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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Date published:
June 5, 2013, 17:00
  • O'Grady set to retire after record-breaking 18th Tour de France in 2014

    Home town hero Stuart O'Grady
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 06:52
    Cycling News

    There will be no comeback, says veteran

    All going to plan, Stuart O'Grady (Orica GreenEdge) will retire following the 2014 Tour de France having set a new record of 18 starts however the 39-year-old says that the racing in between will not be "a Farewell Tour."

    The team announced the extension of the Australian's current deal on Wednesday.

    "I can say this for certain," O'Grady said. "I'm happy to continue for the next 13 months, and then it's all over. Once I hang it up, it will be hung up very high and very well. There will be no comeback."

    O'Grady will go down as one of the greats of Australian cycling, the nation's first winner of a Monument - Paris-Roubaix in 2007 and only second to Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo in terms of Olympic appearances in the sport.

    This year, if selected, he will equal George Hincapie's record of 17 Tour de France starts with the Grande Boucle a cornerstone of his career. Signing for Gan in 1995, O'Grady raced his first Tour two years later and has taken on the event every season since. Over that time, he's won two stages, worn the maillot jaune for nine days, finished second in the points classification in 2001, 2005, and was third in 2002. He also rode on the winning team with Carlos Sastre at CSC - Saxo Bank in 2008.

    "I wanted to finish off my career at a race that's meant a lot to me throughout my time as a professional," he explained. "The Tour has probably made my career. To retire on the Champs-Élysées would be a symbolic way to close things out."

    O'Grady has played the key role in recent years both on trade teams and while on national duty as 'road captain' and that will continue over the next year, with an emphasis of passing on his wealth of experience.

    "I'm not sticking around for myself," he said. "I'm riding because I want to give back to this team. It's important to me that I make the time and effort to pass along my information and experience to someone who can step up and fill the road captain role. We'll be working on that intentionally in the next year.

    "Obviously, you never know what's around the corner in terms of any plan we've put together," he continued. "Hopefully it all works out. I think it will feel really good to do my final Tour Down Under, my final Classics campaign, my final Tour de France and to know that each is my last. It's really motivating to me to think about, and I'll definitely go into this next year at my best."

    In making the announcement, O'Grady credited Orica GreenEdge financial backer Gerry Ryan along with general manager Gerry Ryan for providing the ultimate pathway for Australian cyclists, saying that riding for the team was "a dream come true." O'Grady said that it will be "pretty likely" that he will continue working with Orica GreenEdge once he retired from racing.

    "Cycling has been my life in the last 20 odd years," he said. "It will be nice to wake up and think about something other than training and suffering and pain. I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family and not having to be so selfish on a personal level. I've done that for a long time. We have time to find a role for me after retirement. It's something we can discuss more at a later date."

  • Report: Becca to sell WorldTour licence to Trek, release Fränk Schleck

    Fabian Cancellara cruised to victory in Flanders
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 07:27
    Cycling News

    Team said to be built around Cancellara for 2014

    Flavio Becca is set to sell his WorldTour licence to Trek, who will create a new team structure for 2014 that is expected to be built around Fabian Cancellara and Andy Schleck, according to Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt. The newspaper suggests that Becca will cancel Fränk Schleck's contract due to his positive anti-doping test for Xipamide during last year's Tour de France and that the future of the Leopard Trek development team is uncertain.

    Becca did not reply to calls from Cyclingnews and has so far refused to discuss his plans for the team.

    Cyclingnews reported at the end of the Giro d'Italia that negotiations with Becca to take over the team were underway. RadioShack announced earlier that it would end its sponsorship at the end of this season. Luca Guercilena replaced Johan Bruyneel as team manager after the Belgian's close links with Lance Armstrong were revealed in detail by the USADA doping investigation.

    Trek has a contract with the team for 2014 but would need to secure Becca's WorldTour licence if it wants any current contracts with riders to be valid. 

    Cancellara's contract expires at the end of this year, but Tageblatt claims that he would stay with the team. Trek is said to have promised to build the team around him for the Classics. Andy Schleck is assured a place in the team because his contract runs through 2014, but things look difficult for his older brother Fränk. The newspaper said that he would not be on the team next year, and it is possible that Becca could fire him when he returns from his ban, if not before.

