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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 17, 2013

Date published:
January 17, 2013, 16:00
  • Bos and Brown focussing on sprint train at Tour de Langkawi

    Team Blanco sprinter Theo Bos scored seven wins during the 2012 season.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 06:37
    Cycling News

    Malaysian race to provide ideal location for fastmen

    Theo Bos and nine-time stage winner Graeme Brown will lead Blanco Pro Cycling at Le Tour de Langkawi when the race kicks-off on Thursday 21 February. The 10-day race will be Brown's second major race of the year after opening his season in Australia at the Santos Tour Down Under. Meanwhile, Bos will begin his season in Spain at Trofeo Mallorca in the first week of February.

    Blanco is sending a team targeted at winning stages. With the highly selective mountain-top finish at the Genting Highlands the team will instead focus on developing the lead-outs for Bos before heading back to Europe.

    "I see Le Tour de Langkawi as a good opportunity to get our sprint train on track", said Bos. "Doing sprints, getting experience, learning from mistakes…This race will be perfect because there are a lot of sprint stages."

    Brown has a long history at the 2.HC category race after holding the record for the most stage wins, only to be eclipsed by the new star of Langkawi's sprints, Andrea Guardini (Astana). Brown won nine stages from 2002-2005 before Guardini went about winning 11 stages from just two editions. Brown will be responsible for placing Bos in the best position to get his season going with a winning start.

    Bos will have his work cut out for him when he makes his first appearance at Langkawi. The 11-time stage winner Guardini will arrive with his new Astana team and will no doubt push the former track world champion to give his best.

    "We'll be in Malaysia firstly for getting the new team together", explained Bos. "This is a new start for the former Rabobank. There are some new influences in the team, new staff members, new sports directors…, other ideas. The team focus on sprints is getting bigger and bigger. I really enjoy that. I hope it will bear fruit!

    Bos experienced one of his best seasons on the road in 2012 with seven victories and most recently explained his goals to Cyclingnews for the coming year. The 29-year-old is seeking to get as many victories notched up in the early part of the season and while grand tour success is the ultimate goal, it will not be his sole focus.

    "Going to Le Tour de Langkawi, it's a goal to come home with at least a win in our pockets. I really don't know what to expect about the country. It'll be my first visit, except from my stopovers at Kuala Lumpur airport (KLIA)."

    Bos and Brown will be joined by four other Dutchmen with Jetse Bol, Tom Leezer, Marc Goos and Jos van Emden (Ned) travelling to Langkawi for the 1,467.9km tour.


  • Wegelius backs Hesjedal to defend Giro

    Charly Wegelius (Garmin - Cervelo)
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 07:45
    Cycling News

    Garmin DS tells CNHD the Canadian’s form is “spotless”

    With defending Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal publicly declaring his intention to target a Giro-Tour double this season, the Canadian has received strong backing from his Garmin-Sharp DS Charly Wegelius.

    In an exclusive interview with Cycling News HD, that features in the latest issue out now, Wegelius was confident both Hesjedal and Garmin could build on last year’s success.

    “Last year was a real landmark for us, and it is something we hope to build on with Ryder this year. Defending the Giro is going to be the big focus for the team and Ryder, and he absolutely can do it. He’s done it once, so he can do it again.

    “I think the person who was most convinced of his possibilities, even before last year, was Ryder himself. That is really a key to success at that level; you have to believe in yourself and he did. He definitely does now.

    “I think he is in a very good place mentally at the moment and he’s got all the cards in the right place to defend the title.”

    Asked about Hesjedal’s current form going into the 2013 campaign, Wegelius waxed lyrical.

    “His form is spotless, perfect so far,” said Wegelius, who also gave an insight into the team’s hopes that he really could double up in France. “He had to refocus after crashing out of the Tour last year, but Ryder didn’t just switch off after the Giro, he was pinging for the Tour.
    “Much to his credit he then turned up to the races in Canada in good shape and was competitive right to the end of the season. I think that put him in a very good place to go into the winter, and he’s doing very well.”

    Cycling News HD
    The full interview with Charly Wegelius appears in issue 38 of our digital magazine Cycling News HD, out now, and is just one example of what you can find inside. Elsewhere in the issue we talk exclusively to Tejay Van Garderen and Ted King, and preview the squads of BMC, Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp and Europcar as we head into the new season.

