The Italian has often made spectacular attacks in early-season races but has never been a true contender. He finished 12th overall at the Tour of Oman and was 21st at the more recent Paris-Nice. He made an audacious solo attack on the Cipressa climb at Milan-San Remo but was caught and failed to finish in the front group, crossing the line in 44th place, 3:15 behind winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
“We saw Vincenzo work hard in Paris-Nice and Milano-San Remo. It’s good news to watch the Shark (Nibali's nickname) attack but now we need to draw back a little, go back to altitude in Tenerife to recover from the efforts and train specifically to get ready for the Ardennes, especially Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This race is a fundamental one-day goal in Astana’s 2014 season and we want Vincenzo to be at real top fitness for the day,” directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli explained in a statement from the Kazakhstani team.
Nibali confirmed to Gazzetta dello Sport after Milan-San Remo that he will train at altitude on Mount Teide from April 1-16. He will then ride Amstel Gold Race (April 20), Fleche-Wallonne (April 23) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 27).
Martinelli confirmed that Michele Scarponi and Jani Brajkovic will lead the Astana team at Criterium International.
The 42-year-old American pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico on stage six because of the problem and the Lampre-Merida medical staff agreed it was better to avoid racing in the cold conditions expected during Thursday's decisive mountain stage at the Volta a Catalunya. Horner finished 37th on stage three to La Molina in the Pyrenees, 47 seconds behind stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
"The withdrawal will allow Chris Horner to plan a proper program of recovery and trainings with Giro d’Italia as main target: he’ll also perform some reconnaissance on the courses of the main stages," the Lampre-Merida team said in a brief note on its website.
The Italian team told Cyclingnews that Horner's Achilles problem could force him to miss the Volta a Pais Vasco (April 7-12). As an alternative he could ride the Giro del Trentino stage race (April 22-25).
Horner struggled with a knee injury in the first half of 2013 and underwent surgery in June, forcing him to miss the Tour de France. He returned to racing at the Tour of Utah and surprisingly went on to win the 2013 Vuelta a Espana, becoming the oldest ever winner of a Grand Tour.
Rafael Valls back after broken collarbone in January
Diego Ulissi is set for his return to Coppi e Bartali with Lampre-Merida as the defending champion of the Italian stage race.
Ulissi was forced to quit Milan-San Remo due to the adverse weather condition and is prepared to add to his two wins of 2014.
Joining Ulissi will be Rafael Valls who broke his collarbone when racing with Ulissi in Australia on Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under in January. The WorldTour race was Valls' first for the team having moved across from the now defunct Vacansoleil - DCM team at which he spent two years.
Making their seasonal debuts for Lampre-Merida will be the 20-year-old neo-pro Valerio Conti, who has been plagued by a knee injury so far this year while Xu Gang, who joined Lampre from the Champion System Pro Cycling Team, is ready to race again.
Also in the team for the UCI 2.1 event are Matteo Bono, Valerio Conti, Luca Dodi, Manuele Mori and Luca Wackermann. Bono, Mori and Wackermann were all in the team selected for Milan-San Remo and hope to show their from from La Classicissima while Dodi has been handed the duty of representing the team in the breakaways.
Lampre-Merida for Coppi e Bartali: Deigo Ulissi, Rafael Valls,Matteo Bono, Valerio Conti, Luca Dodi, Xu Gang, Manuele Mori and Luca Wackermann.
Peter Sagan arrives in Belgium on Thursday ahead of his cobbled classics campaign eager to put his off-key showing at last weekend’s Milan-San Remo behind him. The Cannondale rider entered La Classicissima as the outright favourite for victory but fell short in a breathless finale and could only manage a disappointed 10th in the sprint.
The day after the race, Sagan shipped his share of criticism in the Italian press, with – somewhat bizarrely – Francesco Moser and Moreno Argentin among those wheeled out to dismiss the hackneyed idea that the Slovak was the new Eddy Merckx.
And so perhaps not unlike a Serie A team calling a silenzio stampa in response to a heavy defeat, Sagan is not scheduled to hold a press conference on his arrival in Flanders, instead preferring to do his talking out on the road at E3 Harelbeke on Friday.
“There are still the other classics to come, from here to Paris-Roubaix, and we’ll try to win at least one of them,” Cannondale directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta told Cyclingnews in Waregem. “Sunday wasn’t an easy race and he needed a few days to recover but he’ll be up here on Thursday and then he’ll do the races in Belgium from Friday onwards.”
In the days since Milan-San Remo, the Cannondale squad have mulled over Sagan’s failure to make an impact on the Lungomare Italo Calvino, but the consensus within the team is that his second place finish twelve months ago, after making an error in the finishing sprint, was more an altogether more harrowing experience. Accepting the criticism of Sagan as “normal,” Zanatta said that his rider had simply suffered from the cold conditions in the finale on Sunday.
“We’ve analysed the race and there wasn’t a big difference...