  • McQuaid fires a warning shot at UCI presidential rival Cookson

    UCI President Pat McQuaid was  on hand to see the riders off
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 09:34
    Cycling News

    Briton's questioned over previous commitment not to run for position

    Pat McQuaid has responded to Brian Cookson's decision to stand against him for presidency of the UCI by firing off a series of accusations and questions about who is helping and backing his candidacy and his independence.

    In a letter addressed to the presidents of the national federations governed by the UCI, McQuaid questioned why Cookson has done an about turn after publically supporting the Irishman in January. He also openly quizzed Cookson on his links to Russia's Igor Makarov, one of McQuaid's rivals on the UCI Management Committee. 

    "While I would welcome any candidate to stand - the UCI will always be a democracy while I am in office - I must admit that I find Mr Cookson's decision to be an odd one for a number of different reasons," wrote McQuaid in the letter posted online.

    The letter continues by reminding the nation's presidents of former public and private statements in which Cookson voiced his support of the current UCI president.

    McQuaid revealed that Cookson had offered him his support in a private letter, saying: "A number of people (outside of UCI circles) have asked me if I would be interested in becoming UCI President ... My response has always been that I am supportive of you, that I do not think you should nor will be resigning, and that it is not on my personal agenda, nor am I seeking that office."

    Cookson has told Cyclingnews in Q&A interview that he may have initially expressed support for McQuaid but in light of USADA's Reasoned Decision, the failings of the independent commission along with a lack of support from WADA, the British Cycling president changed his stance.

    "I thought that at the time it was essential to give Pat McQuaid and the UCI some time to resolve some of the issues and clarify things going forward. Things have not improved in the way that I would have hoped. We're still suffering the same old problems and now we're in the situation where the deadline is fast approaching for nominations of the presidency and I thought the right thing to do was to say that I am prepared to put my head above the parapet and be a candidate and that's why I've changed my mind." Cookson told Cyclingnews.

    A pawn in a larger game

    McQuaid also expressed a more serious concern over the rumoured links between Cookson and former UCI Management Committee member Wojciech Walkiewicz who, according to McQuaid has been attempting to establish a suitable UCI presidential candidate. If such a link is true, that candidate appears to be Cookson - which troubles McQuaid.

    "Mr Walkiewicz is employed by UCI Management Committee member Igor Makarov. A number of other Management Committee members have told me that they had been invited to Moscow but had refused. Mr Cookson, however, informed me recently that he was going to Moscow to meet with Mr Makarov and Mr Walkiewicz. I have subsequently had confirmation that at least one meeting took place, although perhaps in a different capital city," McQuaid writes in his letter.

    "I fear Mr Cookson may be a pawn in a larger game. Mr Makarov, owner of Katusha, has expressed his anger on a number of occasions that the UCI Licence Commission denied his team a place in the 2013 WorldTour for 'ethical reasons'. The independence and impartiality of the Licence Commission is exactly the sort of positive step forward that the UCI has taken in the past decade."

    The Katusha team were initially denied a renewal of its WorldTour license for 2013 and were subsequently left off the invited wildcard teams for the Giro d'Italia. It took an appeal to the Court of Abitration for Sport (CAS) before Katusha was finally awarded its WorldTour license - making for an unprecedented 19 top-tier teams for 2013.

    "Mr Cookson's decision to announce his candidacy for the UCI President raises a number of important issues. Given all this, I think it is for Mr Cookson to explain his reasons for meeting Mr Makarov at the behest of Mr Walkiewicz. All three men have strong ties to World Tour teams. In the interest of transparency, Mr Cookson must answer a number of questions and I intend writing to him to seek clarification..." said McQuaid before listing a number of initial questions relating to the reported ties to the Katusha owner.

    In closing salvo, McQuaid stated that his priorities for his possible third term will be made public in the coming weeks and that it will have a global focus and "not just British, or Irish, or even Russian." 

  • Boonen pays two million Euros in Belgian tax case

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) wins the Heistse Pijl
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 11:29
    Cycling News

    Other riders still under investigation according to media reports

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) has reportedly paid two million Euros to resolve a tax evasion investigation in Belgium, according to reports in Het Laatste Nieuws and other Belgian media. 

    News came to light last month that Boonen had been the focus of special tax investigators, who suspected that the Belgian rider had overstepped the mark in terms of his "tax optimisation". He allegedly did not declare enough of his income to Belgian authorities, while being a resident in Monaco. Boonen resided in the Mediterranean tax haven from September 2005 until early last year when he returned to live in Belgium.

