- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 09:51
- Cycling News
Norwegian to ride one more year
Gabriel Rasch will ride one more year for Team Sky before becoming a directeur sportif for the British team in 2015, according to media reports in Norway.
The 37-year-old would not confirm, the story, telling tv2.no, “I do not want to comment.”
The broadcaster reported that the team offered him another year on the bike before moving him into a team car. He is expected to work closely with fellow Norwegians, Kurt Asle Arvesen, a coach with the team, and his current teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen.
“This is a great vote of confidence in Gabriel, and means that Sky has seen something special in him,” tv2.no's cycling expert Johan Kaggestad said. “The main point as a sports director is to know the sport and Gabriel does , having been active for many years. He has a very good head for cycling tactics."
“He is lucky to get another year, for there are plenty of professional riders with better palmares who are out of work after this season. But this is a recognition of the efforts he has put in as a loyal team player.”
Rasch turned pro in 2008 with Credit Agricole before joining Cervelo (later Garmin) for three years. He rode for FDJ -BigMat in 2012 and then joined Sky this year.
- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 11:16
- Peter Cossins
Basque climber looking forward to joining “the best team in the world”
Mikel Nieve has confirmed rumours circulating at the World Championships last week that he has agreed to join Sky Procycling on a two-year deal from the start of next season. The 29-year-old Basque climber has a contract with his current Euskaltel-Euskadi team that runs to the end of 2014, but has been free to pursue other options since Euskaltel announced their decision to leave the sport at the end of this season.
Speaking to El Diario de Navarra, Nieve admitted he had not considered joining the new team led by F1 star Fernando Alonso, who had been negotiating to take over the Euskaltel set-up. “Even before the Fernando Alonso option appeared I was already convinced that I wanted to go to Sky,” he said. “I’ve still not signed because I wanted to see how things played out with Euskaltel, but I’ve agreed a two-year deal.”
Nieve revealed that he is ready to take on a new role as a support rider when he joins the British team having established himself as a grand tour leader during his five seasons with Euskaltel. Over that period he has finished 10th in the Giro and Vuelta, winning stages at both races. This summer, he made his debut at the Tour de France, finishing 12th thanks largely to an impressive showing on Mont Ventoux, where he finished third behind yellow jersey Chris Froome.
“I fully understand that I am going to be working for other team-mates, and that this is a team where I can provide real support in mountain stages,” he said. “I know that I am going to a team in which I am going to ride in a very different way and in which things are going to be very different all-round. I believe this change will suit me very well. It is the best team in the world and I believe I can progress as a rider.”
Nieve also revealed he had spoken several times with Sky’s Xabi Zandio about the British team. According to Nieve, Zandio had convinced him that it was the right move to make.
He acknowledged he feels lucky to have a contract for next season when so many of his Euskaltel team-mates are still searching for options. “I’ve spent five years with these guys. I don’t know if all of them are going to find a team for next season. It’s not an easy situation, I wish them all the best of luck,” Nieve said.
- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 11:59
- Cycling News
No Lombardy or Tour of Beijing for American
Chris Horner has brought the curtain down on his season after breaking his ribs in a crash during the world championships road race in Florence on Sunday. The RadioShack-Leopard rider had been due to compete at the Tour of Lombardy and Tour of Beijing.
“Everything went well in the last couple of months, except for the world championships,” Horner said. “Broken ribs are really painful and I'll be off the bike for at least two or three weeks. It's sad that I can't finish my season on a good note in Lombardy or China.”
The 41-year-old Horner had arrived at the world championships as an outsider for the rainbow jersey after claiming a surprise overall victory in the Vuelta a España ahead of Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde.
The American was one of a number of fallers on the rain-soaked opening lap of the Florence circuit on Sunday, however, and his Worlds challenge ended prematurely.
In spite of his unexpected success at the Vuelta, Horner is still without a contract for the 2014 season and last week he took the step of releasing his biological passport data in order to “allow fans to feel confident in his victory at the Vuelta a España and the current state of the sport of cycling.”
Previously, Horner had opted not to answer when asked by Cyclingnews if his was a redacted name in rider testimony published last year as part of USADA’s Reasoned Decision on the Lance Armstrong doping case.
- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 13:21
- Cycling News
French team will disband at the end of 2013
Sojasun manager Stéphane Heulot has revealed that he had discussed a possible merger with NetApp-Endura as he sought to save his team for 2014. The Frenchman said that he withdrew from negotiations when it became clear that NetApp-Endura was interested only in securing the services of Heulot and five of his riders rather than in a fuller amalgamation between the two Pro Continental teams.
