- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 04:00
- Cycling News
"I had the feeling that I did something important"
After his first season stepping down from the WorldTour with team Movistar to emerging Pro-Continental outfit MTN-Qhubeka, Sergio Pardilla could have been excused for feeling underwhelmed. For 29-year-old Spaniard, however, that couldn't be further from the truth. Aside from playing his part in results such that as that famous victory by Gerard Ciolek at Milan-San Remo, or his own victory in the fourth stage at the Volta a Portugal, Pardilla has also helped the team in its goal of developing cycling in Africa.
"This first year with MTN-Qhubeka has been a wonderful experience," Pardilla told A&A Sport. "The team has a different philosophy than the other teams. They are not crazy about points and there is no pressure to get results.
"Doing well in the races is of course important but they also value the message of Qhubeka and the improvement of young African talents so that the team can contest the Tour with riders from this continent in the future."
As a part of their relationship with World Bicycle Relief, MTN-Qhubeka have played their part in a system whereby people can earn a bicycle through community work with the ultimate goals being improved economic and sporting conditions in Africa.
"I had the feeling that I did something important," explained Pardilla. "You helped a lot of people thanks to the bikes which saved a lot of time for them. It was an experience we have tried to convey during the rest of the season."
For Pardilla, the team ethos off the bike has crept its way into how the team functions on the bike, with improvement through knowledge transfer being key.
"It is also part of the team's philosophy: exchange as a way to improve," he said. "This is done in African villages and we do it on the bike. My teammates have often helped me in the races and I have tried to teach the youngsters how to compete in Europe and what it means to be a professional."
With Daniel Teklehaimanot and John-Lee Augustyn both joining MTN-Qhubeka next year, it appears that Pardilla will be ably assisted in taking up and coming African cyclists under his wing.
"We have come far and although it is difficult to improve the results of this season, I am sure that we will do even better next year."
- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 05:51
- Cycling News
25 riders for Belgian Pro Conti team
The Belgian Professional Continental team Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise recently announced the completion of its 2014 roster.
The 25-man team includes six new riders, including Stijn Steels, the nephew of former sprinter Tom Steels, from Crelan-Euphony, track riders Jonas Rickaert, Otto Vergaerde and Moreno De Pauw, and two other neo-pros Victor Campanaerts and Edward Theuns.
Kenny De Ketele, Gijs Van Hoecke and Jasper De Buyst along with Rickaert, Vergaerde and De Pauw will also double up racing for Topsport and providing a base for the Belgian national track team ahead of the Rio Olympic Games.
Only six riders left the team after the 2013 season: Sander Armée will join Lotto Belisol and Laurens De Vreese will go to Wanty-Groupe Robert. Teams have yet to be announced for Dominique Cornu, Tim Mertens, Stijn Neirynck and Sven Vandousselaere.
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise for 2014:
Moreno De Pauw
Jasper De Buyst
Kevin De Jonghe
Kenny De Ketele
Tom Van Asbroeck
Preben Van Hecke
Gijs Van Hoecke
Michael Van Staeyen
- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 09:56
- José Been
Dutchman on his move to Garmin-Sharp
Tom Jelte Slagter signed a contract with Garmin-Sharp this summer, and the Dutchman has said that he left Team Belkin partly because he was not invited to ride the Tour de France.
“There was a new two-year contract for me,” Slagter told RTV Noord. “They added that if I didn’t sign I would not ride the Tour de France. But I won’t be blackmailed.”
The 24-year-old Slagter won his first professional race at the Tour Down Under earlier this year. Belkin – then operating as Team Blanco – was anxious to keep the former Dutch Under-23 champion and fourth-place finisher at the Tour de l’Avenir on board but Slagter felt blackmailed.
“I had about a week to decide about a new two-year contract. That’s not a very long time to think about your imminent future. If I didn’t sign, I would not be on the Tour de France team. But if it turns out to become some sort of blackmail, then no Tour. I won’t be blackmailed.”
The Tour de France was the most successful in years by the Dutch outfit, which was known as Rabobank until last season, with Bauke Mollema finishing sixth in the overall classification.
“Of course it was not nice at that moment not to be part of that team,” Slagter said.
Slagter had hoped for a good programme for the remainder of the year with a debut in the Vuelta a España.
“I would have loved to do other WorldTour races like the Vuelta but the team decided to take the sprinter’s team around Theo Bos to Spain,” he said.
Because of his Tour Down Under victory Slagter had several teams interest in securing his signature.
“Even before the Tour de France I had considered the teams I would go to. I felt Garmin-Sharp was the best choice,” he said.
Slagter doesn’t expect to ride the Tour de France next year.
“I do fall a bit short on the longer climbs and in the time trials to make for a good overall classification,” he admitted.
- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 10:49
- Stephen Farrand
Veteran Italian boosts Nibali's Tour de France squad
Michele Scarponi will ride for Astana in 2014, leading the team at the Giro d'Italia and then helping Vincenzo Nibali take on Chris Froome at the Tour de France.
Scarponi has yet to sign his contract but Cyclingnews understand that the rider agreed terms and will probably sign a contract later this week. Astana will then make an official announcement. Scarponi rode for Lampre-Merida this season but the team showed scant interest in resigning him after securing the service of new world champion Rui Costa.
Scarponi's decision and the UCI deadline of October 21 for teams to registered their ten leading riders, means Ivan Basso will remain at Cannondale in 2014. He was considered as a possible alternative to Scarponi at Astana but his future is entwined with the future of the Italian team and the possible arrival of Tinkoff as partial team owner and title sponsor.
Scarponi will strengthen the Astana team for Grand Tours and put the team on an equal footing to Team Sky. Scarponi is expected to be Nibali's last man in the mountains as Richie Porte is for Froome.
Astana is ready to build its team around Nibali for the 2014 Tour de France. Paolo Tiralongo, Valerio Agnoli and Fabio Sabatini are all part of Nibali's inner circle, with Jakob Fuglsang, Tanel Kangert and Jani Brajkovic also expected to be part of the Tour de France squad.
New arrivals include Mikel Landa and Franco Pellizotti. However it seems the Italian has yet to sign his contract and his role in the team could be affected by the rules of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible. The MPCC rules do not allow teams to sign riders who have served a doping ban during the last two years. If Astana decides to respect the rule and stay in the MPCC, Pellizotti can only legally be a part of the Astana team as of May 2, 2014 (two years after his ban) and not January 2014.
Scarponi was banned for three months last winter after it emerged he carried out a test with Dr. Michele Ferrari in 2011. He is also implicated in the drawn out Padova police investigation into Dr. Ferrari but the MPCC rule only covers bans that last longer than six months.
Scarponi confessed to working with Dr. Fuentes during the Operacion Puerto doping scandal and served an 18-month ban after confessing to being one of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes clients. However that banned ended in 2008.
Scarponi turned 34 in September but rode consistently well in 2013, finishing fourth in the Giro d'Italia, 15th in the Vuelta a Espana, third at the Overall Volta a Catalunya and 5th at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. He played a key role helping Nibali at the recent world road race championships in Tuscany.
- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 12:58
- Cycling News
American interviewed by CNN
Greg LeMond believes that without doping and on a truly level playing field, Lance Armstrong would have been capable only of a top-30 finish at the Tour de France at best.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper aired on Monday night, LeMond denounced Armstrong as a bully and a thug, and said that Armstrong should face jail for doping and corruption, which he believes constitute criminal as well as sporting infractions. LeMond is officially the only American to have won the Tour de France after Armstrong's seven victories were erased from the record books.
“I know his physical capabilities, he's a top-30 [Tour finisher] at best no matter what. If he's clean, everybody's clean, he's a top-30 at best. He's not capable of winning the Tour, he's not capable of the top five,” LeMond told CNN.
LeMond dismissed Armstrong’s claim in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, in which he said that he doped simply to level the playing field, and accused him of collusion. “He couldn't race on a level playing field. That's why he bribed the governing body,” LeMond said.
Armstrong and his US Postal Service team were the subject of a federal investigation led by Jeff Novitzky that ended in February 2012, although much of the evidence amassed was later used by USADA in its sporting case against Armstrong and led to a life ban and the stripping of his seven Tour de France titles.
After describing Armstrong’s activities as “criminal,” LeMond was asked if he believed the Texan should be jailed.
“I do, yeah. There is a point where there are people who are just not good,” LeMond said “There are people who are criminals who just shouldn't be able to participate again in anything. It's like Bernie Madoff - should he be allowed to come in and be a part of Wall Street managing money? No, he shouldn't. And that's [the case] with Armstrong. He shouldn't be allowed to be back in sport.”
In the lengthy interview, LeMond also described his first meeting with Armstrong after winning the third of his Tours de France in 1990, and revealed that he had inadvertently offended the then 19-year-old.
“I met Lance in the wind tunnel in, I think, 1990. I had just won the Tour and was aware that some young riders might be nervous to meet me and I jokingly said that he looked like more of a football player than a cyclist. My wife said he didn't take it well,” LeMond said.
LeMond denounced Armstrong for using his recovery from cancer and his subsequent fundraising efforts as something of a screen with which to mask his doping programme.
“That was actually the thing that got me the most was that he manipulated the cancer community,” LeMond said. “It was like Teflon. He used the money, he used the foundation to not only cover for him but also destroy people.”
LeMond also revisited the 2001 incident in which Armstrong – under fire for his relationship with Dr. Michele Ferrari – threatened to unearth claims that LeMond had used EPO during his career.
