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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Date published:
October 08, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Acquarone absent from Giro d'Italia presentation

    Giro d'Italia director Michele Acquarone chats with Katusha directeur sportif Valerio Piva.
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 9:26 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Taranto: "His suspension is about governance not about punishment"

    The 2014 Giro d'Italia presentation went ahead as planned in Milan on Monday, with organiser RCS Sport determined to focus on the details and quality of next year's race rather than discuss the recent news that an internal audit has discovered the possible misappropriation of funds from its accounts.

    However Michele Acquarone, the likeable and much admired figurehead and driving force behind the Giro d'Italia in recent years was not at the presentation. He was suspended by RCS Sport last week while a detailed internal investigation is completed.

    CEO Giacomo Catano, Matteo Pastore, the head of communications and external relations at RCS Sport and Laura Bertinotti, head of accounts and administration, were also absent from the presentation. Bertinotti has resigned from the company.

    The Italian media has reported that up to 13 million Euros may have disappeared from the accounts of minor sporting events managed by RCS Sport. It seems the cycling sector is not directly involved but the Giro d'Italia is RCS Sport's backbone and biggest asset of the company.

    RCS Sport had an estimated turnover of 48 million Euros a year, with profits of three million. The misappropriation could leave a significant hole in the company's balance sheet.

    Andrea Monti, the editor of Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian sports newspaper that owns the Giro d'Italia and is part of the RCS Media Group, presented the 2014 Giro d'Italia route presentation. He was joined on stage by Pier Bergonzi, one of the senior journalists of the paper and the former chief cycling reporter. He is the leading candidate to become the new figurehead of RCS Sport's cycling events if Acquarone is unable to return to his...

  • No pressure on Dan Martin ahead of Tour of Beijing

    He's behind you: Dan Martin checks to see if the group are in pursuit
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 10:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Sharp climber heads to China

    Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) believes that there’s little pressure on his shoulders as he leads his team into the Tour of Beijing. The race starts this Friday, with a five-stage battle in and around China’s capital.

    Recently fourth - despite a crash - at the Tour of Lombardy, Martin ranks as a possible contender for the overall title this year with the race holding its first summit finish in its three year history.

    “It’s the end of the year – my legs are obviously pretty good,” Martin said. “You can’t get fourth in Lombardy without being good. I’m not as fresh as I could be – that might play against me in a stage race but we’ll see.”

    “After the year I’ve had, it really is a lot of fun now; there’s no pressure on us as a team and especially myself. We’ve got a strong team here.”

    Garmin will have to do without the services of Lachlan Morton. The Australian crashed out of Lombardy and is suffering a concussion but Garmin-Sharp have sent an experienced team to the UCI’s final WorldTour event of the season.

    Tour de France participant Jack Bauer lines up alongside Martin, Nathan Haas, Nick Nuyens, Jacob Rathe, Fabian Wegmann and Steele Von Hoff.

    Haas, who finished sixth this year at the Tour de Langkawi will look to support Martin on the climbs and lead out Steele Von Hoff in the sprints.

    “I think there’s some really good opportunities in a race like this for Steele,” Haas said.

    “We’re a really motivated team in what can be known as an unmotivated time of year for a lot of guys. It’s a good opportunity to get some WorldTour points and also for Steele who has come frustratingly close to a few wins this season to hopefully get his confidence...

  • Horner vents frustrations on Twitter

    Chris Horner (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 11:18 BST
    José Been

    Vuelta winner unfurls a litany of hashtags

    Chris Horner took to Twitter last night in his hometown of Bend, Oregon to – implicitly – vent his frustrations at his lack of a team for 2014. The Vuelta a España winner is still in negotiations with Trek Factory Team for next season, but so far a deal has not been signed.

    Over the course of two and a half hours, Horner sent 24 tweets adding the hashtag “#ididthat.” The veteran American talks about all the sacrifices he’s made over the years, how he travelled the country with no money in search of a chance with a team to become a professional cyclist, and how he came back for a second round even though “some have lost belief.”

    Horner finished 6th overall Tirreno-Adriatico in March but was subsequently injured for much of the year. After knee surgery, he came back to beat Vincenzo Nibali in a tense uphill battle on the Angliru to win the Vuelta, and in doing so he became the oldest ever Grand Tour winner at the age of 41.

