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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 8, 2014

Date published:
May 08, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Contador rides key Tour de France stages

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) leading the Basque Tour
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 6:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard says the Pyrenees will decide the race

    Just under two months before the Tour de France begins, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) headed to the Pyrenees for a recon of the final week’s key stages.

    The trip to France has left him in no doubt as to where the Tour de France will be decided. "The Pyrenees will make the Tour this year," said Contador.

    Contador is looking to take his third Tour de France victory. His last win came in 2009, where he beat Andy Schleck by over four minutes. He won the following year, but it was later stripped from his palmarès after he tested positive for clenbuterol.

    The Spaniard finished fourth in last year's race, but looked distinctly below par as the other contenders battled it out on the slopes. That didn't stop him from having a go and he's already seen a few places to attack in the final week.

    "(The Hautacam stage) will be a very easy day to control," explained Contador. "There are two small climbs before the Tourmalet, but the highlight will be the descent after that and then there isn't much distance before the Hautacam, so you can make a move after the Tourmalet."

    As ever, the last few days are packed with mountains aimed to split the leaders up and Contador has earmarked one particular day that he believes will have a huge impact on the race. "The stage Saint-Lary ]stage 17] will be really tough," he said.

    "At 125km, it's not long, but it has a lot of metres of climbing, with the Portillon, Peyresourde and Val Louron before the final climb. It will be a fast day and difficult to control for the leader. There will be opportunities to make tactical moves."

    Contador also went to inspect the time trial route in Bergerac, which may decide the overall...

  • Cavendish confirmed for Tour of California

    Mark Cavendish on the podium
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 7:20 BST
    Cycling News

    British champion skipping the Giro

    Since 2011, Mark Cavendish has spent May racing the Giro d'Italia but in 2014 he has decided instead to race the Tour of California.  Cavendish has won 15 stages of the Giro and last year won the points classification jersey but in April announced that in order to prepare for his season goal, the Tour de France, his racing schedule will slightly differ to previous years.

    ""This year I will skip the Giro d'Italia," Cavendish said. I'm saddened as it's a race that has given me great satisfaction in the past. I have great memories and victories, even last year. But, with the Tour de France as my main objective this year, we had to make some choices."

    While Alessandro Petacchi will be occupied in Italy, key leadout man Mark Renshaw will be by Cavendish's side in California as the "Manx Missile" looks to put Peter Sagan's (Cannondale) dominance at the race to an end.

    Neo-pro Carlos Verona will be given a license to test his legs on the two mountain stages of the race - stage there to Mount Diablo and stage six to Mountain High are both summit finishes - while the rest of the team will work to deliver Cavendish to stage wins.

    Niki Terpstra makes his return to racing after

  • Basso facing watershed moment at the Giro d'Italia

    Ivan Basso (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 11:51 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale rider hints he could retire if he struggles to perform this year

    Ivan Basso (Cannondale) has revealed that this year's Giro d'Italia could be his last if he fails to perform well in the overall classification.

    Basso won the Giro d'Italia in 2006, before he was implicated in Operacion Puerto and banned for blood doping, and again in 2010 after his ban.

    He will be 37 in November and has so far failed to show that he has the form to compete with the likes of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and even fellow veteran Cadel Evans (BMC). Yet Basso is not concerned. He has become almost Zen-like in his approach to racing in the final years of his career. He still clocks up the hard miles in training and accepts whatever results he manages to achieve.

    "An intelligent athlete knows his place and should be able to understand his own limits, so he can try to overcome them. You need that so you don’t get flattened by the passing of time, by the end of a moment in your life," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "Why should I have gone to the press conference? What could I have said? I know I'm not at my best but I think I can find a different role. Otherwise I'd be stupid and pathetic if I said I was hoping to win. I know that things have gone differently so far this year."

    "I know that people think I'm past my best. I hope it's not true. I'm not riding well but my conscience is clear. I'm still ambitious. I want to have a good Giro. I think I'm competitive and we'll see exactly how much very soon. The Giro always motivates me."

    Out of contract

    Basso's contract with Cannondale ends this season. The US-sponsored, Italian-registered team is facing a watershed moment, with Peter Sagan also set to decide if he stays with the team...

