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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Date published:
September 05, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Froome tips Rodríguez for final Vuelta victory

    Chris Froome (Sky) is starting to fade in this year's race
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 9:43 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Briton eyes Worlds individual time trial and TTT

    Chris Froome (Sky) says that it is highly unlikely he will be fighting Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the third place on the Vuelta a España podium in the final five days of racing between here and Madrid. Valverde has said that Froome “continues to be a threat” but the Briton insisted he is no longer thinking about the general classification.

    “I find it a compliment he might be worried about me but I haven’t even looked at the GC to be honest,” Froome, currently fourth at 4:52 and nearly three minutes behind Valverde, told Cyclingnews on Tuesday.

    “I don’t think he really needs to be worried, he’s riding away from me on every climb. Maybe [Juanjo] Cobo [Valverde’s Movistar teammate, who battled against Froome for the Vuelta lead in 2011] has been telling him some horror stories from last year, how I chased him all the way to Madrid!” he joked.

    “I’m sure that Valverde will keep his guard up, but for now I’m just holding on to what I’ve got, unless somebody really makes a mistake somewhere.”

    He doesn’t rule out going for a stage win. “Obviously if there’s an opportunity, now that the three of them [Valverde, Rodriguez and Contador] will be watching each other, I’ll take it. If I were them I wouldn’t really care about a guy who attacks in the last kilometre if he’s three or four minutes back, knowing he can’t take time. But who knows if Valverde is still worried about me?”

    Froome believes that “Rodriguez will win, unless something drastic comes up. He’s had some pretty hard days thrown at him and some pretty explosive attacks from Contador and he seems to just sail after...

  • IG Pro Cycling Index: Rodriguez closes on Boonen

    The top two riders at the Vuelta, Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Contador, go head-to-head on the fearsome Cuitu Negru finale.
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 10:55 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Win a Specialized Tarmac Expert SL3

    Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) enjoyed a superb week at the Vuelta a España. He extended his advantage in the leader’s jersey and won two stages. The punchy Spanish climber is now just 257 points off second spot in the IG Index, currently held by Tom Boonen. If Rodriguez can hold onto his lead and win the Vuelta a España then he should overtake Boonen and claim second spot for himself.

    As the Vuelta a España has developed it has become clear that three riders are stronger than the rest of the field. On every mountain top finish Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador have ridden away from the rest of the field. There is just two minutes separating the three Spaniards at the top of the general classification.

    Alberto Contador has still yet to win a stage of the race but has come in the top five in seven stages so far. He is currently second overall and just 28 seconds behind Rodriguez. His consistency means in the last week he has become the highest riser in the Index this week. However his lack of stage wins still leaves him outside the top 200. He is now 213th up from 396th last week. There is no doubt he will move into the top 200 if he continues his strong return to the professional peloton after his doping suspension.

    While some riders are moving up the Index due to their strong performances at the Vuelta other are dropping down the rankings. Last year’s winner of the race, Juan Jose Cobo, has struggled to replicate his astonishing form. After falling away on hard stages in the first week he has been relegated to the role of domestique for team leader Valverde and had to sacrifice any personal ambitions in the race. His is currently 62nd and has not...

  • Moncoutié confirms retirement

    David Moncoutie (Cofidis) before the start
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 11:55 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Frenchman to hang up his wheels on Sunday

    David Moncoutié (Cofidis) has confirmed that he will bring the curtain down on his career when the Vuelta a España draws to a close on Sunday. The Frenchman had initially planned to retire at the end of last season, but postponed his decision following a strong showing at the Vuelta.

    “This time my decision is irrevocable,” Moncoutié told L’Équipe. “I let out a little bit of uncertainty after the Tour de l’Ain [in August – ed.] but my decision had really already been taken before the Tour de France. My crash in July only confirmed my choice.”

    Moncoutié was forced to abandon his 11th and final Tour de France when he crashed on stage 12, but he was determined to return to action in time for the Vuelta, where he has won a stage and the mountains classification in each of the past four editions of the race.

    This time around, the 37-year-old Moncoutié is off the pace in the mountains competition, but he still harbours ambitions of signing off with a victory later this week. “I’m going to fight until the end. Everybody in my situation would like to finish with a win. I’m still motivated to do well during these few days,” he said.

