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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Date published:
June 26, 2013, 20:00
  • Eisel: A year without a Tour de France is a lost year

    Bernhard Eisel (Sky)
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 06:37
    By:
    Cycling News

    Austrian says he had seen the writing on the wall

    Bernhard Eisel will miss out on riding his 10th Tour de France this year, not selected as part of Sky's line-up with the team's focus on shepherding race-favourite Chris Froome through the mountains.

    The Austrian admitted his disappointment over the decision.

    "As I've said every year: A year without a Tour de France is a lost year," Eisel told Sky Sports. "The last nine years, it has never really affected me. Of course there have been times when it was down to the last minute and you did not know… And this year is the first time that I'm definitely not there."

    When it was announced that Eisel would not be a part of Sky's nine-man squad in France, he released a statement explaining that he would instead race at the Tour of Austria for the first time since 2003. The race in Eisel's home country will be held between June 30 and July 7.

    Eisel went on to explain that he had been focussed on riding the Tour de France in his preparation.

    "The Tour is the toughest bike race in the world and only the best go there," he said. "I've really been in training and preparing everything to be there. And that's why it hurts so much too. But I felt it already in the last few weeks that I'm not going well, when I saw that the guys start to dominate all cycling races in which they are at the start."

     

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  • Schleck strikes defiant note ahead of Tour de France

    Andy Schleck (Radioshack) looks ahead to the next tight turn
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 09:25
    By:
    Cycling News

    "Perhaps I will be the surprise of July"

    While Andy Schleck’s RadioShack-Leopard team has played down his chances of mounting a serious overall challenge at the Tour de France, the Luxembourger has said that he is hoping to spring a surprise or two in July.

    Schleck has struggled since he finished second in the 2011 Tour and his problems were exacerbated when he missed last year’s race after fracturing his pelvis at the Critérium du Dauphiné. He showed some signs of form at the Tour de Suisse, however, when he followed the leaders most of the way up to the Albulapass on the étape reine.

    “You were surprised? Not me,” Schleck told L’Équipe. “I just needed a confirmation that my work was going to pay off. I even wanted to follow when [Michele Scarponi] attacked but I had already been in two breakaways, and in a stage like that, I was afraid to do too much. For all that, it doesn’t make me a favourite for the Tour! I have my ideas and I’m keeping them to myself, but perhaps I will be the surprise of July…”

    Schleck’s difficult spring on the bike gave rise to speculation that all was not well off it, and a number of sources close to the RadioShack-Leopard team suggested that he was struggling with his motivation as he attempted to regain his condition.

    “I read everywhere that I had mental problems. I read that even when I was at home peacefully with my family. I wasn’t and I am not a depressive or unhappy person. On the bike, it’s true, things weren’t going too well, but one day, I’m going to be riding on the front again,” Schleck said.

    Schleck admitted that he perhaps returned from injury too quickly. Eager to race before the end of 2012, Schleck lined up at the Tour of Beijing in October, describing it as his first race of 2013, and then continued to train through the winter.

    “Before the Tour of Beijing, I was still hurting and I don’t know if it was wise to go there,” he said. “Afterwards, it wasn’t just training rides of four, five, six hours, but also exercises with a physiotherapist, so days of eight hours and more. With Kim Andersen, who I consider like a member of my family, we did training camps in Mallorca, just him and me.”

    Without a victory since he won atop the Galibier at the 2011 Tour, Schleck has endured two trying years in which he has made headlines simply for finishing races but he is confident that he has ample time to turn things around.

    “I’m turned 28 in June. I still consider myself a young rider, maybe even a rider in his best years, and I still have a future in front of me,” he said.

     

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  • Bassons rejects Jalabert's EPO defence

    Christophe Bassons signs autographs during the 1999 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 11:47
    By:
    Cycling News

    Frenchman concerned by doping in current peloton

    Christophe Bassons has dismissed Laurent Jalabert’s tentative defence against allegations that he tested positive for EPO during the 1998 Tour de France and said that he could not have been injected with the substance without his knowledge.