  • Race tech gallery: Race vehicles of the Giro d'Italia

    Note the custom license plate, too
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 12:46 BST
    James Huang

    A look at the rolling support structure of Italy's greatest road race

    We regularly bring to you close-up looks at what the riders use in the world's greatest bike races but what about the rolling infrastructure that support them? While cycling may be a carbon-friendly activity, big-time road racing most certainly is not with nearly as many four-wheeled vehicles on the road as two.

    Any major road race is accompanied by a flotilla of vehicles with each team operating its own independent fleet. Typically, each squad has around three or four cars, a team bus, a large truck, and often other vehicles, such as a mobile kitchen – all customized for their specific purposes, and not just in terms of the graphics packages applied.

    Standard upgrades on the cars include multiple two-way radios that communicate with both the riders and race staff. In many cases, cars are also fitted with television antennas so effectively put eyes on multiple parts of the race.

    Most important, though, are the bespoke racks that are installed on each car. Far from off-the-shelf models available from the likes of consumer brands such as Thule and Yakima, these team specials can usually handle at minimum four complete bikes and roughly half a dozen spare wheels – all accessible virtually instantly by team mechanics via special quick-release levers and open-topped wheel trays.

    Keep in mind, too, that those cars are generally the only team vehicles spectators ever see in a race. Giant custom buses transport the riders from the team hotel to the start, then go directly to the finish to wait for their arrival. Other support vehicles, such as mechanics' trucks and miscellaneous vans, go directly from hotel to hotel to set up shop for the night.

    All in all, it's quite the caravan – and in some ways, a bit of a traveling circus – but a necessary piece of the sport that so many fans worldwide love to watch.

  • Giro d'Italia shorts: Belfast, prize money, Jensen and Androni passports

    Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo)
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 14:13 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    The 11th international start, prize money, Jensen and the Giro of reneweal

    The 11th Grande Partenza outside of Italy

    The start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia in Belfast marks the 11th time the race has started outside of Italy.

    The first, in 1965, was in San Marino, followed by Montecarlo (1966); Verviers, Belgium (1973); The Vatican (1974)' Athens, Greece, 1996; Nice, France (1998); Groningen, the Netherlands (2002); Seraing, Belgium (2006); Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2010); Herning, Denmark (2012).

    Possible future starts outside of Italy include Barcelona in Spain, Vienna in Austria, Berlin in Germany, and possible even Dubai.

    Show me the money

    Cycling does not traditionally offer high prize money but there is a total of 1.378.000 Euro up for grabs at this year's Giro d'Italia.

    Each stage win is worth 11.000 Euro and a day in the pink jersey is worth 1000 Euro. The final overall winner in Trieste on June 1 will collect at least 200.000 Euro.

    Chris Juul Jensen: the fourth Irishman

    Irish riders Dan Martin, Nicholas Roche and Philip Deignan have been in the headlines as the three Irish riders in this year's Giro d'Italia. However Roche has revealed there is actually another rider who was born in Ireland: Chris Juul Jensen.

    The Tinkoff-Saxo rider now has a Danish passport and racing licence but according to Roche, was born in Wicklow, went to school there and even raced in Ireland until he was 16. The 2014 Giro d'Italia marks Jensen's Grand Tour debut.

    Androni Giocattoli riders make a late dash for Belfast

    Several teams have been forced to change their squads for the Giro...

  • Kittel ready for Giro d'Italia sprint debut

    Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) wins his third Scheldeprijs
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 14:36 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Giant-Shimano sprinter convinced he can handle two Grand Tours

    Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) may be amused to hear that he has been named as one of 10 special ‘Giro sights’ by the local Belfast Telegraph newspaper. If the German sprint star has anything to do with it, he will be hitting the headlines by leading his rivals across the line in the Giro d'Italia sprints. He celebrates his 26th birthday on Sunday and so a victory in Dublin would be a perfect way to celebrate.

    The 25-year-old has taken four wins this season already: three in the Dubai Tour and the fourth, for the third year running, in the Scheldeprijs in Belgium last month. However, it is arguably Kittel's results in the 2013 Tour de France, with four sprint stage wins, that makes the German the rider to beat on the Giro d'Italia flat stages.