“It seemed ideal to me but when I started talking with them, I realised that they didn’t want much from the existing Sojasun team other than five riders and me,” Heulot told L’Équipe. “I quickly put an end to the negotiations. It was inconceivable for me to leave the rest of the team and staff.”
On Monday it was confirmed that Sojasun will disband at the end of the season after failing to secure an additional sponsor for next year. Heulot had already informed his riders on August 1 that they were free to search for new teams for 2014, although he had continued to look for a new backer in the intervening period.
“The doors that were open in July subsequently closed one by one, as if the passion of the Tour de France and the interest we could have stoked had disappeared,” said Heulot. “Sojasun didn’t want to leave cycling, but they couldn’t guarantee the same budget by themselves, which they had done in 2013.”
While Heulot is determined to work on securing a sponsor for 2015 – “I want to believe that our story isn’t over, that it’s just a page that’s turning” – only five of Sojasun's 23 riders currently have contracts for next season.
Julien Simon and Cyril Lemoine have already been confirmed with Cofidis for 2014, Anthony Delaplace has signed for Bretagne-Séché, while Jimmy Engoulvent will ride for Europcar. On Tuesday, Ag2r-La Mondiale announced that they have signed Maxime Daniel on a three-year contract.
“The situation is worrying,” said Jonathan Hivert, who has yet to find a team for next year. “The French teams’ rosters are already full. Up to now, I have no certainty for 2014.”
- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 13:52
- Daniel Benson
Zero tolerance team tested rider
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke’s former team, Endura Racing, have issued a statement in which they claim that their former rider was physiologically tested by Team Sky during the same period in which the UCI are seeking clarification of the blood values recorded in the rider’s biological passport.
Tiernan-Locke signed for Dave Brailsford’s team on the back of a string of wins in early 2012. He won the Tour of Britain later in the season before linking up with the British national team, and Brailsford, for the world championships. He was Great Britain’s top finisher in the race.
Sky had been trailing Tiernan-Locke since the spring, a matter his old team boss Brian Smith confirmed to Cyclingnews on Sunday. Brailsford and Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters both approached Smith with a view to signing Tiernan-Locke but Team Sky won out, with the Devon-born rider plumping for Sky.
According to Smith, Garmin had tested the rider in the spring though and he added that no abnormalities showed up. It is not clear whether Garmin offered the rider a contract but Smith told Cyclingnews that, “In early April we were contacted by Garmin and I spoke to Jonathan Vaughters about it. We were also approached by Brailsford and he asked my thoughts at that time. I said John was the real deal and that we didn’t see there being any problems.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Endura Racing claimed that, “JTL joined Endura Racing in January 2012 and, when it became clear he had WordTour potential, was made available to Team Garmin-Sharp in April for physiological tests. No adverse results were reported back."
Tiernan-Locke’s former team go on to state that he attended a Sky training camp in May and that, “Team Sky had full access to JTL from the point it was agreed for him to train with them at this camp. This includes the period covering the last quarter of 2012. According to JTL, he undertook physiological tests for Team Sky directly after the World Championships in 2012 and although Endura never received any data from these tests, neither was anything raised by Team Sky as unusual or concerning.”
This is somewhat at odds with Sky’s statement, which they issued hours after news broke in the Sunday Times that Tiernan-Locke had been contacted by the UCI. The British team appeared to keep the news at arm's length, stressing that any data the UCI had deemed questionable related to Tiernan-Locke’s time at Endura. Sky would not comment when contacted by Cyclingnews.
“A process, that ought to have remained confidential, is underway and we obviously hope that JTL is able to provide information that is acceptable to the UCI for their enquiry in order for him to clear his name.”
Endura Racing’s statement went on, addressing the same points that Smith had made clear to Cyclingnews on Sunday: that he and the team had tried to set Tiernan-Locke up with a UCI biological passport during the 2012 season.
Andrew McQuaid, son of former UCI President Pat McQuaid, and Tiernan-Locke's agent, told Cyclingnews that his rider was concentrating on his response for the UCI.
“We are currently preparing the answers to the questions raised by the UCI, and we are extremely confident once we present our answers the matter will be closed. As this should be a confidential process we are not prepared to comment any further at this time,” McQuaid told Cyclingnews.
- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 14:48
- Cycling News
Tuttosport predicts Oropa and Montecampione summit finishes
The route of the 2014 Giro d’Italia will pay tribute to Marco Pantani with three climbs in his honour, according to a report in Tuttosport on Tuesday. Ten years on from his tragic death, the Giro is set to visit Pantani’s favourite training climb, Monte Carpegna, and will also feature summit finishes at the sites of two of his most memorable victories – Oropa and Montecampione.
Some details of the 2014 Giro have already been announced by RCS Sport, and the entire route will be officially unveiled in Milan next Monday, but as per tradition, the Turin-based Tuttosport newspaper has already pieced together what it understands to be the percorso of next year’s race.
As was confirmed last week, the Giro will have three rest days in 2014 in order to facilitate the transfer from the start in Ireland back to Italy. The race gets underway in Belfast on Friday, May 9th with a team time trial, with a road stage starting and finishing in the city the following day. Stage 3 is from Armagh to Dublin.
After the early rest day, the Giro resumes on Italian soil on Tuesday, May 13th, with a stage from Bari to Taranto. According to Tuttosport, the first hilltop finish comes at Viggiano on stage 5, while the next day, the Giro will visit Montecassino, 70 years on from its lengthy bombardment during World War II.
Stage 8 will see the Giro’s first tribute to Marco Pantani, with his personal testing ground of Monte Carpegna featuring just before the finish at Montecopiolo. After the Giro’s second rest day in Modena on May 19th, the race travels westwards via Salsomaggiore and Savona, before the first individual time trial, a 46km test through the vineyards from Barbaresco to Barolo.
Oropa and Montecampione
According to Tuttosport, the third weekend of the race will feature back-to-back summit finishes that recall two of Pantani’s most famous exploits. Stage 14 is set to finish at Oropa, where Pantani claimed stage victory in 1999 by passing 49 riders after slipping his chain at the foot of the climb. Pantani was later excluded from that Giro while leading the race on the penultimate day after he recorded a haematocrit level in excess of 50% in a UCI blood test.
As previously reported by Il Giornale di Brescia, Stage 15 will finish atop Montecampione, where Pantani duelled with Pavel Tonkov on the final summit finish of his victorious 1998 Giro. The 20km-long climb first featured in the 1982 Giro, when Bernard Hinault claimed victory.
A mountainous finale
The Giro resumes after the third rest day with a stage from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello on May 27th, which follows the very route of the stage that was cancelled entirely from this year’s race due to heavy snowfall. The tappone features the climbs of the Gavia and the Stelvio before the summit finish at Val Martello.
The final Friday of the Giro sees a mountain time trial from Bassano to Monte Grappa, before another difficult mountain stage on the penultimate day of racing. RCS Sport has already confirmed that stage 20 will see the peloton cross the Passo del Pura and the Sella di Razzo before tackling the mighty Zoncolan from the Ovaro side, while the Giro concludes on June 1st with a road stage from Gemona to Trieste.
The route of the 2014 Giro will be formally revealed in Milan on Monday, the day after the Tour of Lombardy.
Reported 2014 Giro d'Italia route:
May 9, stage 1: Belfast-Belfast, team time trial
May 10, stage 2: Belfast-Belfast
May 11, stage 3: Armagh-Dublin
May 12: Rest day and transfer
May 13, stage 4: Bari-Taranto
May 14, stage 5: Taranto-Viggiano
May 15, stage 6: Sassano-Montecassino
May 16, stage 7: Frosinone-Foligno
May 17, stage 8: Foligno-Montecopiolo
May 18, stage 9: Lugo-Sestola
May 19: Rest day, Modena
May 20, stage 10: Modena-Salsomaggiore
May 21, stage 11: Correggio-Savona
May 22, stage 12: Barbaresco-Barolo, individual time trial – 46km
May 23, stage 13: Fossano-Rivarolo
May 24, stage 14: Agliè-Oropa
May 25, stage 15: Valdengo-Montecampione
May 26: Rest day, Ponte di Legno
May 27, stage 16: Ponte di Legno-Val Martello
May 28, stage 17: Sarnonico-Vittorio Veneto
May 29, stage 18: Belluno-Malga Panarotta
May 30, stage 19: Bassano-Monte Grappa, individual time trial.
May 31, stage 20: Maniago-Monte Zoncolan – 167km.