    Always balanced in his response to victory and defeat, Moncoutié acknowledged that his travails in this Vuelta have simply been a confirmation that the time is right to put an end to his career.

    “I don’t have great feelings and my legs are struggling to follow. I don’t have the same level as in years gone by,” he said. “I undoubtedly needed this kind of situation to accept the fact that my time...

  • Cavendish not coming to Katusha, says Piva

    Mark Cavendish gets the win on the final day
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 12:54 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Russian team was interested in signing world champion

    While Mark Cavendish’s team for 2013 remains the subject of some speculation, the Manxman will not be joining Katusha, according to directeur sportif Valerio Piva.

    Although under contract with Sky for two more years, Cavendish has been heavily linked with a move away from the British team, whose focus in the grand tours is largely on the general classification aspirations of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Katusha have been among the teams touted as possible landing spots for Cavendish should he free himself of his contract, but Piva said that his team is no longer in the running to sign the world champion.

    “Obviously we showed real interest in Mark,” Piva told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Katusha wants to win as much as possible and a top sprinter like Mark gives you guarantees. But Cavendish still has two years left on his contract, so there is a hefty buy-out clause. I’m not sure what team would be willing to pay.”

    Piva worked with Cavendish in the Highroad set-up before the team disbanded at the end of 2011, while another former Highroad directeur sportif – Brian Holm – is in situ at Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

    “There were contacts with his personal manager but in the last few weeks I haven’t heard anything more,” Piva said. “To my knowledge, he is no longer an option for our team.”

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has already stated that he would welcome Cavendish’s arrival, while Bradley Wiggins has publicly wondered if Cavendish would be better served by leaving Sky. Cavendish is set to line up alongside Wiggins at the Tour of Britain next week.


    ...

  • Fuente Dé: A high-speed Vuelta summit finish?

    Nairo Quintana helps to pace Valverde in the finale
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 13:28 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Fast, if long, climb for ninth summit finish of Vuelta

    A summit finish at the top of a climb seventeen kilometres long to kick off the third week of the Vuelta long sounds like a major challenge for the peloton but whilst there are some very tired legs in the bunch, Fuente Dé  is nothing like as difficult as the three previous summit finishes.

    Climbing 690 metres in 17.3 kilometres, with an average gradient of 3.9 per cent, and classified as second category, the Fuente Dé climb is worth watching if only because it ascends right into the middle of the stunningly beautiful Picos de Europa mountain range in northern Spain.

    But unlike the recently tarmacked goat tracks that the Vuelta had to deal with at Cuitu Negru or the brutally steep climb, the road to Fuente Dé is a broad ‘A’ road, in width, well-surfaced, smooth and a gentle rise with just a couple of steeper sections, about 15 kilometres to go and again about three kilometres.

    Apart from several false flats, the road also swoops down about 600 metres from the finish, before swinging back up again with 200 metres to go for a finish on a left-hand bend. The road looks as if it goes on afterwards, but in fact, it doesn’t - the finish is in a natural mountain ‘basin’ and there is no other way out.

    So it looks as if we could be on for a highspeed mountain top ‘sprint’ - the kind that Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), were he racing, could win. Assuming a break doesn’t get away, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is another likely contender - he won a stage, years back, at Privas in the Dauphine 2008 that was very similar, with a very long but very steady climb leading up to the French town - and so, too, is Philippe Gilbert (BMC).

    Whilst the warm, overcast weather does not seem like an extra challenge for the bunch, the approach road to the town of Potes at the bottom of the climb may cause more...

  • “An avalanche of evidence” against Armstrong, Hamilton's co-author claims

    Tyler Hamilton (Phonak)
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 15:16 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hamilton says Armstong told him of Tour de Suisse positive

    Lance Armstrong told Tyler Hamilton that he had tested positive during the Tour de Suisse 2001, Hamilton has said on American television. But the UCI promptly declared that “this matter should end" with no action being taken, according to the co-author of Hamilton's autobiography, who claimed that there is an “avalanche of evidence” against Armstrong.

