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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Date published:
May 07, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • NRS news shorts: Round up of Australian racing and news

    Ruth Corset celebrates in the NRS Series leader jersey
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 6:00 BST
    Zeb Woodpower

    Avanti signing, Drapac's Turkish delight and Ruth Corset back to her best

    This is the first of a new Subaru National Road Series (NRS) series to feature on Cyclingnews to keep you up to date on what's happening domestically in Australian racing with a few of the highlights from the peloton.

    These articles will round up what's happening in the NRS and provide insights into racing life on the Australian circuit for both
    professional men and women.

    Both the men and women have now raced two NRS events — the men' races were the Tour de Perth and the Jarvis Adelaide Tour while for the women, it was Adelaide Tour and the Mersey Valley Tour in Tasmania.

    Next up for both will be the Battle on the Border from May 15-18 with five stages for the men and four for the women.

    New Avanti Racing Team signing
    Avanti have added 22-year-old Victorian Matthew Clark to its squad who previously rode for the Charter Mason Development Team in the NRS. Clark impressed the team on stage two at the Tour of Toowoomba last year when he finished second on the queen stage behind Nathan Earle who now riders for Team Sky.

    "I'm excited to join the Avanti Racing Team, they are the strongest team in Australia and have developed so many guys it's incredible. The management is all about the riders and it really shows I just can't wait to get started," Clark said of his deal.

    For team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston, the signing is all about seeing how far Clark can go and providing the opportunity to him to reach his...

  • Roche and Majka to co-captain Tinkoff-Saxo at the Giro

    Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo)
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 7:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Team's primary aim a high general classification placing

    With the historic Grand Partenza of this year's Giro d'Italia in Belfast, Northern Ireland, its no surprise that Tinkoff-Saxo are backing its Irishman, Nico Roche for a top five GC placing at the first grand tour of 2014. Roche will lead the team along with Rafal Majka who impressed at last year's Giro finishing seventh overall.

    "Our main goal is to make a GC result with either Rafa or Nico," said Tinkoff-Saxo DS Lars Michaelsen. "Our secondary goal is to win a stage in case an opportunity occurs. All way through the race, we will focus on supporting our leaders in order to make a top-five GC result."

    The team contains two Australians — Jay McCarthy and Michael Rogers — and Michaelsen is backing the latter to help propel Roche and Majka onto the podium.

    "With Michael  back in the group, we have a strong and experienced road captain, which is crucial during both the first chaotic stages as well as in the long run to keep focused. Going into the 3rd week of the race, we will face five very important mountain stages, where the GC will be battled out and we'll see who has more fuel left in the tank."

    For Roche, whose father Stephen won the Giro in 1987, performing well at the 'Irish Giro' is a season objective as he looks to build on his seventh place at last year's Vuelta a Espana. Although this will be just his second Giro, Roche is well acquainted with three week races having ridden 10 grand tours.

    "I have been through a very hard altitude training camp with the team for the Giro and we just finished Tour de Romandie to brush off our shape, "said Roche. "I feel...

  • Geraint Thomas considering his options for 2015

    Paris-Nice race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky)
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 11:18 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky rider set to decide his future this week

    Geraint Thomas has revealed he is considering offers from several team as he decides the next step of his professional career.

    The Welshman's contract with Team Sky ends this season and following his impressive campaign in the spring Classics and his potential as a stage race rider, he has attracted serious offers from several teams.

    Under UCI rules, a rider cannot sign a new contract until after August 1 but agreements are often reached earlier than that and then officially signed within the official UCI transfer window.

    Cyclingnews understands that both Garmin and Saxo Bank tried to sign Thomas two years ago but he opted to stay with Team Sky. Thomas has developed via the British Cycling and Team Sky system. He is unlikely to leave Team Sky but has revealed to BBC Wales he has three or four contact offers as well as a proposal to stay at Team Sky.

    "I'm obviously speaking to Sky at the moment and I think it should be sorted this week with where I go," Thomas said.

