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Second Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 8, 2013

Date published:
September 8, 2013, 20:00
  • Basso: It's the saddest day of my career

    Ivan Basso (Cannondale) returns after his difficult spring caused by a saddle sore
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 07:30
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale riders talks after quitting the Vuelta

    While Daniele Ratto celebrated the best day of his career with a solo victory at the Vuelta a Espana, his Cannondale team leader Ivan Basso described the stage to Collada de la Gallina as the saddest day of his career.

    Basso was seventh overall at the start of the day but struggled in the cold and rain on the long descent of the Envalira climb and was forced to retire from the Vuelta.

    "It's the saddest day of my career. It's a huge blow," he said.

    "I felt good and was convinced I could do something in the Vuelta. But now I've been knocked down by this. I don’t know what to say. I don’t really believe in luck or destiny but for sure this season has been terrible for me. Ratto's win has boosted the moral of the team and they all deserve it because they helped me so much and never left me alone."

    Basso explained to Gazzetta dello Sport what happened.

    "When I stopped, three or four people were needed to get me off my bike. I was confused and lost, the team car did the right thing because I could have hurt myself," he said.

    "It happened suddenly. I came out of a tunnel and I suddenly felt frozen. But I was wrapped up, I'd eaten and I'm only as thin as everyone else. I was just four kilometres from the bottom of the descent…"

    Basso was expected to secure in the Italian team for the world championships. He was also considering his future, with an option to remain as Grand Tour leader at Cannondale or a tempting offer to join Astana and help Vincenzo Nibali. After missing the Giro d'Italia due to a saddle sore, his whole future is in doubt but he remains determined to get back up after another blow.

    "Yet again I've got to pick myself up. Fortunately I've got the determination to do it," he said.
     

  • Cavendish eager to ride for Great Britain at the worlds championships

    An ecstatic Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) after winning stage 13 of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 09:14
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Sprinter wants to pay Froome back for help in 2011 race

    Mark Cavendish is bucking the trend – whilst most sprinters are opting not to ride the hilly UCI World Championships road race later this month in Tuscany. He is eager to ride, to repay his Great Britian teammates who helped him win the World title in Copenhagen in 2011.

    “I owe a lot to the guys who have a chance this year,” he said, according to sporza.be. “I would like to pay Chris Froome back for the 230 kilometers that he rode at the head of the World Championships in Copenhagen.

    This year's 272 kilometre-long course includes 10 laps of a hilly circuit course in the hills north of Florence, with a four- kilometre climb to be covered ten times. It is considered to be suitable for a climber or possibly a good-climbing sprinter but not for pure sprinters like Cavendish.

    Froome is expected to lead the Great Britain team in the road race, while Bradley Wiggins targets the individual time trial. The rest of the Great Britain has still to be decided, with several riders tired after being part of Froome's Tour de France winning team.

    "I hope I get in the selection of eight riders,” Cavendish said. “I think it's wonderful to ride for my country. Obviously I can't win, but I want to work well for the team as I did last year."

    There is another reason to include Cavendish on the team – an intimate familiarity with the course, as he spends a lot of time in the area, in the town of Quarrata. 

    “I really know every inch. The team time trial takes place in my backyard and the road race circuit course passes literally a hundred metres from my door,” he said.

    Cavendish has been competing on the track in Belgium but will be back on the road at the Tour of Britain that starts in Scotland on September 15. 

  • Gilbert quits the Vuelta a Espana during stage 15

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) pops the cork on a fine day's work
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 10:44
    By:
    Cycling News

    Bad weather sparks more abandons in the Pyrenees

    World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has decide not to endanger his chances at the world championships later this month and has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana during Sunday's stage to Peyragudes, following a day of “hell” on Saturday.

    The BMC rider got off his bike 60km into the stage, which was once again being run in rain and cold temperatures. He had told Sportwereld that Saturday's stage “was hell from start to finish”. He was in the break of the day with eventual winner Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) but was dropped in the finale and caught by race leader Vincenzo Nibali in the final kilometres of the stage.

