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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Date published:
September 03, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Basso: I'm in the fight for Vuelta victory too

    Ivan Basso (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 9:57 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale leader confident about the second part of the Vuelta

    Ivan Basso (Cannondale) traveled from Andalucía to Catalunya for the first rest day of the Vuelta a Espana with a smile on his face after another solid performance in the mountains. The Italian missed the Giro d'Italia due to a saddle sore but seems back to his best as he fights to save his pride and remain a Grand Tour contender.

    Basso was unable to go after Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) or Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the climb to Alto de Hazallanas on Monday but looked stronger than other GC contenders Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). He lost 1:02 to Horner but actually moved up to seventh overall, 2:20 down on the American.

    Basso lost 1:26 to Nibali in the opening team time trial and 1:16 to Horner. He may lose some more in Wednesday's time trial around Tarazona but is confident for the big Pyrenean stages.

    "The big days will come next weekend and it's going to hurt…" he joked to Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "It was another good performance from me and I'm happy. I tried every way I could to get away but it didn't happen and so when Nibali went, I preferred to stay on the wheels."

    Basso seems content to play a long game, knowing the final week and the final mountain stages could dramatically shake up the overall classification.

    "I've moved up overall and I'm relaxed for the rest of the Vuelta," he said, analyzing his rivals.

    "Vincenzo is very strong but that's nothing new. Then there's Valverde and Rodriguez: they were the three favourites before the race and they're still up there. But I'm there too and will try to get into the fight for the red jersey."

  • Report: Contador to join Alonso team in 2014?

    Alberto Contador suffered on the climb to Annecy-Semnoz
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 10:24 BST
    Cycling News

    Alonso to meet with Colnago at Italian Gran Prix

    Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso’s rescue of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team has prompted speculation from Gazzetta dello Sport that his friend Alberto Contador may join the squad next season.

    Although Contador has a contract with Saxo-Tinkoff for the next two seasons, Gazzetta claims that manager Bjarne Riis is struggling to find the funds to pay his estimated salary of €4.5 million per year. Riis is reportedly in the process of negotiating a deal that would see Oleg Tinkov remain in place as a backer of the team next year in spite of the announcement of the dissolution of their partnership last month.

    Following Tinkov’s withering – and repeated – criticism of Contador via Twitter in the wake of his fourth-place finish at the Tour de France, it was announced that the Russian magnate’s Tinkoff Credit Systems would no longer sponsor Riis’ team in 2014 due to disagreements “on how the team should be run.”

    According to Gazzetta, Contador’s relationship with Riis has also become strained since the Tour – in public, there appeared to be some initial disagreement regarding Contador’s decision not to defend his Vuelta a España title – and the Italian newspaper speculates that “the team manager could have an interest in letting Contador go and proceeding with Tinkov.” However this would leave Riis without a high-profile team leader for the Grand Tours.

    Speculation linking Contador with a move to an Alonso-backed team is not new, of course, and dates back to when the driver first expressed an interest in owning a cycling team at the start of the 2009 Tour de France, a period in which Contador was...

  • Sagan stands out as the favourite for the Tour of Alberta

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) takes another stage win in Colorado.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 11:49 BST
    Pat Malach

    Prologue and time bonuses are expected to decide the overall classification

    The prologue time trial at the inaugural Tour of Alberta could do more than just set the pecking order for the first stage of the six-day UCI 2.1 race, with time bonuses on the other five stages expected to shape the final general classification when the race ends on Sunday September 8.

    With flood damage reducing the queen stage to a lumpy circuit race, Cannondale's Peter Sagan, who won four stages last month at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, is the natural favourite for overall success.

    Sagan has won 19 races so far this season and was untouchable in the sprints in Colorado. He is hoping that the same form can lead him to the overall win when the Tour of Alberta ends Sunday in Calgary.

    “It's a good parcours for me,” the Slovakian champion said Monday at the pre-race press conference.

    “The organization did a very good parcours. But we will see day by day. [Today] is the prologue, and then we will see how we can control the race. There are also some good sprinters here, so we'll see.”

