- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 09:21
- Stephen Farrand
Cannondale rider set to apologise to Belgian podium girl in person
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is back in Belgium for today's Brabantse Pijl race as he prepares for the final Classics of his spring campaign: the Amstel Gold Race and possibly next Wednesday's Fleche-Wallonne.
The Slovakian has not been seen since his video apology to podium girl Maja Leye after his behaviour on the Tour of Flanders podium. The two are expected to meet at the Brabantse Pijl because Maja works for race organiser Flanders Classics.
"I'll see her again and I hope I can find a way for her to forgive me," Sagan told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"It was a joke. What else do you think it was? The problem is that some people didn’t understand it. But I apologised to her because she didn’t like it."
Sagan spent some time training in Madrid with Manuel Quinziato but admitted he eased off a little and will ride the Brabantse Pijl and Thursday's GP de Denain in northern France to test his form before the Amstel Gold Race.
Despite a lack of training, Sagan is still confident of victory in the Limburg hills.
"I took my foot off the gas a bit after the Tour of Flanders and I've only done rides of up to four hours," he said.
"These next two races will help get back to my best and on Sunday I hope to be up there to try and win. I was third in 2012 and seeing that I've improved all my results… The Amstel Gold race will also help me understand what to do for Fleche-Wallonne. If I don’t go well on Sunday, I'll go home, otherwise I'll keep going and try and win on the Muur of Huy. For sure I won't do Liege-Bastogne-Liege."
Sagan will face a new set of rivals in the Ardennes, with the climbers and stage race riders arriving from the Tour of the Basque Country, the Circuit Sarthe and training camps at altitude. He does not seem worried about the new, fresher competition he will face in the Ardennes hills.
"Bring it on. They change but I haven't," he said. "I'm still on form and to beat me they'll have to go really well," he said, staying true to character.
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 10:55
- Cycling News
French team says their decision to sack him was justified
The Cofidis team has clarified why it ended Remi Di Gregorio's contract after he was arrested by French police during last year's Tour de France, revealing that the former Paris-Nice stage winner was sacked because he broke the rules of the team by working with external medical experts without the permission of the team.
On Tuesday the French rider was allowed to return to racing by an appeal judge but has yet to find a team. In an interview Di Gregorio claimed he was innocent, saying police only found vitamins when he was excluded from the Tour de France. He hinted that he would sue Cofidis due to suffering mentally and financially.
“I’ve never doped. I rode for teams like FDJ and Cofidis which use the biological passport to attract riders. There were never any abnormalities in these documents. I was tested several times and I’ve never tested positive. Apparently some wanted to show that Di Gregorio doped himself, they found no evidence whatsoever,” he said.
Cofidis responded with a solemn statement.
"We've learned of the partial lifting of the judicial review of Remy di Gregorio's case and that he is now allowed to return to competition. However Remy di Gregorio is still under investigation regarding the use of doping products and methods. The judicial system has still not decided on the merits of the charges against him," the statement reads.
"This new situation does not change our position regarding the decision to terminate Remy di Gregorio's contract that was based on the evidence brought to our attention at the time. We decided to end our ties with the rider because he had broken the rules of the team, and violated the trust that we had given him, using means and consulting with medical experts that were not authorized by the medical staff of the team. He has not contested this fact."
The Cofidis team seems unperturbed about Di Gregorio's possible legal action.
"We will leave it to the courts to decide the validity of the reasons for the early termination of Mr. Di Gregorio's contract," the statement concluded.
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 12:48
- Stephen Farrand
Team manager looking for a co-sponsor for 2014
Team Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau has confirmed that he is working to find a co-sponsor, so that he can compete against the major WorldTour teams that operate on twice his budget.
In October 2010 Bernaudeau managed to save his Vendee-based team from extinction when Europcar came in at the last minute and he persuaded Thomas Voeckler to stay onboard. Europcar seem keen to back the team beyond 2013 but to similar problems, Bernaudeau has told L'Equipe that he wants to secure the extra funding before the start of the Tour de France on July 7.
"Will Europcar carry on their activity? In what way? I don’t know anything at the moment," he told L'Equipe, provocatively trying to push the car rental company to make a final decision.
