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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Date published:
April 23, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Video: La Flèche Wallonne Femmes race preview

    World Cup series leader, Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) wins her fifth Fleche Wallone Femmes ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) and Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto Belisol Ladies)
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 4:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Favourites talk preparation ahead of World Cup race

    On the eve of the 17th La Flèche Wallonne FemmesCyclingnews spoke to the contenders for the win about the race their preparation for the fourth World Cup event of 2014.

    World champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank/Liv) makes her road racing debut for the year at La Flèche, a race she has won five times, although she is yet to find her top form, her Rabobank team is looking to claim the win.

    2012 winner Evelyn Stevens is confident ahead of the race and will be backed by a strong Specialized-lululemon team including Australian Tiffany Cromwell also spoke to Cyclingnews about the race and their expectations ahead of the 127km event.

    Elisa Longo Borghini enters the race in the knowledge that the Mur de Huy will be the deciding factor on the day and is hoping to put a Spring of misfortune behind her and improve upon her second place from last year.

    With the objective of being top-five at the end of the World Cup, Long Borghini is positive her Hitec Products team will put in good effort and with teammate Ashleigh Moolman, who was third last year, Hitec have several cards to play.

    The last time Emma Pooley (Lotto Belisol Ladies) finished the...

  • Jelle Vanendert enters La Flèche Wallonne under injury cloud

    Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) was second
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 5:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Lotto Belisol still hoping to fire on the Mur de Huy

    Having impressed with second place at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, Lotto Belisol's Jelle Vanendert enters the 78th La Flèche Wallonne under an injury cloud. The 199km race which makes three ascensions of the famously steep Mur de Huy is the second of the three Ardennes Classics and an event for the climbers.

    The infamous climb is 1.3km in length with an average gradient of 9.3% with a maximum gradient of 26%, although the elevation of the Mur is only 121m.

    After the second climb of the Mur, there is just 23.5km left to race with the Côte d'Ereffe the only obstacle before the final ascent of the climb which defines the race.

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is chasing his second Ardennes triple after his 2011 success and enters the race as a favourite as does last year's third place getter Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and last year's winner Dani Moreno (Katusha).

    While Vanendert impressed on the Cauberg, his race was almost ended by a crash. "I'm definitely happy that I'm back on the level I wanted and that I've shown that I'm one of the better riders in the climb classics. These two days I mainly used to rest. Especially after my crash in the Amstel," Vanendert said.

    "I have nuisance at my knee and almost can't ride my bike. My knee is swollen and there's fluid in it, which will possibly be extracted. Hopefully the night will make it better as well. We have to wait and see.

    "Starting will be possible, but it's uncertain if I will be able to...

  • Team Colombia encounters visa issues ahead of Giro d'Italia

    Team Colombia celebrates their win
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 8:00 BST
    Zeb Woodpower

    Difficulty in ensuring its riders are set for start in Belfast

    For the Pro-Continental Team Colombia, securing a wild card invitation to the 2014 Giro d'Italia was a moment of joy. However the Italian-based team, created in 2012 by former Saeco and Barloworld team manager Claudio Corti with funding secured from the Colombian government, has not enjoyed an easy preparation for the race.

    With the Giro's grand partenza in Northern Ireland, the team’s riders needed to apply for two visas – for the UK and Republic of Ireland. The team was in attendance at the Giro route presentation and Fabio Duarte, who finished a strong runner-up behind Vincenzo Nibali in the snow at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo last year, will lead the team in 2014.

    When contacted by Cyclingnews asking about the visa issues, Team Colombia press officer David Evangelista explained the process the team has undertaken to ensure its riders are ready for the Belfast opener on May 9.

    "First of all, let me tell you that the visa business for all non-European riders – and particularly for South-American riders – is particularly difficult. All the riders needed to file for two visas, UK and Republic of Ireland, and the embassies did not look particularly "sensible" to the demands and peculiarities of a cycling job," Evangelista said.

    "The Team did all its due diligence, activating in advance in order to make the riders' calendar comply with the embassy's requirements – that meant withholding the riders' passports for days or weeks – and still have...

  • Andy Schleck not ready to give up on cycling

    Matthew Busche and Andy Schleck at the start
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 12:33 BST
    Cycling News

    "I was Andy Schleck, I was someone, I want to become that again"

    As Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) looks ahead to Liège-Bastogne-Liège this weekend, he dreams of returning to his former glories.

    Schleck won Liège back in 2009 with a devastating solo attack that saw him beat Joaquim Rodríguez by more than a minute. There’s little chance of that happening this year and a crash at Amstel Gold Race last Sunday and the resulting knee injury has hampered his prospects still further.

    That doesn’t mean he’s just going to hang on in and hope for the best. “I do not want to stay in the pack and be 20th without having done anything,” Schleck told L’Équipe. “This is my favourite race. In my head I already have a lot of images. Fränk and I are going to attack in anticipation of the action from the favourites. Fränk is very strong. Me, I want to go well. I am going to go well. I hope that my knee will hold.”

    A result at Liège could prove crucial for the Luxembourg rider. The pressure is on for Schleck to perform this year as his contract with Trek expires at the end of it. After two years in the wilderness, Schleck has no recent results of note to barter with as he hunts for a contract. In the often cutthroat world of cycling, timing is key. Schleck says he is yet to sit down with the team bosses to talk about his future, but he is not ready to give it all up just yet.

    “It is too early to begin discussions. If I won Amstel, perhaps we would be discussing today. I want to stay in the team. I'm not thinking about stopping at the end of this season, but if that were the case, I would look at what I did and I would be proud.

    "Today, I still miss things [...] I'm missing some...

  • No ban for Rogers after Clenbuterol positive

    Jack Bauer, Michael Rogers and Damiano Cunego made up the Japan Cup road race podium.
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 12:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Australian free to race again

    Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) will receive no further sanction after testing positive for clenbuterol, the UCI have announced.