    Sagan spent two weeks at altitude before the Colorado race, and he spent the following six days training there in Nederland at nearly 2,500 meters of elevation.

    His only handicap this week is the short-handed six-rider team Cannondale brought to the race after several of his teammates fell ill or were injured in crashes. The green-clad Cannondale riders will face eight-rider squads from the five other WorldTour teams present, along with the two Pro Continental and seven Continental teams.

    Sagan didn't appear too phased by the smaller team he'll be relying on to control races and bring a compact bunch to the finish.

    “We are a little bit fewer riders than the other teams, because we have only six,” Sagan said. “We have...

  • Weening hoping for crosswinds at the Tour of Alberta

    Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEDGE) compares riding in the winds of Holland to what we may see this week.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 14:10 BST
    Pat Malach

    Belkin field strong team for Canadian stage ace

    Recent Tour of Poland winner Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) has predicted that cross winds could blow the Tour of Alberta apart, dashing many riders' plans to grab time bonuses in sprint finishes.

    Weening leads the Orica-GreenEdge team along with Cameron Meyer and is targeting the final podium.

    “When I came to this race and saw the profile, I thought, ah, it's not really hard,” Weening said. “But yesterday we went out on the bike and saw a lot of crosswinds. And I was born in a crosswind. So this is going to be a hard race."

    “If there are a lot of winds it's always stressful and you always have to fight for a place,” Weening said. “If you want to be good here at this race and there is a crosswind, you have to fight for it. If you fall asleep and end up in the back of the bunch your race can be over in 20 seconds.”


    Weeing's fellow countryman Robert Gesink (Belkin) said he is also expecting a difficult race despite the loss of the only real climbing stage. The Dutch WorldTour team also has Mark Renshaw and Tom-Jelte Slagter in its line-up.

    Gesink, the 2012 Tour of California winner, has plenty of experience performing well in Canada; he won the WorldTour race in Montreal in 2010 and was third that year in the Quebec WorldTour race. He finished second in Quebec in 2011.

    “It always feel good over here, and I've gotten some of my best results,” he said.

    “After the Tour [de France] I was pretty tired. Myself and my girlfriend flew into L.A. Then we drove all the way up to Boulder. We saw all the national parks, and of course we didn't want to miss out on one of the most beautiful...

  • Hesjedal and Evans looking for redemption at Tour of Alberta

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) comes in as one of the Canada's top riders.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 16:05 BST
    Pat Malach

    Canadian proud to be racing at home

    The inaugural Tour of Alberta will serve as a homecoming – and possible redemption – of sorts for former Grand Tour winners Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Cadel Evans (BMC), who've won the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France but have been hit by injury and illness this season.

    Hesjedal, the first Canadian to win one of the three-week Grand Tours, is from nearby Victoria, British Columbia, while Evans is returning to the place where he started racing professionally as a mountain biker.

    “Reaching all the way back to the last century when I was a mountain biker, I raced a lot here in Colorado and in Alberta – Canmore – a couple of times there, and of course I've got memories of that,” said Evans, who won the Tour in 2011.

    “And then north in Banff, it's absolutely beautiful out there. Sorry for the weather conditions that took out the stage there, because of course that would have made the race a little more suitable for me.”

    Hesjedal etched his name in Canadian sporting history when he won the Giro d'Italia last year. Although he had never before been to Edmonton, the 32-year-old said he has been anticipating this race since first hearing about it in 2012.

    “I've been waiting patiently for it throughout the season,” he said. “And I've been watching it come to fruition, so here we are.”

    Just a year after making history with his Giro win, Hesjedal has had a tough run so far this season. Although he finished eighth in...

  • Pinot finds form at the Vuelta a España

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 18:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman impresses in mountains

    Thibaut Pinot’s Tour de France challenge fell apart due to his fretful descending but the FDJ rider showed that his talent when the road goes uphill remains intact with a fine display on stage 10 of the Vuelta a España on Monday.

    Pinot was part of an elite leading group that formed on the steepest section of the final climb, the Alto Hazallanas, and while he was unable to track the acceleration of stage winner Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard), he finished the day in 6th place in the same time as overall contenders Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Ivan Basso (Cannondale).

