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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Date published:
March 5, 2013, 16:00
  • UCI urges Indian Government to provide visas for Asian Championships

    UCI President Pat McQuaid at the UCI headquarters in Aigle
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 00:27
    Cycling News

    Cyclists from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan still waiting

    A visa dispute is threatening to cause major disruption to this week’s Asian Cycling Championships, which begin on Thursday in New Delhi, India.

    Athletes from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan are still waiting for visas with the UCI and the Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) putting pressure on the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) to expedite a resolution. The hosts of the championships however, said in a press conference on Monday that they were powerless with politics getting in the way of sport.

    "The Asian championship will be incomplete without Iran," admitted CFI President Parminder Singh Dhindsa. "The UCI and ACC feel that the credibility of the championship will be affected if Iran does not participate."

    The Chinese contingent had also been facing difficulty entering India however were given visas.

    CFI secretary general Onkar Singh explained that his organisation was lobbying the Indian government.

    "We get a bad name for this," he said. "We had done all paperwork in time. We are trying to resolve the situation."

    The Cycling Federation of Islamic Republic of Iran has taken the step of publishing letters from UCI President Pat McQuaid to Indian Minister of Home Affairs on February 28 urging the government to issue visas allowing Iranian athletes to travel to the championships.

    "The Iranian riders are among the best and it will be a real pity to penalise these athletes because they can not obtain their visa in time," he wrote.

    The Iranian team had planned a camp in India prior to competition and the delays have forced them to cancel travel arrangements resulting in a "big financial loss."

    The Asian Cycling Championships will qualify athletes for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.


  • Can Phinney change BMC's fortunes in Tirreno - Adriatico TTT?

    BMC fell flat in the team time trial.
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 04:05
    Cycling News

    Evans pleased with form off the back of Strade Bianche

    BMC hopes that the inclusion of Taylor Phinney in this year's team for Tirreno - Adriatico will boost their stocks, particularly in the two stages against the clock.

    The Race of the Two Seas will once again open with a 16.9km team time trial on Wednesday. In 2012, the team fell disappointingly short of the mark in the TTT, close to a minute behind winners GreenEdge.

    Phinney, silver medallist in last year's UCI Road World Championships in the individual time trial and a member of BMC's silver-medal-winning squad in the team event should prove handy in the opening stage, but according to Assistant Director Max Sciandri, he will also get his own chances.

    "The most important thing is to get the team started in the right way in the team time trial," he said. "We certainly have the manpower to do well."

    The seven-stage WorldTour event closes out with a 9.2km individual time trial in Nice "is a great one for him [Phinney]."

    Meantime, 2011 Tirreno - Adriatico overall winner Cadel Evans will be looking to the next week of racing to gauge his form against a handful of riders who should be rivals come July. The race proved an important stepping stone for the Australian in 2011 on the way to winning the Tour de France. Chris Froome (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), and Alberto Contador (Saxo - Tinkoff) are all scheduled starters.

    "Some of the biggest stage racing riders in the world will be there," said Evans.

    Evans started the season well with third overall at the Tour of Oman and on Saturday was 28th at the Strade Bianche.

    "Strade Bianche was a good indication for me, though I didn't make the final in the front group," he continued. "We'll see how the team time trial goes and then we'll take it from there."

    The full BMC line-up is for Tirreno - Adriatico is: Steve Cummings, Cadel Evans, Thor Hushovd, Klaas Lodewyck, Taylor Phinney, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet.


  • Boonen: There's no reason to panic

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) missed a decisive split in the peloton and finished in a group nearly two minutes off the pace.
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 05:25
    Cycling News

    Doesn't contest sprint at Paris-Nice's first stage

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick Step) was missing from the front group which contested the sprint finish during Stage 1 of Paris-Nice on Monday. The Belgian, along with Argos-Shimano hopeful Marcel Kittel, left close to two minutes behind the first 124 riders.

    "I did not want to take any chances on this stage, which was, in my opinion, very dangerous," Boonen told reporters at the finish.

    Several crashes marked the 195km stage with Rui Costa (Movistar) and Jure Kocjan (Euskaltel-Euskadi) both forced to abandon the race. Others remain in doubt heading into stage 2 today.

