- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 01:10
- Pat Malach
Team Sky's hope loses five seconds to GC rivals
Team Sky's Joe Dombrowski battled through several bloody noses Monday during stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado to finish near the front of the race in 18th place, just five seconds down on stage winner and current overall leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
The 97.6km stage ended with a bunch sprint among 17 riders who peeled off the front in the closing kilometer. Dombrowski, in a blood-stained jersey from his nosebleeds, led the next group across the line.
"I'm feeling alright, it was nothing too major," he said after the stage. "I think the dry air combined with heavy breathing caused a couple of nose bleeds today. I went back to the doctor's car and they gave me some gauze to put in there. So it was nothing serious."
As the first Team Sky rider to cross the line, Dombroswki lived up to his billing as leader for the Colorado race despite having Tour de France winner Chris Froome and rising star Richie Porte on the Sky roster. Froome finished stage 1 in 77th place, 4:59 down. Porte came in 103rd, more than six minutes off the lead pace.
"It was a harder stage than what I think a lot of people thought it was going to be," Dombrowski said. "The climb around 10k to go was pretty hard, and over the top there was a group of GC guys who went. Sagan went, and I went with Tejay [van Garderen]. It was just a bit disorganized, you know, where you had GC guys up the road without any teammates, but eventually it regrouped. We pulled back the two guys on the hill at 2km to go here, and it was safe sprint, so all OK."
The 22-year-old from Virginia, riding in his neo-pro season, now faces the pressure of leading what is widely considered the best team in the world in one of the biggest races in his home country. But Dombrowski appeared to be handling the extra pressure well.
"It's still important to have fun and just enjoy racing in front of my home crowd," he said. "But there is definitely a little bit of pressure when you've got Chris Froome and Richie Porte going back to get your bottles."
Dombroswki lost five seconds to potential GC rivals like van Garderen (BMC), Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare), Tom Danielson (Garmin Sharp), Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) and RadioShack Leopard's Andreas Kloden and Andy Schleck, but he was pleased with his performance on the opening day.
"I think for the first day I was pretty sharp," he said. "And it was a harder day than what it looked like on paper. A lot of times I struggle on these first real punchy days, but then I find my legs later in the race. So hopefully later in the week I can do something. I managed to be right there in the front coming into the finish there, so I think I'm doing alright."
- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 02:23
- Jane Aubrey
Court of Arbitration for Sport the next stop for unnamed cyclist
The Federal Court of Australia has handed down its judgement in the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's (ASADA's) appeals case regarding the Australian cyclist who returned a positive test for low levels benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine in China in 2010.
An appeal was launched by ASADA in May after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia (AAT) found that the UCI was in "gross breach" of its own anti-doping regulations given the delays in notifying the rider of his test results. Meantime, "ASADA and the ADRVP [Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel] each misconceived their respective legal obligations under the ASADA Act and the NAD Scheme, in so far as they proceeded on the basis that it was sufficient for the ADRVP to reach conclusions based on a 'possible' finding."
The Federal Court on Monday upheld the ADRVP's appeal and a decision in the case was set aside. The case will now likely go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The rider cannot be identified by name and is known only as XZTT. He was riding for an Australian UCI Continental team when he supplied a urine sample following the Tour of Taihu on October 23, 2010. Cocaine and its metabolites are not prohibited by the UCI unless it has been used in-competition, however should either be present in an anti-doping sample, the rider and relevant authorities are notified.
Had the UCI followed World Anti-Doping Agency procedures, the rider should have been notified of the findings seven days later, instead, he was not informed until 25 March 2011. In the meantime, according to a team statement to Cyclingnews late last year:
"His contract was not renewed for 2011 as there were personal issues with him that led the team into taking this position."
The rider had signed for a new team in January 2011 and in doing so would have breached internal policy and seen him liable for €145,000, two years' income.
The ADRVP ruled against the cyclist on 8 September 2011 for the alleged presence of benzoylecgonine and use of cocaine. The ATT believes that "a conclusion adverse to XZTT must still be reached" and the ADRVP has been directed to record the presence of benzoylecgonine on the register.
The Federal Court, which queried the ASADA processes and the ramifications for affected athletes, found that:
"The AAT accurately noted ... that the Panel was confronted with 'a complex interplay of overlapping regimes of international sporting governance'. We would also agree with the AAT’s observations ... that timeliness of the process was an important matter and ... that the faults and delays that the Athlete experienced in this instance were egregious. They were not caused by the Panel or ASADA but by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for cycling."