    Despite Boonen's payment and insistence on his innocence, the case remains open according to with other riders also said to have fallen foul of regulations, including former teammate Stijn Devolder.

    It has not been a good year for Boonen who crashed out of the Tour of Flanders after hitting a road sign. His off-season was punctuated by intestinal problems and then a severely infected elbow. He has recently confirmed that he will not ride this year's Tour de France.

  • Porte: Don’t rule out Contador for the Tour

    Team Sky's Richie Porte
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 13:12
    Daniel Benson

    Spaniard loses major time to Froome and Porte in Dauphiné time trial

    There were shades of Lance Armstrong blasting past Jan Ullirch at the start of the 2005 Tour de France in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île when Richie Porte (Sky) cruised by his former team leader Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) in the Critérium du Dauphiné’s stage 4 time trial on Wednesday.

    Porte started two minutes behind Contador in the 32 kilometre test and although the Australian always had a fair chance of beating the Spaniard, few would have predicted the sight of Porte overtaking Contador with 4 kilometres of racing left.

    Contador struggled throughout the flat time trial, never looking in command and finishing some 3:36 down on stage winner Tony Martin and – more importantly – 2:44 down on his Tour de France rival Chris Froome (Sky).

    While Contador has never since reached the same time trial heights of his 2009 season – at least on a consistent level – Porte refrained from overlooking the Spaniard’s Tour ambition, at least completely.

    “You can never really rule him out. You wouldn’t have thought Cadel Evans would have finished third in the Giro either. It’s not over yet and there are still a few more weeks. If anyone in the peloton knows how to win the Tour it’s Alberto Contador,” Porte told Cyclingnews.

    “It’s not really my thing but it’s always nice to see Alberto Contador’s cars coming back to you. It’s early days but I’m quite happy with that ride.

    “At the first time check I had a fair bit on him but it’s always nice to catch Alberto Contador but I didn’t quite expect to catch him that quickly.”

    When asked about Contador’s Tour de France form with the race less than three weeks away, Porte gave an indication of the mental blow the Spaniard may have suffered today.

    “I’m only Sky’s second man and there’s another fella still in the van who is much quicker than me, so I think that puts us in a good place in the team for the Tour GC.

    “I had a month relatively easy and I’ve only really started training in the last couple of weeks. It’s been a good start to the season and to win Paris-Nice was a massive mental gain.”

    Finally, Porte was asked why Contador has lost his time trial domination.

    “I guess a year with no racing doesn’t help but he was pretty dominant last year in the Vuelta too,” he said. “Maybe he’s a little off his game but he’s still got three weeks to find his A game.”

  • Gaimon signs with Garmin-Sharp

    Phil Gaimon (Bissell) launched a solo attack towards the end.
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 13:45
    Cycling News

    Bissell rider gets WorldTour call-up after gutsy ride in Chattanooga

    The Garmin-Sharp team today announced the signing of 27-year-old Phil Gaimon from the Bissell squad. Gaimon, the winner of the 2012 Redlands Classic, has been posting strong results at the national level, putting in a particularly determined ride at the US Pro road championships in Chattanooga, where his solo escape was only caught in the final kilometer.

    "We're excited to bring Phil on next year," Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters said. "Having watched Phil race over the past few years we know he is a great, versatile rider with a huge amount of talent and beyond that, he is also funny, smart and unique addition to the team. We think he'll be a great fit both on the road and off and we look forward to helping him take the next step in his career."

    An outspoken proponent of clean competition, Gaimon sports a tattoo of a bar of soap with the world "clean" on his right bicep, and he was attracted to Garmin-Sharp for its ethical code.

    "I've watched the team grow over the years from the U23 development squad to the team that saved pro cycling with a real emphasis on clean racing and it's always been a moving target for me. I'm proud to join Garmin-Sharp and be a small part of that, and there's no one I'd rather ride for."

    Gaimon is the third new rider to be confirmed for the 2014 Garmin-Sharp team: Olympic omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen and Rabo Development team rider Dylan van Baarle signed with the team last month.

  • Dennis surprised to move into Dauphiné lead

    Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) finished second on the stage and became the new Critérium du Dauphiné leader.
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 14:13
    Daniel Benson

    Australian delivers fine showing in time trial

    After finishing his time trial to Parc des Oiseaux at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Andrew Talansky turned towards a Garmin-Sharp teammate and said "this course is excellent for Rohan [Dennis]."