    "It was extremely cold yesterday and I was still a little bit cold this morning, so I didn't want to risk anything for the Worlds," Gilbert said. "I also decided before [starting the Vuelta] that I was only doing two weeks – and if it was perfect, a little bit more. So it's not a surprise for me and the team."

    Gilbert's Vuelta a Espana campaign was highlighted by his sprint victory on the 12th stage of the race last week -his first win of the 2013 season and his first as world champion.

    The weather is again wet and cold in the Pyrenees as the Vuelta heads into France, sparking several other retirements during the stage. Luke Rowe (Team Sky) and Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge) have also abandoned the 15th stage. Vacansoleil-DCM's Thomas Marczynski became ill over night and did not start.

     

  • Vuelta hit hard by abandons

    Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 12:09
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Lotto Belisol and Vacansoleil down to four riders

    There were only 159 riders at the start of Sunday's Vuelta a Espana stage, after a dramatic number of abandons on Saturday due to the terrible weather conditions. Two teams are down to only four riders each, with the final week of the race still to come. A total of 14 riders abandoned the race yesterday, most of them due to the cold, while there were two non-starters.

    Lotto Belisol and Vacansoleil-DCM are the two teams hardest hit. Lotto Belisol lost three riders during Saturday's bad-weather stage, and having lost two rides earlier, is down to four riders. Vacansoleil-DCM's Thomas de Gendt had been disqualified earlier in the race, and Barry Markus had abandoned. Two riders did not finish on Saturday and Thomas Marczynski's illness overnight brought the Dutch team down to four riders.

    Only four teams started the day at full strength: Astana, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Lampe-Merida and Team Sky.

    The 159 riders is not the smallest number to start the 15th stage of the Vuelta in recent years. 2009 saw only 155 riders. In comparison, 2010 was 168, 2011 was 176, and 2012 could boast of 183 riders still in the race.

  • Evans enjoys his victory at the Tour of Alberta

    Cadel Evans (BMC) takes the win on stage 4 of the Tour of Alberta
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 14:32
    By:
    Pat Malach

    Australian working hard for end of season success

    Cadel Evans (BMC) has waited a long time to climb on the top step of the podium – his last stage win was at the Criterium du Dauphine in June of 2012. But on Saturday at the Tour of Alberta he had the patience and experience to wait for the perfect moment to sprint past Argos-Shimano's Simon Geschke to win stage four of the Canadian race.

    The BMC leader and 2011 Tour de France winner has had a difficult season but bounced back with a morale-boosting win as he focuses on the end of season. He is targeting the two Canadian WorldTour races next weekend, he has his eye on Il Lombardia and is expected to be one of the team leaders of the Australian team at the world championships. Evans won the world title in 2009 in Mendrisio.

    Evans found himself in a select group of five late in the race after having been off the front since kilometer 18 of the 170km stage in southern Alberta.

    When Geschke attacked with Belkin's Tom Jelte Slagter from a larger breakaway group about halfway through the day, Evans waited patiently for a counter attack by Canadian National Team rider Antoine Duchesne before bridging to the leaders with the young Canadian and fellow Australian Ben Day (UnitedHealthcare).

    When Day attacked the leaders with about two kilometres remaining and opened up a gap on the remaining four chasers, Evans patiently waited for Geschke to commit to chasing Day down. When Geschke caught Day 100 meters from the line, Evans timed his jump perfectly to take his first win in more than a year.

    There had been a lot of tough days since Evans had snagged victory, but he said he hasn't been counting.

    “I'm not counting the days. I try not to think about them actually. I've had quite a few second places in stages of the Giro and so on this year, and race wins are a thing in our profession, of course, but I don't get too overly focused on it because it upsets your psychology a bit,” he said.

    Evans explained that victory was a bonus as he prepares for next week's WorldTour races in Quebec and Montreal.

    “First of all, from my part of things, my objective for this part of the year is of course being good for the WorldTour races at the end of the year,” he said. “No disrespect to this race, but that's the priority of my profession.”

    To that end, Evans has been putting in extra kilometers every day of the race, hoping to hit top form for the Canadian races and the rest of the month.