Cycling Australia has declined to comment on the matter.
- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 04:37
- Cycling News
Aldag: You can win or lose it in two corners
Defending World Team Time Trial Champions Omega Pharma-Quick-Step ran a testing day in Zolder with Specialized in preparation for the September 22 event in Florence.
Sylvain Chavanel, Peter Velits, Michal Kwiatkowski, Julien Vermote, Kristof Vandewalle, and Niki Terpstra took part in the session with Tom Boonen also visiting. Individual Time Trial World Champion Tony Martin was not present as the German was preparing for the upcoming Vuelta a Espana.
"The idea was to understand a little bit better some mechanisms that usually happen during the team time trial," said Simone Toccafondi, head of the Specialized Road Racing Division. "We collected information with our data acquisition systems that was positioned on each rider's bike. We believe we've collected interesting and important data that will be analyzed and discussed with the team. We want to see what we learned and what can be used in future references."
In 2012, Omega Pharma-Quick-Step beat BMC into second place with Orica-GreenEdge finishing in third.
Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag said that the results of the TTT at the Tour de France, where the team was runner-up to Orica GreenEdge,a was the perfect illustration as to why such an exercise was required with just three seconds separating the top-three placings.
"The goal was to collect data and practice technique inside the team and really to learn for the future," he explained. "For example, what is the proper length for an individual lead, what is the right order for the team, and how do we really approach corners and accelerate out of them. That is like three massive things that make a difference in a TTT. They all will play an important role in the UCI World TTT Championship in Florence, where we will definitely try to defend our world title. That means we have to focus on it.
"You can win or lose it in two corners," he continued. "So, that is why it is important to work closely with our partners such as SRAM and Zipp, as well as Vermarc for our TTT clothing, to even improve the performance of last year."
Belgian time trial Champion, Kristof Vandewalle who will also take part in the individual event for his country, believed that the day was evidence of how seriously the team was treating its title defence.
"It shows there is a great team effort for the TTT, to be present in testing like this and really take a close look at all the important moments of a course," he said. "I think it also shows a commitment by the riders to practice together and get into the rhythm so we can best defend our UCI World TTT Championship. We are a strong group as individuals, but we want to make sure we work great together as teammates. We have to be in perfect sync all the way to the finish line, and I think testing like this will guide us in that direction."
- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 05:34
- Jane Aubrey
Top Oceania qualifiers weigh up racing options
Australian UCI Continental outfit Huon Salmon–Genesys Wealth Advisers have a week to decide if they will take up their invitation to compete in the Team Time Trial event at the UCI Road World Championships next month.
The team earned its spot as the Oceania Continental Champions ahead of Australia's other UCI Continental teams, Budget Forklifts and Drapac Cycling. The Tasmanian based outfit finished a whopping 128 points ahead of Budget, with Drapac a further two points adrift. With the team's eligibility known for some time now, the possibility of racing the worlds had already been on the radar, with team management keen to showcase Australian talent on one of the biggest stages in the sport.
According to team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston, any decision essentially rests with sponsors with costs of the trip running to around $25,000 for the six riders plus staff to participate.
"At this stage I'd suggest that we probably won't be taking it up for several reasons. One it conflicts with a couple of our existing races in Tour of Canberra [National Capital Tour] and also our preparation for [Tour of Tasmania] Tassie," he told Cyclingnews.
"Why that might seem funny, obviously worlds is a big events and these are only national series events, it's more out of respect for the sponsors who are Australian brands and they get their commission from the races we do in Australia.
"That said, we are talking to them about the possibility of doing worlds but it's too early to say."
Huon-Genesys has some very capable athletes on its roster, with Jack Haig, Ben Dyball, Joe Cooper, Aaron Donnelly, and Campbell Flakemore all likely automatic starters.
"Off the figures that we've done off TTT's before, we would definitely be competitive against some of the WorldTour teams but we certainly would not be against the world's best team," said Christie-Johnston.
Huon-Genesys have one win in the discipline so far this season, blitzing the field at the Tour of Toowoomba, winning by over a minute from Drapac. Cooper is current the New Zealand National Time Trial Champion and won the ITT at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, Tour de Perth and Battle on the Border. Flakemore, while on national duty won the ITT at the Royal Smilde Olympia's Tour and also the Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt U23.
The team has indicated that it will aim to go Professional Continental for the 2015 season and so if the rankings determine their eligibility this time next year, the team would have more reasons to justify the trip.