    “I’m now in my second part of the season, with the Giro as a highlight and I’m feeling very confident,” Kittel, whose Giant-Shimano squad also have a reasonable chance of victory in the opening team time trial on Friday, too, said at the official pre-race press conference.

    “I’ve had a good start to the season, having rounded off the first part in the Scheldeprijs and I’m very confident I can do good things here, too.”

    When asked if sprints in the Giro d'Italia are different to the Vuelta - where he took his first Grand Tour win back in 2011, or the Tour de France, Kittel replied: “I have no idea what is going to happen here.”

    “it’s a bike race, and I know my team is good at sprinting. So we’ll stick to our usual plan.”

    Elia Viviani (Cannondale) will be one bunch sprint opponent, Kittel concurred, “particularly after doing so well in the Tour of...

  • Savio pleased Androni-Venezeula’s visa odyssey is at an end

    A happy Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio with stage 1a winner Fabio Felline
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 15:36 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Rodriguez and Godoy arrive in Belfast for Giro d’Italia

    An unexpected subplot in the build-up to the Giro d’Italia start in Belfast has been the late scramble to secure United Kingdom visas for riders hailing from certain countries from outside the European Union.

    Colombia, for instance, pulled out of the Tour of Turkey as eight of their riders were temporarily without their passports after submitting them to the British embassy as part of the application process, while Astana were ultimately forced to withdraw Kazakh riders Maxim Iglinskiy and Alexey Lutsenko from their Giro line-up when they failed to complete the process in time.

    For a long time on Wednesday, it seemed as though the British Home Office’s red tape might also prevent Androni-Venezuela’s Jackson Rodriguez and Yonder Godoy travelling to Belfast. Manager Gianni Savio and his two Venezuelan riders spent the day cooped up in a hotel opposite the British embassy in Rome, sweating on the return of their passports, with Tuttobici providing updates throughout the day under the headline “Androni Odyssey.”

    On Thursday morning, however, the stately Savio was present and correct at the pre-Giro meeting of team managers and the race jury, having landed at Belfast’s George Best airport just half an hour beforehand in the company of Rodriguez and Godoy. After the meeting, he talked Cyclingnews through the convoluted process, which began when Rodriguez and Godoy returned to their Italian base from their national championships in mid-April.

    “The riders had submitted their passports to the British Embassy in Italy and then DHL were supposed to return them directly to their homes in Bergamo, but they never arrived at all,” Savio...

  • Giro d’Italia closing the gap to the Tour de France, says Vegni

    Mauro Vegni at the Dubai Tour
    Article published:
    May 08, 2014, 16:12 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Race director upbeat in spite of absence of Nibali, Froome and Contador

    A year ago, the Giro d’Italia was billed as a prize fight between Vincenzo Nibali and Bradley Wiggins, and the corsa rosa left Naples with its most star-studded field since before the dawn of the ProTour era. Twelve months on, however, some of the biggest names in stage racing are missing as the Giro sets out from Belfast. Nibali and Wiggins have not returned, while Alberto Contador and Chris Froome have also built their seasons around the Tour de France.

    In an interview with AP last week, Giro race director Mauro Vegni decried the relative lack of marquee names in the race, but speaking to reporters in Belfast on Wednesday, he sounded a bit more optimistic, pointing in particular to the presence of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), second overall and best young rider at last year’s Tour.

    “As far as Nibali’s concerned, I think I’ve said everything that needs to be said. As a rider who won a great Giro last year, it was legitimate for him to have the ambition to try and win the Tour,” Vegni said in Belfast’s Waterfront Centre.

    “But if you’re asking me if satisfied with the riders who are participating, then the answer is yes. For me, it’s significant that the Giro is a launch pad for a new generation of young riders. That aspect is important.”

    While acknowledging the Tour’s position as the most prestigious race on the calendar, Vegni was adamant that the Giro had taken significant strides in boosting its own profile since the turn of the century.

    “I can’t deny the value of the Tour but I have to say that in the past ten years we have reduced the gap that existed between the Giro and the Tour before the year 2000. There’s still a lot of work to be...