Knowing he will always have a place in the Tour de France, Bernaudeau is not interested in being part of the WorldTour nor does he want to revolutionise his rider roster. He wants the extra funding to help develop riders like talent young sprinter Bryan Coquard, Tour de France contender Pierre Rolland and cobbled Classics rider Damien Gaudin, who finished on Sunday at Paris-Roubaix.
"I need a bigger budget, not to be part of the WorldTour but to pay my riders what they deserve after their success. I want to give a rider like Gaudin the technical support he needs such as a mental coach. I've never played at raising my price. All the riders want to stay, even Thomas [Voeckler], who is underpaid in relationship to what he can win. Thomas is one of the ten most admired French athletes but cycling's image is a mess even if the return is still exceptional or a sponsor. A stage at the Tour de France in terms of audience is twice as big at the final of the Roland Garos [the French Open tennis championship]. There's nothing like that."
Bernaudeau is looking for a co-sponsor to boost his budget from the current seven million Euro to at least nine.
"Europcar has been affected by the crisis. It's difficult for them to increase their budget, so we're looking for a co-sponsor. Europcar covers sixty percent of my budget. But I need to grow the team, to secure it’s long term future for the next five years," he said.
"BMC has a budget of 20 million, while we have seven. We have the ideas but we don’t have the funding. It's obvious that the boss of Sky could make him [Gaudin] win Paris-Roubaix before I can. We've got the competence but not the rest. It costs 200,000 to take 10 riders to the wind tunnel. It's necessary. But it's costly."
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 13:35
- Pat Malach
US national road champion back from injury
US road champion Timmy Duggan (Saxo Bank) will return to racing at the Presidential Tour of Turkey later this month after recovering from injuries suffered in a crash during January's Tour Down Under. Duggan had previously targeted the Amgen Tour of California in mid-May for his return but has moved his comeback forward several weeks to the start in Turkey on April 21.
“I'm arriving at that point by – I don't know if the by the skin of my teeth is the right phrase – but it's all coming together for Turkey just in time,” Duggan told Cyclingnews this week from his home in Nederland, Colorado.
“I'm really excited to put a number back on a little earlier than planned. And even so I don't think I'm pushing anything or risking too much. I wouldn't be on the start line in Turkey if I didn't think I was prepared for the race and ready to handle it.”
Duggan fractured his left tibia and his right collarbone during stage 3 of the Australian race and underwent surgery in Adelaide. He returned to the US to recover and was already riding his trainer by the middle of February. He started riding outside during the second week of March and closed out the month with a week of high-volume training in California.
“For me the hardest part is coming up right now,” Duggan said. “I've been 85 to 90 percent, but it's just as hard to get that last 10 percent as it was to get the first 90 percent. This week I'm just starting into the really intense training, and so it's tough to get the ball rolling. But everything has been coming back really pretty quickly, and I wouldn't be surprised if the high-end stuff comes back really quickly as well.”
The 30-year-old pro has plenty of experience with the cycle of injury, rehab and return. A bad crash at the Tour de Georgia in 2008 required extensive recovery, and Duggan broke his arm three separate times in three separate crashes in 2010. Duggan said the previous experience has made this recovery easier to deal with.
“I think I'm just wiser than I was even just a few years ago in terms of how to handle an injury and how to train through it and how to heal,” he said. “It's important to kind of learn where it's best to put your energy. Sometimes you really need to focus on the healing, and some times you really need to focus on the training. So for me this time, step one was heal 100 percent correctly, and then we'll worry about the fitness later. And really, I think that's the fastest way to get back to fitness as well. You just have to take it step by step.”
Duggan said the crash and recovery time have not really changed his primary goals for the season. He's still focused on the California race and on defending his national title the following week. Duggan is also on the team's tentative roster for the Vuelta a Espana and has several other late-season goals, but for now he's focused on making it through Turkey, racing well in California and getting back to peak fitness.
“Missing out on these races early in the season wasn't so much that I missed out on some results that I wanted, it was more that I missed out on some preparation, which is unfortunately pretty critical,” Duggan said. “But I think it will work out for me, and it's still a pretty long season. When I get back I'll still have six more months of racing, so I think it will all work out at the end of the day.”
