Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Wiggle Honda team bike of two-time World Champion
Omega Pharma-Lotto rider was counting on Boonen
Currently in Canada for the GP Quebec and GP Montreal, the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider told Het Laatste Nieuws, “It makes no sense to have me as the only protected rider. I'm not ready. My form is not the same as in April or July.”
He told the Gazet van Antwerpen, “During a difficult season I spent a lot of energy, both physically and mentally. It was never my intention to take on leadership in Copenhagen.”
Gilbert had planned on Tom Boonen being the team captain at the Worlds road race, but the Quick Step rider's participation is in doubt, after he broke a bone in his hand at the Vuelta. “Without Tom it is a difficult Worlds. He is a specialist for one-day races and a course like the one in Denmark suits him more than me.”
Gilbert, 29, is currently second in the World rankings. This season he leads the pro ranks with 16 victories, including Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne, San Sebastian, one stage at the Tour de France and both road and time trial national titles. He has signed to ride with BMC Racing Team next year.
Moser moves to defend race
Gianni Bugno, head of the professional riders’ union (CPA), has said that the contentious Giro di Padania should never have been allowed to take place and decried the way in which it has mixed sport with politics.
The first two stages of the race, which was established this year with heavy involvement from the Lega Nord political party, have been interrupted by demonstrations from groups including Rifondazione Comunista and trade union CGIL. There were chaotic scenes at Savona on stage 2 on Wednesday, as the race was temporarily blocked and a protester was seen to strike Colnago-CSF Inox stagiare Sonny Colbrelli.
“It’s ugly to mix to sport with politics,” Bugno said, according to ciclonews.it. “The riders are there just to ride their race, and it’s wrong that they have been put in the middle of this.
“This event should have been blocked from the start. Everybody should have understood that the race would have been linked to a very distinct political party. They should have said no. Everybody should have said no.”
The very name of the race is a highly-charged one in an Italian context: “Padania” is not a regional entity, but a controversial term coined by the Lega Nord to describe the northern part of Italy, which it hopes will gain autonomy. In such a context, Bugno said that the towns on the route should simply have refused to host the race.
“Some of them refused, others maybe were governed by the same political side,” Bugno commented. The Lega Nord is a coalition partner in Silvio Berlusconi’s government. The double world champion Bugno was himself a candidate for the opposition Partito Democratico in 2010 regional elections in Lombardy, but reiterated that politics should not spill over...
Navarra hosts race for first time in 18 years
The 2012 Vuelta a España will start in Pamplona on August 18, race director Javier Guillén announced on Thursday.
The race will begin with a time trial in the Navarran capital, although it has not yet been decided if it will be an individual prologue or a time team trial. In either case, Cyclingnews understands that the curtain-raiser will take place in the streets of Pamplona itself. The following day will see the Vuelta’s opening road stage from Pamplona to Viana.
Roberto Jimenez, vice president of Navarra’s regional government, was enthusiastic about welcoming the Vuelta to the region for the first time since 1994. Like the neighbouring Basque Country, which hosts its first Vuelta stages in 33 years later this week, Navarra is steeped in cycling history. The area’s most famous cycling son is five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain, while the Movistar squad’s historic roots are in Pamplona.
“Our region is very linked to cycling,” Jimenez said. “On one hand, we have a legend like Miguel Indurain, and then there are also two professional teams from Navarra, and one of them is the doyen of Spanish cycling.
“We want to give an international dimension to Navarra and show that we are a friendly people. We’ll receive the Vuelta with great enthusiasm.”
Pamplona was most recently visited by a Grand Tour in 1996, when the city hosted the finish of a memorable stage of the Tour de France. On that occasion, the race paid homage to Miguel Indurain by passing through his home village of Villava en route.
The 2012 Vuelta gets underway a little over two weeks after the London Olympic Games time trial, and concludes in Madrid on September 9.
Former Leopard Trek manager says he was “technically” fired
Brian Nygaard has refused to respond to criticism of his time at Leopard Trek, noting that he was virtually fired, and that he was not responsible for searching for a sponsor for the team.
Anything he might say might be “used to try to start some kind of conflict, and I am not interested in that,” he told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. “I can look the personnel and my staff in the eye.”
The Dane, who was the team's manager, said that financier Flavio Becca offered him another position, "but technically it's the same” as being fired.
Becca offered him a job as communications director for his family's funds, but Nygaard was not interested. “Once you have been a part of what I have been part of, and when you can see there are quite big changes, then you should also be able to reflect enough of yourself to say it is time to stop.”
In addition, Nygaard rejected claims that Becca wanted to get rid of him because the Dane did not find a name sponsor for the team. “No way. It has never been part of the job that I have said yes to. My job was to build the team up and create an identity for the team and get all the elements together.
“When I came into the project, there was a guarantee for the project from Becca's side and the business side of it with sponsors and to get sponsors, has always been on him.”
Briton explains Team Sky's tactics
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) has bounced back from two difficult days at the Vuelta a España and seems ready to race hard all the way to Madrid to defend his third place and possible help teammate Chris Froome try to topple race leader Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC).