June 1, stage 21: Gemona-Trieste
- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 16:53
- José Been
Van Der Schueren takes over Accent Jobs-Wanty squad
Hilaire Van Der Schueren will take over the Accent Jobs-Wanty squad with road construction company Wanty as title sponsor. Several riders from the Vacansoleil-DCM team, where Van Der Schueren was sports director this year, will find a place with the Belgian ProContinental team next season.
"But I can't take everyone," the Belgian director sportif told NOS.
"It's going to be a ProContinental team with 20 to 25 riders," Van Der Schueren said. "We found a second title sponsor which will be revealed soon. I had to send all the paperwork to UCI before the first of October. They received it this morning."
One of the riders who will ride for the team in 2014 is Björn Leukemans. The Belgian veteran is a Classics specialist and has several top 10 places in the Spring Classics on his palmares. The 36-year-old rode for Vacansoleil-DCM team from the start in 2009. In that time, he won the Druivenkoers four times and was victorious in the overall of the 2011 Tour de Limousin.
"Leukemans will sign today or tomorrow. I don't know where Johnny Hoogerland stands at the moment. I know he was negociating with Astana, Lampre-Merida and Alonso's team. I like Johnny and will talk with him tomorrow," said Van Der Schueren.
Another rider who was talking with Alonso's 2014 Euskaltel project was sprinter Kenny van Hummel. "He had a deal with Alonso, but obviously that didn't go ahead. I haven't spoken to him yet," said Van Der Schueren.
Marco Marcato was on the list of Wanty for 2014, but the Italian rider got a better deal with Cannondale. "Marco will sign with Cannondale. Juan Antonio Flecha called me last week. He'd like to continue for one more year. And he'd like to do that on my team," the sports director said.
Frederik Veuchelen and Mirko Selvaggi signed for Wanty. Van Der Schueren is still in talks with Romain Feillu and Tomasz Marczynski. From Accent Jobs-Wanty, the current name of the team, Luxembourg sprinter Jempy Drucker, among others, is coming over.
"I can't take all the riders I now have at Vacansoleil-DCM," Van Der Schueren, "but talented guys like Maurits Lammertink, Wesley Kreder, Bertjan Lindeman and Wouter Moll are close to my heart though I'd like to stress that nothing is signed."
With Leukemans, Veuchelen and Selvaggi to Wanty, 14 of the 29 Vacansoleil-DCM riders have now signed a contract for next season. Kris Boeckmans and Pim Ligthart is moving to Lotto-Belisol. Barry Markus is going to Team Belkin, and Rafa Valls inked a deal with Lampre-Merida.
Dutch time trial champion Lieuwe Westra is going to Astana and climber Wout Poels has a deal with Omega Pharma- Quick Step. Sergey Lagutin is joining Rusvelo. Marco Marcato received an offer from Cannondale. José Rujano retired earlier this year, and Nikita Novikov was suspended for a positive doping test.
Boy and Danny van Poppel and Wesley Kreder have signed agreements, but their teams haven't been revealed yet.
However, one of the biggest names of Vacansoleil-DCM is still left without a team. "Thomas de Gendt will be too expensive," Van Der Schueren said.
In the Belgian media, De Gendt is now linked to Omega Pharma - Quick Step, where an extra slot came available with Janier Acevedo signing for Garmin-Sharp, and Garmin-Sharp has as an option for 2014.
"But when nothing has been signed before the end of this month, I know where I stand," De Gendt said today.
- Article published:
- October 1, 2013, 18:15
- Peter Cossins
Euskaltel rider describes decision “as the hardest of my life”
Euskaltel-Euskadi stalwart Mikel Astarloza has announced that he is to retire from racing following his participation in the Tour of Beijing later this month. In an open letter released to his team, Astarloza described the decision as “the hardest I have had to take up to now, but I am going to be 34 and I believe this is the moment for a lifestyle change.”
Astarloza turned pro in 2002 with Ag2r, who were pointed in the Basque rider’s direction by his cousin Iñigo Chaurreau, who was then one of the leaders on the French team. The following season Astarloza won the Tour Down Under, which was his most notable success until he joined Euskaltel in 2007.
He quickly established himself as one of the leaders on the Basque squad, particularly at the Tour de France. In 2009, he won the 16th stage of the Tour, but was subsequently stripped of the victory when it was revealed he had tested positive for EPO the previous month. Banned for two years, he returned to racing with Euskaltel in 2011.
“I’ve always said that I loved the Tour de France and being able to ride it nine times has been an honour,” said Astarloza. “It’s been a long road on which I’ve made many friends, I’ve visited a lot of places and I will leave with some very wonderful memories.”