    In a bid to temper the scepticism with which his Vuelta victory was received, Horner last month took the step of releasing his biological passport data on his personal website, although he had earlier refused to answer Cyclingnews questions on whether he was a redacted name in USADA’s Reasoned Decision on the Lance Armstrong case.

    In his series of tweets, Horner refers to the scepticism that surrounds him, but he concludes his online essay by saying “Yes it was worth it and the dream continues. With or without the belief.”

    Horner’s tweets:

    9.37pm Pacific Daylight Time: 15 years old and up @ 4:30am before school starts to train while dreaming of...

  • Quintana considers riding 2014 Giro d'Italia

    Nairo Quintana will target the Tour de France but was out in Milan
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 12:02 BST
    Cycling News

    "I've always preferred the Giro to the Tour"

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has spoken of his desire to make his Giro d’Italia debut in 2014, saying that he has always preferred the Italian race to the Tour de France. The Colombian finished second at the Tour this season, but told reporters at the Giro presentation in Milan on Monday that his race programme could be different next season.

    “I would have liked to have been at the Giro already this year, but [Movistar manager Eusebio] Unzue preferred to send me to the Tour,” Quintana said, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. “The Giro has always attracted me and I’ve always preferred it to the Tour because there are more mountains, which makes the race more suited to me.”

    In spite of his desire to line up in Belfast next May, Quintana’s strong Tour de France performance means that he will be expected to return to the race in 2014 and challenge Chris Froome (Sky) for the maillot jaune. He stressed that he would wait for the unveiling of the Tour route on October 23 before making a decision on his programme for next season.

    “I hope that my desire can become reality, although before making a definitive decision, we’ll have to wait and see the courses of the Tour and the Vuelta,” Quintana said.

    Although the 2014 Giro route is stripped of some of the excesses of years gone by, particularly in terms of transfers, it remains resolutely a climbers’ race, and Quintana was enthusiastic about the course. With five summit finishes in the high mountains – at Oropa, Montecampione, Val Martello, Rifugio Panarotta and the Zoncolan – there is ample opportunity for a climber such as Quintana to showcase his talents.

    “I like this route a lot because...

  • Antón still looking for new team

    Igor Anton in his last Vuelta a Espana in Euskaltel-Euskadi colours.
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 13:14 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Basque climber admits he’s nervous despite some interest from WorldTour squads

    Although most of Euskaltel-Euskadi’s highest profile riders have now secured deals for next season, climbing ace Igor Antón is still negotiating with a number of WorldTour teams and admits he is getting very nervous about his prospects. Speaking on Basque television, the 30-year-old Antón said: “As things stand I’ve got nothing, or at least nothing concrete.”

    Following the Tour de France, Antón appeared close to signing a deal with Omega Pharma-QuickStep, but he held off when F1 star Fernando Alonso announced his interest in taking over the Euskaltel set-up. Antón was mooted as one of the cornerstones of that project, which subsequently failed to come to fruition when negotiations broke down between Euskaltel and Alonso.

    “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. Both time and the decisions that have been taken have gone against me. The more time goes by, the more nervous you become,” said Antón.

    He pointed out that the sudden flood of quality riders onto the market has enabled teams to pick and choose talent. “The teams keep a place or two spare to take advantage and some are now picking up good riders at very reduced rates,” he said. In his case, the option with Omega Pharma-QuickStep has been complicated by their recent signings of Jan Bakelants and Thomas De Gendt.

    Antón insisted other teams at WorldTour level are interested in his services, but admitted that 2014 could be “a year of transition” for him.

    Antón’s agent Giuseppe Acquadro has since told Biciciclismo that he will meet with Lefevere in Malaga on Tuesday to discuss the...

  • UnitedHealthcare retains core squad for 2014

    With three riders out front on a break, UnitedHealthcare is about to take this train out of the station.
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 15:26 BST
    Cycling News

    Three new riders, two departures for American team

    The roster of the UnitedHealthcare professional continental team will remain largely the same in 2014, with three new riders and two departures the only changes.

    The American squad confirmed its 23-rider roster on Tuesday, having already announced the addition of former criterium national champion Ken Hanson from the Optum team, Classics specialist Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Sharp) and Colombian Isaac Bolivar. With Philip Deignan leaving the team for Sky Procycling, the only rider from 2013 not listed as returning is sprinter Jake Keough.