    After viewing documents from a French Senate commission into anti-doping, LÉquipe reported on Tuesday that a retrospective analysis of a Jalabert sample from the 1998 Tour demonstrated that he had taken EPO.

    When Jalabert was questioned by the Senate commission last month, he was evasive, saying that he couldn’t “firmly say” that he had never taken illegal substances, adding that “The doctor took care of us, for our recovery, but we didn’t really know what it was.” Bassons, who raced in the peloton in the late 1990s, rejected Jalabert’s defence.

    “No, honestly, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it, all the more so because riders knew what products they were taking at the time,” Bassons told RTL. “And then, above all, there’s the effect of the product. When you take EPO, it’s not like you’re taking a bit of sugar. The effect is enormous. And then there’s the varying haematocrit level. when you find yourself with a haematocrit of 60 percent, I think that you have to ask yourself questions about the nature of the products that you’re taking.”

    Bassons famously refused to partake in the organised doping programme in place on the Festina team in the late 1990s and his outspoken stance against doping subsequently contributed to shortening his career. He found Jalabert’s supposedly blind trust in his team doctors to be implausible.

    “It’s clear, you automatically know what you’re taking when they give you an intravenous or intramuscular injection,” Bassons said. “What’s more, if you’re minimally intelligent, you would ask to see the phial.”

    Bassons believes that Jalabert’s refusal to admit culpability stems partly from a belief in the law of silence and partly in a bid to protect his commercial interests. “The law of silence, in any case, is a system that has always reigned in this milieu,” Bassons said. “You also have to take into consideration his position as a pundit with France Télévisions [Jalabert has stepped down from the channels Tour coverage – ed], as a former coach of the national team… Automatically, it’s complicated.”

    The Senate Commission is set to release its full report on July 18, but Bassons cautioned against concentrating exclusively on past transgressions and expressed doubts about certain elements of the contemporary peloton. He warned that the spectre of organised doping is still present in the sport.

    “In the end, I always knew the truth,” Bassons said. “But the past remains the past. I don’t want people to focus on the past on and close their eyes to the present, which worries me.

    “Unfortunately, when you see the physiology of certain riders who are going to start this year’s Tour de France, you have to ask yourself questions. There are still doping problems in cycling. There’s organised doping in some teams, in my opinion. There are a lot of individuals also who are doping. I would like that someone finally came up with a report on the real health of French cycling.”
     

  • Garmin-Sharp confirm 100th Tour de France team

    Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) dons the leader's yellow jersey at Paris-Nice.
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 14:18
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hesjedal, Talansky, Martin head up squad

    Garmin-Sharp is the final team to confirm its full Tour de France roster, and as expected the American squad will have several options for the overall classification,with 2012 Giro d'Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal topping the list.

    American Andrew Talansky will make his Tour debut with high expectations, while Liège - Bastogne - Liège winner Dan Martin, the team's highest finisher in 2012, will be another GC option.

    The trio will be supported by veterans Christian Vande Velde, David Millar and Tom Danielson, while Giro stage winner Ramunas Navardauskas, Jack Bauer and Rohan Dennis round out the team. Sprinter Tyler Farrar did not make the cut, nor did David Zabriskie, who broke his collarbone at the Tour of California.

    "We have a deep team with a lot of options as we head into the Centennial Tour de France. Our goal is to animate the race and with an aggressive strategy, we will aim to place high in the general classification," team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said.

    "We have a few guys capable of achieving that – Ryder's won a Grand Tour and placed in the top 10 of the Tour de France; Andrew is young and while it's his first Tour de France, he is coming off a great season; and Dan Martin is having a breakout year with his wins in Catalunya and Liège - Bastogne - Liège. We will protect our best GC options and see how the race shakes out. Our approach is a little unconventional, but we've managed to come up with surprises every year at the Tour and we're hoping for the same as we head into Corsica."