    Delivered to your iPad every Wednesday, Cycling News HD brings you the best all-new cycling photography in the world via the best medium for viewing it, as well as reports, results and exclusive analysis of all the week’s biggest races, in-depth previews of the races and stages to watch in the week ahead, interviews, news and opinion.

    With over 50 pages packed with new and original content every Wednesday, alongside all the latest reports and results, Cycling News HD is the best way to enjoy a roadside seat at all the season’s biggest and best races

  • Verbruggen had account with Armstrong backer, says Ochowicz

    Thom Weisel rides alongside Lance Armstrong after his Tour de France victory
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 10:17
    Cycling News

    Then-UCI president had assets managed by Thomas Weisel Partners

    US Postal Service team backer Thomas Weisel’s investment bank managed assets for then-UCI president Hein Verbruggen at the height of Lance Armstrong’s career, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

    BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz, who worked as a broker for Thomas Weisel Partners at the time, told the Wall Street Journal that the firm managed some of Verbruggen’s assets between 2001 and 2004.

    Ochowicz had previously managed Armstrong at Motorola and became a stockbroker at Robert Baird & Co. when the team disbanded at the end of 1996, while Verbruggen is reported to have invested with him in 1999. Ochowicz began to work for Thomas Weisel Partners investment bank in 2001 and the Verbruggen account moved with him.

    "There was no hanky-panky," Ochowicz told the Wall Street Journal, adding that Weisel had no direct access to Verbruggen’s account: "I have no recollection of talking about Hein's accounts with Thom Weisel."

    Verbruggen, who in 2008 told the newpspaer that he had never had a business relationship with Weisel and Ochowicz, this week said that the matter was “getting ridiculous.”

    A whistleblower lawsuit reportedly filed by Floyd Landis in 2010 is believed to accuse Tailwind Sports of defrauding the US Postal Service by playing a part in covering up doping on the team. Earlier this week, it was reported that the United States Justice Department was considering joining the lawsuit.

    Landis has previously accused the UCI of covering up a positive test by Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, a charge repeatedly refuted by the governing body.

    Travis Tygart, head of the US Anti-Doping Agency whose comprehensive investigation into doping at the US Postal Service team saw Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, voiced his misgivings about the relationship between Verbruggen and Weisel.

    "To have the head of the sport, who's responsible for enforcing anti-doping rules, in business with the owner of the team that won seven straight Tours de France in violation of those rules—it certainly stinks to high heaven, particularly now, given what's been exposed that happened under his watch," Tygart told the Wall Street Journal.


  • British start to 2014 Tour de France presented

    Riders line up on the Tower Bridge
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 11:03
    Cycling News

    Tour begins in Yorkshire with road stage from Leeds to Harrogate

    Details of the opening three British stages of the 2014 Tour de France have been announced at a presentation in Paris on Thursday.

    The race begins on July 5 with a road stage from Leeds to Harrogate, while the peloton remains in Yorkshire the following day with a stage from York to Sheffield. The third and final British leg of the 2014 Tour will be between Cambridge and London on July 7, before the riders proceeds to France via Eurostar.

    The opening road stage will doubtless please Mark Cavendish, given that it has just one categorised climb and a long finishing straight on a light false flat in Harrogate. Stage two from York to Sheffield will be somewhat more exacting, however, with Tour director Christian Prudhomme describing the course as “worthy of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.” The stage will include no fewer than eight climbs, with six of them coming in rapid succession in the final 60 kilometres before Sheffield.

    The 2014 Yorkshire Grand Départ marks the Tour’s second start in Britain after London in 2007. The Tour previously made incursions into Britain in 1974 and 1994.

    A second presentation of the 2014 Tour's British stages will take place in Leeds on Thursday evening.

    British stages of the 2014 Tour de France:

    Stage 1, July 5: Leeds - Harrogate
    Stage 2, July 6: York - Sheffield
    Stage 3, July 7: Cambridge - London


  • Korff named as German national women's trainer

    André Korff is hoping for a sprint in the Henninger Turm
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 12:54
    Cycling News

    Former pro looks to increase status within Germany

    Former pro Andre Korff is the new national trainer for the German women's team. The German cycling federation announced his appointment on Wednesday afternoon.

