Gazzetta dello Sport suggests its possible but Wiggins says 'Not this year'
The Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper has suggested that Bradley Wiggins could ride this year's Giro d'Italia. However Team Sky has moved quickly to deny the idea, insisting that Wiggins is scheduled to ride the Amgen Tour of California in May. Wiggins also rubbished the story in Gazzetta dello Sport, saying he would not ride this year's Giro d'Italia.
With 30 days to go until the Grande Partenza of the Giro d'Italia in Belfast, Gazzetta dello Sport claimed there are five good reasons why Wiggins could ride the Giro and hinted that Giro d'Italia race director Mauro Vegni is work on a deal that would see Wiggins line-up in Belfast on May 9 for the opening team time trial stage.
Earlier this week, Team Sky confirmed that Richie Porte would not ride the Giro d'Italia and with Sergio Henao out of action due to the ongoing investigation into his unusual out of competition blood values, Team Sky lacks a big-name leader for the Giro d'Italia.
The Italian sports newspaper, that is owned by the same company that also owns the Giro d'Italia, predicted that Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) will fight for overall victory in this year's Corsa Rosa but suggested that Wiggins could target the time trial stages and work on his form for the Tour de France, without the pressure of being a true overall contender.
Team Sky was surprised by the speculative piece in Gazzetta dello Sport. They refused to make any official comment but insisted that Wiggins' race schedule still includes the Amgen Tour of California.
Wiggins also flatly denied that he will ride the Giro d'Italia as he lined up for the Scheldeprijs race in Belgium.
"I'm not doing the Giro," he told media, including Cyclingnews.
The IAM Cycling team has announced that Sylvain Chavanel will not line up at Paris-Roubaix as he is suffering from bronchitis. The Frenchman finished a low-key 19th at the Tour of Flanders last weekend and complained afterwards that he had been suffering from breathing problems during the race.
“I was having trouble breathing, I tried hard to hang onto the lead group, but if you are not 100% at the Ronde, you have no chance to fight for the victory,” Chavanel said at the finish in Oudenaarde on Sunday.
The 34-year-old Chavanel joined IAM Cycling from Omega Pharma-QuickStep during the off-season and was enjoying his first classics campaign as an outright team leader since 2008.
Although Chavanel has come closest to a big classics win at the Tour of Flanders, where he finished second to Nick Nuyens in 2011, he had made Paris-Roubaix the centrepiece of his spring campaign. His best showing in the Hell of the North came in 2009, when he finished 8th in a race won by then-teammate Tom Boonen.
Chavanel’s place in the IAM Cycling team for Sunday’s race will be taken by Matteo Pelucchi, a stage winner at last month’s Tirreno-Adriatico. Heinrich Haussler, who missed the Tour of Flanders due to a bout of gastroenteritis, is pencilled in to lead the team at Paris-Roubaix.
It is not clear if Chavanel will return to action in time for next week’s Brabantse Pijl, with the IAM Cycling statement noting that his bronchitis “will require rest and the proper treatment.”
The stars of the Tour of Flanders returned to action for the first time since the weekend, as they build up to Paris-Roubaix and the fans were out in force as they tried to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
Last weekend’s top three, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) were in hot demand at the start line. They won’t be hogging the limelight though as the sprinters go in search of victory.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) were also in action at the weekend, and they could be potential winners today, although it will be a tough fight against the pure sprinters. Sagan is beginning to get restless as he continues to miss out on a much desired monument victory. Cannondale also have Elia Viviani as an option for the bunch sprint.
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) has been the dominant force here for the past couple of years, with two consecutive victories. He will be looking to right the mistakes that saw him finish the Three Days of de Panne without a win. Omega Pharma-QuickStep showed up with a powerful line-up that was only missing Mark Cavendish, who continues to suffer with an illness. As ever, they’ve got a number of cards to play, but their support will be for Geert Steegmans.
Theo Bos (Belkin), Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Kenny van Hummel (Androni Giocattoli) will all be out to upset the apple cart and get one over on their more favoured rivals.
News about the 2014 Tour of Alberta has been hard to come by, but word of a switch that would reverse the route's direction this year - starting in the south near Calgary and heading north to a finish in Edmonton - has started to filter out of the vast Canadian province that lies between British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Lethbridge, a city of 90,000 residents located about 200 km southeast of Calgary, has pledged $300,000 in a bid to host either the opening prologue on September 2 or the first stage on September 3, according to documents on the city's website and a report in the Lethbridge Herald. Race organizers are also reportedly considering Calgary, host of the 2013 finish, as the site for this year's prologue.
The second-year UCI 2.1 race is scheduled to take place over six days September 2-7. The 2013 Tour of Alberta, won by Garmin-Sharp's Rohan Dennis, started with a prologue time trial in Edmonton before working its way south to the finish in Calgary.