"To be honest with the squad that I'm getting ready for next year I'd suggest we'd be in a position to allow our time trialists to go and do that and still perform well in the National Road Series," explained Christie-Johnston. "With rumours that the Tour of Tasmania will be UCI next year that would also be a factor… It may not be much of a factor with the Tour of Tasmania is so hilly and traditionally hill climbers aren't the best TT'ers."
- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 07:48
- Cycling News
Bewley extends for one year, Hepburn for two
Orica GreenEdge have recently announced that two of its young riders in Sam Bewley and Michael Hepburn have both re-signed with the team. Bewley has agreed to extend his contract for another year and Hepburn has decided he will call GreenEdge home until 2015.
Bewley, who joined the team in 2012 prior to earning a team pursuit bronze medal at the London Olympics, has enjoyed his transition into the WorldTour peloton with GreenEdge.
"I've enjoyed the last two years with this team," said Bewley. "They support every single rider, whatever their goals are. Being on a team from the Southern Hemisphere makes it that much more special."
Having crashed earlier in the year at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Bewley is grateful that GreenEdge have allowed him to recover in his own time and still believe in him for the future.
"I came off the track only last year and haven't done a lot with the team this year due to my injury," added Bewley. "The team still showed faith in me and supported me. They believe that I can continue to improve."
Bewley will make his grand tour debut at the upcoming Vuelta a España and goes into the opening stage TTT as a key rider for GreenEdge.
"Being on the team for the TTT has been a huge goal of mine," said Bewley. "Specifically, doing well is a big goal for Orica GreenEdge. It's a good course for us this year, and we have a lot of riders who are suited for it. For me, I want to help the team better our third place from last year."
Hepburn joined the Australian team as a neo pro in 2012, and in a fashion similar to Bewley, he has enjoyed finding his road legs with the Australian team following what was previously a very track focused career.
"I've really enjoyed the last two years with the team," said Hepburn. "I really like the feel of the team – it's got a great vibe. My first year as a pro was the inaugural year of Orica GreenEdge, and I am really happy to continue here."
With his focus firmly planted on the road, the future is exciting for the 22-year-old Australian.
"Next year I might sit a year off the track," said Hepburn. "I definitely want to focus on the road a bit more in the next couple of years to see where that takes me."
"I'm not sure what type of rider I will be," added Hepburn. "Personally, I want to improve in the time trial. I want to start contesting for wins there rather than running top five or ten. I'd also like to see myself get selected for the team time trial to represent ORICA-GreenEdge at the World Championships. It's big goal of mine and for the team, too."
Orica GreenEdge director, Matt White, believes that Hepburn will soon be making his mark in the Spring Classics as well as time trials.
"I expect him to find a home in our Classics teams," said White. "He's a versatile rider. He can time trial and sprint and he's very comfortable in the bunch. I expect our Classics team will be a natural home for him."
- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 09:11
- Cycling News
Katusha rider still looking for maiden Grand Tour victory
Joaquim Rodriguez lines up among the favourites for the Vuelta a España and he has acknowledged that a Grand Tour victory would mark the difference between a good palmares and a “magnificent” one.
The Katusha leader has already finished on the podium in each of the three Grand Tours – as well as triumphing in the Tour of Lombardy and Flèche Wallonne – but he has yet to win a three-week stage race.
“I know that winning a Grand Tour is very complicated but I have shown that it is within my capabilities,” Rodriguez told AS. “I’m aiming for it at this Vuelta. That will be the biggest challenge that faces me before I retire. It would be the difference between going from a good palmares, which I have now, to a magnificent one.”
Rodriguez has endured heartbreak in the major stage races in 2012, when he missed out on victory at both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta, finishing second and third respectively. He led the Giro into the final time trial in Milan only to concede the maglia rosa to Ryder Hesjedal, while he lost the overall lead in the final week of the Vuelta after a dramatic day of racing to Fuente Dé.
“I haven’t forgotten,” Rodriguez said. “In each race, I think I was the strongest rider, with the most powerful team. These are things that hurt, but they also make you a more mature rider when it comes to facing adversity. I’m 34 years old, and those were two chances I shouldn’t have missed out on.
“By now, I could have two Grand Tour victories already and I could be aiming for a third, but the reality is that I’m looking for my first.”
