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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Date published:
January 22, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Porte suggests Sky-BMC alliance to loosen Gerrans Tour Down Under grip

    Richie Porte (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 6:35 GMT
    Aaron S. Lee

    Sky GC leader offers solution to unseat GreenEdge

    With time running out for general classification contenders to supplant two-time race winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) from atop the leader board, Richie Porte, one of four Australian pre-race favourites which included Gerrans, Cadel Evans and Rohan Dennis, has suggested the unthinkable – a possible alliance with his soon-to-be Giro d'Italia rival – Cadel Evans (BMC).

    Gerrans' second-place finish behind Lampre's Diego Ulissi extended his lead by another two seconds over Evans, now 13-seconds, and six seconds over Dennis and Porte at 21 seconds, Porte jokingly said he that brought up the possibility of working together to unseat Gerrans with Evans during the latter half of the 150-kilometre stage two starting in Prospect and ending after two laps in Stirling.

    "It's going to be hard to beat Simon," said Porte, the 2013 Paris-Nice winner and Sky's GC contender for the Giro. "He's in some great form at the moment. But I'd love to be on the podium in my home race.

    Porte, who crossed the line sixth on the stage, has been virtually silent during the first two stages, but could make some noise on stage three's infamous Corkscrew Hill.

    "Our team were absolutely brilliant at the front all day," said Porte. "We probably have the strongest climbing team here. We rode the last 3km maybe a little bit too hard for the pure sprinters to get over.

    "Ulissi is not slow by any means," he added. "He's obviously in pretty good form at the moment and we'll see what happens. Tomorrow is really going to be decisive for the GC."


  • Movistar to have final say on Quintana riding the Tour de France

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the opening stage of the Tour de San Luis.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 7:41 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Colombian climber recovers after stomach problems in San Luis

    Nairo Quintana has back tracked on his goals of the season, revealing that he may still target the Tour de France if the team's main sponsor Movistar decides it wants to see the Colombian climber take on Chris Froome in July.

    Quintana finished second behind Froome in the 2013 Tour de France and seemed stronger in the mountains in the final stages of the race, winning the best climber's polka-dot jersey. His weakness in time trials is a serious handicap for the 2014 Tour de France, sparking reports and speculation that he will focus on the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2013, before targeting the Tour later in his career.

    Quintana apparently told the Spanish-language website El Tiempo that he will focus on the Giro, with Alejandro Valverde leading Movistar at the Tour de France. It seems that the team sponsor Movistar will now have the final say on if Quintana will ride the Tour de France.

    "I'm not playing tactics. I've got to decide what the sponsor wants to do, because they're the ones who pay and so their interests decide things," Quintana told Gazzetta dello Sport at the Tour de San Luis, where he suffered with a stomach problem on stage one.

    "I'd like to ride the Tour because it’s the Tour but the Giro route suits me better. I think Unzue (the Movistar team manager) agrees with me but Movistar will have the last word."

    Quintana has reportedly recovered from his stomach problems before stage two but it is difficult to say if he will be a contender in the mountain stages. He is...

  • Evans searching for right timing at Tour Down Under

    Cadel Evans (BMC) began his season on home roads.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 10:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian moves up to 4th overall

    The opening races of the season are often a case of trial and error, but Cadel Evans (BMC) is hopeful that he is moving in the right direction after a competitive showing on stage 2 of the Tour Down Under on Wednesday.

    Evans had to settle for third place in Stirling behind stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and overall leader Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), and admitted afterwards that he had opened his sprint too early on the shallow rise to the finish line.

    “Yesterday I went too late and got closed in. Today I went too early and got swamped at the finish. Maybe I’ll get it right in the next few days, but it’s promising. There were just a few mistakes in the finale,” Evans said afterwards.

    The Australian had briefly tracked a move from Richie Porte (Sky) on the finishing circuit in Stirling, and he felt that he paid for that effort in the finale. “That sort of put me on the limit,” Evans said. “I had [Daryl Impey and Simon Gerrans on my wheel and I kind of led them in well. I don’t know where Diego [Ulissi] came from but obviously with his finish yesterday he was pretty good. I didn’t have the legs and the timing to do it today.”