    “Upon careful analysis of Mr Rogers’ explanations and the accompanying technical reports the UCI found that that there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China – where he had taken part in a race before travelling to Japan,” said a statement issued by the UCI on Wednesday.

    “As a result, the UCI has proceeded with the automatic disqualification of Mr Rogers’ results at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (the competition during which the positive sample was taken) but, after consulting WADA, decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.”

    The UCI went on to recommend that all athletes avoid eating meat while in both China and Mexico.

    Rogers took to twitter soon after the UCI's announcement to release his own statement. "Over the past four months, my family and I have endured a very difficult time. The UCI’s decision means I can return to racing immediately, and I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love.

    "I wish to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, teammates, colleagues, medical experts and fans who have showed continued support and understanding. Further, I wish to show my gratitude to the board of Tinkoff-Saxo for the professional manner with which this ambiguous ordeal has been handled. Thank you for having the perception of what is right, rather than following the path of least resistance."

    Rogers has been out of action since it was announced that he tested positive after taking victory at the Japan Cup on October 20 of...

  • Sánchez shelves personal ambitions for Gilbert in Flèche

    Sammy Sanchez in the time trial
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 13:16 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard will rest after Liège before heading to Giro d’Italia

    Former Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez says that although he does not totally rule out any chance of personal glory on the Mur de Huy this afternoon, his main focus will be working for BMC team-mate Philippe Gilbert.

    Twice a podium finisher in La Flèche Wallonne, Sánchez argues that in the mid-week Classic has a very simple format. “A lot of the race strategy for each team comes down to the last two kilometres and how strong you are feeling there individually, not before.”

    “But Philippe is the leader and we’ll build our race around him. It’s a very different race to Amstel, you’ve got to base it all around the effort on that last climb and calculating your effort down to the last centimetre.”

    He rules out a similar tactic, though, to Amstel, where he drew out the rivals prior to his team-mate Gilbert launching a final attack: “this is a very different race. In any case, if I attacked, they’d know it was me this time!” Rather than strategy, he says, “it’s a question of having the legs on the Mur.”

    On a personal note, Sánchez says that he is thoroughly enjoying working so closely with Gilbert in the Belgian’s home terrain “because he never gets nervous. We’re in a very quiet hotel for all this week, so the pressure only really comes round in the races themselves.”

    Even then, though, he says there is far less pressure after the Amstel Gold victory. “That and winning Brabançonne [Brabantse Pijl], two in less than a week, has really changed things. Now it’s up to our rivals to make the race, because they’re the ones that need a result.”

  • Team managers provide mixed reactions to Bruyneel's doping ban

    Johan Bruyneel ties up a few loose ends before the start of stage one.
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 15:04 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Little sympathy for former team manager

    The start of Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday provided the perfect setting and illustration of cycling's continuing struggle to accept and deal with its past as teams and riders gathered less than 24 hours after news broke of Johan Bruyneel's ten-year ban for his part in US Postal’s doping programme.

    The team buses that lined the centre of Bastogne were awash with former colleagues and riders who worked with the Belgian, however opinions differed over Bruyneel’s sentence, while there were those that refused to even discuss the matter.

    One team manager who was willing to speak with clarity was Matt White. The Australian who is the manager of Orica-GreenEDGE served a six-month ban last year after he admitted to doping during his own career. White was briefly fired by Orica but reinstated last year. He remains the only Australian to serve a ban in the fall out from the USADA investigation and he too rode for Bruyneel at US Postal.

    “It's an interesting decision. Ten years, life, there have been a few different sentences handed out that I feel are strange. Is it fair? Well, is what Johan is accused of true, yes it is. Is if fair that a couple of people in a generation of cycling get suspended though?”

    White was referring the length of bans handed out since the Reasoned Decision was made public in October 2012. Lance Armstrong, who chose not to fight USADA's charges but admitted to doping at a later date, was handed a life-time ban. Several of those that testified against him, including George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Michael Barry and Christian Vande Velde were given...

  • Evans shows his form and takes control at the Giro del Trentino

    Cadel Evans (BMC) leads the Giro del Trentino's overall classification after Stage 2
    Article published:
    April 23, 2014, 16:33 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    BMC leader pulls on the leader's pink jersey in the mountains

    Cadel Evans (BMC) showed he is on form for the rapidly approaching Giro d'Italia by taking control of the leader's jersey after the first mountain finish of the Giro del Trentino.

    Evans finished fourth in San Giacomo di Brentonico, high above Rovereto and Lake Garda, 19 seconds behind surprise stage winner Eduardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF), but took the pink leader's jersey thanks to the time BMC gained by winning Tuesday's opening team time trial.

    The veteran Australian now leads Zardini by nine seconds. He gained time on all his overall rivals and has a strong BMC team to protected him but warned that the Giro del Trentino is only a stepping stone on the way to the Giro d'Italia.

    "I've still got room to improve. I need to take a few more steps forward for the Giro d'Italia but I'm starting to go better and that's encouraging. I needed it after the last few months and we deserved to keep the jersey," Evans said in the post race press conference.

    "I'm here to work for Giro and I hope to do well there but this is good racing and so if I get some results, that's good too. But I'm not going to throw this chance away and if I can put the team under pressure it’s a good way to get ready for the Giro d'Italia."

    Evans impressed in January by taking a stage victory and finishing second overall at the Santos Tour Down Under. He struggled at Tirreno-Adriatico and quit the race, throwing his spring into doubt. However he bounced back in the hills at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and quickly found his climbing legs for the first of three mountain finishes at the Giro del Trentino.

    Evans avoided specifically saying if he can win the Giro del Trentino for a simple reason.