    Despite having some of the longest, straightest roads that Evans said he has ever seen – and the subsequent “fast” pace of the stages – the Tour of Alberta has been a relaxing form-builder for the 36-year-old veteran of 16 Grand Tours.

    “For us and for me who has ridden the Tour, the Giro, the Classics and all these races, it's kind of nice to be able to sit in the group and only be 50km/h in the crosswinds as opposed to 65,” he said. “So it's nice to be able to rest and not be completely exhausted each evening when you get home after the stage. You can enjoy the racing a little bit more,” he explained.

    Evans said he believes his form has been improving with his added workload throughout the week, but he's not sure if his timing for peak form will be as spot on as the timing he used to win stage four on Saturday.

    “Seeing where Sagan is at the moment and looking toward the races at the end of the year, I'm improving,” he said. “Whether I'll get there on time… I'm doing everything I can, and I've been working pretty hard the past few weeks, and of course, here as well. But yeah, my form is improving, and I think I'll have a better idea after the Quebec and Montreal races.”

    Evans is also hoping his appearance at the inaugural Tour of Alberta will improve the race's chances of continuing or even growing into an annual event.

    “I'm also here to support a new race,” he said. “It worked well for me for training, but I was also at the inaugural Tour of California, the inaugural [USA Pro Challenge], the inaugural Tour Down Under. So where I can help out with the expansion of cycling around the world, I hope I can help in my own little way.”


     

  • Androni says UCI has forced it to use suspended rider Reda

    Francesco Reda is off for a walk with his Bianchi Sempre Pro
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 16:30
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian caught up in an anti-doping investigation

    The Androni Giocatolli team says that the UCI has forced it to field Francesco Reda in races again, after the UCI in June asked for an anti-doping investigation of the Italian. The Professional Continental team said that it is complying with the request --”with which we absolutely don't agree” -- and sent Reda to the start of the GP de Fourmies on Sunday.

    The team first held Reda out of races in March “to protect his health”, as the team press release said, although no details were given. He had started out very strongly in 2013, with two second place stage finishes in the Tour Med, giving him third overall. He was also second in the Trofeo Laigueglia, seventh in the GP Citta de Camaiore and eighth in the Strade Bianchi.

    After the team-required “health pause,” Reda returned to racing in late May, but on June 21, the team suspended him, “because the International Cycling Union had requested the Italian Cycling Federation to open a disciplinary investigation against him for potential violation of the anti-doping rules.” Those violations were said to have been missing doping controls.

    Since then Reda has continued to receive his salary, the team said.

    Now, however, “the U.C.I. has forced us to re-integrate the rider although the disciplinary proceedings are still open against him. We can take note of it, and - in compliance with a decision, that is unique in our opinion and with which we absolutely don’t agree, we will enter the rider in the Grand Prix de Fourmies, scheduled for  Sunday 8th September,” the team said in its press release issued Saturday.

    There was no indication of why the UCI has required this action.

  • Geniez snaps up Vuelta's toughest mountain stage on home soil

    Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) celebrates victory in the queen stage at the Vuelta a Espana
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 17:25
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Frenchman solos to maiden Grand Tour stage win

    A day with more than 5,000 metres of climbing, 225 kilometres of racing - and another 20 of neutralised - and four first category ascents could not deter Alexandre Geniez from taking his maiden Grand Tour stage win in stage 15 of the Vuelta a España. At the same time, the 25-year-old FDJ.fr pro said victory in Spain's top race made up for a disappointing Tour de France.

    On a day where most of the favourites - with the exception of Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) - chose to wait until the last climb to make their moves, Geniez could hardly have chosen a more ‘French' day to clinch his win, or an earlier start.

    Apart from the race's final two climbs in France - the 2013 Vuelta's way of paying homage to the centenary edition of the Tour de France - on top of that Bernard Bourreau, the French national trainer, was following the stage and ASO head honcho Christian Prudhomme was in the race director's car for the stage, too.