    While Talansky's legs have been found wanting in this year's Dauphiné due to illness, his predictions look far more solid with Dennis powering to second place on the stage and a surprise overall lead.

    The Australian first year professional finished 47 seconds down on stage winner Tony Martin but crucially kept eight seconds between himself and Christopher Froome (Team Sky) who now looms second overall, eight seconds down.

    "It was surprisingly good out there," Dennis told Cyclingnews as he warmed down.

    At that stage it looked as though the former track specialist would move into the white jersey with Froome the likely leader by the end of the day. However Dennis has impressed against the clock already this season with top ten placings in time trials at the Tour de Romandie and Tour of California.

    "I knew that I had good form but I never knew what sort of recovery I'd have after a few strong stages with a much higher class field than the one at California. I had slight doubt that I'd be as good as California but I've come out of that with some better form and surprised myself a bit," Dennis added.

    "At the start of the race it was everything for Talansky. After the first stage, he wasn't feeling too well and he told me to go and not worry about him. I've just tried to hold on until now. The goal for today was to take the white jersey but anything from here on in is a huge bonus, to be wearing a jersey in my first year at a WorldTour race is more than I expected."

    In his yellow jersey press conference Dennis hesitated as to whether he and his team would attempt to defend the yellow jersey.

    "At the moment I've not put any thought into how I'm going to keep it or if I'm going to keep it. It's not something I expected to happen. It's a big ask for the team to ride on the front but I'll do whatever I can. It's a huge bonus to be wearing it and I'll just enjoy it and hope for the best. The climb tomorrow isn't too steep so we'll see what happens."

    The Dauphiné aside, the question is whether Dennis could line up for the Tour de France in Corisca in a few weeks’ time. With a team time trial in the first week, Dennis' skills against the clock and his pursuit know-how could be invaluable for team that looks as though it’s going through a transitional phase.

    With a number of riders on the wrong side of thirty and the likes of Daniel Martin, Talansky and Dennis riding well the Garmin management will need to decide if they'll pick riders based off form or reputation. Dennis was on the Garmin long-list for the Tour twelve weeks ago, and today's move into yellow will only help his chances of selection.

    "There's obviously a possibility but at the moment the team knows I'm a first-year pro and it's a big ask to do the Tour. If I get to do it, it would be a huge bonus and I'd be over the moon. It's not something we've talked about yet though and the team is up in the air for the Tour minus a few senior riders."

  • Contador blames allergies for sub-par Dauphiné time trial

    Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) had a time trial to forget at the Dauphiné as the Spaniard placed 61st, 3:37 off the pace.
    Article published:
    June 5, 2013, 15:20
    Daniel Benson

    Spaniard not discouraged for Tour de France

    Alberto Contador’s Tour de France bid will not hinge on today’s meek performance in the individual time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné but it will leave his rivals with renewed optimism ahead of the grand depart in Corisca.

    Contador suffered one of his worst days against the clock on the 32 kilometre stretch between Villars-les-Dombes and Parc des Oiseaux, conceding 3:37 to stage winner Tony Martin but more importantly 2:44 to his chief Tour de France rival Chris Froome. To compound matters, the multiple Grand Tour winner had to suffer the indignity of seeing his former domestique Richie Porte sweep by him with four kilometres left to race. He blamed his performance on allergies.

    "That was not a good day and I saw I had no power. I tried to keep a steady cadence at the end, but it’s always the same in Dauphiné in the long time trial. I never feel good and I always lose time," he said at the finish.

    Contador may need to check the history books as his time trialing has been far from consistent since his all conquering performance at the 2009 Tour de France.

    In his last outing at the Dauphiné in 2010 he finished 6th on the stage, 1:46 down on stage winner Janez Brajkovic but held on to take a podium in the race. A year earlier he finished fifth in the 42 kilometre test.

    In recent years he has blown hot and cold against the clock with another below par performance coming at the Worlds last September. He did perform well at the Vuelta last year, winning the overall and performing well against the clock despite a year without racing due to a doping ban.

    "I have to have confidence," he added.

    "There were some difficult moments for me, because of the allergies. Finishing so far behind? It's not very important, of course if I finish in front of him (Froome), it’s better, but I know that the Dauphiné is the Dauphiné and the Tour is the Tour. These allergies should have finished by then. It’s also good that the time trial is a long way into the race, so I'll continue to work hard."