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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 9, 2014

Date published:
January 09, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Nibali unburdened by pressure ahead of new season

    Astana teammates Michele Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali at the squad's presentation in Italy
    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 14:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sicilian welcomes arrival of Scarponi and Slongo at Astana

    Vincenzo Nibali has said that he is not feeling under additional pressure for the 2014 campaign in the wake of his Giro d’Italia victory last season. At Astana’s team presentation in Rezzato, near Brescia, on Wednesday, the Sicilian confirmed that he will forgo the Giro this year in order to focus on the Tour de France.

    “The pressure is more or less the same as last year. It’s normal that after the Giro d’Italia win the pressure has gone up a little bit, but it’s all the same to me and I’m very tranquillo,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    While Giro victory was the centrepiece of Nibali’s 2013 season, the year also yielded overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro del Trentino, second place overall at the Vuelta a España and fourth place at the world championships after an aggressive showing.

    This year, Nibali will build towards challenging Chris Froome and Team Sky’s pre-eminence at the Tour de France, and looks set to follow a slightly different early-season race programme, adding Critérium International to his calendar and swapping Tirreno-Adriatico for Paris-Nice.

    “I won’t say the expectation is to do the same season as last year, but I want to do something good,” Nibali said. “Of course last year was a great season, when I started very strongly with the win at Tirreno and then won Trentino and the Giro, and came second at the Vuelta, and it will be very hard to repeat it.”

    At 29 years of age, Nibali is approaching the peak of his powers...

  • Gallery: On the road with Omega Pharma-QuickStep

    Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen in training near Calpe.
    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 14:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Boonen, Cavendish and Petacchi train in Calpe

    On the coast of Spain, in Calpe, and with the BMC team just down the road in Denia, the Omega Pharma QuickStep squad has gathered for its final training camp ahead of the 2014 road season.

    Although new signings Rigoberto Uran and Mark Renshaw were absent as they prepare for the 2014 season and their first objectives, the team’s Classics contingent are on hand, with a motivated Tom Boonen ready to make amends for an injury-hit 2013 season that saw him crash out of the Tour of Flanders and miss Paris-Roubaix.

    Sprinter Mark Cavendish is also using the training camp to fine tune his form as he looks ahead to another year of goals that will centre around the Tour de France in July.

    Now in his second season with the Belgian team, Cavendish has improved his lead-out train still further, with Renshaw adding to the already strong firepower that included the likes of Alesandro Petacchi, who arrived in August of last year, and Gert Steegmans. The signing of the Australian lead-out man him up with Cavendish once again after their fruitful spell together at Team High Road.

    Click here to view the gallery.

  • ASO to hold three-day stage race in Yorkshire

    Tour of Britain leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) leads Nairo Quintana (Movistar) across the finish line
    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 17:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    Race expected to begin in 2015

    Plans to build on the back of this year’s Tour de France Grand Départ in Yorkshire are already in motion, according to a report in the Guardian today.

    Tour organisers ASO are in discussions with Welcome2Yorkshire and British Cycling to set up a three-day stage race in the British county. "We want something to remain after the Grand Départ has happened," Tour de France directeur Christian Prudhomme told the British newspaper.

    According to the article, talks were had about the possibility of moving the Critérium International to Yorkshire, but its March date prevented that from going any further. It is now believed that a race in mid-May is the current proposal, with the it visiting several areas around the county.

    "We will look to spread the event around Yorkshire so that places that haven't received the Tour this year will get the benefit," said chief executive Gary Verity to the Guardian. "It will be the same UCI ranking as the Critérium International, and with ASO involved the quality of the riders and teams will be of the highest standard."

    At 2.HC, it would be the highest-ranking stage race in Great Britain, with the Tour of Britain ranked as 2.1. Currently the plan is to have the event last three days and four stages with two, a time trial and road stage, forming the first day of racing.