    Part of a group of 28 riders that broke away on the first climb, the Cantó, the breakaway finally disintegrated on the Port de Bales, less than 50 kilometres from the finish. After Geniez dropped his most persistent pursuer, Caja Rural's Andre Cardoso, at the top of the Bales, ‘all' he had to do was ensure he stayed away.

    "It was a good day, we gradually lost more and more riders and things got whittled down even if it was really hard early on for people to work out who was going to do what with so many riders in that early break," Geniez, whose one previous win was a stage in the Tour of Austria, said.

    "In some ways it was similar to that win, I got in an early break and it gradually shrank down to fewer and fewer riders.

    "Being in France was definitely an extra motivation although I had no idea if I was going to win. I knew that everybody had played their card by then, it was a question of seeing how strong my own legs were."

    Geniez said that after a Tour de France which had been less than satisfactory for himself, and a difficult first half of the season because of glandular fever, it was good to be able to bounce back in Spain - albeit on French soil.

    "Right at the end of the Tour, where things hadn't gone brilliantly, they asked me if I wanted to the Vuelta because I was tired, but not exhausted like everybody else. I finally saw that was a good choice."

    Geniez brushed off questions about his non-selection for the upcoming world championships, saying, "It's not a drama. Whatever happens, it's up to him [the national trainer]. If I'm not there, I'm not there."

    And it's true that regardless of what happens at Worlds, Geniez's victory in the Vuelta's toughest single mountain stage, coupled with teammate Thibaut Pinot's excellent battle for the overall - Pinot, again after a difficult Tour, is currently seventh overall - is making FDJ.fr's 2013 Vuelta one of their best in recent history.

  • Nibali keeps control on Vuelta's queen stage

    In a show of strength, Vuelta leader Vincenzo Nibali leads his GC rivals - Alejandro Valverde, Chris Horner, Joaquim Rodriguez and Domenico Pozzovivo - across the finish line at Peyragudes
    Article published:
    September 8, 2013, 18:30
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Italian rides down challenges, finishes fourth

    Vincenzo Nibali may have had no teammates on the last part of the Peyragudes but as Sky Team Principal Dave Brailsford said during the Tour de France, it's arguably better to have a strong leader and a somewhat weaker team than the other way round. And every day in the Vuelta a España Nibali - set to be a rival for Team Sky in the 2013 Tour - is proving Brailsford right.

    Nibali may be isolated on the last climb, as he was at Peyragudes, but it is of little relevance when his Astana team - one of only two to remain at full strength in the Vuelta - have done a solid job of supporting him 100 percent up until the foot of the final ascent, as they did on Sunday's hardest single stage of the race.

    Then when Nibali does a faultless job of chasing down his rivals every time the most dangerous of them make a move, it is becoming increasingly clear that even as the 28-year-old Sicilian continues to preach caution, the Vuelta is increasingly becoming his to lose. After Peyragudes, in fact, it is possible to say that only the Angliru and ensuring he avoids misfortune now stands between Nibali and a second Vuelta a España title.

    "It was a very tough day, very long and cold, and similar to yesterday's," Nibali said after finishing fourth at the line in Peyragudes at the head of the little group of race favourites - again, another way of stamping his authority on the race.

    "First Saxo-Tinkoff on the Bales and then Rodriguez was going for it, a lot, even Horner tried too, but we eventually got it sorted out," Nibali said afterwards.

    "There were a lot of riders trying to get away early on, and that made for a very fast start and a very hard stage throughout. It seemed like everybody in the bunch wanted to get into the early break."

    Still, Nibali has got through another tough day, his 50-second gap on Horner is looking increasingly insurmountable and Valverde and Rodriguez are beginning to talk more and more about fighting for a podium place or a stage win than toppling the Shark of Messina from the top spot.

    As for Monday's stage, to the Sallent de Gallego, Nibali was his usual cautious self, even if it is by far the easiest of the three Pyrenean stages and the weather is set to improve again.

    "At this point in the race, it's not the terrain, but tiredness that has the biggest impact on riders," he reasoned - and indeed, another nine riders abandoned on stage 15, making for 26 fewer riders in the Vuelta peloton in the last 24 hours alone.