    Korff, 39, rode professionally from 1998 to 2008 with Festina, Team Coast/Bianchi, T-Mobile and Volksbank. He is a childhood friend of fellow German Jan Ullrich.  His biggest wins include stage wins at the Tour Mediterraneen (1998) and the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt (2004). He also won a silver medal in the track world championships as a junior.

    He will take on his first competition with the team at this year's track world championships in Minsk next month. “It is important to me that women's cycling has a higher status in Germany,” he said.  “The quality and quantity of the events must increase.”

    Korff replaces Thomas Liese, who became the national trainer in 2008. It was announced in May of last year that due to illness, his contract would be allowed to run out. The work of trainer was carried out by Ronny Lauke, who is a directeur sportif for Team Specialized-Lululemon.

  • Boonen rates Sagan as the best he's seen

    Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step launch where after introductions they took to the velodrome.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 13:33
    Daniel Benson

    Belgian rider on Cancellara, Sagan and Pozzato

    After an historic season in which he claimed a Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix double, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma QuickStep) is hoping to repeat the achievement in 2013. The Classics rider, 32, picked up 15 wins last year but enjoyed a purple patch of form in the spring classics, with wins in E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Flanders and Roubaix.

    Speaking at the press launch of Omega Pharma’s 2013 team, Boonen stressed that it would be virtually impossible to improve on last year’s achievements but that he would at least try and replicate them.

    Perhaps the biggest two obstacles in Boonen's way could come in the form of Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara. Sagan was a constant threat in the spring but lacked the experience to contest in the finale of a number of races. Often his own aggression, with early attacks, would be his undoing. However Boonen believes that the Liquigas leader is a special talent and could come away with a Monument this year.

    “Peter is one of the best talents I’ve seen in my career,” Boonen told Cyclingnews.

    “He’s the best rider I’ve seen come through the ranks in my time. He is only 22 now so he has a lot of years to come and for the classics experience is a key factor. Every year he’ll ride them and get stronger and smarter.”

    Sagan had been scouted by Omega Pharma-QuickStep management earlier in his career but was eventually passed over. He later signed for the Liquigas team, where he has developed into one of the best riders in the peloton.

    “Liquigas is probably the best Italian team and they also have a lot of heritage in cycling. Maybe if he’d ridden for us he would have had more influence from the guys who are trying to push him in the Classics direction. Maybe the influence is a little bit less at Liquigas but they have the guys in their ranks to guide him through the Classics. He’s in a pretty good team. It’s possible that he could win a Classic this spring. He was almost there in 2012. He’s a big weapon.”

    As for Cancellara, the picture is somewhat different. The Swiss rider has been plagued by bad luck and injuries in the last 12 months and in 2011, despite impressive form, came away from the spring without a victory.

    “He’ll be there this year,” warned Boonen.

    “I’m 100 percent sure that he’ll have a good season. If he has a bit more luck… it’s me and Fabian, the same names as always. Fabian and me, we’ve been racing against each other since we were juniors together.”

    Boonen also discussed the chances of perennial underachiever Filippo Pozzato. The Italian was handed a three-month ban for working with the controversial and banned, Dr Michele Ferrari but returns to racing later this month in the colours of Lampre-Merida.

    “If Pozzato really does the training that he’s telling everyone about then he’s going to be really good. He’s an incredible talent and a good guy as well. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. He’s a really good rider but sometimes he misses a break. But he’s beaten me a few times in some nice races too.”

  • Hilly start to 2014 Tour de France in Yorkshire

    General director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme delivers a speech next to a map of Great Britain in Paris, during the official presentation of the 2014 Tour de France's "Grand depart"
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 15:03
    Pete Cossins

    First two stages of the 2014 Tour could prove unpredictable

    It is no surprise that the Tour de France director and his route organisation team have avoided to the temptation to play it safe when the race starts in Yorkshire in July of 2014. Prudhomme has often made clear that he likes to give as many riders as possible the opportunity to contend for stage wins and the yellow jersey, and the Yorkshire stages should certainly do that. Sprinters will like the look of the first stage, while breakaway specialists and puncheurs will fancy the look of stage 2.

    The first stage begins in Leeds on July 5 and will head out on the same roads followed by the Leeds Classic World Cup race in the mid-1990s. Starting out towards Harewood House, it then turns into Wharfedale, passing through Olympic road race silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead's home town of Otley and Ilkley, home to one of Britain's biggest cycling clubs.

