- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 05:20
- Barry Ryan
Italian targets Gent-Wevelgem and Giro d'Italia
After spending over two years switching between disciplines as he worked towards competing on the road and track at the London Olympics, Elia Viviani (Cannondale) can finally devote his attentions fully to matters on the road in 2013.
The Italian suffered the heartbreak of slipping out of the medal positions in the final event of the omnium last August but he had little time to dwell on that disappointment. Shortly afterwards, Viviani was lining up for grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España and he continued his season to the Tour of Beijing in October, eager to sink solid foundations ahead a more relaxed off-season than he had enjoyed for some time.
"I took a full month off after that and it was a calmer winter than I've had in recent years," said Viviani, who had chased Olympic qualification at track World Cups during the previous two winters.
"My winter training has changed a lot too, seeing as I'm just preparing for the big road races, and not riding the track world championships. I'd like to pick up a result here in Qatar, but the most important thing for me is to be ready for Paris-Nice and then find my best condition for the Classics. I want to win something big this year."
Viviani's rapid finish yielded seven victories on the road last season, but as penchant for track racing suggests, the 23-year-old has no desire to be pigeon-holed as purely a sprinter. In 2013, therefore, Viviani makes his first concerted tilt at the Classics (he previously rode the Tour of Flanders in 2011 and Milan-San Remo last year), although he stressed that it would primarily be an exploratory mission.
"I'd see myself as a realist. As an Italian, Milano-Sanremo is special for me, but you really need to come close a couple of times before you can think about winning," he said. "So I don't know if I'll be competitive there this year. I'm probably thinking more of a classic like Gent-Wevelgem, where I think I can have my say. I've got that circled in red as a race where I could do well."
Viviani also acknowledged that Peter Sagan, 4th on the Lungomare Italo Calvino last year, will lead Cannondale's challenge on March 17, but he was more bullish about his role at Gent-Wevelgem, where Sagan finished second behind Tom Boonen in 2012.
"Like I said, I'm a realist. So if at Sanremo, Peter can do better than me, then at Gent-Wevelgem, maybe he can help me, but that's something we'll decide on the road," he said. "In any case, there certainly won't be any problems between Peter and me. We understand each other well in situations like that."
Viviani's classics campaign will end at the Tour of Flanders – "I'd like to go well there in the future, but this year, I'm going there purely to help Peter," he said – and he will postpone his Paris-Roubaix debut for at least another year, lest a crash upset his preparations for the Giro d'Italia in May.
"I'd like to try and win a stage for sure, and then after 15 days, I'll see where I'm situated in the points classification," he said. "But first of all, in this year's Giro, the important thing for me is to have a crack at a few stages and get to the finish in Brescia really."
Viviani is heartened by his experiences at last year's Vuelta, which he rode after spending a sizeable chunk of his summer on the boards. He finished second on two occasions to the in-form John Degenkolb, but he drew encouragement from the fact that he was so competitive in the bunch sprint on the final day in Madrid.
"The Vuelta gave me a lot of reassurance about what I can do over three weeks," Viviani said. "I felt alright on the climbs even in the last week and I was still good in the sprints, as I showed by doing the sprint in Madrid behind Degenkolb. The Giro maybe has tougher climbs again but the Vuelta certainly helped to give me a bit more knowledge about what I'm capable of."
Currently competing at the Tour of Qatar, Viviani suffered a scare when he crashed early on stage 3, although the Italian remounted and though he took a heavy blow to his ribs, he reported no serious injuries.
"I was one of the first to fall, which meant that a lot of riders landed on top of me," Viviani told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 4. "When I saw the doctor about my ribs yesterday, he told me there not to worry, so I'm ready to start again. Of course you feel bad the day after a crash, but I'll be alright once I get racing again."
- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 06:08
- Cycling News
Olympic and defending world champions on route to Rio Games
Team GB has announced a stacked squad for the upcoming UCI Track World Championships with Olympic gold medal winners and reigning world champions filling the 16-rider team. The start of new Olympic cycle sees revised rosters for the defending men's and women's team pursuit while Laura Trott and Dani King return to the boards in an attempt to retain their rainbow bands.
With Sir Chris Hoy sitting out the championships to focus on next year's Commonwealth Games and Victoria Pendleton announcing her retirement following her London success the team has given a number of fresh faces the opportunity to step into the World's squad.
There is still plenty of depth in the selection with Olympic gold medal winners in the team sprint Jason Kenny and Phil Hindes making the trip to Belarus while Ed Clancy switches back to the endurance squad after filling the sprint role at last year's Glasgow World Cup.