Once again Milan-San Remo provided a spectacular race with attacks, crashes, and brutally tough conditions that ended in crescendo with a magnificent sprint win for Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
The Norwegian claimed his first Monument win with a powerful and perfectly timed sprint for the line to hold off Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Ben Swift (Team Sky).
The race, held in cold and wet conditions also saw aggressive cameos from Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who attacked alone on the Cipressa with a brave move, as well as a last ditch moves from Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF).
In this exclusive video brought to you by inCycle TV you can relive the race with a free-to-watch highlights package. InCycle and Cyclingnews have teamed up for the 2014 season to provide you with interviews, behind the scenes access to the world’s top teams, and regular race footage from the biggest races.
The Belkin team has announced that Classics rider Sep Vanmarcke has extended his contract with the Dutch team until 2016.
The 25-year-old Belgian has only won two races in his career but is considered a future cobbled Classics winner. He won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2012 and was second in last year's Paris-Roubaix despite an injury-hit spring.
Vanmarcke was third at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this year and fourth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He will lead the Belkin team in the Classics this spring, alongside Lars Boom. No details of Vanmarcke's contract were revealed.
“Sep is a diamond in the rough. Especially when it comes to the Flemish Classic races," Belkin team manager Richard Plugge said in a press release confirming the news.
"Sep is a very strong guy, who has a lot of potential. It is only logical that we wanted to extend his contract, we want to keep the backbone of our team as strong as possible.”
"He is a team player and knows that you can achieve more when you do things together. During this time of the year, his teammates work for him, but in other race he puts in a lot of efforts for others, like for example in last year’s Tour de France.”
Vanmarcke tweeted that he was happy to have signed a new contract that will run to the end of 2016.
“Team Belkin is my best option when I look at my future,” he said in the team statement.
“I feel at home here. There is a lot of mutual trust and the team does everything in its power to assist me in the Classics, which is very important to me. The whole team is very motivated. The sports directors have strong ties with the Cruyff Institute and it is good to see that they, just like the riders, work hard to improve.”
Confirmation of three-day race in 2015 given 100 days left until Tour’s Grand Départ
It was pointed out during today’s event in Harrogate marking 100 days until the Tour de France's Grand Départ begins in Leeds on 5 July, that Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity always pulls some kind of rabbit out of his hat at such moments, and Verity didn’t disappoint a packed auditorium at the Harrogate Conference Centre.
At the end of a slick and uplifting 90-minute presentation of all that Yorkshire has in store for visitors both leading up to the Grand Départ and beyond, Verity revealed that ASO are on the verge of signing a deal to organise a three-day race in the county from 2015 to continue the region's Tour de France legacy.
"We are working closely with ASO and British Cycling to continue the lasting legacy of Yorkshire’s Grand Départ by delivering this new race for Yorkshire from 2015, which will rank as a major new addition to the global cycling calendar," said Verity, as ASO’s deputy director of cycling, Pierre-Yves Thouault looked on from the auditorium’s front row.
"It has the potential to take in wider parts of the county and we look forward to announcing more details in due course."
Verity has repeatedly stressed the need to build on the momentum and enthusiasm generated by the Tour de France’s visit, and all kinds of grass roots cycling schemes are already under way in Yorkshire.
The three-day race adds an elite level event to those schemes. As The Guardian revealed in January, it will take place in May and have a 2.HC rating. What it doesn’t have as yet is a name. Some have suggested that name might be the Criterium International since the contract ASO have with current hosts Corsica runs out after this coming weekend’s fifth edition on the French island. Certainly, the Yorkshire event will have a similar format to that 2.HC race, with a road stage and time...
The Professional Cycling Council (PCC), now with a new president, David Lappartient, has agreed to put the UCI's proposed reform measures to the test in the coming years before the changes to team size and calendar are made permanent, the UCI announced today.
The UCI has proposed reducing the number of riders per professional team from 30 down to 22 in 2017, instead splitting the first division into two groups, each with its own developmental team of 8-10 riders.
The top level would be 16 teams with 120 days of racing, including the Grand Tours, Classics and other major stage races, and a second level of 8 teams with only 50 days of racing. The division two and three (currently Professional Continental and Continental) would remain unchanged.
The history of the WorldTour and its preceding series known as the ProTour has been fraught with controversy over the number of teams included in the top tier. Grand Tour organizers objected vehemently to the UCI forcing them to invite 18 or more teams, wanting instead to have more freedom to choose wild card teams.
Having only 16 teams in the top division would renew the kind of competition for rider points that existed prior to 2014, when there were more teams applying for WorldTour spots than the limit of 18.
Under the planned scheme, a two-year test period starting in 2015 would be employed, giving teams a chance to adapt to the new rules "before they become an obligation", the UCI press release stated.
10 teams will be chosen to participate in the test phase at the end of this season toward 2015, and all teams will be part of the experiment for the registration ahead of the 2016 season.
The top 16 teams of the 2014 WorldTour rankings will be given ProTeam status in 2015 if...