In contrast to his disappointments in 2012, Rodriguez was happy to celebrate his third place finish at this year’s Tour de France. Although he confessed to some post-Tour fatigue, he is pleased with how his Vuelta training has progressed. The Catalan has opted not to race between the Tour and the Vuelta, which starts in Galicia on Saturday.
“I feel good now but for a week and a half after the race I was very tired and it was hard to recover,” Rodriguez said. “Things improved after that. I didn’t celebrate too much and I was able to do some good training.”
- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 09:53
- Cycling News
Basque squad bids farewell after two decades in peloton
Euskaltel-Euskadi has confirmed that it will not continue in 2014 due to its failure to secure a second sponsor. Riders and staff were informed of the news at a meeting on Monday and on Tuesday morning Basque Cycling Pro Team, the management company behind the squad, released a statement confirming that the team will cease operations at the end of the season.
“The arrival of a second sponsor, essential to ensuring the sustainability of the cycling team, has not taken place, which makes the continuation of the team in 2014 unfeasible,” read the statement. “From this moment, Euskaltel will begin an orderly winding down of the project, including the immediate negotiation of the release papers of the team members.”
The team has been in existence since 1994, when it was established as a project named Euskadi and funded purely by the subscriptions of local fans. Telecommunications company Euskaltel came on board in 1997, and the Basque squad has been a constant presence in the UCI WorldTour.
“Today is a sad day for Euskaltel, for the team, for the current sponsors and for all of those who have supported the project. We regret that no company has opted to back this team, the doyen of the world cycling elite,” read the statement.
The collapse of the team is linked in part to austerity cuts in the Basque Country. In January of this year, Euskaltel had promised to continue backing the team for a further four years but when the €3.5 million promised by Basque public institutions as part of the €9 million annual budget failed to materialise, Euskaltel had to meet the shortfall for 2013 by doubling its original annual investment.
The telecommunications company made known earlier in the summer that such a situation was not sustainable into 2014 but the search for a co-sponsor has proved fruitless, with recent speculation linking the team to Russian magnate Oleg Tinkov proving to be just that.
“During these months we have worked actively to maintain multiple contacts with companies to try to ensure the survival of the team into the future, exhausting all possibilities of negotiation,” read the Euskaltel-Euskadi statement.
After the Euskadi Foundation and the team went their separate ways ahead of this season, a 19-year self-imposed condition that all riders were either Basque or had spent their amateur career in Basque cycling teams disappeared, and a number of foreign riders were signed up by the team as it looked to secure its continued status as a WorldTour team.
Fourteen Euskaltel-Euskadi riders – Samuel Sanchez, Mikel Nieve, Igor Antón, Mikel Landa, Ion Izaguirre, Romain Sicard, Egoi Martínez, Gorka Verdugo, Juan Lobato, Garikoitz Bravo, Jon Aberasturi, Pello Bilbao, Ruben Perez and Miguel Minguez – hold contracts for 2014 and it is understood that Euskaltel will be asked to respect their deals if they cannot secure new teams for next season.
Sanchez, Nieve and Antón will lead the squad in its final Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Galicia on Saturday.
- Article published:
- August 20, 2013, 11:01
- Cycling News
Sky rider fully recovered from fractured shoulder blade
It has not yet been officially announced, but Edvald Boasson Hagen has said that he will ride the Vuelta a España. It will be his debut in the Spanish Grand Tour, and his first race back after abandoning the Tour de France.
“At least I have received a ticket for the flight, so I'll probably ride," the Team Sky rider told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
The 26-year-old has ridden the Tour de France four times and the Giro d'Italia once, but this will be his maiden Vuelta. “I've never ridden there, so it will be interesting to see how it is.”
Boasson Hagen crashed in the 12th stage of the Tour de France and had to leave the race with a fractured shoulder blade. He resumed light training two weeks later and Sky coach Kurt Asle Arvesen confirmed earlier this month that the Norwegian was under consideration for the Vuelta squad.
The injury is now fully healed and he is back in training, but doesn't think the fracture really had much of an effect. “I would anyway have a little more quiet period after the Tour de France, so I do not think the injury has changed so much for me,” he said.
The Vuelta is not his only goal for the remainder of the season, as he has his eye on the World Championships in Florence the end of September. Norway may send only three riders, but he is considered a certainty for one of the spots.
Still, he wants to test himself in Spain first. “It's often so that if you come out of the Vuelta good, then you are pretty much good as well in the World Championships. But I've never experienced how it is to ride the Vuelta before, so we'll see.”