“He did offer $300,000 to a teammate to say that I took EPO, and the guy refused. And this was a guy that could have used the money,” LeMond said, adding of Armstrong: “He's a bully, he's a thug to me and I'm the one that wouldn't put up with it.”
- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 13:25
- Alasdair Fotheringham
50km time trial set to be decisive next year
Twenty years after Miguel Indurain claimed his fourth consecutive Tour de France victory, the 2014 race is set to pay homage to Big Mig with a full-length time trial in Bergerac -where the Spaniard won a key race against the clock in the 1994 edition of the Tour de France.
This time round the Bergerac time trial is widely expected to be the only individual race against the clock of the 2014 Tour de France and with its position on the second last day of the race, is likely to prove decisive in deciding who pulls on the final yellow jersey.
The full route of the 2014 Tour de France will be unveiled by organiser ASO in Paris on Wednesday. 2013 winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) are the two big favourites for victory.
The Bergerac time trial is strongly rumoured to be around 50 kilometres long, rather than the 64 kilometre monster time trial of 1994, which came at the end of the first week of racing and prior to the Pyrenees. Back in 1994 the Tour de France visited Britain for two stages and came in the same year the Tour visited Lourdes Hautacam. The 2014 Tour de France starts in Yorkshire and Hautacam is also strongly rumoured to again be on the 2014 menu for a decisive mountain finish.
In 1994, Indurain, averaging over 50km/h for the lumpy 64 kilometre course, effectively won the Tour in one fell swoop at Bergerac before putting the opposition to the sword once again at the race’s first summit finish of Lourdes-Hautacam.
He finished two minutes ahead of Tony Rominger, whilst the rest of the field was vanquished to well beyond the four minute mark. Armand de las Cuevas, formerly a Banesto team-mate but by then with Castorama, finished at 4-22 in third place, French prologue specialist Thierry Marie at 4-45 and Britain’s Chris Boardman in fifth place at 5-27.
Indurain took over the lead from Johan Museeuw as a result of his victory, and whilst Rominger abandoned from illness midway through the second week, only East European veteran Piotr Ugrumov appeared able to put in a real challenge in the Alps. But by then Indurain was too far ahead to be beaten and a fourth Tour de France was secured. Indurain went on to win a fifth consecutive Tour de France the year after.
- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 14:24
- Pat Malach
Miller still examining route options for 2014
The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah's expansion to seven days in 2014 is part of a natural and sustainable progression for the UCI 2.1 stage race, event president Steve Miller told Cyclingnews last week. Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties, which has owned the race since 2006 and which also owns the Utah Jazz NBA franchise and several other professional sports teams in the state, said the market has spoken, and it wants to see more racing and more of the state.
"Biting off another day is a big thing," Miller said. "But it is something that we're excited about because it is indicative of the appetite that the fans have and the race has and the sponsors have, so we think it's a good sign."
The Tour of Utah will remain a 2.1-rated stage race on the UCI Americas Tour. The 10th edition of the race will start on Monday, August 4, and finish on Sunday, August 10. Although the 2014 route has not yet been announced, the 2013 race made its first-ever swing through the national monuments and the red rock landscape of southern Utah, opening up myriad new opportunities for routes and host cities.
"As big as the state of Utah is, in order for us to showcase the state properly we have to add another day so we can move around and not be pinched into racing ridiculous miles everyday," Miller said.
The 2013 edition of the race marked the first time the Tour of Utah did not feature an individual or team time trial. Miller said whether the race will have a time trial in 2014 has still not been decided. The 2014 route is in the "white board" phase, he said, and any number of configurations are on the table.
"Anything from a prologue plus six days of racing, to no prologue but a time trial with six days of racing, to a prologue and a time trial with five days of racing," Miller said. "It's really too early to say what the composition of stages will look like. You start with a clean slate and the sky is the limit."
The sky has always seemed to be the limit for the Tour of Utah, which started in 2004 as a local three-day stage race. Over the past 10 years it has evolved into a race with international fields and a reputation as America's toughest. The pace of the race's growth really started taking off when the Utah Cycling Partnership, owned by the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, purchased the event after the 2006 edition.
The race was not held in 2007 but was relaunched in 2008 as a five-day National Racing Calendar event. The race stepped up to the UCI 2.1 level in 2011, when it was won by Levi Leipheimer riding for RadioShack. Johan Tschopp, riding for BMC, won the race in 2012, followed by winner Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) in 2013.
Miller said the initial plans for the event were to simply keep the race healthy and see where it could go without getting too far ahead of itself. In 2008, organizers set their sights on really growing the race with an eye toward becoming a UCI event.
"To us, becoming a UCI event meant that it was of the caliber of the other things that we do as a company, as an organization," Miller said. "Everything that we do, we want it to be first class, we want it to be top quality, we want it to be something that we're proud to be associated with.