    "I avoided the fall several times and then I preferred to stay in the back, to try and avoid unnecessary stress and fall," Boonen continued. "I do not want to harm my preparation for the classics. I was afraid it's true and, let's face it, I have not got the legs. But otherwise, all is well. "

    Boonen also told that he was unhappy with the parcours for the stage.

    "This course was not suitable for an opening stage of Paris-Nice, which has always been naturally very nervous," he explained. "If you do not feel comfortable, then you do not have good legs. The problem was that the wind was not good. Now everyone thought it was going to happen behind every corner. And nothing happened. Therefore you sat with many in too small a space. My enthusiasm was over. There is no reason to panic."


  • Contador: Puerto trial should “clarify everything for once and for all”

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 10:28
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard would provide DNA if required

    Alberto Contador has told Spanish sports daily MARCA that he hopes that, “for the good of cycling,” the Operación Puerto trial will be as far-reaching as possible and that he was willing to hand over his DNA to clarify “everything for once and for all.”

    Speaking about the huge media interest in the arrival of Operación Puerto at the Madrid courts a mere seven years after the police investigation took place, Contador said: “I hope it is useful for something, and for the good of cycling, that we get to the bottom of this. That way, if things are done well and the case is completed correctly, we can finally talk starting about sport.”

    Contador was originally due to testify in the Puerto trial but it was finally decided that his witness statement would not be necessary. However, he told MARCA that if required he would provide his DNA – a request made to all the riders who have testified in the case.

    “I wouldn’t think about it for a moment,” Contador said. “I would hand it over the moment they asked for it so that everything could be clarified for once and for all.”

    Asked about the Tour of Oman, where Contador finished second behind Chris Froome (Sky), the Saxo-Tinkoff rider said he was “pleased that all the big names are already up there, it’s better for the fans than waiting for the big Tours.”

    “Chris was very strong, that’s undeniable, but although he beat me, I was very pleased with how I raced there because I felt very good. If I had tackled the race differently, maybe the result would have been different, but Froome and his team were very strong.”

    Contador said his weight had been to blame for failing to stay closer in contact with Froome on the Green Mountain stage where the Briton took the lead. “The stage was really aggressive on that climb and with the weight I’m currently carrying, it was very difficult to maintain the right sort of rhythm.”

    Asked if he felt that many of the Tour de France contenders had started their seasons too strongly, Contador, slightly contradicting himself, answered in the affirmative. “Yes. You look at the classification of the Tour of Oman and we were all up there. It was like a Grand Tour or something.”

    Whilst unwilling to enter into too much detail, Contador said that he had lost some more weight, but that “we are in March and at this point in time you don’t have to be at a maximum.”

    Froome and Contador, in any case, will cross swords this week again in Tirreno-Adriatico, where Contador says he “hopes to be fighting for the overall triumph.” He admitted, though, that “with age, it’s harder to get top form. I will try to win but this year the level of competition in Tirreno is going to be very high, everybody’s chosen that race. That’s good and personally motivates me, but it’s a race I don’t know, one that I’ve never taken part in.” Previously Contador has always opted for Paris-Nice, a race he first won in 2007 and again in 2010.

    The 30-year-old from Pinto said that he has studied the Tirreno-Adriatico route, which he describes as “very well-balanced,” with long stages for Milan-San Remo contenders and an individual time trial on the last day, of 9.3 kilometres, which could be decisive. “It’s a race in which every second counts.”

    After repeating that he will try to win, Contador said, “but if I don’t then hopefully my team-mate [Roman] Kreuziger will, although with Froome, [Cadel] Evans (BMC), [2011 winner Vincenzo] Nibali (Astana), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and among others, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), they are going to be watching our every move.”

    After Tirreno-Adriatico, Contador’s race program will include the GP Nobili Rubinetterie, Critérium International, the Tour of the Basque Country and then almost certainly a long break before the Dauphiné Libéré. He may yet take part in some of the Ardennes Classics, with Flèche Wallone, in which he took third in 2011, one favourite target, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège also possible.