    "Obviously Sky is a great team but I think it's good to have a look at other teams and what they have to offer. It gives your confidence a boost when there's three or four teams that have offered you a good contract, so interesting times."

    Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford revealed to Cyclingnews in February that he is working hard on the team's roster for 2015.

    "We've got eleven guys out of contract this year and we're constantly trying to build and improve the team," Brailsford told Cyclingnews.

    "We've got some great riders we want to re-contract and so keep the nucleus of the team together. But there are also opportunities to see if you can bring someone else in."

    "There are new challenges coming up and new riders are coming through. The minute you...

  • Gesink has successful surgery

    Robert Gesink (Team Belkin)
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 12:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Belkin rider back to training

    Robert Gesink (Belkin) has undergone successful surgery to treat his cardiac arrhythmia, the team have announced.

    "I am very pleased to put these insecure times behind me. I will start my recovery with full confidence and hope to know more about my schedule soon," Gesink said in a team press release this morning.

    Gesink was forced to temporarily withdraw from racing in April due to repeated cardiac arrhythmia episodes. The Dutch rider has been suffering from the issue for several years.

    The 27-year-old’s last race was the Vuelta a País Vasco at the beginning of April, which he abandoned on the penultimate stage while sitting in 18th position. He was set to ride the Ardennes classics before the announcement on April 15.

    Gesink is already back on the bike and has done some training since the operation. However, the team is yet to plan Gesink’s schedule for the rest of the year. It is hoped that Gesink will be able to return to racing as soon as possible.

    Belkin will begin racing at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California this weekend. Steven Kruijswijk and Wilco Kelderman will lead the team’s general classification ambitions at the Giro.

  • Rojas back in action at Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

    Jos Rojas Gil (Movistar)
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 16:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Movistar rider has great faith in Valverde at the Tour

    José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) is set to make his return to racing at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon next week. The former Spanish champion fell in the neutral zone of Milan-San Remo, at the end of March. Examinations showed that he had fractured his left elbow and wrist and he has been out of action since the first major Classic of the season.

    For Rojas, the road to recovery has been arduous. “It has been a long time. As there was no possibility to operate on it, the rehabilitation has been prolonged,” he said.

    Rojas has been working hard to get himself back on the bike and has used a range of methods, including acupuncture and magnet therapy – which involves wearing a magnet on the body to improve blood flow. It is the second time this season that the 28-year-old has had to come back from injury. He was one of two Movistar riders to be sent home early from the Tour Down Under. Giovanni Visconti broke his leg during the People’s Choice Classic, before the race began. Two days later, Rojas took a tumble on the opening stage and fractured his right wrist. While he was able to finish the stage, Rojas decided not to start the next day.

    Between the two accidents, Rojas was able to compete in a small handful of races. He looked to be coming into form with fourth in the general classification at Paris-Nice before he fell at Milan-San Remo.

    “The two crashes have disrupted my initial programme,” explained Rojas. “It was a shame, because in Paris-Nice I was going very well and I really wanted to race at Gent, Flanders and Roubaix. But, you have to be positive and I...

  • UCI make changes to Olympic quotas

    UCI president Brian Cookson at the Tour Down Under.
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 17:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Two riders per nation allowed in track sprint events

    Nations will now be allowed to enter two riders in each of the track sprint events at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, after the UCI announced changes to their quotas.

    At London in 2012, countries could only enter one rider into each of the individual sprint events and the Keirin. The decision was supposed to reduce the dominance of a single nation, after Britain swept the board in Beijing. However, it lead to some criticism that the fields were weakened, with many strong riders unable to compete.

    The rule prevented defending champion Chris Hoy from going for his second title, after Britain opted to enter the younger Jason Kenny into the event. Kenny had finished second to Hoy at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Hoy was given the nod for the Keirin, which he had been dominant in since switching to it after the 2004 Games. The decision is likely to increase the competition for medals in 2016.

    Off the track, there is some good news for African cycling. There will be an extra five quota places on the African Tour circuit, bringing the total up to nine. In 2012, Morocco, Algeria and Eritrea filled the spots awarded from the results on the African Tour. Namibia and South Africa both gained entry through the African Championships.

