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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 13, 2014

Date published:
March 13, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Merckx: Alonso is the best thing to happen to cycling

    Mark Cavendish, Eddy Merckx and Taylor Phinney
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 11:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian believes that cycling is as clean as it's ever been

    Eddy Merckx says that the Fernando Alonso project is one of the best things to happen to cycling in a long time.

    "It's downright exciting news, the best cycling has received in recent years, if not the best," Merckx said to Spanish newspaper AS. "No doubt it will be a major project, as he has already announced it. I hope his arrival brings more sponsors to our sport to grow, which it deserves after this bad time."

    Alonso has suffered a few setbacks in his bid to start a cycling team, but is still planning to open up shop in 2015. With a string of teams folding at the end of 2013, cycling is in great need of new sponsors. Merckx believes that doping scandals are no longer a barrier to teams entering the sport and says that cycling is in a better position than it has ever been when it comes to the fight against doping.

    "I think that cycling has never been cleaner than now. There are many measures employed to ensure the race results, from the controls to the biological passport, which I consider a very useful tool," he explained.

    The former rider says that the biggest issue faced by cycling is money, which is proving increasingly more difficult to come by. "For me, the main problem is the economic crisis that has affected the whole world. Once the storm passes I am sure things will go better and you can get money back."

    Over the past decade, Merckx has been involved in the expansion of cycling into the Middle East. He organises the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman, with assistance from ASO.

    The 68-year-old thinks that there is still more scope to expand into the region and that it could hold the key to cycling’s future. "Qatar and Oman have been joined this season by Dubai, and Bahrain also seem ready to assemble something like these countries.

    "I maintain a very good relationship with Qatar and its emir, and...

  • UCI to broadcast Women's World Cup races

    Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) enjoyed her victory at the GP de Plouay
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 13:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    Live streaming and network coverage in Europe announced

    The UCI announced this week that it has secured broadcast coverage for the Women's World Cup races on several networks in Europe. The UK-based VSquared TV Limited will produce the coverage, which will be aired on the BBC, RAI Sports, NOS and Canal+, with more negotiations taking place for more airtime around the world. Live streaming over the internet will also be available on the UCI's YouTube channel.

    The coverage starts on March 15 with a recap of the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe, and similar news and highlights will be aired for the eight World Cup rounds: the Trofeo Alfredo Binda on March 30, the Tour of Flanders (April 6), Flèche Wallonne (April 23), Tour of Chongming Island (May 18), the newest round, the Sparkassen Giro (August 8) as well as the two Open de Suède Vargarda events (August 22, 24) and the finale at the GP de Plouay-Bretagne on August 30.

    UCI President Brian Cookson has made the promotion of women's cycling one of the key points of his manifesto, and praised the race organisers for cooperating with the plan. "We are extremely fortunate to have the support of the race organisers for this initiative," Cookson stated. "Their dedication and incredible work has already had a large part to play in the growing success and popularity of women's cycling. By staging exciting and high-level events, they are improving its image and generating more interest from the fans."

    The organisers of the Tour de France announced earlier this year that they would hold a women's race in Paris on the final stage of the Tour, and together with the television recaps of the World Cup gives women's cycling momentum.

    "This is an exciting and positive year for women's cycling. With the launch in 2014 of La Course by Le Tour de France on the last day of the Tour de France and now this increased visibility of our...

  • UCI say Sinkewitz cannot race in Croatia

    Giro della Romagna winner Patrik Sinkewitz (ISD - Neri) on the podium.
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 16:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    German was cleared by organisers to compete in 2.2 race

    The UCI have confirmed that German rider Patrik Sinkewitz will not be allowed to race at the 2.2 ranked Istrian Spring Trophy that was due to begin on March 13.

    Despite being banned last month by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for eight years, Sinkewitz was lined up to start the race for the Croatian Meridiana-Kamen team. The race organisation had cleared him to race but the UCI later released a statement on the matter.