    Evans moves up to 4th overall on general classification, although he conceded a further two seconds in time bonuses to Gerrans on the day and now stands 13 seconds down on the Australian champion, who is backed by a strong Orica-GreenEdge outfit as he chases a record third Tour Down Under victory.

    Stage 3 to Campbelltown includes the testing climb of Corkscrew Hill in the finale. The summit is just six kilometres and a quick descent away from the finish line, and could prove an ideal springboard for those with general classification...

  • Rojas abandons Tour Down Under with broken scaphoid

    Andrey Amador and Jose Joaquin Rojas battle for custody of a marsupial friend.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 11:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Valls also quits with humerus fracture

    José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) is the latest rider to abandon the Tour Down Under, after he broke his scaphoid in a crash in the final kilometres of the opening stage. The Spaniard was able to finish, but didn’t take the start of stage 2.

    “It's a real shame, because I came here with good form, and I wanted to win a stage,” said Rojas. “I went down with about one kilometre to go yesterday. It didn't hurt too much, but it got worse and worse during the night. When I woke up this morning, we realized something was wrong, and I could not start.”

    Rojas will fly back to Murcia, Spain on Thursday to have surgery on his wrist. He is the second Movistar rider to be forced out of the Tour Down Under after Giovanni Visconti broke his tibia in a crash during the People’s Choice Classic critérium on Sunday. The Italian underwent surgery to insert a rod into his leg.

    Lampre-Merida’s Rafael Valls also fell victim to a crash on stage two. The team reported on Twitter that Valls broke his humerus in a crash during stage 2. His teammate Diego Ulissi beat André Greipel in the sprint and dedicated his victory to the Spaniard.

    Following David Tanner’s [Belkin] broken collarbone on stage 1 of the Tour Down Under, Valls' fracture was the fourth in racing in Australia this week. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) also broke his collarbone in the build-up to the Tour Down Under, when he collided with a car during his first training ride following his arrival in Australia.

  • Cavendish builds 2014 around opening stage of Tour de France

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in action at the Tour de San Luis.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 12:34 GMT
    Cycling News

    Manxman chases first ever yellow jersey in Harrogate

    Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has highlighted the opening stage of the Tour de France as the centrepiece of his season, acknowledging that the flat finish in Harrogate provides him with a golden opportunity to wear the yellow jersey for the first time.

    The 2014 Tour begins in Britain for the second time in Cavendish’s career – he made his Grande Boucle debut when the race began in London in 2007 – and he has highlighted July 5 as a red letter day.

    “I want to win wherever I race, the team's invested a lot in me. But if there's one race that I can win in 2014, then that would be it,” Cavendish told The Independent.

    “[It’s] going to be what my whole season is built around. If I had to choose one stage of the 21 in the Tour, that's got to be it.”

    Cavendish has won the points classifications in each of the three Grand Tours, and also worn the leader’s jerseys at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, as well as the rainbow jersey of world champion. The only prestigious garment still missing from his wardrobe is the yellow jersey itself.

    "It's my mum's home town, it's designed for a sprint, I haven't yet worn the maillot jaune and I want to do it,” he said. “If I'm going well that day, I'll go well in the whole Tour."

    The Giro d’Italia’s Irish start means that the race comes even closer than the Tour to Cavendish’s Isle of Man home, but he will not make a decision on his participation in the corsa rosa until later in the spring. “I don't know yet whether I'm doing it, first I'll see what my form is...

  • Di Luca: "I didn’t get paid for the interview"

    Danilo Di Luca was a late addition to the Vini Fantini team
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 13:21 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian refuses to give details of his doping accusations

    Danilo Di Luca has told Cyclingnews he did not get paid for the controversial interview that will broadcast on Italian television on Wednesday night, but has refused to add further details to his accusations that 90% of riders who contest the Giro d'Italia dope and that it's impossible to finish in the top ten at the Giro with doping.

    "I didn’t get paid but I don’t want to talk for now, I've nothing more to say," Di Luca told Cyclingnews, before ending the conversation.

    Di Luca's vague accusations have sparked a backlash from riders and from Valentino Sciotti, the boss of the Vini Fantini company, who insisted that Di Luca was made part of the team for the 2013 Giro d'Italia and covered much of wages.