    African cycling has seen a huge increase in riders at the top two levels. Pro-Continental team MTN-Qhubeka have been largely responsible for that, however, there are a number of Africans going it alone in the WorldTour, such as Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) and Natnael Berhane (Europcar).

    Other changes see hosts Brazil automatically receiving places in all of the cycling events. In London 2012, the host nation received an automatic quota places in only the BMX event. One road quota place will be taken from the men’s road event and moved to the track, to balance it out with the addition of a rider in the...

  • Rodriguez: It’s time I netted a Grand Tour

    Joaquim Rodriguez speaks at the Giro d'Italia pre-race presscon
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 19:34 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Second in 2012, Spanish veteran aiming for Giro d'Italia win

    Two years after he came within 16 seconds of capturing the Giro d'Italia, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is once again targeting cycling’s first Grand Tour of the season. And in the countdown to the Giro's kick-off in Belfast on Friday afternoon the 34-year-old Spanish veteran says he is determined not to let the Italian race escape his clutches this time, particularly after missing the bullseye so narrowly in 2012.

    It has been a roller-coaster spring for Rodriguez, who took a repeat victory in a very tough Volta a Catalunya - complete with blizzards, back-to-back Pyrenean mountain top finishes and a tiny margin over Alberto Contador right the way through to the finish in Montjuic. But he then had to contend with crashes both in Amstel Gold and again in Flèche Wallonne. Second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2013, this time he had to quit with around 60 kilometres to go.

    Truth to tell, Rodriguez all but wrote off Liège-Bastogne-Liège before he started it - "I might well have to forget this race" he said - with the sole aim of getting over his injuries and building up for the Giro. Although no bones were broken in his Ardennes campaign, his upper body took a battering and he spent nearly two weeks in his adopted home of Andorra training and resting.

    Yet if there is one thing never lacking when it comes to Rodriguez, it is motivation, and the Giro arguably is the Grand Tour which suits him the best. His memorable ding-dong battle with Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) in 2012 saw the Spaniard come painfully close to success, while in 2011 he finished fourth overall.

    And were he ever to get sentimental about his stage racing track record, he might recall that the Italian race was, in fact, his first ever Grand Tour as a pro, back in...

  • Garmin-Sharp confirms its Giro d'Italia line-up

    Victory for Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) in stage 9 of the Tour de France
    Article published:
    May 07, 2014, 20:00 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Martin and Hesjedal target the overall classification

    Garmin-Sharp is the last team to name its line-up for the Giro d'Italia with the US-squad confirming Ireland's Dan Martin and 2012 Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal as team leaders and their hopes for overall success in the first Grand Tour of the season.

    The nine-rider squad, which arrived in Belfast on Tuesday, also includes sprinter Tyler Farrar, Andre Cardoso, Thomas Dekker, Koldo Fernandez, Nathan Haas, Dylan Van Baarle and Fabian Wegmann.

    Neo-pro Van Baarle will make his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia, while the other riders offer a mix of youth and experience.

    Former Italian-based rider Charly Wegelius will direct the team. He made a successful debut in the team car as directeur sportif in 2012 when Hesjedal beat Joaquim Rodriguez to became the first Canadian to ever win the Giro d'Italia.

    “We will go to the Giro with two GC leaders - Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin. Ryder already has the experience of winning a Giro, while Dan will have his first full out effort at GC in a three–week race. This will be an important experience for Dan, and he is in the very fortunate position of having Ryder by his side," Wegelius said in the official team announcement.

    "We will also bring Tyler Farrar, who hopes to build on a strong spring Classics season. The rest of the team is a great blend of experience and youth, with neo pro Dylan Van Baarle having his first experience of a Grand Tour, which we hope will help lay the foundation for a bright future.”

    Garmin-Sharp 2014 Giro d’Italia roster: Andre Cardoso, Thomas Dekker, Tyler Farrar, Koldo Fernandez, Nathan Haas, Ryder Hesjedal, Dan Martin, Dylan Van Baarle, Fabian Wegmann.

    The 2014 Giro...