After experiencing one of his best seasons ever in 2012 and then enduring the disappointment of the early season crash and the missed opportunities to race in his first professional stars-and-stripes jersey, Duggan is obviously eager to put the entire episode behind him and get back to the business of racing his bike.
“I'm just cracked on talking about injury and rehab and coming back,” he said. “I'm so ready to move on to phase two and talk about bike racing and traveling and training – the reasons why we do all this. So I'm really looking forward to getting on a plane next week and heading back over and joining up with the team and throwing a number on my back. It's the first race back and it's going to hurt, but I'll be ready to go.”
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 15:22
- Cycling News
Wild heads team for women's race
The Argos Shimano team is heading into Amstel Gold without a pre-race favourite but will count on Tom Dumoulin and Simon Geschke to provide results. Amstel is the most significant one-day race on the Dutch calendar, famous for its exciting finishes on the Cauberg and the partisan fans who pack the climb.
Although the race has undergone minor alterations, with the finish now replicating the one used for the road races at last year’s world championships, much of the route remains the same with 33 climbs and the Cauberg still the most decisive sector in the race.
Argos will line up with Dumoulin and Geschke as their protected riders. Both finished mid-pack last year but will be given orders to animate the race. Roy Curvers will act as team captain.
“We are happy to have Tom Dumoulin returning to the team after his crash in De Panne,” said sports manager Addy Engels. “The wound on his knee recovered well, and he has been able to do some good training in recent days.
“Also in the Amstel Gold Race we will count on Geschke again, and we have a team of opportunists and attackers who will be given a free hand to pursue their chances. Roy Curvers will play an important role as the captain of the team. With his knowledge of the hills he is of great value.”
Ronde van Gelderland
While the men will compete in a 251-kilometre race, the women’s professional peloton will race the the Ronde van Gelderland, covering a distance of 140 kilometres on the same day. Argos’ squad for the women's race includes the 2010 winner Kirsten Wild, who won Gent-Wevelgem this spring as well as four straight stages at the Energiewacht Tour.
“With Kirsten Wild, we have the winner of the 2010 edition on our team. Last week she already proved that she is in great shape by winning four out of the six stages in the Energiewacht Tour. In addition to Kirsten, Amy Pieters, who also showed her form during the Energiewacht Tour last week, will have protected status as well,” said sports manager Cees-Jan van der Zweep.
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 17:49
- Sadhbh O'Shea
Lampre rider tells Cyclingnews HD his Ardennes ambitions
The last year has been a lean one for Damiano Cunego - the Italian took one victory in 2012. His 2013 began well with the mountains classification at Tirreno-Adriatico and a stage of Settimana Coppi-Bartali. Cunego has struggled to match the success of his early career, but he remains confident the his best years haven’t passed him yet. Cyclingnews HD spoke to the Lampre rider, ahead of his Ardennes Classics campaign.
CNHD: How are you feeling ahead of the Ardennes Classics?
Cunego: I'm quite satisfied, I can face the Ardennes Classics with optimism. I set my training, for the early part of the season with the
support of Michele Bartoli, who is a former cycling champion and current advisor of Lampre-Merida. During Tirreno-Adriatico I xould see that my condition was increasing and that there was still a margin for improving it. Then, in Coppi e Bartali, I got a victory and I was second in the overall classification. These results showed me that I'm on the proper route towards the Ardennes classics and that I can rely on many strong team mates.
CNHD: What do you think you can achieve at the races?
Cunego: Obviously, I'd like to hit the bigger target, maybe in the race I like the most, Liege-Bastogne-Liege. But it's very difficult to tell what I'll be able to do. All that I can do now is doing training and races in the best possible way.
CNHD: You’ve been close to winning them on a couple of occasions. Can you win another of the Ardennes classics?
Cunego: I won Amstel Gold Race in 2008. In the past year, because of a crash on Cauberg, I missed a very good chance to try to get to the double. In my career, I’ve got to the podium both in Flèche Wallonne and in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, so I can say that now I'm quite experienced in these races. As I said before, my dream is to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but unfortunately this is a common dream for many riders.