    Since Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France, ASO have been keen to get a footing in Britain. In December 2012, it was announced that Yorkshire had beaten Florence in the bid to hold to 2014 start. “Between March and August 2012, we said we would have to come to England as soon as possible after a British rider won the Tour. That's why we went for Yorkshire over Florence,” said Prudhomme.

    “For Yorkshire to win ahead of Florence is no...

  • Heulot ready for different role at Cannondale Pro Cycling

    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 19:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frenchman will not be a directeur sportif

    Although the precise nature of the role is yet to be finalised, former Sojasun manager Stéphane Heulot has confirmed that he will work with Cannondale Pro Cycling in 2014.

    The Sojasun team disbanded at the end of last season when it failed to secure an additional sponsor to guarantee its budget for 2014. In December it was reported that Heulot and rider Jean-Marc Marino would join Cannondale for the coming season, with Sojasun a possible sub-sponsor of the team.

    At the team’s presentation in Los Angeles this week, Cannondale Bicycles general manager Bob Burbank told Cyclingnews that he was in talks with Sojasun over sponsorship for 2014. Heulot explained why Sojasun, a producer of soya-based foods, was keen to enter into a partnership with Cannondale.

    “First of all, there is the sponsor Sojasun, which is signing on with Cannondale to put in place a nutritional plan of interest to the pro team, but which is also consistent with American problems of combating obesity and encouraging participation in sport. I was happy to put the two parties in contact,” Heulot told L’Équipe.

    Although the Sojasun Pro Continental team is no more, its Brittany-based under 23 team will continue in 2014, with Cannondale coming on board as bike supplier. The team will become something of a feeder squad for Cannondale Pro Cycling. “Cannondale is going to become the technical supplier of the development centre, and there will of course be a tight relationship with the pro team,” Heulot said.

    One of Heulot’s initial functions will be to aid in the identification and development of young talent, building on the structures already implemented during his time...

  • Nine WorldTour teams for Tour of California

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wins his 10th stage at the Tour of California
    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 20:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    UCI allows higher percentage of top teams

    The 2014 Amgen Tour of California will include nine WorldTour teams, one more than previous years, thanks to a new ruling by the UCI allowing a higher percentage of ProTeams in non-WorldTour events.

    AEG announced today from the Cannondale team camp that the field will include BMC, Belkin, Cannondale, Giant-Shimano, Garmin, Trek Factory Racing, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Orica-GreenEdge and Team Sky.

    Organisers can now invite up to 65% WorldTour teams, up from 50% after the UCI changed the rule. There will be 16 teams in the 2014 Tour of California. Technical director Jim Birrell of Medalist Sports named the teams, saying they had more requests for invitations than they could accept. “The selection process was hard, some we had to decline because we didn't have room to accommodate them," Birrell stated.

    Seven more teams from the Professional Continental and Continental ranks will be announced at a later date.

    While last year's Tour of California champion Tejay van Garderen will not take part in the 2014 race, as his preparation to lead the BMC Racing Team in the Tour de France shifts his schedule to European racing in May, the race will be the focus for his new teammate Peter Stetina. The American said on Twitter, "Proud to report that, after 3 years of Giro d'Italia's, I'll return to [the Amgen Tour of California in] 2014! It's got a big target on it's back! "

    The race is also expected to attract Cannondale's Peter Sagan, who holds the record for stage wins in the race with a career total of 10.

    The Tour of California starts on May 11 in Sacramento, and concludes May 18 with a circuit in the title sponsor's base of Thousand Oaks, California.

  • Boonen eager for strong start to 2014 season

    Tom Boonen is looking fit and motivated at Omega Pharma-QuickStep's training camp in Calpe
    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 21:20 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Roubaix and Flanders big goals for Classics star

    After a year of disappointments Tom Boonen appears ready to challenge for top honours in this year's Spring Classics.

    The 33-year-old came into last season on the back of one of his most successful ever years on the bike but spent almost the entire season either out of form, ill or injured, before finally pulling the plug and ending his campaign early. It was a year to forget and one that almost cost him an arm after a bacterial infection, but now, with a full winter's training in his legs, the Classics star is looking to re-ignite his career with a flourish.