    The team dominated the USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar in 2013, winning the team title and claiming the top four spots of the individual overall rankings with winner Hilton Clarke, Carlos Alzate, Luke Keough and Karl Menzies. The "blue train" is expected to balance its focus on the NCC along with its European ambitions again in 2014.

    2014 UnitedHealthcare team:

    Hilton Clarke (AUS)
    Kiel Reijnen (USA)
    Carlos Alzate (COL)
    Lucas Euser (USA)
    Marc de Maar (CUR)
    Robert Förster (GER)
    Jeff Louder (USA)
    Ben Day (AUS)
    Jonny Clarke (AUS)
    Brad White (USA)
    Chris Jones (USA)
    Martyn Irvine (IRL)
    Karl Menzies (AUS)
    Davide Frattini (ITA)
    Adrian Hegyvary (USA)
    Alessandro Bazzana (ITA)
    Luke Keough (USA)
    Aldo Ilesic (SLO)
    Danny Summerhill (USA)
    John Murphy (USA)
    Ken Hanson (USA)
    Martijn Maaskant (NED)
    Isaac Bolivar (COL)

  • Roche confident that Riis will find sponsor

    Nicolas Roche (Team Saxo - Tinkoff)
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 17:23 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Irishman looks ahead to 2014 Giro start

    Nicolas Roche is confident that Bjarne Riis can find additional sponsorship for his Saxo Bank team in 2014 despite recent speculation in the Danish media that some riders would have to agree to pay cuts in order to secure the squad’s future.

    Riis has been left with a gap in his budget following the decision to part company with backer Oleg Tinkov, although he has dismissed reports that Alberto Contador had been asked to reduce his salary by 15%. As recently as the weekend, however, only 16 of Saxo-Tinkoff’s existing roster had signed contracts with the squad for next season, seven short of the minimum required by a WorldTour team.

    “I don’t know any more than what you know. I’ve read the articles on Cyclingnews and read Nikki Sørensen’s comments [on possible pay cuts at Saxo – ed.] and that’s all I know,” Roche told Cyclingnews. “Unfortunately I have no extra information. I trust Bjarne will find a sponsor and obviously I’m faithful that the team will continue next year and continue well.

    “Now I’m on holiday and I’ll cut off from the internet for the next couple of weeks, but I’ll trust in the people who are working to find the budget and trust that things will be fine.”

    It has since emerged that Riis and Contador will hold a press conference in Madrid on Thursday regarding the future of the team, an announcement that ought to bring a degree of clarity to the rumours regarding the team's financial standing in recent weeks. Such speculation has been in no way dampened by the actions of its erstwhile backer Tinkov, now reportedly in talks to sponsor the Cannondale squad for 2014.

  • Tony Martin unsure of Tour of Beijing defense

    Stage winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quick Step)
    Article published:
    October 08, 2013, 18:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Double champion says parcours may not suit him

    With victories in the first two editions of the Tour of Beijing on his palmares, world time trial champion Tony Martin will head up the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team in the WorldTour finale this week, but is not sure the more difficult route will suit him.

    The German won the inaugural Tour of Beijing on the strength of his time trialing, but claimed the lead in last year's race with a solo attack on stage two which he was able to defend through the final stage. However, with a new mountaintop finish on stage 4 added to the parcours, Martin knows the tactics will have to be different if the team is to take three in a row.

    "Worlds really motivated me to get ready for Tour of Beijing," Martin said, "but to be honest the parcours this year is not really for me. There is no TT and there are a few uphill finishes. It’s kind of at the end of the season, so it is a question of being committed to try and do my best to defend my title.

    "As for my presence at the race, we will have to change our tactic if we compare it with what we did in the last two years. The team is good, so we are looking forward to this race — even with a different approach."

    Martin has had a long and successful 2013 season: he began the year with victories in the Volta ao Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, Pais Vasco, Tour de Romandie, Tour of Belgium and Critérium du Dauphiné time trials, parlaying those wins into overall victories in Algarve and Belgium.

    His success continued with a time trial stage win in the Tour de France and dual world titles in the individual time trial and team time trial, and clearly has the form to give the Tour of Beijing a go.

    "Even if it this edition is difficult, I will try. However, we have...