Chris Aronhalt of Medalist Sports, the events management company that organizes the race for the Alberta Peloton Association, said he could not comment on the 2014 host cities or race route until after the official announcement, which is expected later this month. Race spokesman Steve Brunner also declined to comment until the official announcement.
But the Cochrane Times previously reported that Alberta Peloton Association executive director Duane Vienneau and director of operations Paul Brosseau revealed details of this year's intended south-north route in February while trying to persuade the town council of Cochrane, located about 40 miles northwest of Calgary, to host a stage.
The 2014 race will start in southern Alberta and send riders north for...
Frenchman changes target from stage victories to GC
For Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), having made a comeback from early-season illness, the Tour of the Basque Country is an important stepping stone in his racing program towards the Tour de France.
Pinot was tenth overall in the 2012 Tour de France and won a memorable stage to Porrentruy but was forced to abandon last year's race with a throat infection after suffering in the mountains. The 23-year-old Frenchman also suffered at the Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico but pulled things around at the recent Volta a Catalunya. He is now getting back to his best and looking for a good performance in the Basque country as the race heads into the decisive hilly stages.
"I feel good, I want to ride. I hope to ramp it up to the Tour de Romandie and then cut back and prepare for the Tour de France serenely," Pinot said having adjusted his focus from a stage win to GC for the week," he said.
"I've changed my mind. To win a stage at this level is great reading [of my form]," Pinot said of the race which contains several big Tour de France contenders.
Pinot was 13th overall at the Tour of Cataluyna which has given him confidence and greater support from his team.
"Throughout the week, I felt better. I am pleased that I was attacking in the last stage and I ended up in Barcelona with good moral. Arnold Jeannesson, who is a great teammate, is my number one lieutenant. Always present which is important for me. Alexander Géniez was tired in the Tour of Catalonia but he made a good start."
Having enjoyed a small break between the two Spanish WorldTour races, Pinot explained that he was feeling the effects a long racing block.
"I had four days off before two good days of endurance and intensity. For me, Catalonia was still super important to, 'It was make or break,' and I finished very tired but it was a really big week to get back to...
This time there was no frustration for Tyler Farrar, just acceptance. At Dwars door Vlaanderen a fortnight ago, the Garmin-Sharp man was left to rue Niki Terpstra’s late escape when he led the chasing the peloton home, but at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, there was simply nothing to be done against Marcel Kittel’s powerful sprint finish.
Farrar won Scheldeprijs in 2010 and is intimately familiar with the lightly curving finishing straight in Schoten. He was well aware, too, that Kittel was the man to follow in the finale, and he duly latched on to the German’s rear wheel as the sprint began. Yet once Kittel opened the throttle, he was seemingly in a race all of his own, and he beat Farrar by two bike lengths.
"It was incredible. Naturally as a sprinter, I would prefer to win, I always try to win, but it wasn’t exactly a photo finish today, so I think I have to be happy with second place," Farrar said admiringly after descending from the podium. "I mean, there was no touching him."
Kittel’s victory was his third straight success at Scheldeprijs, the so-called unofficial world championship of sprinters, and while neither Mark Cavendish nor André Greipel were on hand – due to illness and injury, respectively – it’s hard to quibble with his status as the current standard bearer.
"He’s been the top sprinter in the world for the last year, year and a half, without a question," Farrar said. "He’s certainly the man to beat but it’s like you always say, he’s still human. Everyone has good days and bad days. It’s not that he’s unbeatable, he’s just very hard to beat."
Indeed, while Kittel was the prohibitive favourite for victory, Farrar and the other...
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) took his first European victory of the season by a country mile at Scheldeprijs. The German opened up the jets with around 300 metres to go and left the rest to fight for the runner-up spot.
It is Kittel’s fifth victory of the year, but his first since the Dubai Tour just over two months ago. The lack of victories in the intervening months had obviously been weighing down on him and Kittel was relieved to finally get the ball rolling once again.
"It’s actually some time since I won a race and for me it is a very important win. Not only so that I could defend the title for the third time, but in general to win a race. After De Panne and Tirreno, I was very disappointed, because I had really good legs but I couldn’t manage to win a race. That gave me a lot of motivation to give everything and do my best today," he said in the post-race press conference. "I’m feeling very good, not just the legs but with the whole team now. I could simply start my sprint from a very good position and use my legs to sprint as hard as I could."
It was a fairly straightforward day for Kittel and his Giant-Shimano team. A five-man break got away early on, allowing for the sprinters teams to settle into a good rhythm for the day. After a lot of crashes in the past two weeks, and with the race’s reputation as a crash fest, the peloton were relieved to come through unscathed.
Many were hoping that Scheldeprijs would be a chance to see Kittel face off against Mark Cavendish, but the Manxman had to pull out of the race with an illness that has plagued him since riding Milan-San Remo. Cavendish’s departure made the German the outright favourite, but Kittel is confident that he could have taken the...