Wiggins lost 38 seconds to Cobo on the stage 17 finish atop Peña Cabarga. His third place overall seems secure but he is 1:41 down on Cobo. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) is fourth overall, 24 seconds further back.
"I think I was a bit mentally switched off. After the Angliru, it's been a bit difficult. These last two months have hit me a bit and I felt a bit deflated," Wiggins explained before today's 18th stage from Solares to Noja.
"It felt like it was over on Monday. But I feel better now because I've realised the Vuelta is not over and there's a few days to go."
Exactly two months ago today, Wiggins crashed out of the Tour de France after breaking his collarbone on a high speed descent. He had a plate fitted to his collarbone and was off the bike for a week. He worked hard to come back from his crash to be fit for the Vuelta but knew that his Vuelta preparation had not been perfect.
"It's difficult to remember that when you're doing it," he said. "Three weeks ago I'd have accepted third place overall with just three days to go. But fortunately there are also a lot of other good things to take from the race, such as the way I've been climbing. It's been a good experience."...
Geox team leader knows that every second could count
The 158.5km stage includes four small climbs, with the last one – the Alto El Vivero - ending just 14.3km from the finish. The climb is only five kilometres long but has a gradient of 8.5%. Sky's Chris Froome could decide to attack hard, as he did on the Peña Cabarga on Wednesday, and try and gain the few seconds he needs to take the red leader's jersey.
With time bonuses of 20-12-8 seconds awarded to the first three riders over the line, and 6-4-2 available at intermediate sprints, every second could count on the way to Madrid. Cobo currently leads Froome by just 13 seconds.
"The time bonuses could have a big say in the last three days, because there are some even in Madrid and so could decide everything," Cobo said after the finish in Noja on the spectacular northern coast, near Santander.
"We'll try and defend things like we did today by letting a break go. But I'm sure Sky will try something tomorrow and we'll have to defend my lead."
Cobo finished safely in the peloton on the stage, 7:42 behind stage winner Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-ISD).
"The stage wasn't that difficult. The team was good, with Mathias Brandle and Dimitry Kozontchuk doing a great job at keeping the break between 10 and 11 minutes. That allowed the team to rest up and save some energy for tomorrow."
RadioShack rider talking to several teams for 2012
As Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack) stopped to take a drink after crossing the Vuelta a Espana finish line in Noja, stage 18 winner Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-ISD) came back the other way, heading to the podium to collect the cheers, the flowers and the kisses from the podium girls.
Until just 2.5km from the finish, Paulinho looked set to win and take the glory himself after he attacked the breakaway on the final climb. He had managed to open a gap of almost a minute, but Gavazzi and Jurgen Vandewalle (Omega Pharma-Lotto) were able to jump across to him and then surge clear to sprint for the stage victory.
Paulinho finished eleventh, at 1:08, tired and disappointed after working hard in the breakaway for 160km.
"I felt really good today and thought I had enough of a lead to hold on. But there was a bit of head wind. If the stage had been five kilometres shorter it would have been perfect. But there was nothing I could do when they got across to me," he told Cyclingnews trying to drown his disappointment with a cold drink.
"We worked well together and got a good gap, so we knew we'd be fighting for the stage victory. I knew that Gavazzi was fast in the sprint and so I attacked on the climb to try and win the stage. It was the best thing I could do. I knew I had to try and split the group. I did it but they came back fast."
Talking to teams for 2012
Like many of the riders caught up in the RadioShack-Leopard Trek merger, Paulinho's future for 2012 is up in the air. So far the team has confirmed 14 of the riders for the 2012 line-up, but Paulinho is not amongst them. The team has said further names will be announced on September 15 but Paulinho said he has been talking to other teams for 2012,...
Canadian will carry four-leaf clover for good luck
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervélo) believes his top form will bring him a victory, or two, at the WorldTour events Grande Prix Cycliste de Quebec City held on September 9 and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal held on September 11. Just in case good form is not enough, he will also carry the additional support of a lucky four-leaf clover given to him on loan by his soon-to-be father-in-law.
"I want to race well, perform well, and be happy when I leave the race," Hesjedal said. "I want to win here, perform well and stay on the top of the podium. I'm confident in my ability to do that, but there are a lot of other racers capable of that, it is going to be a hard race.
"I see myself as a leader here, as a rider that has shown that I am capable of riding at the front for most of the race," he said. "I feel like I will be able to lead my team and try for a top result."
Hesjedal placed fourth at the Grand Prix de Quebec City last year, behind winner Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Pro Cycling) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank). The near-podium performance came at the end of a highly aggressive showdown amongst some of the top riders in the world, where he made a late-race attack and nearly held it to the line.
"Last year was more on feel and I was excited, wanted to push the race, and wasn't necessarily confident," Hesjedal said. "I was sick and wasn't sure how things were going to work out. It felt like the time to go and it almost worked out. I think it shaped the race.
"I can always took back and think of how...