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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, August 29, 2013

Date published:
August 29, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Q & A: Global Cycling Promotion on Beijing and continental expansion

    The Tour of Beijing peloton in action during stage 3.
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 6:46 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Exclusive interview with Alain Rumpf

    Two-and-a-half years ago the UCI launched the Global Cycling Promotion (GCP), the arm of the governing body charged with the global promotion of cycling in a race organising capacity.

    In late 2011 the inaugural Tour of Beijing was rolled out and although the event is now heading into its third year, GCP has so far failed to launch a second event.

    Struggling to make a profit and with no new races yet signed off for 2014, Alain Rumpf sat down with Cyclingnews for an exclusive interview.

    CN: Can we start with the Tour of Beijing and can you provide an update on where the 2013 race currently stands?

    AR: With the Tour of Beijing we’re in the real operational phase of this year’s race. We’ve announced the course and we’re quite happy with it. We’ve spent three years driving around Beijing and scouting routes and the first two editions were quite good from a route point of view, but we’re really happy with this year’s route. We go back to some of the traditional route with stage 5 racing between Tiananmen Square and the Olympic Park but we also have this new summit finish. It’s the first time we’ve had a summit finish in the race and we hope it will provide some exciting racing.

    CN: There was a press release last week that said the Tour of Beijing was the fourth most-watched race in the world. With no disrespect it’s certainly not the fourth most-popular or biggest in terms of prestige or interest, so how did you arrive at those figures?

    AR: It’s certainly a young race so from that point of view there are many other races on the WorldTour calendar that can be considered more prestigious and more traditional but these figures are in terms of cumulative audience. If you add all the viewers via live, delayed, summaries, highlights and news this comes from two...

  • Meersman hungry for Vuelta stage win

    Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) narrowly outsprinted Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) to win stage 3 in Payerne
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 9:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Concedes Matthews "was just stronger than me today"

    Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) came home in third place on stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday, after an alliance between the headline sprint teams of the race doomed any breakaway chances and a battle of the sprinters ensued.

    Meersman started his sprint from the wheel of stage winner, Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge), but was unable to come around the Australian and ended up finishing in third with Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) claiming second on the stage.

    Meersman credited his teammates for their work in chasing the breakaway and piloting him through the last five kilometres.

    "It was another hard finish today," said Meersman. "Once again the team perfectly put me in the best position for the sprint. We took our responsibility also to catch the breakaway. In the last five kilometres Martin, Pieter Serry and Zdenek Stybar piloted me, then at 600 meters to go I was on the wheel of Matthews."

    Despite timing his sprint well, Meersman was unable to overhaul the young Australian who took the win comfortably.

    "I waited for the right moment to go and when I decided to launch my sprint Matthews also went and I couldn't really pass him,” continued Meersman. "The timing for the sprint was perfect, but he was just stronger than me today. Yesterday I finished in 4th place, today I was 3rd."

    Having finished both the Tour de Romandie and the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya as a dual stage winner, Meersman is a optimistic that he can taste victory on this Vuelta.

    "I really would like to get a stage here for me and the team. We will see day by...

  • Leopard Trek's future in doubt

    The Leopard Trek Continental team was also on hand in Calpe.
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 10:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Baffi admits prospects are bleak

    The future of the Leopard Trek Continental team is in doubt, with manager Adriano Baffi admitting that neither Trek nor the Leopard S.A. holding company have spoken to him about the team’s continuation into 2014.

    Leopard Trek is the Luxembourg-based development squad for RadioShack-Leopard, which will be sponsored by Trek in 2014 after the American bike manufacturer purchased the team’s WorldTour licence from backer Flavio Becca.

    With Becca set to leave cycling and with Trek believed to be pooling its resources into the sponsorship of the WorldTour team, Baffi acknowledged that the outlook does not appear bright for his team.

    “Up to now, nobody has approached me, neither from Leopard nor from Trek,” Baffi told Tageblatt. “I’ve been in this business for a long time, and when it gets to September and nobody has spoken to you, that’s usually not a good sign.”

    While the US-based Bontrager team managed by Axel Merckx and sponsored by the Trek subsidiary has found an as-yet undisclosed replacement backer for next season, Baffi said that he was not personally in a position to search for a new sponsor for Leopard Trek.