    Since ending his season due to a cyst he spent the second half of 2013 rehabilitating and recovering. The long layoff included 12 weeks in the gym, with core strength work, and even running, mixed in. While his Classics rivals remained on the road and saw out their 2013 racing calendars Boonen already dialled in his ambitions for 2014 and at the Omega Pharma-QuickStep camp in Calpe he was eager to start racing.

    "I started pretty early with a lot of gym work but only because I had so much time. I had 12 weeks in the gym that I combined with cycling and even some running. Then in October I started doing specific bike work. So I've been training for a long time and I can't wait to start racing again," Boonen said.

    Boonen will not have to wait long before he can turn the pedals in anger, with less than a fortnight and one transatlantic flight standing in his way. He will start his season later this month at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina and although it may be a lower key event than...

  • Greipel downplays chances to win Tour Down Under again

    The Lotto Belisol lead out train in action at the Tour Down Under Classic
    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 22:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    German sprinter hopes to start season with a stage win

    André Greipel is one of three riders who have won the Tour Down Under twice but the Lotto-Belisol sprinter doesn't see another overall victory on the horizon. ''It will not happen that I win it another time because it's always getting harder and harder," he told the Australian press upon arriving in Australia. "Hopefully we can start the season like we always do and get an early win."

    Greipel won the Tour Down Under in 2008 and 2010 and he is the record holder with 14 stage wins in five editions of the race. When it comes to the overall, however, Greipel sees more opportunities for his teammate Adam Hansen. "He did good training during the [northern] winter and he's always motivated in the only race in Australia so, if his mind is OK, I think he can be top-10."

    Hansen is also an important part of the Lotto-Belisol lead-out train. His colleague Greg Henderson can't start because of knee surgery in December. It will be the first time Henderson misses the Tour Down Under since 2008 and the New Zealander will be replaced by Jens Debusschere. Together with Jurgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Debusschere, Greipel hopes to get an early win under his belt. Rookie Stig Broekx and Olivier Kaisen complete the Lotto-Belisol team.

    "I always say in the early season, you never know what is going to happen, how everybody is, how the legs are," said Greipel. "The off-season was good. Now we have to start working again and hopefully we [Lotto Belisol] can start the season like we always do and get an early win.

    "The plan is to stay healthy and get the kilometres in the legs. And if the condition is OK and it...

  • Jo Hogan: "I want this championship"

    Jo Hogan in her new 2014 Bigla team kit
    Article published:
    January 09, 2014, 22:30 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    2013 Road Nationals road race runner up relishes darkhorse role, quietly aims for women’s title

    Cycling prognosticator's have been leaning toward South Australia's Tiffany Cromwell to challenge reigning champion Gracie Elvin (ACT) for the 2014 Cycling Australia Road National Championships women's road race in Ballarat on Saturday. Chloe Hosking and Lauren Kitchen are two other names being thrown into the mix as potential winners. And that's just fine by last year's runner up Joanne Hogan.

    While Hogan, the 2010 Australian National Road Series champion, has been one of the nation's most consistent women's riders over the past three years, she is receiving very little mention as a race favourite and the Victorian native is enjoying the anonymity.

    "I've matured quite a lot as cyclist and as a person over the past two years," Hogan told Cyclingnews. "In the past I may have taken the slight personally which can affect your mental attitude and thus your physical performance. Now, I take everything in my stride and prefer to go unnoticed and fly under the radar. I like being the darkhorse so that my competition doesn't see me coming."

    After a tumultuous second half of 2013, Hogan enters the new year with a new team, a new bike and a new attitude and is looking to continue her recent swing of good luck into a national championship title that narrowly eluded her last year after being beaten to the finish by Orica-AIS standout Elvin.

    Hogan told Cyclingnews that it was "hard to be so close and then spend the year watching Gracie wear the green and gold stripes."

    The 31-year-old was