    “I’m very happy with my stage, I haven’t had legs like that since the start of the season,” Pinot said, according to his team website.

    The 23-year-old Frenchman entered the Vuelta aiming to restore his morale by preparing for the world championships and challenging for a stage win in the tough final week of the race. After finishing 4th at Peñas Blancas on Saturday, Pinot gave a further illustration of his form on the first major mountain stage of the race.

    In spite of briefly losing contact with the leading group due to the ferocity of Vincenzo Nibali’s pressing, Pinot recovered sufficiently to contribute to the pursuit of Horner and he was again prominent when Nibali clipped off the front of the chase group in the final two kilometres.

    “I did a bit too much work behind Nibali on the final climb but I don’t regret anything,” said Pinot, who is hopeful that he can benefit from the tightly-packed and highly tactical battle for seconds at the head of the overall standings. “In this race, there are Spanish riders marking one another and Italians who have an understanding,...

  • Valverde hoping for a good time trial at the Vuelta a Espana

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 19:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Movistar leader predicts the Pyrenees will be decisive

    Alejandro Valverde believes he is well placed after the first half of the Vuelta a Espana and is hopeful of producing a good performance in Wednesday's time trial and in the key Pyrenean stages at the weekend.

    "We're happy to be where we are right now. I don't feel tired at all: I'm still feeling strong and the standings show we're right into the fight," Valverde said during at a press conference on the first rest day, after the Vuelta transferred north to Tarazona in Catalunya.

    Valverde is currently fourth overall, a minute behind new race leader Chris Horner. Like many of the overall contenders, was surprised that Horner was so strong on Monday's mountain finish.

    "Neither I nor any of my rivals were counting on such a demonstration as yesterday's. There are some talented riders here: Basso, Purito and myself are all in great form, and we couldn't follow him yesterday," he said.

    "We weren't expecting him on putting a minute on us, but we knew he was strong. We could all see it on the first stage he won and he proved it again yesterday. He pedals easy, not nervous at all, and he didn't offer any signs of weakness yet. Still we don't know how far he can get, if he improve or decrease.

    "We have to be satisfied with what we got until this point: we're into GC contention, this last stage was the first real hard day in the race and there's almost everything to be played in the race.

    A testing time trial in Tarazona

    Before speaking to the media, Valverde studied Wednesday's time trial course. He was pleased to discover that the 38.8km loop around Tarazona is not flat. He predicted limited time gaps and some surprises.

  • Team Optum women build for TTT Worlds with European campaign

    Jade Wilcoxson (Optum) recovered from yesterday's hard stage to come in fifth.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2013, 20:50 BST
    Peter Hymas

    US squad seeks top-5 result at TTT world championship

    While the Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies men's team builds for its second appearance at the team time trial world championships with a steady diet of North American stage racing, the women's squad has travelled to Europe for the first time for a block of racing in France and Italy in preparation for their debut start at the team time trial world championships.

    The schedule for Europe includes the UCI 2.2-ranked Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche (September 2-9), a six-day stage race in the Ardeche region of Southern France, and the UCI 2.HC-ranked Giro della Toscana (September 11-15), a five-day stage race in the Tuscany region of Italy that's close to the world championship venue.

    The team time trial returned to the world championship program in 2012, now contested by both men's and women's trade teams, with Specialized-lululemon winning the inaugural women's TTT world title last year in the Netherlands. This year the women face a 42.8km world championship parcours on the opening day of the world championships, September 22.

    "Although these are our first races in Europe as a team, the riders have all ridden in Europe with their respective national teams, and we are looking forward to combining their experience with the winning spirit we have in the US," said Optum performance director Rachel Heal. "We'll be looking for some great results. We will then have a week to fine tune before the team's big goal of a result at the TTT world championships."

    The Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche kicked off on Monday with a 2.4km prologue time trial with the Optum women placing three riders in the top-10: Jade Wilcoxson, 4th; Janel Holcomb, 5th; and Lauren Hall, 10th....