    Garmin-Sharp for the 100th Tour de France: Andrew Talansky, Christian Vande Velde, Dan Martin, David Millar, Jack Bauer, Ramunas Navardauskas, Rohan Dennis, Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson

     

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  • Trek to take over WorldTour license from Becca in 2014

    RadioShack Leopard general manager Luca Guercilena
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 14:58
    By:
    Cycling News

    Bicycle company to take ownership of RadioShack team

    Trek Bicycle announced today that it has reached an agreement with the current owner of the RadioShack team, Leopard SA, to take over its WorldTour license and ownership of the squad in 2014.

    The company stated that it "plans to conserve a large part of the existing roster" and to keep general manager Luca Guercilena. The current structure will remain in place through the end of the season.

    "Trek is currently engaged in negotiations with several marquee athletes that will be announced shortly," the press release stated, adding that the group is currently seeking sponsors.

    "We're thrilled to be able to reach this agreement with Leopard," Trek VP Joe Vadeboncoeur said. "The team has established a great foundation of staff and athletes."

    The team's future was uncertain in March, when RadioShack announced it would not renew its partnership with the team. Since then, rumours had circulated concerning financial issues in the team, and former manager Johan Bruyneel took current team owner Flavio Becca to court to get payment on 900,000 Euros owed on a 1.5 million Euro loan he gave Becca to keep the team afloat last year.

    Team members complained earlier this month that their wages had not been paid on time.

    It was previously reported that Becca was looking to sell the WorldTour license, but as late as this morning, he denied to Cyclingnews that the license had been sold.

    The new team will reportedly be built around Fabian Cancellara and Andy Schleck, with reinforcements for the Classics squad to back the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix champion, but Trek was vague about its goals, only stating that its "riders' nationalities represent our major markets and can become an army of ambassadors at events across the world".

    Becca stated in the press release that he is "proud to hand over this project to the people at Trek Bicycle, who have been a very dependable and loyal partner over the past three years".

    "When we started in the summer of 2010 we had a blank canvas in our hands, a puzzle. Now, three seasons later, we have a team that has won some of the biggest races of cycling with Fabian Cancellara and put two Schleck brothers from Luxembourg together on the podium of the Tour de France.

    "I am also especially pleased to have launched the professional career of a young talented rider like Bob Jungels and that the team has become a major player in professional cycling. I believe cycling has entered a new era, in which a bike manufacturer like Trek Bicycle takes on full ownership of a team. I have taken a lot of pleasure in running this project and I wish the team and all its members a bright future."

  • Moreno and Rodriguez ready to take on Sky

    Daniel Moreno (Katusha) on the top of the podium in Huy
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 16:15
    By:
    Cycling News

    Katusha pair line up at Tour de France

    Dani Moreno believes that his Katusha leader Joaquim Rodriguez is stronger than ever and has vowed that they will seek out opportunities to unsettle Team Sky during the Tour de France.

    Moreno has been a deluxe domestique for Rodriguez in recent years, and although they reversed their roles when he won Flèche Wallonne in April, he said that the hierarchy at Katusha for the Tour is clear.

    “I see that he [Rodriguez] is going stronger than ever. I believe in him,” Moreno told Marca. “When you see the start list, it’s a bit intimidating but we have a really great team and we can do things on all terrains. And everything is easier when you have a leader like ‘Purito.’”

    Like Rodriguez, Moreno’s sole Tour participation to date came in 2010, when he finished 21st overall. After finishing 5th at last year’s Vuelta a España, the 31-year-old has demonstrated his own credentials over three weeks but he said that he begins the Tour without any personal ambitions. “My aim is held Purito wear the yellow jersey,” he said.

    Standing in their way will be race favourite Chris Froome and his redoubtable Sky team, who have dominated stage racing over the past two seasons. Moreno and Rodriguez saw Sky’s collective might at close quarters during the recent Critérium du Dauphiné, where Moreno finished third overall behind Froome and Richie Porte.

    “Sky has been showing for some time that it’s a great team, maybe the best in the world,” Moreno said. “Froome’s form this year has been spectacular and, as he showed at the Dauphiné, he is one of the main favourites to take the win. We’ll have to be very wary of the British and search for opportunities to hurt them.”