    Instead of heading over the Cow and Calf as the Leeds Classic used to, the route continues on to Skipton, then turns north and back into Wharfedale at Threshfield. From here, the riders will find themselves on tight, twisting roads as they pass through Kettlewell and Buckden, where the road begins to climb for the first time. The ascent of Kidstones Bank won’t overly trouble the Tour peloton, but the narrow and very fast descent towards Aysgarth could prove more tricky.

    After switching west for a few miles, the riders will reach the main climbing test of the day leaving the Wensleydale town of Hawes. The 4.5km climb of Buttertubs averages around 4 percent, but there are sections of 15 percent on the initial ramps, which will line the peloton out, especially if the wind is blowing down the pass. The descent from it into Swaledale is typical of Yorkshire - steep, twisting and very steep, but to be tackled with care if you don't want an encounter with the dry stone walls at the roadside.

    The road down Swaledale to Reeth and then on to Leyburn, the horse-racing centre of Middleham and the brewing centre of Masham will be one of the most attractive parts of the day. From Masham, the roads get wider and the peloton will start to get up to full speed from this point if a break is still clear. The run between Ripon and Harrogate should be very fast indeed with a slightly uphill finish to come in the upmarket spa town, where a sprint finish is very likely.

    As had been rumoured, stage 2 runs between York and Sheffield and is much tougher than the opening day. It starts off heading west through Knaresborough, past the giant golfballs of the US listening station at Menwith Hill and up and over a short climb leading down to Bolton Abbey. Another short climb follows soon after as the race heads into Airedale and to Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters.

    The climbing gets a bit more serious as the route heads up and over the wide-open spaces of Oxenhope Moor. After speeding through Hebden Bridge, the climbing gets tougher as Cragg Vale is the next test. The longest continuous gradient climb in England at 9km (average three percent), its steepest ramps come early and it will be considerably tougher than its gradient suggest if the wind is blowing from the south. Beyond Elland, Ainley Top looms next, before the route drops down into Huddersfield.

    The route continues to bump south to Holmfirth and the foot of the main difficulty from the Leeds Classic, Holme Moss. Averaging 5.6 percent over 7km of climbing, Holme Moss is sure to attract huge crowds. The route then runs mostly downhill into Sheffield, where it would be no surprise to see a small breakaway group dispute the stage between them.

  • Armstrong stripped of bronze medal from Sydney Olympics

    Lance Armstrong (United States) on the podium for the time trial at the Sydney Olympics
    Article published:
    January 17, 2013, 15:57
    Cycling News

    IOC waited for expiration of UCI appeal deadline

    Lance Armstrong has been stripped of the bronze medal that he won in the time trial at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The International Olympic Committee informed Armstrong of the decision in a letter on Wednesday evening.

    Armstrong was last year banned for life and stripped of all results from August 1, 1998 onwards in the wake of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into doping at his former US Postal Service team.

    At an executive board meeting in December, the IOC decided to strip Armstrong of his Olympic medal but waited confirmation from the UCI that Armstrong had not appealed against the sanctions imposed by USADA before formally proceeding with the matter.

    “Following the recent decisions of USADA and the UCI regarding the competitive cycling results of Lance Armstrong, the IOC has disqualified Armstrong from the events in which he competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, namely, the men’s individual road race, where he finished 13th, and the men’s individual time trial, where he finished 3rd and was awarded with a bronze medal and a certificate,” read a statement from the IOC on Thursday.

    The IOC decision comes just ahead of Thursday night’s much-publicised screening of an interview between Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey, in which Armstrong is reported to have confessed to doping.

    The IOC has requested that Armstrong return the medal and certificate to the United States Olympic Committee. It is as yet unclear as to whether Armstrong’s medal will be reallocated to Abraham Olano, who finished 4th. The Sydney time trial was won by Armstrong’s then US Postal Service teammate Viatcheslav Ekimov, ahead of Jan Ullrich.

    Last year, the IOC awarded Ekimov with gold for the 2004 Olympic time trial in the wake of original winner Tyler Hamilton’s decision to return his medal, and announced that Michael Rogers would be elevated to 3rd place and awarded bronze.