CNHD: Who do you think will be your toughest rivals?
Cunego: [Philippe] Gilbert is the main rival. He always demonstrates that when his shape is good and he's determined, he can win every race. In addition, I will pay attention to the Spanish opponents: [Alberto] Contador, [Alejandro] Valverde and Samuel Sanchez could be very dangerous. Finally, don't forget [Peter] Sagan.
CNHD: You recently won the mountain’s classification at Tirreno-Adriatico, what did that mean to you?
Cunego: It was a satisfying reward after some days of pure efforts. I pedalled in long breakaways on demanding courses in bad weather. It was not so simple, but it showed me that I could be competitive. The mountain's classification jersey was a spur to go on with the target of the Ardennes Classics.
CNHD: What are your thoughts on your season so far, compared with the last couple of seasons?
Cunego: I have raced only a few days, selecting the appointments that could allow me to improve my condition. Despite this decrease of days of race, I’ve already won and this is important for the morale. I'm quite satisfied, but I could make an evaluation of my early part of the season only after Vuelta a País Vasco and Ardennes Classics. These are my targets for this part of the season and so I think I could make an evaluation after I have raced these competitions.
CNHD: Do you think you are at the best form you’ve been in some time?
Cunego: It's difficult to say, but I what I can say is that I'm riding well. I feel that I'm competitive and so I can be satisfied about the situation. I hope I could be at the best form in the week of the Ardennes.
CNHD: Can you get back to your best or are you best days behind you?
Cunego: When I'll think the best days have gone, I'll stop cycling! I always think I can still do very good things, it's an important spur for me to have top level target and I do every day my best to get to these targets.
CNHD: The Giro is in a couple of months. What would you like to achieve at the race?
Cunego: In my program of races for 2013 there is no Giro d'Italia. I decided this at the beginning of the season, after having talked to the team technical staff. It's always hard to be at the top for the Ardennes Classics and then being competitive in Giro. So, for this year, I'd prefer to take part in Tour de France.
CNHD: What do you think Lampre’s chances are at the Giro?
Cunego: Lampre-Merida will be able to rely on Michele Scarponi, who won the Giro in 2011, and Diego Ulissi, who's demonstrating race by race that he's close to becoming a top cyclist. Also, [Filippo] Pozzato and [Roberto] Ferrari will try to win stages, so no doubt that my team could be protagonist in Giro d'Italia.
CNHD: What are your aims for the rest of the season?
CNHD: One victory in Tour de France, the World Championships in Florence and obtaining as many points as possible UCI WorldTour. I think that would be enough.
This week’s issue features in depth coverage and stunning photography from Fabian Cancellara’s third victory at Paris-Roubaix. We talk to the man he beat to the title, Blanco’s Sep Vanmarcke. We also take a look back at the action from Scheldeprijs and the Vuelta a País Vasco. Plus full previews of the Amstel Gold race and Flèche Wallonne, can Philippe Gilbert take back his titles?
Delivered to your iPad every Wednesday, Cycling News HD brings you the best all-new cycling photography in the world via the best medium for viewing it, as well as reports, results and exclusive analysis of all the week’s biggest races, in-depth previews of the races and stages to watch in the week ahead, interviews, news and opinion.
With over 50 pages packed with new and original content every Wednesday, alongside all the latest reports and results, Cycling News HD is the best way to enjoy a roadside seat at all the season’s biggest and best races.
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 19:03
- Laura Weislo
Argentinean shows his speed in Jamis-Hagens Berman colors
It was a full year between wins, but sprinter Juan Jose Haedo was finally able to raise his arms in victory again in the Redlands Bicycle Classic stage 3 criterium. The 32-year-old Argentinean was also first in the sprint behind the successful breakaways on stages 2 and stage 4, showing that he is back to full power.
Haedo made the decision to return to the UCI Continental Jamis-Hagens Berman team following a six-year stint in the WorldTour after the Saxo Bank team of Bjarne Riis did not renew his contract.