    In the absence of Vincenzo Nibali and Bradley Wiggins, the greatest threat to Froome’s chances looks set to come from south of the Pyrenees, with Rodriguez, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) leading the Spanish challenge.

    “We’ve got a good group of Spanish riders,” Moreno agreed. “We all know who Alberto Contador is and what he can do at the Tour. If you have already won the race before, why not again?”

     

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  • Look 695 Aerolight launched by helicopter in Corsica

    The Look 695 Aerolight road bike - launched today in Corsica
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 17:24
    By:
    Robin Wilmott

    Four Cofidis riders to race flagship road bike

    This article first appeared on BikeRadar.

    Look have launched a new version of their flagship road bike, dubbed the 695 Aerolight. The launch took place in Corsica, where the 2013 Tour de France will start on Saturday, and Look did it in spectacular style, flying the bike in via helicopter to the waiting media contingent.

    The 695 Aerolight is an aero version of the 695 that Look brought to market three years ago. It features integrated front and rear brakes, internal cabling, an aero stem and an internal compartment for Shimano Di2 batteries.

    Look say the bike tips the scales under the UCI 6.8kg weight limit, so presumably the four Cofidis riders who'll be on these machines during the Tour de France will be adding some ballast to their machines.

    We'll have full details of the 695 Aerolight soon on Cyclingnews.

  • Cookson responds to McQuaid criticism

    UCI Presidential candidate Brian Cookson
    Article published:
    June 26, 2013, 17:25
    By:
    Cycling News

    "His bullying and haranguing style seems designed to antagonise"

    UCI presidential candidate Brian Cookson has responded to current incumbent Pat McQuaid’s attack on his election manifesto and decried what he described as his “bullying and haranguing style.”

    McQuaid issued a strongly-worked press release on Tuesday afternoon dismissing Cookson’s six-point manifesto as “half-baked” and the Briton responded with a statement of his own twenty-four hours later. Cookson had presented his manifesto at a press conference in Paris on Monday.

    "The response from Pat McQuaid to my manifesto has once again demonstrated exactly why restoring credibility to the UCI and cycling in general was the number one recommendation of the recent Deloitte consultation with the sport's stakeholders,” Cookson said.

    "His bullying and haranguing style seems designed to antagonise everyone who does not share his approach to the governance of world cycling. Yesterday's release was a reminder of the sometimes absurd and entirely counter-productive feuds in which he has engaged.

    “Members of the cycling family and other interested observers can read my manifesto, compare it with the current state and image of the UCI, and make their own minds up as to who they believe best represents the future of the UCI and cycling.”

    McQuaid is running for a third consecutive term as president of the UCI and although Cycling Ireland voted not to nominate him for election, he seems to have received the necessary backing from the Swiss Cycling Federation.

    While Cookson did not provide specific criticisms of McQuaid’s presidency in his statement on Wednesday, he did allude to the libel proceedings he launched against Paul Kimmage and Floyd Landis last year.

    “I will not respond in kind but I will say that the UCI desperately needs transparency and that includes the costs of the President's office and the damaging litigation that has become commonplace during Mr McQuaid's Presidency,” Cookson said.

    Tipped as UCI presidential candidate in the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong affair last year, Cookson downplayed the possibility throughout the winter, and as recently as February he told Cyclingnews that McQuaid “has being doing a good job in many ways and he has my support.”

    On Wednesday, however, Cookson looked to put clear distance between himself and McQuaid, and warned that September’s election would amount to a choice between two “different visions.”

    “As we enter the next stage of the Presidential election, it is clear that the choice that has to be made is between two different approaches to the work of the UCI and two different visions for our sport. I believe in a path based on credibility, trust and change and not one littered with a seemingly endless round of doubts and discrepancies where relations with important stakeholders are conducted by press release and punctuated by legal letters,” Cookson said, adding: "I continue to hope the Presidential contest can be one in which cycling can take pride."