    "As Patrik Sinkewitz was suspended for eight years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport following its decision of 24th February 2014 for the presence of recombinant growth hormone (recGH) in a urine sample collected on 27th February 2011 during the Grand Prix de Lugano, the rider from the UCI Continental Team Meridiana Kamen Team, was today forbidden to take the start of the Istarsko proljece – Istrian Spring Trophy, a race on the UCI Europe Tour calendar."

    Sinkewitz tested positive for the growth hormone at the GP Lugano in February 2011. He was suspended, but then the German Arbitral Tribunal overturned the decision and he returned to racing in 2012. The German Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) took the case to the CAS, who slapped him with the eight-year ban.

    The German rider is no stranger to doping related suspensions. Ahead of the 2007 Tour de France, he tested positive for abnormal levels of testosterone. The results of the test didn’t come out until after the race had started, but he didn’t begin it after colliding with a spectator. Sinkewitz refused to have his B sample tested and was sacked by T-Mobile. He was banned for a...

  • Cavendish's Tirreno-Adriatico sprint hopes skittled by Kittel's crash

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) may not have contested the sprint, but still celebrated being in the race lead
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 17:53 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep left empty handed after chaotic finale

    Mark Cavendish kept the leader's jersey at Tirreno-Adriatico but was angry to have missed out on the sprint in Cascina after becoming detached from his Omega Pharma-QuickStep lead-out as a consequence of Marcel Kittel's late crash.

    The Manxman used his bike handling skills to weave through the peloton in the final kilometre but eased up when he realised there was no way through to contest the sprint. Alessandro Petacchi tried to save the day for Omega Pharma-QuickStep by going up the outside but he hit the headwind and finished 36th. Cavendish was 17th.

    Lead-out man Mark Renshaw finished 158th, more than two minutes after his teammates, but was given the same time as the main peloton after race judges ruled he had been delayed by the Kittel crash.

    "We were behind Kittel with two kilometres to go when he crashed. After that it was difficult to get back up to the front," Cavendish explained.

    "A few gentlemen in the peloton helped me find a way through but by the time I got to 500 metres to go, I was already tired."

    With a headwind on the finish and more teams now following Giant-Shimano's tactic of waiting until the final two or three kilometres to start their sprint lead-out, finishes are becoming more hectic and more competitive than ever before.

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep had hesitated before trying to lead-out the sprint after riding on the front of the peloton for much of the race to defend the race lead. Both those factors contributed to making for a chaotic sprint

    Petacchi warmed down on the rollers after the sprint in the shadow of the team bus and admitted the run-in to Cascina had been a disappointing...

  • Pelucchi savours his first major victory at Tirreno-Adriatico

    Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling)
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 18:42 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian sprinter dedicates his win to Kristof Goddaert

    Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) surprised the big-name sprinters at Tirreno-Adriatico by winning stage two, admitting that he had surprised himself.

    The 25 year-old Italian has won four races as a professional and taken several good placings but hit the jackpot in Cascina.

    "It's even difficult for me to believe that I've won," he admitted in the stage winner's press conference.

    "I didn't think I'd win today. We were riding for the sprint as a team, but I would have considered a top five a good result considering the riders here. There's an incredible high level of riders here. The best sprinters in the worlds are here, so it's an incredible result."

    "This is an important result for me," he continued. "I don't want to get big headed. I've been getting good results, but have always been missing that big result. I was lucky and strong today and things went my way. Now it’s up to me and my team to keep doing well."

    Pelucchi explained that teammates Heinrich Haussler and Roger Kluge protected him perfectly in the chaotic finish.

    "It was a crazy sprint. I was a bit behind in the final 800 metres but I'd thought that was the best thing to do because I'd noticed there was a headwind. I knew I had to come late," he recalled.

    "I didn't see Kittel's crash. It was a very confusing sprint. Until the last kilometre we couldn't understand who was going to take control of the sprint; people kept dropping back or moving up."

    "I just stayed cool and stayed focused. I didn't panic and the help from Kruger and Haussler was a big factor. Being fresh in a sprint is very important, it's what I was missing last year and until today."

