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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Date published:
April 10, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Sagan back in action at Brabantse Pijl

    2013 Tour of Flanders runner-up Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 9:21 BST
    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...

  • Cofidis respond to Di Gregorio's claims of innocence

    Rémy Di Grégorio at the courthouse in Marseille where he was questioned about alleged doping activities.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 10:55 BST
    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...

  • Bernaudeau worried about the future of Team Europcar

    Team Europcar's general manager Jean-René Bernaudeau at a pre-Tour de France press conference in Liege, Belgium
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 12:48 BST
    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...

  • Duggan set for racing return at Tour of Turkey

    Timmy Duggan in action during the People's Choice Classic criterium
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 13:35 BST
    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...

  • Argos lead with Dumoulin and Geschke for Amstel

    Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano).
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 15:22 BST
    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...

  • Cunego: My dream is to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Cunego is hoping to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 17:49 BST
    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...

  • Haedo returns to winning form in Redlands

    Todays top three.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 19:03 BST
    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...

  • Sagan still flying high ahead of Amstel Gold Race

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wins De Brabantse Pijl
    Article published:
    April 10, 2013, 19:55 BST
    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...