Clancy's position will be filled by Matt Crampton while Kian Emadi continues his bid for a spot in Sprint Group for the 2016 Games. GB representatives from Glasgow Jonathan Dibben (omnium) and Simon Yates (scratch race) have been selected again while the men's team pursuit trio of Owain Doull, Samuel Harrison and Andrew Tennant will seek to make amends after crashing during qualifying at the second round of the World Cup in Glasgow.
The women's squad sees last year's omnium champion Trott return to competition with the familiar Dani King and Elinor Barker set to join her for the team pursuit. As Team GB performance director Sir Dave Brailsford explained, the start of the New Year and Olympic cycle means there will be plenty to learn from the championships but as always, the major objectives lie on developing the best athletes for the next Olympic Games.
"The first year of an Olympic cycle is always an interesting one as it gives the opportunity for our young riders to compete alongside the world's best and experience the competitive environment which is crucial for their development," said Brailsford. "With that in mind, the focus for the team is to perform to the best of their ability as the route to Rio firmly begins."
Men - Matt Crampton, Kian Emadi, Jason Kenny and Phil Hindes
Women - Vicky Williamson and Rebecca James
Men - Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Jon Dibben, Ouain Doull, Sam Harrison, Andy Tennant and Simon Yates
Women - Elinor Barker, Dani King and Laura Trott
- Olympic games
- Commonwealth games
- World championships
- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 08:31
- Cycling News
Injury puts doubt over classics campaign
The high-speed crashes at Tour of Qatar have taken another victim with Koen de Kort falling in the final of Stage 4, suffering a broken collarbone. The Argos-Shimano rider will return to the Netherlands for further treatment and surgery in the coming days with his spring classics ambitions seemingly doubtful. The opening Belgian semi-classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad comes in just over two weeks time where de Kort would have likely begun his spring campaign.
De Kort was able to finish the finish the stage as the last rider to cross the line more than five minutes behind the day's winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and while he believed to have only take superficial damage, medical examination revealed the full extent of the injury.
"Koen broke his right collarbone," said Argos-Shimano physician Edwin Achterberg on the team site. "He underwent an X-ray at the hospital, and now we’ll try to get him back to the Netherlands for an operation as soon as possible."
"I knew the final kilometers of today’s stage were pretty tricky. We were in the front to prepare the sprint for John Degenkolb. A few riders, including me, went down 900 meters from the finish, and I immediately felt that there was something wrong with my right shoulder," said Koen de Kort. "Unfortunately, this is part of cycling. I will now fully focus on my recovery in order to get back in the saddle as soon as possible."
Degenkolb could only manage 15th on the stage and was clearly out of contention for the win while the fallen de Kort remained relatively upbeat on his season's set-back.
"Thanks for the tweets everyone. Crashed in the last km today and broke my collarbone. Guess I'm a real cyclist now," said De Kort on Twitter.
"Had xrays and CT scan done in a great sports hospital in Doha. Will have operation done in The Netherlands, update soon," he tweeted.
De Kort’s Qatar incident puts a dampener on the early part of the year which appeared to be steadily building towards the classics and the possibility of repeating his podium place at Dwars door Vlaanderen achieved in 2012.
It’s another blow for de Kort who has a cloud hanging over his classics program for the second consecutive year. De Kort was unable to ride a full classics campaign last year after a heavy fall at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke left him ‘mumified’ - just days after his third-place in the semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen.
More information on de Kort’s condition will be released as it comes to light.
- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 10:20
- Cycling News
Recovery continues after elbow surgery
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) was ruled out of his traditional start to the season, the Tour of Qatar after he underwent surgery for an infected elbow last month. However the Belgian is satisfied with his recovery with a planned return to the peloton in Oman next week.
Boonen tweeted on Wednesday: "1000km one week #1000"
The 32-year-old has spent the past week training in Mallorca with teammates in the lead up to the Tour of Oman which begins on February 11.
"I am quite happy about the training I've been doing," Boonen said on the team website. "I put together something like 1000 kilometers of training in six days, with a day of rest in between. We only had to skip two hours of training due to the rain. For the rest, we always trained with good weather, and that was important."
A small cut on Boonen’s left elbow turned septic forcing the surgery, with the four-time Paris-Roubaix winner indicating that he did not yet have a full range of movement.
"The arm still hurts a bit, because I can't stretch it completely following the surgery," he admitted. "But OK, it just means I can't completely stretch my arm, or completely grab the handlebar in the bottom part. I can't stay in a certain position for a long time, but that's because it's only been two and a half weeks since my surgery. I need more time to recover."
It was the second setback for Boonen who missed a block of pre-season training due to an intestinal infection, which resulted in his hospitalisation for three days at the end of November.
