Breggen, Dutch champion Lucinda Brand, and strong riders such as Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Annemiek van Vleuten, who had surgery last year and is now recovering to get back to top form, Rabobank-Liv has several options.

    "I am still hungry to win, don't get me wrong," Vos continues. "But I notice that I get more and more satisfaction from contributing to other riders' victories. We have several aces to play. They shouldn't only look at me anymore." 

    The first challenge of the 2014 season is the world cyclo cross championships in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. In 2009 she started her winning streak of five consecutive world titles in Hoogerheide, but she acknowledges that the competition with Katie Compton this year will be harder than ever.

    "A world title is never a certitude before the start. In previous years me and Katie were equal but I managed to win after a harsh battle. This year she doesn't leave anything on the course, not even technically like she used to do before. Our battle during the World Cup in Nommay will be an important indicator for my form, but I am sure I can...

  • Gallery: Teams presented at Tour Down Under

    Home favourites Orica GreenEdge
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 11:45 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Garmin, Orica and Sky lead the way

    Bushfires have put stage one of the Tour Down Under at threat but that certainly didn't spoil the mood or excitement at the race's teams' presentation in Adelaide, on Saturday evening. With the first WorldTour event of the season just days away, some of the best riders in the world donned their new 2014 racing kits as they were presented to a strong crowd of support in the city centre.

    The race has one of the strongest line ups in years, including home favourites Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Simon Gerrans, along with Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel and Jens Voigt.

    The Tour Down Under is proceeded by Sunday's People's Choice Classic, and you can follow the race, minute-by-minute live on Cyclingnews.com.

    Click here to see today's presentation gallery.

  • Ballan: Ban is too harsh

    Alessandro Ballan going back to the team cars.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 13:14 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian considering an appeal to CAS

    Alessandro Ballan believes the two year ban he was handed by the Italian Olympic Committee [CONI] was too harsh.

    "I had expected more understanding from the judges," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I made a minor error and was negligent. But the price to pay is too high."

    Yesterday, CONI suspended the former World Champion for two years for his use of ozone treatment, in 2009. Ballan denied he used it for performance enhancing purposes, "I went through ozone therapy when I was ill and away from cycling.

    "I was hospitalised and my values were at the bottom, with acute hepatitis due to cytomegalovirus. And as for my biological passport, it was clear. The surveys were never discussed. I was never suspected. I was completely down. It was hard to walk, climb stairs and, especially, cycle." However, the WADA code strictly prohibits the use of ozone treatment in any circumstances, and for that reason Ballan was given the suspension.

    His suspension was quickly followed by his firing from the BMC team. Team manager Jim Ochowicz stood by the Italian through this and the Mantova investigation, for which Ballan still faces criminal proceedings. However, the team were quick to announce their parting of ways once CONI's decision was announced. Despite this, Ballan has no hard feelings towards the team he raced with for four seasons. "It's how the rules are. But Jim Ochowicz called me to declare their support. BMC is a great team. I wanted to repay him by letting his mind be free from problems."

    After a season affected by the training crash he had last winter, Ballan was preparing for his return to racing. In December 2012, Ballan spent a week in intensive care after a training accident and had his spleen removed.

    The Italian sat...

  • Gilbert nearly back to the form of 2011

    All smiles for Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as he awaits the start of stage 15 at the Vuelta
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 15:13 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian targets Milan-San Remo as first goal of the year

    Philippe Gilbert belives he's close to his best, after a good winter, where he detached himself from the world of cycling.

    "A cyclist needs a simple life with training and resting," he told RTBF from his home in Monaco. "That's what I did this winter.

    "I tried to cut myself away from the world of cycling mentally and didn't do any press-related things. It was the first time in my career I managed to do that. I focused on the essentials: training and nourishment. I am not far from the level I had in my best winters,"

    BMC Racing Team confirmed that Gilbert will start in the Tours of Qatar and Oman and will return to Europe for two UCI 1.1 races in France (Sud Ardèche and the Drome Classic) before riding both Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima. However, he remained quiet on the rest of his race programme. "I am not at liberty to discuss if I'll do Tirreno Adriatico or Paris-Nice and the rest of the programme, because the team will announce it.

    "I respect their wishes. Of course the Ardennes classics are on my programme, and I start there with big ambitions. I can also say that Milan-San Remo will be a big goal this year. I have been in the final several times and was on the podium twice before [third in 2008 and 2011] and it's not on my palmarès yet. It's not a secret that I dream about this race." 

    With the addition of the Pompeiana climb to the Milan-San Remo course sprinters like André Greipel and former winner Mark Cavendish have said they won't ride La Primavera. "The race has evolved into a very difficult and demanding race. It will be the punchers and the climbers who'll arrive at San Remo, and not the sprinters.  I talked to [Chris] Froome and he will take the start at Milan-San Remo too. I don't ask myself the question if it's a shame that it evolved or add to the discussion whether you should keep the parcours and the history. I am selfish and I say that...

  • Gallery: Androni Giocattoli show off new signings

    Alessio Taliani
    Article published:
    January 18, 2014, 16:33 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hoogerland and Van Hummel presented in new kit

    Johnny Hoogerland and Kenny van Hummel stood proud of their places next to their new boss Gianni Savio as the Androni Giocattoli team had their photos taken in their new kit.

    The kit hasn't changed much since last year, but the team has. Hoogerland is Savio's biggest signing of the off-season. He joined the squad after his Vacansoleil-DCM team folded at the end of the year. The Dutch champion's irrepressible style will no doubt be well suited to the Italian team. Hoogerland is expected to form part of Androni's Giro d'Italia squad.

    With a team made up of predominantly Italian and Venzuelan riders, the signing of Hoogerland and Van Hummel will be important to the team. Their presence will increase the likelihood of securing invitations to the Dutch and Belgian WorldTour races. Hoogerland's propensity to go on the attack should also provide the team's sponsors with good TV time.

    Returning to the team for 2014 is Franco Pellizotti. The 36-year-old reached a deal to race with Astana for this season, but wasn't allowed to race until May 2 due to MPCC rules regarding riders banned for more that six months. Astana then did a surprising U-turn last month and announced that Pellizotti was no longer part of the team. Fortunately for the former Italian national champion, Savio welcomed him back into the fold with open arms.

    Other new signings include Marco Bandiera, who joined from IAM Cycling, and Manuele Belletti, who moved over from AG2R.

    Click here for the gallery.