    Appearing on the Today Show to promote his book “A Secret Race”, co-authored by Daniel Coyle, Hamilton said that his then USPS teammate  Armstrong casually mentioned the positive doping control. “I remember being in Switzerland at this ski resort where we had finished the time trial the day before and we had finished breakfast. We were walking outside and he told me that he had just got caught.”

    When asked why this did not make the international news, Coyle said, “That's a great question. What happened next was that a call was made from cycling's governing body, the UCI, that this test should go no further, that this matter should end here.”

    Specifically asked if he were claiming a cover-up, Coyle responded: “That's right, and then there was a meeting between Armstrong and the lab, and there was also a $125,000 donation from Armstrong to the UCI.”

    Since both Armstrong and the UCI deny this story, does he have a 'smoking gun' to prove it?  “We have 300 pages of a smoking gun, an avalanche of evidence.”

    Hamilton added. “It doesn't surprise me that they denied.  You know, I denied it for years. After a while you get pretty good at it.”

    Turning to show host Matt Lauer, he said, “You know I've lied to you before, straight to your face. For me, it's like a huge weight off my back. Today, I feel fantastic, fantastic.”

  • Contador fights back tears after turning Vuelta on its head

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) rode away from his rivals on stage 17 to take both the stage victory and leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 18:11 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    29-year-old Madrileño claims first win since end of doping ban

    Few victories can have felt as sweet for Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) as when he crossed the finish line at Fuente Dé on stage 17 of the Vuelta a España. Thanks to his devastating long-distance attack and one of the most memorable days of racing in the Vuelta in the last decade, the Madrileño proved that he was back to the top of his sport and back with a victory that could only be described as resounding to boot.

    It was not just a remarkable stage win. Previously 28 seconds down on Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) this morning, Contador now goes into the final four days with a 1:52 advantage over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and with 2:28 over the former race leader Rodriguez, who drops to third. In one stage, the 29-year-old Contador has turned the tables on his rivals and what could be his fifth Grand Tour win and second Vuelta is now closer than ever.

    Fighting back the tears afterwards, Contador described his victory as “one of my three most important triumphs of my career, together with the one I took when I came back from my operation [for a cavernome in his brain in 2004] at the Tour Down
    Under [in January 2005] and my win in Paris-Nice in 2007.”

    Contador attacked on the third category Collado de La Hoz, around 55 kilometres from the finish. “I had an angel on one shoulder, saying ‘don’t do this, they’re going to roll you over’ and a devil in the other saying ‘go for it’. On this occasion, I didn’t listen to the angel. It was attack or die.”

    “People said to me, ‘where are you going so far from the line?’ and in fact it felt a bit like a kamikaze attack.”

    “It had been a very fast start. Everybody wanted to get in the break. But when it happened...

  • Rodriguez admits defeat in Vuelta

    An exhausted Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at the finish line in Fuente Dé after conceding more than two and a half minutes plus the leader's jersey to Alberto Contador.
    Article published:
    September 05, 2012, 20:00 BST
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Purito slides to third overall, says cannot win

    After 13 days in the lead of the Vuelta a Espana and with the final victory almost in sight, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) put a brave face on what must have been one of his most painful defeats. ‘Purito' had lost the Giro d'Italia on the last day earlier this year, but Ryder Hesjedal's time trialling skills were always a factor in his calculations that he could not avoid. Defeat today in the Vuelta, on the other hand, was something nobody could have predicted.

    Rather than illness, or accident, Rodriguez said that he had lost the Vuelta simply because Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) had attacked on stage 17 "when it was least expected." Initially supported by his Katusha teammate Alberto Losada in the chasing group, finally the leader himself had to try to chase down Contador. It had proved to be an impossible task, particularly when Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) opted to move ahead, too.

    Rodriguez remains in the lead in the points competition and in the ‘combined' competition, and is within two points of taking the King of the Mountains competition from Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Clarke. But none of that, surely, makes up for the pain of losing La Roja, and particularly on terrain where anticipating Contador's attack could hardly have been anticipated.

    "Nobody expected this and nobody should claim now that they did," Rodriguez said afterwards.

    "I had got millions of texts and emails telling me that this was sorted and there was only five...