Trek Factory Racing has started the 2014 season in fine fashion as the new WorldTour squad has won back-to-back stages at Argentina's Tour de San Luis. Wednesday's third stage was taken by 24-year-old Italian Giacomo Nizzolo in the race's first field sprint finale. While hardly a prolific winner in his career thus far, Nizzolo has nonetheless won races in each of his previous three years, all on the RadioShack squad.
2014 sees the new Trek Factory Racing team rise out of the ashes of the RadioShack-Leopard squad, and while there is plenty of experienced and accomplished star power in the team, the honour of taking the first-ever victory for the squad was earned by WorldTour debutant Julián Arredondo on Tuesday at the Tour de San Luis, one day prior to Nizzolo. The 25-year-old Colombian outsprinted Peter Stetina (BMC) to win the first mountain stage of the seven-day Argentinean race in just his second day ever on a WorldTour team.
It's no surprise that Arredondo felt at home in the mountains as he proved in 2013 when he won the queen stage of the Tour de Langkawi to the Genting Highlands en route to overall victory while on the Japanese Continental squad Team Nippo-De Rosa.
Speaking with Cyclingnews prior to the start of the stage won by Nizzolo, Arredondo related his thanks to the US-registered WorldTour squad for their faith in his abilities.
"I'm very happy with my win because the team gave me the opportunity to race at the highest level," said Arredondo. "We're going to have more victories, but I'm very happy to have the first."
Arredondo was part of a two-pronged Trek Factory Racing team assault on the Mirador del Potrero finish, with the Colombian taking the bull by the horns.
Joaquim Rodríguez will turn 35 four days into his bid to take the Giro d’Italia title, but the Spaniard says that age is but a number and it won’t get in the way of him beating his younger counterparts on the challenging route.
“This year with Katusha, I feel like I am in my second youth,” Rodríguez told Biciciclismo at the Tour de San Luis. “I find myself tougher than in other years. Before, on summit finishes I was missing something. Now I notice that it costs less.”
Rodríguez still has another two years remaining on his contract with Katusha. He will be 36 when it runs out at the end of 2015, but he doesn’t think that it will be his last. “I see myself racing until I’m 38 or 39,” he explains.
“It is unknown, but who sets the limits? I am better than ever. Do I say, just because the calendar says I’m 37, that I quit? Then, I could have a bad 2014 and 2015 and say that it’s over.”
In May, Rodríguez will return to the Giro d’Italia, after focusing on the Tour de France last season. He came close to winning the title in 2012, but saw it slip through his fingers on the final day, and lost the maglia rosa by 16 seconds to Ryder Hesjedal.
Despite the disappointment of losing out on the victory, the Giro d’Italia was Rodríguez’s podium finish at a grand tour. Many had expected him to crumble in the final race against the clock, but he put in his...
Although Cadel Evans’ solo win means that the Dutchman is now further away from the overall lead – he now lies 29 seconds off the ochre jersey – Gesink remains upbeat about his chances of landing a significant result in his first race of the 2014 season.
"It's looking good for now," Gesink told De Telegraaf. "I feel good and I’m in the mix. There are still things possible.”
The finale of Wednesday’s stage saw the Tour Down Under peloton hit the first major obstacle of the race, the stiff climb of Corkscrew Hill. Gesink praised his Belkin teammates for helping to guide him towards the business end of the peloton at the base of the climb.
"It was very hectic towards the start of the Corkscrew Road. That long lead-out up to the foot of the climb was very dangerous but in the end we were there,” Gesink said. “The team is doing a great job for me here. They did everything to get me in the right place at the right time."
In spite of that positioning, however, Gesink admitted that he was simply unable to match the rhythm imposed by his Australian rivals of the climb proper. When Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Richie Porte (Sky) and eventual winner Cadel Evans forced the issue on Corkscrew Hill, Gesink opted not to follow and instead maintained his own tempo.
“My heart rate was very high at point and when Gerrans attacked again, it was too much. The guys...
Tom Boonen’s run of Classics success in 2012 was prefigured by an impressive showing at the Tour de San Luis, and the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider is looking to repeat the feat at this year’s race.
After an injury-afflicted 2013 campaign, Boonen began his winter training earlier than normal this time around. His fine early condition was confirmed by Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s tactical approach on stage 3, where no less a figure than Mark Cavendish led out Boonen in the sprint.