"Becoming a UCI event meant that we could invite the top teams and the top riders in the world," Miller continued. "So that was one of our early goals – to become that UCI event – and now to expand by one day into a seventh day of racing is kind of the next evolution of the race continuing to grow."
As a 2.1-ranked event, the race is on par with the Tour of Alberta in Canada. The USA Pro Challenge and Amgen Tour of California are the only North American race to have achieved the UCI's 2.HC ranking, which is just one notch below the WorldTour. Does Miller see his race growing to the 2.HC level in the future? He said his group has discussed the possibility many times.
"I wouldn't rule it out, but it's not something that we're really reaching for the throttle on," he said. "It's there, and it's a possibility, but it's something that we're being very methodical on and weighing the pros and cons of. It's actually something that we considered for this year, but we are fairly conservative, and we don't like to bite off too much in any one given year. So maybe the 2.HC ranking is next year's new thing that we add to the tour. But who knows, really. It's too early to say."
Miller Sports Properties is very happy with what the race has become and is not focused on competing with or eclipsing those other races, Miller said, preferring instead to focus on basics like increasing spectator turnout and ensuring the best fields possible. Because there are no tickets to sell for the event, the race budgets come exclusively from sponsorship dollars, any growth must be accompanied by increased sponsorship.
"In terms of long-term vision, we just want to continue to do more of the same and will take the opportunities that come to us that we feel are beneficial to the race," Miller said. "And we've made a commitment to ourselves that we won't do anything to put the race in harm's way.
"We don't want to keep up with Joneses, with California or Colorado, because we're not either one of those," he continued. "We're Utah. Our race has its own DNA, it has its own flavor."
The flavor of the race has always trended toward the difficult side of things. The state's generally high elevation and often soaring August temperatures, combined with a steady diet of mountains along the course, have earned the race's "tough" reputation. Now with seven days to work with, can the organizers make it even tougher?
"I think the key for us is what we do with that seventh day, whether that becomes a prologue, whether it becomes a time trial or whether it's just a seventh day of racing," said Miller, adding that the real challenge is to not make the race so difficult that its turns people off. "So we'll strike that balance. We'll probably push the envelope just a little bit – try to make it a little bit tougher – but not make it so ridiculously tough that people don't want to come back."
- Article published:
- October 22, 2013, 16:25
- José Been
Belgian team confirms final roster
Jurgen Van den Broeck has started his preparation for the 2014 season. The Lotto-Belisol rider crashed in the final of the fifth stage of the Tour de France which ended his season. Van den Broeck faced surgery and a long recovery period to repair the damage to his knee. "Today finally the green light to start training towards 2014," Van den Broeck said on his Twitter page.
"After a short holiday, Jurgen has resumed training yesterday to prepare for the new season," Lotto-Belisol confirmed to Cyclingnews. It was not the first time the number 4 of the 2012 Tour de France was back on the bike. "He has been riding as part of his recovery schedule before, but training is now specifically meant to prepare for 2014."
Van den Broeck crashed in the fifth stage and suffered damage to the knee on which he landed. Because the knee was very swollen, Van den Broeck couldn't bend the joint and abandoned the Tour de France before the start of stage 6. He was diagnosed later with a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament, a partial tear of the medial ligament, an injury of the cartilage, a bone bruise and a bruise of the patellar tendon, which required surgery.
The Tour de France is likely to be a main objective of the Belgian rider again. "We will discuss his goals for next year in the coming weeks," the Lotto-Belisol press department added.
Lotto-Belisol presents a 27-rider roster for 2014. Next to Jurgen Van den Broeck, Bart de Clerq and Jelle Vanendert for the stage races, the Belgian team extended the contracts of André Greipel's sprint train Greg Henderson, Adam Hansen, Marcel Sieberg and Jurgen Roelandts. The German sprinter was responsible for 13 of the team's 28 wins in 2013 including stage 6 of the Tour de France.
The Belgian team adds nine riders to its roster. Pim Ligthart and Kris Boeckmans come from Vacansoleil-DCM, Maxime Monfort and Tony Gallopin from Radioshack-Leopard and Sander Armée from Topsport-Vlaanderen
The neo-pro's Boris Vallée (Color Code - Biowanze), Vegard Breen (Joker-Merida), Sean de Bie (Leopard-Trek) and Stig Broeckx from the Lotto-Belisol development team will also join the World Tour team.
Ten riders leave the team after this season. Dirk Bellemakers and Jurgen van de Walle retired. Fréderique Robert, who was the first this season to win a race for the team in Gabon, leaves for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Gaetan Bille goes to continental team Verandas Willems and Spanish rider Vicente Reynes signed a contract with IAM Cycling.
Sander Cordeel, Francis de Greef, Brian Bulgaç, Joost van Leijen and Maarten Neyens haven't announced new teams yet.