"My condition is improving, even if it is not at the point I am expecting at this time of year," he explained. "I have to deal with it, and do my best to be fit for the next races. Now, we go to Oman where I hope to find good weather there, and be able to do another block of work that is important prior to the Classics."
Boonen said he had been buoyed by the success of new teammate Mark Cavendish who has claimed two wins in as many days - with the team’s tally at three victories for the season already, thanks to the Manx Missile who also took out a stage at the Tour of San Luis last month.
"I can't watch the race live, but in the evening I can read the reports on the OPQS website and I know the guys are doing really well," Boonen said. "I am really proud of it. I also had a short chat with Mark. He is happy everything is going well. I hope the team can continue with their winning mood."
- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 11:34
- Stephen Farrand
Family and friends gather to remember Pais-Roubaix winner
Franco Ballerini's family, friends and former teammates will gather in his home town of Casalguidi today, to remember the former Pais-Roubaix winner and Italian national coach. Ballerini was killed exactly three years ago, while taking part in a car rally near his home.
Ballerini twice won Paris-Roubaix during his 16-year career and finished second in 1993, beaten in a close sprint by long-time rival Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle. He was a natural team leader and went on to become Italian national coach. Under his leadership, Italy won seven world titles and gold in the road race event at the 2004 Athens Olympics with Paolo Bettini.
Bettini is now the Italian national coach and will be joined by other former teammates such as Max Sciandri and Luca Scinto at a special memorial service in Casalguidi after a visit to Ballerini's grave.
Ballerini loved riding Paris-Roubaix and personified everything that is special about the race. He only won ten races during his professional career but he won Paris-Roubaix twice, in 1995 and 1998. He also finished second in 1993 and was third, fifth and sixth on other occasions. Ballerini retired in 2001 after finishing the race for the last time. He crossed the line in the Roubaix velodrome showing a T-shirt with the words 'Merci Roubaix'.
Race organisers ASO introduced a special memorial cobble stone trophy that is awarded to the first Italian rider at the finish in the Roubaix velodrome, as a way of remembering Ballerini.
Ballerini was involved in the project to bring the world road race championships to Florence and the Elite men's road race at the world championships will pass by the cemetery in Casalguidi, where Ballerini is buried.
- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 12:09
- Stephen Farrand
2013 race includes highest ever mountain finish
Paris-Nice race organiser ASO has officially presented the route of this year's 'Race to the Sun', confirming that the weeklong WorldTour race will again end with a 9.6km individual time trial up the Col d'Èze climb overlooking Nice.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) won the Col d'Èze time trial in 2012 to seal overall victory ahead of Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). However the Briton will not be back to defend his title this year, preferring a different race programme as he prepares to target the Giro d'Italia.
The racing in the 71st edition of Paris-Nice begin on Sunday March 4 with a very short 2.9km prologue time trial around the streets of Houilles, north-west of central Paris.
The first road stage takes riders from nearby Saint-Germain-en-Laye to Nemours for the first uphill finish of the race. Several rolling stages follow, taking the race south, cutting through the Massif Central to Saint Vallier.
Stage five from Châteauneuf-du-Pape to Montagne de Lure looks to be the toughest stage of the race, with five minor climbs before the summit finish after 13.8km at an average gradient of 6.6%. At 1600m, it is the highest ever finish for a Paris-Nice mountain stage. Alberto Contador won a stage finish here in 2009, but then cracked the next day, handing overall victory to Luis Leon Sanchez.
A second mountain stage on Saturday March 9 takes the race to Nice with 220km of racing in Provence. The Cote de Cabris and the Col du Ferrier combine to make another tough climb but top out 70km from the finish on the Promenade des Anglais and so are unlikely to change the overall standings. The winner of the Paris-Nice yellow jersey will be decided in the 9.6km final time trial to the summit of Col d'Èze.
In the absence of Wiggins and with Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali opting to ride Tirreno-Adriatico, this year's 'Race to the Sun' seems wide open. ASO confirmed that Tony Martin, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) will all ride this year's race.
2013 Paris-Nice stages:
Prologue: Sunday 3rd March: Houilles, individual time-trial (2.9 km)
Stage 1: Monday 4th March: Saint-Germain-en-Laye - Nemours (195 km)
Stage 2: Tuesday 5th March: Vimory - Cérilly (200.5 km)
Stage 3: Wednesday 6th March: Chatel-Guyon - Brioude (171 km)
Stage 4: Thursday 7th March: Brioude - Saint-Vallier (199.5 km)
Stage 5: Friday 8th March: Châteauneuf-du-Pape - Montagne de Lure (176 km)
Stage 6: Saturday 9th March: Manosque - Nice (220 km)
Stage 7: Sunday 10th March: Nice - Col d’Eze, individual time-trial (9.6 km).
- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 13:18
- Daniel Benson
American confirms that doping was rife in Dutch team
Former American cyclist Andy Bishop has told Cyclingnews that he believes he was only clean rider in PDM’s 1988 Tour de France squad.
Bishop rode for the Dutch team from 1988 until the end of the 1989 season and in his 1988 neo-pro year he rode the Tour. Last month Volkskrant published extracts allegedly from the notebook used by former PDM soigneur Bertus Fok during the race, in which he detailed the substances administered to the riders. Volkskrant stated seven our of eight riders on the team doped but did not specify as to who may have been clean.
In Fok’s notes all eight Tour riders were listed, along with several substances and forms of doping next to their names. In one page of notes, Bishop’s name is listed next to the word ‘kokers’ and testosterone. However, according to Bishop he was often asked to take pills during races but always turned down Fok, who he labelled as a ‘witchdoctor’.
“I’m assuming that I was the one hold out guy. It was the first year and I always referred to that soigneur as witchdoctor because it was old school methods of taking care of riders. They didn’t really have medical training,” Bishop told Cyclingnews from his home in Vermont.
“He would have this case full of pills, all different shapes, rectangles, squares, different colors and really I just didn’t see the point in any of that. I know first hand that they all doped but I didn’t know they were doing that [blood doping]. As far any doping goes I was a zero. I’ve always been adamant against doping of any sorts.”
Asked as to why his name could be listed next to pills and testosterone, Bishop added: “I’m not sure, honestly, I think that’s in the kokers but believe me I did not take anything external and I never took them. When I saw the article in Volksrant at first I was like, 'What the f*** is this?', but then you look at the following documents, where I’m not listed.”
“At the time I’d ask what is this and why do I have to take this? I didn’t want to dope but some of my teammates gave themselves injections before races but it didn't make any sense to me to take a pill of vitamins with 20km to go.”
After finishing the 1988 Tour de France in 135th place, Bishop looked ahead to his second year with the team. However it was then that the team began to lean on him even further to take doping products.
“In my first year they did not force or suggest any doping on me. It wasn’t until 1989 that there was a very strong suggestion that I take testosterone. I didn’t, and then I didn’t go to any more big races,” he said.
“I came so close to taking testosterone at one point because my levels were so low at one point and they would say it would just bring me up to the normal levels of someone on the street. You could see how the rationality and the slippery slope of doping happens.”
PDM’s best finisher in the 1988 Tour was Steven Rooks, who came second overall behind Pedro Delgado, won on l’Alpe d’Huez and claimed the king of the mountains title. Rooks confessed to doping throughout his career in 2009.
- Article published:
- February 7, 2013, 14:19
- Cycling News
Lotto Belisol's dominant lead-out train unstoppable in France
Travelling from the heat of Australia at the Santos Tour Down Under to the arctic conditions of France proved no hindrance to André Greipel, who took his sixth win of the year in the opening stage of Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel.
The 'Gorilla' and his Lotto Belisol train were in a league of their own in the opening round of the WorldTour at Down Under and it appears the near freezing temperatures during the stage from Limoux to Gruissan and their European-based rivals were no problem for the strength of the Belgian outfit.
The team received little support from other teams to control the lead of the early breakaway and took the initiative to control the race. The team engaged the services of the towering Olivier Kaisen, who at 195cm is one of the tallest in the bunch, and strong-man Gert Dockx to marshal the head of affairs for nearly the entire day. Greipel was the first to thank his teammates shortly after the finish with particular attention given to Kaisen and Dockx.
"Today Olivier Kaisen and Gert Dockx deserve a special mention," explained Greipel on his team site. "They [spent] the whole day in front of the peloton. No other team wanted to lend a hand and so Dockx, Kaisen and many other guys in the squad endured a tough day."
Greipel may have comfortably won the sprint at the end of the 146.5km stage but as was the case in Australia, setting up the sprint was no easy feat.
"The main part of the ride we had tailwind, causing the cold [weather to be] better than expected. Preparing the sprint was somewhat difficult because the signage was not clear, but fortunately I was able to use the work from the team at the finish," he said.
Greipel will almost certainly lose his overall lead during the stage two 24km time trial. It gives the first chance for the general classification contenders to stake their claim on the stage race.
"There is the opportunity for me to express myself, but there are also difficult steps that are important to acquire the condition," Greipel told cyclismactu.net. "The stage Friday in Baux de Provence is interesting and there is the Mont Faron. Racing against the clock will make it impossible for me to keep the leader's jersey but I think it's been a perfect start of the season."