Although Boonen slightly mistimed his effort on the drag to the finish line, and could only manage third place in the sprint behind winner Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek), he was nonetheless pleased with the state of his form at this point in the season.
“Going into the sprint, I think everything went perfectly, but I think I wanted it too much. I think I went a bit too early,” Boonen said afterwards. “Cavendish gave me a good lead-out and he still wasn't finished, but I saw the sign and I thought it was a headwind with a three to four percent uphill. I had the sensation that we weren't going fast enough so I just went.
“My legs just blew in the last five seconds. I'm already happy to be there, but if you're doing all those big efforts you want to do something more than 3rd place. But still it's a good sign.”
Building towards the classics
Boonen’s 2012 campaign began with a stage victory at the Tour de San Luis, and the Belgian proceeded to keep winning in the months that followed, ending the spring with victories at the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. By contrast, his 2013 campaign started late due to an infected elbow...
Italian celebrates 30 years after beating Merckx's record
Exactly 30 years ago, Francesco Moser set a new Hour Record of 51.151km/h at altitude in Mexico City, marking a new era of sports science and bike technology that would revolutionise professional cycling.
Moser was 32 at the time and seemed in the final chapter of his career. Yet using disc wheels and an aerodynamic time trial bike, with coaching and preparation by Francesco Conconi, he smashed Eddy Merckx's seemingly unbeatable record of 49.431km. Moser first set a new record of 50.808km on January 19 and then extended the record even further to 51.151km on January 23.
The UCI changed the rules on the bike design allowed for the Hour Record in 1997, enforcing strict rules on the use of traditional bike designs and relegating any times set after Merckx's record as Best Hour Performance.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) could be the next rider to attempt the Hour Record, perhaps as soon as the spring, after his Classics campaign.
"We realised it was possible"
Moser compares to his Hour Record success to that of famed Italian mountain climber Reinhold Messner, who also hails from the Italian Dolomites. Messner was one of greatest mountaineers in history, setting numerous records for the highest peaks in the world.
"It was the idea of Paolo Sorbini, the founder of Enervit, he loved a challenge. In the summer of 1983 we held a meeting at my home with my team sponsor Gis, my team and the Enervit team. We then did some tests on the track and they fitted me with a machine on my chest, a heart rate monitor," Moser recalled in an interview in today's Gazzetta dello Sport.
"We realised it was possible. I was 32 but was good at time trials. We created a good group for the project, with specialists for the bike, for the training, for my diet and my clothing."
"I went for Merckx's 5, 10, and 20km record on January 19 and we agreed I'd go for the Hour if I felt good. I did and...
US teams looking for success in the final stages in Argentina
With Phil Gaimon and his Garmin-Sharp team controlling the overall classification at the Tour de San Luis, the other teams are turning their focus more towards stage victories and using the early season racing to perfect their sprint lead-out trains and work on their form.
In these two video interviews, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman) Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare) talk to Cyclingnews reporter Peter Hymas about their team strategies and objectives.
Jacques-Maynes talks about sprinter JJ Haedo in the sprints and young rider Robbie Squires' hopes in the upcoming mountain stages.
Keough talked about the Jamis-Hagens Berman team's sprinting technique and the GC hopes of Marc de Maar after his strong ride in the breakaway and crash on stage one.
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American must contact commission himself, says UCI president
UCI President Brian Cookson has said that he will have no say in whether Lance Armstrong’s life ban will be reduced if he provides testimony to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission. The commission has been established to investigate doping in cycling and examine allegations that the UCI was complicit in covering up doping activity in the past.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Tour Down Under in Australia, Cookson acknowledged that there “will be the possibility of a reduction” of Armstrong’s ban if he provides evidence to the commission, but he said that the decision is not the UCI’s to make.
“It all depends on what information Lance has and what he's able to reveal," Cookson said, according to the Associated Press. "Actually that's not going to be in my hands. He's been sanctioned by USADA.
“They would have to agree to any reduction in his sanction based on the validity and strength of the information that he provided. If they're happy, if WADA are happy, then I will be happy."
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life in October 2012 following the publication of USADA’s report into the doping culture at his former US Postal service team. He confessed to doping in a television interview in January of last year.
Cookson stressed that the newly-established commission would be entirely independent of the UCI, and that said that the sport’s governing body would not involve itself in encouraging Armstrong to come forward and provide evidence.
''He won't get a phone call from me,'' Cookson said, according to the