    “That’s not my thing – my job lies in the field of sports, I don’t know anything about business,” said Baffi. “But when I read the newspapers in Luxembourg, I see that cycling is omnipresent there so I find it strange that there are no more sponsors available.”

    Founded at the beginning of the 2012, Bob Jungels (RadioShack-Leopard) and Alexandr Pliuschin (IAM Cycling) graduated to the professional ranks at the end of its first season, while Eugenio Alafaci and Fabio Silvestre are set to...

  • Rodriguez deserves to win a grand tour, says Sastre

    Carlos Sastre (CSC) celebrates as he crosses the finish line of at Ax-3 Domaines in the 2003 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 11:40 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Former Tour winner assesses Vuelta contenders

    He may have retired from the sport two years ago but 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre continues to follow cycling as a fan. Having just returned from a holiday with his family that included following the first four days of the Vuelta a España, Sastre lined out his predictions for the overall battle in this year's race.

    "So far the race has been spectacular and interesting with a new leader nearly every day. We saw the first four stages and now we're back home but we were there live to watch the race. It was just a holiday," Sastre told Cyclingnews.

    Sastre tipped Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez as the main overall contenders but added that one of his former rivals, Ivan Basso, could have an impact on the final result.

    "There are number of riders that can do well and fight for the GC in my opinion. I think Valverde and Rodriguez will be there. Also Ivan Basso. I'm not sure he can win but he is going to be up there for sure. Nibali to me looks strong too, maybe not as strong as he was in the Giro d'Italia but he'll be in contention, certainly. For me, Nibali, Valverde and Joaquim will be the ones fighting for the victory."

    Rodriguez and Sastre rode together on the ONCE team in 2000 and 2001. Back then, Sastre was just starting to show his grand tour pedigree with 20th place in the Tour de France while Rodriguez was a neo-professional with his sights firmly on one-day racing.

    "I was on the same team as him for just one year, maybe two. As a young professional he didn't race that much with me but it was clear even back then that he was a good rider. Everyone thought he was going to be good for the one-day races and he's proved that in races like Liège and...

  • Martin gunning for third TT world championship

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quick Step) riding the fastest of the day
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 15:20 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    German "in better shape this year than last"

    Currently a lone breakaway in the Vuelta a España, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) told Cyclingnews before today's stage he is more optimistic this year than last about his chances of taking a third straight individual time trial world championship title and his current build-up for Italy in September.

    The winner of 10 races so far this season, including the Tour's individual time trial, Martin said, "So far I'm doing really well, I'm operating at the level I want to and I'm here to improve my condition for the Worlds and maybe do a good time trial at Tarazona."

    In 2011, Martin won the individual time trial of the Vuelta at Salamanca ahead of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. In 2012, the Vuelta's only individual race against the clock was arguably too hilly for the German. But this time around the 38.8 kilometre test on the flatlands of Aragon is less difficult that the Cambados-Pontevedra roller coaster race against the clock that the Vuelta organisers laid on last year (where Martin placed 11th) and so it might just be within his chances.

    Either way, shortly after talking to Cyclingnews Martin was off the front of the bunch and away to test his Worlds form. The 28-year-old German apparently so keen to attack, bicicilismo reports, he actually jumped away in the neutral section before the start flag had dropped.

    "I'm in better shape than I was this time last year because I was still recovering from my broken scaphoid [and crash in the Tour de France] and had to rest up a lot to recover from that. I also had the Olympics last year," Martin recalled.

  • Schaffrath praises Tony Martin’s lone efforts

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had to make do with the combativity award after his 174km solo break ended just 100 metres from the finish line.
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 17:39 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Solo 174km breakaway comes within metres of success

    So near but so far. Tony Martin’s solo bid to take the win in the Vuelta a España came within less than half a dozen pedal strokes of success on Thursday’s sixth stage, and it was only when he was swamped so close to the line that the German finally admitted he had lost.

    Martin could not raise his arms in triumph, unlike in the last lone breakaway (almost) from the gone of similar length in recent Vuelta history, when Dave Zabriskie attacked after about four kilometres of stage 11 in 2004 and held on to win in Caravaca de la Cruz.