    In an extract released by the producers of the television show, Le Iene, that will broadcast the interview on Wednesday evening, Di Luca was careful not to reveal specific information or name riders, doctors and team staff who may have helped him dope during his career.

    He talked about blood transfusions but without specifying if he ever used them to dope. He admitted doping since he was an amateur but did not confess to doping when he won the 2007 Giro d'Italia. In theory he could still lose that victory if he makes a full confession.

    Di Luca also spoke about Lance Armstrong, suggesting the Texan would still have won the Tour de France seven times if he had not doped.

    "When I was found positive, he talked about me and said I was stupid," Di Luca said of Armstrong.

    "He said that because I was doped. But I know Armstrong: he won the Tour de France seven times and he would have won them even without...

  • Tour of Oman route announced

    Chris Froome (Sky) celebrates Tour of Oman victory.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 15:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    18 teams to take part

    Tour of Oman organisers have announced the route for the fifth edition of the race and the 18 teams that will take part.

    The 2014 parcours will feature one summit finish, two medium mountain stages and three sprint stages.

    On the penultimate day, the riders will face the summit finish of Jabal Al Akhdhar, for the fourth year running, where Joaquim Rodríguez won last year. The queen stage, along with the previous day’s stage to the Ministry of housing will play a crucial role in deciding the winner of the general classification.

    There will be an extra opportunity for the pure sprinters to take victory, with an additional flat finish on the second day.

    The team of defending champion Chris Froome (Sky) will return to the race, along with 12 other WorldTour teams. Giant-Shimano isn’t among the list of teams. However, Belkin and Lotto-Belisol will make the journey to Oman, after missing out last year.

    Five Pro Continental teams are also on the list, including the American squad UnitedHealthcare, who will start the race for the first time.

    Last year’s race was won by Chris Froome, ahead of Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans.

    2014 Tour of Oman
    Stage 1: Tuesday, February 18: As Suwayq Castle – Naseem Garden, 164.5 km
    Stage 2: Wednesday, February 19: Al Bustan – Qurayyat, 139 km
    Stage 3: Thursday, February 20: Bank Muscat – Al Bustan, 145 km
    Stage 4: Friday, February 21: Wadi Al Abiyad – Ministry of Housing, 173 km
    Stage 5: Saturday, February 22: Bidbid – Jebel Akhdar / Green Mountain, 147.5 km
    Stage 6: Sunday, February 23: As Sifah – Matrah Corniche, 146.5 km

    Teams for Tour of Oman: Ag2r La Mondiale, Astana, Bardiani CSF, Belkin, BMC, Cannondale,, IAM Cycling, Katusha Team, Lotto Belisol, Omega Pharma – Quick Step, Orica-GreenEdge, NetApp – Endura, Sky, Tinkoff...

  • Nibali leads rejection of Di Luca's comments

     Danilo Di Luca (Fantini Vini - Selle Italia)
    Article published:
    January 22, 2014, 16:06 GMT
    Barry Ryan and Stephen Farrand

    Peloton reacts to assertion that 90 percent of Giro peloton dopes

    Danilo Di Luca’s assertion that 90 percent of the riders at the Giro d’Italia dope and that it is impossible to finish in the top ten without recourse to performance-enhancing drugs has been rejected by a number of his former colleagues in the professional peloton.

    The interview with Di Luca is due to be broadcast on the satirical Italian current affairs show, Le Iene, on Wednesday evening, but an advance transcript of the interview has already been published by a number of Italian media outlets. Di Luca was handed a life ban by the Italian Olympic Committee in December of last year following the third doping sanction of his career.

    Reigning Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali made his debut in the corsa rosa as part of the Liquigas team that had helped Di Luca to overall victory in 2007, and he dismissed his former leader’s comments when questioned by reporters at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

    “For me, Danilo is at the end of his tether and he doesn’t know what to do anymore to earn a bit of loose change,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’m sorry to say this because he was a great teammate, but now I can only think that he has become a bit brain-damaged.”

    Nibali’s thoughts were echoed by Joaquim Rodriguez, who raced alongside Di Luca at Katusha in 2011. Rodriguez finished 5th in that year’s Giro before taking second place in 2012. “Danilo is talking like this now because we all know how he behaved throughout his career,” Rodriguez said, according to