"[Saxo Bank] had a different approach, they wanted to get more guys to support Alberto Contador. Some years they go one way, other years they go another way," Haedo said.
Over the years, Haedo had several big wins, starting with two stages of the Tour of California in 2007, stages of the Tour de San Luis, Vuelta a Murcia, Tour of Luxembourg and Tour of Denmark in 2008. His first ProTour success came in 2010 at the Volta a Catalunya and Critérium du Dauphiné, then in Tirreno-Adriatico in 2011 before he claimed his first Grand Tour stage at the 2011 Vuelta a España.
"I got my good results," Haedo said, but with the UCI's system of determining teams for the WorldTour by points accumulated by the team's riders, a sprinter is only as good as his last results. Saxo Bank faced the difficult task of supporting Alberto Contador while at the same time trying to remain in the WorldTour without any of the Spaniard's points: because of his doping suspension, Contador's points did not count toward the rankings.
"In my case I don't think the points system helped me," Haedo said.
When asked to explain the choice to come back to the team of his compatriot and former teammate Sebastian Alexandre, Haedo said the team was keen to have him back, and he was motivated over the winter to repay his team with strong results.
"I got a really good preparation this winter, and it was good to get a result for the team after all the guys made such a sacrifice. It made me dig even deeper to try to win because you saw the guys really stepped it up this year. I had to do it for them."
Haedo's next races will be the Joe Martin stage race in Arkansas and the Tour of the Gila, which will help to prepare him for the Tour of California in May. Already with five stage wins in California to his name, he will be looking to add another and also repay his team for their faith.
"It would be nice to get a win [in Tour of California] for this team, because they went after me and tried to get me back, and it would be nice to get a win for the domestic teams."
- Article published:
- April 10, 2013, 19:55
- Brecht Decaluwé
Slovakian apologises to Maja on podium
After a great Spring classics campaign Peter Sagan (Cannondale) opted to take a short break after the Tour of Flanders in which he finished as runner-up behind Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack). By not riding Paris-Roubaix the 23 year-old Slovakian rider aimed to be fresh enough for the Amstel Gold Race next Sunday. Riding the Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday was a final test to learn whether his form was still there. It was a good test, as Sagan beat world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) in the sprint in Overijse, Belgium.
"I'm glad that I was good today, that I could ride such a finale," Sagan said.
At 17km from the finish the Slovakian joined a move from the BMC duo Greg Van Avermaet and Gilbert. Together with Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) they joined the five-man leader's group. In the final kilometre Van Avermaet attacked with Nicolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) on the final ascent. Sagan neutralized their move with a powerful surge in the background. Gilbert struggled hard to stay on his wheel but eventually returned before the final corner at 200m from the finish line. The world champion started the sprint but Sagan didn't bow his head and fought back to claim the win.
"There were two riders up front, a Quickstep but especially BMC. They were playing team tactics. At the finish I gave everything. I knew there was a headwind so I made him take the lead so I could try and overtake him; I succeeded," Sagan said.
It's clear that Sagan will start as the top favourite in Maastricht, The Netherlands on Sunday. Last year he fell just short on the victory as he was beaten by Enrico Gasparotto and Jelle Vanendert in a close sprint. This time around Sagan knows his results are even better than last year and in the sprint up the Cauberg there will be few riders who can beat him.
Despite his great form Sagan will not be taking part in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Ardennes classic which is contested one week after the Amstel Gold Race. "Liège is too hard for me. I skipped Roubaix in order to be good at Amstel."
At the start of the Brabantse Pijl, in university town Leuven, Sagan walked up the start podium to sign on. On that podium featured Maja Leye, the podium hostess which was pinched by Sagan during the Tour of Flanders ceremony. It was the first time the two saw each other again after the much-debated incident. The miserable weather conditions, cold and wet, didn't keep Sagan from taking along a bouquet of flowers to apologize one last time for his behaviour. Five hours later the two ran into each other again since Sagan would receive some kisses on the podium as winner of the race. This time around Sagan used his hands to point at both misses, as if they show who the real stars of the podium were.
"This morning we ran into each other as well and I offered her flowers. It was a confusing story for everybody. That's behind us now."