    But even so, at the Omega Pharma-QuickStep bus a few hundred metres behind the line in Cáceres on Thursday, the mood was anything but one of defeat. In coming so close and digging so deep in such unfavourable circumstances, Martin was the overwhelming moral winner of stage seven.

    “I can’t complain, he got seventh, that’s the best result he’s ever got in a bunch sprint,” team sports director Jan Schaffrath joked to Cyclingnews. “He never ran a top ten in a sprint before!”

    Jokes apart, Schaffrath said Martin was anything but disappointed at getting so close to a victory. “That’s the great thing about Tony, he always looks on the good side. He knew he did a great ride and even getting so close was a really good ride.”

    There were some factors in his favour apart from judging his and the peloton’s strength to perfection.

    “The last ten kilometres were pretty technical, up and down and with tricky corners as well, and sometimes a single guy can go faster than the group. Some of the sprinters’ guys had been dropped on the draggy climb with about six kilometres to go, that helped as...

  • Morkov takes surprise victory in Caceres

    Michael Morkov (Saxo-Tinkoff) on the podium in Caceres.
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 18:35 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Saxo-Tinkoff off to strong start at Vuelta

    It would be no understatement to say that Denmark's Michael Morkov is not used to working as a sprinter. However, when a chance to get a Grand Tour victory comes along like Thursday's the Saxo-Tinkoff rider was more than ready to grab it with both hands, taking his team's second stage win of the 2013 Vuelta a España.

    The reigning Danish champion told Spanish television TVE that he had never taken part in a bunch sprint prior to Wednesday. But he hit the jackpot nonetheless, claiming the third victory of his career.

    "It was the first time I took part in one," Morkov, whose previous stellar moment in a Grand Tour came when he led the Tour de France King of the Mountains competition last year for the first week. "But there was nobody else in the team here who's quick in a sprint, so I had that role.

    "I got on [Fabian] Cancellara's back wheel, and to tell the truth, I wasn't sure exactly when to accelerate. I thought I might have miscalculated, but I got it right. Cancellara surging for the line like that made a big difference.

    "And winning this stage with the jersey of national champion on my back is by far the best moment of my career."

    Saxo-Tinkoff's great first week of the Vuelta is undeniable. The Danish team have taken two out of the seven stages with Nicolas Roche and Morkov, have three riders placed in the top ten overall (Nicolas Roche in second, Rafael Majka in ninth and Roman Kreuziger in tenth, all less than 45 seconds back on Nibali) and continue to lead in the both the King of the Mountains and the ‘combined' classification with Roche.

  • AG2R extends with three, lets four go

    AG2R - La Mondiale team time trials
    Article published:
    August 29, 2013, 19:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Gadret amongst those leaving, French media says

    Julien Bérard, Ben Gastauer and Guillaume Bonnafond have extended their contracts with AG2R, the team has announced. However, according to media reports, four other riders, including John Gadret, will not receive renewals.

    The three riders who are re-upping with the French WorldTour team are all graduates from the Chambéry Cyclisme Formation, AG2R's developmental team. They have all extended for another two years, through 2015.

    Berard, 26, turned pro with the team in 2010. He has finished the Giro d'Italia twice but had to abandon after the seventh stage. He is currently riding the Vuelta a Espana.

    Gastauer, 25, is also in the Vuelta. He rode the Giro as well, finishing 51st. He, too, has been with the team his whole career, starting in 2010.

    The 26-year-old Bonnafond has been with AG2R since 2009. He rode the Giro as well. His most recent races have been the Tour du Limousin, where he finished 6th overall, and the Chateauroux Classic de l'Indre - Trophee Fenioux.

    According to L'Equipe, John Gadret, Anthony Ravard, Valentin Iglinskiy and Manuel Belletti have all been told that their contracts won't be renewed.

    Gadret is the biggest surprise. A two-time French cyclo-cross champion, his break-through road year was 2007, when he won the GP Kanton Aargau and the overall title at the Tour de l'Ain. He also showed promise in the Grand Tours, finishing 13th in the Giro and 19th in the Tour in 2010, before shooting up to a third place overall finish in the Giro in 2011, where he also claimed his only Grand Tour stage win in the 11th stage.

    He was the center of controversy in the 2010 Tour, when he refused to give...