  • Van den Broeck out of Tirreno-Adriatico with knee injury

    Can Jurgen Van Den Broeck make the 2013 Tour de France podium?
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 19:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian crashed with only 12 kilometres to go

    Jurgen van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) has had to call an end to his Tirreno-Adriatico ambitions on stage 2, after a crash with just 12 kilometres remaining.

    The Belgian rider could be seen emerging from a ditch, along with his teammate Bart de Clercq, with a blooded knee. He managed to finish the stage, where he received eight stitches, but will not make the start on stage 3.

    Directeur sportif Herman Frison says told Het Nieuwsblad that it was too early to asses the full extend of the damage to Van den Broeck’s knee. "It's a flesh wound that runs horizontally across the knee and, with the sutures, bending and stretching is impossible.

    "There would be nothing in the first diagnosis concerning internally. But we will have certainty, tomorrow, when the swelling has gone down."

    Van Den Broeck will now return to Belgium where he will undergo further examination in Herentals to see if there is any further damage. The knee in question, the right one, is the same one that Van den Broeck hurt at last year’s Tour de France. Examinations showed that last year he had "a partial crack of the posterior cruciate ligament, a partial crack of the medial ligament, an injury of the cartilage, a bone bruise and a bruise of the patella tendon."

    The incident forced the Belgian off the bike until midway through October. He started his season at the Tour de San Luis, where he finished 24th. Provided the injury is not too serious, Van den Broeck’s preparations for the Tour de France in July should not be too disrupted.

  • Thomas warns of Astana threat at Paris-Nice

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) after the finish
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 20:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sky rider holds yellow for a second day

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) retained the overall lead following stage 5 of Paris-Nice but the Welshman claimed that he will be surprised if he is still in the yellow jersey after Friday's tough stage to Fayence.

    Prior to stage 5, Thomas had feared that John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) might pick up the bonus seconds necessary to leapfrog him in the overall standings, but instead it was Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who took the honours, while Thomas finished two seconds back in the chase group.

    Thomas remains three seconds clear of Degenkolb on general classification, with Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) a further second back in third place, while Betancur moves up to fourth, just five seconds off yellow. However, he pointed to the Astana pair of Jakob Fuglsang (6th at 13 seconds) and Vincenzo Nibali (13th at 19 seconds) as the men to watch.

    "Slagter is a real threat. He's a quick rider who can go after time bonuses," Thomas said afterwards, according to L'Équipe. "But I think Nibali and Fuglsang are the key. Astana has two good cards to play with them.

    "Tomorrow's stage is long, more than 220 kilometres. You can feel good for a long time and then have a sudden low in the last hour of racing. In any case, I'd be surprised if I'm sitting here [in the press room] tomorrow talking to you."

    Thomas was pleased to live another day in yellow, even if he was keen to put the race in perspective. "I'm happy to be in this situation, but it wouldn't have been the end of the world if I'd lost it," he said. "Still, it was a really nice day of racing. Paris-Nice without a time trial makes things harder to control."

    Thomas was elevated to the status of Sky’s...

  • Jungels shows his stripes at Paris-Nice

    Carlos Betancur, Bob Jungels and Jakob Fuglsang
    Article published:
    March 13, 2014, 23:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Trek animate an aggressive day of racing

    Geraint Thomas (Sky) retained his lead at Paris-Nice but it was Trek Factory Racing that brought the race to life with Bob Jungels and Laurent Didier launching late attacks while Matthew Busche was active in the breakaway of the day. Jungels, the youngest rider in the race, was second in the three-man sprint for the line as Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) claimed the stage win with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in third place. 

    Joining Busche in the break were Sylvain Chavanel (IAM), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) which formed 17km into the 153km stage but they were never given more than a few minutes as Bakelants was only 19 seconds behind Thomas on the GC.

    Bakelants won both intermediate sprints to gain six seconds to move up on GC while Chavanel moved into the lead of the KOM jersey at the conclusion of the day's racning.

    The break was caught at the bottom of the final long gradual climb of the stage at which point Didier launched a counter attack to quickly gain 10 seconds before he succumbed to the fierce pace being set by the chasing peloton.

    The winning move started with