  • Gaudin won prologue with illegal helmet, QuickStep DS claims

    Damien Gaudin (Europcar) rides to the win in the Paris-Nice prologue
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 11:08
    Cycling News

    Chavanel lost due to short sleeves and sticker on Gaudin's helmet, Peeters says

    Sylvain Chavanel lost the Paris-Nice prologue by 56 one hundredths of a second, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step sport director Wilfried Peeters thinks he knows why – it was the material. Winner Damien Gaudin wore not only a different jersey, but may also owe his victory to an illegal helmet, Peeters indicated.

    Europcar's Gaudin covered the technical 2.9km course in 3:37, beating Chavanel by a whisker. One of the reasons for this, Peeters told Het Nieuwsblad, is that “Sylvain rode with short sleeves while Gaudin wore long sleeves. This kind of detail made the difference.”

    The longer sleeves would apparently provide more wind resistance, as would any kind of helmet cover. Peeters charged that Gaudin's helmet, which while not entirely covered, did not conform with the regulations.

    “Gaudin had a sticker on his helmet, which is in principle not allowed. It covered a vent” in the helmet, he said.

    The helmet cover controversy came to a head after the 2011 World Championships, when Mark Cavendish won whilst wearing a fully covered helmet. Such covers were subsequently banned.

    The UCI has said, “Adding a removable cover is not allowed (...) There is no regulation about the surface condition, or composition of the material used for the helmet, but it is not possible to add anything to it.”

  • Nibali wants to leave a mark on Tirreno-Adriatico

    Vincenzo Nibali wears the Specialized S-Works + Mclaren helmet
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 12:09
    Cycling News

    Wiggins "hid" in Oman, says Astana rider

    Vincenzo Nibali’s strong showing at Roma Maxima on Sunday augurs well for his defence of Tirreno-Adriatico this week, but the Astana rider has said that he is not in quite the same form as he was this time last year.

    With the Giro d’Italia the principal aim of his season, Nibali explained that he has had a slightly gentler build-up than he did in 2012, when his decision to forgo the Giro in favour of the Tour de France meant that he could also afford to peak for the classics.

    “Maybe I’m a little bit behind,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But I was aiming for the Tour then and this time I’m preparing for the Giro, so being on top form now would be a problem.”

    Even so, Nibali will line up in San Vincenzo on Wednesday with ambitions of final overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico. The route is strikingly similar to that of twelve months ago, and again includes the set-piece summit finish at Prati di Tivo, where Nibali soloed to victory last year.

    “I’m racing above all to honour the race: last year, I was a protagonist and I won it,” Nibali said. “I’m also racing to check out the competition ahead of the Giro. And I always race to win.”

    Nibali’s principal rival at the Giro is expected be Bradley Wiggins (Sky) but the Briton is not taking part in Tirreno-Adriatico. Nibali and Wiggins both lined up at the Tour of Oman in February, but while Nibali finished 7th overall, Wiggins was rarely involved at the head of the field.

    “In Oman, he snubbed the race and hid,” Nibali said. “When he did show himself, it was to help Froome. I can’t do what he did: my instinct always pushes me to invent something. I’m not capable of staying still.”

    At Tirreno-Adriatico, Nibali will instead measure himself against the Tour of Oman winner Chris Froome – “he seems very competitive, but luckily for me, he’s concentrated on the Tour,” Nibali said – and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).

    “He never rides just to be a spectator,” Nibali said of Contador. “Wherever he goes, he leaves his mark. He wants to be a protagonist even if he’s racing around the house, never mind at Tirreno-Adriatico.”



  • Barguil keen to learn at Paris-Nice

    Warren Barguil (Team Argos-Shimano)
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 13:12
    Barry Ryan

    Tour de l'Avenir winner makes WorldTour debut

    Winner of the Tour de l’Avenir last season, Warren Barguil is the latest talented French espoir to make the step up to the professional ranks, but the Argos-Shimano man was careful to stress that his objective at Paris-Nice this week – his first WorldTour race – is solely to gain experience.

    “My aim this week is above all to learn, that’s really what I’ve come here for,” Barguil told Cyclingnews. “It’s my first race at this level so I don’t have big expectations. I just want to learn about it this time and then see what I might be able to do next year and beyond that.

    “Paris-Nice a race that I watched on television as a child, I remember rushing home from school to watch it, so it’s an honour to be here now.”

    Indeed, the punchy Barguil was coy about setting himself any grand objectives for his debut professional season, acknowledging that his Dutch-based squad has been keen to protect him from any external pressure.

    “Everything is managed very well by the team, they’ve been very good so far,” Barguil said. “This whole year is about learning really, there is no pressure. After Paris-Nice, we’ll take a look at how I’m feeling and then decide on the race programme from there. I should be doing Critérium International and the Tour of the Basque Country, but then we’ll see after that.”

    The more rugged terrain later in the week ought to be better-suited to Barguil’s talents but the opening days of racing have already provided the 21-year-old with an indication of where he must develop in the coming years.

    “In the prologue, I think I gained a bit of time on the corners but it’s my first year as a pro so I didn’t have the power you need on the flat,” Barguil said. “In the future, though, I think that I could do a decent time in a technical prologue like that.”

    A native of Hennebont in the cycling heartland of Brittany, Barguil began his career at nearby club AC Lanester, before moving on to the strong CC Etupes squad last year. Recent CC Etupes alumni include FDJ pair Thibaut Pinot and Kenny Elissonde, and Barguil acknowledged that he is part of an exciting generation of French riders who are increasingly successful beyond the confines of l'Hexagone.

    “We’ve always been very competitive at espoirs level and maybe it didn’t always materialise afterwards at professional level, but it’s started to happen in recent years and that’s good for French cycling,” Barguil said.







  • Tour of Flanders invites 208-rider peloton

    Winning smile: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
    Article published:
    March 5, 2013, 15:32
    Cycling News

    Seven Pro Conti squads join 19 WorldTour teams

    The Tour of Flanders organisers today announced the seven wildcard teams which will join the now 19 WorldTour squads on the start line for the 97th Tour of Flanders on March 31.

    Flanders Classics, organiser of the Tour of Flanders, had originally planned on having 25 eight-man teams (18 World Tour plus seven Pro Continental) start the race, but with the Katusha Team winning their case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to gain entry to the WorldTour, there are now 19 WorldTour teams. The organisers had already promised that seven Pro Continental teams would receive wildcard entries and rather than reduce that number to six they've received permission from the UCI, for this edition only, to exceed the normal cap on race entrants of 200 and allow 208 starters, 26 teams of eight riders, to compete.

    Receiving wildcard invitations to the 2013 Tour of Flanders are all three Belgian Pro Continental teams, Accent Jobs-Wanty, Crelan-Euphony and Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, plus Team Europcar, Vini-Fantini-Selle Italia, Team NetApp-Endura and IAM Cycling.

    For the German Team NetApp-Endura squad this is the sixth wildcard invitation of the 2013 season as the team hopes to receive a coveted selection for the Tour de France in July. "We celebrated our premiere last year at the Ronde," said team manager Ralph Denk. "We had two riders, Andreas Schillinger and Daniel Schorn, in the lead group for more than 150 kilometers. Once again, we showed that we don’t shy away from the big races and can even make them more attractive."

    The Tour of Flanders will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013 and the route will follow the new course concept presented in 2012. The Muur van Geraardsbergen will once again not be featured while the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg will be climbed three times each as part of three finishing circuits prior to the conclusion in Oudenaarde.

    The 2012 edition was won by Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who became the fourth rider in history to win the Belgian Classic three times.

    Tour of Flanders

    WorldTour teams
    AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
    Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
    Blanco Pro Cycling Team (Ned)
    BMC Racing Team (USA)
    Cannondale Pro Cycling (Ita)
    Euskaltel Euskadi (Spa)
    FDJ (Fra)
    Garmin - Sharp (USA)
    Katusha Team (Rus)
    Lampre - Merida (Ita)
    Lotto Belisol (Bel)
    Movistar Team (Spa)
    Omega Pharma - Quick Step Cycling Team (Bel)
    Orica - GreenEdge (Aus)
    RadioShack - Leopard (Lux)
    Sky Procycling (GBr)
    Team Argos - Shimano (Ned)
    Team Saxo - Tinkoff (Den)
    Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team (Ned)

    Wildcard selections
    Accent Jobs-Wanty (Bel)
    Crelan-Euphony (Bel)
    IAM Cycling (Swi)
    Team Europcar (Fra)
    Team NetApp-Endura (Ger)
    Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Bel)
    Vini Fantini-Selle Italia